As the impeachment proceedings move forward, our representatives in Congress must consider the foundational precept of our republic: that our government and its institutions of diplomacy and law enforcement function at the behest and for the benefit of the people of the United States — rather than a powerful individual or a foreign government. Our criminal laws governing the behavior of public officials are one articulation of that principle. But they are not the only consideration here. In fact, whether the president and his cronies’ actions violate each element of the bribery statute, in a way that is provable beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, is a distraction. The very possibility that the criminal law has been broken is evidence that President Trump participated in multiple abuses of power.

There is now little doubt that President Trump and his associates could face federal indictment for this scheme, if and when there is a Justice Department committed to fully and fairly consider it. But the operative question facing our elected representatives, and our country, is whether the president should be allowed to continue serving in an office of public trust.

To call for the removal of a president is not something that should be done easily. The actions of the president must be so unforgivable, the abuses of power so heinous, that it is the only option for the good of the nation. In this case, it is.