No rush to judgment on Trump — it's been ongoing since Election Day

No rush to judgment on Trump — it's been ongoing since Election Day
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On Jan. 20, 2017, the Washington Post published an online story that ran under this headline: “The campaign to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants MORE has begun.” The story was posted at 12:19 p.m., nine minutes after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

“The effort to impeach President Donald John Trump is already underway,” the story by Matea Gold began. “At the moment the new commander in chief was sworn in, a campaign to build public support for his impeachment went live at ImpeachDonaldTrumpNow.org, spearheaded by two liberal advocacy groups aiming to lay the groundwork for his eventual ejection from the White House.” 

As the Senate’s impeachment trial opened on Tuesday, Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowWhat the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber Senate votes to acquit Trump on articles of impeachment Roberts emerges unscathed from bitter impeachment trial MORE, a member of the president’s legal team, stood before the 100 senators who will decide the president’s fate and asked a question everybody knew the answer to. “Why are we here?” Sekulow asked, rhetorically. “Are we here because of a phone call? Or, are we here before this great body because, since the president was sworn into office, there was a desire to see him removed?”

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First, Democrats were out to get the president for supposed violations of the Emoluments Clause to the U.S. Constitution. Then he had to go because he was a Russian asset. When that didn’t pan out, he had to be impeached because they said he obstructed justice in the Mueller investigation. Someplace along the way, impeachment was the only answer to his payoff of hush money to a porn star, which Democrats said amounted to a violation of campaign finance laws.

As the old “Saturday Night Live” character Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, “It’s always something — if it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

Every presidential misstep, to the president’s partisan adversaries, was a threat to democracy; every gaffe put our national security at risk. If they could have gotten away with impeaching him because his neckties were too long, they would have tried.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump looms as flashpoint in Alabama Senate battle Mellman: Primary elections aren't general elections On The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare MORE (R-Utah) got it right on the first day of the trial: “I think the Democrats make a mistake when they cry outrage time and time again. If everything is an outrage, then nothing is an outrage.”

None of this is to suggest that the president has clean hands. If being mean-spirited were an impeachable offense, if being petty and vulgar and dishonest were considered “high crimes and misdemeanors,” then he’d have to go.

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As for the chat with the president of Ukraine: It was not a “perfect” phone call, as President Trump claims. It was a deeply flawed call – deeply flawed, like the impulsive man who made the call.

President Trump was clearly strong-arming the young president of Ukraine, a man who desperately needed U.S. military help to ward off the Russian army. And if he didn’t investigate the Bidens, he might not get that aid.

But was that an impeachable offense? That depends — not so much on the facts of the matter but on whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. Virtually none of the jurors in the Senate entered the trial with an open mind, no matter what they’re telling their allies in the mainstream media. 

I watched way too many hours on the first day of the trial. If I had to sit through one more debate over a mind-numbing amendment from Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE (D-N.Y.), I either would have slipped into a coma or water-boarded myself. 

So let me spare you the torture of sitting through the rest of this charade. Here’s how the trial ends: Donald Trump will not be convicted, whether witnesses are called or not — and no matter what they say, if they are called. The verdict was “in” before the trial began.  

But so was the decision to impeach the president a forgone conclusion. The decision was made right about the time he was declared winner of the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump’s real impeachable offense, as far as the anti-Trump “Resistance” is concerned, was defeating Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton asked if she'd be Bloomberg's vice president: 'Oh no' Trump launches three-day campaign rally blitz Free Roger Stone MORE.

Bernard Goldberg, an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist, is a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” He previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Patreon page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.