Every day in the United States of America, criminal charges are laid against people who are accused of crimes. Once those charges are filed, a process begins by which guilt or innocence are determined.
In our nation’s capital, a similar process is playing out now, but rather than taking place in a court of law, this one is taking place in Congress, because the founders of this nation recognized that those serving in the highest echelons of our federal government, whether elected by the people or appointed by the executive and legislative branches, cannot be subject while in office to those same courts as the rest of the populace.
A measure of last resort, as intended by our founders, the impeachment now underway is only the fourth time in our nation's history such drastic measure has been deemed necessary.
It is a political process, yet, like the legal process that goes on in courts of law, once impeachment charges are filed, it is incumbent on all involved to see the process through to a fair and just conclusion.
The House of Representatives is given the sole power to impeach, be the "suspect" a Supreme Court Justice, the President or a member of Congress. The Executive, Legislative and Judicial are each a co-equal branch of government to insure that no one branch or any one individual acquire power over the people in contravention of that granted by the Constitution.
The U.S. House of Representatives, based on evidence and testimony sufficient to result in a majority vote of that body, has impeached President Donald J. Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Yes, it was a vote along party lines. Yes, Democrats are in the majority in the House. Yes, it was a partisan decision. But the charges have been voted on and passed.
And now, once serious questions are answered, those two charges will go to the Senate, the body given sole Constitutional authority to try impeachments and to acquit or render sentence; removal from office and, if sufficiently egregious, to bar the impeached from further public service in an office of trust.
In the Senate, a two-thirds vote is necessary to convict and remove an official from a position of trust. And before sitting as "jurors," U.S. Senators must avow or affirm that they will give fair and unbiased consideration in reaching their decision, just as jurors in a court of law are required to do.
Yet Senate Republicans in positions of authority have, even before the charges could be formally forwarded, announced publicly that they have no intention of being fair; they are ready to dismiss. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the senior Senator who will serve as "juror" and who will lead in developing the rules the Senate will follow in rendering a fair and unbiased decision, has gone so far as to say he is not taking a step without consulting administration lawyers; attorneys who will be working to exonerate the president.
There can be no hope that McConnell can or will be able to take the oath in good faith.
Senator Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina), chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, has gone on record to say that his mind is made up, he doesn't need or want to see or hear evidence, he just wants to get it over with quickly.
House Democrats are holding the charges, waiting to see if the Senate Republicans will take their responsibilities, their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution, seriously. Thus far the vast majority have signaled their fealty to the president and political expediency rather than Constitutional duty.
It is no surprise that bipartisan feeling runs high in an impeachment; Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson both went through similarly high-charged proceedings. Nixon resigned rather than force such a terrible national ordeal.
The difference between the earlier processes and this is that those earlier impeached, in respect for the rule of law, abided subpoenas. This president has consistently, overtly and deliberately done all in his power to stymie the House investigation, ordering subpoenaed staff members not to appear, withholding documentation and appealing failed lawsuits clear to the Supreme Court to stall for as long as possible.
It is in spite of these machinations, House investigators obtained evidence sufficient to impeach.
To say their motive is merely to overturn the 2016 election is moot. To decry the Democratic party and its members as the enemies of the people is self-serving and clearly wrong; the Democratic Party is still one of the two main political parties in this country, those Democrats elected to serve in offices of trust large and small were elected by the people and they and their constituents have every bit as much right and responsibility as any other elected public servant or citizen.
And one of those rights is the right to expect justice, according to law.
For the Senate to belittle the process and exonerate the president without full hearing, without demanding the evidence and testimony denied the House, brings into question whether the rule of law is as highly esteemed as most Americans think it should be.
If he has done nothing wrong, as Donald Trump steadfastly professes, summary dismissal denies an innocent president the opportunity to defend himself, denies him due process, denies him the opportunity to clear his name and record.
If the president is not innocent and is not held to a fair and open Senate hearing as demanded by the Constitution, the result is tantamount to handing the authority and responsibility invested the Congress to the Executive and discarding for all time the checks and balances so carefully crafted to carry our government through just such crisis as we now face.
It is incumbent on the U.S. Senate, each and every member regardless of party affiliation, to abide their oaths of office and do what is morally right, not what is expedient or what will keep them in office. They are, after all, public servants, and there is no higher duty for any public servant than upholding our nation's laws.
Our government of the people, by the people, for the people, created just 12 score and four years ago, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, depends on it.