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Impeachment is proper check on Trump's abuse of power

President Trump did not have to do it.

The president has a strong case to bring to the American people for his re-election. Unemployment remains at historically low levels, the stock market remains strong, and under his watch America has seen no expansion in foreign military involvements.

But Trump did not want to win fair, he wanted to rig the game by discrediting what he saw as his most dangerous prospective opponent — former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump sought to coerce the leader of another country to assist him in doing so. In the process he did not act in the interests of national security but in the interests of his own political future.

When the House of Representatives sought to hold him to account, Trump defied this co-equal branch of government. He issued a blanket order that members of the executive branch should refuse to comply with lawful House subpoenas to provide documents and testimony.

This is why the House — or at least the Democratic majority in control of that chamber — is correct to seek to check this abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by pursuing the most powerful tool available under the U.S. Constitution — impeachment.

For if a president can with impunity solicit the help of foreign countries to perpetuate power, then ignore without consequence efforts by the legislative branch to protect the Constitution, then the future of our Republic is truly imperiled.

“Let the voters decide” is a common retort to the impeachment proceedings. But if the very purpose of the misconduct is to subvert the will of the people, to enlist a foreign power in corrupting our democratic elections, the answer to such misconduct cannot, alone, be an election. To check such abuse by the executive is precisely the reason the Founders included in the Constitution the power to impeach and remove a president from office.

Consider the precedent if Congress looks the other way and gives a pass to Trump’s failed attempt to tip the 2020 election. Imagine if Congress, through inaction, signaled it was OK for the Trump administration to withhold $391 million in military assistance to Ukraine as a means of pressuring Ukraine’s leaders to announce an embarrassing Biden investigation, money approved by Congress to oppose Russian aggression and seen as being in our national interest.

Then imagine a future president, acting more deftly than Trump in his or her sinister pursuits, cutting a deal with China or Russia to give a free pass to their territorial or trade interests in return for their unleashing of cyber warriors to generate fake scandals or suppress the vote in support of the president’s re-election.

No, Congress cannot take a pass. It must send the message that the president’s actions and subsequent unlawful obstruction violated his oath to protect and defend the Constitution. It must impeach.

“But the money was eventually released,” say the president’s defenders. “Ukraine never announced a Biden investigation.”

The fact that Trump failed in his attempt to corrupt the 2020 election and that Ukraine did not give in to his demands does not excuse his betrayal of fundamental democratic principles. He got caught. Only when the White House learned the jig was up, that a whistleblower had come forward and Congress would investigate, did the money get released.

Trump admits no wrong. Quite the opposite. He has stated he remains open to foreign help in support of his re-election and to undermine opponents. Trump’s comments and actions point to his remaining a threat to national security and the Constitution, if it serves his self-interest.

Some argue that this is a waste of time because Republicans in Washington continue to defend Trump’s actions and there appears little prospect of a conviction, by the two-thirds vote necessary in the Senate, to remove the president from office.

The cynical political calculation of Republicans to try to explain away the president’s wrongdoing is arguably more distressing than Trump’s behavior. And more dangerous because it signals to Trump that he has no boundaries.

But if it takes Democrats alone to act, so be it. Impeachment of President Donald Trump for the proposed articles of Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress is in order. Let history record which senators subsequently uphold their oath to defend the Constitution and those who choose to put the protection of the president above the protection of the country.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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