Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stood on the floor of the Senate and insisted that he would coordinate the impeachment trial with the White House. This is a direct contradiction to how such a momentous trial should be held. Donald Trump is only the third president in the history of the United States to be impeached. The Senate will decide whether this wayward president can be ousted, but McConnell will be carefully watched, too.
A group of 300 attorneys from Lawyers Defending Democracy has written an open letter to the United States Senate and to McConnell specifically. This group of attorneys noted that they were “deeply committed to the Constitution, the rule of law, and preserving the priceless American democratic form of government..” Yet, the letter seemed to go beyond the words on the paper.
The almost 300 attorneys noted “the critical questions now are whether the Senate will provide an impartial trial:”
‘Since the House has impeached President Donald Trump, the critical questions now are whether the Senate will provide an impartial trial process and whether senators will vote impartially or serve their own partisan self-interests.’
The lawyers wrote about McConnell “framing the issue.” They pointed to McConnell’s statement “I’m not impartial:”
‘Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dramatically framed the issue. He recently said: “This [impeachment] is a political process. There is not anything judicial about it.” “I’m not impartial about this [process] at all….I’m not an impartial juror [.]”
The authors of the letter pointed out the Senate Leader’s fatal flaw: “Leader McConnell’s assertions cannot withstand scrutiny:” They continued:
‘Just because the Constitution commits the impeachment process to a “political” branch of government and senators may legitimately promote their partisan self-interest as part of the legislative process, does not mean they are permitted to do so when serving as judges and jurors in an impeachment trial. To the contrary, as the adjudicators of impeachment, they have a duty to serve in a quasi-judicial capacity.’
Then, they addressed the Constitution and how the Senators will “solemnly swear or affirm…(to) do impartial justice according to the Constitution and law:”
‘The Constitution mandates that: “When sitting for that purpose [trying impeachments] they [the Senate] shall be on oath or affirmation.” The oath that the Senate requires every senator to take before being allowed to participate in an impeachment trial demands that they “solemnly swear or affirm… in all things appertaining to the trial (to) do impartial justice according to the Constitution and law.”’
They not that dealing in self-interest was the “exact opposite of being impartial:”
‘Serving one’s own partisan and political self-interest in determining: the process for an impeachment trial, the legal standards for impeachable offenses, the facts – based on the evidence – and whether the facts violate the standards, would be an egregious form of being “partial.” It would be the exact opposite of being “impartial.”’
The attorneys emphasized “Senators are obligated by the Constitution…to do impartial justice:”
‘Rather than a Senate impeachment trial being a “political” / partisan process that permits senators to make decisions based on their political party’s self-interest, senators are obligated by the Constitution and Senate rules to “do impartial justice” in all matters relating to the trial.’
They basically told McConnell his idea that impeachment was not judicial was inherently wrong:
‘Similarly, Leader McConnell’s assertion that “[t]here is not anything judicial about [the impeachment process]” is directly refuted by the Constitution. The Judiciary article itself, Article III, expressly manifests that impeachment trials are a category of federal criminal trials: “The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury [.]” . Thus, impeachment trials, being criminal trials, are inherently “judicial.”
The attorneys pointed out that a Senator could not preside over the trial. No, the “nation’s highest judicial officer, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was in charge:
‘When the President is impeached, the Constitution does not permit a senator to preside over the trial; it must be our nation’s highest judicial officer, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Id. The initial sanction required to be imposed on an official found guilty of an impeachable offense is “conviction,” which is the same initial sanction which courts impose on any guilty criminal defendant. Finally, the Constitution prescribes that when the Senate completes an impeachment trial, it needs to enter “judgment.” This is the same word our legal system uses to describe all courts’ determinations after completing trials in court cases.’
The attorneys summed up their letter, saying Leader McConnell’s idea about the trial was totally wrong:
‘In short, Leader McConnell’s notion that the impeachment process does not have judicial character and implicitly gives him and other senators free rein to conduct the trial as biased political partisans is indefensible.’
Instead, it was the senators’ “solemn duty to do ‘impartial justice:”
‘To the contrary, all senators have a solemn duty to do “impartial justice” in all aspects of the impeachment trial. This includes Leader McConnell.’
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.