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Lamar Alexander’s reasoning on impeachment-trial witnesses is clarifying

Sen. Lamar Alexander
REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert
Sen. Lamar Alexander arriving at the U.S. Capitol on Friday.

The impeachment process is all but over, and the way it ended is somewhat clarifying.

As you know, extending the trial to hear witnesses would require only a majority vote of 51 senators, and the final swing vote on that procedural question was considered to be Sen. Lamar Alexander — who decided to vote against that extension for witnesses.

That pretty much ends it. Donald Trump will serve out his term and presumably stand for a second term and the voters (to the degree that Republicans are unable to prevent Democrats from voting) will decide whether to give him four more years.

But focus for a moment on Alexander’s statement of why he decided not to vote to allow John Bolton to testify. Alexander said:

“I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense.”

Let’s try to give this the respect it deserves. Alexander is essentially saying that Trump did what he was accused of, namely put a hold on desperately needed congressionally appropriated aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to publicly announce an investigation that would besmirch Joe Biden, whom Trump thought at the time would have a chance of beating him in in the 2020 presidential election.

Alexander believes this has been established by the evidence already in the public record. He doesn’t believe the pressure campaign was “perfect,” as Trump insists. But Alexander doesn’t believe it rises to the level of an impeachable offense for which the Senate should remove Trump from office, especially considering that the electorate will be able to decide in an election less than 10 months off whether to renew Trump’s mandate for four more years.

Trump was never going to be convicted and removed (which requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate). Alexander knew enough about the charges to know that he didn’t consider Trump’s “drug deal,” as John Bolton called it, to be a sufficiently high crime to vote for conviction and removal of a president.

He didn’t say this quite as bluntly as I just did, but that’s what he said, and I’m going to try to respect it as a thinkable thought about which reasonable minds can differ.

If you don’t agree with that, you should at least acknowledge that while the House prosecutors should have been allowed to call witnesses (I agree with Adam Schiff that a trial without witnesses or documents is a joke), there was never a chance of getting the two-thirds vote necessary to convict and remove Trump from office.

The commentariat has, understandably, focused much on whether the House prosecutors would get the 51 votes needed to call witnesses, which would extend the process and get more important facts onto the record (although most of those facts are already on the record).

Trump was trying to cheat. He tried to pressure a vulnerable ally to help him cheat. That’s very bad. Luckily, it didn’t work. He got caught. And voters will know in November that Trump did this, and should definitely take it into account, although given the power of his grip over his base, it’s hard to speculate on how many of his supporters will abandon him over this.

Recent trends in his approval ratings suggest, as they always suggest, that he isn’t gaining many new admirers nor losing many old ones. (As of noon, the average of many approval polls, has him at 43 percent approval, 52 percent disapproval. It never changes much, and apparently nothing that has come out during the impeachment has affected it much either.

He will continue lying and cheating. He will remain an unpopular president who lost the popular vote and will probably lose it again. The evidence of his “drug deal” seems, at least for now, and I have no reason to assume it will change tomorrow, not to have changed the situation.

He is very likely, as you read this, engaging in improper, unpresidential conduct designed to either make him money or cheat in the 2020 election. But the impeachment process will not end his presidency.

Comments (52)

  1. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/31/2020 - 01:36 pm.

    Since a clear majority now agree that Trump is guilty as charged, will we see any attempt at a censure rebuke that only requires a majority vote:

    “There have been four cases in U.S. history where the House of Representatives or the Senate adopted a resolution that, in its original form, would censure the president. However, the censure of President Andrew Jackson “remains the clearest case of presidential censure by resolution.”[4] In 1834, while under Whig control, the Senate censured Jackson, a member of the Democratic Party, for withholding documents relating to his actions in defunding the Bank of the United States.[5] During the waning months of Jackson’s term, his Democratic allies succeeded in expunging the censure.”

    At least it will help slow down:

    “Perfect call!!! Total exoneration!!!”

    • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 02/01/2020 - 09:23 am.

