As you read these words on the eve of a new year (but, for the pedantics among you, not technically a new decade, since there was no year “zero”), we are about to exit “the teens.” It is unlikely in the extreme that I shall ever again write during a “teen” period, given the paucity of 151-year-old columnists. And so, on this last teen day, I suppose I should be both interesting and provocative (Ed: or just pick one, seriously).
And so, with an impish spirit inhabiting my tongue and cheek, let me offer Nancy Pelosi a word or two of advice, as I’m sure she reads Colorado Politics every day. Or at least offer a thought or two for U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, whose poor intern likely is forced to cull these pages for all mentions of the junior senator from Colorado.
Dear Speaker Pelosi (I like to keep things formal, even though I did shake her hand at a campaign event back in 2008. I believe I was the 428th person to greet her at the event, so I’m sure she remembers me), may I offer a suggestion regarding the recent impeachment of President Trump? I’d like to recommend that you, well, in the words of the musical "Frozen," let it go…
I’m proposing that you engage in a full stop of all impeachment matters. Just be done with it. Don’t send it to the Senate, don’t take further action. There, I said it.
You see, given that Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell has already declared both the outcome (acquittal) and that he will work in lock step with the Trump administration, there will never be an actual “trial” as envisioned by the Founders. Rather, Mitch has already preordained the Senate’s actions. He won’t call witnesses, though he held the opposite view when President Clinton was impeached for…what was it again? Oh, yes, lying about sex. He won’t allow members of his own party to put even an inch between themselves and the president, so why bother?
Plus, there is a huge upside for Gardner, in that the most vulnerable Republican up for re-election in 2020 really doesn’t want to publicly have to declare his support for a president who clearly violated not only various laws, but basic human dignity (remember his revolting mocking of a disabled reporter? His claim that he knows more about ISIS than the generals?). I’m betting Gardner would love not having to publicly tie himself to the moral eyesore that is Trump.
Another good reason to not transmit the impeachment to the Senate has to do with their workload. With over 400 House-passed bills (roughly 250 of which are fully bipartisan) still sitting on McConnell’s desk, he must feel very overworked. Perhaps ending the impeachment would free up some time for him to take a peek at those bills?
Look, no district attorney in the country would take a case to trial if he or she knew beforehand that there was a zero chance of conviction. There is no sense wasting the taxpayer’s dollars on a sham trail with a fixed outcome. And importantly, the retirement of the impeachment papers would forever deny Trump the one thing he values above all others — more than party, more than country — his own reputation in history. If you send the impeachment documents to the Senate, for their farce of a trial, Trump will forever declare that he was somehow vindicated by the kangaroo court run by McConnell. And those who listen to only Fox News will find themselves in agreement, regardless of the evidence here, or in the Mueller report that documented 10 different obstruction of justice examples. But if impeachment never goes to the Senate, Trump will forever be that president who got caught with his fingers in the cookie jar but got off because the trial system was rigged.
Madam Speaker, there are two judgments of Donald Trump before you. One, impeachment, is in your hands, while the other is the judgement of history. I encourage you to put aside the inevitable acquittal by a cowed Senate, and to let history be the final judge. Many of my GOP friends, I believe, have clung to Trump as an unpleasant but useful fool, by which their agendas could be advanced. Few, if any, argue for Trump’s honesty and character. Recall that Trump’s own foundation was fined for basically stealing money from various charities, including veterans’ groups, that more than two dozen women have come forward with charges of sexual misbehavior that would seem to cause the Clinton lies to pale in comparison. Trump paid off adult film stars and got fined for his dishonest “university.” Surely history will render a judgement that is fitting for his behavior. There is little need for a Senate trial with a predetermined innocent verdict. And Gardner will thank you for keeping him from casting an unfortunate vote.
The eyes of future generations are upon you, and I respectfully suggest you let them render their verdict unencumbered by Senate shenanigans.
Hal Bidlack is a retired professor of political science and a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught more than 17 years at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.