In declaring the initiation of a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was solemn: “We’re not here to call bluffs. We’re here to find the truth, to uphold the Constitution of the United States. This is not a game for us; this is deadly serious.”
In the weeks since, she has upheld that intention: Three different committees of the House of Representatives, with their Republican and Democratic members in attendance, have called a series of witnesses, who have all confirmed the whistle-blower’s report that Trump had improperly solicited foreign intervention on his behalf in the 2020 presidential election. And now the House has formally approved an impeachment resolution affirming all the steps the Democrats have taken thus far in the investigation and setting out the roadmap for the rest of the inquiry, which will include the additional measure of holding public hearings.
The seriousness and circumspection of this process stands in marked contrast to the president’s attacks on it. He and his defenders have declared the inquiry not just a “sham” but a “coup.” Some Republican commentators called Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top expert on Ukraine, who testified before the committees in closed-door sessions, guilty of “espionage.” Several members of Congress, who had been attending closed-door hearings investigating Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine, protested publicly against those hearings as “Soviet”-style star chambers. And even though he and Republicans in Congress had repeatedly asked for a formal impeachment authorization, the president greeted the news of the resolution’s passage by declaring, “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!” Once again, Republicans have moved the goal posts in their quest to defend the president’s conduct as perfectly legitimate and the current hearings as anything but.