I resisted this for a while, but was sucked in at the opening of the Senate trial. I’m not going to give you hundreds of links to click and videos to watch (maybe a couple). I’m going to try to be unbiased and just ask simple yes/no questions. There’s probably going to be some things I don’t touch on, but I’d argue that those are far from unbiased – I may be wrong on that. The goal is to cut through a bunch of flack and see what we actually know for ourselves. I’m sure it’s a view on my logic, but answer on your own or leave your thoughts.
Question 1: Does Impeachment Reverse an Election?
This one should be easy. It’s more about what impeachment is. It’s a somewhat loose process laid out in Article 1 of the United States Constitution which says what Congress is. The House of Representatives has sole power of impeachment and the Senate tries all the impeachments the House approves. It’s like an indictment then a trial. It’s not criminal, a Senate decision is only whether the person being impeached keeps their job. And the president is the president. Trump will always be 45, the question is whether Mike Pence is 46 before the 2020 election. No, impeachment doesn’t reverse an election.
Question 2: What has Trump been Impeached Over?
There are two Articles of Impeachment.
Article 1 is about abuse of power. This is the crux of it. It claims that Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to announce an investigation of Joe Biden in exchange for financial support to fight off Russian invaders and for a visit to the White House to show US support. The leverage was US assets, the people doing it were led by Rudy Giuliani who’s the President’s private attorney. The US negotiates with other nations all the time. The problem claimed here is that this wasn’t intended to help our national interests, it would help his re-election campaign which is his business rather than ours.
Article 2 is about obstruction. It claims that Trump worked beyond what’s reasonable to hinder Congress from fulfilling its Constitutional duty in investigating the abuse of power. The executive branch shared no documents at all with the House Intelligence and Judicial Committees and directed all witnesses under their control not to testify and defy any subpoenas.
Question 3: Is This a Hoax?
I keep hearing the president and his supporters use this one, that it’s a hoax. What’s that mean, though? The accusation started with a now infamous phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s president. Calls like this are generally not solely between the two leaders and several people were concerned with the discussion. Someone gathered perspectives, summarized it, and submitted it to the Intelligence Community inspector General (ICIG) according to law. The ICIG’s duty was to validate the claim, which was done, then pass it to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The DNI is supposed to pass it to the House which was, after a long delay, done. Both the ICIG and DNI are Trump appointees.
There was also a full series of House Committee sessions which presented evidence and testimony. As noted in Article 2, the administration stonewalled on high-level evidence including many officials on the phone call. There were, however plenty of people with direct experience from the call and other surrounding events. All the testimony backed up the whistleblower report and added details surrounding the call. There were emails, text messages, and nothing which dispelled the accusations. You can find links, but don’t rely on people who say there was nothing there. It just wasn’t the case.
Question 4: Don’t we need to hear from the Whistleblower?
Simply put: no. Whistleblower laws, and they’re laws, are there to encourage reporting of government wrongdoing without reprisal. Remember that the ICIG vetted the whistleblower report. The contents have been looked at and checked out. Also, the testimony and summary of the call itself matched the whistleblower’s account. Calling out the whistleblower doesn’t prove anything, is for reprisals, and is actually against the law which is supposed to protect them.
Question 5: Don’t we Need to Hear from Hunter and Joe Biden?
This one is actually tricky on the surface. Joe and Hunter Biden might have been robbing a bank when a drunk Trump ran a red light, drove through the front door, and killed Hunter. Trump would still be guilty of DUI and traffic violations. Joe Biden would be guilty of what he was guilty of. However, he was in the bank and wouldn’t have seen Trump at the bar or run the light. The Bidens have literally no more knowledge of whether Trump is guilty of Articles 1 & 2 than we do and this trial isn’t about their guilt, it’s about Trump’s. There’s no real questions they’d be asked which they could answer.
Question 6: Wasn’t Trump treated unfairly? How’s this a valid impeachment?
Remember that the impeachment is like an indictment and the Constitution says the House is supposed to do it. It’s pretty loose with how they’re supposed to do it. There’s mostly precedent by past impeachments and current laws which may change. The Republicans complained that it was done without a House vote then the House voted on it. They said it was only behind closed doors then there was publicly televised testimony. They said that the president wasn’t represented so the Judicial Committee invited his representation, then he declined. They said it was a totally partisan vote to impeach, but that says something about them too. And lastly, they said that Trump wasn’t really impeached until the Articles were sent to the Senate. That’s happened. Where’s the beef? The trial happens in the Senate – or it’s supposed to.
Question 7: So what about the Senate?
The House has transmitted the Articles to the Senate who, as noted above, are required to hold a trial. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has openly said he’s coordinating it with the White House and the President’s side. Objectively, that doesn’t seem to be part of fulfilling his oath in the process. The trial is not a typical court process, but this seems clear. It should be a determination of the truth of what happened and then a decision on whether or not he should be removed from office.
”I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of Donald Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”United States Constitution: Article I, Section 3, Clause 6
If there’s going to be a real determination of the truth, they need to hear evidence. I can point back to Marco Rubio saying he hadn’t paid attention to the House hearings because they’ll hear evidence at the Senate trial. It’s not a trial if the evidence isn’t presented well. Remember that one of the Articles is based on obstruction and we haven’t heard from people like John Bolton, William Barr, or Mike Pompeo who were directly involved. I think we’ll see on testimony, but it will likely depend on whether the Senate thinks the public wants a real trial or not. Shouldn’t we want a real trial?
Question 8: The Defense?
I’ll leave it here and I’m a bit surprised over where we’ve gotten. I’m sure I’m biased, but I haven’t heard a real counter argument which says everything is actually a hoax and none of this happened. Here are a couple clips (yes, I’ve avoided them so far) of Reince Priebus (Trump’s first Chief of Staff) and Alan Dershowitz (who seems to be on Trump’s defense team). They’re arguing “so what if it’s true” and that abuse of power isn’t a valid reason to remove the president. Those seem to admit that what the House has uncovered happened. Do we want the presidency to be above abuse of power and investigation? Do we drive off that cliff? I hope not.