Warm Southern Breeze

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Mitch McConnell: Acquittal Vindicated the Constitution, Not Trump

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, February 16, 2021

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845), Daguerreotype portrait by Matthew Brady’s Studio c.1844/45

Joseph Story (1779-1845) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, nominated by President James Madison, who served in office from February 3, 1812 until September 10, 1845.

He was also: Republican Congressman from Massachusetts, 1808-1809; Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1811-1845; Acting Chief Justice, 1835-1836, 1844; Professor of Law Harvard University 1829-1845.

He is perhaps most renown for his work “Commentaries On The Constitution of the United States” which was first published in 1833, though he authored several other books on the law, and Constitution.

The United States Constitution states in part as follows:

Article I, Section 3, Clause 7:
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Article II, Section 4:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Justice Story wrote about the matter of impeachment at great length, and in part wrote that:

§393. It is obvious, that, upon trials on impeachments, one of two courses must be adopted in case of a conviction; either for the court to proceed to pronounce a full and complete sentence of punishment for the offence according to the law of the land in like cases, pending in the common tribunals of justice, superadding the removal from office, and the consequent disabilities; or, to confine its sentence to the removal from office and other disabilities. If the former duty be a part of the constitutional functions of the court, then, in case of an acquittal, there cannot be another trial of the party for the same offence in the common tribunals of justice, because it is repugnant to the whole theory of the common law, that a man should be brought into jeopardy of life or limb more than once for the same offence. A plea of acquittal is, therefore, an absolute bar against any second prosecution for the same offence. If the court of impeachments is merely to pronounce a sentence of removal from office and the other disabilities; then it is indispensable, that provision should be made, that the common tribunals of justice should be at liberty to entertain jurisdiction of the offence, for the purpose of inflicting the common punishment applicable to unofficial offenders. Otherwise, it might be matter of extreme doubt, whether, consistently with the great maxim above mentioned, established for the security of the life and limbs and liberty of the citizen, a second trial for the same offence could be had, either after an acquittal, or a conviction in the court of impeachments. And if no such second trial could be had, then the grossest official offenders might escape without any substantial punishment, even for crimes, which would subject their fellow citizens to capital punishment. [emphasis added]

§394. The constitution, then, having provided, that judgment upon impeachments shall not extend further, than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold office, (which, however afflictive to an ambitious and elevated mind, would be scarcely felt, as a punishment, by the profligate and the base,) has wisely subjected the party to trial in the common criminal tribunals, for the purpose of receiving such punishment, as ordinarily belongs to the offence. Thus, for instance, treason, which by our laws is a capital offence, may receive its appropriate punishment ; and bribery in high officers, which otherwise would be a mere disqualification from office, may have the measure of its infamy dealt out to it with the same unsparing severity, which attends upon other and humbler offenders.

Joseph Story, “Commentaries On The Constitution of the United States” §393, §394, p278-280, Book III, chapter X; 1833

How the cowardly, weasel-like jellyfish of a man “Moscow Mitch, the Bitch” McConnell could POSSIBLY use the word “vindicate” in reference to the United States Constitution is beyond the scope of imagination – however derelict and perverted it may be – and it is definitely most perverted.

McConnell wrote “Our job wasn’t to find some way, any way, to inflict a punishment. The Senate’s first and foundational duty was to protect the Constitution.” -and- that “The text is unclear” about impeachment, whether “the Senate can try and convict former officers.”

McConnell had also earlier written a “dear colleague” letter to his fellow Banana Republicans in the Senate, in which he wrote in pertinent part that “I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal…”

His mind is like concrete – thoroughly mixed, and permanently set.

