Being Right: The Witness Debacle: Another Game of Political Charades

Ryan Zoellner, Maroon-News Staff

Another week passes, another chapter goes by in the impeachment melodrama that, at this point, is only being read with any interest by its own participants looking for press about themselves.

Today’s question: should the Senate vote to hear witnesses omitted from the House inquiry last month? 

That being the most fundamental question of the process would seem to underscore its inanity from the beginning. We all know 67 Senators are not voting to indict the President, nor have they ever been close to thinking about maybe doing so. 

The impeachment process has essentially come and gone, the minority in both houses have complained of unfairness and gamesmanship (both rightfully so) and now it’s time to wrap things up. 

To be sure, the President and his cabal seemed to have obviously been untoward in their dealings with Ukraine. It was, on the other hand, of course, to expose other obvious untowardness on the behalf of the Bidens. But at this point, the facts of the case are known and the question is how to vote.

Whether or not John Bolton testifies would seem to make no substantive difference because just about everyone agrees what happened. It would, however, drag the process several weeks closer to the Iowa caucuses, which is really, at the end of the day, the major concern here.

On this question of witnesses, however, as with so many in Congress–both sides seem to be well over their skis. Earlier this week, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) declared, “if we seek witnesses then we’re going to throw the country into chaos” while Adam Shiff preened about Trump’s team being “deathly afraid of witnesses” as the Senate moved into full kabuki theater mode. None of this behavior is even the least bit surprising, but all of it is unquestionably inaccurate and designed for show.  

Everyone knows what happened with Ukraine just as everyone knew McConnell’s majority in the Senate was going to do everything it could to cajole the last drops of political advantage from this process just as Nancy Pelosi’s House did. Indeed if these witnesses were as indispensable as Schiff and others now claim they are, they should have been called to testify when Democrats had their shot in December. 

Further, the constitutional arguments against Senator Mitch McConnell seem a stretch at best. Article III gives the Senate “the sole Power to try all impeachments” as it sees fit, meaning the rules of the proceeding are voted upon by its members. Republicans possess a majority in the Senate and plan to vote down calling further witnesses; case closed. Most of all, none of this is a surprise–McConnell told us it would happen!  

However, the point is really this: the House has done its job and, given the character of Donald Trump, there are very few reasonable people remaining who believe he “acted perfectly,” as he might say, on the Ukranian aid question. But ten months from now, we are presented with the most efficacious rebuke of a president available: the prospect of his reelection. 

I’m certainly no Trump defender, but the impeachment vote has been baked into the Senate essentially since the process began which makes the fight to call further witnesses just another political charade. The fact that all of the players in the game, both Democrat and Republican, know and have always known this makes their acting all the more obvious. 

The Senate should get back to work, and its candidates to challenge Trump should make their case against him on the campaign trail. At this point, that should not be hard to do.