Opinion Columns & Blogs

Only telling the truth, and all of it, can possibly help Trump now

Ever since information surfaced about a possible policy of quid pro quo where U.S. military aid to Ukraine was contingent upon investigating Joe Biden’s son, the Trump administration has sought to deny such an event has occurred. In doing so, the president and his team may be making the same initial mistakes as the Clintons. Will they learn from history?

Initially, Republicans objected that the hearings were done “in secret,” even though Republican House committees attended these hearings and transcripts will show a vigorous questioning of witnesses by GOP members.

In the House Resolution 660 vote, the result in Georgia was largely split along party lines, as Democrats voted to continue the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, while Republicans voted against it. The overall Oct. 31 vote was 232-196. Now the information will be made public, which I think is a good thing for democracy

The House GOP may get what they don’t wish; as more information comes out, public support for impeachment seems to increase. Several Republican senators sought to introduce a measure condemning the House process, but they couldn’t get a majority to back it. Even when it was watered down, it failed to pass, an ominous sign in Washington, D.C.

The Trump administration fought back by releasing a transcript of the call, something witnesses have claimed is not an accurate transcript. If that transcript isn’t 100% accurate, it will not go well for the president. Neither will denying a quid pro quo took place help, if such evidence is revealed to be the case. Republican senators are increasingly willing to concede that a quid pro quo took place. Lying about it to the American people won’t help Trump’s case, if that’s what he did.

This is where the Clinton case comes in. President Bill Clinton would not have been impeached if he told the truth when asked about the affair. He was not impeached for having an affair, but for lying about it to a grand jury. Once that lie was exposed, House Republicans pounced and impeached him.

But in the Senate, the Clinton team more effectively made the case that Clinton’s lies did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense, rather than continue denying the lie. Republicans focused more upon the affair and the sex with the intern, instead of more effectively making the case that lying to a grand jury and that particular obstruction of justice was ground for removing a president. Not a single charge netted a majority of the GOP-controlled Senate to vote for it. Democrats did better in 1998 and 2000 legislative elections, taking the Senate in 2001 (and Al Gore got more votes than Bush in the 2000 presidential contest). Gore’s campaign tactics, not the impeachment, cost him the election.

If Trump wants to avoid disaster, and have that “fireside chat” that he desires, he had better be honest with the American people. If he did what even a majority of Americans and growing number of GOP senators feel he did, that information, and a full transcript, should come out now. And he had better make the case that while a quid pro quo is wrong, it is not enough to oust a president. Sure Trump is unlikely to be removed from office by the U.S. Senate, but a case where a majority of senators vote for it could be enough to cost the incumbent a second term in office, and lose the party even more seats.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.