      “Since a clear majority now agree that Trump is guilty as charged, will we see any attempt at a censure…”

      First of all, Sen Lamar is one man, not a clear majority. Secondly, even if such a majority exists, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting a majority has concluded the charges do not meet the standard for removal.

      It’s way too late for a vote to censure, sir. It walked down the Capital hall and out the door in the ludicrous House Democrats march of the failed articles to the Senate.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/03/2020 - 12:13 pm.


        Plus 47 ads

        = 52 At least

        • Submitted by BK Anderson on 02/03/2020 - 12:29 pm.

          Don’t forget Rubio!

          As for Judge Sasse, he helpfully informed the nation: “Let me be clear. Lamar speaks for lots and lots of us”.

  2. Submitted by Gary Thaden on 01/31/2020 - 02:05 pm.

    Good piece. Thank you.

  3. Submitted by Denis DeBakey on 01/31/2020 - 02:06 pm.

    It has become how much are you willing to shrug off the defects of your preferred candidate and less of how much you actually revere him or her. Given the dearth of accomplished, honest, admirable Democrat candidates, Americans, and our senators, are willing to shrug off the “offenses” Trump is accused of – particularly, as (you neglect to mention), the economy, the employment rate, and our prospects for improving lives are all far better than in 2016. We thrive and are stronger with bold, activist leaders, like Andrew Jackson, T. Roosevelt, and Donald Trump.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/03/2020 - 04:09 pm.

      The economy is good if most of your wealth is in stock equity.
      Income is good if you’re in the top 1%; while employment is up, average wages and household income are stagnant. This does not predict better living for most of us.
      As for bold leadership, I’ll give you one out of three. I suppose in baseball that’s a good average.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/31/2020 - 02:15 pm.

    There IS a certain logic to Alexander’s position, and I’m not at all surprised that Trump seems likely to hold onto office at least through late January of next year, and – who knows, at this point? – maybe for 4 more years after that. If he gets his expressed wish at one of his dozens of “rallies,” he’ll be dictator…er…President for Life. We’ll all be poorer in numerous ways as a result.

    My faint hope for justice is that the stain of venal cowardice now covering Republicans in Congress (and a few Democrats, as well), will follow them for the rest of their lives. History should judge them harshly. Some, perhaps most, will be reelected in the fall, but none will deserve it, and none are serving the interests of the public. A real trial includes both documentation and witness accounts, and this Senate farce has neither one.

    If there’s anything like karma in the real world, may there be great wailing and gnashing of teeth at some point in the future when Republicans or their political descendants are on the receiving end of similar self-dealing.

    • Submitted by Marcia Wattson on 02/01/2020 - 07:58 am.

      Thank you, Ray Schoch. All of your comments on Eric’s columns are worth reading. This one was perfect. It expresses my thought exactly, word for word.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/03/2020 - 07:35 pm.

      Ray, If the founders ( I assume well thought men) would have thought, if the President did (impeachable deeds) then why didn’t they say in the constitution, just wait for the next election, why write in impeachment at all? You know, the guy is like Trump, even if they were corrupt at day 1 (the shoe fits) you need to wait 4 years, i.e over turn an election? I’m calling BS 101! Impeachment is 100% about getting corruptness out of governemnt as soon as possible, not waiting 4 years for it to spread like a cancer. Seems the GOP doesn’t believe in science, the more corrupt/cancer the better! Can’t make this stuff up. .

  5. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/31/2020 - 02:42 pm.

    I am not impressed with the narrative of either the Dems or the Repubs. Guilty no matter what on the one hand, innocent no matter what on the other. Dems now convinced he is a cheater, and likely will not accept it if he wins the next election, no matter what. If Trump loses probably his cohort will not accept the results either.

    Both sides excusing corruption. It is the crack-up of the Union, and I am thankful at least that I am immune to group-think, drawn into it in righteous indignation.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/31/2020 - 09:20 pm.

      Guilty based on his own words.
      Makes a difference.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 02/01/2020 - 10:56 am.

