It may have been the week that Donald Trump got away with it. Again.

I shouldn’t be surprised. From the Vietnam draft to the Internal Revenue Service, it’s kind of a habit with him.

Last week, House Democrats huddled and reduced a mountain of evidence into two discrete Articles of Impeachment based on Trump’s scheme to get the Ukrainian government to spread disinformation about a potential rival in the 2020 election.

Article 1 says he abused the power of his office for personal political gain.

Article 2 says he defied Congress, ignoring subpoenas and instructing witnesses to refuse to cooperate with any investigation.

The charges are pared down. If he weren’t the president, a prosecutor might have charged him with bribery or extortion. He also could have been charged with the crime of obstruction of justice for interfering with the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the last election. He could have faced charges for using his position to enrich his family business.

But since impeachment is a political process and not a legal one, the House leaders determined that they would limit the articles to what was beyond dispute. He abused his power. He acted in contempt of Congress.

And here’s something else that’s beyond dispute: Republicans don’t care.

There will not be a single Republican vote in favor of impeachment in the House, according to every analysis I’ve seen. And there are likely to be a handful of Democratic “no” votes, coming from members whose districts Trump won in 2016.

One of the officially undecided is Maine Rep. Jared Golden, who, his office says, will not be announcing a position until later this week.

Golden voted to authorize an impeachment inquiry after an initial investigation by the House Intelligence Committee verified allegations made by an anonymous whistleblower about Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. But Golden’s final position is unknown, since he brushed off earlier impeachment talk, calling it “B.S.” that was unimportant to the “silent majority” in his district.

You have to wonder what factors someone like Golden must be weighing.

It can’t be a question of guilt or innocence. Those questions are not that complicated

Did Trump abuse his power when he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce an anti-corruption investigation into bogus charges against Democratic front-runner Joe Biden and his son?

Yes, he did.

Did the president defy congressional investigators, ignoring subpoenas for documents and instructing government employees to stay home when they were called to testify to Congress.

Yes, he did.

The question on the congressman’s mind is probably whether the people of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District care.

Should a congressman like Golden, who narrowly won election in a ranked-choice runoff last year, have to walk the plank to send Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, where Republicans are almost certainly going to stick together and return an acquittal?

That’s one kind of political question. Here’s some others:

Should a president be able to use the power given to him by the people for his own benefit?

Should a president, who can’t be charged with a crime, be able to stonewall congressional oversight as well?

Should Election Day be the only time a president can be held accountable, even if his bad acts involve cheating in his election?

What happens to constitutional checks and balances when parties would rather protect their guiltiest members than lose power?

Last week, Trump was forced to pay out $2 million to charities as part of the settlement that shut down his family’s foundation.

In court papers, the president admitted to self-dealing and misuse of funds, including $2.8 million raised at an event that was supposed to support veterans. Instead, that money was controlled by his presidential campaign.

Trump may never be able to head another charity in New York state. This may be the closest he gets to being held accountable.

But that’s in court. In the political arena, it looks like he’s getting away with it again.


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