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 others, 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 matters. 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. However, Biden also stated;
“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 work 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 that would undermine both the process and the standard for impeachment. This was an opportunity to take a principled stand to unite the country by asking his party to resign and not pursue “rash impeachment”. As I discuss in my column today, this impeachment threatens not only the principles on which it is based, but also the freedom of speech in our constitution.
As with court packing, this isn’t the time for good people to keep quiet, even in the face of this unrestrained 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 and not on impeachment, which will not be successfully removed but will undermine our constitutional system.
This was the kind of “say it ain’t it Joe” moment I was hoping for after the election. Biden could have refused to follow this plan or to remain silent in the face of a clearly abusive use of 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 damage by raging through the Constitution trying to remove Trump in his final days. That was a moment for the President that the President-elect had missed.