EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
Late last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rolled out the cannon: the formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Impeachment is the Constitution’s ultimate check on egregious abuse of power—a remedy for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The offense need not be a crime but should be a fundamental abuse of power. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 65, impeachment applies to “offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or…from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”
Democrats seem intent on limiting the inquiry to one clearly defined offense—Trump’s effort to use the power of his office to pressure a foreign power to intervene in our elections. Yet we shouldn’t forget about the rest of Trump’s wanton misconduct in office. It’s already clear that Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine violated the law and demand censure, if not impeachment, but they are hardly the worst of his serial derelictions of duty.
Compare the Ukraine call with Trump’s Muslim ban, his constant fanning of racial division, his indefensible policy of ripping babies from their mothers and holding them in cages at the border, or the pervasive corruption of an administration that has hosted a Predator’s Ball for lobbyists and Big Oil. Or consider what is perhaps Trump’s most destructive abuse of the public trust, which is already wreaking the greatest injuries to the society itself: his refusal to address catastrophic climate change. This dereliction of duty will surely amplify the misery of generations to come, putting at risk the country and the world as we know them. If a president mocked the threat of a foreign power that was already invading our shores, causing billions of dollars in damages with growing casualties, while posing a clear and growing danger to our very existence, he or she would face impeachment at the very least.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.