Donald Trump Doesn’t Deserve A Fair Trial In The Senate, The People Do
President Trump has been impeached by the US House of Representatives. Articles of impeachment have been written, debated and filed with the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. From what I’ve read so far, Pelosi is holding onto those articles of impeachment until she can be sure that a fair trial will be held in the Senate. From what I gather, there doesn’t seem to be a time limit that requires her to send those articles to the Senate. She could hold onto them until after the next election if she wants to.
Considering all the talk about Senate Republicans’ coordination with the White House, and how some members of the Senate have already admitted that they are not impartial jurors, that they say that those articles of impeachment are merely a political tool to dislodge a popular president, the Senate is already showing it’s biased. Without hearing all the evidence and all the witnesses, nearly all Senate Republicans seem to have made up their minds.
Amid all of this, is a fair question. Does Donald Trump deserve a fair trial?
The question of fairness is relevant here. Many Republicans claim that the proceedings in the House were unfair. Maybe so, but we’re not expecting the House to be impartial here. The Constitution says that the House has the sole power to impeach any officer of the government of the United States, including the President. The Constitution says nothing about whether the House must be impartial.
The Constitution does give the power to try impeachment cases in the Senate. That means that the Senate has the power to decide if articles of impeachment rise to the level of removal from office or not. The Senate is charged with being a court of jurisdiction for the complaint we call, “Articles of Impeachment”.
To draw the analogy more clearly, think of the House of Representatives as the District Attorney in a major city. Remember that DAs have the power to charge people with crimes against the state. They are not charged with the duty to decide if the people they charge with a crime are guilty. A check on the power of the DA is the courts, or more precisely, the jury. In this case with the impeachment of the President, the Senate is the jury. The Senate will hear the articles of impeachment, they will review the evidence, call witnesses and decide the case on the merits. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, will preside over the trial.
Is this process political? Sure it is, but all three branches of government will be involved. The House, the legislative branch, filed articles of impeachment against the President, a member of the executive branch. That’s political. The Senate will hear the case. That’s still political. But the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is involved and that makes this a judicial matter. Now we have a question of whether or not a crime was committed, and the highest officer of the judicial branch of the United States government will supervise the proceedings. Let’s hope that he’s impartial, too.
With all of this going on, there is still a demand for a fair trial for President Trump. I think he deserves a fair trial, really, I do. But the trial of President Trump isn’t just for him. He’s not the victim of the crimes he’s accused of. The People of The United States are the victims. They deserve a fair trial, too.
That means calling all witnesses demanded by both sides, Democrats, and Republicans. That means anyone who was on the phone with Donald Trump when he made that call in July is a witness and they should be subpoenaed. They should perform their duty to the country, not just to party, and give the evidence required for the Senate to decide if the President is guilty of any crime described in the articles of impeachment. That evidence includes testimony and documents that could be used to exonerate or convict the President.
I happen to think that Joe Biden and his son should be called as witnesses to testify. I read that Biden was cleared of any wrongdoing in Ukraine by their government long before Trump began to poke around for an investigation of Biden. Biden is really at the center of this for Trump or he wouldn’t have asked the head of a foreign government to investigate Biden for corruption. I would hope and expect that if Biden is called as a witness, that he would testify without putting up a fight over it. He’s got nothing to hide, so let him put the lie to Trump’s inquiry if he can.
I was actually very surprised when I read the news of how President Trump made a rather subtle request for “a favor”, an investigation of a political opponent, in exchange for the release of military aid to a third world country. Donald Trump is the most famous person alive. I think it would be rather difficult to find someone who has not heard his name. Trump appears to be a man supremely confident of his skills, his talents and his chances for re-election. Why would a man so possessed of such great power, make a request of an investigation of a political adversary from the president of a third-world country, when the chances of his re-election hardly present any risk of failure?
This is the question in my mind. The record is clear. The President made a request for an investigation of a potential opponent in an election scheduled to occur later this year, in exchange for the release of military aid that was authorized by a bill the President himself signed into law. I can’t help but think of Richard Nixon here. Whether the President’s actions rise to the level of a crime, I don’t know. That’s for the Senate to decide. What I really want to know is why Donald Trump, so sure of his success as president so far, felt that he needed any help from a foreign official to get re-elected.
Whether or not members of the Senate decide to hold a fair trial is a duty they owe to The People. The People deserve to know if the President made that request for an investigation of a political adversary in exchange for military aid to advance his own re-election campaign or not.
Personally, I’m OK either way if the Senate chooses to convict or not. If Donald Trump is not convicted, millions of Americans will be motivated to make themselves heard at the polls. If he is convicted and removed from office, Mike Pence will move up and those same people will still be motivated to get to the polls. I think that Pence is far worse than Trump, and I can’t think of a greater motivator for progressive and liberal voters to get out the vote than to see Mike Pence as President.
Regardless of what the Senate chooses to do, ultimately, it will be The People who decide if the President is guilty or not. And they will make their decision known next November.