The Capitol

Scoot: The impeachment trial of President Trump – a display of hypocrisy!

January 21, 2020 - 12:29 pm

It is very unlikely that the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump will lead to his removal from office – but the stigma of joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as the only other presidents to be impeached will forever be part of the legacy of President Trump.

President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and President Bill Clinton in1998 were both impeached by the House, but both were acquitted by the Senate and not removed from office. That appears to be the destiny of President Donald Trump.

The rules for the impeachment trial of President Trump set up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have already sparked great controversy. One of the big questions is whether the trial should allow witnesses. Ken Starr, who was the top prosecutor in the impeachment trial of President Clinton and is one of President Trump’s top defense attorneys, supported the idea of having numerous witnesses during the Clinton trial; but he is fighting to allow no witnesses in the Trump trial.

Much has been made of the hypocrisy of President Trump and Republicans working to block witnesses and the introduction of the evidence during the Senate trial. Starr’s position on witnesses is the polar opposite of what he thought was fair during the trial of Bill Clinton.

The tragic reality is that neither side wants the truth. Both sides want their predetermined guilt or innocence of President Trump to prevail. But the battle to prevent witnesses from testifying naturally raises suspicion that President Trump has something to hide regarding the “perfect” call he had with the president of Ukraine. The withholding of information equally raises the question about whether President Trump has something to hide.

The impeachment trial of President Trump puts political tribalism and hypocrisy in the national spotlight. The trial is likely to be nothing more than a public spectacle with voters cheering for their side without demanding the truth.

The cost of the impeachment trial of President Trump to taxpayers cannot logically be part of the debate since the cost of the impeachment trial of President Clinton was supported by many who would call the Trump trial a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

The calling of witnesses is another point of hypocrisy because there was support for numerous witnesses to testify against Clinton.

For those who might argue that what President Trump is accused of doing is not a “crime.” Impeachment of a president is not based on committing a crime. In 1868, President Andrew Johnson was charged with violating the Tenure of Office Act when he removed the secretary of war from office. Removing someone from office is not legally a “crime” – but it did fall under the requirement of “high crimes and misdemeanors” set forth by the Constitution.

The showmanship surrounding the circus-like atmosphere of the trial will supersede the historical significance of what America is witnessing.

Even the start time of 1:00pm (ET) suggests a motive of the proceedings moving into late night hours when voters will be distracted with the routines of their daily lives.

Presidents should not be above the law, and the idea that a sitting president used the power of his office to advance his chances of being re-elected is something no American citizen should support. But in these harshly divided political times, the judgment of a president will not be based on truth – judgment will be based which side did the best job of playing the game of politics.

The impeachment trial of President Trump is more a recreational exercise than it is a quest for the truth.

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