Views from Kansas: Senate must have fair trial
Editor’s Note: Views from Kansas is a regular feature that highlights editorials and other viewpoints from across the state.
Has anyone in this country not decided how he or she feels about the impeachment of President Donald Trump?
We assume there must be a few such people. Perhaps they live in caves or are fortunate enough not to have access to televisions. For many of the rest of us, though, this entire impeachment process has unfolded with a grating, grinding familiarity. Even the vote of the House of Representatives to formally adopt articles of impeachment passed with little drama.
Battle lines have been drawn. Democrats know their side. Republicans know their side. Precious few venture from one to the other — or even acknowledge the other side’s right to exist.
But somehow, someway, the 100 members of the U.S. Senate have a responsibility to put the preceding paragraphs and the truths they depict entirely out of their minds in the weeks to come. They will be jurors in the impeachment trial of the president.
The Constitution even requires them to take a separate oath to do so: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation.”
Some in that body have suggested they won’t be impartial jurors or will work directly with the president’s team to dismiss the charges from the House. We trust that these senators are merely posturing politically. Surely they understand the gravity of the situation.
Look, we understand that these requests are difficult in these hyper-polarized times. We know that senators may not be inclined to take them. But we also now that the Constitution of this country matters. The conduct of the president of the United States matters. So does the conduct of the House and Senate.
And while there are questions to ask about the process, there will always be those who avoid the subject by focusing on distractions. Think about a little boy who was accused of taking a cookie and responds by blaming his sister for spilling a glass of milk last week. His accusation may be correct, but did he take the cookie? What parent would allow him to go unpunished?
The president is accused of pressuring a foreign country to investigate a potential political rival and using foreign aid as leverage. How would Republicans react if similar accusation were brought up against a theoretical President Hillary Clinton? One can imagine.
On the other hand, Democrats must also reflect on what they would do or say about the process if impeachment charges were leveled against that theoretical President Clinton. Surely they would have process questions as well.
The times and the duties of senators are serious. Together, they should commit to an impartial, fair and just process.
— Originally published in The Topeka Capital-Journal