Opinion | Should the House Move to Impeach Trump?

To the Editor:

Re “Democrats Must Impeach Trump,” by Tom Steyer (Op-Ed, Nov. 10):

Mr. Steyer is right that the newly elected House must vote articles of impeachment against President Trump. It is not a question of choice but of duty.

Business conflicts of interest that violate the Emoluments Clause, obstructions of justice and illegal hush-money payments comprise three “high crimes and misdemeanors” mandating impeachment.

Some counsel a pragmatic approach, hoping to work with the president. Some say Republican control of the Senate dooms impeachment with the probability of an acquittal.

We must remember, however, that these are not normal times. Congress should not condone the president’s crimes. The House is honor-bound to impeach. If the Senate decides to acquit, then the people will have the final word in the elections of 2020.

Eric W. Orts
The writer is a professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

To the Editor:

That there is little appetite among many Democrats for impeachment is a positive and remarkably mature sign. A protracted impeachment effort will fail with a hard-line Republican Senate majority, and it will send the wrong message to Republicans and independents who helped elect so many Democrats.

Tom Steyer’s campaign ignores the desire of Americans to instead focus on solving problems related to health care, education, infrastructure and an entrenched leadership. We don’t need campaigns that will send frustrated voters back to the Republican Party.

It’s time for Democratic leaders to listen to their constituents and lead us toward real progress with well-considered proposals, and messengers who can captivate the imagination and know how to connect with people. Mr. Steyer’s money and energy would be better spent supporting energetic and thoughtful candidates.

Irv Rothbart
New York

To the Editor:

Rather than jumping directly to impeaching Donald Trump, Democrats should use their new House majority to focus on creating rules that will help prevent every president, including President Trump, from governing badly. For example, instead of subpoenaing Mr. Trump’s tax returns, Democrats should push for a law requiring the president to disclose his or her finances and place them in a truly blind trust within 90 days of taking office. Presidents who do not comply would be subject to automatic removal, and Mr. Trump would be given 90 days to comply.

The goal of this type of legislation should be pushing for ethical governance, regardless of who is in office, and not just to right the perceived wrongs of the 2016 presidential campaign. America will be stronger for having endured the Trump presidency, but only if we use it as an opportunity to make our institutions more robust against potential abuse.

Jacob C. Fisher
Ann Arbor, Mich.

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Opinion | Why Democrats Must Impeach the President

On Tuesday, voters across the country demanded accountability in government, insisting their elected representatives not just talk a good game but act in the interests of the American people.

Nationwide, Democrats received 7 percent more votes than Republicans — about three million — in an election that saw a higher percentage of voters than any midterm since 1966. Those voters flipped seven governorships and 367 state legislative seats to Democrats, giving them majorities in seven more state chambers. Most important, voters ended Donald Trump and his Republican enablers’ free rein in Washington by flipping the House.

But this blue wave should have been even bigger. Democrats’ inability to run the table on a Republican Party that depended on lying, race-baiting and suppressing the vote is a sign that the American people do not know what the Democratic Party stands for. We Democrats can begin to answer that question by acting to guarantee equal justice under the law.

As President Trump continues to accelerate his lawlessness, the new Democratic House majority must initiate impeachment proceedings against him as soon as it takes office in January.

For nearly two years, Mr. Trump has publicly flouted his oath of office. He has turned the presidency into a moneymaking enterprise for a family business he refuses to divest from, in direct violation of any plain reading of the Constitution. He is all but an unindicted co-conspirator in two federal felony cases. He has created an atmosphere of criminality through his hateful, violent rhetoric against political opponents, journalists and private citizens alike.

Most egregiously, he has a longstanding pattern of obstructing justice. On Wednesday, he continued this by firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installing Matthew Whitaker — who has publicly called for curtailing the special counsel’s investigation — as acting attorney general, sparking a constitutional crisis that threatens the rule of law itself.

As the list of Mr. Trump’s impeachable offenses — at least nine and counting — has grown, more than 6.2 million people across the country have signed a petition, created by my organization Need to Impeach, demanding that their representatives confront his lawlessness. For months, public support for impeaching the president has been roughly equal to what it was before Richard Nixon resigned.

Yet the current Democratic leadership has insisted that no one so much as mention the word “impeachment.” Instead, they have suggested using Mr. Trump’s abuses of power as bargaining chips in future negotiations.

For too long, Democratic leaders have convinced their fellow elected officials that bland, nonconfrontational and incremental centrism is the way to win elections and make progress. In truth, it’s just the easiest way to protect the balance of power in Washington. But by trying to meet a corrupt Republican Party halfway, instead of taking clear stands for what’s right, they have failed to define the party and failed to protect their constituents.

We see the same approach on impeachment: As a way to delay making a decision, Democratic leaders have insisted on waiting for the special counsel, Robert Mueller, to deliver his report. But now the investigation is at risk, because Mr. Whitaker could prevent the special counsel’s team from reaching a just conclusion or even releasing its findings to the public.

The current, Republican-led Congress could have already taken action to shield Mr. Mueller or to put Mr. Trump in check. It still can. If it does not, House Democrats must prepare subpoenas, to be issued as soon as they take over, to ensure that the public learns the truth uncovered by the special counsel, and call on his team to testify under oath in public hearings.

Should the establishment refuse to give up conventional orthodoxy and take up impeachment proceedings when the new Congress convenes, freshmen members — many of whom ran and won because of their promise to stand up to the president — must challenge the establishment and demand a say over the agenda. An overwhelming majority of people in this country elected them to hold this president accountable. There is no majority without them. That means no one has the votes for a leadership title without their support.

At a moment when just one-third of all Americans trust their government to do what is right, winning a majority has to mean much more than just frustrating Republican legislative goals and scoring debating points. Democrats must stand up for the safety of the American people and our entire democratic system.

We cannot allow this to be an argument about what Republicans will permit — it’s about demanding the truth and protecting the foundations of our free society. Anything less would mean abandoning the Constitution.

Tom Steyer is the founder of Need to Impeach and NextGen America.

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