January 25, 2020

GOP on Impeachment: Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil.

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

Readers of these essays have found little support for the Democrats’ effort to impeach and remove President Trump from office months before our presidential election. It is, however, embarrassingly obvious that President Trump and his gaggle of henchmen from central casting (Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, and Igor Fruman) along with donor cum-Ambassador Gordon Sondland were working hard to tease, if not bludgeon, out of Ukrainian President Zelensky an announcement of an investigation of Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden. It stretches credulity to seriously consider that President Trump was holding up military aid to Ukraine as part of a Trump Administration war on corruption.

That being said, the apparent Republican strategy of preventing any witnesses or documents from being subpoenaed is, frankly, ludicrous. Their argument is very weak that it was the House’s job (not the Senate’s job) to subpoena witnesses and documents, especially given the White House orders to all executive agencies that no witnesses or documents, none, were to be provided to the House investigators.

The Republicans in the Senate are not there as the President’s defenders or protectors. They are there in only one capacity—as jurors to render impartial judgment. That is also why Majority Leader McConnel is there. Likewise, the Democratic Senators, including Minority Leader Schummer, are not there as the President’s antagonists. They, too, are there to render impartial judgment. That is the role the Constitution prescribes for them–all of them. They are all collectively trashing the constitution in their zeal to shield or to oust the President.

The Senators, all of them, should be insisting on hearing from Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief-of-staff, and, technically, still head of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney proudly inferred on national television in response to a reporter’s question, that there was a quid pro quo demand that President Zelensky open an investigation of Biden in return for US-supplied Javelin anti-tank missiles. “Isn’t that a quid pro quo,” he was asked? “It (politics interfering) happens all the time,” he answered… “get over it,” he snapped, punctuating his response for emphasis.

Why wouldn’t every Senator feel an obligation to subpoena former National Security Advisor, John Bolton? It is not at all clear that his testimony would be hostile to the President. He would testify to what is already known, but it would be instructive for the Senators to understand why Bolton felt Giuliani was a grenade and why what the former Mayor of New York and Sondland were cooking up was “a drug deal.” Bolton could also provide worthwhile and needed instruction on the dangers of ad hoc diplomacy being practiced by neophyte diplomats such as Sondland and Giuliani and their free-lance foils Lev and Igor.

And, yes, why not subpoena Joe Biden. He was President Obama’s point man on Ukraine. President Trump claimed that former Vice President Biden went after discredited Ukrainian Prosecutor Victor Shokin to stop him from investigating Burisma, on whose board of directors Biden’s son Hunter served. President Trump claimed Shokin was a good man, a good prosecutor fighting corruption. The European Union didn’t seem to think so, nor did the International Monetary Fund. It seems they, too, were insistent on getting rid of Shokin. They believed he was abetting corruption. Yet President Trump has turned out to be Shokin’s defender and advocate in the United States. Surely, the Republican impeachment jurors must want to know the truth. In fact, why not invite the International Monetary Fund to appear, and a knowledgeable representative from the European Union to come to the Senate and explain why their respective organizations wanted to get rid of Shokin, the man who President Trump seems to feel was unfairly sacked and who he described as “a very good prosecutor.

The President of the United States has been impeached. That is an event of great and dire historic significance. The House of Representatives has formally charged President Trump with impeachable offenses. The job, now, of every Senator is to determine whether or not there is sufficient reason to remove Donald J. Trump as President of the United States of America. To the extent the Democrats hang together for the sole purpose of convicting him, and to the extent the Republicans hang together for the sole purpose of protecting or acquitting him, they both fail in their responsibility to the Constitution.

The Senators cannot throw the President out frivolously, nor can they keep him in frivolously. The Democrats and the Republicans must enter the Senate chamber to judge all available information pertaining to the charges against the President. The Democrats are not obligated to vote for removal, nor are the Republicans obligated to acquit the President. In fact, they are obligated not to be committed to doing either until they have heard all available evidence.

Should the Republicans refuse to allow any witnesses or documents to be subpoenaed they will have forfeited their responsibility to render impartial judgment. They would, then, not be acting as United States Senators, but rather as automatons programmed to hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.

All comments regarding these essays, whether they express agreement, disagreement, or an alternate view, are appreciated and welcome. Comments that do not pertain to the subject of the essay or which are ad hominem references to other commenters are not acceptable and will be deleted.

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16 responses to “GOP on Impeachment: Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil.”

  1. Leonard Sherman says:

    I am at a loss for words, but it’s always nice to read an opinion that is fair and balanced and without prejudice

  2. Perry says:

    While Trump is an inexperienced politician, he is an accomplished
    POTUS in his first years. In spite of constant barrage of media
    bias and constant battles with his opponents he with all his warts
    is still better than the entire Democratic field of misfits.

