Senate “trial” with no documents or witnesses – a national embarrassment
Sen. Lamar Alexander was not exactly a profile in courage when he said he was against calling witnesses even though he thought the president was guilty as charged on the article of abuse of power. He said the people will have to decide what to do with Trump in November but he took away their right to make that decision on the basis of what they heard from witnesses at the Senate trial. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP

President Donald Trump’s acquittal was a certainty well before Sen. Lamar Alexander’s decision last night to hang tight with his long-time pal Mitch McConnell and oppose efforts by the Dems to call more witnesses and keep the trial going an extra week.

The 51-member GOP majority was never expected to put principle before party. Their concern for self-preservation was always expected to trump any concerns for justice. The 51 Republican senators represent a fifth of the country, the less-than-20 percent of the voters in states where Trump’s base is the strongest – and that is what determines the direction in which their loyalty lies.

They have always wanted the vote to deny witnesses as the sure and quick way to bring a quick end to a trial that threatened to expose too much for too many people about their own involvement in national scandal.

Imagine if Giuliani associate Lev Parnas were called to testify, for example. How embarrassing it would be for them to have Parnas, a pal of both Giuliani and Trump, sporting an ankle bracelet while he talked about the things Trump had said to him. Remember, Parnas is under indictment for illegally channeling laundered money from international gangsters into the coffers of GOP lawmakers who are numbered among those voting against holding Trump accountable for his crimes.

Then there are the so-called GOP “statesmen” – among them Alexander, Collins, Murkowski, and Romney. How much better are these people when it comes to the question of being counted upon to do the right thing? Like the entire GOP caucus in the Senate, they also aided and abetted McConnell’s disgraceful killing of President Obama’s Merrick Garland nomination to the Supreme Court. They all voted to stack the Federal courts across the nation with young right-wing ideologues. They all support the assault on the rights of workers to form unions. They vote in the interests of the people only when they get a hall pass to do so from McConnell or, as in the case of Romney, they don’t need the money corporate sponsors would withhold from them if they stray from the right-wing straight and narrow. Romney has his own grip on the powerful Mormon business operations in Utah that yield him more than enough money to stay in power in that state.

Thus we have a fast-track Senate vote on no witnesses and no documents and the acquittal of a dangerously lawless president. The senators did their duty – the duty to get rid of the unpleasantries in time for the Super Bowl on Sunday and the State of the Union address next Tuesday when the entire GOP crowd will sit there in the Capitol cheering on the criminal who occupies the White House. They will do it because it is the only way they think that the whole miserable lot of them can get re-elected.

Chief Justice John Roberts is another of the many profiles in cowardice we observed during the “trial.” Fully permitted under the constitution to play a more proactive role including giving his opinion on and even ruling on witnesses, he instead sat in his chair much like a plant sits in its pot.

Senator Alexander said in a statement after he announced his spineless position: “I concluded, after nine long days and hearing 200 video clips of witnesses … I didn’t need any more evidence because I thought it was proved that the president did what he was charged with doing. But that didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense, so I didn’t need any more evidence to make my decision.”

Asked whether Trump deserved reelection after being guilty of what he was charged, Alexander said, “Everyone will have to make that decision for themselves.” Too bad he took away from everyone who has to make that decision their right to see a fair trial with witnesses.

Trump was impeached by the House because he abused presidential power to a degree never seen before in U.S. history and because he totally blocked Congress from getting any information or witnesses. The Senate, this past two weeks,  aided and abetted him in those efforts.

If the best we can expect from the GOP is the actions taken by Collins, Murkowski, Alexander and Romney we cannot then expect too much from that party. It will be up to the broad people’s movements and the voters all across this nation to do in November what the Senate failed to do these past two weeks. Hopefully, the continued investigations and exposes we can expect in the House will help fuel that movement.

The stakes for democracy in America are now higher than ever.

Voters and many organizations will be making special efforts in states where GOP senators are up for re-election to ensure that those senators are replaced. It could spell the end of McConnell’s control of that body.


CONTRIBUTOR

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, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. 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.

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