I had moved to Tioga County just a few years before Richard Nixon’s impeachment hearings, which I followed by radio and newspaper (not owning a TV). Initially Republicans supported the President, but as testimony revealed the extent of lies, cover-ups and obstruction of justice, Nixon’s impeachment became a bipartisan effort, and he resigned.
Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, had already resigned in disgrace for his corrupt reign in Maryland, and Gerald Ford had become V.P. through a brand-new procedure for refilling our nation’s second-highest office. So Ford became our first and only non-elected vice president, and then non-elected president.
Some 20-plus years later, Bill Clinton was caught with his pants down (and on fire), and he lied as self-righteously and adamantly as Nixon had done. But neither Democrats nor the nation joined in the Republican impeachment obsession, deciding (for better or worse) that adultery was not among the “high crimes and misdemeanors” needed to remove a president.
Now, another 20 years later, Donald Trump faces impeachment, with an even more polarized/ partisan divide between our parties and within our nation. Having watched, or listened to, over half the House’s open hearings, I believe career, non-political State Deartment civil servants provided ample evidence that the president stopped aid for an allied nation under active military attack by Russia for personal reasons.
One whole evening, I watched Fox channel coverage, and felt we had witnessed different hearings. Their commentators merely repeated all the same ‘talking points’ the House Republicans had made, with no analysis, no fact-checking and no pretense of impartiality.
One point repeated endlessly was, “It’s all hearsay, second and third-hand testimony.” But with the Trump administration non-cooperation, and his highest-ranking aides’ refusal to testify under oath, there could be little first-hand testimony of what Trump himself had said (although there was that over-heard restaurant phone-call, from Trump himself, confirming his demands).
But his hand-picked EU ambassador, two career State Department ambassadors and several lower-ranking civil servants gave ample evidence that Trump knew of, and supported, the halting of aid to Ukraine. Circumstantial evidence, which is even allowed in U.S. courts in death penalty trials, clearly proved the twin political motives for the hold-up: Trump-demanded investigations into Hunter Biden’s overpaid role in a corrupt energy company and into (already disproved) claims of Ukrainian pro-Democratic Party interference in our 2016 election.
A second oft-repeated Fox/ Republican point was that Ukraine finally, belatedly, did get the military aid as mandated by large bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, so “nothing, no crime, occurred.” This bizarre reasoning ignores Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to delay the aid until he received public Ukrainian promises to undertake the investigations he demanded.
I urge both Fox and House Republicans to review American criminal law: the attempt to commit a crime is itself a crime, whether trying to commit murder or to purchase liquor as a minor. In fact, the charge of “conspiracy to commit” a crime is equally valid whether or not the crime occurred, and Fox and friends’ ignorance of the law is emblematic of their error-filled commentary.
A third Fox/ Republican refrain is that impeachment is an attempt to “undo Americans’ votes in the 2016 election.” They should remember that Ms. Clinton received 2.8 million more votes than Mr. Trump, so impeachment would undo the Electoral College vote, not the people’s actual choice.
I previously had written that I opposed impeachment until the completion of additional indictments resulting from the Mueller Report, and until there was some bipartisan support. Although I remain ambivalent about the Democratic momentum to pursue impeachment without Republican support, I have been convinced by the career diplomats’ testimony that Trump views American foreign policy as subservient to his re-election and to his personal business interests.
So I reluctantly support impeachment, and hope that some Republican senators will not follow their House counterparts down the rabbit-hole of denial, vilification of the press, questioning the loyalty of civil servants and overt threats.