RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Dugger writes: "The American people appear about to learn whether the 53 Republican senators together in Washington, individually and as the Senate majority, are honest, honorable, and worthy of the public trust or on balance are fearful, obedient, and mostly cowardly jurors of, by, and for the most lying president in American history."

Sen. Mitch McConnell. (photo: Zach Gibson/Getty)
Sen. Mitch McConnell. (photo: Zach Gibson/Getty)

The Senate Trial of Donald Trump

By Ronnie Dugger, Reader Supported News

10 January 20


Part 1

he American people appear about to learn whether the 53 Republican senators together in Washington, individually and as the Senate majority, are honest, honorable, and worthy of the public trust or on balance are fearful, obedient, and mostly cowardly jurors of, by, and for the most lying president in American history.

Despite the personal oath pledging impartiality as jurors, which every one of the 100 senators will be swearing their honor to in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared in advance of taking his oath that he is making his plans to conduct and control the Senate trial in tandem with the defendant and that all but certainly the defendant will not be convicted and removed from office. As Congress has reassembled in the new year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been holding back giving McConnell the House-passed two Articles of Impeachment, for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress, until he gives her and the public assurance to her satisfaction that the trial will be fair and not the cover-up that Minority Leader Senator Charles Schumer warns may be coming. 

McConnell has said he is against having witnesses in the trial. Pelosi wants them, and Trump has said he does, too, including Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The rules prohibit McConnell from starting the trial without getting the two impeachment articles from the House. Trump’s leading champion in the Senate, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, proposed on July 5th that the rule be changed in the week of January 12th to start the trial without having received them. Two of the GOP senators have publicly dissented against McConnell’s witnessless but coordinated-with-the-defendant plans. Changing the rule would take 51 votes; the Republicans have 53. 

Let’s be plain and clear about the timing now. Opening Trump’s trial next week, indeed speeding it through during this month, is in no way necessary. Trump has already been lyingly stump-speaking for his re-election a year and a half or two. After all, there will only be one Democrat running against him, and the seven to nine or so candidates still seeking that nomination have been heard in their own speeches and mostly only one-minute-allowed answers on the pluralized press conferences on national TV, falsely called “debates” by the sponsoring media companies. Even a far too long six-month presidential campaign from May to November 3rd would still leave four months open now for Trump’s Senate trial. The campaign itself can’t occur, again after all, until the Democrats’ one nominee is chosen. That probably means during the Democratic National Convention in mid-July, which limits the two-person campaign to three and a half months.

Besides, as to timing, let’s consider just one of the seldom-discussed meanings, the actual consequences, of the American president’s chronic lying. One of the two greatest daily newspapers in the country, The Washington Post, has kept and counted and keeps on counting what they see and deem to be the false or misleading statements Trump has made publicly as our president. Last month the Post reported, from its “Trump claims database,” that as of December 10th, his one thousand and 55th day in office, the president has made “125,413 false or misleading claims,” that is, more than 125 thousand of them, an everyday average of nearly 15. Nearly 600 of these untruths in the past two months, the Post reported, “relate just to the Ukraine investigation,” that is, to the basis of the Democrats’ second Article of Impeachment against Trump. With his mandatory daily prominence, often domination, in and on the national media, in six months, he can get everything true or false he wants to say read, heard, or seen and heard by the voters again and again.

Part 2

If two-thirds of the senators vote to find President Trump guilty, his Presidency ends then. The latest of the reliable private polls has 55% of the people favoring that outcome. The main press and Congressional Republicans and some of the Democrats all but foresee Trump will be cleared in the Senate trial. However the Senate trial turns out, it will be a history-being-made event that can either help prevent or help cause Trump’s re-election. Obviously this is one major reason why the principals preparing to run and participate in the trial are differing so sharply and so problematically. McConnell, Graham, of course Trump, vividly attacking the two Articles of Impeachment, charging the Democrats have not come up with anything valid, want “there’s nothing there” shown fast and shockingly. Pelosi, Schumer, Rep. Adam Schiff, etc., want a longer, fuller trial that shows Trump unfit to be president.

Last March Speaker Pelosi, rueing national division, thinking of helping to re-elect newly-elected moderate Democrats, and saying of Trump “he’s not worth it,” opposed impeaching him. Of course she has the enormous Speaker’s power over the House Democrats, which members go on which committees, who are the chairs, the laws the House considers or doesn’t. Despite her position, though, major House committees, principally led by Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler, continued industriously preparing and researching many impeachable matters. In September Pelosi suddenly publicly called for impeachment hearings focused on Trump’s Ukraine scheme, saying among much else that the public would understand that scandal. Recently she also, explicitly and again publicly, approved the House maybe also passing other Articles of Impeachment additional to the one on Ukraine.

