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Impeachment is about to make everything worse.

If our politics seems overheated, our institutions beleaguered and our public debate degraded, just wait until we are in the midst of the impeachment debate.

Democrats have had an impeachment itch that they’ve been desperate to scratch ever since Donald Trump took office. For them, Ukraine is equal parts a genuine outrage and an excuse, the release valve for nearly three years of fear and loathing.

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

Rather than conducting himself as if he’s aware that a hysterical opposition is eager to impeach him just as soon as it finds a reason, Trump has embraced constant provocation. He has shown little interest in distinguishing between himself and the high office that he holds. Although we need to learn more, there’s clearly an impropriety in his handling of Ukraine.

If he’d only urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to cooperate with Attorney General Bill Barr on the probe related to the beginnings of the 2016 Russian investigation, it would be completely appropriate (the president reportedly pushed other countries to cooperate, as well). Or, if the story only involved Rudy Giuliani poking around in Ukraine under his own power to find damaging information on the Bidens, it’d be standard hardball politics.

It’s the intersection of the latter with Trump’s official capacity as president that’s inappropriate.

Enough to impeach and remove him? Presidential-level diplomacy always involves horse-trading, and it, surely, is not the first time a president has prodded an ally to do him a favor in his political interest. The risk of Trump’s heavy-handed request — an aid package to Ukraine was being held up at the time — was that the Ukrainians would have felt compelled to manufacture damaging information on the Bidens. That didn’t happen, and the aid, thanks to congressional pressure, was released in short order.

So far as we know, Ukraine lacks the hallmarks of other presidential scandals. There’s been no cover-up. Trying to keep a transcript of a presidential call from leaking in the absence of any congressional or criminal investigation doesn’t qualify. And once the controversy became public, the White House rapidly released key documents.

Nor is there any violation of law. Trump’s ask of Zelenskiy wasn’t extortion or a campaign-finance violation under any rational interpretation of our statutes. If it was, practically every president in our history would have had criminal exposure.

Unless there’s a thermonuclear revelation, impeachment will be an exercise in futility, inevitably ending with Trump’s Senate acquittal. There’s tsk-tsking in the press and among Democrats about Republicans holding the line. But GOP senators, by and large, are going to end up where their voters are. You can’t expect Republicans to be told, falsely, for two and a half years straight that some conspiracy with the Russians was going to be uncovered imminently and then accept at face value a five-alarm interpretation of Ukraine.

Democrats can point to the predicate of the Clinton impeachment. Although if Trump had flagrantly and repeatedly perjured himself, he’d have been impeached long ago. The lesson from the 1990s is, Yes, you can impeach in the absence of any real hope of convicting in the Senate, but it’s a lot of trouble to go through for basically a censure vote.

If Trump were for some reason actually removed on anything like the current universe of possible evidence, it would create a crisis of legitimacy at the heart of our government. Think of what the U.K. is going through with Brexit, only worse. Ten of millions of Trump voters would feel cheated and disenfranchised, and the roiling populism that Trump has tapped into would get stronger, not dissipate.

Congress has shown before that it’s possible to conduct a big, news-dominating investigation without impeachment proceedings; it’s what it did during the Iran-Contra hearings in Ronald Reagan’s second term. But impeachment is the verdict that Democrats have always wanted, and any offense will do.

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Rich Lowry is editor of The National Review.

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(16) comments

killallthelawyersfirst

Mr. Hive, if it is any comfort, American framers Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams (both were conservatives) worried similarly, Mr. Adams feared even one election, while Mr. Jefferson preferred many elections. Not exactly a "E Pluribus Unum" comfort two-hundred plus years hence-since 1788. Who had the accurate foresight for and in a self-dumbed down America?

Hive

Years ago, I had a neighbor who, like Trump and some others, only believed what he determined himself to be. I had some car-trouble and he offered advise...wash it! Seriously, this dude honestly believed car troubles were fixed by washing the car. Aside from his epistemic closure...refusal to believe facts I figured then he would learn, in time. Now I wonder if my thinking was wise, since 9/11 Bush/Cheney and Trump, Congress and some comments here have disclosed?

Respect for Law and most things, including facts (climate change, lies, POTUS lawlessness and odd conspiracy theory oddness) seems lost and we are teaching our young this madness.

