Adam Schiff’s Closing Arguments on Trump’s Impeachment Dare the Senate to Be Decent

As the impeachment trial of Donald Trump enters into its final phase, the litigants on both sides are presenting their best arguments to persuade senators to vote for or against conviction. The President’s counsel are sticking to their complaints about the process and the partisanship of the Democrats. The Democrats, on the other hand, are pleading with members to act on the facts that many of them have publicly conceded have been proved.

Donald Trump, Adam Schiff

Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman and lead manager for the Democrats, delivered a powerful closing argument that is certain to have a place in history. He distills much of what has been revealed in testimony and documentation into a concise indictment of Trump and the justification for removing him from office. In short, Schiff warns that Trump “has betrayed our national security and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.”

Well, that last bit may be debatable as Republican senators fall in line behind Trump despite conceding that what he did was wrong. Some – for example Joni Ernst and Lamar Alexander – even said they believe that Trump won’t repeat his crimes now that he’s been impeached. However, there is no evidence that Trump has ever been chastened by attempts to hold him accountable.

The six minute oratory (video below) is profoundly moving and worth listening to in its entirety. The passages quoted below are from the very beginning and the very end of Schiff’s remarks. They serve as elegant bookends to the information contained in between.

“History will not be kind to Donald Trump. I think we all know that. Not because it will be written by never-Trumpers, but because whenever we have separated from the values of our nation we have come to regret it. And that regret is written all over the pages of our history. If you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel and for all of history. But if you find the courage to stand up to him, to speak the awful truth to his rank falsehood, your place will be among the Davids who took on Goliath. If only you will say ‘enough.'”

“I put my faith in the optimism of the founders. You should too. They gave us the tools to do the job. A remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to constrain. They meant for it to be used rarely, but they put it in the Constitution for a reason. For a man who would sell out his country for a political favor. For a man who would threaten the integrity of our elections. For a man who would invite foreign interference in our affairs. For a man who would undermine our national security and that of our allies. For a man like Donald J. Trump. They gave you a remedy and they meant for you to use it. They gave you an oath and they meant for you to observe it. We have proved Donald Trump guilty. Now do impartial justice and convict him.”

Unfortunately, Republicans in the Senate are going to vote against the Articles of Impeachment regardless of the facts. They are only interested in preserving their power and demonstrating loyalty to the Cult of Trump. But thanks to Schiff and others on the House Managers team, the historical record will outlast their cowardice, complicity, and deceit. And the consequences for their weakness may be dealt out as soon as this November.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

HUH? GOP Concedes ‘Overwhelming’ Proof Trump is Guilty – of Being ‘Inappropriate’

The writing is on the proverbial wall. It appears that Republicans in the Senate are poised to conclude their cover up of Donald Trump’s criminal behavior. The vote on whether to allow the testimony of additional witnesses (such as Trump favorite, John Bolton) will likely fail. That would make this first impeachment in history not to include witness testimony. This travesty of justice was set in place with the announcement by retiring Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander that he would vote against further witnesses and documents.

Donald Trump, Presidenty

Alexander’s principle argument is that the decision to remove Trump from office should be made by the American people at the ballot box, not by the Senate. If so, he needs to explain why the Framers included impeachment in the Constitution. And his argument doesn’t even address the prospect of an election being subverted by a president who intends to cheat, making it impossible for the people’s choice to prevail.

However, Alexander isn’t even being asked to remove Trump from office yet. The question at present is only whether to permit the introduction of new witnesses and documents. Alexander could still decide later not to remove Trump. In the meantime, he’s preventing the American people, who he thinks should make the decision, from hearing all of the evidence. So he’s advocating that the people make an uninformed decision. That’s something that Trump will surely appreciate, because it’s what he does all the time.

Alexander’s full statement on his decision is a bundle of hypocrisies and contradictions. he actually concedes that “the House managers have proved” their case with “a mountain of overwhelming evidence.” So Alexander has seen sufficient evidence to declare Trump guilty. “There is no need for more evidence,” says Alexander, “to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter,” and that “There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid.”

In other words, there is no need for further evidence to establish the quid pro quo that Trump used to coerce Ukraine, but has denied repeatedly, despite having actually admitted it on national TV. Alexander was not alone in his assessment of Trump’s guilt. Senators Toomey, Collins, Romney, Murkowski, and Portman are among those who have considered approving more testimony (but will likely vote no anyway). However, Alexander’s vote appears to be based on something entirely different than the facts that he himself has presented:

“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.”

Really? Does Alexander know what the word “inappropriate” means? For the record, it means “not suitable or proper in the circumstances.” For example, cussing in front of children. Or wearing sweats to funeral. Or bragging that you can grab women by their genitals because you’re a celebrity.

It is a shameless depreciation of Trump’s flagrant criminal activities to dismiss them so cavalierly. The effort to impeach Trump and remove him from office is not because he committed “actions that are inappropriate.” It’s because he violated the law, the Constitution, and the moral duty to serve the public interest. And any Senator that votes to deny witness testimony – and to acquit Trump – is complicit in his crimes and the cover up. Which is, to say the very least, inappropriate.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump Suffers Brutal Senate Rebuke for Attacking the Free Press as ‘the Enemy of the People’

On Thursday there was a coordinated effort on the part of more than 350 independent newspapers to strike back at Donald Trump’s relentless and dangerous assault on the media. And it’s about time. As noted by one of the organizers, the Boston Globe, “This whole project is not anti-Trump. It’s really pro-press.”

