By Kelby D. Fletcher

I wonder whether impeaching the President and trying him in the Senate is wise.  It may be better for the country and for Democrats to vote to censure him for endangering the security of an ally, Ukraine, and the United States, and for obstruction of justice. Allow me to explain.

1.  There is no doubt the votes to impeach are there in the House. But the vote will be along party lines although there could be some Democrats who vote against articles of impeachment.

2.  There can be no doubt that the Senate will not vote to remove the President from office.  The Senate failed, by one vote, to remove Andrew Johnson for his efforts to hamper Reconstruction and to remove cabinet officers favoring a strong Reconstruction after the Civil War.  The Senate refused to remove President Clinton from office for perjury.  While it was about sex, it is certainly the case that he perjured himself. 

3.  The Senate Republicans will want a trial which will have witnesses.  And those may include the Bidens and anyone they can find to corroborate President Trump’s fantasies about Ukraine.  The Chief Justice will preside and will rule on evidentiary and procedural issues. The Republicans will clamor for transparency and due process and they likely will muck things up so much that the issues will appear to be partisan and not criminal or impeachable.

4. If the vote to convict is largely along party lines, which is very likely, what does the country get at the end of that process?  More partisan finger pointing and an even uglier election year. And all of this will be exploited by what we now know to be efforts by Russia to divide us and other democratic nations.

The managers of the impeachment will come from the House of Representatives and the President will have his own counsel.  While it might be interesting to have the President testify, he will serve to rouse his base. And he will be successful.  The Democrats will do the same thing.  But, again, to what end?

5. If there is no impeachment, one might say the House of Representatives is forfeiting its Constitutional duty.  I disagree.  It is fulfilling its duty under the Constitution by investigating and exposing the President.  And it did so on its terms with procedural fairness for the President’s supporters. 

Wouldn’t it be better to have Chairman Schiff’s work be the work of the Congress rather than a trial in the Senate where Rep. Jim Jordan can collaborate with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and disparage the Bidens, President Obama and Ukrainians?

6. If the House censures the President, the motion may draw support from some Republicans.  And, it shows to the American people that Democrats – and reasonable people – are willing to investigate and expose but not to engage in further Washington DC destructive partisanship. 

7. While a Senate trial would put some senators in election contests in the hot seat, the same can occur when the vote to censure moves to the Senate, if Sen. McConnell allows it to go there.  Either way, senators will be asked where they stand on the evidence disclosed in the impeachment inquiry.

In short, a report from the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee setting out the dangers President Trump presents to the American system and security followed by a vote to Censure may accomplish more than a vote to impeach followed by an acquittal in the Senate. 

The work of the House committees in the televised hearings these past few weeks has done more than what could be accomplished in the Senate. Persuadable voters saw and heard how destructive President Trump is and has been.

Kelby D. Fletcher practices law in Seattle at the firm of Stokes Lawrence.

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr. Fletcher,
    What does and what will “censure” really mean to this president or to his cult, aka the Republican Party? Not much more than a parking ticket, chump change, pfffft, nothing more than a cocktail party joke.
    This has been made more than patently obvious. If anyone thinks that those cultist will ever accept that this president ever did anything worthy of censure then they are, at best, quite comatose. My desire to ‘meet these people in the middle’ disappeared years ago.

    To your editorial points:
    1 – of course every vote is along party lines and yes there are “Democrats” who support this president. Those electeds are only looking to keep their current redish bona fides and are moral cowards.
    2 – of course Moscow Mitch will kill any serious consideration of Impeachment in the Senate. To quote a current White House henchmonkey, “Get over it.”
    3 – of course Massacre Mitch & John Roberts & Lindsey’s well-clutched pearls will preside over a circus of their own making. So what? Let them inflate their car lot wind sock Jim Jordan, run Hunter Biden up on a pike, and flip over rocks looking for corroboration of Guliani’s paranoid hallucinations. The cultists who will be “clamor[ing] for transparency and due process” don’t know what that even means, wallowing daily in muck as they do.
    4 – this president will never testify under oath. His own personal Al Qaeda is already roused. So what?
    5 – “And it did so on its terms with procedural fairness for the President’s supporters.” I must wonder what hearings were being watched. Did anyone really miss the part where every one of the president’s supporters said that the procedures where trumped up, fake, unfair? “… procedural fairness for the President’s supporters” are the protestations of fantasists.
    Chairman’s Schiff’s work, if rolled over into a “censure,” will be most assuredly lost in history. Again, let Ditch Mitch wind up his wind sock puppet. Let history record that! And disparage President Obama? That started before lunch on Obama’s inauguration day. Did anyone really miss or are forgetting that?
    6 – “… draw support from some Republicans ” Again, protestations of a fantasist.
    7 – A Senate impeachment trial does exactly what history demands: that every Senator vote for or against impeachment, that every Senator publicly state that they support a criminal president or they do not.

    Mr. Fletcher left out that every Senator, including those standing for the Democratic nomination, will be required to be in attendance for the Senate trial. Fine, and actually Great, campaigns are too damn long anyway. And if those non-Senator candidates do not quit the campaign during this period then we must summarily reject them for not attending to this nations’ most fundamental duty.

    When this US Senate dismisses impeachment it will then be history that records and accurately states that criminality is the acceptable (if not now demanded) standard for all US presidents.
    Censure has no value, states nothing, and means less.
    Jack Mackie

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