        The degree of guilt is the question. Dems were so rabid for so long about Russiagate and collusion, when that didn’t work out, they were primed and ready for Dem leadership to hyperpropagandize guilt, sans any question of any degree whatever of innocence, on this Ukraine thing. The opposite of a trial, as it were.

        That is the thing about righteous indignation, everything you do is justified. The ends justify any means.

        Well, now that the country has been put through this ordeal, it seems to me the real damage is to faith in the system, on both sides. That does not bode well at all for the next election.

        But hey, maybe Bernie can win and then the leadership of both parties can come together and in bipartisan fashion, conspire to impeach him.

        • Submitted by BK Anderson on 02/03/2020 - 10:46 am.

          Wow, you really had to stretch to fit The Trial of Trump into your “Both Sides Equally Bad” narrative, but you were able to do it. Well done!

          • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 02/03/2020 - 03:23 pm.

            I’m simply tired of the “moderate Republicans” and these other cowards who claim the actions didn’t rise to an impeachable defense. All these Alexanders, Collinses and Murkowskis are just Trump sycophants who have made sure they’ve counted the votes before they take their principled stand.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/04/2020 - 02:08 pm.

            I distinctly heard a snap.

  6. Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/31/2020 - 02:47 pm.

    You have very clearly stated the critical reality: that in order to deny the request for further (known to exist and easily obtainable) evidence, Gravedigger of Democracy McConnell’s “team” must acknowledge that more evidence isn’t needed: the House’s case has been proven, but Trump’s blackmail and election cheating isn’t a “high crime and misdemeanor” in the Repub majority’s view.

    This means that from now on, EVERY president can be expected to use whatever means to suborn or coerce or cajole election interference from foreign power(s) in order to aid their re-election. For that matter, it means that every prez candidate can do the same, as Lamar’s Dictum also (indirectly) vindicates Trump’s collusion with Putin in 2016.

    Murkowski’s Lament was not this coherent, as she bemoans the supposed “rushed and flawed articles”, but then concludes that a fair trial simply isn’t possible (for some unstated reason). Well, yes, especially when YOU have the power to order more evidence if you think you need it, senator!

    But even these appalling “judgments” by these illustrious Repub “judges” don’t take the cake for chutzpah. That belongs to Trump’s Impeachment lawyers, who maintained up and down that the proper course for the House to take to enforce its subpoenas was not impeachment, but recourse to the courts—this while Trump’s DOJ was arguing in a court case seeking to enforce (another) House subpoena that the only proper way to enforce a House subpoena was…impeachment!

    I’m sure Mr Bob Barnes, (who was the chief apologist for the “take those subpoenas to court!” argument in these threads) will be able to explain the nuances of this Trumpian Catch 22, which looks an awful lot like simple bad faith and intellectual dishonesty to me. Not that this dishonesty bothered Senator Alexander or any other Repub senator.

    Anyway, good luck in your long awaited retirement, Sen. Lamar, you were a real Profile in Courage, and we will be stuck with your wonderful “proven but not impeachable” wisdom for the rest of the nation’s certain-to-be-sorry history. You have done your duty in wrecking the republic, senator—so, auf wiedersehen and bravo!

  7. Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/31/2020 - 03:23 pm.

    Another take on Lamar’s Dictum occurs to me: since the Repub party has gleefully embraced cheating in elections for well over 40 years now, it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise that (according to a Repub senate majority) election-cheating by the president cannot rise to the level of impeachable conduct. (The corollary to this dictum is that it applies only to Repub presidents, of course.)

    The Party of Lincoln, indeed….

  8. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 01/31/2020 - 05:23 pm.

    “The impeachment process is all but over, and the way it ended is somewhat clarifying.” EB

    The way the impeachment process began and unfolded is very clarifying as well.

    It is too bad the Democrats in the Senate were given such a weak and incomplete case prosecuted by the house impeachment managers.

    In fact, the process that the House used and the” facts” they presented, through multiple witnesses and thousands of pages of documents, were embarrassing to any fair minded person.

