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Bullies like Trump cannot be appeased. They must be confronted.

Eugene Robinson on

I'm under no illusions here. At this point it is clear that the vast majority of congressional Republicans will stay aboard the rustbucket USS Trump, which has been taking on water from the beginning, until it actually begins to sink.

But here is a line from Amash's tweetstorm that Democrats should reflect on: "While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct."

Speaking of misconduct, the Trump administration is now refusing to comply with perfectly lawful subpoenas issued by duly constituted committees of the U.S. Congress. If this president is allowed to get away with such defiance, why wouldn't the next president do the same -- or go even further? What good is a system of checks and balances if officials decline to use the tools that the framers of the Constitution so painstakingly crafted?

I can't be certain what the political impact of a formal impeachment process might be. Trump would doubtless claim he was being persecuted, as a way to rile up his base and boost GOP turnout. But he will surely claim victimhood anyway, even if Pelosi decides not to move forward. Bullies cannot be appeased. They must be confronted.

Democrats' options for avoiding impeachment are narrowing. Amash's politically dangerous stand is a reminder that elected officials, regardless of party, are supposed to put duty first.

 

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Eugene Robinson's email address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com.

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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