America is currently buried knee-deep in the muck of the ‘Impeachment’ trial on the floor of the U.S. Senate. The next item of business after President Trump’s defense team makes their case will be debate and a consideration of whether or not to allow witnesses.
The inevitable and tedious demands of the Democrats for witnesses should be rejected outright by the Republican majority. Moreover, they shouldn’t even consider continuing after that point.
The First Article Doesn’t Meet the Constitutional Burden for Impeachment
This is the most relevant portion of this political performance-art fraudulently labeled ‘impeachment’ process. This factor alone should have resulted in the immediate motion to dismiss the farce.
The Constitutional requirements for using impeachment are that the President must have committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Neither of the two House Articles fits any part of those designations because neither Article is a crime.
Some have tried to argue that it doesn’t have to be a crime to be an impeachable offense. The plain language of the Constitution tells us they are incorrect.
It is obvious that treason and bribery are crimes, and the very words “high crimes” tell us they are criminal acts. Misdemeanors are crimes as well, not “high” crimes, but considered criminal nonetheless.
The two Articles of Impeachment are charging “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” on part of the President. Neither of these is a crime as they are described in the charges.
The particular incident the Democrats cite as President Trump’s “abuse of power” is his supposed pressuring of the President of Ukraine to investigate the son of a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. The alleged pressure was a threat to withhold military aid unless an investigation was publicly announced.
The problem is, no announcement was ever made and the aid was not withheld. The military aid was delayed while the President had corruption within Ukraine examined and then the aid was delivered.
There was no crime here. President Trump executed the legal delivery of aid while looking out for the interests of the taxpayer’s money. He didn’t want the aid possibly being swallowed into a known environment of corrupt behavior, such as that found in its largest energy company, Burisma, who employed the son of the former Vice President for an exorbitant amount of money while Biden was in office and serving as the Obama administration’s ‘point man’ on Ukraine.
As for the phone call with the President of Ukraine that the phony “whistle-blower” said showed that President Trump was pressuring Ukraine, that narrative was blown to smithereens when the transcript of that call was declassified and revealed by President Trump himself. In fact, the President was actually working within the legal constraints of a treaty agreement for cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine on criminal investigations which was approved during the Clinton administration.
Moreover, on several occasions, President Zelensky of Ukraine denied any pressure from America to open any investigations contingent upon the delivery of military aid. So much for any “abuse of power” charge.
What this charge boils down to is a political policy disagreement by the Democrats with a president they hate and fear. He is hated because he beat their darling and latest criminal nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, in 2016.
He is feared because any further investigation in Ukraine will expose the deep corruption of much of the Democratic elite connected with Ukraine, including Clinton herself, and the family of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as others. The public information we already have seems to strongly implicate them in nefarious activities with Ukraine.
The Democrats are attempting to impeach the President for what James Madison, the founder most influential to creating the Constitution, objected to as “impeachment for maladministration.” He rightly feared that this would make impeachment a political cudgel and risk using impeachment on every president in the future.
Madison laid out his case against the proposal put forth by fellow founder George Mason.
Madison’s response to Mason’s proposal mattered. He told the delegates that “so vague a term” as maladministration “will be equivalent to tenure during pleasure of the Senate.” That was apparently enough to persuade Mason to back down. …Why did Madison’s intervention work? The answer lies in its observation that the vagueness of “maladministration” would normalize impeachment, and thus effectively give the Senate the power to recall a president.
The Second Article Is More Deficient than the First Article
The second “Article of Impeachment” is so deficient that the House had to invent a new term, “Obstruction of Congress” as its label. Yet that term itself is absurd on its face for the House is only half of Congress.
The Senate makes up the other half of Congress, and no one there suggests they were ‘obstructed’ in any way. The specific reason for this ‘charge’ from the House is the potential use of the president’s constitutional power to exert “executive privilege” to prevent his close advisors from testifying in the House.
Of course, this would mean, as it has in the past, that any congressional challenge to using “executive privilege” would wind up in the federal courts. The House didn’t want to wait for judicial review, which is the legal mandate, so they withdrew their threat to subpoena those who had worked with the President closely in foreign policy, such as former advisor John Bolton.
Their stated reason for haste was the absolute urgency to impeach President Trump as he was causing a “constitutional crisis.” However, that reasoning falls apart when considering that after such haste, it took over a month for the Articles to be delivered to the Senate for trial.
The real reason for the haste was twofold. One was to scar President Trump with the label “impeached” so as to damage his chances for re-election later this year.
The second reason for the delay was that the House knew they would lose badly in a court challenge to “executive privilege.” They would have to claim that it was unconstitutional to use the constitutional avenue of the courts in asserting a constitutional right on behalf of the president.
Yet, they put forth the mythical “obstruction of Congress” tale as if “executive privilege” doesn’t protect classified and privileged communication between the President and his advisors as well as classified communications between him and other world leaders. “Executive privilege” has a long history of legal precedent and has been used by many presidents in American history, including former President Obama who used it to stop congressional action against former Attorney General Eric Holder in the “Fast and Furious” scandal.
There are those who attempt to argue that President Trump should waive executive privilege and allow any witness the House wants to call to testify. The rote reply to justify this is “If he doesn’t have anything to hide, what harm can having witnesses who knew about this come and testify?”
There are two very good reasons for asserting executive privilege here. The first is that President Trump has already given the House millions of documents, and taken the unprecedented step of declassifying not one but two phone conversations with another world leader, and allowed hours of grueling testimony for the Mueller probe including 30 hours given by his own son, Donald Trump Jr.
In other words, President Trump had already provided far more transparency in his dealings than was necessary, and I believe he has decided that enough is enough! No longer was he going to weaken the Executive branch of the American government to kowtow to half of the Legislative branch as if one branch was answerable to another when carrying out its constitutional duty.
The Constitution brilliantly designs our governing powers to be balanced between three separate but equal branches that each have distinct functions and powers granted to enable those functions. Impeachment is only to be used as a last resort, not as a way of firing a duly elected president for a policy difference.
This is why witnesses should not be allowed in the Senate trial. Neither Article of Impeachment can justify more witnesses to try and drag out this farcical procedure.
Allowing witnesses at this point would only justify the House’s actions rather than rebuke them, and cause untold damage to the delicate balance of power between governmental branches. The best answer to such a demand by the House managers should be a symbolic ‘talk to the hand’ and refuse to admit witnesses, and either move to dismiss the Articles or simply acquit the President.
For those on the conservative side who desire that witnesses should be allowed so as to reveal the extent of the corruption by Democratic officials, I would say this. There has already been enough damage done to the process and the nation as a result of this immoral ‘impeachment.’
The investigation of the criminal involvement of Democratic operatives in Ukraine can be resolved in a separate legal action by the Senate alone, or by such action as the Department of Justice may deem necessary. While I would strongly urge such an investigation to take place, it is extremely unwise to drag the impeachment trial into these waters and perhaps plunge us into Constitutional anarchy as a result.
For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; Proverbs 2:6-9 [ESV]
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
Featured and Top Image courtesy of Ben Taylor’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Lisa’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Kurt Bauschardt’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Smabs Sputzer (1956-2017) Flickr page – Creative Commons License
All other sources linked or cited in the text
Originally published in the TIL Journal