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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