An Unconstitutional Farce of a Senate Show Trial

February 4, 2021 Updated: February 9, 2021

Commentary

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach then-President Donald J. Trump on Jan. 13, just one week before he was scheduled to leave the Oval Office.

The presidency was transferred to Joseph R. Biden on Jan. 20, when he took the sacred oath. At that moment, Trump ceased to be the U.S. president.

And yet Democrats in the Congress have insisted on scheduling a Senate trial for Feb. 9 to remove a man from the Oval Office who is no longer there. They fully intend to hold an impeachment trial for a private citizen.

This latest farce is even more ridiculous than the one the nation was forced to endure almost exactly a year ago, when they impeached Trump for a phone call to the newly elected leader of Ukraine. Despite the fact Trump never attempted to strong-arm Volodymyr Zelensky by threatening to withhold millions in military aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky agreed to start an investigation into the Biden family, Democrats voted to impeach him. That led to a Senate trial in which Trump easily escaped conviction.

It’s hard to see how Trump could be convicted this time around either, as the impeachment article that will be used at the forthcoming trial is nonsensical on its face.

The impeachment article claims that when he gave his speech on Jan. 6 at the Ellipse, just a short distance from the White House, Trump incited those listening to him to march to the Capitol Building and attack the joint session of Congress as it was engaged in counting the electoral votes from the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The impeachment article is entitled “Incitement of Insurrection” and directly charges Trump with whipping up a violent mob and then unleashing it at the Congress.

There are multiple problems with this narrative:

  1. Official court filings reveal that some of the alleged key instigators of the violence at the Capitol Building had been planning their attack for days in advance. This means their attack could not have been incited by listening to Trump’s speech.
  2. The official timeline of that day shows that the attack on the Capitol began before Trump finished his speech. It takes about 40 minutes on foot to walk from the Ellipse to the Capitol. If Trump incited a mob, and pointed it at the assembled Congress, the attack at the Capitol would have started much later than it did because of this 40-minute walk.
  3. Trump’s speech at the Ellipse is available in its entirety online, and nowhere in the speech does he urge any violence or any kind of an attack on the Capitol Building or the Congress assembled within it. Trump closed his remarks that day by asking for a peaceful and respectful protest. Somehow his calm statements about walking down Pennsylvania Avenue and peacefully protesting with the crowd outside the Capitol building is transformed by his detractors into his raging for them to storm the building and to attack members of Congress.
  4. There has never been such a thing as an unarmed insurrection in American history. The Shays’ rebellion of 1786–87, the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791–1794, and similar insurrections were lengthy events that spanned weeks, months, sometimes even years that involved armed people attacking state and federal authorities. This event at the U.S. Capitol Building was not an armed insurrection of any length. It was several dozen unarmed people forcing their way into a building and occupying some offices for less than an hour. To call that an insurrection is to cheapen and degrade what that word really means.

Because this impeachment article is completely nonsensical, it can’t stand up to any challenges and will therefore collapse under its own absurd weight when the Senate trial is held.

The U.S. Constitution, the federal government’s founding document, clearly lays out how a Senate trial of an impeached president is conducted. The show trial the Democratic Party has engineered for a private citizen who isn’t a federal office holder any longer is about as far from the constitutional framework as it’s possible to get.

For example, the Constitution clearly states that it’s the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who presides over any Senate trial of an impeached president.

Current Chief Justice John Roberts made it clear he wants nothing to do with it. That didn’t stop the Democrats, who simply appointed one of their own, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), to oversee the proceedings.

Find me the clause in the Constitution where it says, “And if the Chief Justice refuses participation, the Senate shall appoint one of its own partisan members to preside over the impeachment trial of a private citizen.” I can’t seem to find it, but surely it must be in there somewhere.

Either that or we now have a federal government that’s completely detached from the Constitution that it is supposed to adhere to. If politicians can simply toss the Constitution aside and make it up as they go along, why even have a Constitution in the first place?

Because this is the position of many of the Republicans in the Senate, they have refused to participate in this travesty. When all senators were expected to be present for the official delivery of the House of Representatives impeachment article, only 3 of the 50 Republican senators bothered to show up: Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Roger Marshall of Kansas.

It should be recalled the Democrats failed to get a conviction at the last Senate trial on two impeachment articles by votes of 52–48 and 53–47. Romney was the only Republican to vote with Democrats to remove Trump from office during last year’s trial.

This time, they need Romney and 16 other GOP senators to agree with the claim that Trump incited an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It seems highly unlikely Democrats will find the 17 GOP Senate votes they will need.

In fact, this impeachment trial stunt is highly likely to backfire on Democrats in epic fashion. The central charges are absurd, and by making them, they’ll open all kinds of doors for the Trump legal defense team.

Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Telegram at t.me/drawandstrikechannel.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.