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Mon Feb 8, 2021, 06:55 PM

David Frum: Impeachment Is Working--Just Not as the Framers Expected

Impeachment Is Working—Just Not as the Framers Expected
The case against despair
February 7, 2021
David Frum
Staff writer at The Atlantic
Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET on February 8, 2021.


Here’s the case against despair.


Donald Trump was not removed in 2020, but he lost the presidency, and his party lost control of the Senate.

Impeachments were designed as ways to remove corrupt federal officials. That function has mostly gone dormant, replaced by the operations of federal public-integrity law, enforced by the Department of Justice. Each month, DOJ announces actions in some two dozen cases. Recent announcements include the conviction of a former mayor in the federal territory of Guam on extortion changes and a former border officer on bribery charges.

But what impeachment can do in the modern era is send a powerful signal to the public about the gravity of certain cases. When the House impeaches, it declares: We believe we have exited normal politics; we believe we are dealing with a true emergency.

It elevates the president’s alleged abuse over all other congressional business. Impeachment empowers the House to force an issue onto the agenda of the slower-moving Senate. Impeachment changes the calendar of politics. Impeachment concentrates and clarifies issues. Impeachment compels senators to take a public stand one way or the other: convict or acquit.



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