Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November
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Amid our COVID-19 pandemic and our resurgent racial strife, it’s easy to forget that the president of the United States was impeached just a few months ago for trying to extort another country for dirt on his political opponent.

But it’s important to remember, because it set the stage for where we are now and where we’re going in November.

My new book, “Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump,” is an insider account of how it all happened and why it still matters. As a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, I had a firsthand, behind-the-scenes view of the leadership strategy meetings, the prep sessions, all the testimony both public and private, and the heroes who risked their careers to call out the president for his abuses and obstruction.

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My dad – a police chief who lost his job for standing up to small-town corruption – taught me that nobody is above the law, a concept that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE apparently never understood and never will. As my book relates, when and how to impeach him was at first an agonizing decision and then an easy one as the facts began to emerge – as Ernest Hemingway put it, it happened “gradually, then suddenly.” The earth was moving beneath our feet, and we had to act quickly and decisively to protect both our national security and the integrity of the election process.

Thanks to the steadfastness of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Overnight Health Care: New wave of COVID-19 cases builds in US | Florida to lift all coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, bars | Trump stirs questions with 0 drug coupon plan Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds MORE (D-Calif.) and Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff to subpoena top DHS official, alleges whistleblower deposition is being stonewalled Schiff claims DHS is blocking whistleblower's access to records before testimony GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power MORE (D-Calif.) and Judiciary Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Schumer: 'Nothing is off the table' if GOP moves forward with Ginsburg replacement Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence MORE (D-N.Y.), we went about the process quickly but meticulously, ignoring the distractions and gathering the facts to build the case despite the efforts of Trump and his sycophantic enablers – from Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Trump's push for win with Sudan amps up pressure on Congress  Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize MORE and Attorney General Bill Barr to members of Congress such as Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesOvernight Defense: Stopgap spending measure awaits Senate vote | Trump nominates former Nunes aide for intelligence community watchdog | Trump extends ban on racial discrimination training to contractors, military Trump nominates former Nunes aide to serve as intel community inspector general Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election MORE (R-Calif.), Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHouse panel pulls Powell into partisan battles over pandemic Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus MORE (R-Ohio), and Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTrump faces tricky choice on Supreme Court pick Florida attorney general scrutinizing Bloomberg paying fines for felons to vote Lara Trump campaigns with far-right activist candidate Laura Loomer in Florida MORE (R-Fla.) – to bury the truth.

It often was a surreal experience, full of pinch-me moments in which I wondered if some of my Republican colleagues had gone mad. It wasn’t just their deep denial of the damning evidence right in front of their faces; it was the theatrics they chose to stage in attempts to derail the process.

I still can’t believe they staged a circus by invading and compromising the security of our Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility while classified testimony was being taken, screaming and shouting and ordering in pizzas, when most of them had been invited to the testimony anyway.

But the circus didn’t win. It didn’t keep heroes like Lt. Col. Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanImpeachment witness Alexander Vindman calls Trump Putin's 'useful idiot' The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump, Biden renew push for Latino support Strzok: Trump behaving like an authoritarian MORE, Ambassador Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchGrand jury adds additional counts against Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and and Igor Fruman Strzok: Trump behaving like an authoritarian Powell backs Biden at convention as Democrats rip Trump on security MORE, Ambassador Bill Taylor, Fiona Hill, and others from speaking truth to corrupt power, and that truth helped set us free.

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Ukraine received the aid that the president had withheld in violation of established U.S. policy and moral imperatives. The president’s seamy attempt to Trump up phony accusations against Joe BidenJoe BidenFormer Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick Bloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida MORE was exposed in glaring detail, and utterly debunked. And the president is forever impeached as unfit to occupy the Oval Office, even if Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCrenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error MORE (R-Utah) was the only Republican senator to show the bravery and honesty to do what was right for America.

Imagine where we might be if more senators had found the nerve to remove this clearly corrupt president.

A different president might not have wasted those crucial weeks in February with lies and evasions, and so far fewer Americans might have died in this now-raging COVID-19 pandemic.

A different president might not have sprayed so much gasoline on the national rage sparked by the killing of George Floyd, including tear-gassing and rubber-bulleting protestors to clear a street for his own photo op.

A different president might not be spreading nutty conspiracy theories and working so hard behind the scenes to ensure that millions of Americans will be disenfranchised from voting in November.

And a different president might not leave us wondering whether he’ll actually honor the election’s results, or if he’ll refuse to leave.

Trump’s handling of COVID-19 in particular echoed his wrongdoing with Ukraine. This time, the “do us a favor though” was laid on our own governors, as he insisted they had to say nice things about him in order to get ventilators and personal protective equipment for our states.

He'll do it again and again if not challenged. Yet the Senate’s failure to remove him months ago doesn’t mean impeachment wasn’t important and worthwhile.

Impeachment taught us lessons. It taught us that truth can still outshine lies and obstruction, and that bullies still always scurry for cover when confronted. Vindman, Yovanovitch, Taylor, Hill and other patriots ignored the Bully-in-Chief’s endless personal smears and stepped up when their country needed them, and now it’s on all of us to do the same – to turn out at the polls in huge enough numbers that there can be no mistake we’ve thoroughly rejected the lies, the abuses, the obstruction, and the deep divisions this president has brought upon our nation.

We impeached him in the House, and now we’ll have to impeach him at the ballot box.

In chess, the endgame is the final stage of play in which only a few pieces remain on the board and only a few moves are left to make. I didn’t call the book “Endgame” because impeachment itself was the final goal; we’re actually in the endgame right now. The question is, which one?

Is this the endgame of Trumpism and an opportunity to redeem American values? Or is this the endgame of the democratic system that our Founders established nearly 250 years ago, designed to guard against the rise of an autocrat?

Every American is seated at the chessboard. What’s your move?

Congressman Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellHouse to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Swalwell calls for creation of presidential crimes commission to investigate Trump when he leaves office 'This already exists': Democrats seize on potential Trump executive order on preexisting conditions MORE is the author of Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump (Abrams Press, June 2020). Follow him on Twitter at @EricSwalwell.