Voters Already Removed Trump from Office

Now Biden must deliver tangible improvements to their lives and protect America’s democratic institutions

The American voters accomplished what a divided Congress was unable or unwilling to do last year—remove Trump from office.  Trump can’t change this. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and House Republicans can’t change this. The seditious Trumpist mob that attacked the legislative seat of government can’t change this.

Although the instinct to stamp Trump with double impeachment is certainly warranted given his actions last week, unless some deep enlightenment hits Senate Republicans in the next few days, the process itself is almost certain to end with Trump’s second acquittal due to Republicans holding the line. It’s not rocket science.  More importantly, it will consume Biden’s inaugural period and early days in office.  Mitch McConnell has already indicated that any impeachment trial would not begin until the Senate reconvenes on January 19th, the day before Biden takes office and before.  This means:

In effect, that makes the matter of an impeachment trial an issue that will need to be taken up by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), the incoming majority leader, in the first days of the Biden presidency — a move that would almost certainly distract from the president-elect’s immediate agenda to battle the coronavirus pandemic and ensure that his Cabinet nominees get confirmed.

The idea of holding the article(s) of impeachment for later in the year seems equally dubious. It’s difficult to see how the prospect of a looming trial of Trump in the Senate, possibly leading to another acquittal, would help President Biden and Democrats in any meaningful way or produce a positive outcome for Americans.  Biden wants to get his people in place to move an ambitious agenda to combat COVID, get Americans back to work, shore up the safety net, fix our infrastructure, repair international alliances, and fight climate change. 

Actually making America great again by delivering on this agenda is the best way to protect Democratic gains and build a successful presidency.  No one really wants to relitigate Donald Trump’s tenure or engage in a seemingly futile effort to remove a president who has already been voted out of office. 

But this doesn’t mean the Congress and new administration should ignore the assault on our democracy. To the contrary, the incoming Attorney General, Merrick Garland, and relevant committees in Congress, should use all of their investigative, executive, and legislative powers to prosecute the right-wing perpetrators of the attack; drastically clampdown on right-wing domestic terrorism throughout the country; and ensure federal agencies and law enforcement make this a priority, unlike Trump.  And Democrats and dissident Republicans should censure Trump if need be and voters should do whatever it takes to vote Trump’s enablers out of office in future election cycles.  These steps would be a tremendous service to America and a necessary response to attacks on the rule of law and our institutions.  

The Trump years left a bad stain on the country. The sooner we move beyond him to enact a truly inclusive vision for national renewal the better.