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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tried on Friday to explain to congressional Democrats that the sketchy standards that they’ve invented out of thin air to impeach former President Donald Trump can, and most likely will, be used against them one day.
He tried to impart this lesson on Democrats through a written question that was read on the Senate floor during the former president’s trial.
“Voting to convict the former president would create a new precedent that a former official can be convicted and disqualified by the Senate,” Rubio’s question began.
“Therefore, is it not true that under this new precedent a future House facing partisan pressure to ‘lock her up’ could impeach a former Secretary of State and a future Senate be forced to put her on trial and potentially disqualify from any future office?”
According to Trump’s lead attorney, Michael van der Veen, the answer is yes.
“If you see it their way, yes. If you do this the way they want it done, that could happen to the example there – a former secretary of state – but it could happen to a lot of people. And that’s not the way this is supposed to work,” he said in response to Rubio’s question.
But House lead impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin disagreed.
Watch a clerk reading Rubio’s question and then Raskin and van der Veen responding below:
“The Senate entertained jurisdiction exactly the way it has been done since the very beginning of the republic — in the Blount case, in the Belknap case. And you’ll remember, both of them former officials,” Raskin said in rebuttal.
“And in this case, we have a president who committed his crimes against the republic and was impeached in the House of Representatives while he was in office. So the hypothetical suggested by the gentleman from Florida has no bearing on this case,” the Democrat added.
While it’s true Congress sought to impeach and convict former Tennessee Sen. William Blount after his expulsion in 1797, then-Vice President Thomas Jefferson put an end to the debacle by dismissing the case in 1799, according to U.S. Senate records.
And while former Secretary of War William W. Belknap was impeached and unsuccessfully tried in 1876, both events happened after he’d voluntarily resigned from office, according again to U.S. Senate records.
In Trump’s case, he wasn’t expelled and he didn’t voluntarily resign. So there are some differences.
As for the question of the Democrats’ standards being applied to them one day, the same possibility holds true of their dubious “incitement” standard.
Listen to van der Veen explain how during his opening remarks:
“The entire Democratic Party and national news media spent the last four years repeating, without any evidence, that the 2016 election had been hacked, and falsely and absurdly claimed the president of the United States was a Russian spy. Speaker Pelosi herself said that the 2016 election was hijacked, and that Congress has a duty to protect our democracy. She also called the president an imposter, and a traitor, and recently referred to our colleagues in the House as the enemy within,” he said.
“Moreover many Democrat politicians endorsed and encourage the riots that destroyed vast swaths of American cities last summer. When violent left-wing anarchists conducted a sustained assault on a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, Speaker Pelosi did not call it an insurrection. Instead she called the federal law enforcement officers protecting the building stormtroopers,” he added.
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) July 18, 2020
“When violent mobs destroyed public property, [Pelosi] said, ‘People will do what they do.’ The attorney general of the state of Massachusetts stated, ‘Yes, America is burning, but that’s how forests grow.’ Rep. Ayanna Pressley declared, ‘There needs to be unrest in the streets for as long as there is unrest in our lives,'” Trump’s attorney continued.
“The current vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris urged supporters to donate to a fund that bailed out violent rioters and arsonists out of jail. One of those was released, and went out and committed another crime; assault. He beat the bejesus out of somebody,” he said.
A Minneapolis man twice bailed out by a fund supported by Kamala Harris has been arrested again and is now facing 3 new felony charges.
Hollywood helped advocate bail too. They sure are silent.
Any comment Kamala. Hollywood. Anyone.
Didn’t think so.
— Kambree (@KamVTV) February 2, 2021
Like Rubio tried to point out, the inconsistent standards Democrats have invented to target Trump can easily be used against them. It’s a slippery slope, and if Democrats aren’t careful, they’re going to wind up crashing head-first into a rock.
If the Senate sets a precedent that a former official can be convicted & disqualified it will be just a matter of time before a future House,under partisan pressure to “Lock Her Up”,will impeach & the Senate forced to try other former officials
A destructive slipper slope
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 13, 2021
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