We The People are We The Jury when it comes to impeachment

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Today, for just the third time in U.S. history, an impeachment trial of the President of the United States begins.

While the pundits will go on endlessly about the 100 U.S. Senators who will decide President Donald J. Trump’s fate, there is a greater truth.

We — the American people — are the jury. You have a duty to watch if possible, catch up and stay informed if not.

If a compelling case is made that Trump violated his oath of office, pressuring a foreign country to interfere in our 2020 election and obstructed Congress, then senators run the risk of finding themselves unemployed if they vote to acquit.

Similarly, if the case unravels and proves to be nothing more than political mischief, a vote to convict could prove career ending.

For Pennsylvania’s two Senators, Bob Casey, Jr. and Pat Toomey would be well advised to leave politics aside and focus on the facts of the case.

Allowing witnesses and new documents will be important. While Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is arguing to use the Clinton Impeachment as a template, the circumstances are radically different.

In the case of Clinton, every key witness testified before a Federal Grand Jury, including Bill Clinton. All of the documents were available and used both for the grand jury and investigator Kenneth Starr. By the time the case got to the Senate, all of the key evidence had been gathered and presented.

In the case of Donald Trump, virtually all of the key witnesses were prevented from testifying and the administration refused to turn over documents, despite Congressional subpoenas. As seemingly on a daily basis new information comes out suggesting that Trump misused his office for personal political gain and then actively covered it up, it is virtually impossible to hold a fair trial without evaluating  this information and seeing whether it has merit.

If the rules propagated by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last night stand, even the evidence gather by the House of Representatives will not be part of the record, unless voted for by the Senate.

If such a “trial” happens — no new evidence and exclusion of the old evidence — more than senators should be held responsible. This will fall on the entire Republican Party. The only way to express frustration is to vote out every single GOP elected official in 2020 from state legislature up. Actively participating in such a cover-up should cause electoral disaster for any party.

Keep in mind, though, Democrats, too, have a burden and must be willing to seek the truth no matter where it leads.

While not specifically germane to the charges against Trump, it would seem prudent to allow Hunter Biden and maybe Joe Biden to testify about the former’s role with Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company that the younger Biden served as a board member. Having the Bidens testify would make it impossible to prevent the testimony of Lev Parnas, John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney and other witnesses the Republicans don’t wish to hear testify.

The decision to insist on witnesses and documents will hold heavy weight for both gentlemen and will not be forgotten when they next face election, in Toomey’s case, 2022 and Casey’s case, 2024.

Toomey faces the more difficult situation, especially if rumors that he plans to run for Governor in 2022 are true.

If Toomey is part of a stonewalling effort, if it appears he prejudged the case against Trump, not only would he stand little chance in a gubernatorial race (which frankly, he would probably be an underdog without the impeachment issue), he’d have a tough time keeping his U.S. Senate seat. While he’d pick up votes in the T (the central portion of the state) and in the west, Toomey will get crushed in places like Chester County.

Casey, close to Joe Biden, must play it straight as well. He cannot be seen as overly partisan or unwilling to be fairminded in this proceeding. If Biden, or his son, are guilty only of poor judgment (the latter taking a post at Burisma), then it is hard to object to having either testify before the Senate.

Senators — and both parties — would be well advised to remember that the American people are not stupid. A rushed cover up — or a flimsy case for impeachment — should and will have a strongly negative impact on the political fate of any party that fails to support a fair, and thorough trial.

At the end, We The People are We The Jury.

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