Leonard Zwelling

At some point in the future, distant though it may be and after I leave this mortal coil, the current crop of Republicans in the House and Senate are going to have to answer for their disloyalty to their oath of office in 2019. At least many of them will. Mitt Romney won’t. When he needed to in early 2016, he spoke out against the candidacy of Donald Trump even as he latter groveled to become Trump’s Secretary of State later that year.

Now he’s in the Senate and wisely taking a wait and see attitude about whether or not the current occupant of the White House committed an impeachable offense. Many of us think Trump committed a whole lot of them from violations of the emoluments clause to conspiring with the Russians, but the one that looks like it’s got some traction is his use of his office and his power as commander-in-chief to extort a public investigation of a domestic political rival from a foreign leader the integrity of whose country depends upon American foreign aid. That aid was authorized, appropriated, and set to be delivered by the Congress not to be used as a bargaining chip in Mr. Trump’s last campaign and his next one.

Trump seems guilty as all the testimony so far has demonstrated. The proper posture of every member of Congress is to hear the evidence and then vote his or her conscious. It is not to wage a defense of the president for the TV cameras or refuse to read the transcripts of the closed-door hearings now that they have been made public as that rascal Lindsey Graham claims he will do.

History will ask, as will the voters, what did you do in the face of clear violations by the president of his oath of office? Violate your own?

The three branches of government are meant to assert checks and balances on each other. The legislature only has two checks on the executive. It can vote for or against bills that further the president’s policies or, if faced with a president who has compromised his office, they can impeach and remove him. It is not the “new normal” to raise the impeachment issue. It is necessary now, as it was twice before—three times if you include Watergate when Mr. Nixon pre-empted his impeachment by resigning.

Besides, the Trump Presidency has been anything but normal and that is what the citizens who put him in office wanted. They wanted Washington shaken up. Well, they got their wish. Just not in a good way. Mr. Trump misconstrued his putative mandate (given that he got fewer votes than his opponent, I don’t see this as a mandate), and ran roughshod over the Constitution. He installed mediocre people in positions of great responsibility and when he tapped a good choice, that person usually got fed up and left if Trump didn’t fire him or her. Most of his assembly of military talent got out quickly.

Mr. Trump is a train wreck. He always has been. That, in itself, is not the whole problem. He has created a persona for the United States that is simply not the one we want projected at home or abroad. Now it is up to the members of his own party to sit in judgment and listen. They should ask questions of the witnesses called by the Democrats. They should call their own if they have any who can substantiate Mr. Trump’s innocence. I doubt there are many who can do that without lying.

I still have faith in the process even as the GOP tries to undercut it like Senator Kennedy of Louisiana did last night (November 6) using slurs against the Speaker of the House. It was childish and he knows it. Trump brings out the worst in people. He is the antithesis of the other John Kennedy, JFK, while sharing some of his lusty habits. President Kennedy brought out the best and the brightest, even though they got us bogged down in Vietnam and will ever pay the historical price for their errors of judgment. If the current Republican congressmen and women don’t want to suffer the same fate as those who got us into a war in southeast Asia, they need to pay attention and stop talking. Listen to these public servant witnesses without political affiliations who are before you now. They are telling a sad tale of Mafia-like behavior out of the Oval Office.

If you can still acquit after hearing it all, go ahead.

And everyone else ought to listen, too. The voters have the ultimate say here since I assume Mr. Trump will survive the attempt to convict him and run again in 2020.

Everyone who does bad things is not punished and many of Trump’s current allies may go on to long political careers. Then again, maybe not. Those that support Trump despite all the evidence of his wrongdoing, if it continues to come in, ought to be held accountable by their constituents. That’s how the system is supposed to work. We shall see if it does.

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