The vote is in, 52 to 48 for acquittal of Donald Trump on the abuse of power charge and 53 to 47 on the obstruction of Congress charge. There are several possible interpretations.
1. 52 Republicans believed that the charge of abuse of power did not occur and 45 Democrats 1 Republican and 2 Independents thought that it did. On the obstruction of Congress, 47 thought that it happened and 53 did not. The No’s have it.
2. 52.5 Republicans believed, that although Trump did not act properly, that it did not constitute what has been described as high crimes and misdemeanors, and therefore did not justify removal from office. Conversely, 47.5 Senators believed that it did constitute high crimes and misdemeanors and therefore requires removal from office. Of course, 47.5 votes lack being the two-thirds majority (66) it would need to be anyway. Again, the No’s have it.
3. 52.5 Republicans ignored what the House presented and voted against what they knew to be the truth only to support the Republican in office, regardless of what the truth is. Conversely, the Democrats held their noses and voted with their party to get rid of Trump, knowing that his actions did not reach the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. As they say, the end justifies the means.
4. 47 Democrats want to get rid of the man they have been trying to get rid of ever since he got elected, and saw this as one of the fourth or fifth reason to do so (1. the Stormy Daniels’ affair, 2. the Muller investigation, 3. The Putin link, and of course 4. the Zelensky phone call. There must be a few others I don’t recall).
5. A combination and permutation of the above four!
One has to assume that if #1 or #2 are not the correct interpretations, the other possibilities, #3, #4, and #5 require dishonesty, deceit, unethical, or criminal behavior ( or all of the foregoing) on both sides.
The House and Senate are all elected officials with long track records, all with a sworn testament to uphold the truth, most of them being lawyers. It would seem that if they stoop to lying, corruption, and criminality they would have shown evidence of that behavior at other times, but none of that is evident or provable beyond a doubt. If there were such provable evidence, they would likely not be walking free at this time. Their political opponents would have seen to it.
Senator Kamala Harris called the results “a travesty of justice.” It is precisely the opposite. It is what was created by our Constitution and 19 prior impeachments of presidents, judges and various federal officials that have been conducted since1798 on. The rules are there, but nothing is set in stone that cannot be changed by 51 votes. The rules were followed, even about the part for no witnesses, and if you don’t like the result, your issue is with the Constitution of the United States, the framers and the rules that have evolved since inception. Name-calling is not helpful nor the way to voice your concerns. It exposes ignorance of history and adds to the disrespect for a system that has worked quite well for over two centuries, and furthermore falls into the same type of behavior we witnessed for showing lack of decorum in the legislative chamber that belongs to the people of the United States.
I believe that the majority of Senators, whether they voted Yea or Nay, acted on their convictions and true conscience. I believe that those who voted to convict felt justified to do so, and those that voted against conviction truly felt this was uncalled for. Even though the vote was almost down the party line, as most of us know who are not naïve, most votes tend to be down party lines because each Senator brings with him, or her, their own set of internal rules that define him/her as a liberal or conservative. The one Senator who split his vote, is in my opinion, more evidence that Senators voted their conscience. Both sides have been spewing their views, clearly and succinctly, from the argument that “the evidence is incontrovertible” from the left to the right’s question, “Where is the crime? Abuse of power to benefit one’s electability is not on any list of impeachable offenses! In fact, if it were, no one could get elected.” As stated by Alan Dershowitz, a recognized constitutional law scholar. Furthermore, precedence in history proves it to be so.
House members who are so intent on conviction for abuse of power have not read the history of Jefferson and Adams. Jefferson, as Adams’ vice president, was so horrified at Adams for what he considered abuse of presidential power that he walked out on Adams and left Washington for Monticello to plot his revenge. The Alien and Sedition Acts gave Adams unprecedented powers to imprison people. Jefferson came back three years later, in an unbelievably bitter campaign, to win the Presidency. Both sides used deceit and slander that makes today’s politics pale in comparison. Jefferson accusing Adams of being a “hideous hermaphroditic criminal character” while it became public knowledge that Jefferson supposedly had lecherous dalliances with slave women at Monticello, something that haunted him the rest of his life. Nevertheless, Jefferson prevailed, he took office March 4, 1801. Had today’s standards for abuse of power prevailed, Adams would have been impeached and convicted. And furthermore, Jefferson would have gone to jail for slander.
Today, neither the Republicans nor Democrats buy each other’s arguments, despite that both sides are very earnest in their beliefs. To get consensus, you would have to have at least some compromise on each other’s arguments. That is just not happening. You would have to be a super cynic or a die-hard fan of Game of Thrones to believe that the majority of the Senators on both sides committed perjury by this vote. Jefferson and Adams were bitter enemies for 12 years but eventually reconciled, remaining friends until they died 5 hours apart on July 4, 1826, a history lesson our Congress should emulate which our country desperately needs and from which it would greatly benefit.
My interpretation of the vote points to the first two possibilities being the only viable and likely explantation. A patriotic American of either party would have to believe that our legislators are by and large honest people of principle even if some of them have drunk too much of the blue or red Kool-Aid, but they are not a bunch of conspiratory Mafioso. We now must accept the results and let it go if we believe in the process of our democratic form of government.
