America On Trial

Author: Gary Hart

The incumbent president now faces trial in the Senate of the United States.  Donald Trump will either be convicted or not.  Having been Impeached by the House of Representatives, it is too late to be exonerated.  A majority of Senators of his own party cannot erase the impeachment.

But historically much more is at stake.  Members of Congress, House and Senate, are all judged politically by many votes.  On rare occasions, such as this one, each is judged morally as well.

Now each Senator, including those who claim already to have made up their minds, will be judged by their final judgment on whether or not to convict under the two impeachment articles.

For complex reasons, more comparisons are being made between the Trump impeachment and the threatened Nixon impeachment than the impeachment of Bill Clinton.  And increasingly focus is being placed on how Republicans in the House and Senate responded to charges against Nixon as facts unfurled.

A number of Republican House members announced support for impeachment as evidence of the president’s involvement in “Watergate” was unveiled.  But even as an increasing number found themselves abandoned by Nixon’s behavior, many stayed by his side.

Before an impeachment vote could take place in the House, there was the famous scene where Mr. Republican himself, Senator Barry Goldwater, went to the White House to tell the president that he had lost his Party.  Marine One was soon waiting to take him away.

Though daily, stone by stone, evidence of culpability is added to a wall the president does not want.

No helicopter awaits this president so long as he continues to intimidate the Republican members of the Senate.

But, as John Kennedy once said, sometimes Party loyalty demands too much.

That is the issue facing Republicans in the Senate.

Each will be judged for the rest of their lives by this vote.

The evidence is beyond dispute that Donald Trump was responsible for the actions established in the impeachment indictment.  Further, it is beyond dispute that those actions violated the Constitution and the laws of the United States each took an oath to preserve and defend.

Sure, red State Republican Senators who vote against impeachment will be welcomed as heroes upon returning home.

But how will they be judged by history?

Given the enormous responsibility of a United States Senator bound by his or her oath, not to a president, but to the Constitution and the American people, how does someone violating that oath against facts and evidence hold his or her head up in public, or even more important, before one’s own children.

Judgment, both moral and historical, awaits Donald Trump.  But judgment also awaits those who have the profoundly important responsibility to judge him.

Who among us would want to spend our remaining years, however long they may be, living with the knowledge that we violated our oath of office, the Constitution, and most importantly, our own conscience?

For what?

For an office?  For approval by our political allies, as corrupt as we are?

Is there any office in America or in the world worth our immortal soul?

A vote to exonerate a man who has demonstrated no conscience is a vote to sacrifice one’s own conscience…and to never be able to get it back.

 

14 Responses to “America On Trial”

  1. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I think it may have been a mistake not to make bribery one of the articles of impeachment.

    And, was it wise to include ‘obstruction of Congress’ when all the president did was say no to providing witnesses and documents to the House committees investigating whether he is guilty of impeachable offences … pending a judicial review?

    Yes, I listened to professor Dershowitz on Anderson Cooper tonight and, well, he made some convincing arguments that weren’t persuasively challenged.

  2. Michael Says:

    Does Mitch McConnell care about moral or historical judgement? Does Lindsey Graham? Obviously they don’t. For them this is total war. Fidelity to the Constitution or the institutions of democracy are sentimental ideas that only get in the way. History is written by the victors and they intend to be victorious. No longer able to win a presidential election with a majority of the votes; dependent on voter suppression laws and purging of voter rolls to stay competitive, they are living on borrowed time and know it. So do the multi-billion-dollar right-wing media empires behind them. Who is ‘Mr. (or Ms.) Republican’ in this scenario? Are we really putting our faith in the likes Mitt Romney and Susan Collins to be saviors of American democracy? We are in a world where oaths and conscience are quaint ideas and total loyalty to the corrupt leader is the only thing that counts. This is the end game. No matter how blatantly guilty Trump is he will be acquitted in the Senate. Only a massive reputation of Trump and the Republicans by the voters in November can save us now.

  3. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Michael,

    >>>>>>>Are we really putting our faith in the likes Mitt Romney and Susan Collins to be saviors of American democracy?

    I don’t think so.

    But, I am counting on them to ensure there will be witnesses. I’m dying to hear from John Bolton. And, I don’t really want to read his book. I probably will, though … 🙂

    >>>>>>>Only a massive reputation of Trump and the Republicans by the voters in November can save us now.

    I think you’re quite right about that. Everyone always says, this is the most important election in the history of the world, or some such thing but, this one may actually be it.

    I’m hoping that voter turnout operations are muscular – in the figurative sense, of course – and in full-swing!

  4. Michael Says:

    Elizabeth, when I say ‘saviors of democracy’ I mean saviors of our democratic institutions. I, too, hope for a real trial in the Senate, with witnesses and evidence presented. Once these institutions are allowed to be broken the likelihood that they will ever be put back together again is small. I just don’t have faith that the likes of Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander or any other Republican will buck Trump and McConnell and do what is necessary to save those institutions. After all, I don’t see any of them shouting about how urgent it is to protect the elections from being hacked in November.

  5. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    “Is there anybody out there!?”