    When the slow process or Mueller failed to provide the desired results – the rush impeachment was given a “Hail Mary pass.” It will fail as well because of the democrats desired a certain outcome rather than fairness and truth that should have guided this process.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 02/01/2020 - 08:41 am.

      Yes indeed. The case was so “weak and incomplete” that the actual subject of the post (Lamar Alexander) was forced to conclude the allegations had “been proven”. He just didn’t care, because the abuse was by a “conservative” president.

      And then Senator Sasse (R-NE) had to helpfully pipe up and state that “Lamar speaks for many of us”. Good to know!

      The House will now continue to investigate our (proven) political criminal right up until his next run at losing the popular vote by several millions. Let’s just say 21st Century America isn’t exactly putting on a masterclass in serious “democracy”!

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/01/2020 - 08:48 am.

      Yah sure! Little Marco Rubio’s statement

      “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office.”

      Every convict in America would love these guys, just because you are guilty of bribery, extortion, etc. doesn’t mean we should put you in jail,

      So much for the party of law and order, Only when it doesn’t apply to them, I’ll give them an “A+” in Corruption 101. .

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/01/2020 - 09:05 am.

      Let us not forget, one day after Mueller’s “if he was innocent we would have said so” testimony Trump has the Zelinski call. Not content to just have Rudy run the quid pro quo business, he can not resist the urge to do it himself

      The least aware human being on the planet. Rather than breathe the sigh of relief of escaping Mueller he starts another one the very next day

      Pelosi was set to give him the impeachment pass on Mueller and then, as she said, he is self impeaching.

      And we all know that if the house were to wait out the courts the Senate trial would likely be after the election

  9. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/31/2020 - 05:35 pm.

    Is Lamar’s comment really “clarifying” or is it really entitled to any respect as a “thinkable thought about which reasonable minds may differ”?

    He did concede that the facts as alleged have been proven so there is no need for additional evidence from documents or witnesses but what does he mean when he asserts that these facts do “not meet the United States Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense” ? This assertion hardly clarifies anything even as to what Lamar himself believes would qualify as meeting “the high bar for an impeachable offense.” I don’t think it’s entitled to any respect as a “thinkable thought about which reasonable minds may differ.”

    The Articles alleges what in fact was a criminal act-bribery-but as an “abuse of power” and added as additional abuse of power the direction of White House officials to refuse to cooperate and interference with and obstruction of a congressional investigation, also a felony criminal act. Did Lamar read these Articles and allegations” ? Does he mean that the proof failed to establish that these were criminal acts? Does he mean that it’s a crime if anyone else does this but if the President does it, it’s legal? Does he mean that Trump’s conduct was not an “abuse of power” or a violation of his oath of office or that Trump had a “lawful excuse” to arrogate the power to undermine a Congressional investigation about his suspected abuse of power? Or does he mean that these are criminal acts but just not sufficiently “high” to qualify as “high crimes and misdemeanors”? Just what would be sufficiently “high” in Lamar’s deep mind to meet the Constitutional bar?

    Lamar’s remarks do not even convey a coherent thought. They seem to be intended to give the illusion of a man who’s wrestled with something he has given no thought to and to prevent others from thinking about as well. They are nothing more than noises emanating from an empty suit to deflect attention from the strings manipulating his mouth.

    • Submitted by Rebecca/ Pixie Martin on 02/01/2020 - 06:19 am.

      Thank you for precisely voicing my thinking, Jon Kingstad,

    • Submitted by Marcia Wattson on 02/01/2020 - 08:22 am.

      Excellent summation. What Alexander “clarified” is the cowardice of defaulting to let a corrupt and bullying administration continue to erode democracy out of fear of losing power. Every one of the Senators knows that a vote to remove, or censure, or even allow more evidence into the “trial,” would put them in Trump’s crosshairs. We all know how vindictive he can be.

