Friday, February 07, 2020
Trump Not Acquitted In Connecticut
It’s all over but for the grinding of teeth – and the possibility down the road, if President Donald Trump is reelected to office, of yet another impeachment debacle.
“Trump Acquitted” a Hartford paper blared on its front page – to no one’s surprise. The impeachment indictment in the U.S. House, controlled by Democrats, and an acquittal in the U.S. Senate, controlled by Republicans, were both foregone conclusions because, though the trappings of the proceedings in both chambers are quasi-judicial, the process is entirely a political affair.
The charges hauled into the Senate by Adam Schiff, a Democrat impeachment manager from the House, were that Trump had 1) abused the powers of the presidency and 2) obstructed Congress by ordering members of his staff not to testify in a House impeachment proceeding. The second charge was so broad and amorphous that, had the president been convicted of obstruction of Congress in the Senate, the conviction would have prevented all future presidents from conducting business as usual in the executive office. Trump was hardly the first President, nor will he be the last, to guard the constitutional prerequisites of his office by refusing to allow his staff to present in public legitimately guarded information that could not be publicized without eroding presidential powers. The second charge was, be it noted, obstruction of Congress, not obstruction of justice.
The second charge itself “raises some interesting questions,” as the politicians say, none of which will be put to any of the members of Connecticut’s all-Democrat U.S. Congressional Delegation. Can the Democrat leader of the House be impeached on a charge of obstruction of Congress when he or she opposes legislative measures supported in the Republican Senate? Can a president be impeached for having obstructed Congress when he or she vetoes a piece of legislation approved by both chambers? No criminal activity was imputed by the House, and no criminal charges against Trump were referred by the House to the Senate.
The abuse of power charge was difficult to prosecute successfully for political reasons. The charge was that the President had abused his power by forcing the newly elected President of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of then Vice President Joe Biden, currently running for president on the Democrat ticket, for having accepted a questionable salary from a corrupt Ukranian natural gas producer, Burisma. It is difficult to demonstrate force had been applied when the President of Ukraine indicated he was unaware of a delay in aid until after the money awarded by Congress to Ukraine was disbursed.
During the House proceedings, Democrats seemed to be unaware that they were setting precedents for future impeachments. Were the House charges against Trump to be upheld in the Senate and the president to be removed from office months before a general election, would a future Democrat House be obliged to impeach newly installed Democrat President Joe Biden, assuming Biden’s presidential bid were to be successful, for having threatened the President of Ukraine that he and Obama would withhold military aid to the country until such time as a prosecutor investigating Burisma – and, not incidentally, the Vice President’s son -- were to be fired?
Connecticut’s two U.S Senators, Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, have not been asked such questions. Indeed, Murphy himself traveled to Ukraine and cautioned the as yet uncorrupted new President of the country, Volodymyr Zelensky, that "... he should not insert himself or his government into American politics. I cautioned him that complying with the demands of the President's campaign representatives to investigate a political rival of the President would gravely damage the U.S.-Ukraine relationship," according to a story in Politico by John Solomon.
Political columnists who write stories without mentioning the part played by the Bidens in Ukrainian corruption are setting themselves an impossible task -- comparable to writing an exhaustive study of the Elizabethan Age without mentioning Shakespeare. The thing cannot be done.
Speaking before the UConn School of Law, Murphy told the group, “I would hold a Democrat to the same standard” that Democrats in the House and Senate have applied to Trump. God willing, he may yet have a chance to test his moral resolve.
Under the hammer blows of extreme partisanship, the accepted meaning of words is grotesquely distorted. Blumenthal told NBC News Connecticut, “The ultimate verdict [of acquittal] is no vindication. It’s meaningless in terms of guilt or innocence,” This from a man who was for more than two decades the Attorney General of Connecticut.
The literal meaning of “acquit” is to be quit or free of a charge or obligation. Blumenthal has something else in mind. What he really meant to say to NBC is that formal Congressional acquittal on impeachment charges will not dissuade Democrats from their unrelenting attempts to remove Trump from office -- even after the 2020 November elections, should Trump be reelected.
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