Congress And The Impeachment Process
To The Reader’s Forum:
As I write, the House plans to send impeachment Articles to the Senate for a trial of Donald Trump. That action is, perhaps, next to going to war, the most significant thing our republic can do and should not be taken lightly. Whether Senators ultimately acquit or convict, while important in its own right, in my opinion is secondary to the process by Congress. The Founders apparently also believed in the process or they would not have included it in the Constitution. The process is straightforward – the House must pass an “indictment” to the Senate, which then must then conduct a “trial” led by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Ultimately, the outcome has “political” ramifications for Trump or a successor but, depending on the nature of the charges, may also have “legal” ramifications as to if or how the Constitution or other laws shall be followed. It is, therefore, imperative that the Senate treat the process fairly and fully as intended. After fair and full review of the charges and supporting evidence provided by the House and development of additional relevant testimony and evidence if desired, the Senate should (remember this is a quasi-political process) decide on the merits of the charges. I say “should” in that there have been no convictions as a result of impeachment trials and there is no doubt of political motivation behind reaching the required two-thirds vote of Senators.
Regardless of the outcome, Republicans would still hold onto the presidency and the Senate and Democrats the House at least until after the next federal election. Thus, the overarching political ramifications for the Republicans is Trump’s immediate future. The legal ramifications are broader because of the nature of the current charges — they affect the interaction of two co-equal branches of government as well as how much power a president has in conducting foreign policy. Political result is just a check on a person, while the legal result involves a check on “presidential power”, which could extend to either political party — indefinitely.
It is the long term, for our children and their posterity, that I believe is the interest the Congress, especially the Senate, to keep in mind as they deliberate. Even the current members of Congress will pass on so I hope they understand that the Founders knew politics was about people and constantly changing, but the American republic was intended to last forever.
Paul L. Demler