Transferring the power of impeachment

Joseph Cotton is a sophomore Philosophy, Politics and the Public major. He is a staff writer for the Newswire from Dearborn, Mich.

When Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States, I was pretty shocked just like the rest of the country. I was also really mad, along with half of the country. I wanted him removed from office as soon as possible and I was thinking four months, not four years.

Three years later, I’m driving to my friend’s house on Dec. 18, listening to the House of Representatives pass the articles of impeachment on NPR. I did not feel joy like many of my liberal friends. Instead, I felt a deep dread that could only be described as heartbreak. America seemed sick or unwell and I wasn’t happy.

As I continued to follow the impeachment proceedings and thought more about impeachment itself, it became clear to me that the true test for American democracy is whether or not we hear under oath testimony from the key witnesses  — specifically, John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney and Hunter Biden. 

As it currently stands, the Senate will vote on whether or not to hear from additional witnesses and introduce new evidence after the opening arguments from each side, a currently unspecified resolution and a question and answer session controlled by Chief Justice John Roberts. If the vote to hear additional witnesses fails, the process will have failed us all, Democrat or Republican.

You can point your fingers at whichever side you think is in the wrong. Whether you blame the president and Senate Republicans for blocking Democrats from speaking or whether you blame the House Democrats for rushing the impeachment process through, the fact remains that the system has failed us if we do not hear from these witnesses.

But I know I’m going to be blaming the Republicans on this one. The Senate Republicans would have exercised their raw political power given to them through their majority in the Senate to block key testimony from reaching the ears of the American people. Led by Mitch McConnell, they will have chosen party over country.

That being said, I can see the Republican’s argument. In a Senate floor speech, McConnell said, “This sets a dangerous precedent… it dramatically changes the separation of powers… if the Senate agrees to conduct both the investigation and the trial.” The basic logic is that if the House Democrats wanted to hear from the aforementioned witnesses, they should have done it in the House.

However, I’m not buying that. If the House called Bolton or Mulvaney to the House floor, they would have been blocked by the President, resulting in a legal process that would have taken much longer and cost the tax payer more. Furthermore, Obstruction of Congress is one of the Articles of impeachment.

If we never end up hearing from the key witnesses I mentioned, America needs to strongly reconsider the impeachment process. I would propose giving the power of impeachment and trial to the judiciary branch.

This, of course, is just a hypothetical. All we can do right now is wait and see whether the process fails us.