WASHINGTON, D.C. — Though the impeachment process is laid out clearly in the United States Constitution, the when, where, why, and how of it all is left up to interpretation enough that a political fight almost always becomes an integral part of it. The impeachment of President Donald John Trump is most certainly no exception to that rule.
When the House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment against Trump at the end of 2019, the votes out of the respective impeachment committees and on the floor of the House were along party lines, for the most part. Former Republican Justin Amash (I-MI), who left the GOP largely over what he viewed as his party’s total acquiescence of oversight and authority to Trump, voted with the Democrats to impeach. The Democrats saw two in their caucus, one of whom would later leave the party to much fanfare from Trump himself, vote against the articles. Tulsi Gabbard, an alleged Democrat from Hawaii, voted “present” on impeachment, consistent with her previous “present” votes on resolutions condemning AIDS and calling Darth Vader a “really bad guy.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) waited a handful of weeks over the holidays to transmit the articles to the Senate. This maneuver rankled Republicans, who in the past have had no problems playing games of a political nature within the confines of the Constitution. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell famously quipped that he took great pleasure in telling then President Barack Obama he would never get so much as a hearing for Merrick Garland, whom Obama had nominated to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court bench. McConnell has also chosen to essentially violate Senate rules to give himself permission to change the rules to ram judicial appointments through after clogging up the confirmation process for most of Obama’s two-term tenure.
Pressure has been constantly applied by Trump on Senate Republicans to clear his name and dismiss the impeachment charges as quickly as possible. Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have said the Democrats had tried withholding the articles of impeachment until such time as they could see what kind of process McConnell established for the Senate trial. In the days leading up to votes on the articles, McConnell and several key Republicans made it very well known they had already predetermined that Trump should be acquitted, and Pelosi announced she was not transmitting the articles to the Senate within hours of McConnell announcing he was coordinating with the White House.
This week, Democrats lost their bid for the Senate to call witnesses and hear new evidence, while most of the Senate Republicans closed rank, and voted down a motion to call them. Notably, two Republicans — Mitt Romney and Susan Collins — voted with the Dems in seeking to call for more witnesses and documents. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton announced on Twitter that he would testify if served with a subpoena from the Senate, and just hours before the vote to block witnesses, The Failing New York Times reported on excerpts from Bolton’s memoir of his time in the Trump administration in which he writes that Trump directly ordered him to assist in his Ukraine pressure campaign.
McConnell has always said he’s ready to simply deal with the articles, even if Pelosi didn’t ever hand them over. It never came to that, however, and the eventually the House delivered the articles of impeachment to the Senate. After days of opening arguments, and debates on calling witnesses, in a 51-49 vote, Senate Republicans permanently barred any further witnesses or testimony, all but baking in an acquittal for Trump, which should come on Wednesday, a day after he gives what could be his final State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters this morning on a break from fully boning a lump of Kentucky’s finest coal, using a bottle of bourbon as lube, McConnell defended his reasoning in blocking witnesses.
“Look, we’ve said all along that this is a sham process. The Democrats were running a sham impeachment,” McConnell said, “and you can tell it’s a sham because they brought forth evidence and witnesses who gave testimony that made us feel bad about President Trump. That seems very shammy to me. So shammy it almost feels like a shamalamadingdong. Does that make sense? Of course not, but I’m sure you’re all well-aware the Fox and OAN will simply cut around all this gibberish and spoon-feed a small segment of what I say to their viewers, my party’s base, so I’m not too worried about sounding coherent to you all.”
McConnell further explained he was ensuring the Senate impeachment trial would be “consistent with every definition of American justice there ever has been, or ever will be.”
“I ask you this, what’s so un-American about a trial like that? I say, nothing,” McConnell insisted. “American Justice is a fair trial where the jury is corrupt, evidence is hidden, and witnesses can’t testify. Everyone knows that. Well, everyone who doesn’t engage in the sinful, wicked, socialist crime of critical thinking.”
Trump is just the third president in the country’s history to face impeachment charges. Andrew Johnson was impeached and acquitted in the 19th century, and William Jefferson Clinton was impeached and acquitted in the late 20th century. Former President Richard Nixon resigned after articles were passed by the judiciary committee against him, but before those articles faced a full vote in the Senate. To date, no president has been convicted in the Senate.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.