The release Wednesday of the transcript of a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is bound to raise more questions than it answers. 

Yes, the president specifically asked for Ukraine to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian company that had been under investigation. Yes, the president did mention the aid the United States gives to Ukraine. But no, he didn’t specifically link the two.

Yes, the president had ordered a hold on almost $400 million in aid to Ukraine a week before the call, but the president says this was not related to the request for an investigation into Biden’s son.

These are important matters to investigate, but they cannot be allowed to become all-consuming.

Impeachment procedures are inherently political in nature. The Constitution specifically allows for it in cases of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors, but the definition of such high crimes remains unclear, despite three impeachment proceedings in the nation’s history.

But for the House to launch an impeachment inquiry at the start of a presidential election season is to add one highly charged political matter onto another. It is fraught with potential problems.

The danger is that impeachment, and the president’s alleged motives and insinuations, will dominate the election season to the detriment of other important issues, as well as business at hand. Political divisions will become more pronounced. Positions will become entrenched. Bipartisan cooperation, already in short supply, will vanish.

The world cannot afford to have the United States paralyzed for a year.

That is especially true as despots in Iran and North Korea seek advantage, as Russian forces work to influence U.S. thought, as China tries to expand its influence and end demonstrations in Hong Kong and as terrorists plot their next attacks.

It’s also true regarding a variety of important domestic issues. Congress still needs to address the problem of violence caused by mass shootings and the need to grapple with calls for expanded background checks. It has left unattended issues at the southern border, especially ways to expedite asylum claims and secure the border, as well as passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Congress still needs to debate health care, deciding whether the vestiges of Obamacare are enough to serve the nation’s needs, or whether new programs should be put in place. It has a duty to discuss the economy, and especially growing debt levels.

Equally important, each of these items must take a prominent place in the presidential election process. The nation cannot knowledgeably elect a chief executive without a thorough vetting of each candidate’s stance on these issues. It needs substance, not the quick-burning combustion of political taunts.

We agree that the transcript and whatever else a whistleblower might have witnessed deserves an investigation. Speed cannot come at the expense of thoroughness, of course, but America would benefit greatly from a quick vetting of the accusations.

Alternatively, if one side or the other perceives political advantage in a drawn-out process, democracy will be weakened.

A swift, transparent process is the best path to get to the truth with a result the American people can actually trust. It’s up to the public to both trust the process and demand elected officials shun a political cage match, reject instant certainty and instead follow a constitutional process.