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EDITORIAL: House Democrats continue futile effort to overturn 2016 election

Having tackled air in their efforts to bring down President Donald Trump over Russian “collusion,” Stormy Daniels, the emoluments clause, etc., etc., Democrats now lurch to Ukrainegate in their ceaseless crusade to overturn the 2016 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi feigned a heavy heart Tuesday when she announced the House would open an official impeachment probe over allegations that Mr. Trump “violated the Constitution” in his dealings with Ukraine. In fact, this was pre-ordained last Nov. 6 when Democrats won the lower chamber and made it clear they would devote the bulk of their energies to removing the president.

The latest scandal involves a phone call Mr. Trump made in July to the Ukranian president in which critics argue he leveraged his position and potential aid to pressure the nation to investigate a matter involving Joe Biden and his son. Mr. Biden is, of course, a potential rival to Mr. Trump in 2020. Democrats also insist that Mr. Trump broke the law by preventing a whistleblower complaint about the call to be turned over to Congress.

Mr. Trump during his presidency has shown little regard for traditional diplomatic mores, either internationally or domestically. A transcript of the call — released with White House approval on Wednesday — reveals innocuous chitchat and no quid pro quo. Yes, it was a mistake for Mr. Trump to bring up Mr. Biden, and this further confirms a damaging pattern of impulsiveness. Hanging an impeachment inquiry on this, however, is a colossal overreaction, although not surprising, given the times.

As William Galston, a progressive columnist for The Wall Street Journal, pointed out Wednesday, “the president’s conduct doesn’t fit comfortably within statutory definitions of bribery or extortion. Besides, presidents often use levers of power, including foreign assistance, to induce other leaders to act in ways they might prefer not to.” Mr. Galston also notes that the general counsel to the Obama administration’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence, argues the White House decision to withhold the whistleblower complaint from lawmakers is legally defensible.

In announcing this divisive and futile impeachment probe — it’s inconceivable the GOP Senate would convict the president — Ms. Pelosi solemnly invoked the Founding Fathers and emphasized “the urgency of protecting and defending our Constitution.” Her words would carry more weight if her caucus hadn’t spent the past 32 months scouring for any pretense to forcibly remove Mr. Trump from the White House.

Notably, Ms. Pelosi, in an effort to protect her majority, did not call for a full floor vote on the inquiry, something that occurred each of the three previous times the House moved in this direction. That should tell observers all they need to know: This is partisan political theater, not a serious legal endeavor.

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