Despite the supposed urgency of President Donald Trump’s alleged violations of his oath of office, House Democrats took no steps at the end of the 2019 legislative session to deliver recently passed articles of impeachment against the president to the Senate.
Regardless, the Republican-controlled Senate has begun taking steps to prepare for the inevitable trial — one that will undoubtedly include attempts to determine whether anti-corruption requests made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by Trump in the infamous July 25 call constituted a legitimate exercise of the president’s foreign policy-making powers.
Unfortunately, a key witness the Senate would need to hear in order to make such a determination is former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate Joe Biden, who on Friday vowed he would defy any congressional subpoena to testify at the trial.
“What are you going to cover?” Biden asked the Des Moines Register editorial board, suggesting his testimony would distract national media from the case against Trump. “You guys are going to cover for three weeks anything that I said. And he’s going to get away.”
— Des Moines Register (@DMRegister) December 28, 2019
Ironically, however, blanket defiance of impeachment-related subpoenas is one of the very things members of the Democratic Party declared Trump impeachable for with their vote on the House floor last Wednesday.
In the Democrats’ own words, lifted directly from the official articles of impeachment, to declare a congressional inquiry illegitimate and defy ensuing subpoenas is “to arrogate to [oneself] the right to determine the propriety, scope, and nature of an impeachment inquiry.”
But this is an exclusive power of legislative branch under the United States Constitution.
Thus, House Democrats argue, such defiance would constitute a violation not only of Congress’ constitutional authority, but one’s oath to uphold the Constitution itself.
The decision would make that individual impeachable, unfit for the office of the executive.
To be clear: I do not agree with this premise.
It ignores the fact that there is a third branch of government established, in part, for the purposes of resolving disputes between the legislative and executive branches. That is the judicial branch — and throughout history it has expedited the hearing of cases involving the limitations and proper uses of executive privilege.
But there’s the rub.
In its rush to see Trump impeached, the Democrat-controlled House refused to wait for the judicial branch to determine whether the president was within his rights when he refused to allow members of his administration to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.
The Democrat-controlled House, in voting last week to charge the president with the never-before-heard-of crime of “obstruction of Congress,” undermined the judicial branch’s sacred role in this political process.
Should this standard be upheld, every political figure daring to challenge congressional authority will hereby be unfit to assume the office of the presidency.
Should this standard be upheld, every president to hold office alongside an opposition Congress will be impeached.
And, whether Democrats know it or not, this very standard would undoubtedly be used to see to it that Biden was the second American political figure deemed unfit to assume the office of the president on similar grounds.
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