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Reflections on the Election 2020 Part 25

Continuing the Impeachment of Mr. Trump:

Statements by Senators Schumer and McConnell

Clearly he explained that mandatory sentence cannot be applied to someone who’s left office. The entire process revolves around removal. If removal becomes impossible, the conviction becomes insensible. In one light it certainly does seem counterintuitive that an office holder can elude Senate conviction by resignation or exploration of term, an argument we heard made by the managers. But this underscores that impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice. Never meant to be the final forum for American justice. Impeachment conviction and removal are specific intra-governmental safety valves. It is not the criminal justice system where individual accountability is the paramount goal. Indeed, Justice Story specifically reminded us that while former officials were not eligible for impeachment or conviction, they were, and this was extremely important, still labile to be tried and punished in the ordinary tribunals of justice. Put another way in the language of today, President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen. Unless the statute of limitations is run, still liable for everything he did while he was in office.

Justice Story didn’t get away with anything, yet. Yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation and former presidents are not immune from being accountable to either one. I believe the Senate was right not to grab power the Constitution doesn’t give us. And the Senate was right not to entertain some light-speed sham process to try to outrun the loss of jurisdiction. It took both sides more than a week just to produce their pre-trial briefs. Speaker Pelosi’s own scheduling decisions conceded what President Biden publicly confirmed, a Senate verdict before inauguration day was never possible. Now, Mr. President, this has been a dispiriting time, but the Senate had done its duty. The framers’ firewall helped held up again. Oh, on January the sixth, we returned to our posts and certified the election. We were uncowed. We were not intimidated. We finished the job. And since then we resisted the climber to defy our own constitutional guardrails in hot pursuit of a particular outcome.

We refused to continue a cycle of recklessness by straining our own constitutional boundaries in response. The Senate’s decision today does not condone anything that happened on or before that terrible day. It simply shows that senators did what the former president failed to do. We put our constitutional duty first.

Glaring Contradictions

The glaring contradictions in Senator McConnell’s speech that even a child could see and

understand it. But the display of hypocrisy, inconsistency, and contradiction is not unusual for this Senator. Part of his statement could have been made by the prosecution team. His statement was as persuasive and eloquent as any member of the prosecution team. Then he gave a couple of reasons why he voted not to convict or impeach. He said in essence, that he believed that the Constitution did not give the right to convict or do anything to a president who is no longer in office.

Two Important Points

The Senate at the beginning had ruled that it was Constitutional to proceed with the impeachment even though Mr. Trump was no longer in office. The Constitution gave the Senate the authority to make the rules of impeachment. There was a long discussion on that point. And as before stated, the Senate voted to proceed.

Second point: This is where the glaring hypocrisy enters.

It was up to Mr. McConnell to decide when the vote for the trial should proceed. They could've done the trial the next day or a day later but he deliberately waited until Mr. Trump was no longer in office. The shrewd senator knew all along that he was going to interject this loophole when the time for the vote would come. Hence on the one side, he denounced Mr. Trump, as, “practically and morally responsible...” for what happened on Capitol Hill. Thus, he got even with Mr. Trump who has said some critical things about Mr. McConnell.

Moreover, I think Senator McConnell hoped to clip the wings of Mr. Trump for any future exercise of power and at the same time try to stay on good terms with Mr. Trump’s base and the seventy-four million that voted for him. Senator McConnell did make it clear that Mr. Trump was not out of the woods yet, but there was a possibility that there will be civil and criminal lawsuits put forth by various prosecutors.

To repeat, it was crystal clear to everyone that the presentation by the House management team should have resulted in a guilty verdict for Mr. Trump. But the team was up against almost impossible obstacles. They had to win not only the argument of Mr. Trump’s guilt but also had to win enough Senators who would vote for their country’s interest and not their own.

A Reminder of my Basketball Playing Days

It reminded me of my basketball playing days in the park or gym. There was a player, I'll call his name John, who would vigorously and disruptively argue the call or the decision that questioned every play that went against him. He generally won his arguments as players grew weary of arguing and would let him have his way. Early on I became aware that you had to not only beat him playing the game, but also win the arguments if you were going to win the game, winning the game meant that you stayed on the court and continued to play the next team. You could stay on the court and continue to play as long as you desire. I decided that I'd rather have him on my team than play against him. After all, most of us had come to the gym or to the park just to have fun. If we won it was okay, and if we lost it was no big thing as long as we had a good run or exercise. But to John, it seemed that he had a psychological need to win every game and to win every argument.

Similarly, the House prosecution team had to win not only the legal arguments to convict Mr. Trump but also, they had to win against political interests and corruption. As I stated, it was a near impossible task. So, I don’t think anyone was surprised when Mr. Trump was found not guilty. But to repeat for emphasis the prosecution team and all fair-minded observers were unanimous in their agreement that Mr. Trump was guilty as charged.

P.S. Last heard Mr. Trump is Mr. Trump, still the same. A Republican conference was recently convened at his Mar-a Lago Club in Florida. Mr. Trump assailed his opponents in his usual vicious way. In particular, he went after the former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives John Boehner. Mr. Boehner had accused Mr. Trump of being the instigator in the Capitol Hill insurrection (As an aside, Mr. Boehner called Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, “Lucifer in the flesh.”) I thought I was the first to use Lucifer in the political discussion, but it appears that it was Mr. Boehner, at least his book On the House: A Washington Memoir suggests that he was first to use the term.

Mr. Trump blasted Senator McConnell calling him, “a dumb son of a b----.” In addition to the name-calling, Mr. Trump was still spewing forth the fraudulent claim that the election was stolen from him. So it looks as though Mr. Trump is going to be around for a long time unless as Senator McConnell suggested he’d be found guilty of criminal charges.

To be continued...

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