The House Judiciary Committee today quickly approved two articles of impeachment Friday against President Trump on party-line votes accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The full House is expected to vote to impeach Trump next week.
At the height of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon was running low on friends. When the U.S. House voted to begin impeachment hearings, for example, the vote was 410 to 4. One of the four was an Indiana Republican named Earl Landgrebe.
Months later, as the disgraced president prepared to leave the White House, Landgrebe delivered a line that helped define his political career. “Don’t confuse me with the facts,” the congressman said the day before Nixon’s resignation. “I’ve got a closed mind. I will not vote for impeachment. I’m going to stick with my president even if he and I have to be taken out of this building and shot.”
I have no doubt that a jury comprised of citizens selected after proper voire dire would do their duty as American citizens to listen to the evidence presented and follow the judge’s jury instructions on the law to render a verdict of guilty against Donald Trump in this case. The evidence is overwhelming and uncontroverted, and the law is clear. This is not a close case.
But impeachment does not involve a jury of peers drawn from the citizenry. It is a jury of hyper-partisan senators, the majority of whom are Republicans who are committed followers of the personality cult of Donald Trump. When Donald Trump says that he will get a “fair” trial in the Senate, what he he really means is that the jury has been rigged and the outcome has been predetermined to acquit him.
Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell revealed on Hannity Thursday night that he will be taking marching orders during the impeachment trial directly from President Donald Trump’s lawyers. McConnell’s Plan to Coordinate Impeachment with White House Sparks Outrage: ‘Jury Collaborating with the Accused’:
“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House counsel,” McConnell said. “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 do not have the kind of ball control on this — a typical issue, for example, comes over from the House. If I don’t like it, we don’t take it up. We have no choice but to take it up. But we’ll be working through this process, hopefully in a short period of time, in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people representing the president in the well of the Senate.”
He later added, “I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers.”
This open admission of ignoring his Constitutional responsibility of overseeing the very checks and balances from co-equal branches of government has drawn understandable outrage. Experts stunned as Mitch McConnell brags he’s handing control of impeachment trial to Trump: Legal, political, and ethics experts seeing McConnell admit to relinquishing control of a co-equal branch of government to the person who will be on trial in the Senate are expressing shock.
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post writes, McConnell’s plan for sham trial reveals depths of Trump’s corruption:
If Mitch McConnell goes through with his reported plan to hold a sham impeachment trial that acquits President Trump without calling witnesses, it will provide the perfect coda for the corrupt and farcical way Trump’s defenders have handled this saga all throughout.
In so doing, the Senate majority leader and other assorted Trump propagandists will be unabashedly enshrining their position as follows: We’ve already decided in advance that the full facts will not persuade us to turn on Trump, no matter how damning they are, so why should we listen to them at all?
As I’ve explained before, this is a form of Jury Nullification: a jury’s knowing and deliberate rejection of the evidence or refusal to apply the law … and is not a legally sanctioned function of the jury. It is considered to be inconsistent with the jury’s duty to return a verdict based solely on the law and the facts of the case.
This is how Trump’s defenders actually view the situation — and the awful implications of this should not be sugar-coated.
Yet the scheme may not prove as easy to get away with as they think. Handled properly, Democrats can use it to demonstrate that Republicans themselves know Trump’s substantive defenses are weak and his corruption is indefensible — and vividly show how Republicans are functioning as Trump’s full-blown accomplices.
This is the case I have relentlessly been making for Impeaching the Party of Trump:
As I have said before, the Party of Trump is a criminal enterprise led by a third-rate mafia “Don” Trump. They are all accomplices, coconspirators and accessories who aid and abet his criminality and corruption. There is not a patriot among them. They put fealty to their “Dear Leader” above all else, including loyalty to their country and our national security, and their oaths of office to defend the Constitution. They reject the rule of law and are amoral. It is a betrayal of the faith of the American people in our constitutional government. They must all be held accountable. But only Donald Trump is subject to impeachment.
The Post has the latest on McConnell’s scheming: Republican senators are “coalescing” behind a quick impeachment trial that would call no witnesses and result in a quick acquittal vote. Republicans are trying to resist Trump’s stated desire to turn this into a huge and messy spectacle by insisting on hearing from witnesses such as Hunter Biden.
In essence, Trump envisions a trial that would become a mere continuation of the corrupt scheme for which he’s being impeached in the first place. It would keep on trying to validate Trump’s invented narrative of Joe Biden’s corruption, but use the trial to do so, when previously he tried to extort Ukraine into helping him do it.
