Today we enter day four of the “trial” of President Trump. The House impeachment managers wrapped up their presentation yesterday. I do not know what the Trump defense will do today in their wrap up but it brings to mind and old Don Adams quote that goes something like “For he past hour my worthy opponent has stood before you and made a complete ass of himself, now its my turn,”
To recap the closing arguments Donald Trump must be found guilty to stop him from running again or for anyone else to ever use violent rhetoric to rule a country. That by not immediately sending help or ordering his followers to stop he violated his oath to defend and protect the constitution. They even rebuked the concept that Trump must meet a higher standing for free speech as the President.
The right to free speech is the conner stone that made the American dream possible. Yes, there are exceptions and inciting to riot/overthrow of the government is one of them. To say the President must meet a higher standard than the constitution is an indicator that the house managers have no respect for the constitution.
The House managers continued to discuss in the most emotional terms what happened in the building that day and continued to call those inside Trump insurrectionist. They have however failed to connect anything Trump said to the riot. There have been reports that many there said they came because Trump called them. This is an individual interpretation of some of the rhetoric that came out of Trump. In 1170 King Henry II of England was reported to have uttered the phrase “will no one rid me of this troublesome priest.” This was interpreted by four knights to mean kill Becket the Archbishop of Canterbury. Most now conclude that Henry did not mean for this to happen and it was an expression of exasperation. Today, like in 1170, the leader’s words are interpreted by different parties to mean different things.
One of the points the managers tried to make was that the president did not care about the riot and was more interested in blocking the vote to certify the election. Proof of this came when they entered into “evidence” a phone call made to Sen Lee’s phone for Sen Tuberville insisting that he block the Senate somehow. The problem with this is that Sen Lee stood up to say that the “evidence’ being presented was in error. Lee tried to have the whole thing struck but was told that was not allowed by Senate rules. In the end the managers allowed it to be removed as evidence saying they got it from a news report. In his close Lead House manager Rep. Jamie Raskin made a big show of how they could not question Trump and asked the defense team to provide the answers three questions in the name of Trump. This of course would violate the 5th amendment, but again constitutional protections are not important to the managers.
It must be said that the House did not prove its case and we will see how the defense does in its close.
As we enter day three, we will need to wait and see if the House managers can come up with anymore heart-rending videos. Much of day two was spent showing videos of rioters rampaging through the building and sound bites of people looking for Speaker Pelosi and Vice President Pence. The House managers went so far in their emotional presentation to point out that the rioters had erected a gallows outside the building calling it a symbol of Americas racist past. Of course, those of us who pay attention know that hanging the bad guy was a staple of the American west. This last is a bit off subject but thought I would throw it in. The Trump defense also tried it had at videography showing several Democrat politicians calling for Trumps impeachment from the time he was elected to prove that impeachment has been the objective of the Democrats since the beginning. As I said yesterday this is not truly a trial, not the American sense.
In many courtroom scenes the attorney for one side will stand up and object to a line of questioning or a piece of evidence based on relevance. Trumps defense, in an actual court of law, would have likely had an objection of relevance sustained on yesterday’s video since it showed the fact that there were rioters in the building saying things that should and will lead to their arrests and conviction, but it failed to connect their actions to any actual direction from Trump. On the other side the video show given by the Trump defense would have similarly been disallowed since it did not connect to the current article of impeachment.
Today it is possible that arguments will in fact be turned to the actual article of impeachment. In part the article says that on January 6th “President Trump, addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. There, he reiterated false claims that “we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.” He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol.” Italics are mine. A problem with the video on the first day is its lack of a timeline or time stamps. If they had been included it would be apparent that there were two separate groups, the one listening to the President and those at the Capitol. Those at the Capitol had already breached the building so it was not the group that was listening to the president. We have also heard from law enforcement that the attack was preplanned and therefore not a result of the speech. Because of this the managers are arguing it is the result of his past speeches.
The true purpose of this “trial” is also seen in the indictment “Further, section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits any person who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States from “hold[ing] and office … under the United States.”
In the end we ask that you again PLEASEThink about the true
purposes of this action which is not to seek justice but for political purposes.
I have watched the impeachment hearings and seen President Trumps tweets and am embarrassed for my country. We have lost sight of the core values of America, those values that have made us the envy of the world. Chief among those values was and should be a sense of fair play. Everyone should have the right to speak their mind and if accused of wrongdoing be able to defend themselves. The president is wrong when he comes out and attacks his critics and accusers. If you do not like the president, then you have the right to say so. There was a time when this was done without invective, but no longer. Today we attack any and all personal habits and traits. The president makes up names and insults the integrity of his opponents. The democrats attack the president with insults and name calling. The worst part of all of this is the current impeachment hearings, begun with little to no evidence of an impeachable crime. They have concluded without the presentation of any hard evidence, only rumor and hearsay. The next step was the House Judiciary Committee review of the results of the hearings and writing articles of impeachment. The house will then get the articles and will almost certainly vote to impeach. Unlike past impeachments such as Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, there is no hard evidence to support the commission of a crime that is impeachable.
Most of what we have seen, and likely will see, is hearsay and opinion. The Ukrainians themselves have said there was no demand and they felt no pressure. We are not currently talking facts or evidence but opinion and spin. We followed this up with the House Judiciary committee, chaired by Congressman Jerry Nadler of NY, a man who has been an adversary of Donald Trump for years. The committee heard from four so called experts on the constitution and impeachment. Of the four, three were acknowledged opponents of the President and the fourth was a token republican because the chair would not allow any other republican picks.
