ABOVE: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Vice President Mike Pence (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
On Wednesday, December 18th one of the most historically significant events in American history occurred, which just so also happened to be one of the saddest moments for our country and on the world stage. For only the third time in the history of the United States of America, a sitting U.S. President has been impeached.
Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, became only the third president in history to be formally impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.
In charging the president with “high crimes and misdemeanors” in connection with a Ukraine pressure campaign, the majority in the House of Representative voted to impeach Trump on two articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Now the case has been sent to the U.S. Senate for a historic trial that is expected to take place in early 2020.
As was to be expected prior to the historic votes on the two articles of impeachment, the votes were deeply partisan, but not entirely. Relative to the article of impeachment regarding Trump’s alleged abuse of power in using the influence of his office to pressure the Ukrainian government to provide ammunition against his most powerful political rivals, two Democrats sided with all the Republicans in voting against it. The vote tally was 230 to 197. As it relates to the article of impeachment concerning the obstruction of Congress charge, another Democrat joined in with the Republicans in opposition, making that vote tally 229 to 198.
All in all, the necessary votes were there to formally impeach Trump and set the stage for what is sure to be an interesting Senate trial that the whole world will see.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer released a statement after the House approved two Articles of Impeachment against President Donald J. Trump, saying:
“The impeachment of a president is a solemn and serious moment for our country. At the start of a trial in the Senate, all senators will swear an oath to render impartial justice. The American people deserve that the Senate conduct a full and fair trial.”
U.S. Congressman Al Green (TX-09), who the Houston Forward Times has regularly reported was one of the very first members of Congress to call for Trump’s impeachment, stated:
“Colleagues and friends, I pray that the hands of history will record that when we were confronted with President Trump’s seminal abuse of power (via incitive, invidious racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and transphobia) we did the right thing and impeached him for it.”
Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris released a revealing statement about her role and responsibility as a Senator who will be participating in the upcoming impeachment trial and her view of how things are currently playing out in the Senate, saying:
“Sometime early in the New Year I will take an oath on the Senate floor to uphold the Constitution, review evidence and follow the facts wherever they lead, regardless of party or ideology. Every one of my colleagues will be required to do the same. As a former prosecutor, I understand the importance of holding powerful people accountable. I know that every trial requires fairness and truth. Having worked my whole life serving the people, I know that any trial that abandons the pursuit of truth cannot be considered fair or just. But the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, appears more interested in covering up the president’s misconduct than in pursuing truth and fairness. He is already trying to limit the impeachment trial by preventing witnesses from testifying, and he has all but announced a verdict. In doing so, he showed the American people that he has no intention of honoring his oath. Let’s be clear: Mr. McConnell doesn’t want a Senate trial. He wants a Senate cover-up. Fortunately, Mr. McConnell does not have the power to unilaterally undermine this trial. Every single senator will be empowered with an equal vote on how the trial will proceed. Though in just the past year, Mr. McConnell has used his position to unilaterally block legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act, lower the prices of prescription drugs and address the gun violence epidemic, he cannot wield the same authority in a Senate impeachment trial. In this trial, senators will be far more than jurors. Every one of us will vote to determine the rules for the trial, decide which witnesses testify and ultimately serve as both court and jury. Each of us will be called on to uphold our oath with every decision we make. We will all be held accountable by the American people if we refuse to discover the facts relevant to the articles of impeachment. The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, has made a reasonable request to hear from four additional witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the president’s misconduct and to review documents that shed light on why the administration initially decided to cut off military aid to Ukraine. We need to hear from Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, who admitted to Mr. Trump’s bribery scheme on live television, and from the former national security adviser, John Bolton, who has been shopping stories about Mr. Trump to book publishers instead of speaking with Congress. Every senator should want to hear from anyone who can speak directly to the president’s misconduct related to the articles of impeachment. Even Richard Nixon allowed the key figures behind the Watergate scandal to speak to Congress, and he eventually turned over incriminating portions of his Oval Office recordings to investigators. But Mr. Trump has stonewalled Congress and inhibited our ability to seek justice by demanding that those closest to the center of the Ukraine scandal stay silent. Senators must be allowed to subpoena relevant witnesses and submit questions to them directly. The Senate should not vote on any article of impeachment or consider a motion to dismiss the trial until we have reviewed the additional testimony and evidence that Mr. Schumer has requested. I have never been in a courtroom where the accused can unilaterally block witnesses from testifying or prohibit prosecutors from asking witnesses questions. No court would allow a trial to proceed this way, and neither should any member of the Senate. Ensuring the integrity of this trial is a solemn responsibility for every senator, with consequences that extend far beyond any one presidency. My colleagues and I have a duty to use our voice and our vote to insist on a fair trial, rooted in the pursuit of truth. We must demonstrate to the American people that in our system of justice all are equal under law, and that there are not two sets of rules, one for Donald Trump and another for everybody else. We must conduct the Senate impeachment trial in a way that is fair and that reflects impartial justice. History will judge the actions taken by the United States Senate at a time when our Constitution and the rule of law were at stake. I’ll be fighting for justice and accountability, and my colleagues should too.”
Because the Republicans control the majority in the Senate, it is highly unlikely that the 45 Democrats would get 20 out of the 53 Republicans to join with them to convict the President, assuming that all 45 Democrats and the 2 Independents actually voted to convict Trump. There are 100 members of the Senate and a 2/3 majority is needed to officially remove a President from office. Just because a President is impeached by the House of Representatives, they could still be acquitted by the Senate and continue to serve in the office, just like President Bill Clinton was able to do after being impeached by the Republican-controlled House in 1998.
Sen. Mitch McConnell is already trying to make this a quick and speedy trial and is not wanting to allow any concessions to Sen. Schumer or any Senate Democrats as it relates to the type of trial they are interested in seeing conducted.
In the meantime, Trump has declared that he does not “feel like he has been impeached” and is calling this a Democratic witch hunt that is politically-motivated. He is seeking to use this as political ammunition to motivate his base and gain traction going into 2020.
As it stands, this not only serves as a dark stain on America, but it has also forever tarnished the presidential legacy of Donald J. Trump, which is something that he, nor his supporters, will ever be able to erase from the annals of American history.