Yes, yes, I know I promised not to write about our sorry excuse for a president until he is removed from office, but I look at this as a column about impeachment, not about he who must be impeached.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

The country is pretty evenly split on impeachment with a slight majority (51%) favoring an inquiry and slightly less (47%) favoring removal. Even many Democrats, myself included, didn’t think impeachment was a good idea initially. But the attempt to bribe the Ukrainian president into digging up dirt on his chief political rival in exchange for military aid crossed a bright ethical line.

Congressional Republicans and presidential staff members are all over the media squawking, “No collusion! No quid pro quo! Secret hearings! Partisan witch hunt!” Apparently, they have forgotten that they impeached Bill Clinton for nothing more serious than lying about oral sex and that independent counsel Kenneth Starr used closed-door interviews and secret grand jury proceedings to make the case against Clinton.

As administration officials lawyer up and refuse to testify, maybe someone should remind them that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was grilled for 11 hours about the Benghazi embassy attack and her accusers came up with zip, nada, nothing. The only thing Hillary Clinton was guilty of was not being a Republican.

The Clinton impeachment was a totally tawdry affair. Clinton supposedly obstructed justice by saying he “did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” A lot has been made of Clinton’s equivocation, maintaining that oral sex did not constitute “sexual relations.” But Clinton’s accusers made his amphiboly easier by defining “sexual relations” as “contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.” By that standard, Lewinsky had sexual relations with him, but he was just the passive receiver.

The case against the sitting president is far more serious and extensive, running to allegations of more than 80 illegal acts. Not only did he pay off women to keep them from revealing his many sexual indiscretions, he abused his power by trying to extort collusion from the president of the Ukraine, mishandled classified information, reversed security clearance denials for family and friends, obstructed Congress by refusing to release his tax returns and by instructing subordinates to ignore congressional subpoenas, obstructed justice in no less than 10 cases detailed in the Mueller Report, profited from his office in violation of the emoluments clause, and encouraged violence against his political opponents and the news media.

Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, one of the last of the honorable Republicans, was one of seven House Republicans on the judiciary committee to support the impeachment of Richard M. Nixon. Cohen knows an impeachable offense when he sees one.

“When I look at the conduct on the part of the president,” Cohen said recently on WABI, “it seems to me that calling upon the president of another country who is dependent on our assistance, military and otherwise, and to condition that upon an investigation into a potential rival is a violation of the law and I think it will constitute an article of impeachment.”

Whether an impeachment inquiry leads to removal from office or not, it needs to be done if only to detail for posterity the immoral behavior of a truly unfit and unethical president. To the degree that Republicans continue to defend such behavior, they call into question their own integrity and patriotism.

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