From the American Constitution’s point of view, impeachment is a legal process. House of Representatives has power to press charges on any federal official for high crimes and misdemeanors. Those charges have to be based on law, which is being violated by an official. Senate on the other hand has power to try impeachment, meaning that it is working similarly to a court by deciding of guilt or acquittance. Congressmen should vote according to their conscience, so their personal political views or affiliation should not stand in the way to vote impartially. Just as Senator Mitt Romney said in his Trump’s impeachment speech — impartial justice — each Senator should vote as they think and as they feel it should be voted, not in this or that way because of their party affiliation. So the process is intended to be a purely legal tool of controlling one branch of government by the other.
However if we look at the last impeachment trial of president Donald Trump can we be so sure about pure legality? It seems that there are some concerns. First of all, the total vote in Congress for or against impeachment is almost completely in line with Representatives and Senators party affiliation. Almost all Democrats voted for impeachment in both chambers and almost all Republicans voted against. Isn’t it a proof for political character of the vote? It looks like Democrats voted for, because it was their idea to impeach Trump and only Democrats have seen the damage done with his behavior. Republicans on the other hand were saying that he had not done anything that is impeachable and they did not want to vote against a president that comes from their own party. The numbers say for themselves. Another thing is that the Senate did not really exercise its power to try impeachment, as they (or rather, again, Republican majority) decided not to hear witnesses or examine evidences. Trump’s impeachment process was therefore not fully a process, Republican majority just decided not to impeach him, as they were so convinced of the president’s innocence. How could they be so convinced without a full process? Democrats had legal basis to impeach Trump, but the voting went almost fully political. Republicans did not want to hear a single word about Trump being guilty as charged. They just wanted to end the trial, the sooner the better, because the president is also a Republican and he does his job well. To be fair it has to be said that Democrats did not act fully impartially neither. They did have evidences and the charges were justified, but they were not well prepared. They wanted to start the process immediately, without further ado, perhaps because they were not satisfied with Trump’s being a president. By that I do not mean that they were dissatisfied with his actions only, but rather with his party affiliation.
Tu sum up, I think that Trump’s impeachment process had legal basis and was supposed to be legal (that way it is a legal tool), but it ended up being politically biased (on both sides and that way it is a political tool). The votes in both chambers seem to confirm that. Both parties did just what they wanted to, one to put charges and the other to end the trial. It is hard to say if Republicans in the Senate really did not see any harm done by the president or if they did not want to see it. Only one of them voted differently, only he decided that there are enough basis to impeach Donald Trump. Democrats on the other hand had the evidences against the president, but they were not allowed to present them at the trial, as there was none. Wasn’t the decision of not taking the witnesses and evidences politically biased?
Author: Marta Samburska