Whew! We made it through a week that was one for the ages. It began with Democrats making their final argument for convicting the President; followed by the first in the nation presidential caucus going up in flames; a State of the Union address with the President refusing to shake the House Speaker’s hand only to be one-upped by the Speaker ripping his speech to shreds----and it wasn’t even Wednesday!
Wednesday, the drama continued with a classic ‘Shocked! Shocked I tell you,’ Senate vote to acquit an impeached President with only a single Republican---Mitt Romney---voting to convict. A day later, the President rained holy hell on his critics at The National Prayer Breakfast, doing a victory lap and hoisting banner newspaper headlines of his acquittal. Friday, for good measure, he fired two key witnesses, including an ambassador, whose testimony countered his Ukrainian alibi. Oh, yes. There was also a Democratic Presidential Debate.
With a potpourri of stories that, under normal circumstances, would have captured the week, it was the President’s Senate acquittal that was most significant. Despite a number of Senate Republicans acknowledging that the President did commit wrongdoing, he was nonetheless acquitted by a 52-48 on the charge of abuse of power. Colorado’s two Senators split their vote.
“The Senate conducted a fair and bipartisan trial,” said Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner. “The high burden of removing a duly elected President from office for the first time in the history of the United States was not met.” Gardner, who is up for reelection, voted with his party not to call for witnesses, a first in impeachment history. One day after the Senate acquittal, Gardner’s office announced a rally in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor World Arena rally in which the President will attend.
Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, who is running for President, voted to convict Trump. Bennet was frustrated by Republicans refusal to call a single witness, the first time in U.S. history an impeachment was conducted without one. “Even `when there are literally witnesses with direct knowledge of what the President did practically banging on the doors of the Senate saying, ‘Let me testify,’ we’re too lazy for that,” said Bennet.
But it was California Congressman Adam Schiff, the Democrats lead manager in the Senate impeachment of Trump, who put a fine point on the belief that the President deserved removal from office. “He’s guilty as sin but why not let the voters clean up this mess,” Schiff said mocking the Republican argument against conviction. “Can we trust the President will not continue to try to cheat in that very election? The sad and incontestable answer is: No, we can’t.”
For seventeen days, Democrats and Republicans argued their case on the Senate floor. More than 28,000 pages of documents and 17 witness accounts were presented. Both sides reinforced their case using previous House testimony from witnesses as well as news clips of key impeachment figures.
Seven Democrats, including a former police chief, an Army Ranger---Colorado Congressman Jason Crow---and a former judge, acted as impeachment managers in presenting their case against the President. The Republicans defense team included former President Clinton independent counsel, Ken Starr, and Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz.
In a bow to irony, Starr pleaded with the Senate for a “return to our country’s traditions,” when impeachment was “a measure of last resort.” Starr is remembered for his relentless investigation of President Clinton that began with a real estate deal called Whitewater and ended with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky and a DNA stained dress. Starr later served as President of Baylor University where he was fired for failing to deal with an out of control football sex scandal.
The Republican argument for acquittal that seemed to draw the most attention was made by Dershowitz. He argued that the President can’t be impeached if he believed his reelection was “in the national interest.” Dershowitz spent the next day explaining that his words were taken out of context.
Dershowitz defense caught one Denver attorney off guard. “I couldn’t imagine that kind of explanation of the law coming from the Alan Dershowitz I remembered,” said Angelina Irizarry. Dershowitz was one of Irizarry’s professors when she was in law school.
The Senate also voted against convicting Trump on obstructing Congress. The vote was 53-47. This was the third impeachment of a President in U.S. history. Presidents Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton 1998 were also impeached but neither was convicted. Johnson won acquittal by a single vote.
In both the Johnson and Clinton impeachments witnesses were called. In Clinton’s Senate trial, a deposition from the Starr investigation was used to bolster the Republican case against him. In the Trump impeachment, the President refused to allow a single member of his administration testify. Despite the fact that all three men were acquitted, as long as histories are written they will all share the stain of impeachment. Johnson, Clinton and now Trump, forever impeached.