This morning, President Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense on camera.
Responding to questioning from reporters about his effort to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to launch an investigation into one of his Democratic rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump reiterated his demand that Ukraine “start a major investigation into the Bidens,” before suggesting that “China should start an investigation into the Bidens” as well.
Ukraine is dependent on the United States for military aid; China is in the midst of a trade war with the U.S. instigated by Trump. Both countries now know that they can influence United States policy by pursuing the president’s personal, political interests. A president using his authority to form an alliance with foreign powers, at the expense of the national interest, is such a straightforwardly impeachable offense that the Framers themselves designed the impeachment clause for the express purpose of removing a chief executive who uses his powers in this way.
Republicans have attempted to shift the conversation away from Trump’s acts, to focus instead on questions about the process used by the whistle-blower who exposed Trump’s attempt to extort Ukraine. But not only did Schiff and the whistle-blower follow the rules; both the redacted complaint released by the White House and the summary of the call itself substantiate the allegations at the center of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. And even if they didn’t, the president himself just repeated the impeachable offense on camera, making an explicit demand that two countries criminalize his political rival.