After the hustle and bustle of the holidays finally cease and as regular school and work schedules fall back into place, it can seem as if the major “earth-shattering” political news that had taken a breather has come back to haunt us once more. And with its return, I, the less-bearded half of The Vermilion commentariat, do too, so as to add my thoughts of the news and events of the day. The topic that I would like to start the semester off with is one that I think everyone has at least given some thought to — that being the impeachment of President Trump.
On Dec. 18 of last year, the House of Representatives made history in their impeachment of Trump on two articles, making him the third president to be impeached. The two articles of impeachment that passed the House stated that Trump had “solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election,” which included, among other things, him asking a foreign government to announce investigations of a political opponent that would help his re-election campaign. They also stated that Trump had “directed the unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its ‘sole Power of Impeachment.’ Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency in a manner offensive to, and subversive of, the Constitution.” This I believe to be true.
It is the second article of impeachment that I believe is the slightly more serious one since it involves a defiance and blasé attitude of the administration to congressional investigations and the impeachment inquiry. It is Congress who is directly elected by the people and is, therefore, the people’s most direct voice in their federal government. By refusing to allow witnesses to testify before Congress, the Trump administration categorically, purposefully and willfully rejects the Constitutional prerogatives that are congressional investigations. Mind you, these are witnesses that the administration says will exonerate and secure the innocence of the president, yet continue to bar them the ability to do so.
The main argument the administration gives for this behavior is that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives would not be fair in their questioning and framing of the witness statements and that if it were up to Republicans, such bias would not occur. I find this particularly interesting because it is the Senate who tries all cases of impeachment, and that the current composition of the Senate is Republican-controlled, yet the witnesses are still barred from giving testimony. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that the Senate’s only role was to act as “judge and jury” to decide the question of impeachment, but impeachment trials have featured witnesses during the trial before.
Mitch McConnell, and much of the Republican talking points for that matter, has seemed to argue that impeachment trials are both political and judicial processes, and by saying that they are able to argue for and against different levels of bias and adherence to judicial rules as they please. A case in point of this is that many Republicans call impeachment trials “political decisions,” thus admitting political bias will come into play, but also saying that the trial should be treated as a judicial one, thus saying that the trial should be fair and impartial. These principles obviously contradict one another.
It’s clear that impartiality is not something the Republican senators are striving for by any stretch of the imagination since McConnell has stated himself numerous times to reporters that he will not be an impartial juror, despite the fact that that is what his oath states he must be. It is also made clear by the fact that there exists a popular stance that somehow the Republican-led Senate would not be biased against a President of their own party, even though it has clearly been shown that they are willing to sacrifice a fair trial by refusing to call witnesses that would have pertinent and useful information as to the guilt of the president.
The actions made by the president and by members of the administration he surrounds himself with helped facilitate serious abuses of power and defiance of constitutional duty. Yet, the Republican Party in both the House and the Senate, blinded by their own partisan scheme to retain power in the Senate and White House, refuse to admit, and thus prosecute against, willful disregard of the Constitution — which, I should remind everyone, is the supreme law of the land, of which no other law, edict, creed, pact or treaty can overrule or subvert. For any person to rebuff the Constitution is disgraceful and un-American. To allow someone to dismiss the Constitution is equally disgraceful and un-American.
The final act of this impeachment saga should include a trial with witnesses, equal debate time between the defense of the president and prosecution of him and finally a vote on whether or not to convict him. My position is obviously in favor of conviction and removal from office, but if the Republican majority in the Senate cannot see past temporary partisan gains to the long term benefits an acquittal would bring, then I do not believe a two-thirds majority necessary to remove the president could ever be secured.