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Opinion

Newsletter: There’s no good honest argument against impeaching Trump

President Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 26.
President Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 26.
(Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. There are only 402 days until the November 2020 election. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Similar to how Republicans told us there are things a president just doesn’t do in an election season (such as, say, fill a Supreme Court vacancy), we are now being told there are just some things you don’t do to a president barely more than 400 days out from an election — even it if has to do with upholding the legitimacy of that election.

In fact, the only intellectually honest arguments you’ll find against impeaching President Trump address the politics of the process — the fact that Republicans in the Senate will never vote to convict, impeachment is still broadly unpopular with voters, let the voters decide Trump’s fate in 2020, and so on — and not the president’s actions, because any fair-minded observer would agree that soliciting a foreign government’s assistance in taking down a political opponent is prima facie conduct worthy of removal from office.

That doesn’t mean those arguments against impeachment are good ones; to the contrary, even a piece as breezy as the L.A. Times Op-Ed article by Republican strategist Scott Jennings relies on the reader conceding that Trump’s behavior is really no big deal and deserves less consideration than some nebulous political realities. With that reasoning, just about any conduct by the world’s most powerful individual can be excused. Up until now impeachment has been off the table, giving us “your lawless president, Mafia Don,” as our columnist Robin Abcarian called him.

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Expect more of that if Trump is not held accountable.

If Trump’s Ukraine call doesn’t wake up Republicans, nothing will. Yes, impeachment is risky, divisive and a number of other politically fraught things. There are ample excuses to avoid it, and for good reason. But Trump’s attempt to enlist Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s election assistance gets to the very heart of our government’s legitimacy. This is about protecting the republic, not grinding a political ax. L.A. Times

Impeachment got off to a bad start. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire looked more like a victim than a villain in his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, says Michael McGough. Democrats ought to keep their eyes on Ukraine and not make this a fishing expedition for every possible impeachable offense, says Jon Healey. The Ukraine impeachment inquiry is giving us a serious case of Russiagate deja vu, writes Brian Boyle.

Legal precedent doesn’t favor Trump in an impeachment inquiry, but Democrats have been acting like the opposite is true. They dithered in the face of Corey Lewandowski’s flippant obstructionism. They’re the ones who have been holding up impeachment, not the Republicans. But now that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has finally opened a formal inquiry, the legal skids have been greased, and Trump won’t be able to stonewall Congress so freely. L.A. Times

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Rep. Adam B. Schiff is the lawmaker to watch. Democrats have squandered opportunity after opportunity in battles with Trump, having failed to pin Brett Kavanaugh in Senate hearings and sitting in their seats powerless as the president’s former campaign manager treated them with disdain. That record could improve a lot with the representative from Burbank spearheading the impeachment inquiry. New York Times

Rent control is good for California, but not great. The economic arguments against capping rents are familiar to us by now: It distorts the market by disincentivizing new construction and investment in housing, exacerbating the very problem it is intended to mitigate. New research shows that rent control can in fact be a net positive for the general welfare, but for a long-term solution it must be included with greater construction, more generous housing vouchers and better public transportation. L.A. Times

Reach me: paul.thornton@latimes.com


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