Will Democratic senators actively running for president recuse themselves from the Senate impeachment trial?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was strongly condemned for his comment that he would not be an impartial juror in a Senate trial. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said McConnell should “recuse” himself. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., said it was “horrifying” to hear Republicans express disdain for the House’s pending impeachment. She said that such comments cast doubt on whether the senators could deliver impartial justice.
If mere comments suggest a lack of necessary impartiality, the Democrats have a bit of a problem on their hands. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Michael Bennet of Colorado are all running for the Democratic Party nomination for president. How could these individuals have any hope of impartiality when their vote would influence the 2020 election by removing their biggest political opponent? The senators should be asked the question, even if their response would presumably be no.
The mere question illustrates the absurdity of these particular impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
Democrats are hinging their impeachment on charges that Trump’s request to Ukraine’s president to investigate corruption and 2016 election meddling is an unconstitutional request for help in the 2020 election. That’s because potential Democratic nominee Joe Biden was the Obama administration’s point man in Ukraine at the same time his son was being paid some $80,000 a month to serve on a troubled energy concern. Investigations into that company and Biden’s involvement in getting a particular prosecutor fired could help Trump in 2020, the argument goes.
It’s a tricky argument on a good day, but one made more difficult when Democrats running for president, in turn, are seeking to influence the 2020 election by working to remove their chief political opponent from office. If Democrats are expecting Republicans to be impartial “jurors,” will they also urge members of their own party to serve in the same capacity? And if they don’t will they also urge them to recuse themselves from the Senate impeachment trial? How can Democrats running for president possibly serve as an “impartial juror?”
In fact, it’s quite impossible for Senate Democrats who have pushed for impeachment, the top policy item on the Democratic agenda over the last three years, to genuinely claim “impartiality,” when reversal of the 2016 election results has been the goal from the start.
First, Democrats centered their efforts on Russia relying on a famously discredited Steele dossier to peddle a grand Russian conspiracy theory accusing Trump and members of his campaign of being Russian agents. After the unfounded allegations prompted a two-year special counsel investigation run by Robert Mueller with unlimited resources, Mueller’s team was unable to find one person, let alone the president himself, had colluded with the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton.
Now, less than a year out from the next election, Democrats have desperately placed their bets on Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. In September, details from an anonymous whistleblower complaint emerged of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky alleging Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate political opponents at home. Democrats have centered in on nearly $400 million in withheld military aid to accuse Trump of engaging in an apparent “quid pro quo,” where Zelensky would receive the aid in exchange for launching the requested investigations.
An unredacted transcript of the call declassified and released to the public however, reveals no such arrangement. Contrary to reports from the mainstream media, the transcript reveals Trump urging Zelensky to rid Ukraine of the corruption plaguing its country, which possesses a reputation as one of the most corrupt nations in the world. The transcript also makes public Trump’s request that Zelensky get to the bottom of Ukraine’s origins of peddling the Russia hoax, which did irreparable harm to the United States.
Despite weeks of Democratic-run hearings in the House failing to surface any incriminating evidence against the president, Democrats are expected to pass articles of impeachment by a purely partisan vote over to the Senate later this afternoon for a trial to start in the new year. Democrats in the Senate seeking their party’s presidential nomination should each be asked whether they plan to recuse themselves from the coming trial given their own logic.