70% of Americans want a fair trial in the Senate with witnesses and documents, but neither Republican leader Mitch McConnell nor President Donald Trump have promised a full and fair trial in the Senate. Republicans alleged that the House procedures were unfair, but when given the opportunity to conduct a fair trial they refuse to do so. The American people expect the President to defend himself against the allegations by producing the relevant documents and witnesses to the alleged misconduct.
On the evening of Tuesday, December 17, thousands of people in Los Angeles gathered at City Hall to demand that the House impeach President Trump and that the Senate conduct a fair trial. In over 600 cities across the country, people came out to support impeachment and to demand a full and fair trial. The American people will not tolerate a sham or show trial.
The President stands accused of attempting to undermine our democracy by asking a foreign leader to announce an investigation into his political opponent. He then refused to produce the witnesses and documents that would prove his guilt. We will not allow our nation to devolve into a dictatorship where the President is free to do whatever he wants without oversight or accountability.
We live in a Constitutional democracy. To preserve our democracy we must defend the Constitution. The Constitution provides for our system of checks and balances. Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives has the sole power to impeach the President. The President has the duty to comply with Congressional subpoenas. He is not above the law.
Our democracy depends upon the President's respect for the Constitution and the separation of powers. A President who refuses to cooperate with a Constitutionally mandated Congressional Inquiry is unfit to hold office.
The President must state a legal objection when withholding documents and witnesses from Congress. The President has made no legally cognizable objection to Congress’s oversight authority. As such, it must be presumed that he is standing on the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. While this may be a valid objection to criminal prosecution, it is not tolerable for any public official to refuse to cooperate with an investigation just because doing so would incriminate him, at least not if that person wants to keep his job. A President who refuses to obey Congressional subpoenas must be removed.
A President who refuses to submit to Congressional oversight is a threat to our democracy. President Trump has refused to produce any documents or witnesses in response to Congressional subpoenas. Anyone who stands accused of misconduct yet refuses to produce the documents and witnesses demanded by Congress cannot be President. Our democracy depends upon the President's respect for the Constitution and the separation of powers. A President who refuses to cooperate with a Constitutionally mandated Congressional Inquiry is unfit to hold office.
If President Trump did nothing wrong then he should have nothing to hide. The trial in the Senate is a formal proceeding presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. If the Republicans move to dismiss the case before any evidence is presented, Americans will see that as a sham proceeding designed to protect a guilty President who is unable to defend himself.
It is more likely that the prosecution will be allowed to present the evidence before the Republicans can move to dismiss the case. After the evidence is presented it will be more difficult to move to dismiss without presenting exculpatory evidence. The Republicans will not be able to just leave the evidence hanging before the American people without marshaling a defense.
This is where the ongoing obstruction of Congress presents a problem for the Republicans. They will need to present evidence to refute the allegations and not just diversions that fail to address the relevant facts. It will not be as easy to obfuscate and misdirect the American public at the trial where the Chief Justice reads written questions as it was for Republicans during the hearings in the House.
The trial is a formal proceeding in the solemn tradition of the Senate. I am sure that Chief Justice John Roberts does not want to preside over a show trial. These are serious charges and the Chief Justice represents the third branch of government in our system of checks and balances. As Chief Justice, he voted to uphold Obamacare which all but killed Trump’s attempt to overturn the law. I expect him to take his role seriously and to preside in an unbiased manner.
The pertinent facts go to Trump’s conduct and motivations, not the Bidens. The issue is whether the President abused his power in an effort to influence the election. Whether or not the Bidens did anything wrong is not the question, because the issue goes to Trump’s state of mind and not the Bidens’ guilt or innocence. The fact that Trump targeted his political rival, however, is an important fact.
There is no need to ask a foreign leader to announce an investigation against one’s political rival. There are proper channels to go through to conduct a joint investigation and the suggested investigation has no connection to the military aid. President Trump’s only reason for asking President Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation against his political rival is to influence the election. There is no other motive reasonably supported by the evidence.
Adam Schiff could probably make quick work of any unsubstantiated allegations against the Bidens while also pointing out that Vladimir Putin is the source of those allegations. The allegations against the Bidens are actually Russian propaganda designed to deny Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, an election in which President Trump actively sought to benefit from Russian interference. High-level campaign staff attempted to arrange meetings with Russian agents and Trump even asked Russia to interfere in the election on national television.
The President did this again when he asked or suggested that other foreign countries investigate the Bidens, including China! The President’s conduct demonstrates a serious lack of judgment. It also makes it more likely that he engaged in similar conduct behind closed doors.
The facts of the case against President Trump are more difficult to deny in the setting of a trial in the Senate. The outcome is not 100’% certain. Once the evidence is presented it will be difficult to avoid presenting witnesses and documents, and there is uncertainty about what the witnesses will say. Otherwise, why not let them testify?
If Trump were certain their testimony would be favorable to him he would let them testify. Similarly, if the President believed the documents would help his case he would simply turn them over. Once witnesses are called anything can happen.
It’s unlikely that Chief Justice Roberts will agree to preside over a one-sided trial. If the Republicans call witnesses, the Democrats will be allowed witnesses, too. While the Republicans are in control and we need a two-thirds vote to remove the President from office, the outlook for defending this President before the American people is not rosy and the outcome of the trial is not guaranteed.