    For sure he is no saint. Who else is there?

  3. Chris Haedt says:

    Profoundly agree Perry.
    Hal, thank you again for your thought provoking and educational essays that you so kindly prepare and present to us on Sunday mornings.

  4. James Fisher says:

    It is an acknowledged fact that the democrats have been intent on impeaching President Trump from the very moment he assumed office. That tells me they will launch campaign after campaign to remove him – whether for just cause or not.

    So… while they have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at him incessantly… he continues to lead this country to greatness. I agree with Perry – very few men could survive and even shine under that onslaught – he is by far is the best we have.

  5. Steve Prover says:

    Another excellent balanced piece..
    As for Perry and Chris… Trump as POTUS is a major disaster… he has zero major legislative accomplishments…. a massive deficit funded tax cut will not redound well to this administration’s record.
    I will not go on… their minds are, sadly locked and loaded, irrevocably in support Trump…. There are other excellent Republicans available. Barring conviction by the Senate (virtually impossible) Trump will be renominated…

  6. sheila says:

    The big question, Hal, is what are they (the GOP Senators) hiding and why won’t they do their job as a co-equal branch of government. Why. It has been said more than once that if there were ANY witnesses or evidence that exonerated Trump, you’d better believe that it/he/she would be at this trial in full view of the country. You are correct, that we need to hear from Mulvaney and especially from Bolton. We need to see all the documents, all the evidence. These senators work for us – the American citizens, and for no one else– at least for now. Trump defiantly “tweets” that everyone should read the transcripts: Yet, we all know, thanks to Col. Vindman, that the transcripts have been altered to eliminate vital nuances and information.

    Adam Schiff’s closing arguments were impassioned, brilliant, and spot-on: they know –every GOP Senator knows– that this is their last chance to stand up for our democracy before the 2020 election which will likely be hacked once again. This is their last opportunity to show that they have some integrity and spine. But these senators refuse to stand up for the rule of law. Why? What is going on here? What is happening here?

    Perry — consider Biden, or if we’re lucky, Bloomberg. Biden has pledged to be a one-term president who will get the country back on track. His VP pick will be key. Also — look at the Lincoln Project — see who they are supporting. There will be options. You just need to recognize them.

  7. What is an impeachable offense in the first place? High crimes and misdemeanors?

    I agree with Gerald Ford, who opined that high crimes and misdemeanors means anything the House of Representatives wants it to mean. So, sure, there should now be a full-blown trial. And absolutely Hunter Biden should be called as a witness. After all, the President of the United States has an interest in ensuring that its own politicians, including those who proceeded him, were not and are not abusing their office and behaving lawlessly in the same foreign policy circles.

    I remember when Barack Obama laughed at Mitt Romney in a debate for suggesting that Russia posed a bigger long-term threat to the West than radical Islam. I remember when Obama took office seeking to “reset” our relations with Russia and then did nothing to defend the Ukraine from Russian incursions. So now I get confused whenever the Democrats invoke our nation’s critical interest in defending the Ukraine from Russian interference.

    As for the quid pro quo, perhaps Trump was indeed trying to make a deal and then using foreign aid to a critical ally as bait to coax out an investigation of Joe Biden.

    But here’s what I don’t understand. Why do we need to set another low in precedent making? The Democrats started a vicious process of “Borking” judicial nominees that resulted in filibustering and other machinations to deprive all future Presidents of appointing ostensibly qualified judges to federal courts, and the Republicans elevated that strategy to great advantage as against Obama, until the Democrats changed the Senate rules to overcome for their past mistake, except that now that rule is being used to allow President Trump full reign to reshape the federal judiciary.

    Despite this, the Democrats are now starting a new precedent. Anytime you don’t like the President, you need to fire up another investigation and vote on articles of impeachment based on one accusation or another. Just keep opening congressional investigations and endlessly issuing subpoenas. Were the current strategy successful, I have no doubt that the Republicans, if they controlled the House at that time, would soon seek to impeach Bernie Sanders on any number of contrived misdeeds or actions contrary to American core values, assuming the guy were ever elected.

    I would have no difficulty voting to impeach Obama on the basis that his own Secretary Of State sent but only a single e-mail through a classified channels during her entire tenure in that position, such a blatant dereliction of American security that, as would be the case in a private enterprise, the President’s own head would have to roll. Shoot, with Clinton breaking the hard drive of her e-mail server with a hammer and bathing the disc in acid, we’d have an instant obstruction of justice count to boot.

