Republicans Should Tread Lightly On Impeachment

You may have heard about the Christianity Today editorial written that has ruffled a few feathers. I thought it was a well-written piece that doesn’t come across as harsh, but it doesn’t pull any punches. In short, the editorial board supports the removal of President Donald Trump by either impeachment or by the public during the 2020 election cycle.

I don’t know the President’s heart. He professes to be a Christian even though the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy piece, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) seem to be a bit light from what we can tell from his public persona.

That editorial has certainly caused a backlash from some evangelical leaders. Rev. Franklin Graham rebuked the editorial and said that his late father knew, believed in, and voted for President Trump. Dr. James Dobson also bucked the editorial with a seemingly absurd comment in a personal statement:

The editors didn’t tell us who should take his place in the aftermath.

By the way, after Christianity Today has helped vacate the Oval Office, I hope they will tell us if their candidate to replace Mr. Trump will fight for religious liberty and the Bill of Rights? Give your readers a little more clarity on why President Trump should be turned out of office after being duly elected by 63 million voters? Is it really because he made a phone call that displeased you? There must be more to your argument than that. While Christianity Today is making its case for impeachment, I hope the editors will now tell us who they support for president among the Democrat field. That should tell us the rest of the story.”

Dr. Dobson should be reminded that Vice President Mike Pence would become president if President Trump was convicted and removed by the US Senate. Actually, this would probably do more to advance the goals of the evangelical base than it is to have a cultish devotion to Trump, but a narcissist has a way of manipulating people to advance their goals.

And that manipulation and self-interest is really what’s at the crux of the impeachment argument. Did President Trump abuse his power to try to withhold funds appropriated by Congress to advance his own self interest (i.e., benefit his re-election bid)? The President has a good amount of latitude when it comes to foreign relations, but this is something the Senate really should take seriously and make their ultimate decision and vote based on the facts presented to them.

The National Review has a piece written by Ramesh Ponnuru where he outlines four walls that advocates of impeachment should have to scale in order to charge ahead with the process. An excerpt from that article:

It might be possible to regard Trump’s Ukraine misadventure as a lapse of judgment, with little harm done, if he showed any repentance or even understanding of what he has done wrong. Instead it looks more like a window into tendencies of his that are incompatible with performing the functions of his office.

Whether Trump should be removed from office over the objections of nearly half the country is not an important question. He can’t be. There are better questions. Would it be good for the country if a large majority of Americans were to be persuaded that it is unacceptable for a president to use his office to encourage foreign governments to investigate his political opponents? Assuming that the necessary level of support to remove a president from office for that offense will not be reached, should we prefer that more elected officials go on record that it is unacceptable — or that fewer do?

I’ve seen arguments range from that you can’t impeach a President who has done such a great job to pictures of counties won by President Trump saying “impeach this”. We have enjoyed a period of continued economic expansion and prosperity under the Trump Administration, but the question before the Senate is whether or not Mr. Trump violated his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Impeachment is a serious matter, and something that I hope my fellow Republicans just won’t abdicate all reason and rational thought in defense of the President. Yes, the Democrats have been gunning for the President since day one of his administration, but President Trump really should have kept this in mind and taken to heart being above the appearance of impropriety. The Democrats’ expediency for getting impeachment done seems to be more of a political game rather than putting a check on the chief executive. Jonah Goldberg’s podcast with guest Gary Schmitt is a good primer for impeachment and the discussion above. I recommend giving it a listen.

We need to tread lightly in this matter. Impeachment of a president isn’t a common occurrence in our nation’s history, so each impeachment pretty much sets precedent. Regardless of the Democrats’ motive and rush to push impeachment through, the US Senate should give a fair and impartial hearing to the articles of impeachment as a way to preserve the process and integrity of the institution. Anything that gives the appearance of stacking the deck in favor of dismissal without hearing the evidence will lessen public confidence–not to mention, what happens when a Republican president faces impeachment by a highly partisan, Democratically-controlled House and trial by a highly partisan, Democratically-controlled Senate?


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