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Opinion: Country doesn't need impeachment proceeding

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, is on the mark with his analysis that impeaching President Trump in the waning days of his administration is not in the nation’s best interests. Democrats in the House of Representatives, however, are moving full speed ahead.

A hearing is scheduled to begin Wednesday on one article of impeachment, for “incitement of insurrection.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the move — one week from the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden — is needed because Trump represents “an imminent threat” to the Constitution and our democracy.

Yet Trump has lost just about all his backing in the White House, with several Cabinet members resigning after the awful siege of the Capitol by pro-Trump protesters on Jan. 6. The president is staying mostly out of the public eye, and his public platforms, Twitter and Facebook, are off limits after both companies suspended his accounts, citing concerns he might incite violence.

In a video last Thursday, Trump committed to a peaceful and orderly transition of power. He has announced he will not attend Biden’s inauguration, something that should please Democrats.

Yet it is possible Trump could become the only U.S. president to be impeached twice. The House impeached him in December 2019, accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Trump seven weeks later.

Two Republican senators, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, want Trump to resign before Jan. 20. Toomey called a resignation “the best path forward.” That may be, but it seems unlikely to happen.

In an interview Friday with The Oklahoman’s Chris Casteel, Cole noted that Democrats “certainly have the votes to impeach if they choose to do so.” However, if they do, “I’m not sure the Senate would have time for a trial.”

Under a potential schedule that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent to colleagues, it would be almost impossible to begin a Senate impeachment trial before Jan. 20.

“So again, to me, why put the country through this?” when the term ends so soon, Cole said. “I would hope we could avoid any additional trauma nationally.”

House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina hinted that the House may not send its impeachment legislation to the Senate until three months into the Biden presidency. Yet there is disagreement over whether that can happen. Alan Dershowitz, a constitutional law expert, notes that the Constitution says impeachment applies to the president — not the former president.

Dershowitz also said that although he disapproves of Trump's remarks at last week's rally, "it comes within core political speech, and to impeach a president for exercising his First Amendment rights would be so dangerous to the Constitution."

Cole’s observation about the move to impeach is a good one: “I don’t see any good coming out of that.” Yet here it comes.


Opinion editor Owen Canfield is in his 18th year writing editorials for The Oklahoman and has spent nearly 40 years in journalism. Contact him at or call (405) 475-3205. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a print or digital subscription at

Owen Canfield III

Owen Canfield has written editorials for The Oklahoman since 2003. Prior to that, he spent 19 years with The Associated Press in Oklahoma City. He is a 1981 graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He and his wife, Lori, have four children. Read more ›