The House of Representatives did shockingly shoddy work in investigating and drafting its articles of impeachment against President Trump. One facet among others of their embarrassment received much attention in yesterday’s question-and-answer session during the Senate trial: The “Corrupt Motives” Doctrine.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board highlighted it today, writing, “it isn’t legitimate to toss a President from office because the House thinks otherwise legal acts were done with ‘corrupt motives.’
“House managers concede that President Trump broke no laws with any specific actions. Instead, they claim that he abused his power because his motives for asking Ukraine’s President to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden were self-interested—to assist his re-election rather than as Mr. Trump claims to investigate corruption.
“Alan Dershowitz…elaborated that every politician, every President, tends to equate his re-election interest with the public or national interest. If the House can impeach a President for what it claims are self-interested motives, then majorities will have cause to impeach any future President.
“This is one reason, among many, that the Senate should reject the current House articles lest they define impeachment down.”
But of course, the House attempt to define impeachment down is another facet of its embarrassment. Because the House of Representatives failed so miserably to do its job, any self-respecting Senator might feel he has an institutional responsibility to reject them out of hand — no witnesses, no debate, just dismiss the case. The enormity of such a strategical (and unforced) error is difficult to overstate.