Mitt Romney’s address to the Senate, on voting to convict Trump for abuse of office

On Wednesday, February 5, 2020, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) explained his weighing of the evidence that President Trump had abused his office and committed high crimes against the Constitution and the People of the United States. His vote later that day would make Donald Trump the first and only US President ever to face a bipartisan vote to remove him from office. Below is a full transcript of Senator Romney’s historic address.

SENATOR MITT ROMNEY, Republican of Utah

The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it. The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of our Congress these many days. We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it. We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.

The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

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White House was warned Ukraine aid freeze was illegal; Trump ordered freeze anyway

In a new report from Just Security, we now have evidence from inside the Trump White House that President Trump ordered the freezing of aid to Ukraine, knowing his actions were illegal. The critical new information is found in unredacted emails from the Office of Management and Budget, which explained to alarmed officials at the United States Department of Defense that the freeze was ordered by the President.

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Chief Justice Celebrates Independent Judiciary, Civic Education

In his end of year letter, Chief Justice John Roberts has directly addressed what may be the defining Constitutional issue of our time—whether brute force will govern instead of the law (and by extension: whether the federal courts will remain independent of politics and so able to uphold the principles of the Constitution and the universal rights it protects).

The Chief Justice notes the that the first to hold his post, John Jay, was sidelined from his role as one of the three authors of the Federalist Papers, by a rash of mob violence. He writes:

It is sadly ironic that John Jay’s efforts to educate his fellow citizens about the Fram ers’ plan of government fell victim to a rock thrown by a rioter motivated by a rumor. Happily, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay ulti- mately succeeded in convincing the public of the virtues of the principles embodied in the Constitution. Those principles leave no place for mob violence.

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Conservative Drumbeat for Removal of Trump Intensifies

Donald J. Trump has been impeached for crimes against the Constitution. The case specifically involves his now widely documented effort to extort political favors from Ukraine by withholding military aid at a time when Russia is escalating its military aggression against the country. The charges could not be more serious; the stakes could not be more fundamental.

We are now seeing a steadily escalating drumbeat for Trump’s removal among leading conservative institutions and publications.

  • This week, Christianity Today surprised the country by publishing an editorial calling for Trump’s removal, citing his “gross immorality and ethical incompetence”.
  • Now, The National Review, a leading conservative landmark publication, argues all four critical criteria for removal of the president—that he did what is alleged, that he abused power or was derelict, that his crimes are impeachable, and that it would better to remove him than allow him to continues serving—have been met.
  • And, The American Conservative argues the case for Trump’s removal is “overwhelming”, that there is no credible defense for what he did, and that everyone in the House and Senate must now face “a simple test of their fidelity to the Constitution”.

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The States have Standing

There is a mythology in Washington that holds that Senators and Representatives owe loyalty only to the people in their state or district. This mythology dates to the time before the Civil War when members of Congress argued their higher loyalty was to their state than to the Constitution. There is another mythology, of similar origins, that holds that judges cannot be held accountable for corrupt actions or for ignoring the law.

The fact is: Every member of Congress swears an oath to the Constitution, not to their political party or to any constituency, and federal judges, under Article 3 of the Constitution may serve only “during good Behaviour”. No officer of the Constitution, in any of the three branches of government, has any power to engage in corrupt activities or activities not prescribed by law.

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It is every American’s duty to support impeachment & removal of Trump

When Donald Trump sought a personal favor in exchange for the duties of his office, he sold his office, and committed the crime of bribery. When he withheld military aid from any ally in a time of war (leading to actual deaths on the battlefield), to apply pressure to force the delivery of that personal favor, he committed the crime of extortion—effectively a form of forced bribery.

  • These were part of one scheme, to elicit favors from a foreign head of state. Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8, of the Constitution strictly bans all such favors (which it calls “emoluments”).
  • Article 2, Section 4, of the Constitution specifically lists “Bribery” as one of the causes for removal from office, the other being “Treason”. That pairing makes clear the gravity of bribery as a crime against the Constitution.

Donald Trump sold his office and abused the power that comes with it. This is a threat to the life of our republic that the founders specifically foresaw. The remedy they provided for a corrupt and lawless chief executive was impeachment—a judicial process carried out by a political (elective) branch of government, in order to ensure the Constitution remains paramount.

He must be impeached and removed.

Webster says ‘our civil order is, tragically, under assault’

William Webster, who has served as a federal judge as well as director of both the FBI and the CIA, writes in the New York Times, that he feels “a responsibility to speak out about a dire threat to the rule of law in the country I love.”

Webster adds that:

Order protects liberty, and liberty protects order. Today, the integrity of the institutions that protect our civil order is, tragically, under assault from too many people whose job it should be to protect them.

Read the full article.

Democracy is hard, but also simple: Rights supersede powers

Democracy is hard, but also simple; rights supersede powers, always. Any effort by any person or faction to use public office to gain unfair advantage is a crime against democracy. That is how we protect human dignity, freedom, and ingenuity, and ensure we are empowered to build a better future, together.

The following are 10 points of reasoned rebuttal of a Politico article predicting the end of democracy:

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Court rules ‘Presidents are not kings’

Even the most senior White House aides must testify, if ordered to by subpoena.

A federal court has ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to comply with a Congressional subpoena. The ruling explicitly states that “Presidents are not kings” and that “it is a core tenet of this Nation’s founding that the powers of a monarch must be split between the branches of the government to prevent tyranny.”

The ruling also finds that the President does not have any power to order anyone to disobey a subpoena. Such orders may, in fact, constitute criminal acts.

Read the full 120-page federal court ruling by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Conviction of Trump in Senate might be more likely outcome

The conventional wisdom in Washington, DC, holds that convincing 20 Republican senators to vote to remove Donald Trump from the presidency will be impossible. Mitch McConnell has built his Senate majority leadership around the idea of uniform obstruction of Democratic initiatives. But, both have much to worry about, when it comes to a vote on impeachment.

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