Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: Your Honor, I'd like to call no witnesses

<p>President Donald Trump speaks Jan. 28 at the Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey.</p>

President Donald Trump speaks Jan. 28 at the Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey.

The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is nearing its end. Barring a new bombshell development, the final yes-no vote on removing the president from office seems set for Wednesday.

The real nail in the coffin was when the Senate voted, 51 to 49, to not consider any witnesses in the trial. This vote was a disaster for any semblance of a fair trial. It delegitimizes the trial process and the reasons given by some of the "no" voters are laughable.

A witness is a sacred position. They are a harbinger of discovering truth and provide an important role in assisting a courtroom.

The truth deserves to be uncovered, and witnesses play an integral role in digging deeper toward it. The near-party-line vote demonstrated a deep miscarriage of justice and a lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation. If a defendant was on trial for a crime and a credible individual claims to have information surrounding that crime, it is unfathomable to just tell this person no. This, unfortunately, is exactly what is happening. Trump, whether you agree with the process or not, is on trial for a crime, and witnesses must be called.

Now, let's examine the two key no votes: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. As two of the few undecided Republicans, commentators watched them closely for their decisions. One of the most notable came from moderate Murkowski.

"Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate,” Murkowski said in a statement. “I don't believe the continuation of the process will change anything."

This statement makes no sense. She was upset that the trial was unfair and that partisanship had tainted it, so what did she do? She prevented the ability to allow more fairness in the trial. The wall of senators not allowing any new evidence to be added to the trial, bolstered by Murkowski's vote, was just a ploy for more partisanship.

Alexander, who is set to retire this year, was supposed to be another key swing vote. Tom Ingram, Alexander’s former chief of staff told NBC News that “you can't predict him.” He made an even more bizarre claim than Murkowski against allowing witnesses. 

"I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the U.S. Constitution’s high bar for an impeachable offense," Alexander wrote.

Deconstructing this statement, the first part is just a complete turnaround on his behalf. He claimed he worked to have the right to ask for more witnesses, but also he's voting no to allowing more witnesses. It's unjustifiable.

The second part is a complete disservice to how serious the situation at hand is. I think back to the 1957 film “12 Angry Men,” in which one juror refuses to hear any more discussion on the defendant's potential innocence and devolves into a line of reasoning similar to a child saying “la-la-la I can’t hear you.” I would very much like to hear what would reach that “high bar” in Alexander’s eyes. Witnesses could provide more information and help show if the high bar has been reached. But now we’ll never know.

Relevant witnesses deserve their voice in court. John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, expressed support to those who testified and seemed to indicate a willingness to testify if called in the Senate. His voice deserves to be heard.

It's beyond disappointing to see so many senators engaging in partisan games, even after having signed  an oath pledging fairness to the impeachment trial. Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConell's "legislative graveyard" extends even further than bills. The call for no witnesses completely devalues a critical part of history and signals a broken system.

Max Sandefer (he/him) is a sophomore studying Spanish and political science. He is currently a legislative intern on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 Indiana Daily Student