Yesterday, the United States Senate voted 51-49 to end the Democrats’ attempt to drag the president’s impeachment trial on indefinitely. The House managers demanded that the Senate do what they, the House, had refused to do: call additional witnesses. After alleging that they had proven their case with overwhelming evidence—beyond any doubt—they still needed to subpoena additional persons to perpetuate their never-ending war against the president, presumably because they felt that their case wasn’t as airtight as advertised.
I was pleasantly surprised that Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined their fellow Republicans to stop this charade and move the country forward [EDIT: See How Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham Helped Convince Senate Against Calling Additional Witnesses]. I was not surprised that Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) voted with the Democrats to hear more witnesses. Whether the latter two are posturing for the press or for their electoral prospects (unlikely in Romney’s case), it’s a shame they couldn’t see clearly enough that this is a waste of time.
As the president’s team convincingly argued, it is not the Senate’s responsibility to do the House’s job for them. The House had all the time they needed to subpoena witnesses, but they were in too much a hurry to play Santa Claus than to follow the model of previous impeachment proceedings. They wouldn’t allow the president’s counsel or the GOP minority to present witnesses, they prevented the president’s counsel from cross-examining the witnesses they produced, and they refused to allow the courts to settle questions of Executive Privilege. Okay, they were clearly more interested in making a headline than to produce a quality product, but they had gall to accuse senators of rushing matters, being unfair, and engaging in a cover-up because they wouldn’t shore up the House’s messy work. I literally laughed at Schiff’s whining that the Senate was rushing matters and being unfair when he was pedal-to-the-metal and couldn’t care less about fairness when he was in the saddle.
Moreover, if the Senate had caved to the House’s unreasonable demands, it would have set a terrible precedent. Partisan majorities from now on could bypass investigative responsibilities and throw them onto the Senate. All they would need to do is hold perfunctory hearings, vote for impeachment, and expect the Senate to do all the investigating. That, in turn, would subject future presidents, regardless of party, to impeachment after impeachment and would bog the Senate down with endless investigations which in turn would cripple their ability to address the real needs of the country. This is why impeachments should be rare and reserved to matters the Constitution prescribes: high crimes and misdemeanors (treason, bribery or anything on par with them). Matters like perfidy, maladministration, policy disagreements, etc., should be given to the electorate for their consideration. Bring your case to the People and let them decide. Keep your hands off the eject button unless something extremely serious is at hand.
This impeachment proceeding has been a dog and pony show from the beginning. Democrats have been plotting something akin to this prior to President Trump’s inauguration. This is clearly evident to everybody not blinded by partisan rage. The fact that they did not allow the GOP to present one witness is all the proof one needs to see that this is a sham. The “facts” they presented were all second-third hand and when pressed, their witnesses had to admit that they heard nothing direct from the president to pressure Ukraine to conduct criminal investigations into the Bidens in exchange for military aid. And even if the president engaged in that kind of pressure, there is nothing either illegal or impeachable in that. It may be something that reasonable persons find odious, but again, that’s a campaign issue, not a legal one. One can’t help wondering if all this is simply payback for Clinton’s impeachment. Whatever the reason, there are a lot of babies in Washington D.C. who are pretending to run the country. But since they apparently represent their districts, they must have been elected by babies. Thankfully, these babies have been given the timeout that they deserve.