Now that the impeachment proceedings are over, it’s time for winners and losers. You cannot look at the impeachment hearing and trial in a vacuum. What happened during the Mueller investigation had an impact on the subsequent proceedings.

 Losers 
Robert Mueller:

He let Trump string him along with discussions about the president possibly sitting down for an interview, when any third-year law student would know that there was no way that Trump would ever do so. Any lawyer who would have let Trump testify voluntarily should call his malpractice carrier or otherwise give up the practice of law. Mueller should have gone to court and forced the president to testify. Instead, Mueller did nothing and let the president get away with written questions on only one topic.

Then Mueller let the Attorney General give a false narrative of the report before speaking out weeks later. Mueller was a horrible, reluctant witness. The report was written for lawyers, which made it useless in shaping public opinion. Few people read it or understood its conclusions. Also, Mueller refused to address the central question of whether the president committed a crime, and instead give a lawyerly response - which was technically proper, but undercut his conclusions with the public. Furthermore, the investigation took so long that it left little time for the House of Representatives to do anything based on the report.


The Senate:

The House of Representatives has always had a reputation of being a partisan body worried about the next election, which happens every two years for each member. The Senate, with six-year terms, is considered “the adults in the room,” with the ability to look past partisan politics and look at the big picture of what is best for the country. The Senate impeachment trial proved that theory to be wrong.

When it came to deciding whether to sustain the articles of impeachment, 99 senators voted based on party affiliation. (I am considering the Independents to be Democrats). Some of the votes may have been based on personal conviction. However, since there was such uniformity, it is hard to know who was voting their conscience and who was voting their politics.

In this group, the biggest loser is Republican Senator Susan Collins, who after the vote said that she hoped the president learned his lesson. I’m not sure what planet she is on. Honorable mention goes to Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who at the Senate trial was a tough talker in an empty chamber and did not vote for witnesses or to subpoena documents.


Representative Jerry Nadler

In the Nixon and Clinton impeachment investigations and hearings, it was the House Judiciary Committee which spearheaded the impeachment process. With Trump, the impeachment investigation did not go through the House Judiciary Committee headed by Jerry Nadler. The Judiciary Committee was merely a rubber stamp for the investigation by the House Intelligence Committee, led by Adam Schiff, who was also the lead manager at the Senate trial. Nadler had a small part and did nothing to distinguish himself.


Lawyers Alan Dershowitz and Steve Castor

Alan Dershowitz proposed a theory of presidential power that would have made King George III very proud. The king would have remarked, if that is what constitutes presidential power, why did they revolt against my rule in 1775?  Dershowitz stated that “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected [which he believes is] in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.”

Mr. Castor came to the House Intelligence Committee hearing with a shopping bag. Not very professional. Then he asked questions that were so harmful to the Republicans’ position that the Republicans on the committee cut him off.

 

Winners

Mitt Romney

He is the only senator in the three impeachment trials held in our country’s existence to vote against a sitting president of his own party. He had nothing to gain from doing it, since it was not going to change the result. It proved that the BT (Before Trump) Republican party used to choose presidential candidates of high moral character who looked out for the best interests of the country. Romney’s vote made those who voted for him in 2012 very proud of their choice, even though he lost.


Witnesses
at the House Impeachment Hearing

People came to testify at the trial based on House subpoenas even though they were directed not to do so by the White House. They knew that there would be retribution by Trump, but followed the law and did what was best for the country. They are winners because they had the courage to do what was right despite possible recrimination. It is an example that our elected officials should try to emulate. The retribution has already started with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman being fired by the White House, along with his twin brother, who did not testify. As usual they start with the Jews. Also, EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland has been recalled.


Donald Trump

He used his experience of many years of litigation and being in the limelight to his advantage. He toyed with Mueller’s team about testifying while shaping the narrative of the investigation.  Then, knowing that the House of Representatives had a short timeline to move for impeachment, he refused to cooperate with the investigation and directed the executive agencies not to do so.  It was a win-win situation for him. If the House took him to court, it would drag on until after the election. If they proceeded, the House would have a much weaker case to present to the senators and the public.

Also, he has fully consolidated his control of the Republican party. He may be the most powerful president since Roosevelt. He feels that he can do anything he wants without any cost.


President’s Lawyers

When you know that you are going to win, the best thing to do is to push to have a quick trial and say as little as possible. They followed that strategy at the Senate impeachment trial, using only a short period to make their arguments.


Adam Schiff

He ran the show in the House impeachment inquiry and at the Senate trial. He made a few mistakes, but generally did a good job under the circumstances. He was able to convince one Republican to vote to impeach - which was one more than expected.

 It is hard to predict how history will judge those who are involved in a historic event like the impeachment hearing and the Senate trial. Bill Clinton went through a Senate trial and his popularity increased. He is now considered a senior statesman in Democratic circles. Meanwhile, the Republicans were wiped out in the next election. Will Mitt Romney be remembered as another Howard Baker, the Republican senator who asked the famous question in Watergate: What did the president know and when did he know it?

Will those who testified at the House impeachment hearing be considered heroes, while those who avoided testifying because they were afraid of the wrath of Trump be considered wimps?


Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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