The lawyers are done talking, so all that’s left of the impeachment trial of Donald Trump is counting the votes of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate.

This shouldn’t be a hard one. Senators should find the president guilty for one simple reason: He actually is guilty.

Few facts of the case are in dispute. Even some of the president’s supporters acknowledge that Trump did what he was accused of, and that if he isn’t stopped, there is good reason to believe he will do it again. But because the politics of the case are much more complicated than the factual record, we are expecting Trump to be acquitted Wednesday.

Starting from the day that word leaked out that the president of the United States was using the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election, Republicans in the House lined up behind him. Their partisan refusal to participate in the process became the president’s defense: The impeachment inquiry was invalid, they argued, because it was partisan. Their refusal to search for the truth was proof that nothing had happened.

When the case moved to the Senate, it became clear that there would be no fair trial. The Republican majority would block the introduction of any new evidence, while blaming the House for presenting an incomplete record. 

But even without new witnesses and documents, the House has presented more than enough to convict the president.

It is undisputed that Trump used powers that only a president has to pressure a foreign government into helping him in his re-election campaign. Trump abused those powers – using them for personal gain, not in the national  interest – which is a textbook example of a “high crime.”

Through the House process we have heard testimony from decorated veterans, non-partisan foreign policy experts and a couple of members of Trump’s political orbit who all testified to their knowledge of a complicated scheme that played out over months involving the president and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to coerce the new government of Ukraine into publicly announcing investigations into the family of Trump’s potential political rival, Joe Biden. 

Prisons are full of people who have been convicted for less.

That would be reason enough to convict, but there is another that is also important.

The senators are not the only ones who know that Trump is guilty. Except for a few diehards, even his supporters acknowledge that he did what he is accused of, but they forgive him because they’ve been told that everybody is corrupt. They argue that Trump is no worse than presidents Obama or Clinton and the only ones who say he is are partisan shills.

A vote of “not guilty,” no matter how an individual senator justifies it, is a vote in favor of a cynical view that works like a poison on our political system. 

Trump didn’t invent partisanship, but he has pushed it to a new limit, and how members of the Senate respond to the test will echo in our system for a long time.

There is no compromise option for senators, no vote of “guilty, but …”

We urge Maine’s senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, to do the right thing and vote to convict this president so the country can begin rebuilding faith in our most important institutions.


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