My Content

impeachment

Thank You, Senator Romney

by D.J. McGuire

“Romney voted to convict the president. His fellow Republicans voted to convict themselves.” – Windsor Mann, The Week

Truth be told, I don’t think I could have said it any better.

My antipathy for Donald Trump is no secret. He was why I left the Republican Party in 2016. I am in no small part a Democrat because of what he has exposed about the GOP. I have called for him to be removed from office, an effort that failed today with the Senate’s acquittal — a sure-fire sign that jury nullification is alive and well in the 21st Century.

We have seen Republicans pretend that Donald Trump really does care about corruption in Ukraine — never mind that he couldn’t even name a single Ukrainian oligarch in that “perfect” call of 25 July 2019.

We have seen Republicans attempt to out the whistleblower in a desperate attempt to change the subject.

We saw the entire House Republican caucus refuse to believe fact and follow the lead of Devin Nunes — now exposed as Trump’s co-conspirator.

We saw 51 of 53 Republicans refuse to even consider witness testimony last week.

Finally, today, we saw 52 Senate Republicans vote to acquit, including several who freely admit the president did something egregious but can’t bring themselves to do anything about it. Nearly the entire Republican Party in Congress prostrated itself to Donald Trump.

Nearly.

That’s where Mitt Romney comes in.

The last Republican presidential nominee to win my vote — something I don’t see changing in my lifetime — Mitt Romney felt the squeeze, with his sense of honor on one side and part loyalty on the other. He laid out his thinking in an interview with McKay Coppins in The Atlantic (emphasis in original)

The gravity of the moment weighed on him, as did the pressure from members of his own party to acquit their leader. As his conscience tugged at him, he said, the exercise took on a spiritual dimension.

Romney, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, described to me the power of taking an oath before God: “It’s something which I take very seriously.” Throughout the trial, he said, he was guided by his father’s favorite verse of Mormon scripture: Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good. “I have gone through a process of very thorough analysis and searching, and I have prayed through this process,” he told me. “But I don’t pretend that God told me what to do.”

In the end, the evidence was inescapable. “The president did in fact pressure a foreign government to corrupt our election process,” Romney said. “And really, corrupting an election process in a democratic republic is about as abusive and egregious an act against the Constitution—and one’s oath—that I can imagine. It’s what autocrats do.”

According to Romney’s interpretation of Alexander Hamilton’s treatise on impeachment in “Federalist No. 65”—which he says he’s read “multiple, multiple times”—Trump’s attempts to enlist the Ukrainian president in interfering with the 2020 election clearly rose to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“It’s what autocrats do.”

Romney also revealed the mentality that has taken over his party — and revealed why it is no longer mine:

“I get that a lot—‘Be with the president,’ ” Romney told me, sounding slightly perplexed. “And I’ll say, ‘Regardless of his point of view? Regardless of the issue?’ And they say yes. And … it’s like, ‘Well, no, I can’t do that.’ ”

I wish I could say Mitt Romney will be the conscience of the GOP. More likely, he will find himself as ostracized as Justin Amash was before he left. Romney has more time (his term expires in 2024), but as a Senator he also has more visibility. We will see what happens. For now, though, he has validated my vote for him in 2012.

For that, even as we are now across the partisan divide, I am deeply grateful.

“Romney voted to convict the president. His fellow Republicans voted to convict themselves.” – Windsor Mann, The Week

Truth be told, I don’t think I could have said it any better.

My antipathy for Donald Trump is no secret. He was why I left the Republican Party in 2016. I am in no small part a Democrat because of what he has exposed about the GOP. I have called for him to be removed from office, an effort that failed today with the Senate’s acquittal — a sure-fire sign that jury nullification is alive and well in the 21st Century.

We have seen Republicans pretend that Donald Trump really does care about corruption in Ukraine — never mind that he couldn’t even name a single Ukrainian oligarch in that “perfect” call of 25 July 2019.

We have seen Republicans attempt to out the whistleblower in a desperate attempt to change the subject.

We saw the entire House Republican caucus refuse to believe fact and follow the lead of Devin Nunes — now exposed as Trump’s co-conspirator.

We saw 51 of 53 Republicans refuse to even consider witness testimony last week.

Finally, today, we saw 52 Senate Republicans vote to acquit, including several who freely admit the president did something egregious but can’t bring themselves to do anything about it. Nearly the entire Republican Party in Congress prostrated itself to Donald Trump.

Nearly.

That’s where Mitt Romney comes in.

The last Republican presidential nominee to win my vote — something I don’t see changing in my lifetime — Mitt Romney felt the squeeze, with his sense of honor on one side and part loyalty on the other. He laid out his thinking in an interview with McKay Coppins in The Atlantic (emphasis in original)

The gravity of the moment weighed on him, as did the pressure from members of his own party to acquit their leader. As his conscience tugged at him, he said, the exercise took on a spiritual dimension.

