Impeachment, Part II

This Time, It’s Personal

Once More, with Feeling

Well, here we are again. Didn’t we just do this, last year? Lots of speculation is abounding about the Senate trial that starts today. This may all seem depressingly familiar, but there are some important differences to point out. One or more of them could affect outcomes.

What is Different This Time?
  1. This is Trump’s second impeachment, an historical first. In fact, there have only been four presidential impeachments in all of American history. Trump owns half of them. So much winning!
  2. The House Impeachment Managers apparently are putting together a powerful audio-visual presentation. This is in part to sear into the memory of our citizenry just how ugly and dangerous all this was (and still is). It also serves to remind senators they were targets in this insurrection. This will make a vote to acquit all the more difficult.
  3. Trump’s legal team has only been on the job for about a week. Other than an initial defense document that only runs 14 pages, misspells the name of our country on the first page, and has been roundly laughed at by constitutional scholars, they are off to a great start.
  4. The people running the Senate this time have an interest in a serious trial, not a farce.
  5. Trump fans are pushing hard that doing this after Trump left office is unconstitutional. That is roundly rejected by pretty much everyone who has studied the matter at any level.
  6. Witnesses and testimony are less critical this time. We all saw it – live. Everyone on the “jury” was present and at risk. Additional information will be presented that shows how dangerous this was and how complicit a lot of people (who are increasingly nervous these days) were and still are.

Let Us Count (Some of) the Reasons Why This Should Go Forward

  • There is no constitutional restriction to proceed as we are now. Legal scholars consistently have so stated, in the hundreds.
  • Trump was impeached while in office, anyway. The resulting trial is the second part of the process. No reason it must happen while he is in office.
  • There is legal and political precedent for doing it after he is out of office.
  • This is being done after he left office because the Republicans shut down the Senate on JAN 7 and refused to open it until the day before inauguration. Does it sound like a good reason to do a pass now? No, I don’t think so, either.
  • If one escapes accountability by way of being out of office, what prohibits future office holders doing all sorts of terrible things, then avoiding accountability by quitting the day before their trial? Not a good precedent to set.
  • This guy did his best (worst) to destroy our democracy for the most base and crass reasons. We need accountability and those in the Senate need to be accountable for their decisions on this. History demands a record.
What is the Same as the Last Time?
  1. Courage and statesmanship are pretty mucht nonexistent among Republican senators, it would appear. A casual reading of the room tells me there is not enough spine among them to hold up a single wooly mammoth caterpillar. Hope I am wrong, but conviction looks like a low probability.
  2. No one wants a long process. This thing is likely to run its course in a week or so. The Republicans want it to go away, period, and the Democrats want to move on their agenda and confirming nominees.
  3. The majority of the public thinks he should be convicted and barred from future office. This by a good-sized majority, which will grow this week.
  4. Trumpanista types don’t care. They will forgive the guy anything and believe him on everything. There are actually not many of these in the Senate, but their votes are reinforced by the cowardice of the many.
  5. Trump will not testify, or even provide a written statement. His lawyers know it would be impossible for him to do anything without clearly lying right off the bat. This neat little editorial cartoon from the Chattanooga Times Free Press says it all. If he opens his mouth….

    Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
What are the Wildcards?
  1. The Republican party is in full blown civil war. The two sides are beyond reconciliation. It will either be a Trump cult or something closer to the traditional Republican party. How senators see that fight going will shape a lot of votes.
  2. For those who want to cleanse the party of Trumpism as best they can, this trial is a golden opportunity. Convict this guy and his diminution, already under way, is assured. Don’t do that and you are stuck to him forever.
  3. Almost all Republican senators voted that this trial was unconstitutional. I suspect most do not believe that – they just wanted this cup to pass from their lips. Now that it is happening, we should not assume all who voted to not have a trial will also vote to acquit. See item 1 and 2, above.
  4. If everyone shows up and all Democrats vote to convict (neither of these is a sure thing), 17 Republican votes are needed to convict. What if a number less than 17 but significant vote to convict and some others decide not to show up for the vote, or vote present? Could happen.
  5. What if the Senate decides to vote by secret ballot? My understanding is they have that option. Go that route, and I would bet heavily on conviction. Does not appear this option is being considered, for reasons I do not grasp, but a game changer if they did take the option.
And After This?

More to follow.

FBI led arrests are past the 185 mark, with more coming. Trails are coming. Long sentences are in the offing.

There are indications the Justice Department may use RICO as a prosecutorial tool. RICO, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, is a U.S. federal statute targeting organized crime and whitecollar crime. Since being enacted in 1970, it has been used extensively and successfully to prosecute thousands of individuals and organizations in the United States.

That will be very effective tool in charging and convict those who fanned and supported this thing but kept themselves safely (they thought) not present at the scene of the crime. Kama is coming due.

It will be interesting to see where we are in a couple of weeks and in a few months. Too many variables to rule much of anything out right now.

          Bill Clontz

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