With this latest impeachment effort against former President Donald J. Trump, Democrats have made clear that they prefer fighting the former president to fighting for the American people.
The problems requiring Washington’s immediate attention could not be more urgent: the nation is reeling in the midst of a global pandemic caused by China, millions of Americans are unemployed due to prolonged economic shutdowns, and a generation of children stuck outside of the classroom are falling further and further behind.
Yet rather than focusing on these crucial issues and working to benefit the citizens we were elected to serve, Congress is playing political games. Impeaching a former president who is now a private citizen may satisfy the Democrats’ neverending desire to battle President Trump, but it will not provide relief to struggling families, nor will it heal the divisions that plague our country.
Like an annual ritual, the Democrats’ latest impeachment effort against Mr. Trump comes almost exactly one year after their last ill-conceived partisan impeachment trial. These spectacles have made a mockery of a solemn constitutional proceeding that, until 2019, had occurred only twice in the history of the nation.
One new element of this year’s effort is that Mr. Trump is no longer in office, which makes this impeachment unconstitutional under the plain text of the U.S. Constitution. Under Article 2, Section 4, a presidential impeachment trial — the purpose of which is to determine whether the President should be removed from office — must involve “The President,” not a president. And Article 1, Section 3 provides that, “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” Yet, “the President” is not on trial, and the Chief Justice is not presiding, both of which underscore the unconstitutionality of this proceeding.
Most significantly, this exercise is a disservice to our constituents, who sent us to Washington to work on important issues that will improve their lives. Perhaps it is not surprising that Washington’s priorities do not match those of the American people, as Washington has spent years ignoring voters.
In 2016, then-candidate Trump ran on an America First agenda that appealed to a broad coalition Americans who, like me, were tired of government as usual. Americans wanted to see trade deals renegotiated to benefit American workers and boost American manufacturing; we longed to reassert American leadership on the world stage after years of “apology tours”; we were desperate to secure our border to protect Americans; we applauded a meaningful push back against China after decades of appeasement; we hoped to end endless wars; and we were ready to hold accountable global institutions that spent American taxpayers’ dollars without advancing American taxpayers’ interests.
In 2020, even more Americans — 74 million — voted to continue and expand this vision. While former President Trump did not prevail, the voters of Tennessee sent me to Washington to build upon these successes and fight for forgotten Americans.
It’s time to get to work. Yet, Democrats are still fighting former President Trump, as if they have no agenda beyond stopping Mr. Trump. They are now holding hostage the U.S. Senate and wasting valuable time on an unconstitutional, political sideshow.
Perhaps Democrats hope that this impeachment spectacle will distract Americans from the recent barrage of Biden administration executive orders that will hurt working Americans, including revocation of the Keystone XL pipeline project, which will cost jobs and reverse our recent achievement of energy independence; open-borders immigration policies that will encourage human and drug trafficking and make it even harder for already struggling American workers to compete for scarce jobs; and re-joining one-sided global bureaucratic agreements that are empty symbols hamstringing American competitiveness with other nations.
Every decision I will make as a U.S. senator will be based on two essential questions: Is this in the best interest of Tennessee, and is this in the best interest of the nation? In the case of impeaching former President Trump, the answer is quite obviously no. The Senate would be wiser to use this time to advance the interests of our constituents, rather than engage in an unconstitutional, political show trial of a private citizen.
While Democrats and President Biden claim they want to “heal the nation”, their recent actions suggest exactly the opposite.
Bill Hagerty represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.