November 27, 2020

Trump’s defense seeks ‘extraordinary expansion’ of Trump’s powers beyond any guardrails, warns the Post

Even more outrageous than Mitch McConnell's behavior is Trump's legal defense which seeks to obliterate guardrails on presidential powers, warns the Washington Post Editorial Board.

Yesterday, a New York Times author explained that we have a five-alarm political crisis’ in the Senate as Moscow Mitch rams through a cover-up in Trump’s impeachment trial. Today, the devastation has set in with Americans as every single Republican voted to block witnesses and documents so far.

What is a trial without evidence? A cover-up, according to Senator Kamala Harris.

A perversion of justice

The news prompted the Washinton Post Editorial Board to issue an alarming rebuke against Senate Republicans for helping Trump obliterate any guardrails on his power.

“Senate Republicans on Tuesday were laying the groundwork for a truncated trial of President Trump that would be a perversion of justice,” wrote the editorial board.

The editors noted that McConnell’s sham process, holding the hearings late at night after stating he would be in “total coordination” with the White House, may not even be the most outrageous thing happening. In that category, Trump’s legal defense takes the rotten cake.

Trump’s defense would hold that a president is well within their rights to solicit foreign interference in American elections. Thus, they ask for an “extraordinary expansion” of Trump’s powers, one that would surely see the Founders rolling over in the graves.

From the editorial:

“Yet the rigging of the trial process may not be the most damaging legacy of the exhibition Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is orchestrating in full collaboration with the White House. That might flow from the brazen case being laid out by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. The defense brief they filed Monday argues that the president “did absolutely nothing wrong” when he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch investigations of Joe Biden and a Russian-promoted conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. It further contends that Mr. Trump was entirely within his rights when he refused all cooperation with the House impeachment inquiry, including rejecting subpoenas for testimony and documents. It says he cannot be impeached because he violated no law.”

In addition, Trump’s defense rests on the absurd notion that presidents may block all cooperation with the constitutional checks and balances of the impeachment process.

“The defense would also set the precedent that presidents may flatly refuse all cooperation with any congressional inquiry, even though the House’s impeachment power is spelled out in the Constitution. And it would establish that no president may be impeached unless he or she could be convicted of violating a federal statute — no matter the abuse of power. Those are principles that Republicans will regret if they conclude that a Democratic executive has violated his or her oath of office. Yet Mr. Trump demands they adopt his maximalist position regardless of the consequences.”

A ray of light

As hopeless as this sounds, The Post reports that Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) plans to continue to push for Chief Justice Roberts to decide on witnesses and documents in the trial.

It appears the debate for calling witnesses isn’t over just yet:

“Under the rules that were adopted, senators will debate whether to call witnesses after hearing three-day presentations from the House managers and President Trump’s lawyers, and having an opportunity to pose written questions to both sides.”

Even if Republicans refuse to call witnesses, the House may decide to call witnesses in further proceedings yet to come.

More from the Post on the latest impeachment news below:

Featured image: Guardrails via Pixabay

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