Why Republicans Don't Want Witnesses in Trump's Impeachment
We Find You Guilty
I was really hoping that I would see our government in action during the Senate trial. I was too young to really understand the impeachment proceedings of Richard Nixon, but I understood why he was being impeached for trying to get information on the Democrats in order to fix an election. I did not understand why Bill Clinton was being impeached for having consensual sex. Then I learned that he was impeached because he had testified in front of Congress that he didn't have a sexual affair and that it was a crime to lie to them.
Richard Nixon chose to resign before he could go through the whole impeachment process, but he is still considered to be impeached in most people's eyes. Donald Trump was impeached because he refused to provide the House portion of Congress evidence that would exonerate him. He let them impeach him on the evidence presented by witnesses who only had second-hand knowledge of the phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.
Perhaps Trump didn't realize this would be on his record for life because he knew the Senate would exonerate him. But that only meant that he wouldn't be removed from office. Now I may be jumping the gun, but long before the Senate trial began, Mitch McConnell has openly stated that they are not going to remove Trump from office.
The Plea Deal
Imagine you had a hearing and you chose not to call any witnesses on your behalf because you knew you were innocent. The prosecution presents witnesses that weren't even at the scene of whatever you are being accused of, but they heard from other people close to you that you had done what you are being accused of. You are found guilty and now you have to have a trial to determine how you will be punished.
Your attorney says not to worry about calling any witnesses to prove you are innocent, you will not do any jail time. You say that you want witnesses to prove you are innocent but your lawyer tells you if you call your witnesses they may say something that will get you jail time. So you let the charge stay on your record. You have basically made a plea deal.
This happens to members of the general public all the time, it's just a different process for us. You are charged with a crime and are presumed guilty until you prove your innocence. I say that because you are held in jail until you appear in court or you pay bail to be released with the understanding that you must come to court when ordered.
You then go to trial and are determined guilty or innocent either by a judge or a jury. If found guilty by a judge, you are also sentenced by that judge, usually at that time. If found guilty by a jury, you have a sentencing hearing and the judge determines the sentence based on what witnesses say about your character. You can also enter a plea deal in which you admit guilt in order to receive a reduced sentence or no sentence without hearing any evidence against you.
Trump's Plea Deal Features No Witnesses
So the Senate Republicans basically gave Trump a plea deal. The process to impeach a president is not the same as what a regular citizen would go through in a real trial case, but this was as close to a plea deal as he could get. The Republicans assured him they would call no more witnesses and allow no more documents, and I believe there can only be one explanation.
He has none to exonerate him. An innocent person who had witnesses in the room and on the call would be screaming for those people to testify on his behalf. Instead, he has chosen to have those people refuse to testify and will fight any subpoena that orders them to testify. That is the ultimate sign of guilt.
The Republicans want to call two main people who were not present when this call went down. Hunter Biden and the whistleblower. They also have hinted at Joe Biden as well. The whistleblower was not in the room or on the call. That person repeated what someone had told them about the call.
This is the same position Linda Tripp was in during the Clinton impeachment. She repeated what Monica Lewinsky told her about her affair with Clinton. Tripp chose to become a public whistleblower. The whistleblower in the Trump case fears revealing their identity could cost them their life. This is no different from people who are put in witness protection or the people who call in to anonymous tip lines to report crimes. They don't always have first hand knowledge but someone involved in a crime may have told them something. They just put the police or prosecutors on the right path to finding the criminals.
Putting the Bidens on Trial
While the Republicans resisted having witnesses called because they said they already had enough evidence, they spent a lot of time presenting evidence against the Bidens. That was a very underhanded move but it worked because it allowed the Republicans to put the Bidens on trial to Trump's base.
I can understand that there may have been something strange about how Hunter Biden got the position with Burisma and maybe it needs to be investigated, but this was not the place for it. This investigation should have or could have been done by our government. Oh wait, it was investigated by our government while Joe Biden was Vice President.
That's the whole point about this trial. All Donald Trump had to do was have the government investigate the Bidens, not ask the Ukrainian president or have Rudy Giuliani to do it. Rudy is a private citizen. Maybe he could have assisted the government, maybe not. I don't know how that works, but he should not have been the person going directly to President Zelensky asking for information on the Bidens.
Quid Pro Quo
The Republicans argue that there is nothing wrong with quid pro quo and that it happens all the time. They are exactly right. The difference in this case though is it is usually done through government channels based on U.S. policy. In other words, we will give your country something, but you have to give our country something in return.
Trump decided that he would withhold aid to get information that would help him personally against Joe Biden. What he wanted in return for the aid did not benefit the country or U.S. policy. According to testimony given in the House hearings, he didn't really care if they found anything, he just wanted it announced that they were going to investigate. Why does this seem so unimportant?
Discrediting His Opponents
Well, look at Trump's past. He won the last election by putting out the announcement about Hilary Clinton's emails being investigated. This really hurt her campaign as voters questioned her honesty. He tried the same thing during Barack Obama's re-election campaign by claiming he was not born in the United States and repeatedly made this claim throughout his second term. He never investigated for himself, he just wanted it out there in order to discredit him.
This is the same tactic he is using against Joe Biden. He doesn't care if they find anything wrong that was done. He just needs his base to think something was wrong. He also had his lawyers use the Senate trial to put out this information in order to raise doubt in Biden's supporters.
Trump is a master of deception. He is able to deflect all of the attention of his wrongdoing onto another totally irrelevant subject. He is like a little kid when he gets caught. His biggest excuse is "Obama did it." In fact, his whole presidency has been based on what Obama did. He knows that Biden has the support of Obama's voters and they won two elections overwhelmingly and that is his biggest fear.
Removing a President from Office
This is the ultimate decision the Senate has to make. Does the president's actions require him to be removed from office. According to his lawyers, that would be going against the will of the people since he was duly elected by the people. Well this is a lame argument because all of the presidents were duly elected except for the few vice presidents who were elevated due to the death of a president.
The only other exception was when Gerald Ford took office following President Nixon's resignation because he knew he was going to be impeached. It shouldn't matter if this is an election year or not, but since this president is trying to use foreign help to influence our election, that makes it that much more imperative that he be removed.
That is not the main threat though. The fact that he is covering up his actions by blocking testimony from witnesses and documents is much worse than his personal investigation into the Bidens. The public doesn't need witnesses to be convinced that he has something to hide. As I stated earlier, an innocent man would not block the people who could prove his innocence from testifying in the hearing or the trial.
This is the problem the Senate faces. You can say that his phone call was wrong but didn't meet the requirement to be removed from office, but his obstruction of justice does. No one is above the law.
- Linda Tripp Secretly Tapes Monica Lewinsky
- Which other US presidents have been impeached? | US news | The Guardian
Donald Trump joins a small club as only the third president in US history to be impeached – with one near-miss