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A Needless Delay

January 23, 2020
Weekly Columns

Even though House Democrats voted to impeach the president last month on December 18, it wasn’t until January 15 that action was taken to initiate the Senate trial, which has now begun in earnest. It’s important to remember that this needless delay came after an incredibly rushed and partisan process in the House, during which Democrats continually called impeachment an “urgent” matter of national security. Unfortunately, by withholding the supposedly pressing articles for four weeks in an attempt to dictate terms of the trial in the Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear that this impeachment was indeed being used by Democrats as a political weapon. Certainly, if House Democrats felt confident in their case when they voted to impeach and truly believed it was urgent, there would have been no reason for a 28-day delay. 

To review, the impeachment process in the House was flawed from the start and clearly meant to ensure a pre-ordained outcome. While Speaker Pelosi declared an impeachment inquiry was underway at the end of September, it wasn’t until late October and after numerous closed-door depositions had already occurred that a House vote was scheduled to actually authorize the inquiry and set forth the official process. Unfortunately, unlike previous impeachments in American history, the process resolution was written solely by Democrats, without any Republican input whatsoever. Moreover, when the resolution came through the House Rules Committee where I serve as Ranking Member, all 17 constructive amendments Republicans proposed to ensure a fair and open process were denied. It should come as no surprise then that only Democrats supported the process resolution when it came to the House floor for a vote.

In the weeks that followed, House Democrats rushed through their clearly partisan investigations to impeach the president by Christmas, whether there was indisputable evidence or not. At the end of it, Democrats chose to impeach in the most partisan and unfair fashion over something that did not even happen. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to read for yourself the call transcript released by the White House and at the center of this whole ordeal – President Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky.

While impeachment has finally reached the Senate, it’s very telling that House Democrats are now trying to change their case by demanding consideration of new evidence and calling additional witnesses. Again, if they believed there was enough to impeach when they impeached, there would be no need for such a request. Moreover, if they really sought to turn over all stones in their investigation, they should have allowed time for the courts to decide whether certain witnesses could lawfully be compelled to appear. Rather than wait it out and treat impeachment with the somberness and seriousness they claimed existed, they chose to prematurely impeach anyway and without grounds to do so.

Though the rushed process in the House was clearly one-sided, I believe the Senate trial will rightly restore fairness for the president and will further reveal the Democrats’ partisan intentions. Since President Trump was elected, Democrats have wanted him out of office. Whether they like him or not, however, he is the duly elected President of the United States. And their blatantly partisan and unfair impeachment not only disrespects the results of the last election and those who voted for him, it unnecessarily disrupts Congress’ ability to get bipartisan work done for the American people. And dangerously so, impeachment makes our nation much more polarized and divided.