The Senate has been conducting its impeachment trial of former President Trump this week.
If there is one word I would use to describe the proceeding it would be "IRRELEVANT".
It all seems to be a gigantic waste of time and money when our federal government is short on both right now. We certainly don't have much money and Congress hasn't been able to find the time to pass Covid relief and other measures that would be important for the public.
It is important to remember that Impeachment was put in the Constitution specifically to remove the President, Vice President and any civil officers of the United States (e.g. judges) if it was found that they had somehow misused the office.
The Constitutional language of Article 2, Section 4 is very clear that removal is the sole reason for an impeachment.
Article 2, Section 4
The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
It follows that if a President is no longer in office there is no basis for a conviction for Impeachment.
The Democrats have argued that this is not correct and it is necessary to have the ability to impeach and convict a President of other civil officer even after they leave office because there would otherwise be no check on bad behavior in the last weeks or days of their term.
Someone actually suggested that Impeachment was necessary because a President could commit murder or take millions of dollars in bribes in the waning days of a term and would escape punishment if a former President could not be tried
This ignores the plain reading of the Constitution.
Note that the Constitution states that judgment in cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than removal of office and disqualification to hold future office. This clearly shows that judgment must include removal from office. Disqualification to hold future office can be added as an additional penalty. However, that is not a standalone judgment. If it was, the sentence below would have been written with an "OR" rather than "AND".
Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried the Chief Justice shall preside; And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Judgement in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgement and Punishment, according to Law.
It is also clear that the President is subject to the normal rules of indictment, trial and judgment for any offenses undertaken while they are in office. Removal from office by impeachment does not provide immunity under the law for any criminal offenses that have been committed.
Therefore, if it is believed that President Trump committed sedition or another crime he could be prosecuted for that in our federal justice system. Impeachment is simply not a remedy after he has left office.
The fact that Justice John Roberts declined to participate as the presiding officer of the impeachment trial also tells you all you need to know about the unconstitutionality of all of this. When the President of the United States is tried under articles of impeachment the Constitution specifies that the Chief Justice is to preside.
The Democrats have appointed Senator Patrick Leahy to be the presiding officer at the trial which raises even more questions in that Leahy has also stated that he will remain a "juror" as well. How can someone be both a judge and juror in a proceeding like this and it still be considered a fair trial? How can this be considered as providing due process to the accused?
The bottom line in all of this is that this Impeachment is nothing more than an act of political retribution. There is no other possible explanation for this despite what the Democrats might otherwise say.
Impeachment is meant to provide a remedy for the voters who have put someone in office who should be removed to protect the people.
That is not the case here. Trump is no longer in office. The people do not have to be protected. If Trump were to be convicted in the impeachment trial the only real punishment that could be meted out would be a ban on serving in another federal elected office. A conviction at this point only usurps authority from the voters rather than protecting them. Without it, there would be no other remedy for the people.
If Trump is the reprobate the Democrats claim he is why would they be concerned about preventing him from holding office again? Why would he even be considered by the voters again for elective office? Shouldn't it be up to the voters to make that decision? This shows just how ludicrous this is. It also shows just how far outside the bounds of the Constitution this trial is. Does anyone think the Founders intended that Congress make a decision for the voters on who could or could not run for political office if they had never been removed from office? This thinking violates the idea that our "government is of, by and for the people".
Further, even if you accept that this proceeding is constitutional, there was nothing in Trump's speech on December 6 that encouraged any violence or invasion of the Capitol. Trump specifically stated that he wanted his followers to "peaceably and patriotically" march to the Capitol to make their voices heard. He also made clear he was only looking for a lawful solution. He never suggested any overt actions that were not in keeping with the Constitution.
We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity of our elections, but whether or not they stand strong for our country, our country. Our country has been under siege for a long time, far longer than this four-year period. (emphasis added).
The evidence has also shown that the incursion into the Capitol began at least 20 minutes before Trump's speech was even over and it was at least a 30 minute walk from the site of Trump's speech to the Capitol. Evidence has also shown that some elements of the incursion were preplanned by the perpetrators well in advance of January 6. This included the planting of pipe bombs the night before the speech.
President Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, also disclosed this week that Trump had offered to deploy the National Guard in advance of January 6 to provide additional security support for the Capitol Hill and DC police.
If Trump was trying to incite an insurrection why would he be offering to beef up security support? It defies all logic.
Former President Donald Trump offered to deploy 10,000 National Guard troops in Washington D.C. prior to Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol building breach, according to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Meadows told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that although Trump had been vocal about offering Capitol Police and National Guard presence at the Capitol on multiple occasions last month, his offer was rebuked “every time.”
The Democrats have set a dangerous precedent in these proceedings that should give everyone pause.
Is impeachment now a political weapon?
For example, what if the Republicans had tried to impeach Joe Biden after he left the Vice Presidency because of his family's questionable business dealings with Ukraine and China. The sole purpose would have been to prevent him from running for President. Why would that be acceptable? Why would that not be a decision for the People to make?
This is an irrelevant impeachment.
Trump is no longer in office.
He cannot betray the public trust in any way.
There is no way to know if he will ever run for office again in any event.
Four years is a long way off.
Trump will be 78 years old.
Even if he does, aren't the voters the best to judge whether they want him to represent them again?
That is the way our republic is supposed to work.
We are living in very dangerous times.
I never thought I would see the day in the United States where political speech, views and actions have become so weaponized.
This impeachment is completely irrelevant but for the fact that it is relevant as being a reflection of how far off the rails we have gotten in this country.
The fact that a majority of Senators, who have taken an oath to the Constitution, agreed to even hear this case tells you even more about how irrelevant they are becoming in the eyes of every thinking American with each passing day.