Mitt fails to acquit and Utah GOP has a fit
According to many Constitutional scholars, the original concept of a bi-cameral national legislature was to create an internal balance between direct democracy and representative democracy. As James Madison put it in Federalist 39:
“The House of Representatives will derive its powers from the people of America….The Senate, on the other hand, will derive its powers from the States, as political and co-equal societies; and these will be represented on the principle of equality in the Senate.”
Some, like Roger Sherman of Connecticut, even called for members of the House to be appointed, not elected by the public at large. The people, Sherman said, “immediately should have as little to do as may be about the Government. They want [lack] information and are constantly liable to be misled.”
Elbridge Gerry of Massachussetts added, “the evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want [lack] virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots.”
Of course, the 17th Amendment took the election of Senators out of the hands of majority parties in each state legislature and placed it in the hands of the same voters that elect representatives in Congress. There are arguments to be made on both sides as to whether this was the best course of action and it’s beyond our scope here.
Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan and Bush White House advisor, historian and economist writes:
The Founding Fathers did this (establishing that Senators were not directly elected) very deliberately because they were fearful that the passions of the moment might lead to unwise decisions. They wanted some elected officials to be insulated to some degree from these passions, so that they could be more dispassionate in their judgments.
Senators were originally expected to represent the states as states — almost in the sense of being ambassadors to Washington from the states, which had far more sovereignty at the time of the Constitutional Convention than they have now.
The concept they had in mind, has been altered, over the course of two centuries by a myriad of factors, including the growth of power of political parties and the enormous amounts of money spent to influence the outcome of elections.
In consequence to that, Mitt Romney’s principled decision to vote guilty on the Abuse of Power article of impeachment yesterday, is a monumental act of defiance. “The grave question the Constitution task senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme, so egregious, that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor,” Mr. Romney said. “Yes, he did.”
Romney is not so much poking it in the eyeballs of his fellow GOP Senate delegation (although it exposed their fecklessness) or even sticking it to the president, although his vote has that practical effect as well. Romney has aligned himself against voters in his own state.
In a jointly conducted poll from the Utah Policy political site and Salt Lake City television KUTV Channel 2, it was reported that 46% of Utahans would vote for Trump’s reelection, compared with 41% when the last poll was taken in October.
Another poll, from the end of last month by the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah and the Deseret News, a LDS-owned newspaper, pegged the president’s approval rating at 53%, an all-time high. Despite the marginal discrepancy between the approval rating number and the percentage that say they will vote for Trump, there is no doubt that Romney, with eyes wide open, decided to cross a minefield.
In an interview Wednesday with the Deseret News, Romney said he had agonized over his choice, calling it “the most difficult decision that I have faced. I have never experienced as much sleeplessness, as much angst, and recognized the consequence for the country in a way that I have during this process.”
Underlining the risk that Romney has now exposed himself to, by hewing to an ethical code and foundational precepts of the rule of law, is this statement from Derek Brown, chairman of the Utah Republican Party:
“As a party, we strongly disagree with the vote cast today by Senator Romney, and stand firmly behind our President, whose policies have created an unprecedented level of American prosperity. The impeachment effort has served only to distract America from the serious issues it faces, and this November voters will hold Democrats accountable for that distraction.”
Brown is asserting in no uncertain terms, that Romney is on the wrong side of the electorate in Utah. Being on the wrong side of a substantial number of voters in one’s state, is not an exclusive factor for Romney. Democrat Senator Doug Jones of Alabama was among three Democrats nationally, who were in a bit of a quandary in as much as voting to convict, carried high risk with a significant percentage of voters in their state.
Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema, (D-AZ) also defied the political currents in their states. Much more so in the case of Manchin, who received this rebuke from West Virginia Senate President Mitch Carmichael:
“I had sincerely hoped that Sen. Manchin would ignore the political pressure of his liberal Washington friends, and reject their constant schemes to remove President Trump from office. Unfortunately, Sen. Manchin believes President Trump should be removed from office despite the will of West Virginia voters.”
