INTRODUCING GUEST COMMENTATOR
John Miller is Pastor of The Chapel Without Walls on Hilton Head Island, SC. More of his writings may be viewed at www.chapelwithoutwalls.org. The Views from the Edge is pleased to republish this social commentary. Photographs have been added by Views from the Edge.
COMMENTARY BY JOHN MILLER: The Impeachment Tiebreaker: Four Thoughts
This short essay was begun on Saturday morning, Jan. 25, 2020, starting at 12:27 AM. This was after the writer had nearly overdosed on the prosecutors’ wrap-up, and listening to the three major cable news networks’ commentary on the proceedings.
The House Managers (i.e., the prosecution) finished their presentation on Friday evening at about 10 PM, Jan. 24, in what has been alleged to be the impeachment trial of President Trump. On Saturday afternoon the President’s lawyers (i.e., the defense) will begin their presentation regarding the defendant (i.e., the President).
The House of Representatives prosecution team has claimed almost ad infinitum that the President has prevented more important witnesses and documents from appearing in the Senate trial. They claim he desperately does not want anyone to testify, or to have any incriminating documents to be placed into the trial record. Therefore, they say, with no further evidence presented, there can be no proper trial.
Up to now nearly all CNN/MSNBC/FoxNews talking heads have said they think that none of the 53 Republican Senators will capitulate on the impeachment vote, and that the President therefore will be cleared of all charges. The CNN/MSNBCers postulate that will prevent a genuine impeachment trial if witnesses and documents are suppressed. The FoxNewsers are delighted if the suppression occurs, because “the impeachment hatchet job” will have ended.
But let us suppose that the magical number of three Republicans were to vote to allow witnesses and documents. Further, imagine that no suddenly timorous Democrats were to vote to suppress the potentially damaging evidence. Then what would happen?
Thought Clump # 1
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try to hurry this trial through to its conclusion as soon as politically practicable. Might the sitting judge in the trial, Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court, rule that constitutionally an honest impeachment trial necessitates that witnesses and documents be provided? Should he conclude that? Constitutionally, could he make that ruling? He will have heard every word uttered in this historic proceeding, and thus such thoughts might be running through his head. No one can know at the moment what he is thinking, nor perhaps is it yet fully formed within his brilliant mind. Nevertheless, those might be very interesting questions upon which Mr. Roberts might now be cogitating.
Thought Clump # 2
If a majority of at least 51 Senators of both parties vote to produce new witnesses and documents, Chief Justice Roberts would not be the tiebreaker on that issue. Instead, the 51+ Senators would assume that role. Thus witnesses and documents would be subpoenaed.
Thought Clump # 3
If Adam Schiff and the House Managers are as effective as CNN and MSNBC (but certainly not Fox News) say they are, and witnesses and documents are subpoenaed, there is a very slight possibility that a two-thirds majority of at least 67 Senators might convict Donald John Trump of the two Articles of Impeachment after a considerably-longer-than-predicted genuine trial. Mr. Trump then would be removed from office. This, however, is so slight a possibility that those who favor such an eventuality should probably stifle such apparently outlandish thoughts.
RADICAL Thought Clump # 4
Should the Senate exonerate the President, as expected, in effect the entire constitutional concept of separation of powers itself will then indirectly have failed in the impeachment trial. Are the executive, legislative, and judicial branches separate but equal? However, the Senate will astonishingly have found that the executive branch has the sole ultimate power in American government, with Congress and the federal courts clearly being only also-rans in constitutional governmental authority. It could be argued that such a conclusion might even be colossally irresponsible. The Chief Justice might also conclude that before the trial concludes.
In that instance, Chief Justice Roberts, representing his understanding of the Constitution and the judiciary, might rule that the Senate is constitutionally required to subpoena witnesses and documents before the impeachment trial can end.
Furthermore, the Chief Justice might decide such a ruling would eliminate the appearance of political partisanship, which in these rancorous times would be a Very Good Thing. He might say that only then would the Senate be a in a valid position as a one-hundred-person jury to vote fairly and equitably on the innocence or guilt of Defendant Trump.
Were any of these hypotheticals actually to happen, would that be a completely unforeseen result in these tense, tedious days, or what? Keep listening and watching, citizens. The fate of the republic hangs in the balance of Lady Justice.
Just heard Manager Zoe Lofgren says if the managers give Roberts a subpoena for someone he will have to sign it & then there will be witnesses.
I saw that this morning. What struck me was the message Lofgren’s eyes told: “I’m lying. I’m doing my partisan duty. I have to say what I’m saying.” He’s looking for a way out.
Gordon, isn’t Zoe a Dem manager & therefore she’s saying there is a way we will have witnesses & it is Roberts that can make it happen.
Gary, Senior moment 😩Ugh! I was thinking of Senator Mike Braun (R) of Indiana who appeared on Face the Union this morning. Thanks for the correction. I wish it had been Braun! But I’ll take it from anyone at this point. Thanks for staying in touch with Goofeyland.
I don’t even know what to think. So I’m not thinking about it. I have no power in this situation and like everyone else, I can but sit and wait. And hope, at the end EVERYONE votes.
Marilyn, Once again my WordPress reply — written house ago — was erased. Could be I’m just too feeble or WP is getting too difficult to manage? My reply was thanking you for bearing with me and agreeing with the sense of powerlessness and aversion to watching something odious over which one has no control. We are at our best, perhaps, when we stay within our circle of influence.
Your audience is your sphere of influence and it is wide. Peace to you and Gary.