On Friday, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) appeared on MSNBC’s The Last Word to discuss President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Bass is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and according to her comments, she stands ready to defend the rule of law.
However, her concerns about fairness apparently only apply when convenient for Democrats, as Bass took the opportunity to formally demand that Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recuse himself from the impeachment trial to be held in that chamber, Breitbart reports.
Bass calls out McConnell
“The leader of the Senate has basically said he is in lockstep, and he is going to coordinate with the defendant,” Bass told host Ari Melber. “And so, if you can imagine going into a courtroom in a trial and the foreman of the jury says, well, I’m working with the person that’s being accused of the crime. And so, it’s completely inappropriate.”
“McConnell should recuse himself,” she continued. “But I really think it speaks to the way that Trump, the whole way he has gone about his presidency, he’s kind of infected and contaminated the culture, where the Senate president can feel emboldened enough that he can say, ‘Yes, I’m going to put my foot on the scale.’ I mean, boldly said that he’s co-coordinating with the White House.”
“How,” the congresswoman asked, “can a juror coordinate with the defendant? That is corrupt.”
Curiously, Bass seemed less concerned about Chairman Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) decision to block former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, from being called as an impeachment witness. Biden sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, an energy firm with an alleged history of corruption that was among the topics of conversation during Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.
The inability of Republicans to secure testimony from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) didn’t seem to bother Bass either. Schiff’s office was communicating with the so-called Ukraine whistleblower in advance of the complaint even being filed — despite having publicly denied doing so — something minority members have long wanted to probe through direct questioning.
Nor was Bass outraged over the fact that neither of the articles of impeachment that have been put forth actually allege an impeachable offense.
Blatantly partisan process
Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution allows for removal in cases of impeachment and conviction of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” However, the two offenses of which Trump is accused — obstructing Congress and abuse of power — don’t fit into any of those categories, something that attorney and constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz pointed out this week.
Writing in The Hill, Dershowitz explained, “Neither are high or low crimes or misdemeanors. Neither are mentioned within the Constitution.”
“Both,” he complained, “are so vague and open-ended that they could be applied in partisan fashion by a majority of the House against almost any president from the opposing party.”
All of this, Dershowitz insists, “will certainly do considerable damage to the rule of law.” Whether Rep. Bass will care is another matter altogether.