The Corner

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Nancy Pelosi’s Case

House Speaker House Nancy Pelosi speaks during a media briefing ahead of the House vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, October 31, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Further to the post below, a couple of thoughts on Nancy Pelosi’s statement yesterday. She said this near the beginning:

During the constitutional convention, James Madison, the architect of the Constitution, warned that a president might betray his trust to foreign powers which might prove fatal to the republic. Another founder, Gouverneur Morris, that a president may be bribed by a greater interest to betray his trust. He emphasized that this magistrate is not the king. The people are the king.

This gets the Ukraine controversy backwards. Trump wasn’t in any way in the control of a foreign power; it was the other way around — he was trying to control a foreign power, at least in regard to the two investigations he wanted.

More from Pelosi:

Unless the Constitution contained an impeachment provision, one founder warned, a president might “spare no effort or means whatsoever” to get himself re-elected. Similarly, George Mason insisted that a president who procured his appointment in his first instance through improper and corrupt acts might repeat his guilt and return to power.

This gets to how impeachment is still, to a large extent, about Russia. Democrats believe that Trump attained his office through illicit means, and impeachment is a gesture toward undoing the alleged injustice.

She also said this:

The facts are uncontested. The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security, by withholding military aid and crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.

Again, at the end of the day, the Ukrainians weren’t being asked to investigate Joe Biden, but a shady energy firm that had been under investigation in the past and perhaps deserved renewed scrutiny. This was a far cry from “digging up dirt on Joe Biden,” as Democrats and the media often put it.

If Democrats were just arguing that Trump used his power improperly and it should be thoroughly investigated, they’d have an unassailable case. It’s the overreach of impeachment that forces them onto dubious or indefensible ground.

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