On Feb. 9, the U.S. Senate convened to answer the question: Is former President Donald Trump subject to a court of impeachment for acts committed while president? The answer, by a vote of 56-44, was yes, with six of the yeas coming from Republicans. Conviction in the Senate is now all but impossible because of the nature of this vote. But Democrats will proceed apace, gaining all the pleasure they can from kicking their perpetual piñata long after the music stops.
House member Jamie Raskin (D-MD) is the lead impeachment manager, and the bulk of his presentation amounted to an emotional appeal. Raskin didn’t demand that the senators examine the Constitution and apply the facts to it. Instead, he played a carefully edited presentation of violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Cut like a music video, it merged various Donald Trump clips with Raskin’s words of commentary, all designed to direct viewers to the unalterable conclusion that Trump’s army of insurrectionists invaded the Capitol at his command, and only by some miracle did the House members survive.
The truth is that, even though Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) didn’t see them, many of the scenes were terrifying. Mob violence always is. That’s why those who perpetrate it should be punished. If Trump could be prosecuted criminally for incitement to violence, he surely would be. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine regularly demonstrates that he is happy to use his power and the tax dollars his office receives to punish Trump. Since Racine has remained on the sidelines, there is no better proof that Trump did not incite anyone in any way remotely approaching criminal liability.
While speaking in the Senate’s well, Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO) had the unenviable experience of being contradicted on Twitter in real time by the subject of his comments. Jonathan Turley, law professor and legal commentator, had to correct Neguse. The congressman said that Turley publicly favored retroactive impeachment trials as recently as “a couple weeks ago.” The legal eagle let him know, “That article was 21 years ago.” And to the question presented in the Senate, “in the end, you have a very interesting and unresolved issue. I have evolved in my view of the text.” An appeal to authority is a logical fallacy, and so one would hope impeachment managers wouldn’t use it at all. At the very least, we should insist that they accurately represent the authority to which they have appealed.
One No Vote Mandates Another
Trump’s defense is not terribly important now that the votes on the trial’s legality have been cast. Because 44 senators have said that it is not constitutional to try Trump, they cannot support it, and therefore it is impossible for them to switch votes. The form of the question voted on now precludes Trump’s conviction.
Like a low-bottom dope fiend, Democrats have to have another hit. And another one. Trump, who has been denied his audience by banishment from popular social media platforms, needs help to get some exposure. Democrats to the rescue! They just can’t let him go.
Trump did not break down the Capitol doors. The only trial Trump should face is in the form of any election he may enter, where the people decide his fate. And the national legislature should busy itself not with advancing the slim majority’s political goals but with the people’s business.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.