Disagreements over the seriousness of President Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine on July 25 are acceptable, as are disagreements over whether testimony heard in closed-door and open hearings should be believed or dismissed. However, painting the impeachment investigation as a coup is way out of bounds. Republican representatives should stop saying it.
Impeachment is included in the Constitution. The House of Representatives has the power to impeach and to investigate actions that might be impeachable. The rules of the House put the majority party in charge of the process. It is not a judicial proceeding. It is a political process.
But Republicans are not willing to watch this constitutional process play out.
If they were confident that objective observers would see the president’s actions as innocent, then their aggressive tactics wouldn’t be needed.
Democrats complained of partisanship when a Republican House of Representatives charged and then impeached President Bill Clinton. They claimed lying about sex didn’t rise to the level of a high crime.
They never hinted at the idea that the Republicans were staging a coup. This is the language of a party and political process in which winning at all costs has become more important than protecting the legitimacy of a democratic process.
Waiting until next fall’s election to see if the American people are willing to continue Donald Trump’s presidency would have been easier and more politically expedient. Democrats likely would prefer to focus on raising money, developing campaign strategies, picking a candidate and selling their messages to the voters than on endless hours of testimony.
But avoiding an impeachment investigation would have amounted to assenting to the highjacking of American foreign policy. It would have amounted to throwing a struggling independent democratic Ukraine under the bus, leaving it to the tender mercies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Congressional Republicans, while charging the Democrats with attempting a coup, are also willing to smear long-serving diplomats and members of the U.S. military. Among them is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the son of a Russian immigrant. He had to reassure his father that speaking up would not physically endanger him or his family.
“Dad, I’m sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals is (sic) proof you made the right decision. Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth.”
In the face of that kind of commitment and courage, giving anything less than full and respectful consideration to the impeachment investigation now underway is shameful.