The West Virginia voters Carmichael refers to, favored Trump in 2016 over Hillary Clinton by 42% – that margin only surpassed by election results in Wyoming.
by Richard Cameron
A predominant majority – 64% of Americans, according to polling data gathered by Pew Research, indicated, during the course of the Senate Impeachment trial, that they had little to no confidence that the Senate Republican majority would conduct the proceedings fairly. Those 64%, including myself (although I was not polled), pegged the outcome with precise accuracy.
This was in concert with polls, including a Quinnipiac University poll, in which 75% of registered voters agree that witnesses should be called to testify regarding the facts of the articles of impeachment.
Against this backdrop, it is worth noting that members of Trump’s impeachment defense team themselves, were and are, engaging in behavior, which, if not patently illegal, is extremely disreputable and unethical.
As we have pointed out, at least two of them, new evidence demonstrates, are being discovered to be implicated in the conduct central to the Ukraine question and may also be part of a cover up operation.
According to details excepted from former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s soon to be released memoirs, White House legal counsel and member of Trump’s impeachment defense team, Pat Cippolone, was in at least one meeting in the West Wing, in which Trump requested Bolton to participate directly in the effort to extract useful damaging opposition research on former Vice President Joe Biden, from Ukrainian president Zelenskyy.
Stephen Gillers – a leading legal ethicist, wrote in Just Security on January 27 – before the Bolton revelations surfaced, that:
From all that appears, Cipollone is what the law calls a percipient witness to the relevant facts. He has personal and significant experience with the events that form the basis for the articles of impeachment. His testimony would not be hearsay. If the impeachment trial were in a courtroom, Cipollone could not head, or even be part of, the defense team. The same should be true in the Senate trial because, at bottom, the senators have taken an oath to perform the same job that we ask of traditional jurors – i.e., decide the facts. To do that job, they need to hear from the witnesses to those facts.
Little did we know at the time, how relevant Gillers argument here, would become. Outside of the fact that the Senate trial has displayed all of the classic and characteristic facets of a cover up, Cippolone’s role as an impeachment trial counsel and simultaneously, Trump’s chief White House counsel, was patently illegitimate.
Cippolone is a fact witness and should have been properly be under questioning in the (so-called) trial, not acting as a defender of the president. The office of White House Counsel is intended to function as a resource of the office of the president, not the personal interests of the individual occupying that office.
Making that argument and a broader argument about the fundamental illegitimacy of Cippilone’s role as a member of the impeachment defense team, is this letter sent to Cippilone’s desk from the House Impeachment managers conducting the prosecution:
“In preparation for the trial of Donald J. Trump before the Senate, we write to notify you that evidence received by the House of Representatives during its impeachment inquiry indicates that you are a material witness to charges in both Articles of Impeachment for which President Trump now faces trial.
You must disclose all facts and information as to which you have first-hand knowledge that will be at issue in connection with evidence you present or arguments you make in your role as the President’s legal advocate so that the Senate and Chief Justice can be apprised of any potential ethical issues, conflicts or biases.
Evidence indicates that, at a minimum, you have detailed knowledge of the facts regarding the first Article and played an instrumental role in the conduct charged in the second Article. These issues are directly implicated by your involvement in the events underlying the Articles of Impeachment.”
Signed, Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, Val Demings, Hakeem Jeffries, Sylvia Garcia, Zoe Lofgren and Jason Crow
Regardless that the die is now cast and the feckless GOP, minus Romney, gave Trump a get out of jail free card, the bottom line of the letter is that Cippilone’s role in this trial was unsanctioned, unethical and constitutionally improper.
And it remains so.
by Richard Cameron
There is an open nomination for the John F. Kennedy Library, “Profiles In Courage” award for 2020. I personally nominated former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch for the award, but anyone who wishes to participate can do so, simply by visiting the website linked below and filling out the brief form.
It would be a blow against the regime if someone who steadfastly resisted Donald Trump’s lawlessness and illegitimacy, received that award. Go to it!