    Impeachment will be the new form of snap elections initiated by the opposition.

    But, I guess I just find the hypocrisy quite distasteful. State troopers used to bring attractive women with ample bosom to the governor’s mansion in Little Rock, Arkansas, and one day they delivered the governor a state employee named Paula Jones. And after they left Ms. Jones in the governor’s office, the chief executive pulled out his johnson and asked her to touch it. The Democrats, always aggressively promoting civil rights, took little interest in kicking off the #MeToo movement at this time. Instead, they trashed the complainant as a “bimbo.” But, later, after she filed a civil rights action and obtained the right to depose the sitting President, he lied repeatedly under oath, including about any “sexual relations” with a college age fellatrix who somehow gained access to the Oval Office.

    This would seem to qualify as a high crime or misdemeanor to me. Nonetheless, in what became a three-witness trial in the Democratically controlled Senate, the Democrats, including Chuck Schumer, were arguing that impeachment should not be employed in such a situation and should not be used to overturn the popular will of the American people.

    So I suppose I come back to Gerald Ford. A high crime or misdemeanor is whatever Congress wants it to be. But, by the same token, the Senate sets the rules for the trial, and those rules can be whatever the Senate wants them to be.

  8. Peggy Jacobs says:

    Agree with you entirely. It seems to me that if the Senate fails to present a defense with knowledgeable witnesses, they should accept ipso facto that Trump is guilty as charged and then determine whether they consider his actions sufficient to vote to remove him from office. I suspect, given those facts, they will not convict. I feel it is a hopeless exercise.

  9. Leonard Sherman says:

    I sincerely hope that my initial comments that ” I was at loss for words ” was not misunderstood, it was meant for pure sarcasm.
    I sometimes wonder about the people that are full of criticism what they have ever done for my country, except criticize

  10. judy allen says:

    Just once I’d like to hear from you and your readers name some of the positive things our POTUS has accomplished to date, in spite of being attacked daily by folks that have been (in my opinion) in office too long ……. You prefer Biden? Bernie? The Squad? Term Limits please!!!

  11. Mike says:

    I’d strongly encourage those who have read this column to consider Jonathan Turley’s comments and articles about the flawed impeachment process that was led by Schiff and Nadler. He is a registered Democrat but points out that they rushed through the process, ignored critically important procedures and failed to call the witnesses they are now asking the Senate to call. They knew that having the subpoenas litigated would slow things down. Yet they proceeded to call for a vote because of the “urgency” and threat posed by Trump. Then the Queen chooses to sit on the impeachment for three weeks before transmitting to the Senate. So much for the urgency.

    Schiff is an effective orator – so was Hitler. And after watching Schiff lie about the dossier, the substance of the transcript, and numerous other instances, it is obvious he is a man who is not burdened with the substance of conscience. I think we can all agree, this impeachment process has been a partisan political exercise. And it is laughable that after having completely ignored any sense of due process in the House, Schiff and Nadler are demanding that the Senate act in an “impartial” manner. It is ok for them to be bitterly partisan, but outrageous for the Senate to be “partisan.” It reminds me of the kid who killed his parents and threw himself at the mercy of the court because he was an orphan.

    This entire scheme has been launched to damage Trumps’s 2020 election, cause vulnerable Republican Senators to cast contentious votes and elevate Schiff’s profile so he can run for theee Senate when Diane Feinstein retires.

  12. Response to Judy:
    Why settle for “just once?” These essays have “given credit where credit is due” numerous times. These essays call them as it sees them.

    Response to Mike: Today’s essay is generally consistent with your comment. The case is made that both Republicans and Democrats have an obligation to judge impartially, notwithstanding the rancor and biases that have preceded these proceedings.

  13. Further response to Mike: The comparison of Rep. Schiff’s oratory skills or any other candidate’s oratory style to Hitler is beyond the pale, notwithstanding the low value given to truth, especially in the Oval Office.

  14. Robert borns says:

    This entire procedure is not a serious constitutional happening. It is the lowest form of partisan politics. Praising people like Adam Schiff, for example, is outrageous. He, like so many on both sides is not to be taken as anything but a liar and a jackass. This entire foolishness is a stain on our historic fabric. Perhaps we should put the homeless in the house and senate and put some of our esteemed legislators in the gutter where they belong. We couldn’t get any worse than the damn selfish folks there now. And please, stop treating this crazy ness like it deserves serious comment. It really is Saturday night live, isn’t it?

  15. Response to Robert Borns: Of Thee I Sing 1776 agrees craziness abounds. And that psychosis is revealed in the eye of the beholder.

  16. Robert borns says:

    Both of my eyes say aye aye.

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