No one really knows that in the impeachment trial all the Senate Republicans will vote against Trump’s conviction and all the Democrats for it. No one can yet foretell how the trial will go. No one knows which side in the trial will turn out to be more persuasive with the public.  No one knows what the verdict will be.

Something can happen to make the trial much more revealing if three “ifs” occur now. They are: (1) if this something happens before Pelosi hands over the Articles of Impeachment to McConnell, (2) if she waits long enough for this something to be done, and (3) if some House Democrats (perhaps especially Nadler and the other Democratic House members whose work and advocacies for Articles of Impeachment were left aside by the steps Pelosi has taken) act boldly and quickly. 

House committee members can decide now to add additional grievous Trump impeachable offenses to the content of the Abuse-of-Power article and, if they wish, also add new Articles of Impeachment to the two the House has passed. Such a set of events, enabled by the present stall in the House-to-Senate process, would, I think, at the least lengthen and strengthen the open, true, and fair, but more-substantially educating effects which the trial, if the Senate clears Trump, will have on public opinion for the November election. Less likely, although quite imaginably, with a fuller trial the senators’ vote would come closer to two-thirds or could become two-thirds and more.

Under “Abuse of Power,” the House members could include Trump’s revengeful and frequently vicious public attacks on his critics in his speeches, remarks to the press, and tweets. These often ruthlessly entail cruelty, libel, and slander. Trump impeachably uses his enormous national as well as official opinion- and publicity-power as president to frighten members of Congress who anger him into their retiring or submissions to him from concern about their own re-elections. As Trump himself says, those who slam him he slams back ten to one.

Certainly the fact that the President of the United States, the commander-in-chief of our military forces that include our mass-murdering nuclear weapons, is a “pathological liar,” as Bernie Sanders says, is another abuse of his presidential power. If even with the Washington Post database at hand this arguably is not itself an Article of Impeachment, failing to include and dramatize these truths about his tens of thousands of untruths under the “Abuse of Power” article seems to me a mistake.

Twice President Trump openly threatened North Korea with a violent American military attack in words that strongly implied that he meant he would destroy them with our nuclear weapons. Only he has total and exclusive authority to launch and explode these weapons on targets including entire cities. Congress has not even considered, as far as I know, whether our presidents should be able to, as Trump did, go before the United Nations and thus the entire world to literally threaten an entire nation of 25 million people with “total destruction.” Ethically, surely, that was an inexcusable abuse of his power. This impulsive Trump also suddenly bombed Syria without Congressional approval. Despite the voted opposition of Congress he continues to order our Air Force to continue supplying and supporting Saudi Arabia’s mass-murderous bombings of civilians in Yemen. Days ago, with no known consultation with Congress, he ordered the successful murder from a drone of one of Iran’s uppermost military leaders and those with him. Iran threatened us with grave retaliation. On January 4th, three days ago as I write, he tweeted that if they attack Americans or our assets, 52 Iranian cultural sites, “and Iran itself,” [in capital letters then] “WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.” Our aspirationally dictatorial president should be impeached, too, for such ruthless and astoundingly risky abuses of his power.

Part 3

The House’s Article of Impeachment concerning Trump and Ukraine needs no discussion here. However, the Mueller Report, on Russia’s and Vladimir Putin’s pollutions and corruptions of our 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor against Hillary Clinton, is the solid foundation for two officially researched and reported and gravely needed additional Articles of Impeachment that are totally ignored in the present climax.

Being president, Trump has said, he can do anything he wants to, and to be sure other Articles of Impeachment against him are available. He has brazenly and defiantly brushed off the Constitution’s prohibition of a president making and taking profit from foreign governments, the emoluments clause. Instead of obeying his constitutional duty to see that the laws are faithfully executed, he vigorously undermines and trashes them, concerning legislation (especially cancelling and, since he and his party can’t get that done, gutting the Affordable Care Act) and with his executive orders, often judged illegal (including those also gutting environmental protections and corporate-regulating laws and regulations). 

But both Trump’s publicly agreeing on world television with Putin’s denials of, and worse Trump’s complicity with, Russia’s powerful interference in our 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump’s victory, along with Trump’s predictable supports for Russian foreign policy despite Russia being a leading adversary and opponent of the United States, raise questions of sovereignty and blackmailable disloyalty in foreign policy, which arguably extend to the topic of treason and all but require his impeachment. He should have an Article of Impeachment against him for Complicity with Official Russia’s Interference in the U.S. 2016 election – his support for Putin’s and Russia’s huge, malicious, and secret attacks, in 2016 and ongoing, on American democracy and sovereignty.  

