In this post, “Nancy And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Impeachment “—could it really have just been 12 days ago?—I wrote in part,
Nancy Pelosi came right out and said that her objective in impeaching Trump this time was to stop him from running again. That’s not what the Founders designed impeachment for. She’s admitting that this Congress and her party regard impeachment as just one more political stunt, like ripping up the State of the Union message, boycotting the inauguration, or nominating Kamala Harris. Worse, unless the Senate agrees to rush through a trial the way Pelosi rushed through the impeachment, Trump will already be out of office and a private citizen before he can be convicted—which he wouldn’t be anyway. The Constitution speaks of impeachment and the Senate trial as a means of removing a President, not as a device to say “I hate you! Ooooh, I hate you to pieces!” to an ex-President.
Thus it’s a joke. The first impeachment was a dud. Trump hasn’t been embarrassed, but Congress and the news media have been embarrassed and exposed as fools.
Not that they hadn’t been exposed as fools already.
But “Wait!”—as they say on infomercials–“There’s more!” And it only gets worse:
1. Since the impeachment vote in the House, further investigation of the attack on the Capitol and its time-line has shown that many of the participants had planned to storm the building in advance, in fact had begun preparations before the President addressed the protesters, and had begun to take action while the President was speaking on January 6. Thus the House’s impeachment theory that the President had incited a riot by providing a lit match to an obvious powder-keg is unsustainable n the facts: the powder had already been lit. Nor do the facts support the argument that the President intended to spark a riot, since the words of his speech never suggested violence or alluded to it.
2. Of course, if the House had not been rushing to complete its spite impeachment before Joe Biden’s Inauguration, some or all of this might have been addressed, perhaps allowing cooler heads—nah, there are no cooler heads among House Democrats, as a statistically unlikely as that is. Never mind. But Pelosi and her own insurrectionists decided to skip due process in Bogus Impeachment, The Sequel. No defense was permitted, not witnesses were called. This time, though Professor Turley had again articulated why the impeachment theory was legal and constitutional nonsense, he wasn’t permitted to explain it to the members and the public.
3. It was as unethically and irresponsibly a partisan stunt as Washington, D.C. has ever seen, which is quite an accomplishment, but a double handful of NeverTrump Republicans tried to grandstand by joining the sham. They claimed to be doing so on principle, which is hilarious on its face: a principled breach of Due Process, Constitutional standards and reality, based on emotion. Rep. Liz Cheney, the most prominent of the breakaway GOP group, has seen the backlash from constituents in Wyoming pretty much guarantee the end of her once promising political career. Good. Her vote for impeachment was irresponsible.
4. Cheney apparently couldn’t figure out the distinction between an official action to remove her party’s President and symbolic disapproval of his behavior, such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s resignation in protest. Ethics Alarms also criticized Trump’s personal public involvement in the controversy over 2020 election irregularities as reckless and dangerous. He should have been rebuked; if I had been in his Cabinet, I might have resigned too. I wish some high-level Administration officials had resigned over some of the President’s earlier tantrums and excesses. But being a jerk is not a high crime or misdemeanor.
5.Why some Republicans, even Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, thought for a millisecond that it would benefit them or the party to try to convict the no-longer-President in a Senate trial is a mystery to me…or maybe not; maybe they really are that stupid. Cheney’s fall, however, seems to have gotten their attention.
The Hill tells us:
Republicans say the chances that former President Trump will be convicted in an impeachment trial are plummeting … Only five or six Republican senators at the most seem likely to vote for impeachment, far fewer than the number needed, GOP sources say.… They have observed the angry response to House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who is facing calls to resign from the House GOP leadership team after voting last week to impeach Trump.
Those five or six, if it is that many (I doubt it), will be planning on retiring, I assume. Rasmussen, the only pollster who was close to correct in tracking the election results, reports that Trump’s approval ration is at an all time high, at 51%, and that’s after a second impeachment and his embarrassing post-defeat histrionics. Presidents with positive approval ratings don’t get convicted in the Senate; so far in out history, neither do those who are unpopular. The Senate vote won’t convict Trump unless they use mail-in ballots and have them counted in Detroit.
6. The Glenn Reynolds long-running line about the Democrats, “All they have to do is not act crazy, and they can’t even do that!,” now applies to Republicans. The Democrats, against all predictions (though not mine) nearly lost the House in November, even while their Presidential candidate was winning. Gee, I wonder why? Republicans got hammered in the Congressional elections after impeaching Clinton, and they had a valid case. Democrats apparently didn’t read George Santayana, and with this second, even worse impeachment, its clear they haven’t read him yet. Republicans should be able to mount a “red wave” in two years, but alienating Trump voters is not the way to do it.
The ethics passwords are “incompetence” and “arrogance.”
7. Professor emeritus at Harvard Law School Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Now that Donald Trump is a private citizen, the Senate should dismiss the article of impeachment against him for lack of jurisdiction.” Should? They have to. There is no plausible argument that a process described in the Constitution as applicable only to a President can be used against a private citizen.
Yesterday, we learned that Chief Justice Roberts “declined” to preside over the Senate trial, if it occurs. Well if the trial were constitutional, he couldn’t decline: he has to be there. If this doesn’t signal that SCOTUS is ready and waiting to declare the whole farce a kangaroo court with no force or validity, I don’t know what would. As Ann Althouse wrote yesterday of Roberts’ decision,
I think it means John Roberts arrived at the view that there was no occasion for the Chief Justice to preside, and therefore he has a duty to refrain from participating. That’s not ducking and it’s not skipping. When he presides, it’s because he must, and when he refrains, it’s because he must. It’s based on an interpretation of law.
I think so too. Meanwhile, ancient, hyper-partisan Democratic Senator Pat Leahy is going to serve as the “judge.” Oh, yes, that looks fair.
This impeachment fiasco is turning into a “who can act crazier” competition between the two parties.
8. Dershowitz also wrote,
…. Beyond the constitution, there are strong policy and historical reasons an incoming administration shouldn’t seek recriminations against its predecessor.”
Of course. Ethics Alarms has discussed this many times. The Democrats just don’t give a damn. (But it has been President Trump who has undermined vital “norms” of democracy.…)
9. Jonathan Turley, who agrees with Dershowitz that the trial is unconstitutional, suggests:
[Trump] must first decide whether he wants to sit for trial at all. He can legitimately argue that a private citizen cannot be impeached and the Senate cannot remove a person from office who has already left.… Trump can treat the proceeding as an extra-constitutional act because he is no longer subject to removal. If the Senate were to convict, he would have standing to challenge any disqualification from future federal offices.
Except that the Senate won’t convict; Turley is giving us classroom hypotheticals. I don’t understand why the trial should or would be allowed to proceed at all.
10. Perhaps Ethics Alarms needs a code or nickname for this point, as I feel I will get tired of spelling it out very quickly. President Biden mouthed comforting words about wanting to end division and encourage unity, but his action have pointed in the opposite direction repeatedly in less than a week in office. Not calling a halt to the impeachment fiasco will be another example, and one of signature significance.