W ASHINGTON — When the Senate acquits the president, he will launch a vindication tour proclaiming that his prosecution was persecution that validated his coveted victim status: Crybaby conservatism’s leader has been tormented by unhinged elites. The entire impeachment episode might boost his reelection chances, but only slightly, because voters who are undecided about him are thin on the ground. George Nevertheless, there is Will more utility than futility in the impeachment trial. Because of it, this year’s electorate will have pertinent information. And future presidents will have a salutary wariness. Begin with this principle: Information is inherently good. Granted, government secrecy is sometimes necessary, and reticence, in government as elsewhere, can be a lubricant of harmony and accommodation. Still, the general rule regarding information is: The more the merrier. The impeachment process has produced granular details about what the president did regarding Ukraine, and about his manner of doing things, and about the grifters he attracts just as magnets attract iron filings. All this is grist for the electorate’s mill today, 33 weeks before the general election’s voting begins in Minnesota Sept. 18. Furthermore, the 20 Republican senators seeking reelection this November (incumbents from Kansas, Tennessee and Wyoming are retiring) will face voters after explaining why they voted as they did concerning trial witnesses, and for or against acquittal. Intelligent, publicspirited senators can reasonably disagree about the necessity (or, given the ocean of information that is public and undis- Wilson’s progressive impatience with the separation of powers, which Wilson considered an anachronistic impediment to energetic government. Suppose President Sanders would exercise all the discretion granted to presidents by Congress to enable presidents to run the sprawling administrative state. Suppose President Sanders would be tempted to declare “emergencies” about this and that, and to issue executive orders “repurposing” funds appropriated for other uses. Might President Sanders hesitate to do so because of today’s impeachment, which is a step toward normalizing a radical escalation of political strife? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Progressives would remove today’s House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. (center), speaks, accom- president to protect the country from panied by with fellow House Democratic impeachment managers on Tuesday on Capitol his boundless conception of presidenHill. tial power and his (consequent) disdain for Congress. They are recoiling against what progressivism has wrought, beginputed, the redundancy) of witnesses. And thought experiment: ning with Theodore Roosevelt’s theory Given this era’s low threshold for fury, they can differ about the applicability of presidential “stewardship”: Presidents Republicans, anticipating Democrats of the two impeachment articles. It will, may do whatever they are not explicitly today, might have constitutionalized however, be useful, and probably enforbidden to do. their indignation by charging Donald tertaining, to hear Republican senators’ So, because the presidency should be Trump’s predecessor with impeachable reasoning. Try this thought experiment: Suppose abuses of power in waging unauthorized tamed, and contracted to constitutional there were term limits for Congress — six war in Libya, and rewriting immigration dimensions, this impeachment can be, House terms, two Senate terms. Suppose law under the guise of “enforcement dis- on balance, constructive. This is so even if acquittal has the predictable effect of cretion.” “Abuse of power” is inevitably that, say, one-third of the 20 Republifurther emboldening this president. somewhat in the eye of the beholder. can senators seeking reelection in 2020 Since he entered politics in 2015, he Today’s trial about abuses, and about were in their second and final terms. has enjoyed immunity through profuobstructing Congress’ investigation of Surely some of them, emancipated from sion: His nonstop torrent of lies, distorthem, is potentially a harbinger of the the terror they feel when contemplating promiscuous use of impeachment. That tions, slanders and historical claptrap Trumpian constituents, would vote at is, a precedent for Congress’ abuse of this has prevented prolonged scrutiny of anyleast for witnesses to provide pertinent thing. This has helped him weather the information (e.g., who besides the presi- power. However, for this reason today’s impeachment squall. Millions of Ameriimpeachment might, for a while, make dent has been lying?). Term limits are a cans respond to yet another batch of future presidents wary when wielding lost cause, but this question illustrates power with dubious justifications. Mod- presidential mendacities about yet anwhy that is regrettable. other sordid presidential action by thinkern presidents, clad in the armor of imBoth impeachment articles against the president — abuse of power, and ob- perial grandeur, are most tolerable when ing: This is not news. They are, in some sense, correct. nervous. struction of Congress — denote serious Suppose, plausibly, that a President potential offenses, and actual offenses George Will (georgewill@washpost.com) is a columnist for The Washington Post. Bernie Sanders would share Woodrow by this president. So, consider another

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