Elizabeth Drew, whose accounts of the Watergate scandal are legendary, has stressed a critical point made by the Observer in earlier articles, that it would be a huge gamble and big mistake for the House to adopt Articles of Impeachment that focus narrowly on the Ukraine affair, while ignoring the broader dimensions and salient episodes of Donald Trump’s broad-scale abuses of power and other high crimes and misdemeanors.
(1) Elizabeth Drew, “Trump Demeaned Bureaucrats. This Is Their Revenge; Honesty is the best foreign policy,” New York Times, November 16, 2019.
(2) “House Democrats, stampeding like buffaloes, are heading toward a cliff,” The Trenchant Observer, November 15, 2019.
(3) “The goals of impeachment: Education or quick trial on Ukraine abuses?” The Trenchant Observer, September 27, 2019
Ms. Drew, drawing on her Watergate experience and her extraordinary career as a political journalist, writes
My major concern about the current impeachment process is that the target is too small. While the president’s constitutional misbehavior in the Ukraine scandal stands as a metaphor for his attitude toward government, it doesn’t provide an adequate picture of his long list of abuses of power during his first three years in office. If the Republicans can confuse enough people by saying that the president is being impeached for “a phone call,” then the argument for removing him will be like a house on stilts, with the stilts being removed one by one.
The argument of Ms. Pelosi and her allies that the target should be limited in the interest of time and clarity has its merits. But the great danger is that the legacy of this period will be that Mr. Trump got caught doing one bad thing rather than that he abused power across the board and wantonly violated the Constitution. The public is more than capable of understanding, among other things, that the president may have exploited his office to enrich himself, blatantly flouting the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
…And I worry about the precedent set by focusing solely on Ukraine, an implicit view that other behavior — constant lying, redirecting government funds against Congress’s wishes (such as building a phantasmagorical wall), sloppiness with government secrets, using the military for political purposes, encouraging violence against the press, and still more — was acceptable.
All because of the schedule? History is unlikely to remember the schedule.
It is not too late for the House Democrats to broaden the scope of the impeachment inquiry, and to start building the overall case, brick by brick, for the impeachment and removal from office of President Donald J. Trump.
To do so, they must look beyond convenience and the desire for a quick victory, and get on with the hard work that will be required to even have a shot at removing a president who is overseeing a prosperous economy, who retains the support of up to 50% of likely voters (see Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll), and who enjoys the powers of an incumbent to shape the outcome of the 2020 election.
The Trenchant Observer