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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces her chamber’s formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

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Let impeachment inquiry bring out the facts on Trump and Ukraine — and then follow them

Nancy Pelosi had no choice but to open a formal impeachment inquiry. Now, it’s time for every document on the Ukrainian affair to be made public — and for the whistleblower to testify.

Our country has reached a turning point — one we hope is for the better.

Now that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced a formal impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Donald Trump, it’s more important than ever to get the facts about the president and his dealings with Ukraine in front of the American people.

Trump reportedly has been accused by an unknown whistleblower of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden — a potential 2020 presidential campaign rival — and Biden’s family.

If true, that would be an astounding betrayal of the nation.

So at this point, we need to see everything. The unredacted transcript of the phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s president. The full whistleblower complaint and any other relevant evidence.

We need to hear from the whistleblower. Let that individual testify before Congress.

We need a full, open accounting of all that has transpired. Not a rush to judgment.

We must be mindful that this is only the fourth time a U.S. president has been put on the road to impeachment — and that the process can further divide our already divided country.

Until now, Pelosi and many Democrats have been hesitant to consider impeachment, partly because the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to go along and the political risks are high.

But worrying about whether an impeachment process would imperil the Democratic majority in the House in 2020 appears no longer feasible, either.

Regardless of the Ukrainian affair, Trump has broken through as many of the checks and balances in the federal government as he can find.

From the start of his presidency, he has attacked all of the institutions that we rely on to keep our chief executive from governing as he pleases, with little thought for the will of the people. We worry future presidents will consider themselves to have license to act in the same autocratic, democracy-defying way.

He has denigrated the independent judiciary, claimed the 2016 election was rigged, called journalists the “enemy of the people,” claimed prosecutors and law enforcement fabricate evidence and undermined the independence of the Department of Justice.

He is a man untethered from traditions, protocol and sometimes reality.

And now come the questions about Ukraine.

If the impeachment investigation provides evidence Trump abused his power, a simple-majority vote on articles of impeachment would take place in the House and, if approved, the process would move to the Senate. There, a trial would be held, with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. House “managers” would act as prosecutors and the president’s lawyers would handle his defense. Removing Trump from office would require a two-thirds vote of the Senate in favor of conviction.

The impeachment process might not have been the only way to get at the truth. But now that the day has come, let’s remember what’s at stake:

If Trump would lean on a foreign government for help against a political rival who is competing for the chance to run against him, what would he do against whichever candidate eventually emerges as the Democrats’ standard-bearer? It’s not hard to imagine Trump using the full force of the federal government to the extent he is able to attack anyone with the temerity to run against him in November 2020.

We may know more soon. Democrats have told Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, he has only until Thursday to turn over the secret whistleblower complaint about conversations between Trump and President Zelensky. The intelligence community’s internal watchdog has concluded the allegations are urgent and credible. Reportedly, the whistleblower is willing to speak to Congress.

When it comes to potential criminal behavior, lawmakers cannot turn a blind eye. That goes for members of Trump’s Republican Party, too.

We don’t know how far the impeachment inquiry will go, or what more we may learn.

But we do know this is a time for all of us — especially our lawmakers — to put our nation above our political interests and let the facts guide us.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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