• 23:59
  • Wednesday ,22 January 2020
العربية

Rule of law must be more than a mantra we repeat

by CNN

Opinion

00:01

Wednesday ,22 January 2020

Rule of law must be more than a mantra we repeat

 The Senate is poised to conduct a trial of President Donald Trump to determine whether he failed to faithfully execute the duties of his high office and committed impeachable offenses.

 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly declared that he has no intention of acting with impartiality. Moreover, he believes the Senate should not allow any additional witnesses to testify or permit more documentary evidence to be presented to Senators. In his opinion, the case for impeachment is closed.
 
But thanks to a small group of Republicans led by Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who seem open to going against McConnell s wishes, it appears that some of the witnesses and documents withheld from the House investigation may be produced during the Senate trial.
While few believe that the Senate will convict the President of wrongdoing and expel him from office, it remains critically important for the Senate to exercise its power and responsibility to ensure that all relevant evidence be released so that the American people can be fully informed of actions of the President that directly affect not just our national security but also our national honor.
The facts currently before the Senate are not in serious dispute. In a phone call on July 25, 2019, to Ukraine s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, President Trump indicated that he was willing to help Ukraine in its war with Russia, but wanted a favor in return -- one that specifically involved Ukraine investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, for possible corruption.
 
Shortly after the call, the congressionally appropriated assistance to Ukraine was withheld. Multiple witnesses testified under oath that the assistance was not to be released until Zelensky publicly announced that he would open an investigation into the Bidens.
President Trump has insisted that the phone call to Zelensky was "perfect," while his political supporters claim that his call and actions were entirely appropriate -- or, if inappropriate, imprudent at worst.
In judging whether the President s request -- and intent -- was innocent or corrupt, senators should consider the President s past behavior.
When Sally Yates, a career Justice Department official, warned the President that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn had serious conflicts of interest and should not be appointed to serve as national security adviser, she learned that in Trump s world, no good deed goes unpunished. The President hired Flynn and soured on Yates, soon firing her for failing to defend his travel ban executive order.
 
When then-FBI Director James Comey refused to say publicly that Trump was not a target of the Russia investigation, the President fired Comey.
When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to "unrecuse" himself from the investigation into the President s contacts with Russia so that he could fire former special counsel Robert Mueller, the President fired Sessions.
When former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats refused to endorse Russian propaganda that it was Ukraine -- not Russia -- that attacked our democracy during the 2016 election and presented factual intelligence assessments that contradicted the President s public statements on Russia, North Korea and Iran, the President criticized Coats. Coats then resigned rather than continue to be undermined and belittled.
When distinguished diplomat Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was seen as an obstacle to securing President Zelensky s compliance to what former National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested -- according to former top Russia expert Fiona Hill -- was a political "drug deal," Trump fired Yovanovitch.
 
Our Founding Fathers knew what it meant to live under the boot of imperial rule. They also were students of human nature and knew that unrestrained ambition in a free society would lead either to anarchy or to tyranny. They understood that power must be entrusted to someone but that no one could be trusted with power.
President Trump is surely the type of person the Founders had in mind when they granted the power to Congress to hold an abusive president -- one who insists that he cannot be indicted for criminal activity or investigated for Constitutional misbehavior -- in check.
The Senate may try to quickly dispose of the Articles of Impeachment, and offer multiple justifications: the House investigation was unfair; the evidence obtained is insufficient to prove any wrongdoing; abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not defined in the Constitution as impeachable offenses; and that it would be unfair for the Senate to take any action to remove the President with the presidential election just 10 months away.
Central to our existence as a democratic country is the rule of law, the precept that declares that no one stands above its prohibitions and no one falls below its protections.
 
The rule of law must be more than a mantra that we repeat but do not respect. It is the invisible thread woven into the Constitution that binds a diverse people together in the cause of protecting our collective security and preserving our personal freedoms.
The American people have the right to elect a president who is crude, cruel and amoral, but Congress has the power and the duty to remove one who has corrupted his office by using it to serve his private ambitions.
 

