By James Fitzgerald
Senators voted by 56 to 44 in favor of the impeachment process on Tuesday, on the question of whether an impeachment of Donald Trump was constitutional. This followed about four hours of presentations by the respective legal teams on historical and legislative interpretations of the Constitution.
It made a strange spectacle following the election of Joe Biden with reportedly the largest vote in the history of the Republic. A quote by Trump at one of his early rallies came to mind: “I will gladly take all those slings and arrows for you.”
The Capitol Hill buildings are still fenced in and surrounded by thousands of soldiers and the senators and staff in the House sat with black masks over their faces, as if attending on open pyre funeral where the deceased had died of cholera. Trump’s absence from the proceedings made them seem even more like a post-mortem.
We can discuss the points of argument and the performances of the lawyers, but the outcome of the vote seemed to be pre-determined. Afterall, the attendees constituted what Trump had described early on in his presidency as “the Swamp”. Many of those senators — career politicians who had become accustomed to wheeling and dealing in the way that perhaps that Roman Empire powerbrokers had done in the time of Caligula and Nero — must have wanted an exorcism from the public taint that had befallen them under Trump and who had been drawn out into the open in their public opposition to his policies and rhetoric. In that sense, this pre-trial was an attempt to bury the spectre of Trump and the exposure of the DC swamp that had lit up the airwaves and byways of social media over the past four years. It was not just about blocking Trump from future office, but about banishing him from the collective consciousness, so that his ideas and focus could be dismissed as something dirty and flawed.
The MAGA movement itself is under fire; the footage at the trial focused on the unruly and vocal elements within the crowd on the day. It is of course widely acknowledged that MAGA proponents have displayed impeccable civility and decorum at countless political rallies across the country. The FBI have yet to release the CCTV footage from inside the Capitol building, because the event is subject to an “ongoing investigation”, although a man was charged this week in relation to the protest who was on the payroll of the FBI, according to lawyers.
The rushed process, orchestrated by Nancy Pelosi in a matter of days following the Capitol Hill protests, gave little thought to the divisive and hypocritical stance of the Democrats, who afterall had either cheered on or remained silent while American cities were burned and looted over the summer, in the name of Black Lives Matter and Antifa. California’s Maxine Waters has been filmed many times inciting violence and harassment of Trump supporters. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez in 2018 led a led a group of radical, angry leftists to infiltrate an office on Capitol Hill, where they occupied Pelosi’s office. Police later arrested 51 of the protestors.
Video showing Antifa trying to break windows at Capitol and Trump supporters trying to stop them
The House Managers, led by Jamie Raskin, sought to present irrefutable “facts” that would show that Trump incited an insurrection among his supporters on January 6 — and yet Raskin presided over a video montage of the crowds storming the Capitol intercut with selective tweets and recordings of President Trump’s elocutions on the day that omitted his pretext of “patriotically and peacefully” and his later request for his supporters to “peacefully make their voices heard”.
Raskin’s sentiment was that a sitting president had incited an insurrection in the final week of office and then expected to walk away as if nothing had happened. Raskin pointed to historical precedents to argue that it was constitutional to pursue government officials regardless of whether they were in or out of office. Joe Neguse quoted pre-Revolution statutes and events — when the US had a king and was subject to the British — to underline his case. Their arguments could therefore be applied to George Washington or Jimmy Carter, by some stretches of the imagination. In that sense, they were opening the field for renewed scrutiny of more recent presidents, if misdemeanors were subsequently uncovered.
Lawyers for Trump had dismissed his second impeachment trial as “political theater”, but it might more accurately have been described as a communist-style naming and shaming. All that was missing — for now at least — was the cone “dunce” hat used in the show trials during China’s Cultural Revolution. No wonder Trump stayed away.
