The US House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment. He is only the third president to receive that black mark on his record. Understandably, he hates it.
His fury is uncontrolled. Even Trump knows he will be lumped in with the “losers” in the presidential history rankings such as Richard Nixon and Andrew Johnson. Impeachment will define his presidency, dwarfing any other foreign or domestic action.
No wonder he rages against a speaker he is powerless to stop. His worst nightmare is to be humiliated, and if not now, history certainly will regard him as a pitiful, damaged man utterly unfit for the role he won through a series of improbable events.
I do not mean to make light of the real and lasting damage Trump has inflicted on US institutions and national psyche, but Americans survived a Civil War, economic calamities and eras dominated by corrupt politicians. As scarred as our democracy is, we now have a new pantheon of patriots to inspire and teach Americans about honour, courage and intellectual rigour
The facts Trump now dismisses and contorts, are as easily verified and as unassailable as the details of Watergate. In comparison to Nixon’s impeachable acts, Trump’s are likely to be viewed more harshly. Trump betrayed the country’s national security and continued his affront to the Constitution by authorising Rudy Giuliani’s effort to scrounge up “evidence” from Russian-backed operatives to use against a political rival.
The transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky preserves Trump’s multiple references to “Biden” in black and white. It has become and will be seen historically as Trump’s smoking gun.
‘Do us a favour’
Also preserved in the transcript is Trump’s demand to a foreign leader to assist his political interests — “I would like you do us a favour though” — which will be reproduced in history books along with the testimony of witnesses such as former White House expert on Russia Fiona Hill.
Just as Watergate figures then Senators Sam Ervin, Barbara Jordan, and Peter Rodino, were lionised as defenders of the Constitution, so too will Pelosi and House Democrats Adam Schiff of California, Eric Swalwell of California and Jamie Raskin of Maryland be among those admired for their lucidity, intellect and character. For every clownish, contemptible, screeching and dishonest House Republican, there is a sober, admirable, restrained and honest Democrat.
Meanwhile, in hundreds of gatherings around the country, American citizens turned out to defend the Constitution and support impeachment. The same day, a band of Republicans unveiled the Lincoln Project to work on dislodging Trump and his accomplices from office in 2020.
One after another, brave lawmakers decided duty to the Constitution was far more important than political calculation and announced their support for impeachment. They put to shame Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Mac Thornberry of Texas and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois who know all too well the danger Trump poses yet cannot muster the courage to put country above party.
Unlike Republicans of the past who are credited with getting Nixon to resign — including Barry Goldwater, House Minority Leader John Rhodes and Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott — no Republican save for ex-Republican Rep. Justin Amash and the Never Trumpers outside of Congress has secured a place in history. So far, out of political cowardice or calculation or both, we lack even one Republican willing to denounce Trump’s actions let alone support impeachment or a lesser penalty.
Reaffirming objective reality
No letter, no tweet, no Fox News spin can repair the reputations of Trump enablers. The right-wing media that cheered them on will, like outlets that rooted for Jim Crow and demonised Freedom Riders, be shunned by decent, freedom-loving people who reaffirm objective reality.
The Republican Party will be known not as the Party of Lincoln but the Party of Trump that lost its bearings and its soul to defend a narcissist. Psychologists and sociologists will study a mass cult phenomenon, seeking to explain how the accomplices duped millions of Americans.
Perhaps some small number of Senate Republicans will decide to separate themselves from it. Some might demand a real trial with witnesses or even vote for impeachment. And if not, they, too, will join the other moral weaklings who failed their country when it needed them to do their jobs.
I do not mean to make light of the real and lasting damage Trump has inflicted on US institutions and national psyche, but Americans survived a Civil War, economic calamities and eras dominated by corrupt politicians. As scarred as our democracy is, we now have a new pantheon of patriots to inspire and teach Americans about honour, courage and intellectual rigour.
When your children or grandchildren attend Nancy Pelosi Elementary School or win a Jamie Raskin scholarship, they will remember who distinguished themselves. As demoralising and infuriating as this presidency has been, it is now within our power to vindicate the heroes, punish those guilty and reset our democracy. We have more than 300 days until Election Day.
Jennifer Rubin is a prominent American journalist and political columnist.