Our Opinion: Nation bears witness to trial debacle

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With Democratic efforts to hear witnesses at President Donald Trump's impeachment having failed, it is apparent that, even should the trial linger on for a few more days, he will be acquitted by the Republican majority. As President Trump gloated in a tweet: "Game over!"

And a game it was from the beginning, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announcing he would not assume a neutral stance but would instead work with the White House in making the case for acquittal. A trial without witnesses is hardly worthy of the name, but when only two Republicans agreed to hear witnesses — two short of the number needed to join Democrats in that demand — the lack of witnesses was assured. As is the final vote for acquittal. According to his book transcripts, former national security adviser John Bolton would have verified the core point of the impeachment — that President Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden, in exchange for receiving military aid approved by Congress. Bolton's testimony might or might not have changed any votes or minds had he been called as a witness, but he should have been heard. He will not be.

When asked at an Eagle editorial board meeting Friday if the decision by the Democratic members of the House to bring articles of impeachment was worth it, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, replied, "This was the responsible thing to do." Rep. Neal observed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi first resisted demands to bring impeachment charges against the president for other alleged crimes, arguing that the voters should decide the president's fate in November. But when responsible career diplomats with no political axes to grind offered "compelling evidence" that President Trump had indeed pressured a foreign leader to interfere in our election process, "due diligence," said Mr. Neal, "required the House to do its work."

When asked at the editorial board meeting if the trial had exposed flaws in the impeachment process, the congressman replied that the law was fine; it is "personalities that have become the problem." Indeed our Founding Fathers could not have anticipated that members of Congress, an equal branch to the executive, would be so fearful of the president and his supporters, so indifferent to the damage done to the Constitution, that they would acquit a president whose corruption clearly merited removal from office. But that is what will formally happen soon enough, leaving our cherished democratic system greatly weakened in its wake.

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