Trump claimed he can’t be convicted for abuse of power, and instead we should let the election – that he was impeached for rigging – decide. House Managers were not impressed.
The games began Tuesday at noon when the House Managers were forced to file a reply to the spurious Impeachment Trial Memorandum filed by President Trump in which they called out his spurious claims, notably, his argument that abuse of power is not impeachable.
“President Trump’s argument that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense is wrong—and dangerous. That argument would mean that, even accepting that the House’s recitation of the facts is correct—which it is—the House lacks authority to remove a President who sells out our democracy and national security in exchange for a personal political favor. The Framers of our Constitution took pains to ensure that such egregious abuses of power would be impeachable,” the House Managers wrote in a memo sent to PoliticusUSA.
Trump’s brief, all 171 pages of it, can be editorially summed up as: I didn’t do it but if I did it’s not illegal and it’s totally cool for me to sell out democracy and national security so I can cheat in another election but if you hold me accountable you might damage the very structure of government Trump is working so hard to destroy and what a shame that would be.
Or, as they put it in their brief sent to us, “The Articles of Impeachment presented by House Democrats are constitutionally deficient on their face. The theories underpinning them would do lasting damage to the separation of powers under the Constitution and to our structure of government. The Articles are also the product of an unprecedented and unconstitutional process that denied the President every basic right guaranteed by the Due Process Clause and fundamental principles of fairness.”
See? It’s a lot of procedural complaints, but no real defense of Trump’s actions with Ukraine, which are a matter of established fact.
Trump’s argument is being buttressed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who can also see that Trump doesn’t have a case, and so he is limiting witnesses and evidence and forcing Democrats to literally make their case in the dead of night. One day this will be made into a movie and people will think it’s a farce.
In their reply, the House Managers noted that indeed the Framers had anticipated that one day a President might be as corrupt as Trump has admitted in the release of his Ukrainian phone call that he is, “The Framers anticipated that a President might one day seek to place his own personal and political interests above those of our Nation, and they understood that foreign interference in our elections was one of the gravest threats to our democracy.”
They seem as unable to deal with Trump’s denial of reality as the rest of us, as they point out that Trump claims he can’t be convicted in the Senate because he has done nothing wrong, and that the proper way to deal with his abuse of power is via an election…
… an election that he is actively working to cheat by bribing a foreign country, and is actually one reason why he was impeached. Forever impeached.
“Indeed, on the eve of his impeachment trial, President Trump continues to insist that he has done nothing wrong. President Trump’s view that he cannot be held accountable, except in an election he seeks to fix in his favor, underscores the need for the Senate to exercise its solemn constitutional duty to remove President Trump from office. If the Senate does not convict and remove President Trump, he will have succeeded in placing himself above the law. Each Senator should set aside partisanship and politics and hold President Trump accountable to protect our national security and democracy.”
Senate Republicans know that if Trump does not continue to cheat the 2020 election, not only will he most likely not be re-elected, but their own standing is in peril. So you can imagine that they are not running toward patriotism any time soon.
They point out that Trump’s brief is heavy on rhetoric and complaints about procedure, but lacks any legitimate defense of his misconduct, adding, “It is clear from his response that President Trump would rather discuss anything other than what he actually did.”
Well. Yes. Clearly.
And why hasn’t Trump provided to the House, even when repeatedly asked, any documents or witnesses in his own defense? “This is not how an innocent person behaves,” they note.
The public agrees that this is not how an innocent person behaves. A majority, in fact, want Trump convicted and removed from office.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.