Letters to the Editor

Impeachment debate further splits an already divided America | Letter to the editor

President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath and obstruction of justice based on his extramarital affairs, which seems trivial today. President Trump has shifted America’s compass from a steady north to many degrees below that. He has paid Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their sex together and he cannot be relied upon to tell the truth; his lies being beyond count. So far, he has not lied under oath but people close to him do not want him to make any sworn testimony because they fear he would lie then also. By being open about his infidelity, lying and bragging about abusing women, he has changed the intrigue of trying to “Catch me if you can !”to the bravado of ”Yeah, I did it. What are you going to do about it?”

The Constitution provides for impeachment in the House (Article I, section 2) and trial in the Senate (Article I, section 3). The founders probably expected these remedies to be fair because almost everyone involved would be a patriot and put the best interests of their country first over party loyalty. Today’s climate is entirely different. Seeds of suspicion and hatred probably planted by Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and reinforced by the impersonal internet and opinion news outlets, have grown since then to a seriously divided public unable to consider any other opinion than their own.

American jurisprudence guarantees citizens a fair trial by their peers. The president has no peers so the Constitution provides a jury of citizens elected to Congress to represent the people. A civil trial is made fair by giving both the prosecutor and defense lawyers the right to question all jurors and eliminate those who have already made up their mind before hearing any evidence. In today’s climate, the Democrats in the House , before hearing all the evidence, have already decided that president Trump is guilty of lying , immorality, attempted bribery of Ukraine and misuse of power and should be impeached. Republicans in the Senate have already decided, before hearing all the evidence, that President Trump has given them a big tax break and the appointment of conservative leaning judges which makes his other faults trivial and he should not be removed from office so he can give them more.

In President Nixon’s case, three prominent Republican Senators led by Barry Goldwater, advised him to resign in the face of impending impeachment by the House and he did so the next day. Today, Sen. John McCain might be doing what Goldwater did , if he were with us. It remains to be seen whether Mitt Romney will assume that role , or maybe President Trump will not be removed from office and intensify his demands of loyalty only to him throughout his second term.

Charles Scudder