John Chuckman



There many extreme claims on the Internet about the impeachment of Donald Trump.

The House investigation and official impeachment are even called a “coup.”

The rhetoric is unhelpful and divisive. At an extremely divisive time in American history, and I don’t mean divisive just because of the impeachment, the last thing the country needs is more volatile rhetoric and division, practices to which Trump has been especially devoted.

Trump has done a great deal to pollute the country’s political environment. He is responsible for a major dump of toxic sludge, though he cannot be impeached for doing that.

Division is part of Trump’s operating style. Divide and conquer, one measure of a really unprincipled leader. His ready aptitude for calling people names and laughing at them is right out of Archie Bunker.

Some of the impeachment rhetoric is just childish, as that from Senator Lindsey Graham and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling everyone ahead of time how they will not carry out their duties with impartiality or proper procedure.

A Supreme Court justice of some distinction and standing, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has said that the Supreme Court could simply remove Senators who have declared prejudices beforehand. Going into the proceedings, which are a Constitutional obligation, with open prejudice and intent to torpedo a fair trial is not something to be tolerated.

Hardly desirable for Trump supporters, the Lindsey Graham approach represents flirting with the removal of pro-Trump votes from the Senate trial. Perhaps that is a good measure of the American Right’s extremely poor judgment. But ideologues do tend to be fanatics, and fanaticism is another factor contributing to America’s division.

Are there past public statements on virtually any topic by a politician like Lindsey Graham that stand up to scrutiny? I think not. He represents one of the best examples of establishment corruption and bias in American government.

Let me say that I very much believe Obama and Hillary Clinton did try to prevent or negate Trump’s. election. Given their backgrounds, it should surprise no one. Dark figures, both of them. The FBI and CIA at the highest level were used. That is, indeed, unconstitutional activity by people sworn to defend the American Constitution, an oath which today means remarkably little.

But the imperialists of America’s establishment, which include both parties, can hardly be blamed for bringing home ugly practices used for many decades against many other countries. Practices with which the privileged of both parties have become completely at-ease.

The Constitution gives little guidance on the matter of impeachment. The guidance it does give has been closely followed by the House in carrying out its duties of investigation and indictment.

People claim that the charges against Trump could have been laid against many other presidents. That may well be, but it represents an irrelevant accusation. Prosecutors in our legal system always have considerable latitude about those to be indicted for crimes. Just as police have considerable latitude about laying charges.

Indeed, a great many crimes never result in charges or indictments or trials, and there are many reasons for that. Plea-bargaining, for example, is a major tool of the criminal justice system. Without it, far fewer cases would be cleared.

No one is in a position to tell the House of Representatives what it should do in such matters or how it should carry out its Constitutional obligations. It assumes the political risks that its acts incur, and that’s about all you can say with any meaning.

The American Constitution is, in fact, a very flawed and incomplete document, despite fervent claims to the contrary by Patriot religious zealots. On the topic of impeachment of a president, it doesn’t say much more than the that House is responsible for investigation and indictment and the Senate for conducting a trial on the House’s indictment.

It makes cursory reference to “high crimes and misdemeanors,” that last term being especially vague. In today’s body of law, “misdemeanors” include such ordinary matters as public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and reckless driving.

Such an interpretation would indeed qualify almost every past president for trial. Maybe some of the earnest types who created the Constitution would have been satisfied with that, but it seems patently ridiculous in today’s terms.

Especially when we are talking about the operations of a global empire which could not even have been imagined by any Founding Father and would have been rejected by perhaps all of them. Virtually all the words they wrote apply to a country completely unlike the one America has become. The garments of long ago are outgrown.

The Constitution here, as in so many matters – including the anti-democratic Electoral College, the means for electing a number of minority presidents, including Trump – is badly flawed. Criticize it if you wish or start a political movement to amend it, but you cannot condemn, ipso facto, those acting according to its precepts.

Impeachment in America is essentially a political act and always has been. With impeachment, we have a procedure having little to do with the body of law. The modern era’s use of impeachment is a measure of how much the country has changed. Originally, there were no political parties. Today, they are the vehicles of power.

The political nature of impeachment is so for many reasons, including the selection of those to be investigated, the “jurors” in the Senate not being selected and being responsible for their trial votes only to the voters in their local constituencies, the lack of any detailed procedures or rules in the Constitution, and the lack of any court of appeal.

Trump’s call to a foreign leader requesting actions against a political opponent must be viewed as troubling by anyone. If Joe Biden committed inappropriate acts in Ukraine, and likely he did, there are proper avenues for investigating him. They don’t include a president calling another president, asking a favor, and delaying or withholding foreign aid as an incentive to act.

Trump opened himself to the charges. He didn’t have to, but he did. The recklessness and bravado are just part of his make-up, but they are qualities which can lead to bad outcomes, just as they very much have in almost all of America’s foreign relations. The divisions created there among both traditional friends and opponents and the coercive tactics used are just part of what is dividing America.

Given the entire context of an American-induced coup overthrowing an elected government in Ukraine (and remember, no American politician of either party admits to that) – just as Trump has done in Bolivia and attempted in Venezuela – Trump’s phone call may seem small, but I don’t think anyone can defend it.

Posted December 21, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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