Impeachment is Imperative by Maria Wood

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Now that Congress is back in session, it is imperative that Members find within themselves the moral clarity to act on the release of the Mueller report and begin in earnest impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Not to do so is insulting to voters, destructive to our democratic institutions, and political self-sabotage of the most breathtaking kind. Most importantly, it is a gross abdication of responsibility and a moral failure.

Every day that the Congress does not begin such proceedings, Members fail to uphold their oaths of office and neglect their obligations to do the job they were sent to Washington to do. The Congressional Oath of Office, taken by all Members of the House of Representatives, includes the words “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and “I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Members of Congress are elected by their districts to do the business of the government, to act in good faith and according to the law in the best interests of their constituents, and to adhere to the democratic institutions and norms of our democracy. The President of the United States has violated United States laws, institutional norms, democratic principles, and basic values of human decency since the moment he took office, and his misbehavior and mobster-style criminality is increasing by the day.

Let’s break down the reasons impeachment proceedings must begin immediately. First, anything less is an insult to voters. The American voting public deserve to make up their minds based on a full picture of the facts, with as much truth available as possible against the wall of lies erected by the Trump administration. To simply put the matter of blatant violations of American democratic values and norms on hold in order to wait for the next election is both supremely cynical and supremely disrespectful to the American people. It is also insulting and crass for Members of Congress to refuse to fulfill their duty in this matter and then ask to be re-elected.

Which leads us to the damage to democracy. Two elements of this damage are even now corroding the electorate’s faith in democratic processes. The more straightforward is the proven interference in the 2016 and 2018 elections by hostile foreign powers—interference that the Mueller report shows was welcomed and encouraged by the Trump campaign. For a candidate or his campaign to accept and participate in the undermining of American elections is patently anti-democratic and anti-American, and should be immediately disqualifying for holding elected office. Once these actions are revealed, the Congress has a duty to impeach to protect the integrity of future elections and assure the voting public that American elections are free of interference—otherwise, the logical conclusion is that voting is useless and futile.

The second element has to do with the trust and faith of the public in their Congressional representatives. Please recall the line in the oath of office: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Duly elected representatives who abstain from this process abdicate a solemn promise made to their constituents. The least of the negative consequences of breaking this promise is the risk to individual Members’ re-election prospects. Far worse is the loss of faith in the institution itself and in democratic processes writ large. If elected officials are not going to do the job they’ve been chosen to do—why vote?

Finally, there is an important political argument for impeachment. Many discussions about whether to impeach or not impeach in recent weeks have centered on the political argument against the process. Looked at from another angle, though, the political calculus can be figured differently. The “blue wave” of the 2018 elections demonstrated the hunger among voters for elected officials willing to stand up and call out corruption and lies in government. Voters are more engaged than ever—although the danger that they will abandon the political process if they perceive that it is irrevocably broken is all too real. People of all political persuasions are calling for an end to the lies, bullying, self-dealing, nepotism, and performative provocation that characterize this White House and the party leadership that supports it. House leadership should consider that these voters will welcome and reward good-faith efforts to restore the rule of law and accountability to the highest office in the land. Should the Republican-led Senate refuse to uphold its duty by responding to the charges, House members should trust that the electorate will recognize where the process broke down, and who is to blame for the continued undermining of American democracy.

Call it moral clarity, call it leadership. But be assured, if there is a shred of our constitution still functioning when this tumultuous time in American history is over, we will owe our thanks to those who had the wisdom to recognize the existential threat of rampant corruption and manipulation at the highest levels of our government, and the courage and patriotism to take bold, decisive action on behalf of the best ideals of the American experiment.

Maria Wood returned to academic life in 2014, after a two-decade career in the music business, earning a BA in American Studies and a Certificate in Ethnomusicology from Smith College in 2018. Most recently, she served as Deputy Campaign Manager for Jesse Colvin for Congress.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Tom Steele says

    Excellent piece. If the case for impeachment cannot be made here, or if our elected officials lack the fortitude to act, we may as well throw out Article 2 Sec. 4.

  2. Mike Waal says

    Ms. Wood,

    Please, could you itemize just what President Trump has been found guilty of that forms the basis for your call to impeach.
    I find it truly fascinating that folks are throwing Mueller under the bus for not coming up with any concrete evidence of collusion,
    and I realize there are those that still have not gotten over his election, but, truly and sincerely, for an academic, you provide no confirming proof evidence for impeachment.

    You write”…to accept and participate in the undermining of American elections is patently anti-democratic and anti-American, and should be immediately disqualifying for holding elected office.” Really? Where is your substantiation and verification for that claim?

    Genuinely, you need to build a bridge and get over it, and not to Baltimore.

    • Michael McDowell says

      You are offering a false choice, using the “collusion” trope. There is no such thing legally, but yes, morally, there is. But there is definitely a clear pattern of OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE.

      I am not in favor of impeachment — at this point. But I am in favor of the Congressional committees of the House of Representatives — as is their duty, expressly spelt out in the Constitution — carrying out their oversight role, and Robert Mueller has provided them with multiple areas to focus on, gather witness evidence, and probe further.

      If we learn more which merits impeachment then we should proceed. But the election and repudiation of Trump is just 18 months away. My concern in the interim is that a really serious foreign policy crisis could plunge us into war, and I have no confidence in Trump not making a foolish decision and being ill advised by the hard line no compromise duo of Pompeo and Bolton.

