Get ready for the Judgment Day
The formal vote to impeach President Donald Trump is now just hours ahead. And then the Senate trial will come right at the beginning of 2020. This is going to be something for the history books.
Forget your troubles
Come on get happy
You better chase all your cares away
Come on get happy
Get ready for the judgment day
The sun is shining
Come on get happy
The Lord is waiting to take your hand
Come on get happy
We’re going to the Promised Land
We’re heading across the river
Wash your sins away in the tide
It’s all so peaceful on the other side….
Get Happy by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, sung by Judy Garland in the film Summer Stock.
The Democratic Party caucus in the US House of Representatives may not be just about ready to break into song on the floor of the house, but they may well be thinking it is now definitely Stage One of “judgment day”. This week the House of Representatives will, for only the third time since the founding of the US republic, vote on whether or not to impeach a sitting president.
Assuming the vote goes for impeachment, the action then moves to the Senate – presumably in the first week of 2020. There, the odds of an actual conviction are much lower, of course.
Since we last wrote on this, the House Judiciary Committee has now issued its formal report to the whole House, weighing in at more than 600 pages of closely argued text, supporting the two articles of impeachment. These two charges are abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The report reads, in part, “President Trump has fallen into a pattern of behavior: this is not the first time he has solicited foreign interference in an election, been exposed, and attempted to obstruct the resulting investigation. He will almost certainly continue on this course… We cannot rely on the next election as a remedy for presidential misconduct when the President is seeking to threaten the very integrity of that election…
“By his actions, President Trump betrayed his office. His high crimes and misdemeanors undermine the Constitution. His conduct continues to jeopardize our national security and the integrity of our elections, presenting great urgency for the House to act. His actions warrant his impeachment and trial, his removal from office, and his disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”
The committee also argued that Trump committed criminal bribery and wire fraud as part of the overall abuse of power umbrella, writing, “President Trump’s abuse of power encompassed both the constitutional offense of ‘Bribery’ and multiple federal crimes.”
The Republican minority’s dissenting view, per Ranking Republican member Douglas Collins of Georgia, not surprisingly, did not agree. Collins wrote the evidence failed “to establish any impeachable offense… The accountability to the American people comes at the ballot box, not in House Democrats’ star chamber.”
Meanwhile, in anticipation of the upcoming role for the Senate, on Sunday Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, called on Republicans to follow the general structure and process of the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. Additionally, Schumer is calling for the Republican leadership to agree to call four new witnesses from (or formerly from) the White House under subpoenas that would be signed by the Supreme Court chief justice, the man who would preside over the Senate trial. These would-be witnesses would be individuals all of whom would have firsthand knowledge of what the president wanted, knew, did, and said in connection with the two charges of Trump’s impeachment trial.
Per The Washington Post’s reporting on Monday, 16 December, Schumer’s proposal “includes subpoenas issued by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. for acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; Robert Blair, a senior adviser to Mulvaney; former national security adviser John Bolton; and Michael Duffey, a top official at the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney, Blair and Duffey had been subpoenaed by the House committees and defied the summons; Bolton has not been subpoenaed but indicated he would fight one in court.”
On a related front, Democrats spent the weekend slamming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for saying there was “zero chance” the president would be removed, and he promised “total coordination” with the White House on how to handle the trial. McConnell told Fox News, “There will be no differences between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”
Not surprisingly, Democrats were incensed by such an obvious display of hyper-partisanship. The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Congressman Jerry Nadler, speaking on ABC’s This Week Sunday politics talk show, said McConnell’s comments were like “the foreman of the jury saying he’s going to work hand in glove with the defence attorney. That’s in violation of the oath that they’re about to take, and it’s a complete subversion of the constitutional scheme.”
Meanwhile, the implications of the Tories’ blowout win in the just-completed British parliamentary election has now become a topic of importance for many US politicians and commentators. Notwithstanding the significant differences between the two societies in terms of history, politics, and political culture, the entrails of Jeremy Corbyn and his party’s disastrous showing are being examined carefully for what they may also say about the fate of the Democrats generally – and of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders’ fates specifically.
Most precisely, what, if anything, does the epic Corbyn/Labour collapse say about those two senators’ near-revolutionary ardour on economic and financial issues for a party that is more usually seen as a moderate-centrist party with a significant, more leftist progressive wing. Would the nomination of either of the two senators as the presidential candidate galvanise support among Democratic partisans – or fatally frighten the political horses instead? Would the nomination of either senator guarantee the re-election of Trump, assuming, of course, he isn’t drummed out of office as a result of the imminent Senate trial?
Moreover, there is still a struggle taking place on Capitol Hill to reach several critically important congressional decisions – such as the inevitable vote on the federal budget and passage of the newest version of the US-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement (now in dispute because of labour inspection provisions). Further afield, there is the on-again, off-again, mini-trade deal with China (re-establishing some now-lost US grain, soya and meat/poultry product sales to China), and the unfathomable state of any negotiations with North Korea over its nascent nuclear arsenal.
All of these are – in some way – likely to become raw material for debate within the Democratic Party’s presidential primary and caucus season that formally begins with the Iowa caucus, now less than 60 days away. And this will be before somebody, Candidate X, will be nominated to take Donald Trump to task over his record. DM