/2020 Elections: Impeach Trump, Repeatedly
2020 Elections: Impeach Trump, Repeatedly

2020 Elections: Impeach Trump, Repeatedly

2020 Elections:

A president should not be able to stonewall and run out the clock.

2020 Elections: Charles M. Blow

CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

When the Democratic leadership was finally forced to formally back an impeachment inquiry, they faced a choice: focus broadly on all of Donald Trump’s corruption and unfitness, which could drag on for a long time, or focus narrowly on the new revelations about Trump and Ukraine and do so quickly. They chose the latter.

I happen to agree with that strategy, if one assumes that you only have one shot at this. But, I also propose another scenario: Do both. Draw up articles of impeachment on the narrow case of Ukraine, but don’t close the impeachment inquiry. Keep it open and ready to draw up more articles as new corruption is uncovered. Impeach Trump repeatedly if necessary.

There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents a president from being impeached more than once.

Trump and his administration are stonewalling in every way possible, refusing to produce administration officials for testimony and refusing to produce documents.

In many cases, Democrats in the House have taken the administration to court over its stonewalling, but court cases take time. It could be months, if not years, before there is a judgment in those cases.

But, as we are learning with the Ukraine case, Trump’s contempt for law, propriety and process is boundless. He clearly abused the power of his office when attempting to pressure that country into investigating Joe and Hunter Biden.

And, we only know this because a whistle-blower stepped forward and said something. Now, The New York Times is reporting that a second whistle-blower in the Ukraine saga is considering filing a complaint. Mark Zaid, attorney for the first whistle-blower, said Sunday that he was now representing a second whistle-blower, but that he didn’t know if it was the same person identified in The Times’s report. Could there be three?

Whistle-blowers can draw courage from one another. There can be a positive copycat effect that snowballs.

The impeachment inquiry needs to remain open after the Ukraine affair, not only to allow the cases in the courts to be resolved, but also to allow future whistle-blowers’ information to be immediately considered in the context of impeachment.

Barring a massive shift in public opinion, efforts to convict and remove Trump are destined to fail in the Republican-controlled Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week on CNBC that the Senate would have no choice but to have a trial if the House passes articles of impeachment.

McConnell put it this way:

“Yeah, it’s a Senate rule related to impeachment that would take 67 votes to change. So, I would have no choice but to take it up. How long you’re on it is a whole different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up.”

This suggests that McConnell could “take up” a House impeachment but quickly move to dismiss it, thereby allowing the Republican Senate to cowardly back out of doing its duty to place patriotism over party.

I say, in that case, deluge them with new articles of impeachment as they present themselves. Force the Senate to continually hold trials and take votes defending Trump’s wrongdoing all the way up to the eve of the election.

Some people worry that a single impeachment may strengthen Trump’s hand in 2020. They will no doubt be apoplectic about the idea of doing it multiple times, deeper into the campaign season.

But I say, Trump — and his propaganda machine at Fox News — are going to spin every scenario to their best ability. Trump is not going down without a fight, even at the ballot box.

I believe that Democrats have to place their faith in something more fundamental: the power of the truth. There are politics involved in everything that happens in Washington. And impeachment is no different. In fact, it is a purely political act.

But beyond that, there is an apolitical truth: All political corruption, abuses of power, conspiracies, cover-ups and attempts to deceive and mislead the public are wrong. Many Trump loyalists will never accede to this point, but many more Americans, at the core, know this difference between right and wrong.

Trump deserves to be impeached for every offense he has committed against the office of the presidency and the American people. That means that the impeachment inquiry can’t be constrained by electoral calendars or judicial machinations.

Precedent must be considered here. What precedent would it set if a president could simply stonewall and run out the clock in court, preventing Congress from performing its oversight and dodging any and all attempts to hold him or her accountable?

What precedent would it set if a president abused his power and broke the law but learned that he need only rile up his or her base to keep Congress at bay?

All of this would set a terrible precedent. Trump must be held accountable, fully and completely. The Ukraine development unexpectedly entered the conversation as a clear, neat package of wrongdoing that was easy for Americans to understand.

But that doesn’t wipe away the many other wrongdoings — obstruction of justice for instance — that also must be addressed for history’s sake.

I say, impeach Trump as often as necessary until all the corruption has been laid bare.

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Charles Blow joined The Times in 1994 and became an Opinion columnist in 2008. He is also a television commentator and writes often about politics, social justice and vulnerable communities. @CharlesMBlow Facebook

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