Editorial boards at major newspaper across the United States have weighed in on impeachment. Here are excerpts. (And here’s the Tampa Bay Times’ editorial.)
To resist the pull of partisanship, Republicans and Democrats alike ought to ask themselves the same question: Would they put up with a Democratic president using the power of the White House this way? Then they should consider the facts, the architecture and aspirations of the Constitution and the call of history. In that light, there can be only one responsible judgment: to cast a vote to impeach, to send a message not only to this president but to future ones.
By stonewalling as no previous president has, Donald Trump has left Congress with no choice but to press ahead to a Senate trial. The president insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing, yet he refuses to release any administration documents or allow any administration officials to testify — though, if his assertions are in fact true, those officials would presumably exonerate him. He refused to present any defense before the House whatsoever, asserting a form of monarchical immunity that Congress cannot let stand.
The president’s GOP enablers continue to place power and party ahead of truth and country. Had any Democratic president behaved the way Trump has — paying hush money to a porn star, flattering dictators and spewing an unending stream of falsehoods — there’s no doubt congressional Republicans would have tried to run him out of the White House in a New York minute. Twenty-seven Republicans who voted to impeach or convict Clinton remain in Congress. If they continue to defend Trump, history will record their hypocrisy.
Our support for Trump’s impeachment by the House — we’ll wait for the Senate trial to render a verdict on removal from office — has nothing to do with policy differences. We have had profound disagreements with the president on a host of issues, led by his reckless deficits and inattention to climate change, both of which will burden generations to come.
Policy differences are not, however, grounds for impeachment. Constitutional violations are.
Bill Clinton should be impeached and stand trial “because the charges are too serious and the evidence amassed too compelling” to ignore, the Editorial Board wrote in December 1998.
The same can be said this December about the allegations facing Donald Trump. Only much more so.
Democrats wrap these charges in high-toned rhetoric about “this solemn day” and quotes from Benjamin Franklin. But they are essentially impeaching Mr. Trump because they despise him and the way he governs.
This is the classic standard of “maladministration,” which the Founders explicitly considered but excluded from the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. They did so because they feared that partisan Congresses would too easily impeach presidents of the opposite political faction on this subjective basis, rather than for serious offenses.
In their wisdom, the American people seem to have figured all this out. Despite one-sided lobbying by the impeachment press, the polls show that a majority opposes removing Mr. Trump from office. This may be the real explanation behind the Democratic move to shrink impeachment. Democrats now want a fast and furious vote to satisfy their most anti-Trump partisans, dump the mess on the Senate, and campaign on something else.
They shouldn’t get off that easy. By defining impeachment down, they are turning what should be a rare and extraordinary constitutional remedy into a routine tool of partisan warfare. They are harming constitutional norms, as the liberals like to say.
Americans will decide in 11 months whether Mr. Trump deserves to remain in office. But they should also keep the impeachment vote very much in mind when they decide whether Democrats deserve to keep the House.
President Donald Trump’s myriad abuses of power could easily provide the basis for several articles of impeachment. But on Tuesday House Democrats unveiled only two, both related to Trump’s unconscionable attempt to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations that would benefit him politically.
Even if you think the bill of particulars should be longer — and this page has suggested a possible additional article of impeachment based on Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — the two that the House has drafted fully justify the grave step of impeachment. In this case, two is enough.
Impeachment does not require a crime. The Constitution entrusts Congress with the impeachment power in order to protect Americans from a president who is betraying their interests. And it is very much in Americans’ interests to maintain checks and balances in the federal government; to have a foreign policy that the world can trust is based on our national interest instead of the president’s personal needs; to control federal spending through their elected representatives; to vote in fair elections untainted by foreign interference. For generations, Americans have enjoyed those privileges. What’s at stake now is whether we will keep them. The facts show that the president has threatened this country’s core values and the integrity of our democracy. Congress now has a duty to future generations to impeach him.
We take no pleasure in recommending the president’s impeachment and are aware of the considerable costs and risks: further dividing and inflaming our politics; turning impeachment into one more tool of partisan warfare; perhaps giving Mr. Trump unwarranted aid in his reelection effort. But the House must make its decision based on the facts and merits, setting aside unpredictable second-order effects.
That is particularly true because, unlike any previous president, Mr. Trump has refused all cooperation with the congressional inquiry. He has prevented the testimony of a dozen present or former senior officials and the release of documents by the White House, the Office of Management and Budget and three Cabinet departments.
The House Intelligence Committee’s report rightly warns that “this unprecedented campaign of obstruction” poses a serious threat to U.S. democracy.
In our view, Trump’s Ukraine misdeeds are a serious abuse of his office. But they do not meet those tests of an impeachable offense. The option we see more fitting to address Trump’s abuse of power is for both houses of Congress to censure him. We do not envision a weak-kneed admonishment that Trump can dismiss. A resolution of censure would spell out in detail the president’s betrayal of trust and his failure of responsibilities by placing his personal political interests above his obligations to the nation. This resolution could adopt the language that could otherwise appear in articles of impeachment.