When Nancy Pelosi said impeaching Donald Trump isn’t “worth it,” she effectively said he’s above the law. And he knows it. That was the message Mr. Trump sent on Twitter when he seized on Speaker Pelosi’s comments to The Washington Post to claim he has never done anything wrong.

It was his most absurd lie out of the 9,000-plus he’s told since taking office. But more importantly, it demonstrates exactly why Speaker Pelosi’s decision to unilaterally take impeachment off the table is so dangerous.

The Speaker has said that Mr. Trump is “ethically unfit” to be president. She can see as clearly as anyone the severe danger he poses to the American people. Yet her statement that impeaching him wouldn’t be “worth it” unless Republicans go along with it takes the framework of right and wrong, and the issue of constitutionality, out of the discussion. It makes this purely a matter of partisan politics—removing the American people from the equation.

Don’t we get to hear the truth? Don’t our opinions matter? Or is this just an insiders’ game that’s all about power?

Let’s be clear: the question of whether or not Mr. Trump has met the standard for impeachment has been asked and answered for some time now. The Democratic Congressional leadership freely admits as much. But Speaker Pelosi is viewing this in a purely political lens, with a sense that this is just like President Clinton’s impeachment. The problem is, this is nothing like President Clinton’s impeachment. That’s comparing a molehill to a mountain, and the American people are smart enough to know the difference. Even so, consider what Republicans “suffered” after they impeached President Clinton over flagrant partisan rage rather than sincere interest in upholding the rule of law. Their nominee for president went on to win the 2000 election, and the GOP held total control over Congress until 2006.

The impeachment question demands a broader perspective. The consequences of inaction now will last far longer than 2020, and the American people stand to lose the most. He is recklessly undermining our efforts to reduce carbon emissions and stave off climate catastrophe. He is needlessly scrambling our relationships abroad by consorting with strongmen like Vladimir Putin, who oppose our national interests. He is weakening our intelligence community, making it increasingly difficult for allies to trust us, and in turn leaving our country at increasing risk. And he transparently wishes to transform our democracy into an autocracy. Even if he fails, the systemic vulnerabilities he has created—and has been allowed to create—will last as precedents forever. In effect, there is no check on presidential lawlessness. We simply cannot afford that.

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