Republican Commenters Defend Impeachment Witness Scenario

Republican Commenters Defend Impeachment Witness Scenario January 31, 2020

In my recent article about the trumps impeachments, I challenged Republican commenters here at my blog to defend not calling forward witnesses to testify. Now, I’m not asking them to pull down the impeachment as a whole, but just to give their best justifications as to why, given an impeachment is happening, witnesses should not be called forward at this point. As predicted, the rationalisations were pretty egregious.

The whole impeachment thing is a joke, not least because Mick Mulvaney has already said that there was a quid pro quo, whilst the Trump defence team denied it or has also argued that there was quid pro quo but that it’s acceptable. Indeed, they appear to have tied themselves in knots. Not that their supporters care. Another example is that whilst Trump’s defence initially argued there was no quid pro quo, Ted Cruz now openly claimed there was one but that it really didn’t matter.

The key legal defence from Dershowitz was to argue that a President doing something to win an election is “in the public interest” from the point of view of the President. Of course, using this logic would allow, as Seth Meyers pointed out, the President to ground all the planes of his opposition candidates so they couldn’t campaign; or some such other ridiculously improper behaviour.

But there we go; we are moving into the endgame, and the Republicans will act in true partisan refusal to allow witnesses, and the commenters here, in their cognitive dissonance, remain resolute.

Here the reasons are, from the usual suspects:

The witnesses were heard in the House’s secret star chamber. If the House didn’t get enough witnesses, tough!

1) The House completed its case for impeachment – saying over, and over, and over that it as “CLEAR” and “OVERWHELMING”. Such a supposedly already “clear” and “overwhelming” case has no need for further witnesses. The House had its opportunity to call and hear all the witnesses it wished in its House proceedings, and it claimed a clear and overwhelming case based on the witnesses it heard.

2) Continuation of “discovery” via witnesses and documents unfairly saddles the Senate with a job that was supposed to be completed in the House.

3) Continuation of “discovery” in the Senate could extend for months a process whose ultimate expected outcome – acquittal in the Senate – has long been recognized by all concerned. (Oh, and would indefinitely p-r-o-l-o-n-g a process which only weeks ago the Dems urgently insisted be completed like… yesterday!)

4) The Impeachment Articles the House settled on are the biggest load of purely partisan unconstitutional cr@p I’ve ever seen and deserve to be dismissed immediately.

And:

It was the House’s responsibility to call these witnesses during impeachment. The Democrat House managers declined to do so, partly on grounds of “urgency”, and partly because, according to them, it wasn’t necessary because the “facts are indisputable, and the evidence is overwhelming”. Now they say the witnesses are needed, that the Senate should do the investigating they failed to do, and that the additional time is of no concern.

You say witnesses are required for a “fair trial”, note House Democrats did not follow through on the process to get the witnesses they now insist are absolutely necessary, they did not allow Republicans to call witnesses, did not call the whistle blower as a witness, they limited Republican questioning of witnesses, and they refuse to release the testimony of one of the witnesses they did call.

It’s hard so see how anyone who isn’t a partisan hack could conclude “Adam Schiff and the Democrat managers have done a really very good job at presenting their case”. Their “case” was without substance, consisting mostly of repeating the same unsubstantiated talking points over and over. These are the same people who falsely claimed Trump colluded with Russia. Schiff claimed for more than two years he had “direct evidence” proving Trump colluded with Russia. Moments after that conspiracy imploded, they invented the Ukrainian “scandal”. The whole thing is a sham, and for the good of the country Republicans should end it without delay.

And:

The impeachment in the 1990s was bipartisan. Clinton did lie under oath and he was impeached for that although the Dems are now trying to say it’s because Clinton had his member licked by Lewinsky. This impeachment is not bipartisan. In fact, the vote against impeachment was bipartisan.

These essentially boil down to the following synopses:

  1. Because the Democrats failed to get their witnesses to testify by point X, they should not be able to be called forward at all.
  2. It is wasting taxpayers’ money/it’ll take ages.
  3. This should be the House’s job, not the Senate’s.
  4. The procedure is not bipartisan.
  5. The Republicans didn’t get to call witnesses.

Just a quick precis of my position first: these are properly shit justifications. Would they be arguing these points if the tables were turned and Obama was in the dock? You can bet you bottom dollar they would not. These are weak. And that Obama question needs to really be hammered home.

Let’s look at 1.

This approach, like all of them, is not about truth. It is about some phoney idea of procedure. You know when someone hasn’t got a good counter-argument against a given position when all they can come up with is procedural guff. No you can’t call this witness forward because, well, you should have done it earlier.

Imagine a rape case, or one about genocide. Would you be using this argument? It matters not one jot whether Democrats had said the case was “overwhelming” at point X. So what? There is a relevant witness to be brought forward and we now know, from a draft manuscript of his book, that he is really relevant, and we didn’t have that draft manuscript before.

It’s not up to Republicans and their supporters to say that Democrats “have no need for further witnesses” based on something they said at point X. It is now point Y, and they say they need this witness, and he is relevant to this case. Why wouldn’t someone interested in the truth want to hear from them?

Unless it is not about the truth.

This defence is terrible.

2. It is wasting taxpayers’ money.

Again, this has no bearing on the truth. This is the most important man on the planet being accused of misdemeanours in office. The world looks to America to show justice and fairness. You might hear this argument is you have a really, really poor case. This is the same as “it’ll drag on for ages”.

This defence is terrible.

3. This should be the House’s job, not the Senate’s.

Procedural. Not interested in truth. The Senate has the right to call witnesses. the House’s job is to put preliminary things into play.  As the NYT states:

Democrats respond that the Constitution in no way limits the Senate’s power to perform its own inquiry, and that the articles of impeachment are similar to a grand jury indictment that is, in criminal law, followed by a trial complete with testimony. They note that the Trump administration refused to cooperate with the House, and argue that the Republican-led Senate should now use its authority to compel appearances by current and former administration officials.

They also point out that the Senate has called witnesses in every previous impeachment trial, including those of Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. In refusing new witnesses, they say, Senate Republicans are shirking their duty and aiding in a cover-up instigated by Mr. Trump.

“To blame the House for not having all the witnesses and documents when it was Donald Trump who stopped them and with the snap of his finger can have them all is the ultimate hypocrisy,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

This defence is terrible.

4. The procedure is not bipartisan.

Procedural and not interested in truth.

I wonder why it is not bipartisan. Is it the threats, implicit or explicit, from the Dictator-in-Chief? Goodness me, the Republicans circle their wagons for fear of their lives; but instead of Native Americans howling their threats, it’s hordes of Tweets, a Trump blimp and a mass of White House aides with pikes.

This defence is terrible.

5. The Republicans didn’t get to call witnesses.

Wrong. They were allowed to call witnesses, there just were none. The problem for the Republicans is that they want to call the whistleblower as a witness. He wasn’t a witness (which is why Sondland and Bolton are much more prevalent) and they only wanted to do so out of vindictiveness.

This defence is terrible.

I mean, is this all they’ve got?

They should be embarrassed.

Of course, they’ll “win”. The dice are loaded.

 


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