Approach impeachment with an open mind, Rep. Yoho

6 mins read

On Nov. 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution formally beginning the impeachment proceedings of President Donald Trump. The resolution simply sets the rules for the impeachment inquiry, and came after weeks of closed-door testimony.

Later that day, Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, posted his reasons for opposing the resolution.

Yoho stated, “Today did not support an impeachment ‘rules’ resolution offered by Speaker Pelosi. The partisan resolution passed 232 to 196, with no Republicans voting in favor. For thirty-eight days Democrats have pushed ahead with an unauthorized impeachment probe behind closed doors. White House counsel has never been part of the process, Republicans are not allowed to call witnesses, and there is a gag order on all depositions — but Democrats leak facts to the press. That is not a fair process. There has been no transparency or official authorization to conduct these inquiries; which ignores decades of impeachment precedent.

“However, today, Speaker Pelosi decided to cover her bases and offer a resolution that lays out guidelines and make the process more transparent. It seems that Speaker Pelosi has forgotten the previous bipartisan precedent established with Presidents Nixon and Clinton. You can’t conduct an impeachment inquiry for over a month and then decide to layout guidelines after the fact.

“The power to impeach a sitting president is great and one that should not be used lightly. We are witnessing the abuse of power, the willful disregard of precedent, and the American people deserve better.”

As Luke Skywalker said to Kylo Ren in “The Last Jedi,” “Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong.”

Let’s examine Yoho’s statement:

‒ Yoho calls the process an “unauthorized impeachment probe.” But it was, indeed, “authorized” in the sense that there is no authorization process. Neither the Constitution nor U.S. law specifies how impeachment proceedings are to be conducted.

In fact, there isn’t even a requirement that the House pass any resolution. Articles of impeachment can simply be filed by any member and move through the legislative process like any other bill. All that’s required for impeachment is a House vote on the matter. Once they do, the Senate conducts the trial.

‒ Yoho is upset that the White House was not part of the process, and that House Republicans were not allowed to call witnesses. This would be important and necessary in determining a person’s guilt or innocence … in an actual criminal trial.

These are congressional hearings, however. The White House is not entitled either to get an automatic pass into those hearings or be represented by legal counsel, and the minority party in Congress is not entitled to call witnesses.

‒ Yoho complains about Nancy Pelosi not following some mythical “bipartisan precedent” established with presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Given that there have only been three presidential impeachments in the nation’s history, and the last two took place almost 50 (Nixon) and 30 (Clinton) years ago, there is simply no long-term, agreed-upon way of running presidential impeachments.

This time around, the Democrats are giving Trump every opportunity to make his case that was given to Clinton, and one more protection than was given to Nixon, in that Trump’s counsel will be allowed to ask questions upon the presentation of the evidence.

Ironically, the hearings Yoho is complaining about have been carried out under rules adopted by Republicans in 2015. Once again, Republicans are crying foul when they have to operate under the same rules they want imposed on others.

Here’s a saying Yoho might be familiar with: What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. You can’t have one set of rules that apply when Republicans investigate a Democratic president, but another set when a Democratic Congress investigates a Republican president.

But there is actually one thing Yoho stated that we wholly agree: The impeachment of the president is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, Yoho and other Republicans have done the opposite: They have worked in highly partisan manner to undermine the hearings without any regard for the rules and norms of the U.S. government. They have, instead, used the process to grandstand and show their support for Trump, without regard for how their actions affect our country now or going into the future.

Rep. Yoho, as a service to your constituents and our country, please take this process seriously. Follow the rules, listen to the facts with an open mind and let those facts determine your vote.

This piece was written by Bill Radunovich and volunteers from Indivisible Gainesville.

Originally published in The Gainesville Sun. Re-posted with permission.

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