Senate Impeachment Trial Is NOT a Trial
Yes, they call it a “trial.” But if you are of the opinion that the Senate impeachment is in any way, shape or form a trial in the judicial sense, you are badly mistaken. At its best, an impeachment trial is a political inquisition. At its worst, it is a political kangaroo court designed to overthrow a duly elected government. Or in the case of Trump’s second impeachment, preclude a return to the White House. Trump’s two impeachments are more like the kangaroo version.
In a court-of-law, there are all sorts of rules and procedures – safeguards – that are essential to a fair trial.
In a court of law, both the prosecution and defense carefully grill the jurors to ferret out any biases, prejudices or pre-conceived opinions. But in an impeachment trial, the jury – all United States senators – are extremely biased, prejudiced with firmly held pre-conceived notions.
In a courtroom trial, jurors are expected to know little or nothing about the case. Extensive pre-trial publicity is a problem when selecting jurors. And it often causes a case to move to a less publicly enflamed venue. Not only does an impeachment trial take place in an unavoidably enflamed political atmosphere with enormous publicity, the public response is also an actual component of the voting decision of the respective senator/jurors. A real trial drives out public passion as an untoward influence on jurors. That is why some juries are sequestered.
Public passion drives a Senate impeachment trial.
For example, when it comes to convicting a person of inciting a riot or insurrection, the intent of the defendant – as well as the words spoken – must be established. In the Senate trial, it will be only what the prosecutors say President Trump meant that counts. And how the public clamors.
One of the reasons that Democrats were so Hell-bent on launching this impeachment as late and as swiftly as they did – rather than to allow the courts to handle it as a criminal case after Trump left office– was the realization that no court-of-law would find Trump guilty of sedition based on what he said and the inability to establish “intent” beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court has wisely defended a broad range of speech as rightful under the First Amendment – even when unpopular.
Bernie Sanders has often referred to his movement as a revolution – by definition an extralegal attempt to overthrow the government. Is he guilty of sedition?
In a court-of-law, there are rules-of-evidence – determining what can be presented and what cannot.
A court-of-law does not allow opinions and hearsay. In an impeachment trial, opinions and hearsay compose the primary arguments.
A traditional trial MUST be presided over by an allegedly impartial judge.
In past impeachment trials of presidents, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court did that. But that is not mandatory. In fact, that will not happen in Trump’s second impeachment. Chief Justice John Roberts has recused himself – assumably since the very constitutionality of a post-presidency impeachment trial may wind up in the Supreme court.
Democrat Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Senate president pro tempore, will preside over Trump’s impeachment trial. He is one of the most stridently partisan members of the Senate. An unbridled Trump critic. Ponder that. The referee for the impeachment trial – the person calling all the plays — will be an ardent advocate of conviction – a staunch political enemy of the defendant.
Court trials have a long list of rules regarding the presentation of evidence – including requirements to share evidence by prosecutors before the trail. Grand juries often hear evidence from prosecutors before an indictment is rendered.
There is no such requirement or protection in an impeachment trial.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the House Democrats to impeach Trump a second time without a scintilla of testimony presented – no witnesses and no opportunity for the defendant to make a case. It was a rush-to-judgment by vigilante action in a kangaroo court – something not seen since southern Democrats were doing it to Black Americans in the days of de jure segregation.
Unless there are some dramatic new developments, Trump’s second impeachment will turn out the same as the first – acquittal. No matter how much Democrats and the out-of-control press try to put some justification into this dead horse, it is still a disservice to the nation. That makes it a crassly political divisive action and an utter waste of time. It is time to put this kangaroo out to pasture.
So, there ‘tis.