Opinion | Susan Knopf: Are we approaching the end of the trail? | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Susan Knopf: Are we approaching the end of the trail?

Susan Knopf

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is feeling more like a trail. You checked the trail guides and the map, yet the trail feels so much longer. This can’t be 8 miles; it feels like 30!

Such are the cockwombles of this administration and the Republican Party. (Cockwomble: A person, usually male, prone to making outrageously stupid statements and/or inappropriate behavior while generally having a very high opinion of their own wisdom and importance. — Urban Dictionary)

It is difficult to listen to the nonstop lies.

1.  Republicans claim Democrats hate Trump and have been trying to oust him since day one. Republicans are right about one thing: Hating the president, vehemently disagreeing with his politics and abhorring his lack of respect for the office are not grounds for impeachment. Trading U.S. military aid to get dirt on your political rival in the next election is an impeachable offense.

2. Republicans claim Democrats are trying to “undo” the last election, the will of the people. For the record, almost 3 million more people voted for Hillary Clinton. Trump strategically won the Electoral College. That’s why people decry the Electoral College.

We know Trump got help from Russia — facts verified by U.S. intelligence agencies and confirmed by the findings of the Mueller report. The Republicans still dispute these facts on the impeachment trail, I mean trial. A Wired article said Trump seems to have more confidence in Q-Anon theories than the findings of our intelligence services.

3. Republicans falsely assert there was no quid pro quo. “The Perfect Impeachable Conversation” links the official summary of the July 25 phone call, when Trump said, “I would like you to do us a favor though.” Then he asked asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch spurious investigations into Russian propaganda myths, debunked by intelligence agencies. This was in direct response to Zelensky’s request for duly authorized military aid.

4. Republicans fictitiously assert the U.S. House failed to follow established impeachment procedures and the process denied Trump his rights. False. The Washington Post authoritatively refutes the various erroneous Republican objections on procedure. Trump chose not to participate in the House investigation.

5. Republicans claim the president is not obstructing Congress by refusing all subpoenas for witnesses and documents, he is merely exercising his executive privilege. According to Rep. Adam Schiff, the president has never asserted “executive privilege.” Schiff presented evidence that no other president in U.S. history has refused all subpoenas. Trump refuses to conduct himself consistent with U.S. traditions, just as he is the only president since Ford to refuse to release his income tax returns.

Famed legal scholar and criminal defender Alan Dershowitz, speaking for Trump’s defense, warned the Senate not to set precedent by allowing the president to be impeached on unconstitutional grounds. Fun facts, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton both faced articles of impeachment for obstruction and abuse of power. So the precedent is well established.

Dershowitz conceded his interpretation of the Constitution is a minority opinion. During the House impeachment inquiry, four constitutional scholars, including the Republican’s expert, all testified attempting to trade approved government aid for help winning a U.S. election is an impeachable offense.

Dershowitz embarrassed himself arguing a president using a quid pro quo to win an election is acting in the national interest and thus can’t be impeached. Truly shameless.

Our nation is so polarized politically, the only way to understand the gravity of the facts is to switch the political identity of the accused. What if a Democratic president was accused of trading congressionally approved aid for dirt on a political opponent? We would never tolerate such a violation of the president’s oath of office.

The most important reason to impeach the president now is to protect our 2020 election. I salute Nancy Pelosi who said she would not impeach for a past act. Thus Trump was not impeached for the enumerated obstruction offenses in the Mueller report. Instead of being chastened, the president was emboldened. He falsely states Article II of the Constitution allows him to do “whatever I want.” Thus with complete impunity he asked China to investigate the Bidens. Clearly, if we value our democracy, our right to free and fair elections, this president must be removed.

The numbers don’t favor such an outcome. John Bolton’s book appears to support the quid pro quo theory. Hopefully Republican senators can set aside their fear of Trump retribution and the angry mob he has whipped up. Hopefully they’ll vote to hear witnesses. Hopefully they will remove the cloud of party loyalty from their eyes and see the clear and present danger this president represents to our democracy. Are we approaching a new trail marker or the end of the trail?

Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes biweekly on Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at sdnknopf@gmail.com.

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