The new republic created right here in Philadelphia in 1787 defined three coequal branches of government, one of which was led by a president — not a monarch or dictator. It is a position imbued with extraordinary power — and because of that, is subject to oversight of other branches to ensure that no president is above the law or above questioning.
Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently disregarded this fundamental principle that he is answerable — to Congress or the American people. From his refusal to release his tax returns, his willingness to accept assistance from Russia in the 2016 election and attempts at obstructing the special counsel’s investigation, the list goes on.
But perhaps the most egregious example of Trump’s belief that he answers to no one is his administration’s refusal to release a whistle-blower complaint to the House Intelligence Committee in clear violation of a law in place to protect oversight on the executive.
It is that violation that led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday to announce a formal impeachment inquiry into the president, citing Trump’s betrayal of the oath of office, of national security, and the integrity of our elections.
The whistle-blower complaint made by an intelligence official to the inspector general of the intelligence community was deemed to be of “urgent concern" and involved a July call when Trump pressured the newly-elected Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s potential 2020 rival, former-vice president Joe Biden. Trump alleged that Biden had stifled a Ukrainian corruption investigation into his son, Hunter Biden. Allegedly, Trump applied pressure by delaying millions of dollars in foreign aid to Ukraine.
Trump has not denied the call or that the conversation took place. He announced Tuesday that he will release the transcript of the call.
Throughout this scandal, just like the previous ones, Trump’s response has been “so what?"
So what if his campaign met with Kremlin-connected people to get dirt on Hillary Clinton in 2016?
So what if he sided with Vladimir Putin’s narrative of the 2016 election interference over the U.S. intelligence’s?
It’s doubtful our founding fathers could have anticipated a leader who had this shrugging disregard for even the semblance of accountability or responsibility to the country and its national security — but they did put a process in place for this scenario. That process is impeachment.
Impeachment is not another word for removal from office. It is the equivalent of impaneling a grand jury — an investigation and deliberation to decide if there is enough substance for the accusation to proceed to trial.
The president has continued to insist that he is not subject to criminal investigations, and can do whatever he wants because he’s president. But no one is above the law. For his actions, and his disregard for the meaning and consequences, impeachment is a process Trump has deserved and cannot shrug off.