Professor: No Need for a Trial in the Senate, Articles of Impeachment 'On Their Face Are Defective'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks back to his office after speaking on the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks back to his office after speaking on the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

According to House Democrats, President Donald Trump was such an urgent threat that he needed be impeached with all haste, without witnesses the Democrats are now claiming they want, without waiting for the Courts’ decisions on pending subpoenas, without giving the Republicans the ability to call any fact witnesses to shoot holes in the already weak case.

But then they decided to sit on the articles and play hide and seek with them, claiming they wanted a “fair trial” from the Senate and using that as an argument for calling the witnesses they couldn’t be bothered to wait for during the House proceedings.

Democrats claim Trump is guilty of violating the Constitution or traditional norms. That’s nonsense when you look at how unprecedented this whole impeachment effort has been, especially the playing games with the articles. Even the Democrats’ own expert who they called during the proceedings, Harvard professor Noah Feldman has said if they sit on it beyond a short reasonable time, they are the ones not acting in accordance with the Constitution and denying the president a fair trial.

But Bradley Blakeman, an adjunct professor of public policy and International affairs at Georgetown says all this game playing has left the Democrats deficient and that Sen Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has multiple possible options to play in response if they get the articles of impeachment, according to The Hill.

First, Blakeman says that the Senate can entertain a procedural motion to dismiss for failure to meet the constitutional threshold of setting forth “high crimes and misdemeanors.” That could be dismissed by a simple majority vote of 51, according to Blakeman.

Second, they could hold the trial and ending it quickly, holding a vote, which would require 67 for removal which you’re not going to get.

Third, they could hold a protracted trial calling witnesses for months, then hold a vote.

Fourth, they could hold the trial and then have another motion to dismiss for failure by Democrats to prove their case.

Fifth, is what Blakeman calls the “nuclear option.”

The Senate majority could make a procedural motion to adjourn the start of a trial until Nov. 4, 2020. That would allow the American people to decide the president’s fate at the ballot box. The Constitution is silent as to when a trial should occur, timewise. A simple majority of 51 votes would be necessary to pass such a motion.

Blakeman argues the articles are on their face defective and a trial is unnecessary.

In my opinion, a trial is unnecessary. The House articles, on their face, are defective. Both fail to meet the constitutional threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” This would negate a trial but does not give the president any formal “acquittal,” after a trial on the merits of the articles, which would prove the president’s innocence. While this would be true in a traditional criminal judicial proceeding, it is not the case in a political trial. No matter how the Senate deals with the articles of impeachment, Democrats and Republicans will put their own political spin on the outcome. Since the House articles of impeachment were voted strictly on party lines, and the country is so divided on the whole impeachment process, in my opinion, a trial is less important.

He suggests the avenue that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appears to be pushing, shut it down immediately then go after everyone in separate Senate Judiciary investigation.

I believe the Senate can have its cake and eat it too. The Senate can dismiss the articles of impeachment on a procedural motion. Then, when the dust settles, the Senate Judiciary Committee through its chairman, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), could hold hearings to show what a “witch-hunt” the House process was. He can, in effect, conduct his own trial to “acquit” the president through Senate hearings. This would allow hearings to be conducted at the exact time that Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination for president — one of whom could be called to testify.

That may make the most sense, as long as they actually do it and hold people accountable. That’s the problem, they hold a lot of hearings then nothing happens. But they need to keep on confirming judges, so that the Judiciary is not impeded in any way by this nonsense, because Democrats are going to keep trying, until they get a drubbing in the election and/or they start suffering political and legal consequences for their actions.