The cases of Tennessee United States Senator William Blount – impeached July 7, 1797, on charges of conspiring to assist in Great Britain’s attempt to seize Spanish-controlled territories in modern-day Florida and Louisiana, tried December 17, 1798–January 14, 1799 – and Ulysses Grant’s Secretary of War William Belknap – who tendered his resignation March 2, 1876 only moments before the House impeached him, was tried March 3–August 1, 1876 – demonstrate very clearly that officials may be tried on impeachment charges after they’re out of office. Or else, it completely absolves any official of any responsibility for any act of criminal wrong-doing while in office. It is the intellectual and moral equivalent of saying “so-and-so doesn’t live in Texas anymore, and moved to Minnesota 10 years ago, so s/he can’t be tried for murder or any crimes committed while residing in Texas.”

To assert as much is so absurdly preposterous that it defies imagination.

It’s an ethically reprehensible, morally wrong and judiciously untenable to deny anyone – including society – justice. And that is, in effect, what has happened with Donald Trump; society has been denied justice for the reprehensible, morally repugnant, and outright illegal acts of Donald Trump while in office as the President.

McConnell claims that Trump can be tried in other courts, and cites Justice Story’s writing that:

“There is also much force in the remark, that an impeachment is a proceeding purely of a political nature. It is not so much designed to punish an offender, as to secure the state against gross official misdemeanors. It touches neither his person, nor his property ; but simply divests him of his political capacity.” –– §406, chapter X, book III, p289

“And the final judgment is confined to a removal from, and disqualification for, office ; thus limiting the punishment to such modes of redress, as are peculiarly fit for a political tribunal to administer, and as will secure the public against political injuries. In other respects the offence is left to be disposed of by the common tribunals of justice, accord- ing to the laws of the land, upon an indictment found by a grand jury, and a trial by jury of peers, before whom the party is to stand for his final deliverance, like his fellow citizens.” –– §407, chapter X, book III, p290

But, rest assured: Trump is completely free and clear of any charges related to impeachment. However, there are other charges at the state level which he may face for things he did while in office, including most notably, attempting to persuade Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger to manipulate the results of the election in that state to throw the election to Trump’s favor. The Fulton County District Attorney, and Georgia State Attorney General are investigating that matter.

And just to be utterly and absolutely certain, the word “vindicate” is defined as meaning:

1. To clear of accusation, blame, suspicion, or doubt with supporting arguments or proof: “Our society permits people to sue for libel so that they may vindicate their reputations” (Irving R. Kaufman).
2. To defend, maintain, or insist on the recognition of (one’s rights, for example).
3. To demonstrate or prove the value or validity of; justify: The results of the experiment vindicated her optimism.
4. Obsolete To exact revenge for; avenge.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition.)

1. to clear from guilt, accusation, blame, etc, as by evidence or argument
2. to provide justification for: his promotion vindicated his unconventional attitude.
3. to uphold, maintain, or defend (a cause, etc): to vindicate a claim.
4. (Law) Roman law to bring an action to regain possession of (property) under claim of legal title
5. (Historical Terms) Roman law to bring an action to regain possession of (property) under claim of legal title
6. rare to claim, as for oneself or another
7. obsolete to take revenge on or for; punish
8. obsolete to set free
(Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014)
1. to clear, as from an accusation or suspicion: to vindicate someone’s honor.
2. to afford justification for; justify.
3. to uphold or justify by argument or evidence.
4. to maintain or defend against opposition.
5. to claim for oneself or another.
6. Obs. to avenge.
7. Obs. to free.
8. Obs. to punish.
(Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010)

“Moscow Mitch, the Bitch” McConnell is a Banana Republican from Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader, the biggest weasel in Washington, D.C., and an ardent, though oblique, supporter of the Cult of Trump.


Acquittal Vindicated the Constitution, Not Trump

wsj.com
Sunday, February 14, 2021
by Mitch McConnell

January 6 was a shameful day. A mob bloodied law enforcement and besieged the first branch of government. American citizens tried to use terrorism to stop a democratic proceeding they disliked.

There is no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility. His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone. His behavior during and after the chaos was also unconscionable, from attacking Vice President Mike Pence during the riot to praising the criminals after it ended.

