Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Precedent Sustained

I was able to watch much of today's first day of the Second Trump Impeachment trial. Today was dedicated to debating the procedural question of whether or not the Senate has the right to try the impeachment of a former President. Remember that this is not a judicial question. Impeachment is explicitly a political trial. That's why the only penalties that can be imposed is removal from office and disqualification from future office. The Senate itself is the last word on the question. You can't appeal it to the Supreme Court because the Court doesn't address political questions.

Up first were the Managers from the House of Representatives, which used 90 of their 120 minutes in what I thought was a well-argued case, laying out the history of impeachment, the precedents, and the logic of why it makes no sense to give an official an "escape hatch" that would allow them to escape punishment by simply resigning, or in this case by committing their offenses before the Congress could realistically take action. they reserved 30 minutes for rebuttal.

Trumps' attorneys responded with a meandering mess of word salad that ignored precedents, appealed to emotion, simultaneously claimed that the feelings of the people who voted for Trump would be hurt and admitting on the record that Trump lost the election. (I wonder what Trump thought of his own attorneys admitting what everyone with two brain cells to rub together already knew.) It was, I think, and embarrassing performance, but what can you expect from these third-stringers arguing a procedural point that is so well-established that it shouldn't require four hours of debate to establish.

The Trump response was so disjointed jointed and confused that the House managers waived their rebuttal, ending the debate 30 minutes early, In effect, they said it wasn't worth trying to rebut such foolish arguments. So it went to a vote.

On the "test" procedural vote when the Articles of Impeachment were initially delivered to the Senate, the vote was 55-45; that is, five Republicans sided with the Democrats. This time, six Republicans had the courage to vote in favor of all practice and precedent, and the final vote to rule that yes, the Senate does have the right to try an impeachment of a President who is no longer in office was 56-41.

Of course it appears unlikely that there will be the 67 votes (including 17 Republicans) necessary to convict Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection and disqualifying him from every holding public office again. There are too many Republicans who are terrified of their own voters, and are sure that if they vote against Trump, they'll be "primaried" at best or possibly become the target of assassination by their own constituents. Some of them probably think they can somehow get Trumpist votes without Trump himself. I'm not that sure. I think The Orange One is effectively already running for President in 2024, and all of the Republicans who thought they could take take advantage of the Trumpists are in the position of someone riding a tiger and thinking that they're the ones in charge.

At least the Senate did not vote to overturn all precedent and create the "January exception" that would allow any public official with bad intentions to do anything they want, knowing that it would be impossible to touch them before the clock ran out. Assuming American democracy survives (which is going to be a near-run thing), we've dodged a procedural blow here, for now at least.
Tags: politics

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