The House voted along party lines to formally open an inquiry to impeaching Trump.
The near party-line vote came as Tim Morrison, a top official on Trump’s National Security Council, testified in a closed-door deposition. Morrison backed up previous testimony that the president withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country into announcing investigations into former vice president Joe Biden and interference in the 2016 election, according to his prepared remarks and people familiar with his testimony, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door proceedings. He said he got the information directly from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, the administration official who communicated that apparent quid pro quo to Ukrainian leaders.
The timing is such that by the time they get to the House Judiciary Committee voting out articles of impeachment and sending them to the Senate for trial, we’ll be right up against the Iowa caucuses, which means six of the presidential candidates will be sitting in judgment on Trump. That’s just one of the elements that’s going to make this an interesting winter.
It’s pretty obvious how this will play out. In the beginning, the Trumpians were screaming about the process of the inquiry: it was all secret, there was no fairness, it was all a plot, it was un-American, it was unconstitutional, etc etc etc. That was bullshit because A) that’s how the House does almost all of their inquiries, and in the last two times a president has been considered for impeachment, it’s how both the Democrats and the Republicans did it, and B) that’s how a grand jury works, which is the closest thing to that kind of process there is in law. Even an occasional observer of “Law & Order” would know that. So now that the House has opened a formal inquiry by dusting off the rules that were used in 1974 and 1998, the Trumpians are going to now go after the substance: there’s nothing impeachable here. If that’s the case — that trying to coerce a foreign government into digging up dirt of a political opponent by withholding vital foreign aid doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment — then they need to kindly explain why not, and while they’re at it, explain why doesn’t the entire Republican establishment owe Bill Clinton several million dollars in restitution for all the shit they put him through for lying about an extramarital affair.
The Trumpians have basically handed the country their Dear Leader over for judgment on a rather simple matter. Proving collusion with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election was going to be tough, and the Mueller investigation didn’t make it any easier. But this Ukrainian coercion case is comparatively clear-cut, especially with all of the witnesses coming out of the woodwork to say, well, yeah, Trump did do it and we’ve got the goods to prove it.
I have absolutely no doubt that when the trial ends, Trump will not be convicted. There are too many Republicans who place their own political future ahead of the laws and the Constitution; they have proven that time and again. I also have no doubt that in the election, it will be a close contest between electing someone with actual principles of right and wrong based on the law or returning a provable felon to power with the help and support of sycophants and cowards. There isn’t a Joseph Welch or Barry Goldwater to be found among them.
It makes you wonder why we’re going through all of this if we know ahead of time what’s going to happen. But if we didn’t, what does that say about us and our simple but firm dedication to the rule of law and the principles that make up who and what this experiment we call the United States of America? We owe it to ourselves and a candid world to do this.