Did the Senate just render its verdict two weeks before the latest impeachment trial of
? The Journal’s Siobhan Hughes and Lindsay Wise report from Washington:
Since 17 Republicans would be needed to convict (assuming all Democrats vote against the former president) and it seems unlikely that any senator would endorse a prosecution she deems unlawful—Democrats may now decide it’s pointless to go any further.
If they decide to press onward, they may struggle to present the appearance of a fair proceeding. Since Donald Trump is no longer president, Chief Justice
isn’t going to show up to preside. Instead, the plan is for one of the Senate’s most ideological members to run the show.
Sen. Patrick Leahy
(D., Vt.), the chamber’s president pro tempore, suggests in a tweet that he’s going to be even-handed:
When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tempore takes a special oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution & the laws. It is an oath that I take extraordinarily seriously.
Vermont’s senior senator is not exactly known for judiciousness. The Almanac of American Politics notes: “Leahy is a stalwart liberal known for periodic flashes of temper and can be a sharp-tongued partisan.” His voting record is barely distinguishable from that of his Vermont colleague, the socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Sen. Leahy was quick to call for Mr. Trump’s removal from office after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Mr. Leahy also backed last year’s failed impeachment prosecution even though neither of the articles accused Mr. Trump of any crime.
Also last year, Mr. Leahy opposed the Supreme Court nomination of Judge (now Justice) Amy Coney Barrett, saying, “this process has been nothing but shameful. Worse, it will almost certainly lead to disastrous consequences for Americans.”
During the confirmation hearings for Judge (now Justice)
in 2018, the Vermont senator joined a number of Democrats in signing a disgraceful letter to
Sen. Charles Grassley
(R., Iowa), then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter stated:
In light of shocking new allegations detailed by Julie Swetnick in a sworn affidavit, we write to request that the Committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh be immediately canceled and that you support the reopening of the FBI investigation to examine all of the allegations against Kavanaugh or withdrawal of his nomination…
It would be an unprecedented abuse of power and abdication of our constitutional responsibilities to move forward with this nomination given the concerns about Brett Kavanaugh’s character and actions.
The abuse of power was being perpetrated by Sen. Leahy and his fellow character assassins. The absurd allegations that Brett Kavanaugh had participated in a criminal organization that planned and executed a series of gang rapes had been relentlessly promoted in the media by attorney
The bizarre claims quickly collapsed in the absence of evidence. Avenatti was later convicted in an unrelated extortion case and faces other criminal charges to which he pleads not guilty.
Perhaps the infamous treatment of Mr. Kavanaugh ought to disqualify Sen. Leahy from ever again sitting in judgment upon anyone, but there is also particular reason to question his role in the upcoming Trump incitement case given the senator’s history on First Amendment liberties.
Serving as a partisan enforcer in 2001 against
George W. Bush
nominee Ted Olson, Sen. Leahy demanded records from the American Spectator magazine because Mr. Olson had done legal work for the publication. It just so happens the magazine had investigated
alleged harassment of a female employee while he was the governor of Arkansas.
Writing in the New York Times in 2001, William Safire wrote:
Ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy demanded that Olson, as the magazine’s attorney, and now Bob Tyrrell, editor of the Spectator, ‘’provide copies of the internal audit, board books and minutes . . . and all notes and records of Board discussions of the audit. . . .’’
That includes expense accounts, telephone records and other ways to expose journalistic sources. When the publication ignored this outrageous intrusion, Leahy warned, ‘’should that request be declined, the committee as a whole should take appropriate action to obtain the information.’’
…Come back to the Constitution, Pat. Let journalists joust with journalists and senators berate other senators; let politicians snap back at persnickety editors to their hearts’ content — but never permit the investigative power of government to chill the expression of any opinion or report of what the writer has reason to believe to be the truth.
Is there anything in Sen. Leahy’s long partisan history to suggest he is interested in conducting a fair trial?
The Non-Nuclear Option
Yvonne Wingett Sanchez reports in the Arizona Republic on
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema
(D., Ariz.), who unlike Sen. Leahy is not a reliable partisan:
On Monday, Sinema’s spokesperson restated Sinema’s long-held position that she opposes killing the legislative filibuster because the Washington Post inaccurately suggested Sinema could be open to the idea.
“Kyrsten is against eliminating the filibuster, and she’s not open to changing her mind about eliminating the filibuster,” Hannah Hurley said in a statement.
Her stance provoked fury from some partisan Democrats, who called on Arizona voters to “punish” her with a primary opponent when she’s up for reelection in 2024.
A group called No Excuses is launching digital and radio ads this week in an attempt to pressure Sen. Sinema to reverse course. Ms. Sanchez reports:
Corbin Trent, co-founder of the political action committee and former spokesman for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said the ads initially will run for a week in eight or nine markets around Arizona. “We’re just trying to make sure Arizonans know their senator is standing in the way of progress,” he said.
Many Arizonans will no doubt be delighted to know that at least one of their senators is standing in the way of the AOC agenda.
Mr. Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”
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