By The Signal Editorial Board
he impeachment game changed the moment Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Before he’d even taken the oath of office, congressional Democrats were already on the impeachment warpath, seeking to overturn election results they did not like.
That, of course, is not the reason impeachment was included as a constitutional mechanism to potentially oust a sitting president. This particular aspect of our governmental framework was intended to be part of the checks and balances that keep the three branches of government honest, reserved for those situations in which a president truly committed an act that rose to the level of criminality or treason.
It was never intended to be a political hammer employed by members of Congress who just really, really, really don’t like a particular president. The founding fathers didn’t create impeachment as a tool for partisan gimmickry, nor was it intended to be utilized to influence policy.
Yet that’s exactly what congressional Democrats have been doing since the 2016 election. The most glaring example was the two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the election, and the Democrats’ belief that Trump must have colluded with the Russians. The two-year, $30 million probe by special counsel Robert Mueller uncovered no such collusion, despite stacking the deck with Democrat-leaning investigators who were motivated to find what they were looking for.
That left the Democrats, citing an unnamed “whistleblower,” alleging that Trump threatened to withhold aid and demanded a quid pro quo in a July phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, when Trump asked him to look into the dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, with a Ukrainian natural gas company.
Never mind that Biden had done the exact same thing the Democrats accused Trump of doing — and proudly admitted it —when he was vice president, and openly threatened to withhold U.S. aid if the previous Ukrainian president didn’t fire a prosecutor who was rumored to be looking into Hunter Biden’s role with the gas company.
For three years, congressional Democrats obsessed over finding an impeachable offense to hang on Trump, and never really found one — so they seized upon that July phone call, in which no mention was made of any quid pro quo, and settled for articles of impeachment that contain no allegation of an actual crime, and no allegation of anything remotely close to what the founding fathers envisioned when they included the impeachment mechanism as a constitutional check on the executive branch’s power.
If you need further evidence that these impeachment proceedings have been more motivated by politics than the actual facts, look no further than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s handling of the articles of impeachment once they were passed by the House entirely along party lines: Rather than forwarding them on to the Republican-controlled Senate so an impeachment trial could get under way, she sat on them, through Congress’ winter recess, so she could find a more politically expedient time to send them — or, alternatively, not send them, a move that would leave the president tagged as having been impeached, but never having the opportunity to be acquitted by the Senate.
Further, Pelosi herself even admitted publicly that she and her Democratic colleagues have been pursuing impeachment since long before Trump’s phone call with Zelensky.
When asked at Politico’s “Women Rule” summit in December about the perception that the Democrats were “rushing” the impeachment inquiry, Pelosi responded: “It’s been going on for 22 months, OK? Two and a half years, actually.”
In other words, they’ve been looking for a reason — any reason — to impeach the president. What will Pelosi do when Congress reconvenes? It’s anybody’s guess, but what is certain is that her decision will be driven more by the Democrats’ true motivation — influencing the 2020 election — than by their theatrical proclamations that they consider impeachment a somber duty.
That’s utter hogwash. They’ve been pursuing impeachment from the starting gate in 2016, and time was running out in 2019 so they ginned up a controversy where there should have been none.
The gamesmanship will continue when Congress reconvenes — and meanwhile, Congress will continue to shirk its real responsibility of addressing the important issues facing the nation, like health care and immigration.
It’s to be seen who will win in the 2020 election, but it’s clear the American public — and our representative democracy — have been the losers in the House Democrats’ never-ending efforts to abuse the impeachment process to oust a president they just can’t stand.