(The following letter is published without editing by the staff of Mid-Hudson News.)
During the impeachment inquiry the House Democrats built a strong circumstantial case of both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against Trump. Contrary to Trump’s orders to stonewall the investigation, very credible, patriotic witnesses came forward to speak truth to power and testify. Their testimony corroborated the whistleblower’s complaint of Trump’s ‘quid pro quo’ deal where he used security aid to our ally Ukraine( $391 million dollars in military aid needed to ward off Russian aggression at its eastern border) as a bargaining chip to get Ukraine President Zelensky to dig up dirt on Trump’s chief political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. The House had more than enough circumstantial evidence to hold Trump accountable with the two articles of impeachment.
Unfortunately when the articles reached the US Senate, presidential accountability ended. Our US Constitution requires the Senate conduct a fair and impartial jury trial. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It was all a sham. The trial was over before it began. Senate Majority Leader McConnell publicly asserted he was not impartial and the trial strategy planned would be in coordination with the White House. The verdict a foregone conclusion; a Trump acquittal on both articles, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Senator McConnell set a dangerous precedent when he did not allow any witnesses to appear and/or documentaton be introduced at the trial. All prior impeachment trials, be it presidents or other federal officials, had witnesses. This precedent damages the Senate’s credibility and institutional strength as an independent branch of government. The House managers requested the very witnesses who refused to testify at the House inquiry; namely Guiliani, Trump’s personal attorney, Bolton, a former Trump national security advisor and Trump’s chief of staff Mulvaney. Apparently they all had first-hand knowledge of Trump’s ‘quid pro quo’ scheme with Ukraine. Their testimony would have significantly bolstered the House case against Trump. McConnell’s refusal to allow these witnesses flies in the face of our system of checks and balances; it blurs the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch; it ignores the accountability of executive power. Trump’s acquittal by an almost unanimous Republican vote following an incomplete and unfair trial amounts to a political cover-up ! The Trump enablers gave him a free pass on his blatant constiutionally-abusive conduct. They put Trump loyalty over their constitutional oath. The acquittal opens the door for continued abuses of presidential power, both by Trump and future presidents.
America right now is in a dark place. Executive accountability is now in our hands via the vote. In the November 2020 presidential election we have to decide what kind of nation we want. Will we be a nation of laws or men ? Will we be a monarchy or democracy ? Will it be an election or coronation ? Will we be a freedom-loving democratic republic, a beacon of hope for all the world to admire and respect or one in name only hollowed out by corruption ? America is at a crossroads. The choice is ours.
John Lown, Maybrook, NY