Romney, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, described to me the power of taking an oath before God: “It’s something which I take very seriously.” Throughout the trial, he said, he was guided by his father’s favorite verse of Mormon scripture: Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good. “I have gone through a process of very thorough analysis and searching, and I have prayed through this process,” he told me. “But I don’t pretend that God told me what to do.”

In the end, the evidence was inescapable. “The president did in fact pressure a foreign government to corrupt our election process,” Romney said. “And really, corrupting an election process in a democratic republic is about as abusive and egregious an act against the Constitution—and one’s oath—that I can imagine. It’s what autocrats do.”

According to Romney’s interpretation of Alexander Hamilton’s treatise on impeachment in “Federalist No. 65”—which he says he’s read “multiple, multiple times”—Trump’s attempts to enlist the Ukrainian president in interfering with the 2020 election clearly rose to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“It’s what autocrats do.”

Romney also revealed the mentality that has taken over his party — and revealed why it is no longer mine:

“I get that a lot—‘Be with the president,’ ” Romney told me, sounding slightly perplexed. “And I’ll say, ‘Regardless of his point of view? Regardless of the issue?’ And they say yes. And … it’s like, ‘Well, no, I can’t do that.’ ”

I wish I could say Mitt Romney will be the conscience of the GOP. More likely, he will find himself as ostracized as Justin Amash was before he left. Romney has more time (his term expires in 2024), but as a Senator he also has more visibility. We will see what happens. For now, though, he has validated my vote for him in 2012.

For that, even as we are now across the partisan divide, I am deeply grateful.

D.J. McGuire – a self-described progressive conservative – has been part of the More Perfect Union Podcast since 2015. He is also a contributor to Bearing Drift.

Iowa App Issues (Ep. 242)

This week’s episode covers the confusion surrounding the Iowa caucuses, the imminent acquittal in the senate impeachment, and how the hosts reacted to the Super Bowl half-time show controversy.

One Week To Iowa (Ep. 241)

This episode looks at the ongoing senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the final days before the Iowa caucus, the Coronavirus, and the public response to the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant.

 

Inside Iowa (Ep. 240)

In this episode, former SNL cast member Gary Kroeger talks about what it’s like inside an Iowa caucus and then joins the gang to look ahead to the senate impeachment trial of Donald John Trump.

The Three B’s (Ep. 238)

This episode covers the new hostilities with Iran, whether it’s good for Democrats to have John Bolton testify at the senate impeachment trial, and what it means now that Biden, Buttigieg and Bernie (the three B’s) have risen to the top in Iowa.

The Aaron Sorkin President (Ep. 237)

 

On this week’s podcast, Rebekah and DJ fly solo as they discuss the impeachment standoff, the latest Democratic debate, the person running to be the Aaron Sorkin president, and how the evangelical right has been co-opted by the conservative right (or vice versa).

The MPU Impeachment Journal

This column is a compilation of separate thoughts on impeachment and the state of American politics.


As I predicted on the podcast, the two limited and obtuse articles of impeachment that Nancy Pelosi and company adopted are woefully inadequate for the task at hand: galvanizing the nation’s attention and exposing President Trump’s lack of fitness for office. First, they do not allege actual criminal acts, a charge that Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans may very well use to prematurely dismiss the charges in the senate as legally meaningless. The terms bribery and extortion should have peppered the articles’ text, which should have contained one separate article just titled “Bribery and Extortion.” Similarly, opting for the amorphous term “Obstruction of Congress” instead of the criminal code crime of “Obstruction of Justice” was a fatal wimp out on the Democrats’ part.

Moreover, leaving out the Don McGahn incident and other obstruction of justices outlined in the Mueller Report allows Republicans to claim that the entire impeachment is over “one telephone call” instead of the panoply of Trump’s unconstitutional misdeeds over three (or more) years. Campaign finance corruption, emoluments, unlawful executive actions – these should all be in the mix on the senate floor. Make senators Susan Collins, Thom Tillis and Cory Gardner vote to acquit Trump of everything he’s done, instead of hiding behind a very limited single incident. That would have produced a national outrage commensurate with an impeachment trial.

I understand that the House majority’s expensive lawyers probably argued against using those legal terms. But having clashed with attorneys all through my television producing and corporate training careers, I’ve learned that lawyers have a very narrow view of the world that often misses the bigger picture. In this case, they lawyered the Democratic caucus right out of a meaningful impeachment trial.


For Mitch McConnell to stand on the senate floor and complain that Democrats have talked about impeachment since the start of Trump’s administration is the height of hypocrisy coming from the man who announced his goal of making Barrack Obama “a one term president” on the very first night of his first term in office.

