Impeachment seems certain this week in the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
So does acquittal, as soon as next month, in the Republican-run U.S. Senate.
Most of the partisans in Washington made up their minds about President Donald Trump’s guilt or innocence long ago — before hearing all of the evidence against him. He’s accused of abusing power and obstructing Congress, with a split decision from the House and Senate likely to keep Trump in the White House for now.
That means voters — especially those in Wisconsin and other swing states — will decide the president’s fate in November.
We’re not fans of the rude and reckless Republican president. A real estate developer and reality TV star, Trump exhibits little knowledge or curiosity about foreign affairs and public policy. He’s a self-absorbed entertainer. We didn’t endorse him in 2016, nor do we plan to next year.
Nonetheless, leaving Trump’s presidency up to voters is best for democracy, given public skepticism over the House’s rushed impeachment process.
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The facts suggest President Trump did commit impeachable offenses. Trump pressured a foreign government, Ukraine, to meddle in the 2020 elections by announcing a bogus investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, his leading political rival. Trump wanted Ukraine to target Biden, hoping the specter of an investigation would tarnish Biden’s reputation.
The evidence also shows the Trump administration held up U.S. military aid to Ukraine and dangled a coveted White House meeting with the Ukrainian president. It appears this was done to prod Ukraine to unfairly accuse Biden at Trump’s behest. It wasn’t until a whistleblower exposed the plot that aid was released, and plans for a Ukrainian announcement were canceled.
President Donald Trump calls every investigation he doesn't like a witch hunt.
The Democrats’ problem in rushing to impeach Trump is their failure to convince most of the public that Trump deserves to be removed from office with an election less than a year away. About 52% of registered Wisconsin voters oppose impeachment, while 40% favor it, according to a Marquette Law School poll last week. Yet 50% disapprove of Trump’s job performance, compared to 47% who approve.
Key figures — including Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, who disparaged Trump’s manipulation of Ukraine as a “drug deal” — have refused to cooperate with the House inquiry. Forcing them to testify might require a lengthy court battle.
Fearing a delay could hurt them politically, House Democrats plan to impeach this week. Curiously, Senate Republicans are making a similar calculation, planning a swift dismissal or acquittal next month.
With the GOP reflexively defending Trump, a better path for Democrats would be to censure the president. Censure would warn future presidents not to enlist foreign governments in U.S. elections or stonewall Congress. Trump ordered his executive branch not to cooperate with the inquiry, though some officials defied him. Censure would force Republicans to vote on whether Trump was wrong, not whether he should be removed.
We’re confident most voters have had enough of Trump’s divisive, incompetent, racist and xenophobic behavior. Key to removing him from office isn’t impeachment. It’s for voters to stay informed and have their say in November.