The impeachment of the President of the United States is not something that should be taken lightly. In essence, it means that one of the most powerful people in the world and the leader of one of the most powerful nations in the world has abused the power of their position, or otherwise committed a crime. They are, in other terms, an insanely powerful criminal. It is a case that is historic in its proportions and it’s only the third time in American history that it’s happened. And in the case of the impeachment of President Donald Trump, it seems the U.S. Senate could use a reminder on how to conduct themselves at a trial.
Recently Republican and Democratic senators alike have not taken the impeachment hearings as seriously as they should. Multiple news sources have reported senators dozing off, working on poorly-hidden crosswords or even leaving the room entirely. Given the fact that leaving the Senate chamber during the trial is against the rules set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the decision by both Democratic and Republican senators is not only disrespectful but downright illegal.
Even aides were complicit, with some attempting to cover for their napping bosses. At one point, Chief Justice John Roberts had to ask the Senate to behave, as if he was a schoolteacher admonishing immature students. Fact-checking sites have even pointed out half a dozen misleading or blatantly false statements by the President’s defense team, including the often-repeated allegation that preliminary hearings were held behind closed doors and GOP members disallowed.
In any other fair and legal trial, this alone would give good cause for distrust of the GOP defense team. But with blatant lies on behalf of the President and tweeted taunts from President Trump in Switzerland, the Republican party refuses to give the impeachment hearings the time of day. Republican senators standing at the back of the room near the cloak-rooms (where their phones had to be left) were seen openly yawning as Representative Jason Crow explained the crime the president committed by withholding military aid to Ukraine. Then there are the politicians who decry the fact that the President hasn’t been given the chance to represent himself, which is a valid point until it comes to light that Trump has refused to testify and actively campaigned against allowing testimony of witnesses who would reportedly exonerate him.
Given the flippancy that the U.S. Senate as a whole has given the impeachment hearings, it’s fair to say that the behavior of these grown adults who represent the American populace at home and abroad is disappointing at best. The impeachment process should be treated with the utmost respect that any weighty legal hearing deserves. American citizens who are called up for jury duty are told that it is the privilege of living in a democratic nation. So why is it that even though we aren’t allowed to walk out of the courtroom in the middle of a hearing, it was acceptable for Republican senators to leave the chamber while prosecutors presented vital evidence against President Trump?
Regardless of how it all shakes out, this trial should go down in history as a sorry example of the behavior of America’s so-called professional politicians. They have shown themselves to be petulant, immature and childish, and it would be in the nation’s best interests to remember that.