An initial step could be a resolution of censure by the Senate. That wouldn’t remove Mr. Trump, but it would challenge Republicans who say they regard his actions as “inappropriate” to vote accordingly. If they do, it might have a deterrent effect. If they don’t, voters will have cause to judge those senators up for reelection this year. A bipartisan censure motion would make it difficult for Mr. Trump to go on claiming he had done “absolutely nothing wrong” and that the case against him was “a hoax.”
In the House, committees that pursued the investigation of Mr. Trump’s actions in Ukraine should continue to do so. There is much that remains unknown, including whether the president extracted favors in 2017 and 2018 from Ukraine’s previous government. There is also a public interest in the airing of evidence that the White House has illegitimately suppressed about the pressure campaign against the current president, Volodymyr Zelensky. The House should subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton, along with documents related to Mr. Trump’s withholding of military aid from Mr. Zelensky’s government.
If court battles are needed to obtain this evidence, the House should fight them. It is vital that Congress’s power to conduct oversight of the executive be confirmed. Otherwise, Mr. Trump can be expected to continue a blanket refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations during the remainder of his time in office, thereby neutering what should be an equal branch of government.
Above all, legislators, the media and patriotic government officials must remain on guard against new attempts by Mr. Trump to subvert democracy. The president has publicly called on China as well as Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, and has said he would accept dirt on an opponent if it were offered by a foreign government. There’s no reason to believe that Russia, Saudi Arabia and other authoritarian regimes favored by Mr. Trump won’t try to help his campaign, as Russia did in 2016.
If evidence of such interference or other wrongdoing emerges, Congress must not hesitate to pursue it. Mr. Trump’s supporters crow that the impeachment investigation backfired politically, boosting the president’s poll ratings. Even if that is true, it must not deter Congress from holding the president to account. The lesson of the Ukraine affair must not be that there is no remedy for a president who would use his powers to undermine U.S. democracy.