How is it America will survive it's "stupids?"

Hive

Yes you forgot...or had zero-clue!

Hive

Not me hates Trump. I despise his doings, but have nothing else in mind...guy is a scum-bag. Trump would sell his closest for a buck. Face with might and money, creep cowers, like the Queens putz he is, and as evidence shows him to be.

bolake

Hive - I didn’t forget, I also didn’t forget that you didn’t vote of Obama the second time around. You asked and I replied we are in a far far better place. Based on the list of Democrat 2020 hopefuls, we will be in a better place when Trump wins again then what any of them can bring in 2020. And yes my opinion means squat but when you tie it to 63 Million other options you get President Trump. Adam $hittt and his impeachment bull roar will just make it easier. American people will not stand for 4 years of Democrats doing nothing but pushing their Hate Trump agenda.

Hive

Typical, you forget, mentioned oft here and in column, as were the reasons.

I did not vote for her, but had more than party or bully bullroar stuff in mind.

bolake

Hive - Likewise your “opinion" means squat... To answer your question “Where does that leave America?” In a far far better place than if Hillary was elected.

Hive

Bo, "opinion" means squat...it is okay POTUS and stooge Pompeo, who has zero backbone, and others run roughshod over the Constitution, to bolster a dinger? Where does that leave America?

bolake

No he did not. IMO

It’s just another $hittt scam on the American People.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=keYMC3Q2kuE

Hive

Bo, dear "chile," did the "Whistle" meet all the legislative requirments? If so, it is valid.

Besides, is this what Ike and Washington et al, wanted in governance, strong arm bullroar so many died to protect other nations from?

Hive

It just occurred to me, am slow; POTUS embraces only those he thinks will help him...Russia, N. Korea, Ukrain, Rudy, etc. If you are considered an opponent, you are vilified (growled at). Must be his way of "doing deals" or was his way of doing deals. We have gotten our wish, plainly a playground bully, who figures his personal manoeuvers rule! Has zero clue.


Hive

Ad hominem is not argument. Evidence is fact-based or facts. The issue has centered on recorded admissions. The process will continue...without ad hominems...Be nice if it rubbed-off. Toss in the towel, big boy, you will always be a loser with ad hominums and wet with that attitude, just like the source of whimsical, personal swamp justice, some seem to favor over Law! What is it that is said to "corrupt absolutely?"

bolake

I would suggest that the Whistleblower and Adam $hittt get their stories straight before proceeding any further. First the Whistleblower checked the box stating “I have personal and, or direct knowledge of events “. However, the complaint sent to Congress states “I was not a direct witness “.



$hittt first claimed “we have not spoken directly with the Whistleblower “. However, today it was acknowledged that $hittt did have communication prior to Whistleblower submitting the complaint. One might even suggest $hittt had a hand in writing the complaint.



Perhaps Adam $hitt should recuse himself from any further impeachment activities. Or perhaps he should be impeached for lying and impeachment collusion. Lol

Hive

Imagine the chaos as two children "go at it."

Adult has to be good to change churlish actions, unless a higher authority controls situation...like Law.

Hive

It's 50-50 POTUS will cut and run...he is faced with choice chance winning a trial or run. In past, his habit has been to run, including fails in Ocean City. If dinger runs, he does not lose...so the possibility stands to reason.

Then there is the ego thing...winning...50-50.

Poor ducky, don'cha feel sorry for him?

Hive

Lowry wrote, "Impeachment is about to make everything worse." And then attempted to explain.

I ask, "Relative to what?"

Recall a very realistic process of relating called "Transactional Analysis?"

One thing it describes accurately is relationships. The most difficult to amend is the Parent/Child; as the child does not see beyond itself and, in fact, cannot.

So here we are!

America has elected a child and America finds "the tail wagging the dog!" What else to do? Lowry and some fearful republicans (of their jobs over freedom) want us to give-in to the child?

Saving a nation, which is the job the Founders bestowed, is not easy to do, is it?

"We, the People..." We decide! Freedom is up to us, right? What is the alternative? Freedom or domination.

Serious stuff, this freedom thing.

Maybe there are worse things than impeachment, so get to work!

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