But there’s a problem with this, as The Post reports:
McConnell is not sure Republicans have enough votes to only call Trump’s preferred list, the person said. Any agreement to call a witness would require 51 votes, and if Democratic votes were needed to end an impasse among Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) would demand his own list of witnesses as part of any compromise.
Under McConnell’s thinking, this could possibly mean calling Vice President Pence and top White House aides, such as acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, to testify.
“Witnesses would be a double-edged sword,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said.
Republicans might not have 51 GOP votes to realize this scheme — any such process decisions would require majority approval. This would mean if only a handful of the 53 GOP senators declined to approve it, Democrats would have leverage to demand witnesses of their own.
McConnell doesn’t want that. As The Post notes, McConnell cryptically hinted at this, suggesting recently he hopes 51 GOP senators just say “they’ve heard enough and believe they know what will happen.”
Translation: GOP senators don’t need to hear from witnesses called by Democrats, because they know that they’re going to acquit Trump no matter what emerges.
It’s important to note here that [GOP senators don’t want to hear from] numerous key players who almost certainly have direct knowledge of Trump’s most corrupt acts — because the White House has blocked that from happening. [Article II, Obstruction of Congress.]
Among those witnesses are people who directly interacted with Trump over his freezing of hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, such as acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.
Obviously, if those witnesses confirmed in some way that Trump personally and explicitly discussed the military aid extortion plot with them, it would be even more devastating than what has already been established.
It’s true that we don’t know what those witnesses would say. But the rub is that Republicans don’t want to find out. And their reasoning has been laid bare for all to see: They are determined to acquit Trump no matter how incredibly damning such testimony might be, so they may as well spare themselves the political hardship that such testimony might inflict on them.
Of course, there’s also the outside risk that such testimony might make it impossible for a handful of GOP senators to vote to acquit Trump. Such a break must also be averted at all costs.
Because seeking the truth and doing justice are alien concepts to Republicans.
In that context, it’s telling that McConnell does not yet have 51 votes in hand for this plan. This shows it may be difficult for a few GOP senators to associate themselves with a trial that’s rigged to acquit Trump while avoiding hearing anything new about his corruption.
As this analysis by Perry Bacon Jr. shows, senators such as Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski want to maintain the appearance of principled independence from Trump. Meanwhile, Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Martha McSally and Joni Ernst will feel pressure to appear to take evidence seriously to survive reelection.
And a Democratic aide points out to me that, if McConnell doesn’t have 51 votes for procedural gimmickry allowing Trump to skate, that will allow Democrats to try to assemble a majority in the Senate for sounder procedures.
“It’s very hard for any senator to vote against seeking the truth,” the aide tells me.
Really? I’m reasonably certain that only a handful of Republicans in Congress are going to vote for seeking the truth and doing justice. You can count them on one hand.
At bottom, though, all this reveals how fraudulent Trump’s posture on the trial really is. Trump’s aides insist he wants to mount a full defense of himself in the Senate while prosecuting the case against Biden. But Trump emphatically does not want this to result in testimony from all the witnesses Trump has blocked.
So it would not be surprising if Trump accedes to McConnell’s wishes. Because what Trump really wants is a trial that allows him to keep smearing Biden while simultaneously keeping the coverup of his true designs in full swing.
Which is to say, he just wants the Senate trial to pick up where his whole corrupt scheme left off.
Senator “Moscow Mitch” McConnell is making a bid to be the most despised villain in American history.
As Charles Pierce said, There Is No More Loathsome Creature Walking Our Political Landscape Than Mitch McConnell:
He doesn’t have the essential patriotism god gave a snail. He pledges allegiance to his donors, and they get what they want. He’s selling out his country, and he’s doing it in real-time and out in the open. This is worse than McCarthy or McCarran ever were. Mitch McConnell is the the thief of the nation’s soul.
As Dana Milbank said, Mitch McConnell, the man who broke America:
By rights, McConnell’s tombstone should say that he presided over the end of the Senate. And I’d add a second line: “He broke America.” No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.
And as historian Christopher Browning has declared, “If the U.S. has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell.” The Suffocation of Democracy.
I have said before that Mitch McConnell belongs in the pantheon of the worst senators in U.S. history. He is demonstrably a villain who believes in authoritarianism, as long as his party and he remains in control. No one has abused the rules of the Senate and American democracy more than has Mitch McConnell. History will not remember him kindly, nor should it. His name should be spoken with disdain as we do for those most despised villains in American history.
Americans have a chance to remove this deeply corrupt senator from office next year. Decent Americans across the country should do everything in their power to help defeat this deeply corrupt senator and purge the toxic brand of corrupt politics that he personifies.