Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. We’re about to race down a brand new and untraveled road in history. We can already see that it’s twisted and filled with pot holes and thorns, and God alone knows where we’ll be when we get to the end, when we’re done with this impeachment exercise. This is a turning point in history, make no mistake.
Today the Democrats filed a 111 page brief, arguing that Donald Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors. to wit, abuse of power and obstruction of congress. To that the Republicans replied that the charges were constitutionally and legally invalid, and driven by malice. Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe opined last night that he expected alternative facts to be presented, but not alternative law. Here we go into terra incognita.
This is what the Democrats say, in a nutshell. The Hill:
And while they buckle down on their allegations that Trump is guilty of pressuring a foreign power to investigate a 2020 political rival, they say the only lingering question they have is whether the Senate will be a fair arbiter of justice.
“The evidence overwhelmingly establishes that he is guilty of both. The only remaining question is whether the members of the Senate will accept and carry out the responsibility placed on them by the Framers of our Constitution and their constitutional Oaths,” the brief reads. “History will judge each Senator’s willingness to rise above partisan differences, view the facts honestly, and defend the Constitution.”
Here’s what the Republicans say. New York Times:
“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” the document says. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election, now just months away.”
The president’s lawyers did not deny any of the core facts underlying Democrats’ charges, conceding what ample evidence has shown, that he withheld $391 million in aid from Ukraine and asked the country’s president to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter. But they said Mr. Trump broke no laws and was acting entirely appropriately and within his powers when he did so, echoing the president’s repeated protestations of his own innocence. They argued that Mr. Trump was not seeking political advantage, but working to root out corruption in Ukraine. […]
As they have said for weeks, the president’s lawyers asserted in Saturday’s short filing that the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump are “invalid on their face” because they do not accuse the president of breaking the law.
In Saturday’s document, the president’s legal team also rejected the charge that Mr. Trump is guilty of obstruction of Congress. They argued that Mr. Trump’s attempts to prevent witnesses from testifying in what the president has called a “sham” impeachment inquiry is a legitimate exercise of executive privilege that is essential to guard the authority and prerogatives of the presidency.
And they once again attacked the process by which House Democrats impeached Mr. Trump, accusing them of denying the president his due process rights.
Alan Dershowitz went on television last night and said that abuse of power was not an impeachable offense. Interesting, because in the only two previous impeachments, Andrew Johnson’s and Bill Clinton’s, abuse of power was alleged. The same charge was hanging over Richard Nixon when he opted to resign. But, according to Alan Dershowitz, it’s just gone — or something.
The comment prompted Laurence Tribe to comment, “my colleague has it upside down. I knew this was going to involve alternative facts but I didn’t know it would involve alternative law.” Tribe then went on to talk about felony bribery and the fact that the GOA said that it was illegal for Trump to have withheld the aid to Ukraine.
Listen to the Tribe interview if you didn’t catch it last night. It encapsulates the legal issues, which are straight forward, it’s the opposition’s defense which is clouded and obtuse. Stock up on aspirin, the impeachment trial is going to give you a doozy of a headache as you try to wrap your mind around it. But listen to this seven minute piece because this is as clear as it’s going to get.