GOP senators look down in embarrassment as prosecutors make their case
In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. | Senate Television via AP

WASHINGTON  — It was lucky for GOP senators at the impeachment trial yesterday that press cameras had been banned from the chamber and that only the stationary Senate cameras were running. Otherwise, images of them fidgeting, squirming and looking down in embarrassment as House prosecutors spoke would have been beamed into the homes of American TV viewers.

Also fidgeting was President Trump who managed to find the time, after attending the international big-time capitalist gathering in Davos, Switzerland, to send some 125 tweets commenting on the proceedings.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chief House manager and the one in charge of the prosecution, skillfully held attention for almost two hours as he condensed into a neat package the information gleaned from weeks of House hearings last year.

Just about the only conclusion even the most diehard Trump backer in the GOP could reasonably make when Schiff was done was that Trump had indeed masterminded and carried out a corrupt scheme in which he had abused his power and that he had indeed obstructed Congress but that both these things, for whatever reason they want to concoct, are not impeachable.

Some GOP senators criticized the prosecution case by cynically saying they had heard “nothing new.” It begs the questions: What else did you WANT to hear? If you heard more, then would you be satisfied?

Schiff passionately asked senators to shed their cynicism and to think hard about the constitution and about what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the impeachment clauses of that document.

The framers, he said, “feared that a president could subvert our democracy by abusing the awesome power of his office for his own personal or political gain and so they devised a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to combat: Impeachment.”

Schiff’s delivery was both powerful and to the point. Frequently he reminded senators about a cable or a message or an email that might have been sent to a government department by someone who had testified before the House. “Would you like me to read that to you?” he would ask. “But I can’t, the State Department refused to send us the documents. I would be able to read it to you, however, if you would issue a subpoena.”

In that way, over and over, Schiff strengthened arguments the Dems had made the day before about the importance of securing documents and witnesses which most Republicans have opposed doing.

The public in the gallery remained quiet most of the time with the exception of a Trump supporter who was escorted out by Capitol police after he jumped up and began shouting, “Dismiss the charges!”

Democrats are continuing their prosecution today, now focusing on explaining why Trump’s crimes constitute the “high crimes and misdemeanors” that the constitution lays out as the criteria for impeachment.

Polls now show that 70 percent of the public wants the Senate to allow witnesses and documents to be presented. Thus far there is no guarantee that this will happen although the phone lines in the Capitol continue to be tied up as tens of thousands place calls to pressure their senators. Four GOP senators would have to cross over when the vote to allow witnesses happens in order for the Democrats to prevail on this issue.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of 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.