      The idea that the House Representatives should be “embarrassed” by their failure to convict, while the cowards who refuse to use logic and courage for the good of America show no shame for their conduct, is a thought that to me is unthinkable.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/01/2020 - 08:15 pm.

        The House cannot convict; it can only indict.
        The Constitution assigns the job of conviction to the Senate.
        It is clear that a majority of the Senators lack conviction.

    • Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 02/01/2020 - 09:16 am.

      If they believed it was bribery, they should have charged bribery, sir.

      Don’t blame the President or his lawyers for the Democrats incompetence.

      Pressuring Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden’s shenanigans, and the former VP’s obstruction is most certainly in the nations best interests.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/02/2020 - 03:56 pm.

        I like this argument: It goes like this, if Trump murders 250 people, no problem because in the constitution under Impeachment, it doesn’t call out murder as an impeachable offense! Can’t make this stuff up.

    • Submitted by Brian Mann on 02/01/2020 - 09:41 am.

      Let me help clarify – the constitution article says bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. Exactly stated, bribery is a high crime and misdemeanor. Period.
      What Alexander said is what Trump did is not bribery. Which, of course, is untrue, but the House’s impeachment article didn’t precisely call it bribery – it called it abuse of power. Alexander knows better. He argued they didn’t call it the bribery and extortion it was, therefore it’s not impeachable.
      This is exactly what bought-off lawyers do – twist words for money – not seek truth.

      • Submitted by Joe Musich on 02/03/2020 - 07:40 pm.

        Yea…I was screaming bribery,bribery,bribery as the house read the charges. But it was not there. Was that a mistake ? Well we will never know. If the “moderates” are not willing to get on board with censure then we will know what they really stand for…nothing. For 51 senators to let the proceedings go forward without witnesses is going to haunt us for a very long time. And with the cabinet he has many people’s heath and retirement will disappear. The John Birch agenda will be full filled.

  10. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 02/01/2020 - 07:00 am.

    Senator Alexander’s judgement that “yes, he did it” but that it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment, acknowledges our decent to the level of a banana republic. And his willingness to acquiesce to that behavior will what will be remembered when he’s gone. Quite the legacy.

    Maybe I’m naive, but….

    More evidence will come out. It inevitably does. Had Senators been willing to hear more evidence but decided to acquit, their judgement would certainly been questioned by some. But by refusing to hear more evidence, their integrity will be questioned. And rightfully so.

    Now I’m not SO naive as not to realize that 80-90% of the electorate already made up their mind on one side of the issue or the other. And the decision for or against witnesses won’t change their vote for senator when next running for reelection. But there’s that 10-20% in the middle who might wonder why their senator was so scared to hear from witnesses.

  11. Submitted by tom kendrick on 02/01/2020 - 07:41 am.

    Two thoughts – 1. We spend all this time on the three senators who had at least one or two qualms about this whole sordid business, and then we’re disappointed when they don’t show any backbone. The real failure here is all those other Republican senators who made up their minds to hold their lock step positions months ago. They have drunk so deep of the Trump Kool-aid that we don’t even hold reasonable expectations for them. Why are our newspaper editorials not scathing about them and their profoundly underwhelming performance? Have our expectations for decency fallen so far that we now accept that they will spring the president as a matter of course?

    And 2. It is utterly depressing that the result of all of this stinking business, like everything Trump touches, is a new very low “normal.” That’s his lasting legacy, to our nation’s profound loss.

  12. Submitted by Marcia Wattson on 02/01/2020 - 08:29 am.

    Howard Raines, former editor of The NY Times, has followed Alexander since the beginning of his career as a political actor with integrity. He expressed sadness that such a distinguished career would end as it has. He hoped Alexander would “go out with a bang, not a whimper.” Such a tragedy.

  13. Submitted by Patricia McDonald on 02/01/2020 - 09:04 am.

    Trump is the 14th president of my lifetime and I am eating my veggies and hoping to live awhile longer to see him out of there! Everything about him and everything he touches reminds me of trips to the outhouse on my grandparents’ farm as a child–hold your nose, breath through your mouth, and know that you will come out of there into the fresh air again! Incredible, incomprehensible, unbelievable that we, supposedly the greatest country on earth, have sunk to this level of debased values.

