Even though it appears that the chances of removing President Trump via impeachment are nil, and surely the Democratic Party prosecutors must have known this from the beginning, the process probably does serve a useful purpose. We all know a little more about how our foreign policy is made and conducted. It’s not pretty.
A better case might have been made that Trump circumvented the public process and instead used people outside the government, such as his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to conduct foreign policy in the shadows. Not sure that is constitutional. But then again no one seems sure on what is constitutional — that’s why we have a Supreme Court (and if you read history you find that originally it was not recognized that even that high court had the power to interpret the constitution, see Marbury v. Madison, but I stray off my point).
Actually, a free press has the job of doing what Rep. Adam Schiff and his colleagues are doing, that is shine light on things the public should know of but are being kept in the dark about.
The right wing, Republicans in general, hate or at least highly distrust the press — that is except when they are hot on the trail of Democrats. Then they hail the virtues of a free press protected by the First Amendment.
A popular tactic, and this is done by members of both major political parties, but it seems like the Republicans do it more often, is to ridicule and intimidate the press. But don’t feel too sorry for the reporters and correspondents who are the victims of all that — they knew or should have known that one has to have a thick hide in the business.
Oh, yeah, I know: conservatives feel that most journalists tend to be liberal. I have written before that this may well be true. I mean by definition liberal has to do with having an open mind and conservative has to do with closing your mind around the status quo (and if things are good why change them? I see that, but it’s a point of view thing).
I do have a problem with the impeachment proceedings as they are being conducted as of now. I was driving yesterday and had a chance to take in, via radio, what was eventually revealed to me to be a phony question and answer session. So Senators are not allowed to talk in this particular proceeding. They write down their questions on note cards and a page carries them up to the Chief Justice, and he reads them. Some of the questions asked for a response from just one side or the other and some from both sides. But as I listened I could not help but notice it all seemed rather scripted. Well, duh, it was, both the radio correspondents and my daily newspaper (online of course) revealed to me. It seems that both sides carefully crafted in advance leading questions or prompts designed to push forward a position or theory of law, most of which had already been asserted. There was little to no fact finding. The Chief Justice, it was reported, reviewed all the questions in advance and even rejected one (or more) that would have called for revealing the name of the whistle blower the Democrats used to back their case.
Since the Republicans are doing their best to prevent any more facts or evidence to be presented, we can put much of the blame on them.
It has been charged, however, by the Republicans, that the Democrats failed to do the proper legal work in preparing their case and that if they wanted to challenge the Trump administration’s efforts to withhold information that they should have gone to court. The Democrats counter that likely by the time anything was resolved in the courts the next election would be over, so the president could go on doing what they are charging are illegal things and tip the scales in his favor in the next election.
Earlier this week or late last week it was thought by some that the John Bolton manuscript might be the smoking gun (like the Nixon tapes were) that would hang Trump, figuratively speaking of course. Nope. Just like the Mueller Report it was not (at least it does not seem so at this time).
History suggests that it is impossible to remove a president by impeachment unless both sides in the end agree that it should be done and because public opinion is on the side of removal. And really that seems the way it should be.
Even Republicans had finally had enough of Nixon (he resigned before he could be impeached and convicted when some Republicans went to the White House and gave him the bad news). Somehow I don’t think Mitch McConnel is going to make such a trip to the White House. He likes his job apparently.
And let us remind ourselves what Trump is being accused of (not every bad thing he has done). He tried to pressure the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on a political opponent, thus using a foreign government to influence a U.S. election. I think everyone knows that is true, even all the Republicans who are staunchly defending Trump. But legal scholar and one member of Trump’s defense team Alan Dershowitz gave them an out in his theory that even if the president may have had the intent of doing what he is accused of doing he also thought it was for the good of the American people, ipso facto, it was ok.
I for one think the whole Joe and son Hunter Biden thing stinks to high heaven, and I am not talking about Trump’s use of the affair to misdirect attention from his own bad dealings. I don’t know all the facts around the Biden scandal but just the appearance of corruption on the part of the Bidens leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not going into any detail about all that now — already have previously and anyone who follows any of this already knows.
But anyway I don’t think anyone actually thinks what Trump did was right or ethical. But even I question whether such action in and of itself rises to the level of an impeachable offense by a sitting president.
And I must note that he is also charged with obstructing congress — but I already referred to the defense argument that essentially goes that such should be litigated separately.
With enough investigation, especially on that shadow foreign policy conducted by Giuliani et al, there probably is an impeachable offense — would be difficult to impossible to get that done probably.
And just what is an impeachable offense? That is the rub. Not even the legal scholars seem to have a hold on that one — and some have changed their minds over the years, seemingly to fit the circumstances or who they want to support. By the way I think Mr. Dershowitz admitted just that yesterday. He once thought no crime was required but now sees the light I guess. Or he sees fame, of which he may have thought had eroded with his age, and of course a pay check.
The constitution reads that impeachable offenses are: “treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors”. It does not provide a definition of those terms, high crimes and misdemeanors being the most problematic I think. A parking violation is a misdemeanor in our modern language, but we know they did not mean that. And just what is a high crime? We know what treason means in general, but no specific statute is cited (and I guess there was none at the time). Bribery, same thing — there is an argument that Trump essentially tried to bribe the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on political challenger Joe Biden, but that is kind of sketchy I think.
And there really is not much legal history in the impeachment of a president. Only three (including Trump) have actually been impeached and no one has been removed from office (well not yet, thus far). Nixon did not get to the final impeachment stage but resigned under the pressure from it, as already noted.
I do think it has been established that high crimes and misdemeanors is just a general guide and does not point to specific statutes, none or or nearly none of which would have even been in effect at the time of the adoption of the constitution, even though some are arguing now that a specific crime has to be committed. Seems like impeachment was a check on power and purposely was made vague. A president could get out of hand, even though it well might be hard to imposible to point to a direct violation of law.
If I do another post on all of this I might refer to the Federalist Papers, often cited as outlining the intent of the constitution. I cannot now because I have not read many of them, and have read nothing on what they say as to impeachment (shame on me). I bought a book with all the federalists papers years ago but read little — hard to follow the arcane language and references. But seems apropos here.