The impeachment effort against former President Donald Trump is nothing more than “performance art,” similar to public shaming methods used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the country’s Cultural Revolution, according to historian Victor Davis Hanson.
“When you impeach a president, you only need 51 percent of the vote of the House. And it’s much easier to do than to convict a president. So once those impeachment indictments are established, the speaker takes them over and hands them to the Senate,” Hanson, senior fellow at the Stanford University-based think tank Hoover Institution told The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders.”
“And then that becomes the trial, like a modern trial, and that requires a two-thirds majority, 66 senators to convict a president, something we’ve never done. And we’re not going to do it. We didn’t do it in January of 2020. And we’re not going to do it in February of 2021. And that’s known in advance.
“So that tells you that this is performance art, it’s not a serious attempt to either remove Donald Trump during his tenure, or to ban him from office in his retirement,” Hanson said.
“It’s like a public shaming like the Communist Party used to make people wear dunce caps. That’s what it’s intended for,” he explained, referring to the public humiliation method forced upon victims of China’s Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976.
House Democrats, joined by 10 Republicans, voted on Jan. 13 to approve a single article of impeachment (pdf) against Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” making him the first president to be impeached twice. When the Senate trial opens on Feb. 9, he will become the first former president to stand trial.
Democrats allege that the president incited violence at the Capitol in a speech he delivered near the White House on Jan 6. In his address, Trump used the words “fight like hell” in reference to his team’s legal efforts around election integrity. The Democrats allege that Trump used the words to incite his followers to commit violence.
Hanson suggested that one of the main drivers of the impeachment effort against Trump is to ensure that he can no longer run for office in the future.
“[It] is sort of a mercenary effort to make sure Donald Trump can’t run again for office because the Constitution says that if a person is successfully impeached, then he’s ineligible for higher office. That’s one.
“Two is to discredit his supporters of the MAGA agenda and say that he’s synonymous with violence, sedition, insurrection, the capital rally of Jan. 6,” he added. “Three is to get our mind off what’s going on—we have a record number of executive orders of the most radical kind.”
Hanson added, “Most importantly, from a bipartisan point of view, think of all the time that we’re spending on this Trump obsession trying to destroy Donald Trump’s political corpse.”
Attorneys for Trump on Monday set out their defense for his Senate impeachment trial, arguing that the Senate has no jurisdiction to try a former official, that the House’s charge against the 45th president is deficient, that their client was deprived of due process, and had his right to free speech violated by the article of impeachment.
In the 78-page trial memorandum, the attorneys posit that the Senate taking up the impeachment amounts to a bill of attainder, which the Constitution prohibits because it would amount to inflicting punishment without a jury trial. The defense also contends that the “incitement” accusation is contradicted by the plain text of the transcript of the president’s Jan. 6 speech.
“The Article of Impeachment presented by the House is unconstitutional for a variety of reasons, any of which alone would be grounds for immediate dismissal. Taken together, they demonstrate conclusively that indulging House Democrats’ hunger for this political theater is a danger to our Republic democracy and the rights that we hold dear,” the trial memo, authored by Bruce Castor, David Schoen, and Michael van der Veen, states.
The impeachment trial is set to begin with a four-hour debate on whether the proceedings should be dismissed.
Following Tuesday’s debate, each side will have up to 16 hours to present their cases starting Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET. Then there will be a total of four hours for senators to question both sides. Should witnesses or documents be subpoenaed, up to four hours can be allotted again between the impeachment managers and Trump’s defense, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Ivan Pentchoukov and Janita Kan contributed to this report.