This week President-elect Joe Biden made a very laudable decision to appoint Judge Merrick Garland as the next attorney general in the United States. Like many, I praised Garland as an excellent choice and as a step that advanced Biden’s earlier promise to seek unity. That’s why I was so disappointed that Biden refused to comment next week on efforts to indict Donald Trump. As with his equally inexplicable refusal to comment on the trial, Biden’s silence on this clearly unsupportive “rash impeachment” was a missed opportunity to show real leadership when it counts. It is not popular to oppose this impeachment, but the leadership often demands that the presidents take unpopular but correct positions.
Biden stated Friday that President Trump “is unable to keep the job” and that he did not want Trump to attend the inauguration. I have no problem with that statement. In fact, Trump has said much worse himself about Biden and has also stated that he does not want to attend the inauguration. I also have no problem with demands for Trump’s resignation or a bipartisan condemnation letter from Congress. However, for highly dubious constitutional reasons, critics who want to impose an impeachment will hardly discuss or consider.
When asked, Biden explained;
“I’m focusing on the virus, the vaccine, and economic growth. Congress decides that they decide, ”Biden replied when asked if he supported such moves. … We will do our job and Congress can decide how to deal with it. That is a decision that Congress must make. I focus on my job. “
Defending the Constitution is “his job” and this would undermine both the process and the standard for impeachment. This was an opportunity to take a principled stance to unite the country by telling his party to resign and not pursue “rash impeachment”. As I discuss in my column today, this impeachment threatens not only the principles of impeachment but also freedom of speech in our constitution.
As with court packing, this is not the time for good people to keep quiet, even in the face of such unbridled anger. Indeed, Democrats may loathe the day they embraced the concept of “rash impeachment” – a constitutional contradiction. Impeachments are designed for deliberate, non-impulsive acts.
Indeed, Biden’s hint on more pressing matters is spot on. He should have asked Congress to focus on these issues rather than impeachment, which will not be successfully removed but will undermine our constitutional system.
There could be evidence of impeachment, but it must be found outside of this speech. That requires a request. Biden should oppose any “hasty impeachment” to at least allow hearings.
This was the kind of “don’t say it like that Joe” moment I was hoping for after the election. Biden could have refused to follow that plan or remain silent in the face of a clearly abusive use of the impeachment authority. He could still have condemned the speech and the President, as many have. He could then have asked that his party not do any major harm by raging through the Constitution trying to remove Trump in his final days. That was a moment of the President that the President-elect had missed.