Donald Trump's kids have been doing what they can to defend their father against Congress's impeachment inquiry. Last Wednesday night, Donald Trump Jr. went on Fox News to argue that his father was justified in asking Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenksy to withholding military aid to pressure a foreign power into interceding in a U.S. election because nepotism is bad. Ivanka Trump chose a slightly more sophisticated and less self-incriminating approach: tweeting out Thomas Jefferson quotes.
"…surrounded by enemies and spies catching and perverting every word that falls from my lips or flows from my pen, and inventing where facts fail them." -Thomas Jefferson’s reflections on Washington, D.C. in a letter to his daughter Martha. Some things never change, dad!
Despite the Trumps' best efforts, the House voted on a resolution to formalize Congress's impeachment inquiry on Wednesday. The resolution easily passed with a final vote of 232-196, entirely along party lines except for two Democrats who sided with Republicans: Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota. The case for an impeachment investigation seems ironclad. According to the call summary that the White House voluntarily released, Trump seems to ask Zelensky to investigate Biden in exchange for aid. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney also admitted the same during a press conference. That's to say nothing of the damning testimony from credible witnesses, like diplomat Bill Taylor and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
The resolution authorizes the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, California's Adam Schiff, to hold open hearings and allows the president and his lawyers to cross-examine witnesses, though those are privileges and not rights the House will curtail them if Democrats believe the president's team is being obstructive. The Intelligence Committee will also have to report to the House Judiciary Committee, which will ultimately decide whether to move forward with articles of impeachment. Party leaders are expecting to conclude the public hearings by Thanksgiving.
Talking to reporters after the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: "It's a sad day because nobody comes to Congress to impeach a president of the United States." She added that the resolution "[gives] more privileges to the president and his argument than were given in the past."
House Republicans inexplicably called the whole process "Soviet-style," and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy claimed, "There's nothing the president did to be impeached." Trump himself tweeted, again, that the impeachment inquiry was a "witch hunt." He also repeatedly likened the impeachment inquiry to a coup, tweeting out things like, "As I learn more and more each day, I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP." Though Trump and Republicans are working hard to delegitimize whatever conclusion the Democrats reach, by all appearances they're proceeding very cautiously and by-the-book, according to none other than Fox News pundit Andrew Napolitano. As Brian Klaas, who studies coups, wrote in the Washington Post, an impeachment by its very definition can't be a coup: "Coups are illegal. Impeachment follows the law. Coups tear up constitutions. Impeachment is established by Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution."
Ivanka's choice to invoke Jefferson in defense of her father is a strange one. For one thing, Jefferson strongly condemned nepotism, which is the entire foundation of Ivanka's professional life, not to mention her appointment as White House adviser. Jefferson wrote, "The public will never be made to believe that an appointment of a relative is made on the ground of merit alone, uninfluenced by family views; nor can they ever see with approbation offices, the disposal of which they entrust to their Presidents for public purposes, divided out as family property."
For another thing Jefferson was one of the framers of the Constitution, which enshrines Congress's power to impeach a president. And Jefferson himself wasn't averse to using impeachment as a tool for political retribution. He essentially goaded Congress into voting to impeach Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase in 1804 for little more than criticizing Jefferson's Republican Party. The Republicans tried to impeach Chase, a member of the rival Federalist Party, technically for his conduct on specific cases, but the Congress only acted after Jefferson suggested Chase be punished for claiming that the Republicans would lead to "mobocracy."
Finally, Trump's entire defense of his quid pro quo with Zelensky is that he can't be impeached because the Bidens are corrupt. But Jefferson didn't approve of the idea of politicians enlisting other countries to help them win elections: "Wretched indeed is the nation in whose affairs foreign powers are once permitted to intermeddle."
And everything else you need to know about the Trump impeachment inquiry.
Originally Appeared on GQ