Trump doesn't deserve impeachment (but he should resign)

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By Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

Nobody has yet proved that the president has committed clearly impeachable offenses. The president, however, should spare the nation the systemic upheaval that continuing investigations will catalyze. For the nation’s good, he should follow Richard Nixon’s example, and resign.

Just more than 20 years ago, that was the essence of what I wrote in a column directed at Bill Clinton: There was a “stain on the presidency” that was “public, and embarrassing, and tawdry. And it makes America look cheap and base and trashy. The worst part is, the stain may be the least of the problems. Underneath it is a rot that's eating away at the fabric.”

The same message applies today to President Trump.

First, let’s get the impeachment issue out of the way. As Andrew McCarthy correctly argues at National Review, a payment that would have been legal if made directly, by somebody with a history of buying his way out of non-illegal embarrassments, without obvious intent to evade campaign laws (but, rather, the intent to evade personal embarrassment), to settle shameful private matters from years earlier, is not an offense “of the egregious nature that rises to high crimes and misdemeanors,” partly because “it is remote from the core responsibilities of the presidency.”

What Trump did with his indirect payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal was a bizarrely inverted example of money laundering. What usually happens when somebody hides payments is that he is trying to disguise (to pretend he is making it clean) the legally dirty nature of the transaction. Here, Trump was turning a legally (but not morally) allowable transaction into a technically illegal one, without appearing to know it was illegal. At least viewed alone, rather than as a pattern of behavior evincing a criminal mens rea (mind set) — a pattern which may exist, but hasn’t been proved yet — this appears to be the sort of violation that usually is punished not even by jail time, but by a mere monetary fine.

Unless and until other Trumpian transgressions against the law or the systemic body politic are revealed, this alone is not the clear-cut offense that should lead the Senate to overturn the results of a constitutional election by removing Trump from office.

Another consideration, though, should prevail. Even though nobody should expect presidents to be angels rather than flawed humans, Americans have a reasonable expectation that the president maintain at least some semblance of decorum, decency, and a word out of fashion these days: honor. It is one thing to be caught in what seems a technical or minor illegality (for which a president should be answerable at some point, but not necessarily impeachable). It is worse when the illegality is married to the massive tawdriness of hush money to a nude model and (separately) a porn performer.

It is still worse, and progressively more worse, when the president blatantly lies about the illegality and the tawdriness, as part of a pattern of lies and falsehoods astonishing in its depth, breadth and frequency, while traducing so many other norms of conduct, and seriously undermining Americans’ faith that their own president’s judgment vis-a-vis this nation’s foremost international adversary is not compromised, that it makes an absolute mockery both of the very idea of civil society and of the respectability of our president as head of state.

And we don’t even know what else Trump is hiding. His former attorney Michael Cohen says he has much more damning material on tape. So does former aide Omarosa Manigault. Plus, who knows what information Vladimir Putin actually has on Trump’s business conduct, or when Putin may feel Trump has outlived his usefulness?

Trump could get out while the getting is good. He could leave in a sort of nolo contendere plea deal whereby all investigations and prosecutions of him cease, in return for his resignation and a court-enforced prohibition on him taking any form (elective or appointive) of public office again. He could do so while claiming multiple (apparent) victories before they turn sour: a thriving economy ( before it collapses), claims of a peace deal ( not really) with North Korea, and a major realignment of federal courts.

If Trump resigns while economic headlines look good and before other embarrassments (or even illegalities) emerge, then — in what is probably a rare occurrence in Trump’s life — public honor and his own interests would coincide.

Come on, President Trump: Take away the public stain. Declare victory, and go home.


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Politics News: Trump doesn't deserve impeachment (but he should resign)
Trump doesn't deserve impeachment (but he should resign)
Politics News
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