the national interest

Republicans Are Right. The Impeachment Investigation Shouldn’t End So Soon.

Photo: Doug Mills/Getty Images

One of the few cogent points Republicans have made during the impeachment hearings is that the process is being rushed for political reasons. The White House has withheld all documents and witnesses, and rather than wait for the legal system to sort out the dispute, Democrats have plunged ahead. “Why is court not an appropriate remedy?” asks Colorado representative Ken Buck. Republicans are right: The impeachment vote is proceeding without the benefit of all possible evidence.

On the other hand, a small part of me wonders if perhaps this process objection is being offered in bad faith. Maybe by the time the courts have ruled on every last one of Trump’s legal appeals, the election will already be over, or at least will be so close at hand that Republicans will switch over to insisting that the voters should decide the matter. I am sorry to let such a cynical thought even enter my mind.

It is precisely this fear that has driven Democrats to push the impeachment vote forward. And they do have a strong case on their behalf, too: Even without the benefit of all the evidence and testimony Trump has withheld, they have still constructed an airtight case for his guilt. Testimony, transcripts, contemporaneous text messages, multiple public confessions by Trump and his henchman all tell us that Trump withheld diplomatic and financial support to force Ukraine to investigate his domestic rivals.

Fortunately, there is an easy compromise. Republicans, as they keep telling us, are driven by a desire to see all the available evidence and follow every lead, however long it takes. Democrats want to be sure they register a historic judgment on Trump’s malfeasance before they can be accused of interfering with an election already underway. The solution is to vote to impeach Trump now on the basis of the incredibly damning and thorough evidence already at hand, while still pursuing  the investigation. After all, there’s nothing that prevents the House from impeaching a president twice.

And the Republicans are surely correct that more evidence will emerge. At this very moment, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer and the target of a federal investigation into numerous alleged crimes, has returned from another visit to Ukraine, where he huddled with some of that country’s most notoriously corrupt figures. Giuliani actually visited the White House to brief Trump on this. It does seem irresponsible to end the investigation of a crime that appears to be very much in progress.

Even Trump himself has publicly touted the upside of impeachment proceedings. “It’s a very sad thing for our country, but it seems to be very good for me politically,” he told reporters. “Nobody’s ever seen numbers like this before.” So there we have it. Impeach Trump now, continue investigating with the possibility of another impeachment later. Win-win-win.

Republicans Are Right. Impeachment Probe Shouldn’t End Soon.