If we continue to wallow in this muddy, swampy bog, we risk harming our form of government, our economy, and our way of life. The OMB (Office of Management and Budget) said that holding up funds for Ukraine was illegal. That assertion has not been tested in the courts. We could run that question all the way up to SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States). Or, better yet, let’s review the Muller Report one more time that refused to call the abuse of power question in the first place and maybe (or not) give us the answer. The DOJ (Department of Justice) calculated the cost of the Russia probe to be $32 million so far. That could be doubled and in another 2 years, we could (or not) get the final answer. The DO-NOTHING CONGRESS could do nothing quite a bit longer yet. I know, let’s call Bolton to testify. He could read his book for the Congressional Record. That would be a great way to continue to do nothing, especially since the content of the book is already known, but it would be better than getting an Oprah endorsement. How about a re-impeachment?
Have we not had enough? In just a few months, we have the opportunity to elect a president. This will be the time to exercise our rights as citizens and make a decision that we then must abide by, and start acting like reasoning adults instead of spoiled children who will not shake hands or tear up each other’s papers which by the way were historic documents belonging to us, We the People.
What has the impeachment cost us, the taxpayer? We will likely never really know, but estimates range from $32,000,000 to $40,000,000 so far. The word “impeachment” is derived from the Latin word “impetire” as in impede (pedis) to catch by the foot. It requires that the government official so accused has committed crimes. These are restricted to very serious crimes, including “Treason or Bribery”, but also less defined so-called “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Keep in mind impeachment does not remove POTUS. It means formally accusing him of wrongdoing, as only the House is empowered to do. If the House votes to impeach the president, it sends the whole matter to the Senate for a trial to be decided by that body with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding. It requires a two-thirds vote by the Senate to find him guilty of the accusations. As an aside… our Founding Fathers, knowing human foibles, were indeed clever and brilliant to ensure the separation of powers.
Andrew Johnson and William Jefferson Clinton are the only presidents that have undergone this process to date, and neither of them has been found guilty. Johnson had removed Edwin Stanton and replaced him with Ulysses S. Grant as Secretary of War. This was deemed “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” by the House because it violated the Tenure of Office Act which they passed over Johnson’s veto to protect Stanton from that very act of firing him. The final conclusion of Congress was that the legislative branch did not have the right or authority to interfere with the executive branch’s power over the makeup of its own cabinet.
Clinton’s impeachment was much more sanguine. He was accused of High Crimes and Misdemeanors for lying under oath and obstruction of justice, over the Paula Jones sexual harassment trial and the testimony regarding Monica Lewinsky with his now-famous words, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman!” and the other line, “It depends on what the definition of is, is!” Clinton received 45 votes to convict and 55 votes for acquittal on the lying charge and an even 50/ 50 split on the obstruction of justice charge. Neither of which reached the two-thirds threshold.
The Trump impeachment which has been months of jockeying, is now history with the vote in and counted on the abuse of power charge, 230 voted yes and 197 voted no. On the obstruction charge, it was 229 yes and 198 no. This was right down the Republican Democratic party-line split, except for two democrats that voted against impeachment and one, the democratic representative from Hawaii (also a presidential candidate in 2020), who did not vote except to say she was present. Trump’s High Crimes and Misdemeanors charges stem from his conversation with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, where Trump is charged with pressuring him to investigate Biden for corruption. The ugly truth is Zelensky did not investigate Biden and furthermore denied being pressured. Presidential conversations are deemed constitutionally protected by executive privilege and not subject to outside scrutiny. This comes down to the same issue as the Andrew Johnson indictment. Does the executive branch have the authority to execute its duties, such as deciding what the composition of its cabinet is or conferring with other heads of state under the protection of executive privilege and safeguarding national security? It is a fight of the legislative branch vs. the executive branch powers, who trumps and who doesn’t (pun intended).
The fact that not one Republican in the House voted for impeachment gives you a subtle clue as to how the Senate will vote. There are two senators from each of our fifty states. The 116th United States Congress currently has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and 2 independents. I am willing to wager all my chips and go out on a limb that Trump will not be convicted of High Crimes and Misdemeanors by a two-thirds majority. Jimmy the Greek would take my bet if he were not dead.
Looking at the question purely from a pragmatic point of view, why is our Congress wasting our money, our time, and not doing the people’s work instead? Is it to make a point, a very expensive point? Or is there a deeper-seated motive like influencing the 2020 election, also costly and not exactly the way we usually decide, nor arguably should be influencing elections? Besides, it is not clear in which direction the voter will be influenced. The anti-Trump voter will remain anti-Trump. The pro-Trump voter will still be pro. The independent might get tired of the whole thing. The question that comes to mind is which is more repulsive to the democratic process: to discredit a candidate for office by questioning his integrity (did Biden or his son engage in corrupt acts – wouldn’t you like to know?) or conversely have it done for you by a partisan vote of Congress (did Trump abuse his powers – and like Clinton, obstruct justice?) Logic would suggest that letting the 2020 election decide would be more democratic, egalitarian, and cheaper.