, Newsweek columnist, former FBI double agent and the author of “How to Catch a Russian Spy. – Newsweek
With the announcement by Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday that she instructed key House chairmen to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, the expected outcome of the inquiry has been formalized. But for many Republicans and Trump supporters across America, the question remains: Is this a legitimate impeachment or simply an attempt to undo the 2016 election?
Republicans lawmakers and media figures are throwing everything they’ve got behind the latter narrative, calling the investigation a “sham,” a “circus” and a “power grab.” That’s why Pelosi’s explanation on Thursday and going forward is so critical. If she wants to push more Americans off the fence, she must establish trust in the process and relay the reality of the situation: This impeachment is not about partisanship; it is about Trump’s abuse of power.
And that’s exactly what she has done.
Even when baited, she refused to stray from the facts. The press conference ended with Sinclair reporter James Rosen asking Pelosi if she “hates” the president.
“I don’t hate anybody,” the speaker shot back, returning to the podium.
The impeachment inquiry, she explained, is not about the election. “This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the president’s violation of his oath of office.”
Pelosi forcefully made the case that Democrats’ motivation is not their personal dislike of Trump, but his own actions. Actions that are no longer in question, thanks to a mountain evidence and testimony.
Hearing Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Mick Mulvaney, two Trump appointees, declare that Trump’s push for an investigation into the Bidens by Ukraine was indeed a quid pro quo should make it hard to paint impeachment as a partisan effort by Democrats.
Republicans know the facts prove the impeachment is legitimate, and so they are denying them. In a report released Monday, they argued Trump did nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine and has not abused the power of his office.
The sole constitutional scholar they brought to testify before the House Judiciary Committee this week, Jonathan Turley, argued that more time for an investigation was needed and more witnesses should be brought it—ignoring the fact that the president had directed those subpoenaed to not participate.
Furthermore, Republicans kept discussing Hunter Biden and his appointment to Burisma, all the while ignoring the numerous allegations of abuse of office by Trump.
From appointing his daughter and son-in-law to hold government positions, to firing FBI Director James Comey, to violating the emoluments clause and now to pressuring Ukraine to announce an investigation into a political rival, Trump’s presidency has always been defined by what benefits him personally and not the United States.
Instead, Republicans focused on painting the Democrats as motivated for a hate of Trump. It’s why Pelosi’s answer to the question about her motivation was right. This impeachment is not about Trump’s policies, nor does it seek to nullify the election. Rather, it is about whether a president who abuses his position for personal gain should be removed from office.
Naveed Jamali is a columnist for Newsweek who spent three years working undercover for the FBI against Russian military intelligence. He tells the story in his book How to Catch a Russian Spy. He is a member of Left of Bang, a group of military veterans working to prevent gun violence.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.