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Senators must recuse themselves from trial

DEAR EDITOR:

We are about to witness the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, duly elected 45th president of these United States. Two of the senators who will act as jurors in the case have stated emphatically they will support the defendant, and because of their bias they must recuse themselves from participating in the trial.

When “The Federalist Papers” were written jointly by James Madison, John Jay, the very first Supreme Court justice, and Alexander Hamilton, the stature of a senator was so great their election could not be left to the people. Until 1913, senators were not elected at the polls, but were appointed by members of Congress. And while congressmen could be elected at the age of 25, nobody under the age of 30 could be appointed a senator.

That was because the Founding Fathers sought to guarantee those appointed as senators would exhibit integrity beyond reproach. Jay wrote in Number 64 they must demonstrate honor, truth to oaths, reputation, love of country, and family affections.

Hamilton specifically discussed impeachment in Number 65, noting impeachment involved an abuse of the public trust. For that reason, he said, impeachment was inevitably political in nature, with the impeached person’s offenses likely against society itself. He warned the trial would undoubtedly stir the passions of the whole community.

Hamilton further warned the passions of citizens would divide us into factions that either more or less supported the impeached person, with people’s “animosities, impartialities, influence, and interest” accruing to one side or the other. But, he stated, what body other than the Senate would be “sufficiently confident in its own situation of dignity and independence” to competently assess the evidence of public wrongdoing offered by legislators in the House.

It’s disturbing, therefore, that Senator Mitch McConnell has announced before the trial has even begun he will coordinate with the president’s lawyers in order to ensure that President Trump is found not guilty in his impeachment trial. Lindsey Graham likewise has stated he supports the president. Is it ever appropriate for a prosecutor or juror to openly support the defendant and publicly announce it? And to determine unequivocally that witnesses and evidence are unnecessary? What a shame.

McConnell and Graham must recuse themselves as jurors in this trial. Many among us want truth to be told and prevail. Our Constitutional right to observe the conduction of a fair and impartial impeachment trial requires removal of any jurors who demonstrate “bias for or against the individual.” Witnesses to Trump’s questioned actions may testify. Senators who have already publicly proclaimed their bias cannot fairly participate in rendering a judgment of Trump.

LINDA COCUZZI RICHTER

Niles

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