February 6, 2020

Senatorial Courage (Mitt Romney) - And Senatorial Cowardice (Pat Toomey)

The only senator ever to vote to remove from office an impeached president who was a member of his own party said this on the floor of the senate yesterday:
The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

Yes, he did.

The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.

The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.

The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.

The President’s purpose was personal and political.

Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.

What he did was not “perfect”— No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.
Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.
And finally:
I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.
And then he voted to remove Donald Trump from office.

Senator Mitt Romney, Republican from Utah, voted country over party. He voted loyalty to the truth rather than loyalty to Trump. Conscience over party.

Then there's Senator Pat Toomey, Republican from Pennsylvania. To defend his decision to acquit, he released a statement that read:
Today, I joined a majority of senators in voting to acquit President Trump. The Constitution sets a very high bar for impeachment and removal of a sitting president. While some of President Trump's actions were inappropriate, they did not come close to meeting the very high bar required to justify overturning the last election, removing him from office, and kicking him off the ballot in an election that has already begun. In November, the American people will decide for themselves whether President Trump should stay in office. In our democratic system, that's the way it should be.
Toomey gets something wrong at the end. He's implying that the process of impeachment and removal is somehow outside of "our democratic system" and that's exactly wrong. As it's written into the Constitution, it's a central part of the system (as a final legislative check on an out-of-control executive), and not an aberration of it.

To Toomey what Trump did was bad, just not bad enough for removal.

In his Philadelphia Inquirer Op-Ed, published before his vote to cover-up, Toomey wrote:
House Democrats' impeachment articles allege that President Trump briefly paused aid, and withheld a White House meeting with Ukraine's president, to pressure Ukraine into investigating two publicly-reported corruption matters. The first matter was possible Ukrainian interference in our 2016 election. [Links in original.]
That second link is very interesting as it links to the White House 171-page memo released in response to The House's impeachment. In it, we find this curious justification for dismissal:
III.Article I Fails Because House Democrats Have No Evidence to Support Their Claims.

A.The Evidence Shows That the President Did Not Condition Security Assistance or a Presidential Meeting on Announcements of Any Investigations.

House Democrats have falsely charged that the President supposedly conditioned military aid or a presidential meeting on Ukraine’s announcing a specific investigation. Yet despite running an entirely ex parte, one-sided process to gather evidence, House Democrats do not have a single witness who claims, based on direct knowledge, that the President ever actually imposed such a condition.
We now know that there was a witness "who claims, based on direct knowledge, that the President" actually did impose such a condition - former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Bolton, however, was never heard by the Senate because Senate republicans (including Pat Toomey) voted against hearing any witnesses - thus giving more cover from Trump's grievously wrong actions.

His explanation is dizzingly circular:
Even if House Democrats' presumptions about President Trump's motives are true, additional witnesses in the Senate, beyond the 17 who testified in the House, are unnecessary because the president's actions do not rise to the level of removing him from office.
Since they already knew Trump's actions didn't rise to the level of removal, hearing any witness that could show otherwise was simply unnecessary. The fix is in. The republic suffers.

Two Senators, both republicans. One acted courageously and the other one was Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey.

No comments: