What’s next in Donald Trump’s impeachment?  The House Intelligence Committee and two other committees involved are reporting their inquiry results, their investigative findings, to the House Judiciary Committee. That committee will draw up the articles of impeachment, similar to prosecution or plaintiff charges or complaints in a court process, though non-statutory criminal behaviors can also be considered. So far, the White House has refused to participate, claiming this is a coup, hoax, an unfair, partisan witch hunt, and illegal act, devoid of due process. They have left their defense and representation up to House GOP loyalists who call this a “clown show”.   Is it? The process is outlined and Congressional action is empowered by the Constitution as part of the checks and balances protections against being governed by a king, a person, instead of abiding by the rule of law. The Constitution writers wanted Congress to hold a president accountable for” treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors” through the impeachment process. If you have watched any part of the hearings on TV you know that both Republicans and Democrats have had equal time to cross-examine witnesses and make their political cases, even in the not so secret deposition phase. Deposition transcripts are published on the web and testimonies of fact witnesses are readily found on YouTube. Republican House members in the inquiry hearings mostly ignored facts revealed by witnesses, called three of their own witnesses, attacked the process,  and impugned witnesses. They demanded to investigate conspiracy theories already debunked or not central to the issue at hand.

Partisan? The beginning of past impeachment processes was very partisan but by the time the process reached the Senate to hold a trial and vote, facts, evidence, and public polling also impacted the extent of party loyalty and discipline. In fact, when Richard Nixon got a forecasted vote count, he resigned before any votes were taken in the House or the Senate. Assuming the Republican-controlled Senate honors rules already in place, this should ensure the ultimate fairness of a courtroom type procedure. The Constitution requires a vote of two-thirds of senators to find the president guilty as charged in at least one of the articles of impeachment and to remove him from office, virtually ensuring that there is bipartisan consensus needed to reach that total. No president to date has gotten the two-thirds vote needed to be found guilty and removed, the bar is so high.

The GOP and the White House pounding the table about the unfairness of it all is a strategy that will only go so far. The White House has stonewalled all Congressional subpoenas and has now refused to participate in Judiciary Committee hearings, even with their attorneys or the President himself invited to participate.  The White House is making their case on media outlets that are friendly to them and tweets, avoiding having to swear to tell the truth while denying facts uncovered by the inquiry hearings. Eventually, they will have to deal with the facts, swear to the truth if they testify, claiming executive privilege, or take the fifth.  A judge just ruled against the Executive Branch claiming blanket immunity as grounds for ignoring Congressional subpoenas and declared, “the president is not a king.”

Some say leave it up to 2020 elections, they are so soon   If it is a given that the Senate on a party-line vote will acquit the accused president, why go through the process of impeachment?  It serves the purpose of informing voters of wrongdoing or exoneration they otherwise may not have known, and it may or may not affect the next election.  Such actions, in any case, set standards either lower or better defined for acceptable future presidential behavior. It is at minimum a black mark on the president’s name in the history books which may be punishment enough that future presidents may want to avoid it.  For more, visit www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com