Impeachment reveals true colors
The recent impeachment process against President Donald Trump did not turn out well for any one involved, in my view, and did little to improve the image of Congress people on either side of the aisle.
True colors of some longtime career politicians were especially illuminated as they changed their stated beliefs to now work for the impeachment outcomes they wanted.
Impeachment proceedings involve two phases: The House votes first on whether to impeach the president, and then the Senate decides whether to convict the president on those charges. A two-thirds vote is required in the Senate for conviction and removal from office.
The House impeached President Trump (along party lines) on two charges arising from a separate incident — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress connected to his freezing of military aid to Ukraine after requesting an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
Neither of the impeachment articles against Trump were criminal charges. The president’s Republican defenders often cited this in their attacks on the process.
For Trump to be removed, at least 20 Republican senators would have had to join every Democrat and independent in voting to convict. That didn’t happen.
An acquittal now means Trump will be the first impeached president ever to run for re-election.
It is interesting how long time Democrat and Republican leaders had no difficulty changing their stands on impeachment, even though their recorded statements from 21 years ago clearly showed they had the exact opposite stands now as they did then.
Did they think that no one would question why they were changing their positions?
Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), for example, voted for President Clinton’s impeachment on both counts 21 years ago and served as one of the House impeachment managers in his trial.
During the proceedings, Graham argued that Clinton (a Democrat) could be impeached even if he did not explicitly tell others to break the law — or, in fact, if he didn’t break the law at all.
In separate remarks, Graham said, “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role.’’
Impeachment, he said, “is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.’’
On the other hand, Graham was an outspoken critic of the impeachment proceedings against Trump this time around, telling CBS’ “Face The Nation’’ in December 2019 that he had “nothing but disdain for this’’ and thought “this whole thing was a crock.’’
Chuck Schumer (D-New York), the current Senate minority leader was in the House and voted against impeaching President Clinton 21 years ago.
Schumer said then that Clinton’s affair was “tawdry’’ and his actions were potentially illegal, but still did not warrant impeachment. Schumer also said prosecutor Ken Starr had “seriously overreached’’ in his investigation and provided “flimsy evidence.’’
“The world economy is in crisis and cries out for American leadership, without which worldwide turmoil is a grave possibility,’’ Schumer said, adding that the investigation had “run its course’’ and it was “time to move on.’’
As the Trump trial approached, Schumer accused Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) of killing any chance for a fair hearing. “When you are accused of something you don’t suppress evidence that would exonerate you,’’ Schumer said, adding that the GOP-led Senate turned the trial into a “nationally televised meeting of the mock trial club.’’
These statements from Graham and Schumer show that both Republican and Democrat career politicians always do what is best for themselves and their parties first.
This impeachment scene will be played out again and again with these same bad actors - with the same predicted results - unless Americans place term limits on members of Congress.