Democrats are rushing to impeach Trump

Andrew Leal, Print Managing Editor

Three House committee chairmen issued a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sept. 27 to request documents they believe would support an allegation that President Donald Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to interfere in the 2020 election.

Chairmen Eliot Engel, Elijah Cummings and Adam Schiff were now acting under the guise of an impeachment inquiry when they issued the subpoena to Pompeo.

The Democrats on Capitol Hill are right to act in their capacity as investigators, but not under the guise of an impeachment inquiry to get to the bottom of the president’s conversations with Zelensky. 

Wait until all the evidence points to a crime before you launch the impeachment proceedings into Trump, you are bringing politics into it and nuking yourselves in the foot if you put the cart before the horse. How about you look at alternatives first.

The only hard evidence produced so far is a phone call made on July 25, 2019 that was unclassified by Trump on Sept. 24. The summary of the call shows Trump asking Zelensky for a “favor” to “look into” Biden.

Trump believed the former vice president tried to end a Ukrainian prosecution into his son, Hunter Biden, over his ties to Burisma Holdings which was allegedly surrounded by corruption, according to the July 25 phone call.

The July 25 phone call is not enough to support the allegation Trump asked Zelensky to interfere in the 2020 election and it definitely does not warrant an impeachment inquiry.

The important aspects to consider with the impeachment inquiry is to understand what it is and what it has to do with impeachment. An impeachment inquiry is an investigation to gather evidence to support a reason for impeachment, the first step in the process.

From there, the House Judiciary Committee will take up articles of impeachment to a vote then the House of Representatives. If both votes pass, boom, Trump is impeached.  

The House’s power to do so comes from Article 1 Section 3 of the Constitution. “The House of Representatives … shall have the sole power of impeachment.”

Okay, but if the impeachment inquiry is an investigation well that is how the House will get the evidence, right?

Yes, however, there are better alternatives to consider: have the Democrats lead investigations as they have gained power from the 2018 midterms, making a select committee look into this specific situation or appoint a special prosecutor. 

Impeachment should be the last resort for Democrats to ascertain the Ukraine situation, instead, continue the investigations that have been going on. For instance, the House Judiciary, Intelligence and Oversight committees have been looking into Trump’s finances. Each of those could add more to their plate.

Or make a select committee for an investigation, which is the purpose of those bodies. “The House will sometimes form a special or select committee for a short period and specific purpose, frequently an investigation,” according to the house.gov website.

Have this special committee be full of representatives who are the most moderate from both parties, strive for a balanced group to preserve integrity in their mission. 

However, to truly take politics out of the equation, the best way to investigate the president would be to appoint a special prosecutor. The House nor the Senate has the power to do so alone or together. But one or both can, in the interest of objectivity, formally ask Attorney General William Barr to appoint a special prosecutor. He has the power to do so. 

But a special prosecutor has been tried before, right? Yes, it has. So maybe it wouldn’t be preferred by Democrats, Republicans or the American people. 

The special prosecutor route would just be playing a broken record by this point, just insert Russia for Ukraine and 2020 for 2016. 

Impeachment sounds like the next step after exhausting a two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The problem is ultimately making the process political, which is what will happen if Democrats lead it.  

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to call for an impeachment inquiry is reminiscent of what Senate Democrats did in 2013 when they invoked the “nuclear option.” They made the fight political rather than objective. 

Back in 2013, during the beginning of former President Obama’s second term in office, he ran into Senate Republican roadblocks on his cabinet-level and federal judicial nominees. The procedure used to stall Obama’s nominees was the filibuster.

The filibuster is a Senate tactic used to seek “recognition and, once recognized, speaks at length,” according to senate.gov. It gives a senator the ability to convince colleagues or delay a vote by long-form debate.

The way to end a filibuster would be to invoke cloture which is detailed in Rule XXII in the Senate rules. 

‘Is it the sense of the Senate that the debate shall be brought to a close?’ And if that question shall be decided in the affirmative by three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn – then said the measure, motion or other matter pending,” will come to an end. 

Before Nov. 2013, Rule XXII had a threshold that protected the minority’s voice. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lead the charge to change that rule and dropped the requirement to invoke cloture down to a simple majority for nominations by the president, enacting the “nuclear option.”

The move was entirely political and it ignored the will of the Republican minority at the time. “It’s a sad day in the history of the Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

The “nuclear option” was used in the Trump administration to appoint two Supreme Court justices, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, to the bench. Those two judicial appoints reeked of Republicans playing politics to sit two people to the nation’s highest court. Who was in charge then and still is? McConnell.

A simple lesson from 2013 should be reason enough for Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats not to go through with the impeachment inquiries in a partisan manner. They have options to avoid playing politics with this serious issue of whether the president tried to use a foreign power to interfere in the 2020 election.

Democrats, don’t repeat history! Learn from it!