As the Trump Impeachment Trial Draws to Its Predetermined Close, It’s Clear He’s Played Us as a Bunch of Dumb Chumps
Barring a lightning strike or some other miracle, the impeachment process is all done but for the final, predictable votes.
It has been a cringe-worthy process that almost certainly has further deepened divisions. The Republican Senate majority has shown its willingness to follow party loyalty right out the window, throwing out a truckload of traditional values.
Do we believe in fairness, in truth, in fact?
The trial process put forth zany legal arguments seemingly spun of whole cloth to protect Donald Trump. So what about the radical reinterpretation of the Constitution’s division of governmental responsibilities? Who cares about the simple understanding that doing bad is something to be excised and punished?
Do we really accept that a president, particularly one who has made self-aggrandizement a hallmark, can do anything to get re-elected? Is it “in the public interest” as proclaimed by presidential defender Alan Dershowitz?
It has been a cringe-worthy process that has further deepened divisions. The Republican Senate majority has shown its willingness to follow party loyalty right out the window.
Often bordering on personal rudeness and chest-bumping among feuding lawyers, the trial lost focus. Where was the understandable search for what happened between Trump and Ukraine, which is warring with Russia? It became a trial turning its back on witnesses. Forget about leaks of the former National Security adviser John Bolton’s new book. Ignore more tapes and emails from Trump defender Rudy Giuliani’s repentant henchmen. Disregard obstruction of Congress.
Team Trump’s Arguments
Finally, after days of presentation, followed by two days of Senate questions, we reached Team Trump’s bottom line:
- There are no limits on Trump’s powers. He does not need to meet requests, demands or even subpoenas from Congress. There apparently is no reason to settle any of these refusals to acknowledge Congress in the courts. Team Trump is arguing incongruously before judges that the appropriate response to access complaints is impeachment.
- Nothing compels removal of a president in pursuit of re-election. Seeking re-election might be “in the public interest.” Seeking “information” from foreign countries is OK because it has no value.
- Apparently, running a rogue campaign to trade military aid for dirt on Joe Biden, a prime political opponent, is OK. Per Team Trump, there was no quid pro quo. Unless there was a this-for-that. In which case, a tit-for-tat was perfectly reasonable. Trump cared deeply about corruption in Ukraine over years. Or maybe it was reasonable because the deal was in the public interest rather than Trump’s own. Got it?
- The House managers relied on law for the most part. By contrast, Team Trump’s arguments were largely political. Along the way, Democratic prosecutors made enough mistakes to leave themselves vulnerable to counter-arguments, however illogical.
Listening to the proceedings was often difficult. The twisted logic of the president’s team was outdone only by its disdain for anything associated with truth-finding. As I have said, I can understand a debate over whether these acts rise to the level of impeachment. But treating American voters like chumps who are blind and deaf to the outpouring of information about Trump’s wrongdoing? It is simply dismissive.
It is difficult to pick out the worst of what we have heard and where it leaves us.
- We have been moving steadily since November 2016 toward a presidency that undercuts democracy. Democratic advances in 2018 elections have prompted Trump into making more and more policy through executive order. The refusal to cooperate with Congress over general government oversight as well as impeachment cut further. Now, in big gulps of power-swallowing, we are spinning toward an autocratic, authoritarian government.
- The evidence, collected, mostly from the mouths of Trump appointees in diplomatic and national security service, shows we are willing to host a government replete with Cabinet members and departmental overseers who are willing to bend. They bend budgets, justice, environment, education and energy safeguards. They will turn it all upside-down to make Trump look good. There were 200 Senate questions. Yet there are piles more of unasked head-scratchers. Why was Giuliani ever dispatched to Ukraine rather than a State Department official? What are we to make of the roles of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William P. Barr, former Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and the White House lawyers who stuck the Ukraine phone tapes in a White House secure, classified safe?
- As soon as the Senate votes against impeachment, we can expect Trump to come out in full boast. He will have learned nothing of anything close to humility. We can predict a full volley of vindictive behaviors aimed at anyone with the audacity to question the new American monarch.
L’etat, c’est Trump.