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During closing arguments in the Trump impeachment trial, lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff argued it was imperative that Trump be removed from office, otherwise he’d have unchecked power and might do something like offer to sell Alaska back to Russia in exchange for support in the 2020 election.
No really, Schiff said that. He wasn’t joking. He thinks that Trump’s delay of foreign aid to Ukraine over concerns about corruption means that unless Trump is removed right now for the vague and unsubstantiated charge of “abuse of power,” then he’ll keep abusing his office and no one will be able to stop him.
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Set aside the weakness and absurdity of Schiff’s half-baked argument, such that it is, and consider his claim that Trump might offer Alaska to the Russians in exchange for “support” in the next election. Schiff’s mind is apparently so addled with the debunked Russian collusion hoax that he must have thought this Alaska-Russia example would be a real zinger, really drive his point home. What he didn’t stop to consider was the historical irony in invoking the sale of Alaska.
As an Alaskan who has some familiarity with my home state’s history, allow me to set the record straight: the United States bought Alaska from Russia in 1867, in the leadup to President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment. It was orchestrated by Johnson and his Secretary of State William Seward in part as a way to distract the public from domestic troubles.
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In March of 1867, less than a year before Johnson was formally impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate signed the treaty authorizing the purchase of Alaska from the Empire of Russia in a dead-of-the-night session, signing the treaty itself at 4 a.m. The entire treaty was drafted, debated, and voted on in a single night.
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