Legal experts: ‘Goofy partisan brawling’ and ‘Republican antics’ can’t erase the ‘seriousness’ of Trump impeachment

Legal experts: ‘Goofy partisan brawling’ and ‘Republican antics’ can’t erase the ‘seriousness’ of Trump impeachment
Rep. Jim Jordan (Image via Gage Skidmore)

Wednesday, December 18 will be remembered as the day in which the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to indict President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment: one for abuse of power, the other for obstruction of Congress. The day was full of buffoonish, over-the-top theatrics, and legal experts Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic stress in a December 23 article for The Atlantic that all of the silliness of December 18 doesn’t erase how serious a matter Trump’s impeachment is.


“The pettiness of the day masked the seriousness — even momentousness — of the events that took place,” Wittes and Jurecic observe. “This was, as the press reminded people unceasingly, only the third time in the country’s history that the House of Representatives has impeached a president. The Democrats were not entirely above the nonsense, offering endless platitudes that felt arch and preachy. But it was the Republican antics that threatened to make the process look ridiculous, though the allegations were, in fact, historic in their severity.”

Wittes and Jurecic are both key figures at the Lawfare blog: the 50-year-old Wittes is editor-in-chief and co-founder, while Jurecic is managing editor. Both of them werite for The Atlantic as well, and in their December 23 Atlantic article, they stress that some of Trump’s supporters in the House of Representatives turned the impeachment process into a circus.

“For all the robotic insistence of Democrats that impeachment was ‘sad,’ ‘prayerful’ and ‘somber,’ the debate devolved into bathos almost from the start,” Wittes and Jurecic explain. “Republican Rep. Steve Scalise screamed and struggled to dramatically tear a piece of paper. His colleague, Barry Loudermilk, argued that the president was being treated worse than Jesus Christ.”

Nonetheless, Wittes and Jurecic go on to say that despite all the “goofy partisan brawling” in the House, a “solid majority of members voted to make the president answer for his abuses of the constitutional order.” And they urge Americans to focus on the important issues raised by Trump’s impeachment and stress, “Don’t get bogged down in the silliness.”

“Whatever comes next — the negotiations over the Senate trial, the swarm of angry presidential tweets and, yes, the inevitable vote by a majority of senators to acquit the president — don’t let it overshadow the fact that the House of Representatives impeached President Trump, declaring that his actions were unacceptable and that he had breached the promise he made to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution,” Wittes and Jurecic write. “It’s no small thing.”

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