      I recommend James Comey’s op-ed article in today’s New York Times on why some supposedly “good” people lower their standards by simply working for Trump and being around Trump’s lies and outrageous unpresidential behavior: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/opinion/william-barr-testimony.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    • Deirdre LaMotte says

      Mr. Mueller spent two years examining the “President’s”conduct and Russian influence. Mr. Mueller spun off financial shenanigans to the Southern District of NY because his job was so closely defined.

      Mr. Mueller find constant connection between Trump Campaign Officials and Russian government operatives. Just having ANY person on a campaign enjoy receiving illicit campaign info without reporting it is horrific. This became a two way relationship between Trump and Russia. He cares only about his narcissistic Russian Trump Tower.

      So now we have obstruction of Justice.. Mr. Mueller gave a detailed road map for the Congress to follow for impeach-
      meant if they choose because of all the evidence of obstruction.

      This man is a crook and opportunist. He enjoys dividing our country rather than giving us a vision for the future.
      This person deserves absolutely no benefit of a doubt. Please try and join the right side of history because otherwise your support of him is a losing bet. Really.

    • From: https://www-nytimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/04/23/us/politics/trump-mueller-obstruction.amp.html?usqp=mq331AQCCAE%3D&amp_js_v=0.1#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2019%2F04%2F23%2Fus%2Fpolitics%2Ftrump-mueller-obstruction.html

      Here’s your itemized list Mr Waal:

      Mueller’s report evaluated several episodes that trump may have obstructed justice based on three criteria: The act must be obstructive, linked to an investigation and undertaken with a corrupt motive.

      ​1. ​trump tried to fire Mueller.​ Bottom line: While Mueller hedged a bit on the first of the three criteria, the report suggests there is sufficient evidence to ask a grand jury to consider charging this act as illegal obstruction.

      ​2. trump pushed McGahn to deny the attempt to fire Mueller. Bottom line: The report suggests there is sufficiently plausible evidence to ask a grand jury to consider charging trump with attempted obstruction.

      3. trump encouraged Manafort not to cooperate. Bottom line: The report suggests there is sufficiently plausible evidence to ask a grand jury to consider charging trump with obstruction.

      4. trump tried to gut the investigation. Bottom line: The report suggests there is sufficiently plausible evidence to ask a grand jury to consider charging trump with attempted obstruction.

      ​5. trump urged Comey to drop Flynn investigation.​ Bottom line: The report appears to raise doubts that the investigation found sufficient evidence establishing ​t​rump’s intent to move forward with an obstruction charge.

      As described in Volume I​ of Mueller’s report​: “the evidence uncovered in the investigation did not establish that the President or those close to him were involved in the charged Russian computer-hacking or active-measure conspiracies, or that the President otherwise had an unlawful relationship with any Russian official.”​… “But the evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns​.”​ That’s “WOULD” uncover facts… not “MAY”.

      Mueller​ declined concluding whether or not trump obstructed justice ​but ​his​ report made clear that others can use the evidence to make that call. Mueller’s investigators made an oblique reference to possible impeachment proceedings and noted that after Trump leaves office, he will lose the temporary immunity the Justice Department says sitting presidents enjoy. Mueller cited that factor as barring him from making accusations now.

      Finally, the oath​ of office for the president says​ “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the​ ​Office of President of the United States, and will​, to the best of my ​ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

      ​All our intelligence agencies independently concluded and agreed that Russia attacked our democracy during 2016 election. By all accounts, Russia is gearing up and doubling-down on these attacks for a redux in the 2020 campaign. The Mueller report comes to the same conclusion. Our Constitution was and is under attack by a determined hostile adversary. What is trump doing about it? Where are the hearings? Where are the presidential commissions and task forces? Where is the all-hands-on-deck-manning-the-battle-stations ​urgency? trump is taking no measures to protect and defend our Constitution because to admit that Russia attacked our 2016 election is tantamount to admitting that he needed Putin’s help to occupy the Oval Office. And trump thanked his benefactor for that help at his Helsinki conference with Putin. trump said, with Putin by his side, that he believed Putin when he denied that Russia interfered in our election and rejected his own intelligence agencies. Apparently, like Bush II, trump looked into Putin’s eyes and saw Putin’s soul – that of a fellow authoritarian and demagogue.

      Give me break!!!!! Forget the Mueller report. This alone is reason enough to move on impeachment… NOW!

      • Mike Waal says

        Look, I’m not a Dem, nor Rep., not registered with any party, so I have no skin in the game.
        Don’t drink the Dem or Rep or any other parties cool-aide like all you folks
        What was Mueller’s investigation supposed to find; evidence of guilt of the Pres.
        Yet Mueller leaves it for others to decide. Really?! And you have, evidently.
        I read a lot of should haves, could haves, would haves.
        And, I love the double standard and hypocrisy of it all, for if this were Clinton being investigated, wonder where y’all would be then. Crying the same thing Reps are.
        Hmm, what was that conversation in some airplane, on some runway, of some airport, that Bill Clinton had with some DOJ person about investigating Hillary.
        Gotta love the hypocrisy, just sayin’.

        • Tom Steele says

          First off, you do have “skin in the game”, as a citizen.

          Second, Mueller specifically states in his report that he deferred to the DOJ’s policy of not indicting a sitting President; had that not been the case, there would have been indictments on at least ten instances of obstruction. Saying that Mueller left it to others to decide is a massive oversimplification. His hands are tied by the DOJ policy, so he provided a roadmap for impeachment to the only body that can impose that sanction: Congress.

          You owe it to yourself to read the report.

  3. Jay Falstad says

    This is so perfectly said that I hope you can find a way to distribute it to Congressional leadership at the earliest opportunity.

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