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As I have watched the president’s attorneys and congressional supporters grasp at straws during the impeachment proceedings, feverishly trying to justify his actions, I think back to October of 2016. The infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in other times, would have ended his campaign on the spot. But it wasn’t enough.
Then Donald Trump’s deliberate and public mockery of a physically disabled reporter should have cast serious doubts on the character of one who aspired to the presidency. But it wasn’t enough.
His insults to the Muslim Gold Star family whose son died in service to the U.S. should have caused his party to question his integrity and common decency. But it wasn’t enough.
After the inauguration, the list gets longer: Childish disputes with the National Park Service about crowd size. Travel bans for no apparent reason. Fractured relationships with our partners in NATO and allies around the world while cozying up to dictators and despots. Believing Putin over American intelligence regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Inhumane and indefensible treatment of migrant children and families. Each of these on its own would have ruined other presidents. But they weren’t enough.
Now we approach the end of the impeachment trial — the distinctly American process that supports congressional oversight, separation of powers and the principle that no one is above the law.
Sadly, even though some senators in his own party openly admit that the president is guilty of the charges that he abused the powers of his office for personal gain, they insist on voting to acquit. The charges aren’t serious enough, they say.
What, in fact, is “enough”? It may well be that the voters, at long last, will resolve the questions that American leaders should have answered long ago.
Ann Yelverton Barnes