Reminder and chronology of events:
Article One of the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments of officers of the U.S. federal government.
The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. [Article II, Section 4.]
The impeachment of Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, occurred on December 18, 2019, when the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Articles of impeachment:
The first article charges Donald Trump with abuse of power for withholding foreign aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the government of Ukraine to assist him in his re-election campaign by damaging Democratic rivals.
The second article charges Donald Trump with obstruction of Congress for blocking testimony and refusing to provide documents in response to House subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry.
On January 31, 2020, a Senate majority of 51 Republican Senators voted against calling any witnesses for the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, February 5, 2020, in a trial requiring a two-thirds majority to convict the president, a Senate majority of 52 Republican Senators, with the notable exception of Senator Mitt Romney, a former Mormon missionary, voted against convicting Donald Trump.
The die is cast. History will record that Republican senators in the U.S. Senate used their majority to sabotage the impeachment trial of Donald Trump and, in so doing, de facto exonerated him of abuse of power and of obstruction of Congress.
History will undoubtedly record that the January 2020 Senate trial for the impeachment of Donald Trump was not a “fair and impartial” trial, but was exclusively a preset trial, along partisan lines. The obvious objective of the Republican Senate majority, from the beginning, was clearly not to proceed with a ‘fair trial’, but it was rather to exonerate by any means the accused. It was done without giving the House of Representatives’ managers and lawyers a fair chance to prove their accusations levied against Donald Trump by calling for the depositions of knowledgeable witnesses and presenting incriminating documents.
Indeed, Republican senators, under the leadership of Trump’s leading enabler Sen. Mitch McConnell, have blocked all attempts to have important witnesses, some of them with new damaging direct evidence against the accused, to testify. All of this was done with an open and active collaboration between the Senate Republican leadership and Donald Trump’s personal lawyers, notwithstanding the oath that every senator had taken at the beginning to be “fair and impartial”.
For example, the Republican Senate majority inexplicably refused to hear John Bolton, former Security advisor to Donald Trump and author of a book in which he called Trump’s request to the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponent, a “drug deal”. Similarly, the Republican senators also refused to hear Mick Mulvaney, the acting Chief of Staff to Donald Trump who confirmed that his boss did ask for a personal political favor from the Ukrainian government in exchange for lifting a freeze of foreign aid to that country.
In fact, the Republican Senate majority did not want to hear any witness who had first-hand information on the numerous abuses of power, numerous instances of corruption, and the numerous obstructions made by the President to the American Congress, thus negating the latter’s constitutional prerogatives.
Therefore, it can be said that there has not been even the appearance of a genuine and fair trial to remove the current American president from office. Indeed, a trial without key witnesses and without relevant documents, especially dealing with important and crucial information about the case, can be seen as a farce, as the Washington Post wrote in its editorial of January 27, 2020, and a sham —in fact, a cover-up of the crimes committed by a president of their own party.
Historians will undoubtedly stress the fact that this was the first impeachment case in the history of the United States in which no witnesses and no documents were permitted to be considered by the jury of senators.
Donald Trump vs. the Constitution and his Republican accomplices in the U.S. Senate
Every American president before taking office must take an inaugural oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”. In Mr. Trump’s case, he has de facto, through is his actions and his pronouncements, rejected two basic principles of the U.S. Constitution, i.e. the separation of powers and the existence of co-equal branches of government. He has also rejected the most important principle of democracy, which stipulates that no citizen is above the law. In Mr. Trump’s case, even if he took an oath to that effect, it would seem obvious that he never had any intention to abide by the U.S. Constitution, let alone to “preserve, protect and defend” it!
The House of Representatives’ Articles of impeachment were well documented and well presented. That the majority of Republican Senators dismissed them out of hand without calling for known relevant witnesses and without asking for incriminating documents, while relying on spurious and bad faith legal arguments, make them historical accomplices of the accused president. They put their own political fortunes ahead of their country’s interests in protecting the letter and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution.
Indeed, if the current president or if any future American president decides to flout the U.S. Constitution with impunity and becomes unaccountable, the Republican senators who have refused to take seriously the charges of impeachment of Donald Trump brought to them by the House of Representatives, will have to be held responsible. Mind you, Donald Trump can already be considered a rogue American president. How low can he go and how far are the Republicans willing to go down with him. That is the question.
Since the Republican Senators have not respected the oath that all senators took to have a “fair and impartial” trial of impeachment, it will fall upon the U.S. electorate to take that responsibility in November. It remains to be seen if the Senate’s abdication of responsibility will be redressed or not by the American people.
© 2020 Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay
International economist Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, of the book “The New American Empire”, and the recent book, in French « La régression tranquille du Québec, 1980-2018.” To write to the author: email@example.com.