The Democrats and their mainstream media allies promise to make the impeachment of Donald Trump the first order of business if they take back the House of Representatives in November. If they win the votes to do it, they’ll be entitled, whether it’s a shameful enterprise or not.
But there must be a clear understanding of what such an impeachment would mean, what it would accomplish beyond the sacking of an unpopular president, and what the “progressive” left wants to accomplish with such a radical exercise. Impeaching any president is serious business, and particularly impeaching Donald Trump, who has not yet done anything proving the “high crimes and misdemeanors” required by the Constitution to impeach a president. His only high crime was defeating Hillary Clinton.
Robert Mueller has won or forced guilty pleas from more than a score of defendants as evidence of Trump collusion with Russia to deprive Hillary Clinton of the presidency. After spending $17 million and taking two years time to do it, he hasn’t proved anything beyond the settled fact that low-lifes buzz around the Donald like frenzied insects around a light bulb on a humid summer’s night. It’s as if Mr. Mueller had never heard of Donald Trump or the election and had contented himself and the mob by running up thousands of golden “billable hours” for the government to pay.
“Success is doing justice,” observes Solomon Wisenberg, who worked with Kenneth W. Starr in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and “not just going out to ‘get’ someone. Mueller has got some guilty pleas, but none of those guilty pleas get him any closer to collusion and conspiracy with Russian actors and people in the Trump campaign.”
Indeed, some of the bank and tax fraud charges lodged against Mr. Manafort date from nearly 20 years ago, long before the first presidential bug sank its tiny stinger into the ample proboscis of the president. Ranging so far afield from what he was actually hired to do, and then not doing it, is an indication of the temperature of the hot breath Mr. Mueller is beginning to feel on the back of his neck. He has to show trophies, even if very little ones, as proof that he’s actually awake.
Lawyers everywhere are watching this play out with drooling anticipation. Democrats insist their confidence is bolstered with every conviction, even by one of the 100 criminal charges filed against 32 defendants of three companies, and with the dispensing of every one of the 17 million Mueller dollars. Spending money is something Washington admires, and Mr. Mueller seems to have a singular talent for convicting not the guilty, but the irrelevant.
“The very fact that the convictions that Mr. Mueller obtained are outside the scope of his assignment seems to indirectly confirm the supposition that there was simply no evidence of the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia,” says Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, “although I don’t think the final chapter is written on that.”
No doubt. Millions of ink cartridges and barrels of ink not yet manufactured will be spent on printing columns, essays and even books on how Donald Trump, loud, vulgar, savage, uncouth, crude and tasteless (have I forgotten anything?) took on his betters, as the “betters” measure themselves, and crushed them all. That’s exactly what’s so unforgivable. There is so much to abhor, so little connected to Donald Trump.
If Robert Mueller actually wants to turn in a persuasive account of what happened in the campaign of 2016, one that would legitimize his work like nothing else, there’s a way to do it. He could incorporate his excessively partisan investigation into what Hillary Clinton was doing in her ham-handed way of blowing a sure thing. This would answer, with convincing emphasis, that the Mueller inquiry was meant to find out what actually happened, and is not a poorly disguised railroad job. Such an authentic inquiry would put to rest fears on right and left.
The rage to impeach Donald Trump began even before he was inaugurated, before he was even capable of high crimes and misdemeanors. Rep. Maxine Waters has been the face of the impeachment rage. Only now are “respectable” voices raised. In fact, if the president is impeached, she should be entitled to a place on the 2020 ticket, perhaps for vice president. To deny her would be shocking evidence of Democratic racism.
She’s earned the recognition by her rabid devotion to a rabid cause, the campaign to cancel the result of a fair election that betrays everything that makes America the shining city on a hill.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.
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