The Trump Impeachment Trial is now underway. This is only the third such occurrence in US history.
Shortly after 2 p.m., Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding, was escorted into the Senate by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.).
Everyone in the chamber rose to their feet, including members of the public and press who looked on from the balconies. The only sound was the scratching of reporters’ pens. Then Chief Justice Roberts spoke.
“Senators, I attend the Senate in conformity with your notice for the purpose of joining with you for the trial of the President of the United States. I am now prepared to take the oath.”
Senators were then called in alphabetical order to the Senate clerk’s desk to sign their names in an oath book. All of the senators were present for the swearing-in except for Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.), who is at home with a family member facing a medical issue, according to his office. He plans to be sworn in next week, before the trial begins in earnest.
The Senate trial adjourned until Tuesday at 1 p.m. following the swear in process.
Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday.
Two Articles of Impeachment
- The first article of impeachment stems from Mr. Trump pressing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, including by withholding almost $400 million in aid to help Kyiv combat Russian aggression.
- The second article accuses Mr. Trump of impeding Congress’s investigation by preventing witnesses from testifying and defying subpoenas for documentary evidence.
Trump Violated the Law
Regarding point 1, earlier today, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan Congressional watchdog concluded Hold on Ukraine Aid Violated Law.
Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA).
The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA.
The GAO doesn’t enforce penalties for its legal decisions. Thus any it's up to Congress to come up with a remedy.
This impeachment process is the remedy.
What About Witnesses?
What witnesses are called and what evidence is admitted is up to the majority.
If four Republicans defect, the Democrats may catch a break. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will otherwise set up rules and ram them through.
Witnesses are a potentially a two-edged sword. Both Trump and the Democrats have reasons to both want them and not want them.
And if there are witnesses, we are going to hear a lot about Hunter Biden.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock