Walk Out

The proper move in the prosecution of Donald Trump is to organize the senate minority to refuse to attend until the trial is resumed with the admission of testimony and documentary evidence, according to law. The proceeding is incomplete, and the senate should be considered disabled to deliberate guilt or innocence and illegitimate for its abandonment of constitutional principle.

The first article of our constitution requires that a majority of the senators be present to transact business. The minority that unsuccessfully sought testimony and documents numbers nearly half the senate, and so there are enough of them to make life very difficult for that body. Judicial or cabinet appointments could be delayed. International agreements could be endangered. Bills might languish for months.

The disabling of the senate is not only justified, it is demanded by the unique circumstances of this day. The senators who voted to alter the meaning of the word "trial" by barring witnesses made themselves accessories to bribery and extortion and acknowledged themselves enemies of constitutional government. Because they hold a majority of seats in the senate, they are beyond accountability, except in the regard of their senate colleagues. By refusing to take their seats and thereby withdrawing recognition of the entire body, the minority would be taking the only measure available to bring the senate to account.

The damage to the senate by its majority may be so deep as to be irreparable, but a reversal of course could at least mitigate some liability. As things stand, that legislative body has been turned into a racketeering outfit, and the majority have organized as grievous a conspiracy of official misonduct as has ever been recorded. If they escape prosecution it will be because of a dysfunctional legal system and not because they deserve vindication.

It was unfortunate that the prosecution had to include some of the same members who, years ago, leaped to the defense of a president of their own party, when he was shown to have used the office for personal gain, in his case, to engage in clandestine sexual predation. They had to trash the constitution to vindicate that president, and their hypocrisy has come back to bite them in this proceeding.

The bigotry of the accusers didn't escape notice, either. Between references to corrupt Ukrainians and bullying Russians, the prosecutors' anti-Slavic outbursts reminded some of us of the Red-baiting Commie-hunters of yesteryear. The idea that American weapons were somehow going to intimidate Russia in its relations with Ukraine was a bit silly and weakened the case against Trump.

Even with the deficiencies in the prosecution's strategy and advocacy, the case was open-and-shut, and, if it were not for the total abrogation of the rule of law in connection with these offenses, people would be going to jail.