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NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Time to ‘turn the page’ on impeachment

It’s been a Keystone Cops kind of week for Democrats, and President Donald Trump’s acquittal in Wednesday’s Senate impeachment trial was the capstone.

Despite Democrats’ highly partisan impeachment efforts, the president’s approval rating hit a new high of 49 percent in the latest Gallup polling. That poll also found 51 percent of the public views the Republican Party favorably, the first time the GOP’s number has exceeded 50 percent since 2005.

Perhaps those numbers will convince Washington that it is finally time to, in the words of Indiana Senator Mike Braun, “turn the page” and talk about policy.

Democrats were always playing with fire in their determination to use the third presidential impeachment trial in American history to try to force Trump from office.

The week began with the fiasco that was Monday’s Iowa Democratic caucuses. Democrats, who have spent the past three years harping on the security of American elections, proved wholly incompetent at kickstarting their presidential nomination process. It took nearly 24 hours to post initial results and three days later, votes are still being tallied. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, never in the history of the Iowa caucuses have more people turned out to support an incumbent president.

On Tuesday, the Democrats put petulance on display during President Trump’s State of the Union address. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left out the customary “high honor and distinct privilege” when introducing Trump, several Democratic House members walked out during Trump’s speech and then Pelosi made a show of tearing up copies of the president’s speech at the end.

The president recounted the many successes of his first three years in office in his speech in which he praised “The Great American Comeback,” outlining his hopes for the country, yet restraining himself from making any references to the Democrats’ impeachment effort.

And on Wednesday, the GOP-controlled Senate snuffed out the Democrats’ quest to have Trump removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

What began with the president’s request for a “favor” from Ukraine resulted in a 28,000-page report compiled by House investigators accusing Trump of “engaging in shadow diplomacy that threatened U.S. foreign relations for personal, political gain, alleging he pressured the ally to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the next election.”

Guilty votes from two-thirds of the Senate were needed to convict and remove Trump from office. Democrats have known for months they didn’t have those votes. On the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, the vote was 52-48 for acquittal. The not-guilty vote on the second, obstruction of Congress, was 53-47. Indiana’s Republican senators – Braun and Todd Young – voted not guilty on all charges.

We applaud the Senate’s vote to acquit the president. The decision closely mirrored public sentiment – a majority believed it was wrong to remove the president from office. Even among the handful of Republicans who believed the President’s actions were inappropriate, most did not believe those actions warranted impeachment.

We hope, as Braun said in a CBS News interview Tuesday, the acquittal finally gets Congress to put impeachment in its rearview mirror and focus its attention on matters that are both pressing and bipartisan such as health care, infrastructure, the deficit and climate change.

On a conference call with media Tuesday, Braun was quoted in the Journal Gazette, “I can’t tell you the number of times I hear people say, ‘Why don’t you just sit down and fix the issues that are important to us, take care of things?'”

Why not indeed? It’s a fair question to put to Democrats, who should heed the lessons of the past few days and resolve to join Braun’s call to turn the page.