President Trump to stand trial

President Donald J. Trump will soon stand trial in the Senate of the United States, charged with abusing the power of his office and for obstructing the legal responsibilities of the United States Congress.

I pray that our two United States Senators will do all that they can to ensure that trial will be a full and fair one. Our nation is deeply, bitterly, and more-or-less equally divided concerning the fitness of this president for office. The hasty proforma trial in the Senate that Senator McConnell seems to be envisioning will only serve to harden the hearts of both sides and further amplify the antipathy and mistrust that currently exists between us as a people. I fervently hope that that is not the kind of Senate trial that we get. Surely, we face no greater danger as a nation than to continue to be a house so deeply divided that we cannot speak to one another without yelling. The Senate, in deciding how the trial of President Trump will be run, can either deepen that divide or perhaps more hopefully, begin the process of healing it.

President Trump has complained that he was not given a chance to defend himself in the hearings of the House of Representatives, but during those hearings the President’s supporters had abundant opportunity to speak and they offered little believable evidence to explain or justify the behavior that the President himself has admitted to. Instead, they spent most of their time attacking both the process and their Democratic colleagues. In doing so, I believe they did a disservice to the nation and I believe that the Republican leadership of the Senate will repeat that disservice if they choose to follow a similar path. The disservice will be to the American people but it will be a disservice to President Trump as well. A sham process in the Senate, even if it exonerates him, will leave his right to hold the office of president in doubt for at least half the people of the United States and will continue to erode his ability to govern in the interest of all Americans.

The president has a right to present a defense against the serious charges that have been lodged against him. At the same time, the American people have both a right and a need to know all of the facts behind those charges. We should also know any facts that may exonerate him. That is what the trial in the Senate must be about. Any legitimate and meaningful trial must hear from those witnesses that have first-hand knowledge of the events and actions that lie at the center of the charges against the president.

This is a watershed moment in the history of America. Our Senators have a chance in this moment to be patriots, indeed heroes, by simply honoring their oaths of office. By insuring a full, fair, and honest trial of President Trump, they can help all Americans to understand where the truth lies and perhaps allow us to begin a process of healing.

I pray that Senators Manchin and Capito will find the wisdom and the courage to do what they know in their hearts to be right, and that they will let the facts determine their final judgment, regardless of political consequences. That is what we sent them to Washington to do.

James J. Van Gundy



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