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Trump on Trial: Impeachment or Rorschach Test?

A trial without rules for Donald Trump.

The big-box media can’t decide if Trump is too irrational to hang on to his lawyers or if their departure results from him being a cheapskate. They seem sure it’s a big deal to lose one’s lawyers on the eve of trial, but to believe that, you’d have to believe there is a real trial in the first place. It’s perhaps better to think of the impeachment process as an event; then, you won’t be surprised when the proceedings devolve into an attempt to punish Donald Trump for the crime of being Donald Trump.

No Justice, No Peace…

Perhaps the biggest blow to the impeachment show Democrats and some Republicans wished to stage was Chief Justice John Roberts’ regrets to the invitation to once again sit in judgment of the Orange Man. While many on the right disagree vociferously, Roberts’ jurisprudence, his leadership, and actions as chief justice, aside from the votes on opinions, has been laudable. His refusal to pretend this action warranted his participation speaks with deafening silence.

First The Verdict, Then The Trial…

The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. – U.S. Constitution Article 2, Sec.4.

That’s the provision Donald Trump is being charged under. He is not charged with incitement, which is a serious crime both under federal law and the laws of the District of Columbia. If he were, Mr. Trump would be entitled to a presumption of innocence, a right to be free from malicious prosecution, and to have charges dismissed for want of probable cause. None of that is true here. This is a political prosecution, not a criminal one. That assessment isn’t an argument, but a statement of the facts – even Trump’s congressional Democrat prosecutors say so.

In the memorandum the Democrat impeachment leaders submitted to the Senate, they say:

“Therefore, whether President Trump’s conduct violated the criminal law is a question for prosecutors and courts; ‘offenses against the Constitution are different than offenses against the criminal code.’ The only question here is whether President Trump committed offenses justifying conviction and disqualification from future officeholding.”

So, under the Democrats’ reasoning, a person can be guilty of the political offense of incitement while not guilty of the crime of incitement? How is a person to know what political offenses might exist wholly different from criminal ones? No explanation is given, but keen observers of the body politic can tell that if Donald Trump does it, that somehow makes it worse.

“The only question here is whether President Trump committed offenses justifying conviction and disqualification from future officeholding,” write the prosecutors. If you remove the requirement that an “offense” be something more than an activity they dislike, the standard just becomes an up or down approval poll. That, and a way to generate more donations from never-Trumpers, and of course, delay the difficult work of legislating during a pandemic.

Enjoy the show, but this is much more scripted drama than reality TV.


Read more from Scott D. Cosenza. 

Read More From Scott D. Cosenza, Esq.

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