Tags: Donald Trump | Joe Biden | Trump Impeachment | Ukraine | process | hunter | bolton

All Are Guilty in Senate's Impeachment Farce

trump senate impeachment trial on tv screen in des moines iowa

Iowans Watch Senate Impeachment Trial Of President Donald Trump - Des Moines. A television screen shows House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., during the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 22, 2020. (Al Drago/Getty)

By Thursday, 23 January 2020 11:28 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Politicians are never less sincere than when they argue about process.

They typically speak as though high principle is at stake, even though they’ve discovered the principle only three minutes previously and it happens to yield a convenient result.

So it is with the arguments over how the U.S. Senate should conduct its impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, arguments that have mainly showcased how heavily each party can tax the capacity for belief.

Start with the Democrats.

It’s true, just as the Republicans are saying, that they acted as though the U.S. House had no time to spare in impeaching Trump, and then had all the time in the world to send the indictment to the Senate.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted the House, and especially House Democrats in districts friendly to Trump, to be done with this issue as soon as possible, and then wanted Senate Republicans to linger on it.

So the same House that spent eight days on hearings on impeachment delayed forwarding the articles of impeachment for 28 days.

And for all their talk about the need for witnesses to testify in the Senate, there isn’t one House Democratic manager of the impeachment case who doubts that enough evidence to justify Trump’s removal is already public.

They hope that testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton would move some undecided voters and maybe even senators their way, but they don’t really believe it’s necessary to reach a verdict — which is why they voted for impeachment without getting Bolton’s version of events.

Then there are the Republicans, who complain that the Democrats didn’t hear from enough witnesses while also supporting an administration that blocked its officials from testifying. Several Senate Republicans have decided that it is vital to consider only the evidence that the House hearings already uncovered. That’s their job, they say.

It’s not the job that the Constitution gives them: It leaves open the question of what evidence to consider. It’s not the job the Senate rules give them, either: They can ask for witnesses or even subpoena them.

The Senate has heard from witnesses in previous impeachments.

Since the senators who say it would be improper to look at additional evidence have not provided any explanation for this view, they appear to be merely expressing a preference not to look at it.

The Constitution neither compels nor forbids the Senate to engage in additional evidence-gathering. It could, however, aid the deliberation of a subset of senators: those who don’t believe that Trump is being persecuted over a "perfect call," as he claims, but are not convinced that he should be removed from office, either.

A lot of Senate Republicans fall into this category.

For them, it ought to be worth hearing from Bolton and others to determine whether Trump’s conduct was worse or better than they have so far thought. House Democrats should have taken the time to go to court to get more testimony before voting to impeach, but their error is not an excuse for senators to decline to learn what they can.

The Republican calls to hear from Hunter Biden deserve less respect yet should nonetheless prevail. While former Vice President Joe Biden should have kept his son from trading on his name, there is no convincing evidence that he took any improper official action.

Even if he had, though, it would not have been proper for Trump to use U.S. foreign policy to get Ukraine to help his private lawyer investigate. Neither Biden can tell us anything important about whether and how gravely Trump abused the power of the presidency.

The younger Biden should be called to testify anyway. The senators should err on the side of letting both sides make their case. Trump and his allies have suggested that testimony from Hunter Biden is central to the case for acquittal.

Even if there’s not much to that argument, they should be allowed to mount it.

A slightly longer but more deliberative process would preserve the integrity of the Senate and enable it to fulfill its constitutional duty. But if senators of both parties were more interested in those goals than they are in party advantage, of course, this impeachment would be proceeding very differently.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg View columnist. He is a senior editor of National Review and the author of "The Party of Death: The Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard for Human Life." To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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RameshPonnuru
A more deliberative process would preserve the integrity of the Senate and enable it to fulfill its constitutional duty. But if senators of both parties were more interested in those goals than they are in party advantage, of course, this impeachment would be proceeding very differently.
process, hunter, bolton, constitution
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2020-28-23
Thursday, 23 January 2020 11:28 AM
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