The highly partisan nature of the House of Representatives vote today on the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump reveals a fundamental shortcoming in this process.
It remains a highly partisan, divided endeavor. Republicans voted “no” on the inquiry resolution, while all but two congressional Democrats voted “yes.”
The resolution lays out the rules and procedure that the House will follow from this moment forward as it decides whether to impeach the president on grounds that he violated his oath of office.
If only it wasn’t so damn partisan!
Looking back at the impeachment proceeding that resulted in President Nixon’s resignation from office in 1974, I am reminded that Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in the search for the truth about the Watergate break-in and who was behind the coverup of the crime.
Nixon, the Republican president, quit when GOP senators told him eventually that he was toast, that a Senate trial would convict him. Indeed, during the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973, it fell to a GOP senator, Howard Baker, to ask famously, “What did the president know and when did he know it?”
And then came the question from the committee’s Republican legal counsel, Fred Thompson, who would go on later to be elected to the Senate alongside Sen. Baker of Tennessee: “Are you aware of … any listening devices in the Oval Office?” Thompson asked White House aide Alexander Butterfield, who answered “yes.”
Are there any Republicans now who are willing to exhibit that kind of courage? No. They are digging in to defend a president who has actually acknowledged that he sought political help from a foreign government. They are challenging the “process,” calling it a “Soviet-style” inquisition.
The partisanship being exhibited here reminds me of the shamelessness we saw during President Clinton’s impeachment in 1998. Republicans were hell bent toward impeaching the Democratic president, whose Democratic allies in Congress were equally hell bent in protecting him from the GOP attack dogs.
It’s playing out all over again.
But we have this major wrinkle: We’re now staring straight into a presidential election.
You want partisanship? Let’s hang on with both hands.