House impeachment managers make case for removal of the president
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Shumer of New York sought passage of amendments that would guarantee a fair rather than a sham trial of Trump in the Senate. His efforts to do so failed yesterday. | Senate TV via AP

Undaunted by GOP attempts to stage a sham trial the Democratic House impeachment managers used time Tuesday that Republicans had hoped would embroil them in procedural arguments to instead lay out a clear narrative of why Trump should be removed from office.

They made a convincing argument that Trump is continuing today the abuses of power for which he was impeached last month in the House of Representatives. Today he still has his lawyer traveling to Ukraine to continue the pressure for getting that government to interfere in our elections, Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee said in the Senate chamber yesterday.

The Senate, however, under the control of Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, rejected eight proposed Democratic amendments to the rules that would have allowed documents and witnesses into the trial, always by a partisan vote of 53 to 47.

Republicans claim they will allow for a vote on whether to introduce documents and witnesses sometime next week. Aside from the absurdity of beginning a trial without either, the logistics of asking for documents well into any trial are doubly problematic because it often takes time to procure those documents. Those requests are always made very early on in any normal trial where, in any case, documents and witnesses go together.

Notable in Tuesday’s remarks by Trump’s defense lawyers was their failure to deny any of the actual charges against the president and their attempts to focus only on false process issues. They tried to cast doubt on all the proceedings by claiming there was never an official vote in the House to have an impeachment inquiry. The House, of course, did more than that by voting to impeach Trump and it is the House, not the president, that, under the constitution, determines impeachment rules.

The question in the trial now underway is whether Trump should be removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress that began with him pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter by withholding aid appropriated by Congress and then continued by Trump obstructing the investigations into his crime.

Democrats did a good job, most observers noted, of using what may have been their only chance to turn the McConnell coverup into a real trial and to lay out their case for impeachment. They were operating yesterday under the possibility that as late as today the Republicans might try to dismiss the charges against Trump entirely. That did not happen, however, because of how bad it would make Republicans look in the eyes of the public.

Repeatedly Republicans defeated Democratic amendments to the rules that would have allowed documents and witnesses to be called up – prerequisites to any fair trial. They wanted documents from the State Department, Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget. Republicans also rejected votes to subpoena White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton. They did this despite Schiff’s warning that a vote to deny the motions was could ensure that the documents and witnesses would never be procured.

Only on one amendment, to allow more time to file motions, did a single Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, join Democrats. But it, too, was rejected, 52-48.

Republicans were angry that Democrats were making them listen to their case against the president and keeping them at it late into the night.

“It’s not our job to make it easy for you,” Rep. Schiff,  said. “Our job is to make it hard to deprive the American people of a fair trial.”

Schiff  said the framers of the Constitution  put in impeachment with “precisely this type of conduct in mind — conduct that abuses the power of office for a personal benefit, that undermines our national security, and that invites foreign interference in the democratic process of an election.”

“It is the trifecta of constitutional misconduct justifying impeachment,” Schiff declared.

At first, McConnell did not want the House impeachment record to be entered into the Senate but he had to back down on that one rule under pressure from several Republicans who thought that was a step too far.

Trump’s legal team tried to argue that the motions by Democrats to bring witnesses and documents were an attempt to have the Senate do a job the House should have done. The House, of course, could not procure many of the witnesses it wanted because of Trump’s orders to them not to cooperate.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, one of the House managers and the first woman ever to argue for the prosecution in a presidential impeachment trial, said the House wasn’t asking the Senate to do the work of the House. “The House is asking the Senate to do its job, to have a trial,” she said. “Have you ever heard of a trial without evidence?″

The House Managers often made their cases with compelling, real-life human interest stories.

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a former African American police chief, talked about her job as a cop and said in her line of work that she never saw anyone take “such extreme steps to hide evidence.″

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman  very colorfully said the White House lawyers “lie and lie and lie” in making their process arguments that in no way challenge what the Dems say the president has done.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. John Wojcik es editor en jefe de People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.