As the Impeachment proceedings drone on, it's easy to space out with all the jawboning being done on both sides. As you might have guessed, I like politics and I like watching political grass grow, and I profoundly dislike Trump. That being what it may, I would like to be a voice of clarification and reason in all this legal and political wrangling.
The GOP is trying mightily to drive home the point that there is no evidence that Trump "ordered" anyone to commit bribery or extortion in any way. They seem to want us to believe that Trump was an innocent bystander while those sitting at the feet of power were pulling these shenanigans without his knowledge.
And, of course, the Democrats are doing their best to point out that Trump and virtually his entire cast in the Trump palace were in on all this extortion of Ukraine and that they all knew full well what was expected of them and what had to happen to keep the king pacified.
What this really comes down to, barring a revelation like the Nixon tapes, is what the intent was of Trump, his dealing with Ukraine, and the orders he issued to his cabinet and attorney's in regard to withholding critical funds in exchange for the announcement by Selinsky of an investigation into the Biden's and their role in corruption inside Ukraine.
We first need to understand the meaning of intent, and for that we'll go to a couple of definitions from legal sites.
First, let's look at what The Free Dictionary says about "intent".
"A determination to perform a particular act or to act in a particular manner for a specific reason; an aim or design; a resolution to use a certain means to reach an end.
Intent is a mental attitude with which an individual acts, and therefore it cannot ordinarily be directly proved but must be inferred from surrounding facts and circumstances. Intent refers only to the state of mind with which the act is done or omitted. It differs from motive, which is what prompts a person to act or to fail to act. For example, suppose Billy calls Amy names and Amy throws a snowball at him. Amy's intent is to hit Billy with a snowball. Her motive may be to stop Billy's taunts.
In criminal law, the concept of criminal intent has been call mens rea, which refers to a criminal or wrongful purpose. If a person innocently causes harm, then she or he lacks the mens rea and, under this concepts, should not be criminally prosecuted.
The Legal Beagle site says: "Malicious Intent or Negligence"Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes defined malice as acting intentionally with knowledge of the harmful consequences. The difference between a malicious act and a negligent one can be subtle, however. Someone who deliberately hits someone with his car has acted intentionally, or with malice. The same person who injures a pedestrian because he lost control of his vehicle on a wet road is merely negligent. The difference lies in the mental state of the actor -- a bad driver on a wet street most likely harbors no intent to injure anyone."
Back to our eye-bending impeachment hearings. Based on the testimony of the witnesses to date, there can be no question as to the intent of President Trump. Whether by direct order, or insinuation, he made it clear to those around him that he wanted President Zelinsky to take certain actions that he knew would harm the candidacy of Joe Biden in return for the sorely needed funds that were being withheld by the President and his staff, funds critical to the security of Ukraine. This action was a direct threat of harm to Ukraine.
The second part of my analysis deals with the term "High crimes and misdemeanors". What did the founders mean by this? While we can't ever know what was in their minds, we know that they had watched the King of England and other monarchs behave quite badly under the assumption they had total power and free reign to behave anyway they wanted.
From The Free Dictionary, we again get a definition:
"The phrase high crimes and misdemeanors is found in the U.S. Constitution. It also appears in state laws and constitutions as a basis for disqualification from holding office. Originating in English Common Law, these words have acquired a broad meaning in U.S law. They refer to criminal actions as well as serious misuse or abuse of office, ranging from tax evasion to obstruction of justice. The ultimate authority for determining whether an offense constitutes a ground for impeachment rests with Congress."
"Considerable debate occupied the Framers of the Constitution over the issue of impeachment, and the wording of the
grounds for impeachment was itself controversial. A proposed offense of maladministration was rejected as being too vague and susceptible to political abuse. Finally, they chose to use a phrase from English common law that had no precisely settled meaning at the time yet at least connoted serious offenses."
"The reason for the choice lies in the Framers' approach to the larger question of impeachment. Although borrowing language from the law they knew best, they explicitly chose not to imitate the English model of impeachment. Traditionally, this approach had allowed the British Parliament to conduct a simple review of charges and then remove officials by a majority vote. Instead, the Framers intended for removal from office to be the final step in a two-part process that began in the House of Representatives and, if charges should result, ended in a trial-like hearing before the U.S. Senate. Thus, two goals would be achieved: a full public inquiry into allegations, and, if necessary, the adjudication of those charges requiring a two-thirds majority for removal."
It seems to me that any right-minded American would agree that abuse of the power of the presidency to advance their own political agenda fits the definition of abuse of power. Idol worship and fanaticism is not justification for standing by any person who has offended society by their behavior. We are a nation of laws, and not outlaws. We live by the rule of law, not by mob rule or the unfettered power of a monarchy.
What is unfolding right now in the Congress is what was intended by the Founders. The House will gather evidence and testimony from individuals with direct and indirect knowledge of what was said and done by Trump and his crew. The preponderance of this evidence, if justifiable, will be entered into what is called Articles of Impeachment and sent on to the Senate where they have the Constitutional responsibility to conduct a trial with the charges and witnesses both for and against the accused and they will have to render a verdict. That is their constitutional responsibility and we can only hope that McConnell and a GOP dominated Senate will take their responsibility seriously.
Discussing life, politics, and philosophy in the language of the bar.