“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
This week the House of Representatives voted to go forward with the impeachment inquiry laying down the groundwork of how the public hearing will be conducted. Conventional wisdom would have one to believe the Republicans would be somewhat mollified with the vote. Think again. Weeks of complaining about lack of transparency in the behind closed doors disposition hearings, lack of ability to cross exam witnesses by the Republican lawmakers, no official full House vote for an impeachment inquiry, and the old standby, the proceeding were unconstitutional, all fell by the wayside. In one contested vote of 232/196 , the Democrats answered and addressed those spurious claims by granting nearly all of the Republicans’ previous demands.
Tom Boggioni of Raw Story reported,
Prior to the vote, Republicans were already calling the impeachment hearing and vote a “sham.” They argued against it vociferously.
As for what happens next, the New York Times reports that the proposed resolution, “would authorize the House Intelligence Committee — the panel that has been leading the investigation and conducting private depositions — to convene public hearings and produce a report that will guide the Judiciary Committee as it considers whether to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump.”
Additionally, “The measure would also give the president rights in the Judiciary Committee, allowing his lawyers to participate in hearings and giving Republicans the chance to request subpoenas for witnesses and documents.” Raw Story
Rep. Loopy Louie Gohmert went so far as to accuse the Democrats of staging a coup, confirming in the minds of many that Loopy Louie doesn’t understand the difference between a coup and upholding the constitution. He continued with his derogatory comments by claiming his fear that the country will be thrown into a civil war if the Democrats get their way, and armed conflict won’t be out of the question. Besides verging on sedition, his comments on the floor of the House tell a distressing tale of just how far some in the Republican Party will go to drive the country into an outright oligarchy more than it has become under the reign of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.
It defies common sense how the Republicans seem to have forfeited their patriotism and love of the country to acquiesce to the demands of the president. The question of a quid quo pro between Trump flunkies and the Ukraine is proven day in day out as officials go before committee after committee and affirm that many in the mix of career professionals diplomats all found the president’s actions with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky little more than a strong arm tacit to illicit dirt on Joe Biden. Trump continues to cry “perfect telephone call” in the face of mounting evidence that perfect is not an appropriate adjective for what went down.
Yet another symptom of the rot that Trump brought to the table can be seen in the number of officials who have been served subpoenas, yet ignored them and refused to give depositions to relevant committees on the Ukrainian debacle. Imagine if a normal middle or lower class individual decided to ignore a subpoena from a grand jury. The ink wouldn’t have time to dry on the arrest warrant before the person would be picked up and placed in custody. Criminal defense attorneys, Broden and Mickelsen from Dallas, lay out the consequences for ignoring either a state or federal grand jury subpoena in their company’s blog stating,
Whether you’ve received a subpoena to appear as a witness or a subpoena duces tecum, it’s never a good idea to simply ignore the subpoena. If you ignore a subpoena, a judge could hold you in criminal contempt and punish you accordingly.
Under Texas law, the judge has the authority to impose a fine on individuals who refuse to cooperate with a subpoena. For misdemeanor cases, the fine is $100. In felony cases, the fine can be as high as $500. Judges in Texas also have the authority to issue an arrest warrant for individuals who fail to comply with a subpoena.
Likewise, under federal law, judges have the power to hold a person who refuses to comply with a subpoena in criminal contempt. The judge can impose fines or order the person jailed for up to six months. If the person is convicted for criminal contempt, the person could serve even more time in jail. Broden and Mickelsen
The fact that Trump’s minions under his direction decided to ignore the subpoenas is not a surprise. The lawlessness of this administration is a given at this point considering his lies and flaunting of the Constitution and the rule of law. A biting dog is going to bite. It’s in their nature, and they are unable to act any differently. No, the blame in this case lies squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats in the House. Police personnel are taught when they draw their weapon they must be committed to using it if the situation warrants violent response. The Democrats don’t seem to get that when it comes to subpoenas. If Trump and his underlyings choose to act criminally, they should be treated as criminals.
The Democrats are not without enforcement powers. One of the more effective powers is the process of “inherent contempt” of Congress. Roll Call , a Washington based political publication on all things to do with Congress, describes the “inherent contempt” process like this,
Inherent contempt is Congress’ power — as implied but not directly stated in the Constitution — to enforce congressional subpoenas or respond to actions seen as obstructing their oversight and legislative processes.
Each chamber has the authority to unilaterally exercise that power by adopting a resolution authorizing its sergeant-at-arms to execute an arrest warrant against an official who refuses to comply with Congress. Roll Call
Why the Democrats are reluctant to exercise their right to penalize subpoena scofflaws is puzzling to say the least. Conventional wisdom would expect Trump to immediately pardon anyone scooped up and processed for breaking the law, but that might trigger even graver consequences for the president. Obstruction of Justice charges could be filed against him for further eroding the legislative process and the check and balance powers belonging to Congress. Possibly, the Democrat leadership wants to make as few waves as possible on the political front in fear of being blamed for staging a real “witch hunt” and alienating Independents and moderate Republicans who are in agreement that the subpoenas should not be ignored.
The one thing for certain is that America is deeply divided and getting more so every day. With the Trump media constantly repeating his lies to a rabid base and people like Gohmert making outlandish predictions, it is little wonder that the country is being torn apart due to Trump’s criminal activities. One wonders if there are any Republicans in Congress that see what is happening and will turn back to protecting the Constitution and the three branches of our Democratic republic. Or is it already too late with too many lies backed, too many scandals brewing, and a defiant tyrant seated in the Oval Office.
In the quote at the top of the page, Adams posits, “There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” This is the position that Americans find themselves in today. Is Democratic suicide inevitable? Can Congress pull the country back from the brink? Will cooler heads prevail and redirect the country’s debilitating demise away from ending this country’s glorious run on the world stage? The next few weeks should tell.