In a truly momentous opinion, the NY Times Editorial Board explains Why the Trump Impeachment Inquiry Is the Only Option.
In this post I give you a sense of the Times’ position with a few excerpts. But I advise stopping right now and reading the original. It is powerful!
THE PEACEFUL TRANSFER of presidential power through free and fair elections is the crowning glory of American democracy. It concretizes the people’s will, conferring legitimacy, assuring stability. President Trump may have finished second in the popular vote, but he is the legitimate president. In the normal course of events, his mismanagement of the nation’s affairs would be left for the electorate to repudiate, through support of a challenger in a primary race or, failing that, in the general election.
But the course of events is not normal. Mr. Trump campaigned as an iconoclast, but it became clear early in his administration that his disruptiveness was aimed less at bringing fresh thinking to bear on stale policymaking than at assaulting the vital institutions of governance themselves. He has attacked the legitimacy of law enforcement, of intelligence agencies, of Congress and of the courts — of anyone he judges to threaten him politically.
For nearly three years, public-spirited people have debated whether each instance of executive overreach by Mr. Trump and his lieutenants went far enough to require the traumatic recourse of an impeachment inquiry. They have wondered at what point the checks and balances of American governance might have to be restored by means of the most radical check of all.
That point has now been reached.
THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE LEARNED over the past week that Mr. Trump, during a July phone call, pressed the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Joe Biden, one of his leading political rivals, according to a written summary of the conversation released by the White House. What’s more, Mr. Trump offered the assistance of the Justice Department in that investigation. These facts are not in dispute, which is why some of the president’s die-hard defenders are trying to dismiss the conversation as an inconsequential instance of the president’s bad judgment.
But it was so much more dangerous than that. A president’s use of his power for his own political gain, at the expense of the public interest, is the quintessence of an impeachable offense. It was, in fact, one of the examples the Constitution’s framers deployed to explain what would constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the standard for impeachment.
The decision to impeach a president is inherently political, in the sense — the noble sense — that it must be made in the public interest. But it should never be political in the narrow sense of being dictated by the latest poll or the next election. This is a moment for political courage. Americans deserve a government devoted to addressing their real problems. But to get that, they need a government balanced as the founders intended, with free and fair elections and a president checked by Congress from the selfish exercise of extraordinary power. Mr. Trump has disparaged and degraded the institutions of American governance, and it is now time for them, in historic rebuke, to demonstrate the majesty of representative democracy.
(Thanks to Roving Reporter Sherry for the tip.)