The Senate is poised to conduct a trial of President Donald Trump to determine whether he failed to faithfully execute the duties of his high office and committed impeachable offenses.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly declared that he has no intention of acting with impartiality. Moreover, he believes the Senate should not allow any additional witnesses to testify or permit more documentary evidence to be presented to Senators. In his opinion, the case for impeachment is closed.

 

But thanks to a small group of Republicans led by Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who seem open to going against McConnell s wishes, it appears that some of the witnesses and documents withheld from the House investigation may be produced during the Senate trial.

While few believe that the Senate will convict the President of wrongdoing and expel him from office, it remains critically important for the Senate to exercise its power and responsibility to ensure that all relevant evidence be released so that the American people can be fully informed of actions of the President that directly affect not just our national security but also our national honor.

The facts currently before the Senate are not in serious dispute. In a phone call on July 25, 2019, to Ukraine s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, President Trump indicated that he was willing to help Ukraine in its war with Russia, but wanted a favor in return -- one that specifically involved Ukraine investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, for possible corruption.

 

Shortly after the call, the congressionally appropriated assistance to Ukraine was withheld. Multiple witnesses testified under oath that the assistance was not to be released until Zelensky publicly announced that he would open an investigation into the Bidens.

President Trump has insisted that the phone call to Zelensky was "perfect," while his political supporters claim that his call and actions were entirely appropriate -- or, if inappropriate, imprudent at worst.

In judging whether the President s request -- and intent -- was innocent or corrupt, senators should consider the President s past behavior.

When Sally Yates, a career Justice Department official, warned the President that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn had serious conflicts of interest and should not be appointed to serve as national security adviser, she learned that in Trump s world, no good deed goes unpunished. The President hired Flynn and soured on Yates, soon firing her for failing to defend his travel ban executive order.

 

When then-FBI Director James Comey refused to say publicly that Trump was not a target of the Russia investigation, the President fired Comey.

When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to "unrecuse" himself from the investigation into the President s contacts with Russia so that he could fire former special counsel Robert Mueller, the President fired Sessions.

When former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats refused to endorse Russian propaganda that it was Ukraine -- not Russia -- that attacked our democracy during the 2016 election and presented factual intelligence assessments that contradicted the President s public statements on Russia, North Korea and Iran, the President criticized Coats. Coats then resigned rather than continue to be undermined and belittled.

When distinguished diplomat Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was seen as an obstacle to securing President Zelensky s compliance to what former National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested -- according to former top Russia expert Fiona Hill -- was a political "drug deal," Trump fired Yovanovitch.

 

Our Founding Fathers knew what it meant to live under the boot of imperial rule. They also were students of human nature and knew that unrestrained ambition in a free society would lead either to anarchy or to tyranny. They understood that power must be entrusted to someone but that no one could be trusted with power.

President Trump is surely the type of person the Founders had in mind when they granted the power to Congress to hold an abusive president -- one who insists that he cannot be indicted for criminal activity or investigated for Constitutional misbehavior -- in check.

The Senate may try to quickly dispose of the Articles of Impeachment, and offer multiple justifications: the House investigation was unfair; the evidence obtained is insufficient to prove any wrongdoing; abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not defined in the Constitution as impeachable offenses; and that it would be unfair for the Senate to take any action to remove the President with the presidential election just 10 months away.

Central to our existence as a democratic country is the rule of law, the precept that declares that no one stands above its prohibitions and no one falls below its protections.

 

The rule of law must be more than a mantra that we repeat but do not respect. It is the invisible thread woven into the Constitution that binds a diverse people together in the cause of protecting our collective security and preserving our personal freedoms.

The American people have the right to elect a president who is crude, cruel and amoral, but Congress has the power and the duty to remove one who has corrupted his office by using it to serve his private ambitions.