The 2nd Failed Impeachment of Donald J. Trump
By Danita Knickerbocker
Are you the kind of person who could watch hours upon hours of legislative proceedings or read legal brief upon legal brief? That is what I call entertainment. While I watched the 25+ hours of the senate impeachment trial, I laughed, shouted, grunted and was completely shocked by some of the things I witnessed. I could go on and on about the senate impeachment trial of Former President Donald J. Trump which took place over the last week, but I want to focus on a few main points and facts.
Unconstitutional v. Constitutional
Let’s start off with the question posed13 by Senators Lee, Hawley, Crapo, Blackburn, and Portman: “Multiple state constitutions, enacted prior to 1787, namely the constitutions of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Vermont, specifically provided for the impeachment of a former officer. Given that the Framers of the US Constitution would’ve been aware of these provisions. Does the decision to omit language specifically authorizing the impeachment of former officials, indicate that they did not intend for our constitution to allow for the impeachment of former officials?” Defense Attorney Michael Van der Veen’s answer is perfect. He stated, “Good question. The answer is yes, of course they left it out. The Framers were very smart men. And they went over draft after draft, after draft on that document and they reviewed all of the other drafts of all of the other state constitutions. All of them. And they picked and choosed what they wanted, and they discarded what they did not. What they discarded was the option for all of you to impeach a former elected official.” (YouTube marker 4:39:15)
Looking at the US Senate vote which took place on February 9, 2021, regarding the constitutionality of impeaching a former government official – the vote was 56-44 in favor of the impeachment being constitutional. This vote1 included 6 republicans: Romney (UT), Collins (ME), Sasse (NE), Toomey (PA), Murkowski (AK) and Cassidy (LA). Just days later, on February 13, 2021, Senator Burr from North Carolina (who had voted prior that it is unconstitutional to impeach a former government official) then went against his own interpretation of the US Constitution and voted2 to impeach Former President Donald J Trump, which made the vote to impeach, 57-43.
This behavior begs the question: If Senator Burr knowingly and intentionally votes for something he previously deemed unconstitutional, on national television, how many times does he knowingly and intentionally vote for unconstitutional bills and motions on a daily basis behind closed doors in the US Senate? If you are not asking yourself this question, you should be. As citizens, we cannot afford to allow our elected officials to continue to represent their personal interests instead of the interests of their constituents any longer. This must stop and it will not stop until we, as individuals, start holding our elected officials accountable. They are public servants, not leaders. Their job is to do the will of the People, not to impose their will ON the People. Elected officials must remember this and we must also remember this.
Repercussions for Elected Officials
To be absolutely clear, holding elected officials accountable does not mean in any way, shape or form, that violence is the answer. Rather, it means doing your part to research what bills your officials are voting for and against, then making sure that, when they vote against the will of those that elected them, you do your best to bring the truth to the forefront. Call your representative’s office or write them a letter and express your opinion. Provide other options for voters in the future by boosting and campaigning for other candidates to run against your current representative.
Following the final impeachment vote on February 13, 2021, Utah residents began gathering signatures to petition for the CENSURE of Senator Mitt Romney for many different reasons, which you can read using this link. One of those reasons being: as a representative of Utah, Sen. Romney voted to impeach the very president for which 57.45% of Utah residents voted3 in the 2020 general election. Comparatively, democratic nominee Joe Biden received only 37.21% of the popular vote. Residents of Utah are upset, and rightly so, because Sen. Romney is not representing Utah’s interests. It would be more fair to say, he is representing his own interests.
Due Process and A Fair Trial
Included within the 5th Amendment of the Bill of Rights4 of The United States Constitution, the Framers proclaimed: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury…nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” Yet in the articles of impeachment filed against the former president, Former President Donald J Trump is charged with committing High Crimes and Misdemeanors5 with reference to having “…incited an insurrection against the government of the United States.”
There was no grand jury present at the senate impeachment trial, unless you count the senators as grand jury members. If so, you have an even bigger problem with one of the jury members also being the judge in said trial. The Senate decided6 prior to the trial that Chief Justice Roberts, who is required to preside over impeachment trials of government officials, would not be presiding because Donald J Trump was no longer a government official. Whereby, the Senate appointed President pro tempore Patrick Leahy to preside over the trial, making him both judge and jury of a trial in which a private citizen was being charged with high crimes and misdemeanors. Senator Patrick Leahy had previously voted to impeach President Trump twice while in office and had stated to the press that he would vote7 to impeach Former President Trump at the February impeachment trial. As a part of due process, this blatantly goes against the “presumption of innocence” as defined by Cornell Law School14:
“One of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system, holding that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. In other words, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each essential element of the crime charged.”
In this case, Former President Donal J Trump was considered guilty by both judge and jury, before the trial even started.
Being provided a fair trial is the most important part of our legal justice system. When a fair trial is not conducted, authorities must be held accountable. According to8 CriminalLawyerSanDiego.com, “No matter how minor the fabricated evidence is, presenting or preparing false evidence is an automatic felony. Escaping prison time will be almost near to impossible if you are found guilty.” One of the most astoundingly gross violations of a fair trial that occurred during the senate impeachment trial was that the prosecution was caught doctoring evidence. At that very moment, the case should have been thrown out, Former President Donald J Trump should have been immediately acquitted, and the prosecutors should have been arrested and criminally charged with Falsification of Evidence. Will they be held accountable, or will nothing come of their criminal actions?
Insurrection v. Violent Riot
According to the articles of impeachment filed by the US House of Representatives, page 2, line 4, Former President Donald J Trump was charged9 with ‘Incitement of Insurrection.’ Defense Attorney Bruce L Castor Jr. argued10 that, “We all agree that the violence that happened on January 6 was horrific and those responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but there was no Insurrection, as the prosecution proclaims, because ‘Insurrection’ is a term of art that involves taking over a country or a shadow government taking the TV stations over and having some plan on what you’re going to do when you finally take power. This was clearly not that.”
There is a difference between a violent riot (we saw those all summer with BLM and ANTIFA) and an insurrection. What happened at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, was a peaceful protest that ended with 100+ people violently rioting inside the Capitol – not an insurrection. For the last 5 years, President Trump held hundreds of rallies with hundreds of thousands of people in attendance at each one and no violence ever took place, even though he consistently used phrases similar to “fight for your rights” and “make your voices heard.” To allege that President Trump’s choice of language incited anything more than a peaceful protest is a gross allegation and is not supported by facts.
Lastly, the entire charge that Former President Donald J Trump’s speech on January 6, 2021, incited the violence which took place that day has since been proven wrong by the FBI and the DOJ. There is cyber evidence showing the attack was preplanned11 weeks in advance by members of ANTIFA and BLM on Facebook and Twitter, and by Trump Supporters on Gab and Parler. Homemade pipe bombs were found around Capitol Hill the day before President Trump’s speech by the FBI and Capitol Police. Three days prior to January 6, 2021, the additional aid12 requested by the US Capitol Chief of Police was denied by both the House and Senate Sergeant at Arms.
Defense Attorney Michael Van der Veen brought up an excellent point13 during the senate impeachment trial (YouTube marker 5:11:10) and it is my last question I leave for you: “The evidence shows that the attack was pre-planned, so if the attack was predictable, like the House Managers claim, due to President Trump’s violent rhetoric for months prior to the attack, then who denied additional aid when requested by the Capitol Chief of Police? And Why? …If there had been any kind of due process and investigation prior to this trial, we would know the answer to that question.”