House Impeaches President a Second Time to “Save America”
Hubris is a dangerous cocktail of overconfidence, overambition, arrogance and pride fueled by power and success. When found alongside contempt for the advice and criticism of others, hubris causes leaders to significantly overreach themselves, taking risky and reckless decisions with harmful, sometimes catastrophic consequences for themselves, their organizations, institutions, and even for society. Eugene Sadler-Smith, Jan. 20, 2017
Hubris. In the end, that is what brought about the downfall of President Donald J. Trump. History will forever judge the Trump presidency as a catastrophe. He will be remembered as the only president in the nation’s history to have been impeached twice and the only president impeached on charges of insurrection against his own country. On Jan. 13, the House of Representatives voted 232 in favor of impeachment and 197 opposed.
Ten Republicans voted to impeach. According to the New York Times, this was “the largest number of lawmakers to ever vote to impeach a president from their own party; just five Democrats voted to impeach President Bill Clinton, and not a single Republican voted in favor of impeaching Mr. Trump in 2019.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has decided to delay the Senate trial, which will likely take place after President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20. At the same time, in a remarkable break with the president whose behavior he has enabled for four years, McConnell suggested “that he will consider convicting Trump on inciting the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6,” the Washington Post reported. McConnell has indicated privately that he favors Trump’s removal as a way to purge him from the Republican Party.
Trump is now more isolated than ever, and impeachment has inflicted major damage on his political career. If his Senate trial results in a conviction, Trump would be forever banned from holding any public office in the United States.
Democrats Cite Statement by Liz Cheney
During the House impeachment debate Jan. 13, Democrats repeatedly referred to the statement by House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), one of the most influential of the ten Republicans who voted for impeachment. The full text of her speech was published by Politico.
“The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing,” Cheney said. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Trump loyalists Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fl) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) defended the president as expected. Their arguments came across as hollow and absurd compared to the overwhelming evidence of Trump’s guilt — the video of his speech inciting the mob to violence and the videos of the mob assault on the U.S. Capitol, which members of the House had personally experienced.
Gaetz even defended the actions that prompted the president’s first impeachment and then repeated the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump through massive voter fraud. This argument is so discredited that for the first time Mitch McConnell openly disagreed with the president during the Congressional certification of the Electoral College vote.
“Nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale that would’ve tipped the entire election,” McConnell said. “Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence…If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”
Abuse of Power
From the moment he took office, Trump abused his executive branch power with impunity — a power that was greatly expanded under the Bush/Cheney administration after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. Trump was a bully who had been handed the keys to the kingdom.
Throughout his term, Trump’s every pronouncement seemed designed to further expand the limits of his power — from his illegal Muslim ban to his support for insurrection. He was a president who wanted to be king. In the end he showed his disdain for democracy by trying to destroy it.
He abused his power:
- when he refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power even before the election was over,
- when he insisted that a “rigged election” would be the only way he could lose,
- when he denounced mail-in voting as fraudulent to prove his baseless claims of a “rigged election,”
- when he refused to accept the valid outcome of the election,
- when he repeated the lies of massive voter fraud, despite the dismissal of his lawsuits for lack of evidence by courts across the country,
- when he manipulated his supporters with his claims of a “stolen” election,
- when he urged them to attend a “Save America” rally in D.C. that he knew would end in violence.
Trump finally went too far when he incited his supporters, including white supremacists and other domestic terrorists emboldened by his administration, to attack the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.
In the end, enough lawmakers united in an attempt to save America — not from progressive political forces seeking reform — but from a president who had become a dangerous threat to democracy. However, Trump’s second impeachment is just the beginning of a much larger struggle against the ideologies of hate that permeate American society and that Trump has promoted, including racism/white supremacy, extreme nationalism, and xenophobia, and the domestic terrorist groups that traffic in such hatred, so clearly on display at the Capitol. Their enablers in Congress must also be held accountable.