Earlier today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced an agreement with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the Senate questioning phase of the impeachment trial that begins tomorrow.
Senator Schumer and McConnell have agreed to alternating back-and-forth questions from Republicans and Democrats over the course of two days totaling a maximum of sixteen hours. The alternative would have been 8 hours of questioning by Democrats followed by 8 hours of republican questions. Obviously, and curiously, McConnell and Schumer see a benefit to alternating back-and-forth over the two days.
Additionally, according to several media reports, McConnell took a ‘whip of the Senate’ regarding witness testimony and does not currently have enough republican votes to block the pre-planned House Managers’ unconstitutional scheme to call witnesses.
The appropriate constitutional position for the Senate to take would be that the House investigates; the House calls witnesses within their investigation; the House assembles articles of impeachment; and the Senate is the trier of fact from those articles.
Ergo if a witness was not included in the article assembly, that would be a defect of the House articles; incurable in the Senate. However, it appears there are enough republicans willing to establish a new extra-constitutional process whereby the House can assemble speculative supposition; avoid the executive branch using their lawful process to appeal to the judicial branch for opinion; and put the burden of witness testimony on the Senate.
How and why any senator would agree to establish this precedent is beyond my comprehension. Perhaps it would be a worthwhile endeavor to call, email or write our senators and ask them why they would even contemplate such an undertaking.
In the current quasi-constitutional House process, the Democrats refused to allow Republicans to call witnesses during their investigative phase. As a result the articles as assembled are completely one-sided and partisan. There are no republican witnesses in the evidence underpinning the article assembly. This was obviously done by design.
As a result a one-sided, Democrat only, witness group is structured in the articles. Now the same Democrats are demanding additional witnesses beyond those they called in the House. The witnesses they are demanding are from the executive branch; and blocking the executive from access to the judiciary explains why the Democrat plan has presented this end-run around the constitution. This was not a flaw in the article assembly, it was a feature.
I refuse to accept that Republican senators are stupid. Obviously they, like us, can see how and why the House used this process; yet they are willing to allow it. It makes no sense unless we accept there are GOP senators in alignment with the usurpation plans of the Democrats.
If the House Managers are successful in executing this scheme, the impeachment process will forever be severely subject to partisan manipulation. There will never be a republican president not subject to the impeachment whims of the House…. and this new standard of making the Senate a participatory investigative body instead of a trier of established House evidence. There’s no good answer why any member of the upper-chamber would permit such an abusive construct other than pure political power.
If I can make this argument understandable to you as readers, surely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could emphasize the gravity of this issue to his fellow colleagues in the Senate. Yet apparently he has not.
The inability of Senators, regardless of party, to articulate this simple and dangerous constitutional issue is the most alarming development in this entire impeachment process.
In the most general of terms, DC politicians do not understand the level of intelligent understanding held by most voters. Perhaps, as a final firewall against losing our constitutional republic, it would be helpful if we contacted with our senators and advised them we are aware of the issue.
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