Donald Trump

Naturally, Trump took time from his golf game to post tweets (three actually) criticising this overdue measure of self-defense and support for the First Amendment. Once again he demeaned the press by calling them the “opposition party.” Actually, that’s true. They are opposed to much of what Trump stands for: lying, corruption, racism, misogyny, and treason. And Trump’s GOP is defending all of those traits in this perverted White House.

Also on Thursday, the Senate passed by unanimous voice vote a resolution offered by Sens. Brian Schatz and Chuck Schumer. The resolution is focused directly at “affirming Congress’ support of the First Amendment and condemning attacks on the free press, which undermine the credibility of journalists and the press as a national institution.” What follows are some of the more pertinent passages from the text of the resolution:

Whereas the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects the press from government control and suppression;

Whereas the freedom of the press—

  1. has been recognized as integral to the democratic foundations of the United States since the beginning of the United States; and< /li>
  2. has endured and been reaffirmed repeatedly throughout the history of the United States;

[…]

Whereas tyrannical and authoritarian governments and leaders throughout history have sought to undermine, censor, suppress, and control the press to advance their undemocratic goals and actions; and

Whereas the United States, including its long-held commitment to and constitutional protection of the free press, has stood as a shining example of democracy, self-government, and freedom for the world to emulate: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, that:

The Senate –

  • affirms that the press is not the enemy of the people;
  • reaffirms the vital and indispensable role the free press serves to inform the electorate, uncover the truth, act as a check on the inherent power of the government, further national discourse and debate, and otherwise advance our most basic and cherished democratic norms and freedoms; and
  • condemns attacks on the institution of the free press and views efforts to systematically undermine the credibility of the press as a whole as an attack on our democratic institutions.

It is the sense of the Senate that it is the sworn responsibility of all who serve the United States by taking the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States to uphold, cherish, and protect the entire Constitution, including the freedom of the press.

The fact that a resolution like this even needs to be brought up is a sad statement on the status of the United States government, and particularly the White House under Donald Trump. And its language is unambiguously aimed at Trump himself with the inclusion of the affirmation that “the press is not the enemy of the people.” Moreover, having been passed without any objections in a body controlled by Republicans is an indication that the GOP may finally be sick and tired of some of Trump’s overtly un-American tendencies.

Now if only they would see fit to challenge the President on matters like his punitive and intimidating revocation of security clearances for former intelligence officials; his assaults on the Justice Department and those conducting investigations on him; his reliance on Fox News instead of experienced national security professionals; and his predilection for lying and resorting to infantile name-calling.

And maybe, just maybe, the Congress might hold actual hearings to get to the bottom of his conspiracies with Russia and obstruction of justice. It’s their sworn duty to act as a check and balance, to hold the President accountable for misdeeds, and to offer solutions that will prevent similar problems in the future with rogue leaders and foreign attacks on America’s democracy. Is that asking too much?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Some Are More Equal Than Others

This site’s mission has always been to focus on the media and its impact on society and culture. But this morning I was just thinking about how dysfunctional some of our political institutions are, and I thought I’d wander off the reservation for a while.

Friday President Obama had to make recess appointments for 15 nominees to federal posts because Senate Republicans refuse to permit a vote on them. And there are still dozens more in the same state of partisan limbo. In addition to that, Republicans have conducted a record breaking number of filibusters in their attempt to supersede the will of the Senate and the voters.

All of this leads me to question whether the Senate is an anachronism that no longer serves the best interests of democracy. States do not have the sort of parochial concerns that were once a part of the independent and geographically distinct colonies that made up the early confederation. Citizens migrate throughout the nation with little regard to loyalty based on home state affiliation. But the most striking illustration of the Senate having outgrown its usefulness is this chart I drew up:


[Detail breakdown in comments]

What I’d like to know is why do 31.4 million Americans in the twenty smallest states command a 40% share of the votes in the Senate, while 36.9 million Americans in California alone have only 2%? Is that democratic? Have those small-staters done something to deserve so much more influence over the country? Not so far as I can tell. Yet they have a theoretical veto power over the other 276 million citizens in the rest of the nation. That’s just not right.

What this amounts to is that a bunch of states that are mostly inhabited by brush and rodents have an inordinate sway over the laws that govern the vast majority of the country. And it’s often the senators from those small states who are the most obstructionist members of the body.

Maybe it’s time for a change. Maybe senators should represent districts whose lines are determined by population rather than by state boundaries. That would seem to be a much more fair and democratic way of handling this. Personally, I’m pretty tired of watching 10% of the country dictate how the other 90% are going to live.

I know this is not a new question, and there are barriers to any substantive change (mainly because the same small-staters would oppose it in the Senate). But it doesn’t hurt to bring it up from time to time and to hold out some hope that positive, democratic reform might still be possible. Because, in the end, no one should be allowed to be more equal than anyone else in America. No, seriously.