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Ramesh Ponnuru

Impeach, Convict and Disqualify

It’s the only way to safeguard the country against a future presidency like Trump’s.

First order of business.

First order of business.

Photographer: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s term has been a long and detailed illustration of what unfitness for office looks like — and of the weakness of our political system in responding to it. His latest abuses of power and derelictions of responsibility give Congress a last chance to prove it can stir itself to take the requisite action.

In December 2019, the House of Representatives impeached Trump for trying to use congressionally mandated aid to pressure the government of Ukraine to throw dirt on his political rival, Joe Biden. The main argument against impeachment and removal was that he hadn’t broken any criminal statute. Never mind that James Madison specifically mentioned impeachment as the remedy for a presidential abuse that wasn’t a criminal violation: a corrupt pardon. Never mind, either, that most House impeachments haven’t been for criminal law-breaking.