Editor, The Messenger:

The Impeachment of Trump will soon begin. Commentators have debated whether or not Impeachment is a legal matter, a political matter or both. In actuality, it is both. The relevant language of the Constitution smacks of criminal behavior (“Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”). What it fails to state is the relevant standards on which the alleged culpable behavior is to be judged beyond requiring the Senators to take an oath or affirmation (Article I, section 3, clause 6).

In addition, pursuant to Senate Rule XXV of the Senate Rules in Impeachment Trials provides: ”I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of ____, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.” In other words, Senators are left to their own choice of standards by which to judge Trump’s culpability.

We can learn much from the standards applied by Horowitz IG report. People will recall that text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page which voiced utter distain for Trump and those who would vote for him. In addition, the texts implicated Andrew Cable in language suggesting that McCabe held a “trump card” that would deny Trump the Presidency. Yet, the IC Report found that such anti-Trump animus did not influence any decisions made although these individuals were intimately involved in investigatory decisions or activities involving Trump. Why? Because the standards applied by Horowitz, when it came to judging the legitimacy of such decisions or activities, gave no credence to such texts in the absence of direct evidence of such animus (such as an admission against interest) or inexplicable acts such as the altering of documents. In other words, Horowitz gave these individuals the benefit of every doubt.

Even Mueller found no crimes had been committed by Trump even though he detailed ten arguably obstructive acts. Why? Because (1) the crime of obstruction requires specific elements beyond just obstructive acts themselves, and (2) obstruction requires a corrupt intent. In Mueller’s case, Trump’s arguably was exercising his executive prerogatives when he took the actions that he even though they were arguably obstructive.

The smoking gun for Adam Schiff and the other Democrats is the fact that Trump spoke to the Ukrainians about Hunter and Joe Biden only after Biden entered the race. Their Impeachment of Trump is predicated on their assumed corrupt act by Trump motivated by his desire to tar Biden as corrupt when it came to the general election. This was their unquestioned assumption even though (1) Trump’s use of the words “we” not “I” in connection with asking for the favor, (2) Trump’s statement as to the difficult time that country had just experience (arguably a reference to the weight of the Mueller investigation on the country and his Presidency), (3) his reluctance when it comes to foreign aid in general, and (4) his voiced concern for corruption of Ukrainian public officials.

A just result in the question of Trump’s impeachment would be his acquittal in the absence of direct proof of his corrupt intent. Unfortunately, Senators left to their own judgment as to which standards should be applied will produce a politically based verdict only. It would be in the country’s best interest if some Democrats would defy their party and vote for acquittal in the interest of the country. Otherwise, Impeachment could easily become a political bludgeon to be used on flimsiest of bases in the future.

John Keifer

Athens

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