“No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it”

Theodore Roosevelt

After listening to the highly-respected State Department and other officials who appeared before the House Intelligence Committee it became evident President Trump held-up  military aid to Ukraine and a White House invitation to President Zelensky until the Ukrainian president went public with a promise to investigate Burisma the Bidens; thereby placing his political interests ahead of national security!

While providing ammunition for Democrats their Republican colleagues, unable to rebut the facts, attacked the process and criticized the witnesses’ lack of personal, first-hand knowledge of the events.   Conspicuously absent form their grievances was any mention of the president’s stonewalling Congress, refusing to let White House and other officials with first-hand knowledge from testifying and ignoring all requests for subpoenaed documents.

GOP House members tried to make the case as both the aid and White House meeting took place … albeit only AFTER the whistleblower’s report and learning that Congress was going to investigate the president’s actions … thus no crime occurred.

Meanwhile President Trump launched daily attacks on some of those non-partisan witnesses, claiming he “hardly knew” some of them whom he’d appointed, denied any “quid pro-quo”, loudly proclaimed he “did nothing wrong” and again labeled Democrats as traitors.  His “read the transcript” claimed it was “word for word and comma for comma” was inaccurate as the transcript contained the following; “it is not a verbatim transcript of the discussion”.

Should one be surprised by an unpredictable and narcissistic president who plays fast-and-loose with the truth, invests facts (“Fake News”) and demands personal loyalty above loyalty to the constitution and the nation?

Fast forward to this week’s questioning of four esteemed constitutional scholars.  The three invited by the Democrats were resolute in their conclusions President Trump’s actions met the threshold for  “bribery” as well as “high crimes and misdemeanors” as the mere fact of asking for a ”favor” as an implicit condition for the release the military aid and a White House visit constitutes a crime, not whether the aid and visit subsequently occurred.  

They also believed in blocking the release of Congressional subpoenaed documents and refusing to allow White House officials to testify is an obstruction of justice.  Further, if a president can stonewall an equal branch, then, as Trump claimed, “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” 

Noah Feldman noted, “I don't think it's possible to emphasize this strongly enough. A president who will not cooperate in an impeachment inquiry is putting himself above the law.  Now, putting yourself above the law as president is the core of an impeachable offense because if the president could not be impeached for that, he would in fact not be responsible to anybody,"

Michael Gerhardt summed their conclusions up, “If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable.

However, most interesting was testimony from Republican witness; Jonathan Turley who wrote in a 2014 OpEd on impeachment, “Serious misconduct or a violation of public trust is enough”.  While he sidestepped defending Trump’s actions on their merits, Turley argued Democrats should spend more time gathering evidence before moving the process forward … rather than scheduling votes around arbitrary calendar dates.

Democrats in the Judiciary Committee and House as a whole have the votes to formally impeach President Trump.  But, to do so at this time is imprudent and unwise.

First, recent Intelligence and Judiciary Committee hearings have failed to materially sway divided public opinion on impeachment among Republicans, Democrats or Independents.  Secondly, with a solid majority in the Senate, it is inconceivable enough Republicans would join Democrats in voting to remove the president from office.

Concurrently, a number of Republican Senators, who would allegedly be acting as impartial jurors, have met with White House officials to plot the strategy for an impeachment trial.  Possibly a case of jury tampering?

A Senate trial would provide Republicans an opportunity to divert attention from whether Trump committed impeachable offenses to a show trail on the Bidens, Burisma and other discredited allegations about Ukraine interfering with the 2016 elections.

Finally, if he survives such a vote, Trump will claim total vindication and feel emboldened to do whatever he wants and thinks is in his personal interest, the country be damned!

A wiser course of action might be for the House to formally Censure the president while it awaits the Supreme Court’s rulings on whether subpoenaed documents and the president’s tax returns must be produced and if members of the Administration, specifically including Giuliani, Mulvaney, McGahn, Pompeo, Barr and Bolton must testify.  

Delaying an Impeachment vote in the House does not mean the process is over and can’t be taken at a later time, perhaps supported by more compelling evidence … and might give Trump pause before taking any similar unwise actions.