As Democrats finalize articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, they will be tempted to draw from his deep well of arguably impeachable behavior over the past three years. He paid mistresses for their silence to win an election, obstructed justice in the Russia investigation and blatantly monetized the presidency. Trump has epitomized the kinds of abuse of power and self-dealing the founders feared when they created the impeachment process.
Still, Democrats would be smart to keep the formal charges narrowly focused on Trumps attempt to extort a vulnerable ally for his own political gain and his related obstruction of Congress. Impeachment is a constitutional process, but its also a political one, with public support being a necessary component. However justified wider-ranging charges might be, if it starts to look like Democrats are just piling on, they risk losing public support.
Scholars generally agree that the founders deliberately used open-ended language when establishing treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors as the criteria for a presidents impeachment and removal. It was their way of acknowledging they couldnt predict every future scenario that might require this extreme remedy.
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