Even before Donald Trump was nominated for president, talk of impeaching him had begun and by inauguration day some Democrats were calling for his removal. From that point, the effort grew legs with charges that Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election from Hillary Clinton in 2016. Then he was attacked for firing FBI Director James Comey, leading to appointment of a special counsel whose findings ultimately failed to provide the Russia collusion “smoking gun” so eagerly pursued by Democrats.
Finally, the Democrats found their cause in Trump’s telephone call to the president of Ukraine requesting “a favor” involving corruption in that country and an investigation of the role of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. This formed the basis for House Democrats to say Trump sought personal political gain. After months of committee hearings, two articles of impeachment charging the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress sailed through the Democrat-controlled House with no Republican vote.
Then came the trial of the charges by the Senate with each side spending days presenting arguments, back and forth. The Republican majority denied demands by the House impeachment managers to call witnesses before the Senate and moved to the historic final vote on Wednesday, the day after Trump’s State of the Union address. It was a solemn moment as each senator had to stand and pronounce the president “guilty” or “not guilty.”
On the first article charging abuse of power, the vote was 48 for conviction and 52 against, far short of the two-thirds majority required for removal of a president. All the Democrats voted for conviction and all the Republicans except Mitt Romney voted against removing the president from office. The second article failed on a 47-53 vote with Romney joining the other Republicans in opposing it. At last the ordeal was over as Chief Justice John Roberts read the verdict declaring the president “is hereby acquitted of the charges.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the radical wing of the Democratic Party had pushed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi into initiating impeachment proceedings despite her earlier reluctance. McConnell nailed the whole episode as a “thoroughly political exercise” that was “a political loser” for Democrats. He and other Republicans took Pelosi to task for ripping up her copy of Trump’s speech in the U.S. House as he concluded his State of the Union address. It was petty and unworthy of the Speaker of the House as were the negative reactions by Democrats during the speech, symptomatic of the deep and abiding animosity for this president, considered by them to be a usurper even though he was duly elected by the people.
Confirming the failure of the Democrats, a Gallup poll conducted during the impeachment trial and released on the day of Trump’s State of the Union address showed 52% of Americans favor Trump’s acquittal versus 46% for convicting and removing him from office. That was just part of the positive news for Trump. His approval rating hit 49%, the highest since he took office. He also gained enviable status among Republicans with 94% approval, up six points from early January, and 42% approval among swing voting independents, up five points.
On a key pocketbook issue, the poll showed 63% approval of Trump’s handling of the economy, “higher than at any point in the past two decades. Similarly, national satisfaction is the highest in nearly 15 years.” This is, the polling firm reported, “the highest economic approval rating not only for Trump, but for any president since George W. Bush enjoyed stratospheric job approval ratings in the first few months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” As the president’s approval has improved, so has the image of the Republican Party with 51% of Americans viewing the GOP favorably, up from 43 percent in September for the first time this rating has exceeded 50% since 2005.
Despite the poll results, the strong economy and all the other achievements of the Trump administration, Democrats are not going to concede defeat in their efforts to damage him to undermine his reelection and gain a majority in the Senate. Before and after the verdict on impeachment, there was talk among Democrats of more investigations, even new impeachment charges.
This is not only bad for the Democrats, as the Gallup poll shows, but it’s even worse for this deeply divided country. Now with the impeachment verdict in, the case goes to the American people, as it should have from the beginning. The voters will render their verdict on Election Day. It is up to them to pass judgment and decide if the president remains in office.