Miss Constitution has watched every minute of the trial in the United States Senate of former President Trump and has been privy to a giant civics lesson. She is sure very few watched the whole thing but a real-life application of the great document, still relevant and surprisingly fitting, is just thrilling to her. The problem is that the explanations from those called upon to comment were not altogether satisfying as many know nothing about the Constitution and some know a little or know a good deal but can’t explain it. Miss Constitution hopes to distinguish fact from allegation and make all of it a little more understandable. Part of the problem is that the Impeachment and Trial should not have taken place at all. It is difficult to explain, as rational, what should not have occurred in the first place.
First, and the most important part of this puzzle is that there has not been an official investigation of the riot that took place in the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Without knowing actual facts it is hard to form an opinion or take action or do anything else. What we would want to know, among other things, is:
- What information did our intelligence agencies have about an intention to riot in conjunction with the Trump rally and, if the intelligence indicated that there were persons who intended to riot or intended to bomb, who got that intelligence, when did they get that intelligence, and what did they do with it?
- If an investigation shows a planned intention to riot, and/or bomb, what was the intended goal? Were the bombs found, “live”, and were they a part of the planned riot?
- If there was a planned intention to riot, and/or bomb, who was the leader or who were the leaders and what is their background? If there were definite leaders, were they on a federal or state “watch list”? Were they in communication with the President of the United States or through a representative of the President?
The above are simply initial questions the answers to which must be provided by the FBI as the investigative arm of the Department of Justice. The following is relevant ONLY if the public obtains credible answers to the above questions.
- If there was information discovered that a riot was intended, that intelligence would have gone to those in charge of Capitol security. Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell, as Speaker of the House and Leader of the Senate on January 6, 2021, would have received this information. They are ultimately in charge of security for the Legislative Branch. They would have delegated responsibility to the Capitol Police through the Sergeants-at-Arms for the House and the Senate. The Capitol Police work in concert with the Metropolitan Police of Washington, DC. It is likely, but not known, that this intelligence would have gone to the President, as well. Since there was little security at the Capitol that day one could logically conclude that no intelligence of a riot was discovered or that the Speaker of the House or Leader of the Senate failed to provide adequate security knowing that trouble was likely. Without an investigation, WE DO NOT KNOW AT THIS TIME.
- If this riot was planned, was the goal a “statement” or “an intention to overthrow the government of the United States”? One looking at the rioters that day could logically conclude that they were unprepared for an insurrection as they had few weapons and many cameras. They appeared to be in street clothes for a rally, with many middle-aged or older among them, and confused. Without an investigation, WE DO NOT KNOW AT THIS TIME.
- Without an investigation, WE DO NOT KNOW AT THIS TIME.
So, how do we get from an incident we know little about to an Impeachment and Trial of a President?
We get there by throwing Constitutional spaghetti against the wall. The issue, in Miss Constitution’s opinion, should be handled as a criminal and/or civil matter. Any President or any other public servant, once he or she does not hold public office, is subject to criminal and civil processes like any other citizen. Former President Trump, if an investigation shows culpability regarding any aspect of the January 6 riot, can be charged appropriately by the appropriate jurisdiction. For those culpable that still hold public office, Constitutional procedures are in place regarding accountability. What happened is that to wait for a proper investigation would take time, and President Trump would be out of office, so a decision was made to apply Constitutional remedies to the President just before he left office. That Constitutional remedy is to Impeach the President for treason, or high crimes and misdemeanors by first assigning the issue to a Committee of the House of Representatives who then investigates the issue by holding hearings that would include representation for the accused, documentation, and witnesses. A vote would then be taken by the Committee whether to recommend to the whole House of Representatives, an Article or Articles of Impeachment. The issue or issues are then debated by the whole House and a vote is taken whether the House wishes to Impeach and send to trial in the Senate, one or more Articles, and the underlying evidence deemed true. The whole process takes a great deal of careful time as envisioned by the Founders.
None of the above occurred. There was no Committee. There was no investigation. There were no hearings. There was no representative present in the House for the President. There was some debate by the whole House and a vote to Impeach and send to trial in the Senate one Article – Incitement to Insurrection with allegations only, not evidence. So, further questions arise for investigation. Why did the House proceed this way? Whose idea was all this? Since the President could be held liable in a criminal or civil jurisdiction for any involvement in an illegal or negligent act, what would be the purpose of stepping outside the guardrails of the United States Constitution? WE DO NOT KNOW AT THIS TIME.
Miss Constitution would note, finally, that because the House of Representatives and its leadership chose to operate outside the boundaries of the Constitution does not mean the Senate should do the same thing. The Senate had a duty to us all to refuse to take up such a hurried and unreliable Article. That the Senate voted to legitimize the illegitimate, put our whole nation into the orbit of the ridiculous as the trial fiasco illuminated so brilliantly. Put another way, you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.