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.