President-elect Donald Trump leaves a meeting with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, at the U.S. Capitol November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC Zach Gibson/Getty Images

I was as outraged as any member of Congress. But senators take our own oaths. Our job wasn’t to find some way, any way, to inflict a punishment. The Senate’s first and foundational duty was to protect the Constitution.

Some brilliant scholars believe the Senate can try and convict former officers. Others don’t. The text is unclear, and I don’t begrudge my colleagues their own conclusions. But after intense study, I concluded that Article II, Section 4 limits impeachment and conviction to current officers.

Everyone agrees that “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” exhaust the valid grounds for conviction. It follows that the list of persons in that sentence — “the president, vice president, and all civil officers” — likewise exhausts its valid subjects.

If that list of current officers is not exhaustive, there is no textual limit. The House’s “sole power of impeachment” and the Senate’s “sole power to try all impeachments” would constitute an unlimited circular logic with no stopping point at former officers. Any private citizen could be disqualified. This is why one House manager had to argue the Senate possesses “absolute, unqualified” jurisdiction. But nobody really accepts that.

I side with the early constitutional scholar Justice Joseph Story. He observed that while disqualification is optional, removal is mandatory on conviction. The Constitution presupposes that anyone convicted by the Senate must have an office from which to be removed. This doesn’t mean leaving office provides immunity from accountability. Former officials are “still liable to be tried and punished in the ordinary tribunals of justice.” Criminal law and civil litigation ensure there is no so-called January exemption.

There is a modern reflex to demand total satisfaction from every news cycle. But impeachment is not some final moral tribunal. It is a specific tool with a narrow purpose: restraining government officers. The instant Donald Trump ceased being the president, he exited the Senate’s jurisdiction.

I respect senators who reached the opposite answer. What deserve no respect are claims that constitutional concerns are trivialities that courageous senators would have ignored.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (b.1942)

One House manager who lauded the Constitution when the trial began now derides it as “a technicality.” Another called this pivotal question “a loophole.” Talking heads fumed that senators had let legal niceties constrain us. I even heard that only senators who voted for conviction had any right to abhor the violence. That’s antithetical to any notion of American justice. Liberals said they condemned the former president’s rules-be-damned recklessness. But many apparently cannot resist that same temptation.

Consider the claim that I could have steered around the jurisdictional issue by recalling the Senate between January 14 and January 20, while Mr. Trump was still in office.

The salient date is not the trial’s start but the end, when the penalty of removal from office must be possible. No remotely fair or regular Senate process could have started and finished in less than one week. Even the brisk impeachment process we just concluded took 19 days. The pretrial briefing period alone — especially vital after such a rushed and minimal House process — consumed more than a week.

President Biden, who knows the Senate, stated as early as January 8 that his swearing-in was the “quickest” possible path to changing the occupant of the White House. Especially since the House didn’t vote until January 13, any legitimate Senate process was certain to end after Inauguration Day.

Here’s what the scheduling critics are really saying: Senate Republicans should have followed a rushed House process with a light-speed Senate sham. They think we should have shredded due process and ignited a constitutional crisis in a footrace to outrun our loss of jurisdiction.

This selective disregard for rules and norms is a civic disease that is spreading through the political left. Senate Democrats relished the legislative filibuster and used it frequently when they were the minority party. Now only two of them pledge to respect it. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has threatened Supreme Court justices by name, and other Democrats submitted a brief demanding the court rule their way or be “restructured.” As recently as September, fewer than half of Democrats professed confidence that elections are free and fair. In November, that number shot up to more than 90% — because they liked the result.

The nation needs real constitutional champions, not fair-weather institutionalists. The Senate’s duty last week was clear. It wasn’t to guarantee a specific punishment at any cost. Our job was to defend the Constitution and respect its limits. That is what our acquittal delivered.

Mitch McConnell, is a Kentucky Republican, and the U.S. Senate Minority Leader.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/acquittal-vindicated-the-constitution-not-trump-11613430190

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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