Impeachment, the Investigation, and the Senate Vote

One argument being made by Trump supporters and many Republicans is that this impeachment is all rushed, careless, wrong. The House impeached (the indictment) a week after the January 6th events, which are being called an insurrection but others are calling a riot, or protest. The action was urgent, fast, and the most bipartisan vote ever (which is not saying much, frankly). One of the issues here is that the reason to move so fast on impeachment was to get Trump from office, but the impeachment won’t do that. January 20th will, assuming peace is largely kept in the coming days. This means the main motivation to take action – removing Trump from office – will then be moot, not to mention that removing a President by impeachment after he has already left office is something that has never been done before. There will surely be legal battles over this.

I am positive that if the Senate went to trial now there would not be the 17 Republicans to convict – the immediate crisis will have passed, Trump will be gone, etc etc. Surely, too, Senators will cry out for further evidence, for an ongoing investigation to be completed. So, if he were tried now, Trump would not be convicted, meaning, he would be found innocent, or so he and his backers will claim. He will claim this as further confirmation of the witch hunt against him, and for many many people he will be right.

I believe Pelosi should not pass over the articles to the Senate for at least 3 months, if ever, and if she has already done so, then Schumer should sit on them.

There is a huge investigation going on right now. There seem to be 3 key elements. First is the allegation Trump incited this riot with his speech. This seems clear to many, including me, but this is being argued and in the end is a judgement. Nowhere did Trump or any speakers that day say enter the building, capture anyone, or kill anyone. MAYBE they only thought a huge screaming mob would cause those inside to not certify the election, delaying things. This they will argue. This may be true.

What Trump did, or failed to do, AFTER the raid began, the second element, is hugely important, and less able to be discounted. Trump did not immediately call for the invasion to stop, or call out the Guard. In fact he told the rioters he loved them. Not a good look.

The third element – was there a conspiracy to make all this happen – is most important. Rumors are flying, all of which need confirmation. Did Congressional members bring in MAGA members the day before to recon the building? Or were they stupidly just bringing in constituents to just look around? Did the rally organizer work with 3 Congressmen to set all this up, and if so, was the raid the aim? Were there Capitol Police in on the deal? Most important, perhaps, WAS the National Guard told to stand down on orders from Trump or someone in his circle? What did the President know and when did he know it? I am sure millions already believe that all this, and more, happened, but strength of belief is not a fact. Anyone so certain is just like those who believe without evidence the election was stolen. IF during the coming days some or all of these elements are confirmed, each additional element becomes evidence for any trial, evidence these 17 Republican senators will need. Without it, Trump will not be convicted if there is a trial. If he is convicted, after a trial, any concerns about Trump taking this to the Supreme Court and being found innocent are valid, but, again, if evidence exists, each piece makes it harder for the Court to forgive him.

I have always argued that when considering whether something is a conspiracy or simply a colossal botch-up, 99 times out of 100 the latter wins, even in this case here. It COULD be that this rally got way out of hand, a bunch of over zealous fans making a terrible mistake, and mark my words this is going to become the talking point in the days ahead. It COULD be that most if not all those protestors rushing into the building were caught up in a fever, blind to the outcome. It COULD be that those bent on violence, those who pre-planned those actions, did so entirely separate from Trump. This argument may be countered of course by film of clearly drilled and organized teams rushing the building, directions about the building layout, calls for death, lack of police protection, and a host of other things, but raw video and snippets of real time action need to be linked and confirmed. For example, if phone records link Trump to rally leaders, or if, say, Trump’s social media-following staff were following all those sites clearly planning violence on the 6th, that would be evidence impossible to ignore. Interpretations of what was meant by words, or inferred from nods and winks, while entirely likely to confirm for many a crime, is somewhat “slushy” in my opinion, surely more “slushy” than dots connecting pre-planning to seizing the Capitol and others to stop certification of the election.

I know there are those among us who are certain the election was stolen. For these, only a statement by Trump, and all those who voted to overturn the election, confirming that the election was fair, Biden elected, and their allegations a falsehood will start any process toward changing minds. It has been encouraging to see some commentators and officials making this arguement. I also know there are those among us who are certain this was a total plot to seize the government, overturn the election, and install Trump back in the White House based on what has been disclosed so far, but, absent clear and convincing evidence linking Trump DIRECTLY to a conspiracy, nobody else will share their view, and, even then, it is likely some will NEVER share that view, just I know there are some who will NEVER believe this election was without major fraud. The possibility exists, too, as mentioned before, that rather than a great conspiracy this was a total botch-up, with various nefarious actors and extremists running their own game, and Trump and his team too blind or thoughtless to see that words and tone have consequences, in which case this was NOT a coordinated terrible conspiracy but a classical combination of terrible security, oversight, stupidity, ignorance, cultural blindness, and carelessness.

The impeachment process has been likened to a Grand Jury event, wherein the House decision is like a Grand Jury handing down an indictment, and the Senate trial like a court of law trying the case. Insurrection is the charge, it seems. The enormous investigation now going on will gather data, and evidence, connect dots, or not, find sources, get some to inform on others, track phone logs and text messages, determine how widespread the plan was to kidnap or kill Pence and members of Congress (if there really was such a plan), and hopefully document how close Trump and his people were to the invasion – for example, did Trump’s social media tracking people (he had at least one such) track those sites where the violence was clear, the planning obvious, the intent obvious? Are there call logs or even testimony confirming that the lack of Guard presence and abundance was discussed ahead of the 6th with the intent to open the Capitol to access? Given the grave seriousness of the charge, it seems wise to gather data, develop the facts, determine just what went on, the intent and motive, all of it. Once that is done it will become clear what happened – whether Trump helped create the conditions for such a riot (bad enough) or whether the riot was part of a much larger and more sinister plan. Only then can a Senate trial proceed properly, I believe, although once the facts are developed it may well be that criminal charges, even for an ex-president, are more appropriate.

We still have to get through the next few days without blemish or disaster, but I think even Trump, now, has called for no violence this weekend. It would be best if he stated the election was fair and Biden won fairly too, and I still hope he will. But as far as the Senate trial? If you have it at all, only do it after we know exactly what happened. If there was a huge criminal conspiracy, throw the book at those involved. If it was terrible judgement and a sloppy choice of words happening while a protest got way out of hand, but not a devious plot, so be it. That is bad enough.

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