There is one point about the impeachment process that hasn’t really been closely examined — the implications of the Republican Senate’s attitude toward the trial.
The actual impeachment issues — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — can be summed up pretty easily. Some 17 witnesses, mostly Trump appointees, testified to the fact that Trump coerced the leader of Ukraine to investigate Trump’s personal political opponent (Joe Biden). The mechanism for the pressure involved both bribery and extortion: all this is clear from the record.
Real prosecution of Ukrainian corruption was never Trump’s goal. That could have been achieved by a real and behind-the-scenes investigation. Trump’s real objective was to create a smear on the Bidens that could be tossed around by Russian trolls on the Internet. By using U.S. taxpayer dollars approved by Congress as his point of leverage, Trump essentially misappropriated U.S. taxpayer money to serve his own political ends. If these kinds of things are not “impeachable,” then nothing is.
The GOP Senate’s handling of this constitutional crisis has been appalling. Before the full House had even voted, Mitch McConnell said he would work in lock-step with the White House, and that the final outcome had already been decided. In other words, ‘Yes, we have already rigged the system.’
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “I am not going to try to pretend to be a fair juror.”
That’s an arresting statement (pardon the pun) because senators take a separate oath to be just that. Graham went on to say, “It will come to the Senate and die quickly. I will do everything I can to make it die quickly.” Given the fact that the GOP has railed that the House proceedings were unfair, and given Trump’s assertion that he would only get a “fair trial” in the Senate, this transcends the limits of irony and hypocrisy. Apparently, for the GOP today, the only fair election (or trial) is one already rigged in their favor.
But the truly dangerous thing is the nature of Trump’s own defense. While the House GOP has put up indefensible notions, completely at odds with the facts, that the impeachment process is unfair, Trump has taken the lowest of low roads by claiming that the Congress simply has no right to conduct any oversight on the presidency. He has called impeachment “unconstitutional,” even though it is written into the constitution, which gives Congress “sole authority” over the process. Nowhere does it say that the president can simply ignore the authority of Congress or unilaterally decide whether he likes the process or not. It does not give the president the right to withhold witnesses or documents that are vital to Congress’s ability to conduct its constitutional duty to provide oversight of the executive branch.
Trump’s position is a fundamental attack on the constitution. It would effectively reduce our three branches of government to just two (a presidency and a judiciary appointed by the president). Deprived of one leg, a tripod cannot stand.
Who would have thought that our constitution, our Republic, our government and our way of life could be thrown into the trash by a president who simply ignored all the rules? Who could have imagined that a major party would support such fundamentally treasonous behavior? The Democrats, following the constitutional guidelines for proper impeachment, are not guilty of conducting a “witch hunt,” or a “coup.” Trump and his defenders are.
Now Trump has played a “wag the dog” scenario by mindlessly escalating tensions with Iran. He obviously again hopes to enhance his re-election prospects by placing U.S. security and lives at risk. The GOP monkey business just rolls on. It should be the business of every American to remove Trump as soon as possible.
Gilbert Schramm is a resident of Newport.