It comes as no surprise that the Donald Trump camp is spinning the House’s impeachment inquiry as an attempt to overturn the will of 62 million people. After all, they’ve insisted for three years that any attack on Trump amounts to an attack on his supporters. Well, a veteran Christian blogger has put a new twist on this canard. In warning the Democrats against pressing their drive for impeachment, he tries to explain that it undermines one of the most sacred traditions of American democracy–the peaceful transition from one administration to another.
Tom Gilson, a psychologist and philosopher by training, is a senior editor and ministry coordinator at The Stream, the Christian conservative blog helmed by James Robison and Michael Brown. In his most recent article there, Glison chided the Democrats for destroying “one of the most cherished facts of American political life and heritage: the peaceful transition of power.” As he sees it, the impeachment inquiry is yet more that the Democrats have little regard for this tradition.
Gilson argues that the Democrats aren’t following the “proper, historical, somber and bipartisan approach” followed during past presidential impeachment proceedings. Indeed, he claims, the Democrats aren’t even “articulating an actual high crime or misdemeanor.”
With all due respect, Tom, you haven’t been paying attention. We have mounting evidence that Trump and his aides pressured the government of Ukraine to get dirt on former Vice President and 2020 Democratic hopeful Joe Biden.
On what planet is a president trying to pressure a foreign government to help him bully and intimidate a political rival not an abuse of power? And on what planet is such an abuse of power not a high crime? Indeed, historians and diplomats from both sides of the aisle were aghast at Trump’s behavior, with most of them bluntly pronouncing it unconstitutional, criminal–and yes, impeachable.
But apparently that fact is lost on Gilson. He doesn’t think this inquiry is “a rationally considered move” on the Democrats’ part. After all, he says, not only is it not likely that the Senate will remove Trump from office, but it’s very likely that it could hand the House right back to the Republicans in 2020. And even if everything were to break right for the Democrats, Gilson points out that it would make “solidly evangelical conservative” Mike Pence president.
Gilson believes the impeachment inquiry is yet another manifestation of “rage” by the Democrats. He believes that this drive for impeachment is part of a “covert war” waged against Trump–one that supposedly played out in the form of the Robert Mueller investigation, and even before then in the form of the NSA and FBI investigating the Trump campaign and the Trump White House.
All of this, Gilson argues, is rooted in the Democrats’ view that “the people didn’t cooperate” and weren’t willing to make Hillary Clinton president. As he sees it, the Democrats seem to be taking the line of “what the American people broke, Democratic leaders must fix”–even at the expense of permanently undermining the tradition of peaceful transition of power.
In light of events of the last 48 hours, Gilson’s article isn’t just tone-deaf, but spectacularly ill-timed. It went live on the Stream’s Facebook and Twitter feeds just 24 hours after Trump openly called for China to investigate Biden as well, In case you missed it, Tom, watch it here.
So you have the president of the United States openly calling for a foreign government–and a hostile one, at that–to investigate a political rival. Again I ask–how is this not an abuse of power?
Also on Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee released a tranche of text messages between American diplomats and a top aide to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. They reveal that top officials in Kiev knew Trump wanted an investigation into Biden.
On Friday, NBC News reported that CIA general counsel Courtney Simmons Elwood, a Trump appointee, was so alarmed by what she saw in the whistleblower report that she made a criminal referral to the Justice Department. In other words–the top legal officer at the CIA believed that the whistleblower report spelled out evidence of a crime.
Per her CIA biography, Elwood clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Bush 41-appointed appellate judge J. Michael Luttig. During the Bush 43 administration, she served as a senior official in the West Wing and Justice Department. In other words, this referral can’t be described as part of a Democratic war on the peaceful transition of power.
But even without these developments, there would have been ample reason to question Gilson’s priorities. After all, in the name of preserving the tradition of peaceful transition of power, he seems to be asking the Democrats to abandon their oath to support and defend the Constitution. That’s exactly what they would be doing if they didn’t hold Trump to account.
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