Just two months ago, neoconservative Pulitzer prize-winning former Wall Street Journal and current New York Times columnist Bret Stephens opposed the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Now he is changing his tune and not only supports the inquiry, but he also wants Trump ousted from office.
With multiple witnesses coming forward to deliver damning testimony to Congress in public hearings, support for impeachment has only gone up since the end of September when Stephens wrote his original article in opposition. On Monday, Stephens did an about-face.
“Donald Trump ought to be impeached and removed from office,” Stephens surprisingly wrote in his latest column. “This isn’t what I thought two months ago, when the impeachment inquiry began. I argued that the evidence fell short of the standards of a prosecutable criminal act. I also feared impeachment might ultimately help Trump politically, as it had helped Bill Clinton in 1998. That second worry might still prove true.”
The evidence, however, has only been piling up against Trump in his Ukraine scandal, exposing him for committing bribery and seeking help from a foreign national to interfere with the 2020 Election by demanding dirt on former Vice-President Joe Biden in exchange for military aid.
“If the congressional testimonies of Marie Yovanovitch, Bill Taylor, Gordon Sondland, Alexander Vindman and especially, Fiona Hill, make anything clear, it’s that the president’s highest crime isn’t what he tried to do to, or with, Ukraine,” Stephens said. “It’s that he’s attempting to turn the United States into Ukraine. The judgment Congress has to make is whether the American people should be willing, actively or passively, to go along with it.”
Stephens went on to provide several examples, including Trump’s effort to persecute his political opponents.
“Years before Trump led his followers in ‘lock her up’ chants against Hillary Clinton, then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych did exactly that against his own political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, who was sentenced to seven years in prison on a variety of byzantine charges after she had narrowly lost the 2010 election,” he wrote. “She spent three years in prison before her release during the 2014 Maidan Revolution. Key to Yanukovych’s efforts to discredit Tymoshenko was — who else? — Paul Manafort.”
Manafort is currently serving prison time after being convicted by a jury on multiple charges stemming from the Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Stephens then pointed out that Trump is using the presidency to enrich himself, his family and his rich buddies, much like the Ukrainian government used to do only a few years ago to enrich oligarchs.
“Why have so many of Ukraine’s oligarchs — including Burisma Holdings founder Mykola Zlochevsky — also served as government ministers? Simple: Because, until recently, it shielded them from criminal prosecution thanks to parliamentary immunity,” he wrote.
Stephens praised Ukraine for trying to change, but he also shamed Republicans for aiding Trump’s effort to turn the United States into what Ukraine used to be.
“It’s to the immense credit of ordinary Ukrainians that, in fighting Russian aggression in the field and fighting for better governance in Kyiv, they have shown themselves worthy of the world’s support. And it’s to the enduring shame of the Republican Party that they have been willing to debase our political standards to the old Ukrainian level just when Ukrainians are trying to rise to our former level. The one way to stop this is to make every effort to remove Trump from office. It shouldn’t have to wait a year.”
Indeed, there is more than enough evidence of criminal and ethical wrongdoing by Trump and his administration to warrant the impeachment of every single one of them. But while the House will bring articles of impeachment and approve them, Senate Republicans seem hell-bent on acquitting Trump so they put on a show trial in an effort to smear Democrats and Trump’s potential 2020 opponent. That’s why it’s so important for Americans to vote in November 2020. Because while the Senate will do nothing to punish Trump for abusing the office and violating the Constitution, voters can oust him under a year from now and hand the Senate to Democrats. Republicans not only no longer deserve to be in the White House, but they also don’t deserve power in any branch of government whatsoever for generations until they return to caring about the rule of law.
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