Bruce Castor Jnr, opening the defense on Day One, rambled somewhat and took a sychophantic detour on the “exceptionalism” of Senate members. Perhaps he was softening them up for what was to follow: “We are here because the representatives here don’t want to meet Donald Trump here as a political rival in future … the American people just spoke and the administration has changed and the people are smart enough to change it again … why are the majority of the house representatives afraid of the same people who sent them here? … why the fear that people will forget how to change an administration? Is the fear that the people in 2024 will want to go back to Donald Trump and not President Biden? Why are they smart enough to choose all you but not the president? It has worked 100 per cent of the time; when the people had enough of the occupant of the White House, they changed the occupant of the White House…”
Castor pointed out that the Department of Justice had not pursued any misdemeanor or felony charges with Trump.
“We can’t be talking about punishing people for their political beliefs,” he said. If so, “partisan impeachments will become common someday. This is supposed to be the rare safety valve … the most rare treatment … the slippery slope will take hold if this goes ahead.” He suggested Bill Clinton or Eric Holder might be the next people “they go after” over “fast and furious”.
A number of precedents have been set: a US president has never been impeached twice, and in fact it would have been three times if the initial attempt in 2017 hadn’t failed. It has never been done against a president who is no longer in office or without a chief justice presiding.
This spectacle diverts attention away from the slew of Executive Orders made by Biden since he took office and his radical appointments at the Department of Justice, the State Department and the National Security Agency. With a $28 trillion debt pile and the social and economic fallout from the Covid schematic, should legislators not be vigorously pursuing their mandates to serve the American populace, instead of sitting through a witch hunt of a private citizen?
Although Trump has been impeached, that refers only to the indictment process, which required 51 per cent of the vote in the House. The articles of impeachment are then taken by the House Speaker to the Senate, where a trial is conducted. A conviction of a president would require the backing of 66 senators (a two-thirds majority), which has never happened before. The attempt failed in January 2020 and will not happen on this occasion either.
It can all be undone. But for that to happen, the ultimate revelations must be brought forward — and on a scale not seen since the excesses of Caligula and Nero in ancient Rome. The impeachment process may actually open the can of worms that people have been clawing and praying for since 2016. This is a Democratic party that has control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, and yet their behavior appears spiteful, insecure and neurotic. This process is about discovering high crimes and misdemeanors — but whose skeletons will it pull out of the closet? And what better forum to discuss Ukraine, FISA and many other matters that have been kept from public gaze by the corporate liberal media. Strategically, this attack on Trump may be his best defense. In the Tom Clancy novel Hunt for Red October, the “bad” submarine commander launches a torpedo against the “good guys” that circles back and destroys his own vessel.
Additionally, this process will potentially be recast against subsequent revelations and acknowledgement that the election process was fraudulently reached by way of foreign interference through technology hacks. In that sense, it has the potential to backfire on the Democrats with lethal force.
Somewhat cryptically, and in keeping with the maritime theme, defense counsel for Trump, David Schoen ended his presentation on Day One with a wordy poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, called The Launching. The words are worth paying attention to, as they allude to something pivotal and large-scale, whatever that might be.
The six Republicans who voted with Dems were Mitt Romney, Bill Cassidy, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Pat Toomey.
Congress currently has an approval rating of 18 per cent, according to Gallup, down from 25 per cent in June. Their rating at the end of this month will be indicative of the public’s belief in the impeachment process — although polls should be taken with a pinch of salt these days.
General Michael Flynn, a guest on The Right Side with Doug Billings earlier this month, said: “We have to accept the situation as it is, and now we have to do something about it.” He noted that if the Democrats do try to impeach Trump, then they will have to call him “Mr. President”, because “you can only impeach a sitting president”.
The spectacle underway will undoubtedly draw attention to Mike Lindell’s documentary — Absolute Proof — which lays out key evidence supporting the proposition that the election was stolen using compromised voting software.
Following Wednesday’s proceedings, House Managers were obliged to withdraw evidence against Trump after Senator Mike Lee said it was inaccurate. David Cicilline claimed that Trump had asked Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville to “make further objections” to Biden’s electors as Senator Lee “stood by” on January 6.
“Statements attributed to me moments ago by the impeachment managers, statements relating to the contents of the conversations between phone calls involving Trump and Senator Tuberville, were not made by me, were not accurate,” said Lee.
Eric Swalwell was also caught using a photoshopped tweet during the trial on Wednesday.
We can expect more muddy waters at the DC Swamp during Day Three.