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Republican calls for Trump’s impeachment emerge in wake of Ukraine scandal

Republican calls for Trump’s impeachment emerge in wake of Ukraine scandal

You know that Donald Trump’s Waterloo will soon be upon us when Republicans start shouting for impeachment as loudly — or more loudly, in many cases — as Democrats.

Not all Republicans, of course, have reached this stage. Most are still so terrified of losing power and influence in the administration if they reveal their true feelings about the president and of being primaried by rabid Trump supporters if they stand up for the rule of law that the president so blithely ignores.

Yet those members of the GOP who still have a shred of integrity and realize that the Trump agenda is a sure ticket to the future demise of the Republican party are speaking up with a renewed intensity after the revelations about the president’s latest attempt at collusion with a foreign government — through his efforts to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on the son of one of his chief potential Democratic rivals for the presidency in the 2020 race, Joe Biden.

Ironically, it’s been the husband of one of Trump’s longest-serving and trusted media attack dogs, Kellyanne Conway, who has been leading the charge of “Never Trump” Republicans to remove the president from office — either through the invocation of the 25th Amendment due to Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior and mental lapses or now through vigorous calls to the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to begin impeachment hearings.

George Conway, a highly regarded GOP attorney, strongly argued that Congress perform its constitutional duty by initiating impeachment proceedings as soon as possible in a Washington Post op-ed that he co-authored with Neal Katyal, the former Acting Solicitor General in the Obama administration.

The duo begins their op-ed with a discussion of the constitutional roots of the impeachment process and the original intent of the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” — one of the impeachable offenses a president can commit.

“Among the most delicate choices the framers made in drafting the Constitution was how to deal with a president who puts himself above the law. To address that problem, they chose the mechanism of impeachment and removal from office. And they provided that this remedy could be used when a president commits ‘Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’”

“That last phrase — ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ — was a historical term of art, derived from impeachments in the British Parliament. When the framers put it into the Constitution, they didn’t discuss it much, because no doubt they knew what it meant. It meant, as Alexander Hamilton later phrased it, ‘the abuse or violation of some public trust.’”

“Simply put, the framers viewed the president as a fiduciary, the government of the United States as a sacred trust and the people of the United States as the beneficiaries of that trust. Through the Constitution, the framers imposed upon the president the duty and obligation to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” and made him swear an oath that he would fulfill that duty of faithful execution. They believed that a president would break his oath if he engaged in self-dealing — if he used his powers to put his own interests above the nation’s. That would be the paradigmatic case for impeachment.”

Having set up the background of the intent of the Constitution’s framers, Conway and Katyal go on to explain how the president’s political use of his threat to withhold $250 million in military assistance to Ukraine if they did not assist him in defeating his political opponent is “the ultimate impeachable act.”

“Trump has already done more than enough to warrant impeachment and removal with his relentless attempts, on multiple fronts, to sabotage the counterintelligence and criminal investigation by then-special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and to conceal evidence of those attempts. The president’s efforts were impeachable because, in committing those obstructive acts, he put his personal interests above the nation’s: He tried to stop an investigation into whether a hostile foreign power, Russia, tried to interfere with our democracy — simply because he seemed to find it personally embarrassing. Trump breached his duty of faithful execution to the nation not only because he likely broke the law but also because, through his disregard for the law, he put his self-interest first.”

“The current whistleblowing allegations, however, are even worse. Unlike the allegations of conspiracy with Russia before the 2016 election, these concern Trump’s actions as president, not as a private citizen, and his exercise of presidential powers over foreign policy with Ukraine. Moreover, with Russia, at least there was an attempt to get the facts through the Mueller investigation; here the White House is trying to shut down the entire inquiry from the start — depriving not just the American people, but even congressional intelligence committees, of necessary information.”

Conway and Katyal conclude their op-ed with an urgent trumpeting of the need for Congress to step up to the plate in this time of unprecedented presidential corruption and lawlessness.

“It is high time for Congress to do its duty, in the manner the framers intended. Given how Trump seems ever bent on putting himself above the law, something like what might have happened between him and Ukraine — abusing presidential authority for personal benefit — was almost inevitable. Yet if that is what occurred, part of the responsibility lies with Congress, which has failed to act on the blatant obstruction that Mueller detailed months ago.”

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“Congressional procrastination has probably emboldened Trump, and it risks emboldening future presidents who might turn out to be of his sorry ilk. To borrow John Dean’s haunting Watergate-era metaphor once again, there is a cancer on the presidency, and cancers, if not removed, only grow. Congress bears the duty to use the tools provided by the Constitution to remove that cancer now, before it’s too late. As Elbridge Gerry put it at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, ‘A good magistrate will not fear [impeachments]. A bad one ought to be kept in fear of them.’ By now, Congress should know which one Trump is.”

While many in Congress are well aware of what kind of “magistrate” Donald Trump truly is, Speaker Pelosi’s failure to move forward with a full impeachment initiative at this stage of the game reeks of political calculus over constitutional duty.

Whether the Senate has enough votes to convict Trump or not is immaterial. The nation must force the GOP senators on the record as to whether or not they will accept a president who blatantly flouts the rule of law. If the Republicans in the Senate can’t support the constitution or the concept that no one — not even the president — is above the law, then the voters must know about their unprincipled stances and hold them accountable as well, just in time for the 2020 election.

With prominent Republicans like George Conway — and former GOP members like Justin Amash (I-MI) — already choosing to support impeachment, the time for Congress to act is now.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Add your name to tell the House to fulfill its constitutional obligation: Launch impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump!

Original reporting by George T. Conway III and Neal Katyal at The Washington Post.

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