Impeachment, a Stigma for All Time

The impeachment proceedings turned into a farce and were never supposed to help establish the truth. It did not cost Trump any voters, but at least it robbed him of his sleep.

All of the email exchanges, the records held back by the White House, important witnesses like Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani or former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who were not allowed to testify: It is safe to say that the impeachment proceedings against Trump in the Ukraine affair were a farce. A farce whose outcome had been clear from the beginning, one that was never about establishing the truth. Now this farce has ended, at least formally.

Was it a mistake for the Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings, even though they knew about the majority situation in the Senate from the beginning, and even though acquittal had been foreseeable? For electoral reasons, yes. As predicted, the trial gave Trump and his defenders an excellent stage to position the U.S. president as a warrior fighting against the politically correct establishment and against the swamp of Washington even after three years in office.

Trump was virtually in his element. While the Senate was revealing how the U.S. president had blackmailed Ukraine’s head of state by withholding military assistance in order to harm a political rival in his own country, Trump vilified and insulted the Democratic players in the impeachment proceedings during election rallies and to the cheers of his supporters. He said they were always repeating the “same old stuff.”

Trump called the Democrat’s chief prosecutor Adam Schiff a ”very sick person,” who “lies awake at night … sweating like a dog” and thinking “He didn’t do anything wrong, how am I going to get him?” He said they were all a joke, and unable to do him any harm.

The Goal Is Retention of Power

Facts do not matter in the U.S. anymore. As expected, there was no rebellion among the Republican senators, although three years ago, many of them had felt that Trump as U.S. president would be a disgrace. Except for party rebel Mitt Romney, who will surely have to pay for his behavior, everyone bowed to the imperially-acting president. The primary goal is retention of power. After all, one-third of the senators, the majority of whom are Republicans, will also face reelection in the fall. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you with voters. The mood among the electorate is still Trump-friendly. Depending on which poll you read, his approval ratings are even slightly higher than they were in early 2017, the year he was inaugurated.

After the vote in the Senate, Trump can finally savor his victory and shout it out on Twitter and from the stages of the election campaign. According to the numbers, he may have won. But the Democrats can at least feel like moral winners. There was no alternative to the impeachment trial; it was necessary from a political point of view. At this point, Trump can put his own interest above that of the country and go unpunished, but he cannot do it unnoticed. Democratic mechanisms still exist, even though the Founding Fathers probably had a different vision of the Senate’s role with regard to checks and balances.

Historians will also see it like this. The 45th president of the United States will go down in history as only the third president confronted with an impeachment trial. This stigma will adhere to Trump for all time and, unlike Schiff, it will keep him awake at night for longer.

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