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Don’t Impeach Trump

As bad as the Capitol riots were, impeachment would send no message other than score-settling

Don’t Impeach Trump

As the hourglass runs out on his administration in the shadow of the Capitol riots last week, President Trump’s position is uncannily similar to when he rode the Trump Tower elevator down in 2015. He’s hated by Democrats, abandoned by many Congressional Republicans, but still revered by his base.

Just one thing has changed: Days before leaving office, he’s about to be impeached for a record second time.

The sight of MAGA supporters overrunning Congress last week shocked many who had voted for the president in November. As I wrote in the immediate aftermath, there was a straight line between the president’s false claims of millions of votes untraceably switched, to the rabble rioting in the seat of US democracy. And there’s nothing more dangerous for Jewish communities, or America at large, than widespread delegitimization of authority.

But the bottom line is that the impeachment shouldn’t go ahead. That’s because this particular Democratic-controlled House has zero moral authority to impeach this specific president.

And here the moral high ground is key. In a letter this week to her caucus, Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump an “imminent threat to democracy.” But given that the Senate won’t have time to consider impeachment before the end of the president’s term, the ticking time-bomb justification rings hollow.

That’s why Bernie Sanders tried a different tack, saying that Trump should be removed to set a precedent: “It must be made clear that no president, now or in the future, can lead an insurrection against the US government,” the Vermont senator tweeted.

But however furious Republicans are with Trump, they should resist impeachment. Because despite the “great solemnity” that Pelosi invokes, and the talk of defending freedom, the process reeks of political vengeance.

For large parts of the Democratic party, Trump was always an illegitimate president. Even before Inauguration Day 2016, Politico ran a story headlined “Could Trump Be Impeached Shortly After He Takes Office?”

That anti-Trump hysteria never abated. The Russia collusion investigation, we were repeatedly told, was about to uncover shocking proof of Trump’s lawbreaking. In the end, Robert Mueller’s multimillion-dollar investigation could find no evidence of Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice.

But that didn’t prevent the Democrats from voting to impeach Trump in 2019. They knew the process wouldn’t survive an encounter with a Republican-controlled Senate, but with a Democratic base baying for blood, Trump simply had to be impeached, come what may.

The constant media chorus that the president was mentally unfit for office showed that at root, opposition to him went beyond his character flaws. It was Trumpism itself — curbing immigration, coming out fighting in the culture wars, threatening the pillars of the liberal world order — that was illegitimate.

That background is what makes Pelosi’s current impeachment effort look exactly what it is: A Democratic attempt to finish the job where they’d previously failed.

Alternatives, such as censure, would serve to put daylight between the GOP and the president’s actions. And like Humpty Dumpty, the Trumpian coalition looks too broken by last Wednesday’s events to put back together again.

That’s why Pelosi’s effort deserves to fail. Because as bad as the Capitol riots were, impeachment would send no message other than score-settling.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 844)

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