We heard plenty of arguments for and against impeachment of President Trump during debate in the House of Representatives Wednesday.
The most substantive one focused on whether Trump was responsible for inciting an insurrection at the United States Capitol while Congress was codifying the presidential election results.
Rational people can disagree about Trump’s role, and whether it rises to the level of impeachment. I believe it does, and have written as much, but clearly there are compelling opposing views.
One of the weaker arguments against impeachment is the question of timing. We are told that there are only a few days left in Trump’s term and President-elect Biden is preparing to launch his administration. The Congress cannot be sidetracked with impeachment.
So, is there a good time for impeachment? Is there a statute of limitations on impeachable behavior in the closing days, weeks or months of a presidency?
Crises—and this is a political crisis—never come at an opportune time. They just happen when they do, and we must deal with it. If we had the option to put off dealing with a crisis until “a better time,” no serious problem would ever be resolved.
The FBI announced this week that it is using all its resources to track down and charge each person in the Capitol mob. I suspect agents were busy working on other cases before last Wednesday, but the FBI did not say, “We’re pretty busy now, so we’ll get to it later.”
Another argument against impeachment that is repeated is that it will only further divide the country. That may be true, but it is not as though we have all been on the same page for years now.
Unfortunately, our politics have devolved into tribal battles where the other side is not just wrong, it is evil. That is no way to run a country and we need to change, but our divisions are not an excuse for failing to carry out constitutional responsibilities.
The country is going to remain deeply divided regardless of the issue until a majority of our political leaders have had enough of the politics of personal destruction and come to the conclusion that the greater good of the country takes precedence over the quest to gain and maintain power.
What happened last week was an attempt to prevent our government from functioning at one of its most critical moments, at a time when the very essence of our democracy was at stake. Despite the inconveniences and excuses, there is no more pressing matter now than justice for those who perpetuated and participated in sedition.