A senior editor at the National Review — a conservative publication in existence since 1955 — published an editorial last week calling for President Donald Trump’s removal from office, arguing that Democrats have shown the president meets all four tests for impeachment.
Ramesh Ponnuru laid out the following tests necessary for showing removal from office is warranted, subsequently explaining how Democrats have made clear that Trump’s actions merit ousting:
“First, they should have to show that the facts they allege are true.”
“Second, they should show that the fact pattern amounts to an abuse of power or dereliction of duty by the president.”
“Third, they should show that this abuse or dereliction is impeachable.”
“And fourth, they should show that it is prudent for Congress to remove the president for this impeachable offense: that it would produce more good than evil.”
If those advocating for a president’s removal successfully makes these points, “then a majority of the House and a supermajority of the Senate ought to remove the president,” Ponnuru wrote.
Beginning with the first test, the conservative commentator suggests that Democrats have clearly shown the facts of the Ukraine matter to be true: “The Trump administration itself released a memorandum summarizing Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, and it showed that when Zelensky asked about military aid, Trump responded by saying he wanted ‘a favor.’”
The president then asked for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, as well as allegations that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 hacking of the DNC.
Trump himself said on October 3 that he wanted Ukrainian officials to “start a major investigation into the Bidens.”
The facts of the case are not in dispute: Trump did what Democrats allege he did. This brings Ponnuru to the second test, and he argued that the presidents accusers are correct in asserting that his actions were an abuse of power. The argument from the White House and Republican lawmakers defending Trump insists that the president was merely looking to root out corruption in Ukraine in general, but Ponnuru acknowledged that this defense breaks down quickly.
The end result? The second test is passed, and now Democrats face the third: is the president’s behavior impeachable?
Some Trump supporters have argued that the president has committed no crimes and therefore impeachment is not warranted; however, Ponnuru noted that “Congress has impeached many officials for misconduct not involving statutory crimes, and included non-crimes in its efforts to impeach Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Clinton.”
“The Constitution says Congress may impeach federal officials for bribery, treason, and ‘other high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It is reasonable to conclude that only serious wrongs, equivalent in gravity to the first two categories, belong in the third one,” the conservative wrote. “We have no warrant for concluding that only violations of statutes qualify.”
This brings Ponnuru to the final test: does all of this warrant Trump’s removal, rather than leaving the matter for voters to decide, as some have suggested would be the prudent move.
“It might be possible to regard Trump’s Ukraine misadventure as a lapse of judgment, with little harm done, if he showed any repentance or even understanding of what he has done wrong,” he said. “Instead it looks more like a window into tendencies of his that are incompatible with performing the functions of his office.”
Ponnuru concluded that Trump must be removed from the Oval Office.
“The Constitution provides for impeachment and removal to protect us from officials, including presidents, who are unable or unwilling to distinguish between the common good that government is supposed to serve and their own narrow interests,” he wrote. “Though he has done some good things in office, Trump is just such a president. Congress should act accordingly.”