The Irish Times view on the Trump impeachment: Pelosi makes her move
What is already in the public domain quite easily reached the bar required for inquiries
Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announces the House will begin a formal impeachment inquiry into US president Donald Trump on Tuesday. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
Nancy Pelosi has finally relented. Having for months resisted pressure from within the Democratic caucus in Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, the House Speaker announced on Tuesday that the red line that would justify that extraordinary step had been crossed.
Views had been hardening among Democrats in Congress in the past week after it emerged that Trump had pressed Ukraine to carry out an inquiry into unsubstantiated corruption allegations against Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate for president. The call in which Trump made that request of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy – a summary of which was published by the White House on Wednesday – took place just days after Trump put a freeze on the transfer of more than $391 million in aid to Ukraine.
On one side of the debate that has raged among congressional Democrats since they won a majority in last year’s midterms have been those who argued the party had a moral duty to move against a president they were convinced was unfit for office. On the other side were those, including many elected in red states, who felt impeachment was too great a political risk – especially given that to force Trump from office would require at least 20 Republican senators to break with him. Many in the latter camp recalled that voters punished Republicans for impeaching Bill Clinton.
The process that Pelosi has initiated will be long and arduous. It could come at a cost to Democrats. And, unless something happens to cause Republicans to turn on their president, it will not force Trump from office. But the case for action had become irresistible. The summary of the Trump-Zelenskiy conversation, in which Trump asks his counterpart to “do us a favour” immediately after the issue of arms sales to Ukraine has been broached, raises questions that should trouble all Americans. What is already in the public domain quite easily reached the bar required for inquiries of the type that congressional Democrats will now begin. To have stood back now would have been a dereliction of the party’s duty.