Hypocrisy in High Places

The headlines today deal with revelations about President Trump’s taxes over the past two decades and I will comment on this in a future blog. Today I would like to denounce the hypocrisy in the U.S. Senate which is happening right before our eyes.

Back in February of 2016 Justice Antonin Scalia died which left a vacancy on the Supreme Court. President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Scalia on the Court. The Republican controlled Senate refused to give Garland the necessary hearing. They claimed that a Supreme Court replacement should not take place during the last year of a president’s term in office. The battle cry was “Let the people decide through the presidential election in November’ (even though that meant an unfilled vacancy in the Supreme Court for ten months).

On September 18, 2020 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Those same Republican senators who argued that the Court should remain vacant for ten months (McConnell, Graham, Grasse, Rubio, Cruz, etc.) now argue that the vacancy should be filled immediately through a nomination by President Trump. The overarching principle of “Let the people decide by voting in the presidential election” has been thrown overboard.

Lindsey Graham is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that governs the “advise and consent” Senate process of confirming Supreme Court nominations. He used to be a person of principle, but he has sold out his soul. In 2016 he said, “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president whoever it might be, make that nomination.” In 2018 he was even more clear, “if a Supreme Court opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait until the next election.” Graham has broken his word. He is afraid that Trump will lose the election and that Biden will nominate a person much more liberal than a nominee by Trump. Lindsey Graham is a hypocrite and should be so judged by his own words. He is practicing the morally bankrupt maxim of “the end justifies the means”. But you cannot obtain a good end (a Supreme Court justice of your preference) by using the immoral means of breaking your word.

The defenses by the Republican senators are twofold. The first is that times have changed and the White House and the Senate are controlled by the same party. That was not the heart of their argument four years ago. Then they said, “Let the people vote!” They also claim that the Democrats would do the same if they were in their shoes. If Democrats practiced the same hypocrisy, I would denounce them as well. I have criticized Democrats before and I would denounce them again. Our ethical principles mean nothing if we don’t apply them to friend and foe alike. Let’s clean out the swamp of hypocrisy in our midst.

The Impeachment Trial and Hypocrisy

The impeachment trial of President Trump is coming to an end. It is likely today there will be a vote on the calling of witnesses. That vote will probably be about 49/51 and therefore not enough to pass. If this happens, Trump will be acquitted shortly thereafter.

There have been many irregularities that need to be clarified. Here are my reflections.

Hypocrisy is evident in both sides: Democrats and Republicans. Two decades ago, President Clinton was impeached in the Republican controlled House of Representatives but acquitted in the Democrat dominated Senate (just the opposite of the current composition in Congress). Some of the current key players on both sides were also quite involved in the Clinton trial (Lindsey Graham, Jerry Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Mitch McConnell, and others) and they are on record arguing for ethical and procedural positions on witnesses, documents, etc., in that trial that are just the opposite of what they have affirmed in the current situation. Although it is possible for people to change their minds on ethical principles, in this case the tribalism and hypocrisy are quite evident. We the people are naïve if we don´t recognize that many politicians change their moral principles to suit their personal or political ambitions. We the people should call them out, Democrats and Republicans alike, for their hypocrisy.

Witnesses – According to U.S. history, we have had fifteen previous impeachment trials in the Senate (of Presidents and others). In every one of these trials, there have been witnesses. If no witnesses are permitted to give testimony in the Trump trial, it is a complete break with precedent.

A bogus argument – The White House lawyers have repeatedly claimed that the Democrats in the House did not do their job, because they should have called witnesses like Bolton. As a consequence, the lawyers argue that the Senate should not call witnesses just because the House Democrats failed to do their job. This is the height of hypocrisy and I hope that most citizens see through this guile. The lawyers know quite well that Trump defied every single subpoena for witnesses and documents. When subpoenas are defied, the lawyers claimed the House should have gone to court to obtain this testimony, but they know quite well that appeals to the court would take months to work through the judicial system. (the House did take their subpoena of previous White House Counsel Don McGahn to court, but nine months later, the courts have still not given their final decision) This is stalling. What makes it worse, early on the WH counsel said that taking the subpoenas to court was illegal. Arguing that the House could not go to court and then arguing that the House should have taken the extra months and/or years by going to court is a sham. Most Americans recognize this as hypocritical.

In an earlier blog weeks ago, I expressed the need for eyewitnesses to testify. Eyewitnesses like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney are the ones whose testimony under oath could confirm whether President Trump is innocent or guilty. Both of these men were appointed by Trump. Both are Republicans. Rules could be established that limit their testimony to one day or one week. To vote against calling these witnesses is an admission of not wanting to seek the truth.

Not hearing from the most relevant witnesses gives the appearance of hiding the facts and covering up misdeeds. John Bolton´s book will eventually be published, and his understanding of the truth will be made public. Let it happen during the trial and not when it is too late.