  14. Submitted by James Robins on 02/01/2020 - 10:34 am.

    This is a fair analysis, but what will stand the test of time is the role of the Republican-appointed House witnesses who were not under obligation to testify. Essentially, Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman sacrificed highly successful careers to effectively convict the President, much as John Dean convicted Richard Nixon.

    Democrats who continue chasing down a Senate process rabbit hole rather than championing those who truly have sacrificed in order to remove the Emperor’s clothes (sorry for that vision) – are making a bad calculation.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/01/2020 - 08:17 pm.

      Don’t remove the Emperor’s clothes — please!
      The vision is frightening.

    • Submitted by Barney Miller on 02/03/2020 - 02:34 am.

      I am not sure you understand the roll of the House. If the witnesses were important they would have been part of the investigation and interviewed. The investigation is the responsibility of the House. The Democrats control the House and didn’t see the witnesses as either credible or relevant. If you go back to previous impeachment’s you see this.

      If the Senate want to question witnesses for clarification it can but the case is supposed to be clear before the House impeaches the president.

      In the end Pelosi resisted starting the process because she knew in the end this would lead to making the democratic looking vindictive and there was never a real case. Really, I heard Democratic saying they would impeach Trump before he was even elected. The whole impeachment process was an attempt to discredit Trump because they were mad he beat Hillary.

      • Submitted by scott gibson on 02/03/2020 - 10:10 am.

        The idea that Democrats seem motivated by Trump hatred for his having beaten Hillary needs to end. I believe many, if not most, of the folks who did not vote for Trump were NOT enthusiastic Hillary supporters. And Trump is not your typical Republican president. In matters of policy, people may oppose the policy/political machinations of a president they didn’t vote for. You mention ‘Fast & Furious’. I could counter with Reagan and ‘Iran-Contra’. Were these impeachable offenses? Perhaps, but we didn’t go there, in part, because there was not the same feeling about these actions as some of what Trump does. He is feckless, reckless and completely self-centered. He is not loyal to you or your principles. He abused his power and he should have been removed.

        Decades-long Republican attacks on the Clintons produced nothing. They did very nearly remove a president for lying about a consensual sex act. They have mainstreamed dangerous unfounded conspiracy theories that devolve our national political conversations. This says everything we need to know about Republican vindictiveness. (BTW, none of that makes me a Clinton acolyte, either)

      • Submitted by BK Anderson on 02/03/2020 - 10:41 am.

        And I don’t think you understand the history of impeachment, since it has been a routine matter for the senate to hear the testimony of additional witnesses across dozens of impeachments over the past 150 years, including presidential ones. There is simply no historical basis for the position that an impeachment trial in the senate is limited to the documents and witnesses that were gathered by the House in drafting the articles. This is Fox News spin, made up by Gravedigger of Democracy McConnell solely for the impeachment of Trump.

        Nor is there any sensible legal reason for an absurd “rule” of evidence like this–that is if the senate were actually interested in finding the truth and informing the public about the charges against the president. “Courts” conduct trials in order to determine the facts. And they most certainly do not refuse to examine relevant documents that the defendant has boasted about holding, but is refusing to submit.

        As for whether Trump’s Ukraine Shakedown is a high crime or misdemeanor, the Repub senate majority has now made it quite clear that presidential attempts to cheat in upcoming elections are not grounds for removal. Since election cheating has been the backbone of Repub tactics for 40 years, this is not that much of a surprise. But that is precisely the conduct in which you proclaim disinterest.

        Dragging foreign powers into attempts to influence American elections will now become routine procedure by both parties–exactly the situation the Framers were most concerned over. And which contemporary Americans were as well, until the Trump movement decided to throw most of American governmental tradition into the toilet, solely to protect this unqualified scoundrel and lifelong conman. Quite remarkable.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/04/2020 - 02:24 pm.

