Letters to the Editor: Fine, subpoena Trump. Just don’t expect to learn anything more about him.
I have several observations I want to make about the U.S. Senate’s impeachment trial today, which is unfolding in a manner almost identical to the House’s proceedings, with most of the same players involved.
As I watched the hearings this week, one thing that stood out to me was how little the Senate Majority has offered up. The only witnesses testifying were the president, his chief of staff and a former White House staffer.
No testimony was offered from anyone who worked in Trump’s campaign office, the White House, the National Security Council, the State Department, or anywhere else that might have had contact with Russia or the president.
The only person testifying who had any relationship with Trump was the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen took the Fifth on the third day of testimony, and he never offered anything about the president or his campaign. It is unclear what his purpose was, save to protect himself.
To be clear, it’s not fair to ask a lawyer to take a Fifth. Lawyers are people who have been given the responsibility to protect the rights, safety and welfare of the people. To not offer to waive that responsibility is a dereliction of duty and a betrayal of the public trust.
It is also a dereliction of duty for Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and two other former campaign advisers to not testify. All three men testified in the House, after which they were subpoenaed to appear again in the Senate. It’s hard to understand why they wouldn’t have testified in the Senate before then.
Yet if you are trying to impeach the president for conduct that occurred during the campaign, you might as well have the witnesses testify in the House. That has nothing to do with the fact-finding process; the House had already started that process.
The Senate should have asked every witness about their interactions with the president after the election, not before. It didn’t. But because the Senate has accepted a finding of guilt, which is the same as a vote of “guilty,” you could be forgiven for thinking the investigation was over since there is no finding of innocence.
I want to state another thing