House Democrats finally got around to delivering, with as much pomp and gravitas as they could muster under the circumstances, two articles of impeachment to the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had so recently warned against a partisan impeachment effort, handed out souvenir pens with her name inscribed, to commemorate the historic event as if it were a celebration. Meanwhile, the economy, Wall Street, most of the American public and probably most of the rest of the world reacted with a collective yawn. It’s not as if the outcome were in much doubt.
There was more important current news for Americans including the bi-lateral trade deal with China, the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, a new record high for the stock market and other signs of a healthy economy. Impeachment, in fact, had no perceptible effect on the U.S. economy which kept right on booming, probably enhancing the president’s re-election prospects.
The impeachment was a purely partisan effort that is expected, sooner or later, to die in the GOP-controlled Senate. The offenses cited in the two articles did not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors required by the Constitution. The Senate could now entertain a motion to dismiss the charges on those grounds just as Democrat Senator Richard Byrd did during the Clinton impeachment trial, a motion that failed by only one vote. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has ruled that out, however, and it would probably fail anyway since several Republican senators appear open to allowing witnesses to testify and documents to be subpoenaed. Even if a motion to dismiss succeeded, Democrats would claim a cover-up, but they’ll do that however this turns out.
As of this writing, Speaker McConnell apparently intends to allow the House managers, led by Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler, to present the articles of impeachment and argue the case against the president as prosecutors. This could take at least two weeks, depriving Democratic senators running election campaign of valuable campaign time and possibly benefitting Democrat front runner, Joe Biden, and the other candidates for the nomination who aren’t going to be confined to the Senate chamber for the duration of a trial that could stretch on for months. A motion to dismiss could be entertained at any point, or perhaps U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, could dismiss the charges. Most likely after the House managers finish presenting their case, senators will vote on whether or not witnesses will be allowed to be called to testify and documents subpoenaed, allowing new evidence to be presented. The Senate, of course, is under no obligation to do the junior chamber’s work by continuing the investigation. Its job is to try the president on the articles presented.
If the Senate votes to allow witnesses and does not vote to dismiss the charges, the trial will continue as the president’s defense team, which includes one of America’s foremost constitutional attorneys, Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat who reportedly voted for Hillary Clinton, presents the defense. It will argue that no high crimes or misdemeanors were committed by the president, that he acted within his constitutional authority and that the charges should be dismissed or the president acquitted. If the charges are not dismissed at this point, the Senate will likely vote to acquit the president. Perhaps the Chief Justice will then rebuke the House leadership for bringing articles of impeachment against the president in the absence of high crimes or misdemeanors and, by so doing, trivializing the impeachment process for obvious political reasons in an election year in an attempt to influence the election outcome.
This would conclude a sorry and expensive episode for our country. Speaker Pelosi and the liberal media have often referred to this impeachment as historic and permanent as indeed it is, but not because it is only the third time that an American president has been impeached. Rather, it is historic primarily because it is the first time that an American president has been impeached without a single vote from the opposition party and in an election year, just ten months before the voters have an opportunity to make their own choice for president.
This impeachment will, therefore, always have an asterisk attached with a footnote denoting that it was a purely partisan, political attempt to remove a duly-elected president in an election year in the absence of a high crime or misdemeanor. It may also be remembered as an historic blunder which backfired on Democrats and ended up actually increasing the president’s likelihood of re-election, trivializing the impeachment process and increasing the chances that it will be used again in future attempts to taint or remove a duly-elected president because of political disagreements.