Impeachment’s Next Step: Ignore Oaths and Rule of Law

I will admit that I do not understand a key piece of the current impeachment battle that reached another milestone last night with the House of Representatives’ passage of two articles of impeachment against President Trump. I do understand the House’s action, which is to be followed by a trial in the Senate, as the Constitution requires. And that there is disagreement and high tension to be found in those matters, including squabbles between competing factions and viewpoints.

Messy business all around. Inevitably so.

But here’s what I do not understand: How can the putative jury foreman in that trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with at least one of his most ardent backers, Senator Lindsey Graham, take an oath at the beginning of that trial to serve as impartial jurors, but weeks before that even happens, they offer up the following statements:

McConnell, speaking to Fox News:

“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can. We have no choice but to take [the impeachment trial] up, but we will be working through this process, hopefully in a fairly short period of time, in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president in the well of the Senate.”

Graham, to CNN:

“This thing will come to the Senate, and it will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly. I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here.”

And here is the oath they are required to take before engaging in what the Founders knew to be a duty of utmost solemnity and overarching importance for the country:

“I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.’’

Just how, this inquiring and baffled mind would like to know, can these duly sworn legislators reconcile their comments with the oaths they will be taking? Why will they not be subject at the very least to mandatory recusal from the issue they will be deciding upon, and at worst, dismissal and/or arrest for violating the oaths they will be taking, so help them God…?

How is it even legal for them to announce their verdicts before the impeachment was even decided in the House?

Is there no penalty provision for, in Graham’s words (which at least have the virtue of naked honesty), not even bothering “to pretend to be a fair juror here?”

How is this possible in a democracy governed by the rule of law?

The answer, sadly, tragically, is that we no longer seem to be governed by the rule of law at all, that we have gone wholly to the wolves, courtesy of a Trump-bowing Republican Party so outraged and blinded by the lawful process of impeachment that they are willing and eager to do the unlawful in return—and very likely, to get away with it.

Because this is where we are now, seemingly joined to the world’s roster of banana republics, our laws and constitutional guidelines cast aside like an inconveniently heavy coat in a tropical climate.

The mind reels, the heart sinks. Will the 2020 election be too late, or, perish the thought—too little—to save us?



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7 comments to Impeachment’s Next Step: Ignore Oaths and Rule of Law

  • Gerry Ausiello  says:

    It will all depend on what the general public thinks. So far, the Republicans are emboldened by their assumption that the public does not see this as a serious offense(s). If they thought otherwise, they would desert him like rats leaving the ship! Also, it is not a forgone conclusion that if the country can hold on till November, that he will lose the election. (We also need to hope that RBG hangs on!!).

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      I think a huge part of the general public is pretty much tuned out, Gerry. Even I watched intently through the first weeks, especially the parade of witnesses from the diplomatic corps who laid out such a damning case, but a couple weeks in, I could no longer stomach the Republicans’ vitriol and hectoring of witnesses, the Democrats, the “process”—everything but the actual evidence. I think they wanted everyone to simply declare a pox on both parties’ houses and give up trying to weigh evidence and form an opinion, and they largely achieved their goal.

      Far be it from me to be overconfident about Trump losing next year; didn’t at all mean to convey that. It will be a battle royale, and I won’t exhale till the verdict is in. Many troubled miles to go before then, I’m afraid…

  • kirkthill  says:

    I spend a lot of my time watching both CNN and FOX news. Why? because here in Costa Rica CNN has no commercials except these 4 heinous golf instruction videos and other self promoting dribble, repeated over and over. That is when I switch over to FAUX news. Then back again when nausea strikes. I don’t know if there are democrats or republicans, just these two news? channels. And of course, Facebook has decided I am a dyed in the wool liberal extremist. It does appear to me that the republican senate are traitors to our nation……oops, golf instruction….It appears the representatives of the house are traitors….And so it goes, back and forth. I have totally different reasons for impeachment. Simply, Trump is a disgusting pig. Throw out all these politics. I don’t care what or where your political affiliations are. But if you can’t agree that trump is a ________________(insert almost any derogatory adjective) person, then my right eyebrow will surely rise. I am so hoping that we vote out most of these political dinosaurs. In about a month, I will have dual citizenship. Which allows me to switch channels from time to time when the politics get too insane.

  • Jeanette Stokes  says:

    Well done. Well said. And I have similar questions. I think that if they were jurors in a regular trial, they would be thrown out, don’t you?

    And yet, is this what has happened in the past? Just because the House can impeach a president by simple majority, what are the chances one could get 2/3 of the Senate to go along? To agree on much of anything, for that matter.

    I think the Dems in the House did the right thing, but now I think focusing our attention on the impeachment is something of a distraction. Yes, it is historic, but it is not going anywhere.

    I’m not sure this makes us a Banana Republic. I think it means we have serious problems, and big money in politics and the structure of the electoral college are among our problems.

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Kirk, I watch/read Fox News as well, or at least as much as I can bear. Not sure which I’d choose between that and the golf channel, though—I think I’d prefer a walk! Also very generous of you to limit your response to a pro-Trumpie to a mere raise of your eyebrow. Something to build on!

    Great points, Jeanette, thank you. Yes indeed, a regular trial judge would boot a juror the second they uttered a sentiment similar to McConnell’s and Graham’s, so I remain baffled that this can take place in the highest legislative chamber in our land. What’s up with that?

    Looking back, I do think that Nixon would have been in great danger of being removed by 2/3 Senate vote, but that was a different time, with a very different Republican Party than today’s. Yes, the impeachment is a very mixed bag, not sure it will benefit Dems in the least. I do feel that Pelosi never wanted it and Trump pretty much forced the issue. She became the reluctant warrior, doing what she had to do, but taking no pleasure in it. And yes, “Banana Republic” is no doubt overstating it (at the moment!). Given Trump’s corruption, cronyism and authoritarian tendencies, though, we will be going further down that road the next year and a LOT further if he is re-elected. Then, jurors working actively with defense attorneys to exonerate a defendant before a trial even starts will be child’s play compared to what else will take place in further corroding our democracy.

  • Robert Miller  says:

    I think it behooves us to remember that all over the U.S. (and, perhaps, the world) there are conservatives, Republicans, independents and even moderates communicating in blogs and conversing across tables, asking themselves, “What is wrong with these liberals!? Can’t they see what has gone wrong with this country and how Trump is trying to fix things?” The majority of these people are not foaming at the mouth while they’re cleaning their AK47. Many are just frightened and confused. The Dems must put forward someone who can speak to them without belittling them. Someone who can inspire them with an alternate vision. Otherwise, hold on tight because 2021-2024 is going to be a wild ride.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      That is always a useful reminder indeed, Robert, the roiling passions of this era being what they are. We should bear it in mind at all times.

      The problem is that Trump has made it supremely challenging, an exercise in emotional discipline, to feel benignly toward his supporters because he is so obviously and transparently a hateful, intentionally divisive and emotionally stunted man. There is simply no comparing his (lack of) character and governance style to anyone we have ever seen in our lifetimes, and the fact that his supporters fail to see this or simply accept it as the cost of seeing their pet policies brought to bear is very dangerous for our democracy, our rule of law, and our civilc culture.

      Most Trump supporters are not persuadable at this point, of course, but if we examine the not inconsiderable number of Obama voters who switched to Trump in 2016 and pushed him barely over the top in the swing states, then I can only agree with you on the vital importance of nominating someone who can address their concerns and shine a continuing bright light on how Trump is not serving their, the country’s, or the world’s interest.

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