After all the drama of the last four years, we need a change. To persist in an impeachment drive in President Donald Trump’s last days in office is another dramatic gesture the nation does not need.
Is disgrace not punishment enough?
For many Democrats in Congress, and not a few Republicans who were also threatened by the mob in the Capitol, there is a keenly felt duty to act, even if the Trump administration will end by law at noon on Jan. 20.
We do not disagree that the insurrection last week was primed and inspired by Trump, nor that he disgraced himself and his office by his actions.
But we also don’t believe that extending for a few more days the operatic political debates of Trump’s four years are in the interests of the country.
The Democratic-led House wants the vice president and cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment, a complicated process of removal of a disabled president. Intended to address a situation like that of stroke-ridden Woodrow Wilson a century ago, the amendment’s process would take almost up to Inauguration Day anyway.
Impeachment, in theory, could continue past that date but we wonder if the nation would find that compellingly of interest when there is a new administration coming into office.
An irony here: The current president made many accusations about vote fraud but with little or nothing in the way of evidence to back them up. As good lawyers — not including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York — will tell us, vote fraud is notoriously difficult to prove in a court of law.
To the extent that impeachment results in a trial, incitement of insurrection as a legal charge is also highly debatable. The president’s statements were, to us, an outright incitement to violence but he and his cohorts did not personally push down barricades or kill a Capitol policeman.
President-elect Joe Biden is right. He sidestepped the issue of impeachment by saying that it is Congress’ decision but he also noted that removal from office is less urgent when the Trump days are so numbered.
It’s not as if we have another six months of the man in the Oval Office. And if Biden is shrewdly not dismissing the fire-eaters in his own party, he is probably thinking that the launch of his administration is going to get tangled up in the recriminations of Jan. 6.
We can neither forget nor minimize the horrors of last Wednesday, but America needs to turn the page. That is not served by impeachment of a president on his way out, even if he richly deserves national scorn.