Democrats had good reasons to anticipate impeaching Donald Trump. He showed a personality and temperament highly likely to violate the the oath of office. He had talked about forcing himself on women. He had run a scam university and was known for stiffing his contractors. He urged Russia to commit international computer hacking. He refused to sever his ties with his vast business empire, which right there promised to violate the emoluments clause (as he has for three straight years). He lied about charitable donations and it was common knowledge that he misused and abused his charitable foundation. He spoke in vulgar terms and showed little respect for women, children, minorities, international treaties, contracts, and laws. He hid his tax returns and lied about the reason. He regularly defied court orders (one of the charges he was eventually impeached over). His first national security advisor lied to the FBI within two weeks of his appointment to the job. His former campaign chairman was a known international scam artist. He fired his FBI Director for purely personal political reasons and lied about it on national television. He held private, off-the-record meetings with Putin. And as we later found out, he hectored his attorney general and White House counsel to obstruct justice for him. We would also learn he was negotiating with the Russian government to build a hotel in Moscow while actively running for president (the height of poor judgment and bad faith), and he used private channels to run his nefarious schemes, scams, illegal use of campaign funds, and he’s been a serial cheater on every wife he ever married. And his hero is Roy Cohen.

So yeah, people who weren’t mesmerized by his silly tweets and vulgar rallies could read his character and expect he would run afoul of his oath of office. What’s amazing is that 197 congressmen, 53 U.S. senators, and some 60 million Americans did not see it coming.


Trump keeps complaining about the Obama administration spying on him (which is factually untrue). Yet no one ever mentions that he professed to send private investigators to Hawaii to privately spy on President Obama regarding his birth certificate, an invasion of privacy that Trump had no legal standing to commit since he is neither a journalist nor a member of law enforcement. Now, it’s quite possible that he was lying about sending lawyers to Hawaii. But he still made the claim, just as he still keeps making the bogus claim that he was the one who was spied on illegally. People who live in glass houses should not be throwing private investigators.


The Republican Party has allowed itself to become the party of Trumpism. But as the defeats of Matt Bevin, Eddie Rispone, and Ed Gillespie demonstrate, even in red states, you can’t win on Trumpism if you aren’t Donald Trump. Someday The Donald won’t sit in The White House. And the politicians who anchored their careers to him and his perverse style of governing may just find themselves submerged in the anti-Trump backlash that will inevitably rise.


Many Americans think that the senate impeachment trial will be no big deal because the outcome is pre-ordained. Nothing could be further from the truth. There has only been one impeachment trial in modern American history, which established a limited set of precedents for how presidential impeachments should proceed. But Mitch McConnell shows the potential to rewrite the impeachment process and with it all future presidential impeachments ad infinitum. 

If McConnell refuses to allow any prosecution witnesses, he’ll upend the precedent set by the Clinton impeachment trial, when Monica Lewinsky and two other witnesses gave video taped depositions. Or worse, he might submit the entire case for early dismissal which, if successful, could drastically minimize the significance of the impeachment process and forever alter the precarious balance of power between the three branches of government. Should McConnell rig the process to avoid a real final verdict of guilt or acquittal, future Congresses may be more empowered to use the impeachment process as a glorified form of presidential censure. 

It is imperative that impeachment not be dumbed down or diminished to be something other than what the Founders meant it to be: a sober and serious examination of a president’s fitness for office. If the majority party can swat away articles of impeachment without a serious examination of the charges brought by the House, future presidents will be emboldened to break the law whenever their party controls the upper chamber. 

Impeachments will always be a political and partisan endeavor, as they are the product of a political system. But that doesn’t mean we should allow one party to summarily revise the rules that have held U.S. presidents accountable to the people for 232 years.

Article 1 of the Constitution gives the senate sole power to” try all impeachments.” But it does not give the senate majority leader sole power to rewrite the impeachment language in Article 1 for posterity.

 

Kevin Kelton is the co-host of The More Perfect Union podcast and a founder of Open Fire Politics.

 

Impeachment Carols (Ep. 235)

In this episode, Greg returns as the gang banters about the articles of impeachment and how the loss of Kamala Harris affects the Democratic primary field.

More Perfect Monologues (Ep. 234)

In this special episode, each of the MPU hosts speaks directly to you about issues that have been on their minds over the Thanksgiving holiday.

DJ ❤️ Mayor Mike (Ep. 233)

This episodes covers Trump’s interference with Navy discipline, the closing testimony in the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings, the most recent Democratic debate, and DJ’s latest crush on a candidate.

Roger Stone Table Dance (Ep. 232)

This episode looks at Roger Stone’s conviction, the latest impeachment testimony, new twists in the 2020 primary race, and how the latest high school shooting affected the hosts personally.

OK Boomer (Ep. 231)

This week’s podcast looks ahead to the opening of the public impeachment inquiry, the entry of Michael Bloomberg into the Democratic primary race, the new education plans proposed by Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris, and what the “OK boomer” culture war is really about.