One of the things that bothers me is that there is not even a pretense at any form of judicial fairness. The Intelligence Committee first meet in secret then had a couple of open hearings. According to those with access at the beginning and then on live TV the Democrats ran the hearing as a Star Chamber, controlling the questions and the witness’ while going for a predetermined conclusion. Then onto the Judiciary Committee which began by bringing on four law professors three of whom have been on record as avid Trump haters. One of the witness’, Pamela Karlan, a law professor from Stanford was quoted from a video last year as saying “ “I came in from the airport yesterday and I got off the bus from Dulles [Airport] down at L’Enfant Plaza and I walked up to the hotel, I was walking past what used to be the Old Post Office Building and is now the Trump Hotel, I had to cross the street of course.” Noah Feldman of Harvard once spoke of the high standard of proof needed in Sharia law. In 2008 wrote in the New York Times, “Today, when we invoke the harsh punishments prescribed by Shariah for a handful of offenses, we rarely acknowledge the high standards of proof necessary for their implementation. Before an adultery conviction can typically be obtained, for example, the accused must confess four times, or four adult male witnesses of good character must testify that they directly observed the sex act.” This of course is what is written but rarely is this standard kept. Feldman and three of the four are hardy keeping to a high standard of evidence since none has been forthcoming. Michael Gerhardt of UNC has written a number of books on the presidency and impeachment said the founding fathers would impeach Trump. Only Jonathan Turley of George Washington University pointed out that the evidence so far does not hold to the high standard of Impeachment.
All of this goes to the main problem, there is no way to shift through the noise to determine the facts. The only fact we actually know is that a phone call happened between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine in which, amongst a number of topics Trump used the phrase “.. do me a favor.” This was followed by request to see what was known about the DNC server and a group known as crowd source. Later on Hunter Biden was mentioned as well as a request by VP Biden to fire a prosecutor. This last is also considered a fact since Biden himself admitted it.
After all of this we are left with the question, what was the intent of the president? Some who listened to the phone call did not hear anything that they construed as wrong. Others said it was an improper request. None have said it was a violation of law. The house is moving forward with the impeachment proceedings. Speaker Pelosi told Nadler to move forward with articles of impeachment, even though the hearings were only in their second day.
After a very raucous session the Judiciary Committee passed two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and contempt of congress. It will now go to the full house and pass at which point it will go to the Senate for trial. In support of the articles the committee issued a 169-page assessment of the case. In the 169-page report the committee brought up the constitution 259 times. Never citing evidence but saying the evidence was irrefutable in showing the President violated his constitutional oath. They pounded on the fact that the president obstructed the congressional probe by refusing to allow his staff to appear under order of subpoena by the House. While it is not clear how many subpoenas are active the ones that were issued are being reviewed in the courts. While the house has insisted that the president is not above the law, agreed, neither is the House. Stating that the House has the sole authority to impeach and that they are co-equal to the president, then so is the judiciary. Let the courts decide the limit of Presidential power to resist the House. Yet while the courts decide many of the democrats are saying it is not up to the courts that the house has the sole power to decide, therefore ignoring the co-equal branch of the Judiciary.
The case of abuse of power hinges on an interpretation of the July 25th phone call. The democrats say it showed an attempt to interfere with the 2020 elections by a foreign power. The republicans say it was a request to investigate a potential crime by Hunter Biden and perhaps his father, then the VP. The true motive can neither be proved or disproved. This brings us to another legal term, reasonable doubt. If a charge cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, there must be an acquittal. In the 169-page assessment the Judiciary Committee contends the president committed multiple federal crimes including criminal bribery and wire fraud. Why then not include these charges in the articles of impeachment. Likely because they are criminal charges that need to be proved. Abuse of power is a catchall phrase that lacks specificity or the stringent standards of a criminal charge.
The President has not helped his cause with a constant stream of tweets that for the most part attack the opposition with child like invective. Calling people names and insulting them in other ways does not bode well in Washington or the rest of the country. The concept of inocencent until proven guilty should be the way to go. Put out the facts and let the other side try and prove guilt. The release of the transcripts and the denial of the Ukrainian government vs. the opinions and hear say of the witnesses against him should stand on there own. The president did send Speaker Pelosi a 6 page letter detailing the political nature of the House actions and laying out the defense that was denied him.
The question to resolve is whether or not the President broke the law in a way that justifies his removal from office. The democrats have said that he does not need to actually break the law to be removed that his actions alone demonstrate that he is unsuited for office. They have called him dangerous to the constitution and the country. They have called “witnesses” that have witnessed nothing and have been shown to be prejudicial to the president. During hearings in the house the presidents’ side was not allowed to make a concerted defense and when they questioned the witnesses they were, in many cases, gaveled to silence.
None of the actions mentioned prove the President innocent, but that is not what drives American justice. You do not have to prove your innocence, the other side needs to prove guilt, which they have not done. The actions of the House are not about constitutional power or a need to save the country but about a political campaign begun November 9th, 2016. The people need to understand the reality of what is going on and understand the danger the country faces if we reduce the process of impeachment to a political activity.
This entire process is driven by politics, not a concern of law or constitutional fidelity. I am concerned that it may work, not that Trump will be removed but that he will be damaged enough to loss in 2020. We will need to see how the Senate handles the trial and what kind of coverage it gets.