        “The whole impeachment process was an attempt to discredit Trump because they were mad he beat Hillary.”

        Or maybe – just maybe – he really is a corrupt, lawless excuse for a chief executive, kept in power by his uncanny ability to summon up hordes of loyal supporters.

        The whole country should be mad that he has been allowed anywhere near the White House.

  15. Submitted by Alan Muller on 02/01/2020 - 11:08 am.

    Alexander’s reasoning amounts to “the president is above the law.” This is perhaps worse that the expected aquittal of the criminal president.

  16. Submitted by Paul Linnee on 02/01/2020 - 11:41 am.

    These three claims appear to have been prominent in the impeachment trial:

    1. That a president can not be impeached for any activity that is not a “high crime or misdemeanor”, and that the House did not “charge” Trump with a “crime” that is covered by some law, and that “Abuse of Office” is such a “non crime”, per se.

    2. That when a president a undertakes an activity that is within the powers granted to the office (e.g. the conduct of foreign policy), assuming he/she does not commit a crime in the process of that activity, in cannot be an “impeachable offense”.

    3. That it is somehow ‘against the Framer’s intent’ to impeach a president when a presidential election is pending at which voters could decide said president’s fate.

    My analysis:

    1. At the time the Constitution was written and adopted (1787-1789) there was not yet a U.S. Congress, and, therefore, no Federal Criminal Code (laws). How could there be laws passed by congress when no congress had or could have been formed until the Constitution had been ratified? Hence, the framers of the constitution (when laying out the impeachment process) could not have envisioned or articulated which specific crimes the 1st Congress or any Congress thereafter might pass or repeal after earlier passage. Hence, the vague and ambiguous language intend to convey a concept or the scope of activities which the framers intended to have covered.

    2. There are a number of powers granted without limits to the President. One is the power to pardon, as follows: “ARTICLE II, SECTION 2, CLAUSE 1 The President…shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.”

    Therefore, it is imaginable (admittedly not very likely) that a president could decide, on a whim, to (for example) pardon all federal prisoners imprisoned for a specific category of offenses (or all offenses, for that matter), period. All of them set free.

    Clearly, this would be LEGAL under the constitution, or at least it would not be a CRIME, per se. However, I would imagine that every American would agree that this would be an ABUSE OF POWER and merit consideration for impeachment. In other words, it can be an Abuse of Power to engage in an activity that is NOT prohibited by some criminal law.

    3. It was not until after the terms of Eisenhower that presidents were limited to two terms, by a constitutional amendment. Therefore, for every president from Washington to Eisenhower there were no limits on the number of times they could run for re-election (see FDR @ 4). Consequently, every time a Presidential impeachment would have been considered under the terms of the original constitution, it would have been at a time when a sitting president would have been eligible to stand for re-election. Can anyone imagine that if the framers would NOT have wanted a “re-electable president” to face impeachment, they would have written the Constitution as they did?

  17. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/02/2020 - 01:10 pm.

    Alexander in murky, indirect terms, made the strongest argument for Trump, that we he did was wrong but did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. The immediate problem I have with that was by preventing additional evidence from coming to light, it became impossible to evaluate just how serious the offense was.

    I have found this whole thing to be very disillusioning. We have senators who go to extreme lengths to now know what they don’t want to know. Yet these willfully, intentionally ignorant people, presume to govern us.

  18. Submitted by Barney Miller on 02/03/2020 - 02:22 am.

    I joined this website because it promised unbiased reporting but I was not a quarter the way through before the bias was clear. I am over 50 and I can still remember when news organizations would write stories that left the bias to the reader. Now reporters like this Eric Black are just shills for the Democratic Party with no interest in just reporting the truth.

    What he was really saying is the none of the charges met the bar set out in the USConstitutions for impeachment which is high crimes. He felt proceeding was a waste of time. I agree that none of various charges over the last 3 years was a high crime, but I never though the charges, though proven, for Bill Clinton met the bar of high crimes either.

    No “Fast and Furious“ under Obama may have met the bar!

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