On Wednesday, the House of Representatives acted within its constitutional powers to brand Donald Trump a constitutional criminal. They did so because he abused his power and obstructed Congress as part of trying to cover up that abuse.
In a vote of 223 to 167, all but two Democrats voted to impeach Trump for abuse of power. Tulsi Gabbard “voted” present on this all important vote. One independent, former Republican Justin Amash of Utah, voted for impeachment. (By the McConnell standard, it’s bi-partisan if one person breaks with party lines, and in this case that one person is Justin Amash.)
No matter what happens now, Trump will always be the third president in American history to be impeached – a constitutional criminal. For the first time in his life, Trump has had to face real consequences for his actions. He couldn’t pay someone off to be impeached for him. The businessman couldn’t buy someone off to prevent the impeachment from happening. Tyrannical Donald couldn’t delegate being impeached to some lowly staff member. While campaigning, he can’t blame Hillary, Obama, immigrants or smart women. He has himself and only himself to blame.
The second article was obstruction of congress. The vote was 229 to 156. Three Democrats voted no and Tulsi Gabbard voted present. Independent Justin Amash, again, a former Republican, voted yes.
Every Republican voted for putting Trump above the law on both articles. There is no way of denying that when you consider that Republicans also oppose both investigating and prosecuting a sitting president, and they didn’t exactly protest the disappearance of the American practice of daily press briefings.
Impeachment is the only remaining constitutional authority on which to hold a sitting president accountable for abusing his power, treason, bribery and High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
To judge from their support of Trump, congressional Republicans don’t even believe in press briefings, a free press, the right to protest or the right to dissent. They also believe the president’s actions and communications with foreign leaders just aren’t our business.
Republicans will never admit as much in a forthright manner, but they do say it in their actions – most recently in their vote on impeachment, and through the declarations of their Senate Leaders who promised to be biased if or when there is a trial.
That’s not the America envisioned by the Founders. And every voter should remember what Republicans did the next time they claim to be constitutional originalists.
This is one of those historic moments. We will remember where we were, who we were with and how we felt. We will also remember who voted to defend our democracy, who voted for tyranny and who tried to sit on two chairs with one behind. Yes, I’m talking about Tulsi Gabbard who says she’s a Democrat and says she is ready to be president, but showed Americans she is incapable of making hard decisions.
This was the hardest decision this congress will face because this vote was about choosing between democracy and the rule of law and choosing tyranny.
This is not and never was about party, and while I am satisfied with the results, it is a somber, tragic moment.
But it also had to be done, because Donald Trump abuses power on a daily basis and he is a constant threat to our national security. This is demonstrated by the fact that he withheld military aid from an ally who is at war with Russia – a foe. Just because Donald Trump is Putin’s water boy (though maybe he’ll be promoted to coffee boy now), nothing has change about the undeniable geopolitical fact that defending Ukraine and helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia ultimately serve our national interest. Ukraine (and Europe) are allies and they serve as a barrier to Russian aggression. That’s what made NATO important. This is about the ultimate prize for Vlad Putin – destroying the Military Alliance that stopped Russian aggression.
By trying to coerce Ukraine into giving him dirt on Joe Biden, Trump used his official capacity to advance his personal political interests. If he isn’t held accountable for that, the impeachment power would be moot.
The very act of holding Trump accountable by virtue of impeachment represents a first for Mr. Trump. He is the first president to be impeached for abusing power to betray his country. This is also the first time Trump was held personally accountable for something he did.
Without question, Trump will moan, whine and have a long twitter fit. But he can’t undo this. His brand, his cherished brand will forever have the scarlet letters, I M P E A C H E D across its chest. No amount of spin bleach will remove it.
The impeachment power isn’t out of the woods yet, as all eyes turn to Mitch McConnell, whose definition of a fair trial is for the jury to coordinate with the defendant.
Nancy Pelosi made it clear that she won’t just hand the articles of impeachment over to McConnell without assurances that the American people will get justice in McConnell’s Senate.
McConnell says he can wait, but the fact of the matter is Speaker Pelosi is holding all the cards. Trump wants a show trial to push all of this away so that he can enter the presidential campaign “acquitted” on impeachment charges.
Time is on democracy’s side because Trump will enter the election as an impeached president no matter what. If the House is still holding onto articles of impeachment, he won’t be acquitted by a McConnell Star Chamber. It’s possible that a new Senate will be more receptive to a fair trial than the current one. Justice can wait if need be.
However this ultimately turns out, the facts are that Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended our democracy while McConnell and Republicans defended Trump and Trump will always be branded a constitutional criminal.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.