Sometimes in Washington, the powers that be will embark on a little bit of political theater. You can always spot it, though, if you look closely enough at what’s real and what’s not.
In the last days of the presidency of Donald Trump, the Democrats and a handful of Never Trumpers banded together to insist he be impeached, again.
The first impeachment of Donald Trump in 2019 was a witch hunt filled with fabricated charges, unsupported evidence and partisan rancor disguised as legal concern.
I worked against this impeachment, but I will grant it one thing – while wrongheaded, the Democrats had every right to do it and at least pursued it as dictated and foreseen by the Constitution.
Fast-forward to January 2021. A national tragedy occurred when militants, agitators and zealots were convinced and allowed to believe that Jan. 6 could produce any result other than the certification of the electors of President Joe Biden.
I stood firmly on the side of those who believe that Congress should not overturn state-certified electors, that to do so might destroy the Electoral College.
Did President Trump push to have Congress overturn those electors? Yes.
Did some of my colleagues perform a little play for their supporters in which they claimed to be fighting for a different outcome they all knew couldn’t happen?
Yes. Did the combination of an out-of-control crowd and absolutely atrocious decisions by those in charge of our security lead to an unfortunate event on Jan. 6? Also yes.
But to argue that any politician that tells a crowd to “fight to take back your country” is somehow guilty of incitement is absurd.
If we are to blame politicians for the most violent acts of their craziest supporters, then many of my colleagues would face some pretty harsh charges themselves. I’ve been shot at, assaulted and harassed by supporters of the left, including some who directly said the words of politicians moved them to this violence.
I was there at the ballfield when a deranged Bernie Sanders supporter almost killed Steve Scalise and seriously wounded several others. At the time, Democrats were arguing that the GOP plan for health care was “you get sick, then they let you die.” Is it any wonder an insane left-wing gunman took that rhetoric to heart and concluded, “If the GOP is going to let me die, then maybe I’ll just kill them first”?
Interestingly, though, not one Republican stepped up to blame Bernie Sanders or suggest he be impeached or held responsible for the attempted assassination of more than 20 congressmen.
I certainly did not accuse Bernie Sanders of stoking the violence at the ball field. I don’t think Donald Trump should be held responsible for violence any more than Bernie Sanders. I just wish the other side had an even approach to this topic.
But what of this exercise the House started and the Senate is about to take up, which some will dutifully report as “impeachment?”
Well, impeachment is a tool to remove someone from office. That’s it. The Constitution specifically forbids any legal action that targets any one private individual.
President Trump left office peacefully on Jan. 20, as the Constitution provides. Those who voted for President Biden were victorious, and the transfer of power happened as it should and must.
Whatever this exercise is that the Democrats began and insist on continuing, it’s not impeachment.
How do we know that for sure? Look closely.
The Constitution says two things about impeachment – it is a tool to remove the officeholder, and it must be presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
Neither one of those things will happen. President Trump is gone, and Justice John Roberts, properly noticing the absence of an officeholder being impeached, is declining to preside.
That settles it for me.
If Justice Roberts is not presiding over this, then it is not impeachment. This charade will be nothing more than bitter partisanship and political theater.
I am more than willing to work with Democrats to find common ground on protecting civil liberties or ending some of our many foreign military interventions, but no unity or common ground will be found while Democrats continue to fight the last election. This so-called impeachment is a farce and should be dismissed before it is even allowed to begin.
Paul is the junior senator from Kentucky.
You can read the Op-Ed HERE.