The evidence-drenched Part I of the Mueller Report, since bolstered by the outcomes and the records of the trials of Trump’s long-term ally Roger Stone and members of his teams, definitively establishes Trump’s complicity in Putin’s interference in our 2016 election in order to help elect himself. Just as many members and staff of the House impeachment committees certainly have done, I have read Mueller’s badly organized and incompetently repetitive report, marking and underlining in it, and I have since reviewed it again. Understandably most Americans have not read it. I only summarize here small parts of what most matters in it. 

I also limit to three sentences here the consensus realization that Trump’s now self-revealed de-facto personal attorney William Barr, known in advance to Trump and countless others as a self-declared believer in an autocratic U.S. president who literally cannot commit obstruction of justice, was maneuvered into the role of U.S. Attorney General, the position which legally gave Barr personally the exclusive receipt of Mueller’s report and the first control of it to censor (“redact”) it and then to summarize it to the eagerly-waiting American public. Barr dishonestly misrepresented the report and on his opinion about presidents’ powers himself found and declared Trump innocent of obstruction of justice as if he had authority to do so, which he did not. Thus he dramatically misrepresented and discredited the historically momentous report in the press and with the people.

Hillary Clinton admitted in the 2016 campaign that, when Secretary of State, she had ordered the destruction of 30,000 emails which she had received, alas, on her personal email server, giving the reason that the 30,000 messages were personal, not official ones. This caused quite a scandal. Candidate Trump knew about and welcomed, but did not report to U.S. officials, Russia’s interference to help elect him. On July 20th, speaking on national and therefore world TV, suddenly Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” which, he added, “will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Undeniably, broadcasting that hope on world TV, asking Russia to further help elect him over Clinton, Trump himself was significantly complicitous in Putin’s crimes against American democracy and sovereignty. Mueller reported that five hours later, on the same day of Trump’s “Russia, if you’re listening,” Russian intelligence agents for the first time hacked Hillary Clinton’s office records.

Part 4

In just three smallish-type footnotes on pages 14 and 15 of its Part I, the almost 500-page Mueller Report revealed that in 2014 Russia began operating frequently falsifying social media accounts on U.S. social and political issues; by 2016 Russia’s covert agencies secretly began supporting, in their cyber hacking into the U.S. election, Trump’s election over Hillary Clinton; Russians were buying political ads in the names of U.S. citizens, posing as U.S. persons without revealing their Russian association, communicating with individuals in the Trump campaign and other political activists, discouraging blacks from voting, starting political rallies for Trump, making the posters for them; “the U.S. has filed criminal charges against 13 individual Russian nationals and three Russian entities for conspiracy to defraud the United States”; just one Russian agency controlled Twitter accounts with “tens of thousands of U.S. participants” and another Russian agency’s Twitter accounts had “tens of thousands of followers”; and after the election, these three footnotes informed us, Twitter notified 1,400,000 people whom it believed had been in contact, through Twitter, with Russian-controlled accounts, in which the number 3,814 accounts is cited, and Facebook estimated that a leading Russian “research agency” “reached as many as 126,000,000 persons through its Facebook accounts.”

That last figure, 126 million, is more than one third, 38%, of the total population of the United States. As, just for another short example of the Mueller Report’s content, the Public Broadcasting System summarized, per Mueller: Russia created fake hashtags, impersonated Americans, asked the Trump campaign to help them with the rallies they arranged and staged, cyber-attacked the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, stole passwords and got access to Democratic and Clinton’s chairman’s files, and arranged the release, well-timed for the final voting, of documents stolen from the Clinton campaign to the American people to hurt the Clinton candidacy.

In Mueller’s Part II, as perhaps some millions of Americans now realize, he and his team shockingly and powerfully presented evidence and, in brief, the stories of up to perhaps ten potential criminal obstructions of justice committed by Trump. Let’s limit the essence of all that now to two sentences: President Trump gave orders to stop, that is to kill Mueller’s investigation of him, to get Mueller fired, and to officially require the limitation of Mueller’s investigations only to events that would occur sometime in the future, and thus not, not, to any events that had occurred in the past. In every case his associates and subordinates refused to transmit those orders from Donald Trump; otherwise they could or would have happened. Thus, a fourth Article of Impeachment, for Obstruction of Justice, begs to be slipped in before Pelosi gives up to McConnell or he gives up to her.

As opening, let’s close: the American people are about to learn whether the 53 Republican senators assembled in Washington, individually and as the Senate majority, are honest, honorable, and worthy of the public trust or on balance are fearful, obedient, and mostly cowardly jurors of, by, and for the most lying president in American history.

Ronnie Dugger, recipient of the George Polk lifetime journalism award in 2011 and founding editor of the Texas Observer, has published books on Presidents Johnson and Reagan, Hiroshima, universities, and many articles in The Nation, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, New Republic, and other magazines. He has written essays for RSN on Donald Trump since mid-2016. He now is also continuing work on nuclear ethics and is beginning to submit his poems for consideration for publication. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner
Email This Page


THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.