Then there’s the case that Democrats have made against Trump, which has been less compelling than many expected when the Ukraine revelations first broke wide open in late September. My first thought upon reading the rough transcript of Trump’s call with President Volodymyr Zelensky was that Trump was clearly attempting to use foreign aid to extort his Ukrainian counterpart into digging up dirt on Trump’s domestic political rival in order to give him an advantage in the 2020 election. That seemed like a self-evident abuse of power.
But then why did hearings in the House spend so much time focusing on what is clearly a policy dispute between the president and the career civil service? Congressional Democrats, the intelligence community, and leading members of Washington’s permanent bureaucracy (including its diplomatic corps) have been obsessed to the point of borderline derangement with Russia ever since the 2016 election. Many of these people find the president’s solicitude toward Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as his lack of enthusiasm for supporting Ukraine in its multipronged struggles with Moscow, thoroughly unacceptable.
That’s certainly a legitimate view — but it’s a disagreement with the White House over foreign policy. And presidents should not be threatened with impeachment and removal from office over policy disputes. The place for policy disputes is the political arena, where voters get to listen to competing sides and then make a decision at the ballot box about which should prevail.