The Thinker: Rich Galen


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It's Government, but is it Good Government?

Rich Galen

Wednesday October 9, 2019

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  • As I may have mentioned to you, I think the House - run by Democrats - is doing this impeachment process all wrong.

  • In the House if the Ds have one more vote than the Rs (or the reverse) then the Ds get to do pretty much whatever they want within the established House Rules. That includes taking a bill or resolution to the Floor. I get one more vote than you; I win.

  • It is the same in the Senate at the Committee level, but as you know very well, the current filibuster rules require 60 votes to proceed on most bills and resolution.

  • Next time you hear someone complain about the 60 vote rule, remember how Democrats are treating Republicans in the House without a filibuster rule.

  • The Constitution of the United States says that a President (or any other officer of the Executive Branch) can be impeached by the House of Representatives.

  • The Constitution doesn't speak to the process by which the House will do it.

  • Although the White House sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying the President would not cooperate without a vote by the full House to proceed, there is no Constitutional requirement that the House do that.

  • But, not having put it to a vote at the outset (which Democrats would have won because they have about 38 more votes than the Republicans) doesn't sound like a good government way to go.

  • Now, it's too late. It would look like the House Dems were caving to the demands of the White House which ain't gonna happen.

  • The letter, signed by White House Counsel Pat Cipolloni demands, in part:
    To comply with the Constitution's demands, appropriate procedures would include-at a minimum-the right to see all evidence, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to have counsel present at all hearings, to cross-examine all witnesses, to make objections relating to the examination of witnesses or the admissibility of testimony and evidence, and to respond to evidence and testimony.

    Likewise, the Committees must provide for the disclosure of all evidence favorable to the President and all evidence bearing on the credibility of witnesses called to testify in the inquiry.

  • All true in a criminal court, not relevant in an impeachment proceeding.

  • Again, the House has broad discretion in how it goes about impeaching someone, but in an impeachment case that is based on the INdiscretions of Donald Trump it would seem to make sense to err on the side of good government.

  • I understand why Pelosi didn't want to hold a vote. She didn't want to make the 35 or so Democrats who have to run in districts carried by Donald Trump to have to defend that vote next year.

  • Again, not exactly a good government position.

  • There are some who argue that a Floor vote would give Republicans subpoena power to call witnesses (assumedly) favorable to the President.

  • Yes? And?

  • If the Democrats' case can't stand up to hearing from pro-Trump witnesses, then maybe their case needs some shoring up.

  • In fact, the focus of the Democrats' building their case should be to make it strong enough to attract Republican support.

  • Having a process which excludes Republicans - even Republicans like Jim Jordan (R-Oh) whose signature look is showing up in shirt and tie, but no jacket - also doesn't strike me as a good government position.

  • The Congressional Republicans are in a corner. Trump has admitted to saying on the phone call with the Ukrainian President "I would like you to do us a favor though" right after President Zelenskyy asked for military aid to help keep Vladimir Putin's army at bay.

  • So, that's not at issue.

  • Then, during one of his daily gaggles on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump got off on a riff asking the Chinese to investigate the Bidens as well.

  • Republicans tried to laugh that off as Trump making a joke, but it didn't look like he was kidding to me as I watched it.

  • Republicans are trying desperately to throw so much political chaff in front of voters that they will forget that this isn't about whether Joe and Hunter Biden did anything wrong; it's about whether Donald Trump did anything wrong.

  • House Democrats should take a step back and see whether, if they were in the minority and a Democrat President were in the dock, they would see this as a procedure grounded in good government principles.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: An impeachment explainer by Reuters, and the text of the White House letter via Fox News.

    The Mullfoto is of birds in class on Lake Erie last weekend.

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