On November 9, 2016, in the aftershock of Trump having won the presidency, the word impeachment became commonplace. People had always been confused as to its meaning, but in the three-plus years since then, we have been educated. We know that two presidents before Trump have faced the same situation and that both have been found not guilty. And few of us will be very surprised if Trump’s fate is any different.
II don’t foresee any heroes emerging from the Senate, not after they sat silently while immigrant children were separated from their parents…while their president belittled the government entities that keep us safe…while he continued to amass a fortune through his position…while they never questioned why his tax information must not be divulged, and much, much more. Republicans' chance to be heroes—even to be decent—have come and gone. They will not retrieve it in the days to come.
But before we face what is certain to be the disappointment of the lockstep Senate once again abrogating its responsibility, let’s honor the heroes who got us at least this far:
1. The whistleblower. I suppose quite a few people know the person's name, but for the time being it’s anonymous to me. This is where it started, a mere three months ago, with the president home free after the botched Mueller report. What John Bolton would later refer to as a “drug deal” might never have come to light had it not been for this person providing that initial information. It may turn out in the end like reporting a murder and having the police say, "oh that's okay—he's allowed to commit murder." Even so the act in itself, regardless of outcome, was heroic.
2. Fiona Hill. With her Ph.D. in Russian history, she sat before the House Intelligence Committee and put to rest any doubts about who had interfered in the 2016 election and who was preparing to do the same this year. She stated clearly that blaming the Ukrainians for 2016 was part of Putin’s plan, and “we’re running out of time to stop them” for 2020. She was forthright, honest, and unbowed before the bullying of questioners who thought she could be intimidated but who, themselves, looked foolish and ignorant...because they were.
3. Marie Yovanovitch. This former US Ambassador to Ukraine became the object of a presidential and right-wing media smear campaign when she exposed an attempt by Trump, et al., to circumvent legal channels and withhold aid from Ukraine until that country provided dirt on Joe Biden. And as if that were not damning enough, it turns out she was surveilled by her own country before finally being removed. As a State Department employee who should have received the support of her superiors, she was hung out to dry by her boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was too busy watching his own back to have hers.
We can add Schiff and Pelosi and all the others who have worked hard to get us this far, but isn't that their job. The oath they took to defend the Constitution makes what they’re doing not just a partisan attack or a nice gesture; they have a responsibility. I suppose we can also, if we have a sense of humor, heap some praise on Lev Parnas, though I’ll hold off on that a bit. It was the whistleblower, Hill, and Yovanovitch who went well beyond what was required of them to protect their country, a country which, ironically, is neither Hill nor Yovanovitch's country of birth: Fiona Hill comes from a coal mining region in northern England; Yovanovitch from Montreal, born of parents who escaped the Soviet Union.
It would be a delicious irony if two immigrants help bring down our immigrant-hating president, but I don’t trust irony in the age of Trump. It seems redundant.
Nor do I trust the Senate to remove Trump from office. Something that drastic could only come at the end of an actual trial, and none is forthcoming. Trials, as we know, require documents and testimony, both of which the Senate spurns; and with Trump's defense maintaining that he broke no actual law and worked only to ensure the security of the United States, it will be near impossible to have testimony or documents accepted. So no trial.
But it's okay. We saw in the House witnesses examples of what courage looks like—it's something we've come to no longer expect in the era of Barr, Mulvaney, Pompeo, and Trump. Those witnesses who have already gone the extra mile (apparently at some personal risk) now face, with an almost certain acquittal of Trump, the prospect of further abuse at the hands of a vengeful president and his right-wing lackeys.
Trump deserves worse: the three patriotic Americans deserve better.