  6. Gary Hart Says:

    I urge VP Biden, my friend and former colleague, to offer to testify at the Impeachment trial if key Administration figures do as well. He would control the Ukrainian narrative, rather than have it be a tit-for-tat tale in the fall, and he would put the President on the defensive where he should be. Unlike the president, he has nothing to hide. He would call the Republicans’ hand on witnesses. It would demonstrate leadership and forcefulness, what citizens are looking for. GH

  7. Neil McCarthy Says:

    For what it is worth, a friend of mine (and hers) has been in touch with sent Sen. Collins and she has told him she’ll read my latest effort on impeachment, “Playing For History” at https://neils3ds.blogspot.com. She says she is likely to behave as she did during the Clinton imoeachment, where she voted for witnesses.

    As for Dershowitz’s claim, I think it is wrong. At two levels.

    He is claiming that abuse of power is not a crime and that the Constitution requires crminal conduct for impeachment. The abuse of power article voted out by the House, however, has within it facts that support a conclusion that multiple crimes — bribery, extortion, either mail or wire fraud and, likely, perhaps — were committed by Trump or with his knowledge and direction in the course of the scheme to shake down Zelensky for a phony investigation in excahnge for release of the aid and a White House meeting.

    As to the impeachment clause itself, in using the term “high crimes and misdemeanors”, the Founders borrowed a term from English practice which referred to poltical “crimes” in the nature of abusing office or violating one’s oath; the term was not designed to limit impachment to the then set of common law crimes (or what today would include the various federal criminal statutes and state penal codes and laws).

  8. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    >>>>>>>>I urge VP Biden, my friend and former colleague, to offer to testify at the Impeachment trial if key Administration figures do as well. He would control the Ukrainian narrative …

    Oh, I could not agree more! And, that would guarantee that the trial would last beyond Feb 4th as schools the entire senate on how to conduct foreign policy in general and how America can restore leadership at home and abroad. Wait, don’t tell be there’ll be rules and limitations on the witnesses. Well. Biden can well navigate around that.

    Could we start a petition? 🙂 I’m kidding.

  9. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Neil,

    I think professor Dershowitz is confused about what can be an impeachable offence. One day he says it has to be a crime and on another day it doesn’t.

    I suppose we are talking about complicated matters and a lot of the clips being shown of him talking about this are indubitably out of the all important context.

  10. Michael Says:

    I think Sen. Hart calling on Biden to testify is a great idea for all the reasons he laid out. But it seems that McConnell is intent on making this a quick show trial that takes place in the middle of the night with restricted press coverage. (Don’t let anyone say they weren’t broadcasting their intentions should they regain complete control of the government.) If john Roberts allows this, and there is no reason to believe he won’t – he is just as corrupt as any other Republican – Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff should immediately subpoena Lev Parnas and John Bolton have them testify in open hearings before the House Intelligence Committee while the impeachment trial is happening. The American people should not be subjected to authoritarian tactics from the Republicans who want to sweep Trump’s corruption under the rug without a response from the House.

  11. Brian McCarthy Says:

    Senator,

    Unfortunately, the outcome of the Senate trial is already known and will be almost as close to a party line vote as the vote to impeach was in the House. What Republicans might vote to convict, regardless of what amount of evidence is presented? Very few, very very few. Maybe Senators Murkowski, Collins, and Romney? That’s 3 at best, and 20 are needed (or 21 – thinking of Mr Manchin). I don’t believe there is any level of evidence that will get anywhere near 20 senators to vote to convict, bloody hands included.

    The only court that will matter here is the court of public opinion, and I’m not sure even that counts anymore. Pundits are predicting a Trump re-election regardless of the impeachment, his abysmal 40% approval rating, and which Democratic candidate becomes the nominee.

    I almost want to ask, what DOES matter, if a #%*? like him can even come close to getting re-elected? He shouldn’t even be renominated by his own party – or am I subscribing to outdated rules? How did someone like that get approved by even the Republican Party? What does matter?

    Sorry to despair … but I’m in despair.

    BCM

  12. H Patrick Pritchard Says:

    Excellent commentary Senator. The Senate is in fact on trial here.

    So to sum things up the President of the United States cannot be indicted for a criminal offense while in office according to the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel; nor can his abuse of power be grounds for impeachment! Ergo: The President of the United States is above the law! Thus there is no check of balance against the Office of the Presidency! Seriously believe some current legal scholars have no sense of the will or intent of our founding fathers! Perhaps they feel the US Constitution is out of step with current times!

  13. H Patrick Pritchard Says:

    This trial is the most undemocratic event I’ve seen in all my 78 years of observing and participating in democracy! Facts and evidence, morality and immorality don’t matter! Using political tricks to subvert the search for the truth subverts the principles or democracy! Voting your self interest to protect your elected position over protecting the democratic principles to a fair and impartial trial subverts the tenants of over 200 years of Constitutional law. Those 53 votes to table each amendment represent 53 votes for self preservation and to bar the road to the truth!

  14. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I just read a memo to the media released by the Biden campaign and there are two words for it: squandered opportunities.

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6661670-01-20-20-Team-Biden-Memo-on-Impeachment.html

Leave a Reply

All comments are reviewed by a moderator prior to approval and are subject to the UCD blog use policy.