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NOLAN FINLEY

Finley: Impeachment fairness? Too late

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is underway in the U.S. Senate, where the Republican leadership should proceed with one goal: Get this political farce over with as quickly as possible.

We already know the result of the Senate proceedings, just as we knew in advance  what the House would do. The Republican-controlled chamber will acquit him of the charges brought by the Democratic-controlled chamber.

No new witnesses, no matter how compelling, no new shreds of evidence, no matter how revealing, will change that outcome.

So let’s be done with it and get on to the fall election, where voters will decide whether Trump is fit to be president.

Having staged a circus, Democrats now are trying to turn it into a solemn rite. But neither their dramatically staged walk of the articles to the Senate nor House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s carton of golden personalized souvenir pens can hide the truth that this spectacle is all about influencing the fall election, launched by Democrats not to preserve the Republic but to doom Trump.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference to announce impeachment managers on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. With Pelosi from left are Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. and Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo.

They are demanding Republicans eschew the hyper partisanship that guided the sham hearings in the House and conduct an objective, fair and inclusive trial.

Too late.

Pelosi had a chance to direct a bipartisan inquiry into Trump’s dealings with the Ukrainians, one that accommodated Republican requests for documents and witnesses. She chose instead a one-sided inquest rushed through to make sure her members got a vote in before the end of the year to mitigate backlash against those in swing districts.

Pelosi wants Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to do the things the House didn’t do.

Atop the Democratic talking points is the question, “Don’t you want to hear from John Bolton?” Sure. But the House could have called Trump’s disgruntled former security adviser and pursued the legal path to force him to testify, but chose not to in the interest of meeting its self-imposed deadline.

It was the House’s job to gather the evidence against Trump and make the case for impeachment. The Senate’s role is to weigh that evidence — not fill in the blanks the House in its haste left empty.

Democrats insist Republicans should follow the precedent set in previous presidential impeachments, ignoring that their own hearings deviated sharply from past practice.

The only precedent the Senate is obliged to follow is the one set by the House.

McConnell should ask the House-appointed prosecutors to present the evidence that was gathered during the hearings of two committees and listen to their arguments for removing the president.

Then bring it to the Senate floor for a vote, and quickly.

Democrats are making noise about convening a second round of impeachment hearings to review what they say is damning new evidence of Trump wrongdoings, should McConnell not hear the fresh claims during the Senate trial.

That would be a mistake.

America is wearying of Washington’s constant gotcha game. Pelosi should be careful not to overplay her hand, lest she be blamed for reelecting Trump.

nfinley@detroitnews.com

Catch Nolan Finley on “One Detroit” at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on Detroit Public Television.