The following are some observations on the impending show trial over impeachment in the Senate. Front page writer Bonchie outlined the hypocrisy of the Democrats and their co-conspirators- the NeverTrump contingent- when it comes to the political nature of impeachment. That article mainly dealt with Mitch McConnell’s intention of “coordinating” with the White House over a defense and witnesses.
Of course, impeachment is a political device. The Constitution is both very specific and very ambiguous when it comes to impeachment reasons. Bribery and treason are well-defined offenses; “high crimes and misdemeanors” are not. That simply opens the way for any political party to force the sham of “we don’t like you” down the throats of fellow legislators. The mere fact that this is only the third time in our history it will have happened is somewhat surprising. Even more surprising is that the Democrats have opted for this route in 2019.
As for the rules, guess what? The Senate gets to propose, vote and agree upon those rules. Getting a simple majority to impeach in the House is the easiest task in this whole affair. The whole ball game changes in the Senate. It is like inter-league MLB games where the pitcher sits and the visiting team uses a designated hitter in the American League ballpark. McConnell is not beholden to the rules of the 1990s with respect to Clinton any more than Trent Lott and Tom Daschle were beholden to the rules of the 1860s with Andrew Johnson. Think of it this way: the House is a grand jury and everyone knows a “prosecutor” can indict a hamburger. But when it gets into a court (the Senate), it is a whole new set of rules.
One of those things that differentiate a trial from a grand jury is this little concept enshrined in our Constitution called due process. Was there due process in the House proceedings? Anyone who watched that sham show would have to have an IQ less than 60 to answer in the affirmative. Although Trump was allegedly afforded counsel to be present, he refused. When you know the cards are stacked against you, it makes no sense to waste time and effort on the Schiff/Nadler show.
McConnell allowing or even “coordinating” with the White House is simply evening the scales when it comes to due process which, to this point, is so out of whack. The President has the right to present a vigorous defense of himself against the charges and accusations here. They are abuse of power over the Ukrainian investigation and alleged withholding of aid (the so-called “quid pro quo”) and obstruction charges. That allows the President to call exculpatory witnesses as well as others who may show his very legitimate reasons for asking Ukrainian president Zelensky questions about corruption in that country and even questions that go back to 2016.
In other words, whether with or without McConnell’s assistance, Trump could and should be afforded the right to call any witness in his favor or to the disfavor of the Democrats. All those slammed gavels to shut down questioning by Schiff and Nadler when Republicans were getting too close to the real abuse of power will be for naught in the Senate. With due process- whether in a criminal setting or impeachment- the accused is afforded the right to defend themselves however they seem fit.
As for the charges, there are two articles of impeachment- abuse of power and obstruction. The specifics of the charges are Trump’s opening toward vindication. First, there is the accusation that Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election. Every Ukrainian official thus far has stated they did not feel pressured to reopen any investigation into Burisma or Hunter and Joe Biden. To date, no investigation is taking place in Ukraine or the United States. There is testimony from some that Trump insisted there be no quid pro quo. The articles state that Trump “compromised the national security of the United States.” How was it compromised? By talking about corruption in a foreign country that relies on US aid even though every witness testified corruption is a major problem in that country? If anything, Trump would be remiss in his duties if the subject never came up.
Simply, there was no quid pro quo. Ukraine received all the funds and military hardware authorized by Congress. If they (Democrats) are going to use this line of argument over a still-unrealized White House meeting between Zelensky and Trump, this is the weakest quid pro quo, and one of the silliest ever used as a grounds for anything, let alone impeachment. The public revelation of any delay in that assistance to Ukraine is not what eventually released that aid. Other countries, despite clearances by other departments, were held up in the delivery of aid. Again, the administration would be remiss in their duties if they were unsure the ‘i’s” were dotted and “t’s” crossed.
As for the obstruction charges, even though Congress has subpoena power, the Executive Branch is under no obligation to honor such a subpoena any more than the Executive can, through the Justice Department, subpoena the private communications of Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, or Jerrold Nadler.
Which brings this writer to what can be a winter/impeachment surprise. Nadler and Schiff were denied the testimony and documents of people like Mick Mulvaney and others- people central to the so-called quid pro quo- although that phrase did not test too well with Democrat focus groups. Does Trump have a surprise in store for the House? Will these people testify that any delay in aid to Ukraine was part of an internal review that swept up not only Ukraine, but other countries in terms of foreign aid? Will these people testify, as others have, that no quid pro quo existed in the first place and Trump was, in fact, against it? His actions, unlike those of his predecessor, seem to contradict the narrative. President Trump has provided more aid- lethal and otherwise- than Obama to Ukraine in their stand against Russian aggression.
Finally, if any Democrat/NeverTrump numbskull would read the Constitution, it is the Chief Justice who presides over a Senate trial in the case of impeachment. Whether McConnell is “in the tank” for Trump (he would be a fool otherwise) is inconsequential to the discussion. It is John Roberts who presides over the show according to the rules established and voted upon by the Senate.
Assuming people like Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins are not flies in the ointment, perhaps those scales of justice- be they political or criminal- will be equalized.