Was it really necessary to impeach Donald Trump? Do we really need to prolong the agony of his presence in the public arena? Would it not have been better to just babysit him for the few days left in his Presidency– to make sure that the enraged madman would not unleash a nuclear holocaust–and then send him on his way?
There are some public figures that come to be defined by a single word in the historical record: think of Nixon and Watergate, McCarthy and Communism. For Trump that word will be “impeachment.” Of course, there will be a lot more to say about his presidency. He has praised dictators, bragged that Kim Jung-Un wrote him “beautiful letters,” yet achieved nothing of substance or lasting in the US-Korea relations. He campaigned on the promise that “Mexico will pay for the wall,” yet thus far it has cost American taxpayers 10 billion dollars and Mexico, not a penny. He has repeatedly denied Russia’s meddling in getting him elected in 2016, and has never stopped admiring and emulating Putin in his dictatorial ways. He has issued a raft of pardons, to arbitrarily chosen individuals that were almost all convicted of crimes committed for his own advancement. Think of Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone. He has pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival and family, and obstructed justice on more than one occasion. My list could go on and on, but I don’t need to do that, so many such lists have recently been compounded.
But when has a US president ever before denied the legitimacy of the presidential election up to Inauguration Day? Who before Trump has ever tried to hijack the Electoral College delegate votes through such patently corrupt ways? Who has incited violence against his own government or its Constitution? Stoked his thuggish supporters to attack the Capitol of the United States and place the lives of our lawmakers in grave danger? Which president in recent memory has given birth to domestic terrorists who bring ladders and battering rams to the Capitol and cause blood to be shed?
And lest we forget, Trump is a president who has denied the ravages of a pandemic that thus far has caused almost 400,000 deaths. And all because for one thing, he was too vain about his image to wear a mask–and indeed mocked others, including Joe Biden, for wearing one–“Mr. Trump, who is known to be especially concerned about his appearance on television, has also told confidants that he fears he would look ridiculous in a mask and the image would appear in negative ads”. And second, because knowing that his re-election hinged on his much-vaunted economic success, he refused to put the health and safety of Americans ahead of the economy. This despite repeated warnings from the CDC, and all the top experts that wearing a mask could save hundreds of thousands of lives.
These are facts that have been verified in one way or another. Then there are those that we know were egregious behavior but aren’t so crystal clear to prove. There are so many of those that to name even some I would exhaust my reader.
So now we find ourselves in an impossible situation. Instead of turning a new page and starting to undo all the damage that the madman has created in the last four years, most likely our nation will now have to suffer through more domestic terrorism of the kind that we witnessed on January 6 in the attempted coup d’état, “after President Donald Trump spent weeks whipping up his supporters with false allegations of fraud in the Nov. 3 election, culminating in a call to march to the building that represents U.S. democracy.”
More serious is the fact that the incoming President Joe Biden will be entangled in the Senate trial that is to follow instead of focusing on the work that is urgent. What’s more, instead of trying to put all this behind us and starting fresh, we drag on the ugly scenes. Indeed, the warnings from the FBI are dire: they are expecting more violence across the country on Inauguration Day from extremists that Donald Trump has cultivated and nurtured throughout his four years and who have now become full-blown domestic terrorists.
So, the answer is yes, this impeachment was necessary. History is watching. The impeachment and subsequent trial are not for us who lived through his presidency; they are to set the record straight for our grandchildren and theirs, on the viciousness of the Trump presidency, and must be a cautionary tale about what happens when an incorrigible president who was already impeached once, continues his sustained attack on our nation, its institutions and democracy itself. We must show that an official who undermines the legitimacy of a democratic election and the Constitution pays the price. Even if the price is only a black mark against his name.
There are so many ironies in this, but here is the most exquisite: that Trump, the braggart who claims to be first in everything, has finally achieved a record that no one can deny or take away from him. He is the first American President to have been impeached not once, but twice. Congratulations Donny!