MINOT, N.D. — Congressman Kelly Armstrong has already voted against impeachment in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In his floor speech, Armstrong referred to, but did not articulate, "serious constitutional questions about these articles." In previous statements about impeachment, Armstrong has argued that impeaching disgraced President Donald Trump a second time is too "divisive" for a nation that needs to heal.
The Senate hasn't yet taken up the House's article of impeachment, and, per the words of outgoing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, they likely won't until after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.
"In this country you are afforded due process, I guess unless you’re Donald Trump. I don’t default to guilty. That would go against everything that the Constitution stands for, and certainly due process. Like Sen. McConnell, I would like to hear the legal arguments," Cramer said during a recent CNBC interview, but it's hard to see the "due process" argument as anything other than lip service.
Especially when, in the same interview, Cramer exonerates Trump for his words and actions.
"The president’s rhetoric — while reckless, while at some level he could be accused of inciting anger and inciting some bad behavior —it’s also clear that the exact words that he used do not rise to — in my mind anyways — a criminal level of incitement as we would have to consider — in my view, in this process — even as political as it is," he said.
So much for waiting to see the evidence.
Hoeven, meanwhile, isn't saying much of anything. Since the riot at the Capitol, Hoeven's office has issued news releases about 45Q tax credits and legislation addressing surprise medical billing and agriculture relief but not impeachment.
When asked for comment by the news media, the senator has been terse in echoing his colleague's talking points. "We need to work together to heal the divisions in our nation and impeachment would instead serve to further divide our country," he told a local television station.
Let's talk about our delegation's arguments against impeachment, and the possibility of conviction, such as they are.
Armstrong suggests these articles of impeachment may be unconstitutional, but I'm not sure how. Congress has extensive latitude when it comes to exercising its impeachment powers. The only constitutional question that could arise is whether the Senate can convict a president who is no longer in office. The answer to that is yes, they can. Removal from office is a purpose of the impeachment process, but not the only purpose. Congress can also use the process to bar a president from running for office again, which is relevant whether that president is currently in office or not.
Were the matter to go before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justices are unlikely to overturn Congress' conviction of a president, which is what they'd be ruling on if the matter was before them, when the Constitution gives them the power not just to remove a president but bar him from future elections. Even if SCOTUS views that argument as a stretch, they will almost certainly the issue as too narrow to do anything but defer to Congress.
The constitutional argument is a pile of rubbish.
So, too, is Cramer's talk of needing to see the evidence. Anyone with ears and/or eyeballs understands what happened last week. We know what the president did to incite the riot beforehand — even Trump loyalists like Cramer are largely conceding that point — and we know about his dereliction of duty after the fact, refusing to act to protect Congress and even his own vice president who surrounded by a violent mob in the Capitol.
What more evidence do you need?
As for the it's-too-divisive argument, hand-wringing about dividing the nation from Republicans who have mostly spent the last four years standing behind one of the most divisive leaders our nation has ever had is a bit rich.
Frankly, these arguments come off as excuses from politicians who are afraid to confront a political base that has become extreme to the point of violence.
Another word for that is "appeasement."
Hoeven, Cramer and Armstrong are good men. I have a lot of respect for them and look forward to their continued leadership in office.
At this moment, when we need our elected leaders to prioritize principle over politics, they're failing us.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.