I’m a bit surprised that this op-ed by Josh Blackman at the New York Times headlines its opinion page. In it he articulates the argument that I did here, namely, that soliciting a political benefit is not or at least should not be an impeachable offense:
The way things look, President Trump will almost certainly not be removed from office. The precedents set by the articles of impeachment, however, will endure far longer. And regrettably, the House of Representatives has transformed presidential impeachment from a constitutional parachute — an emergency measure to save the Republic in free-fall — into a parliamentary vote of “no confidence.”
The House seeks to expel Mr. Trump because he acted “for his personal political benefit rather than for a legitimate policy purpose.” Mr. Trump’s lawyers responded, “elected officials almost always consider the effect that their conduct might have on the next election.” The president’s lawyers are right. And that behavior does not amount to an abuse of power.
Politicians pursue public policy, as they see it, coupled with a concern about their own political future. Otherwise legal conduct, even when plainly politically motivated — but without moving beyond a threshold of personal political gain — does not amount to an impeachable “abuse of power.” The House’s shortsighted standard will fail to knock out Mr. Trump but, if taken seriously, threatens to put virtually every elected official in peril. The voters, and not Congress, should decide whether to reward or punish this self-serving feature of our political order.
I made it here some weeks ago. I continue to believe that president’s statement made in the notorious phone call between him and the Ukrainian president was not the way we want presidents to do business with foreign governments and was, as some have put it, “boneheaded”. The president should have been censured for it. The Congress should immediately have enacted a law proscribing such conduct although I honestly don’t believe they could and meet Constitutional muster.
Rather than waiting until November they chose to impeach in December. That’s not only a “no confidence” vote in the president, it’s a “no confidence” vote in the Democratic presidential nominee, whoever he or she might be.