With a 57-43 Senate impeachment trial vote, the House Democrats failed to convict Donald Trump. A result that was guaranteed at the start of all of this. The end of a political trial that failed to cite to a single statutory violation (those “high crimes or misdemeanors”) and presided over by a Democrat who voted to convict.
A Third Act: The House Democrats Cave
House Democrats opened the impeachment trial with charges that Trump “incited a violent insurrection” and accusations that Trump had “blood on his hands.” This was, according to Representative Ted Lieu and others, “one of the darkest chapters in United States history.”
An “insurrection” so serious that House Democrats demanded they be allowed to call witnesses at the trial. The Senate approved this request 55-45. An “insurrection” so threatening to our democracy that House Democrats suddenly changed their minds and decided not to call witnesses. They received all the power they requested and didn’t want it after all. They got to their destination, didn’t like the view, and turned around and drove home. Remarkable.
A question remains, however. Were House Democrats ordered to change course?
For all the promises there would be a trial on the facts – a process that typically involves witness testimony – this turned into hours of speeches and presentations with no live witness testimony. It then devolved into grievances that the Trump defense team was racist for observing that Democrats had called for “violence” themselves, and closed with appeals to the corrupt Senate to uphold the sanctity of the Institution. The party pleading for justice tried to improperly introduce evidence in their closing argument. The party of separation of church and state even cited Exodus in making their final push for conviction.
It didn’t work.
How do we respond to a political trial?
Seven Republicans voted with the Democrats. Again, this was no surprise. There exists an urge among some conservatives to convict for conduct not even alleged in the House indictment. Many of these same conservatives appealing for conviction fell for the Trump/Russia hoax. Take from that what you will.
In making their case against Trump, they appealed to concepts of abuse of power and justice. There are counter-arguments that have been made ad nauseam and I won’t repeat them here.
Instead I’ll focus on the politics of this all. Every impeachment is a political trial to some extent, but this impeachment stands out. Not just because Trump isn’t in office, or because of their long record of false allegations against Trump (starting with Trump/Russia). But because Democrats are impeaching Trump for alleged conduct that they, by their own standards, are guilty of: challenging an election, supporting protests in government buildings, calling for violence, etc.
The point of the video is to show that Democrats weren’t concerned about accountability or justice. Rather, this is a prosecution that gives their party immunity while indicting their political opponents.
This leads us to a question of adjudication. Do we judge the impeachment case by the standard Democrats request, or the standard Democrats set?
To that I provide an answer: political trials can be dismissed for political reasons.
Anyway, that’s it. It’s all over. Maybe Congress can get some actual work done for the American people.