I will just say it: I don't know whether or not President Trump should be impeached.
What I do know, beyond any doubt, is that he has acted, over and over again, in ways that are clearly wrong, clearly unethical, clearly unbefitting a president of the United States of America. But do his clearly problematic attempts to solicit from a foreign power favors that would serve his own political interests amount to “high crimes and misdemeanors”?
I don’t know.
I think the most honest thing right now is to acknowledge the fact that this is complicated. And it’s unprecedented. Never before have articles of impeachment been published against a president that do not allege that a crime has been committed.
Whether or not to impeach in this case is a political, constitutional and moral question with no easy answers.
And yet, on Tuesday, Utah Congressman John Curtis announced that he would be voting against the articles of impeachment, stating that it was an “easy” decision for him.
I have been a strong supporter of Curtis and consider him a friend. But he lost some of my trust this week — not by saying that he was going to vote against the articles of impeachment, but by calling it an “easy” decision.
How can it be easy to refuse to hold this president accountable when his pattern of behavior is so decidedly and consistently unethical? A no vote on impeachment may ultimately be a legitimate choice, but it should never be an easy one. The greatest legal minds in the country are wrestling with this question of whether or not President Trump’s actions rise to the level of impeachable offenses. I sincerely hope that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are taking it just as seriously. We should be able to expect as much from them. We need to know that they will acknowledge nuance and genuinely grapple with these difficult decisions — especially when the ramifications carry such weight.
Like too many other issues that should simply be about what is right and what is best for our country, this question of impeachment has, unfortunately, become about what is best for one’s self and one’s particular party. And that is unconscionable. This should not be a partisan matter.
I have grave concerns about what will happen if we don’t reclaim this issue from the clutches of partisanship. Right now, it’s looking like there will be a predictable party line vote to impeach in the House and then a predictable party line vote to acquit in the Senate. We can't afford for Americans across the political spectrum to have their most cynical beliefs about our political system confirmed and for the country to become even more deeply divided.
Nor can we afford for Trump to continue to encourage foreign interference with impunity in the hopes of securing a 2020 victory. We desperately need to restore public confidence in our politicians, our political system and processes, and the power and sanctity of our own voices expressed in the voting booth. We can’t allow partisan politics to be the only thing that matters when the very vision of our country’s founders is at stake.
What we need are some true patriots, some true statesmen and stateswomen like Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and others who have the integrity and the courage to boldly proclaim that, while they may be conflicted over impeachment, they stand firm for what is right—and Trump’s persistent abuses of his office are not right and will not be tolerated. These patriots might choose to lead the charge for a full and unequivocal formal censure, they might publicly urge Trump to resign, or they might decide to back a strong primary challenger. But they need to do something.
Additionally, a powerful statement could be made — to Trump, our foreign adversaries, and the American public — if Congress would put aside its combativeness and pass bipartisan legislation protecting us against foreign interference in the next election and beyond.
As I wrote elsewhere: “This is a time for unity, not further division. This is a time for all of us — conservatives and progressives alike — who love our country, who honor our Constitution, who are committed to the rule of law, to tear down the bulwarks, erase the battle lines and come together on the common ground of ethics and our shared commitment to our foundational democratic ideals.”
God bless us all.