Colbert on Taking One’s Oath Seriously

Stephen Colbert is America’s most thoughtful supplier of late-night comedy. Last night, he gave a heartfelt thank you to Sen. Mitt Romney for voting to remove the “monstrous child in the White House”; excoriated Romney’s Republican colleagues for ignoring their solemn oaths to do “impartial justice”; and said some funny stuff too.

Note: The Romney family once took a trip with their dog in a crate on the roof of their car. More famously, Mr. Romney was defeated in the 2012 presidential election by Barack Obama, who Mr. Colbert definitely voted for.

A Remedy and an Oath

Adam Schiff closed the prosecution’s case yesterday, calling on the Senate to remove an unfit president from office:

“They gave you a remedy and they meant for you to use it. They gave you an oath and they meant for you to observe it”. 

I couldn’t find a complete transcript of his closing statement. Here’s some of it (the complete video is below):

The Republican party of Nixon’s time broke in to the [Democratic National Committee] and the president covered it up. Nixon too abused the power of his office to gain an unfair advantage over his opponent. But in Watergate, he never sought to coerce a foreign power to aid his reelection, nor did he sacrifice our national security in such a palpable and destructive way as withholding aid from an ally at war. And he certainly did not engage in the wholesale obstruction of Congress or justice that we have seen this president commit.

The facts of President Clinton’s misconduct pale in comparison to Nixon’s and do not hold a candle to [this president’s]. Lying about an affair is morally wrong and when under oath it is a crime, but it had nothing to do with his duties in office. The process being the same, the facts of President Trump’s misconduct being far more destructive than either past president, what then accounts for the disparate result in bipartisan support for his removal? What has changed?

The short answer is we have changed. The members of Congress have changed. For reasons as varied as the stars, the members of this body and ours in the House are now far more accepting of the most serious misconduct of a president as long as it is a president of one’s own party. And that is a trend most dangerous for our country….

It must have come as a shock, a pleasant shock, to this president that our norms and institutions would prove to be so weak. The independence of the Justice Department and its formerly proud Office of Legal Counsel now mirror legal tools at the president’s disposal to investigate enemies or churn out helpful opinions not worth the paper they are written on.

The FBI painted by a president as corrupt and disloyal. The intelligence community not to be trusted against the good counsel of Vladimir Putin. The press portrayed as enemies of the people….Does none of that matter anymore if he’s the president of our party?

I hope and pray that we never have a president like D—- T—- in the Democratic Party. One that would betray the national interest and the country’s security to help with his reelection. And I would hope to God that if we did, we would impeach him, and Democrats would lead the way. But I suppose you never know just how difficult that is until you are confronted with it. But you, my friends, are confronted with it. You are confronted with that difficulty now and you must not shrink from it…. among you who will say enough?

America believes a thing called truth. She does not believe we are entitled to our own alternate facts. She recoils at those who spread pernicious falsehoods. To her truth matters. There is nothing more corrosive to a democracy than the idea that there is no truth.

America also believes there is a difference between right and wrong and right matters here. But there is more. Truth matters, right matters, but so does decency. Decency matters. When the president smears a patriotic public servant like Marie Yovanovitch in pursuit of a corrupt aim, we recoil…. Because decency matters and when the president tries to coerce an ally to help him cheat in our elections and then covers it up, we must say, “Enough. Enough.”

He has betrayed our national security and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What’s right matters even less and decency matters not at all. I do not ask you to convict him because truth or right or decency matters nothing to him, but because we have proven our case and it matters to you. Truth matters to you, right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.

In Federalist 55, James Madison wrote that there were certain qualities in human nature, qualities I believe like honesty, right, and decency, which would justify our confidence in self government. He believed that we possessed sufficient virtue, that the chains of despotism were not necessary to restrain ourselves from destroying and devouring one another.

It may be midnight in Washington, but the sun will rise again. I put my faith in the optimism of the founders. You should too. They gave us the tools to do the job, a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to constrain: impeachment. They meant it to be used rarely, but they put it in the constitution for a reason. For a man who would sell out his country for a political favor, for a man who would threaten the integrity of our elections. For a man who would invite foreign interference in our affairs. For a man who would undermine our national security and that of our allies. For a man like D— J. T—-. They gave you a remedy and they meant for you to use it. They gave you an oath and they meant for you to observe it. We have proven D—- T—- guilty. Now do impartial justice and convict him.

Unquote.

For the conclusion to his remarks, please jump ahead to 20:00.

Note: The fifty-three Republican senators are expected to ignore Rep. Schiff’s remarks and vote “No” on the articles of impeachment tomorrow.

Enough Said

Adam Schiff spoke last for the prosecution on Day 4 of the impeachment trial. If you were watching one of the Murdoch channels, you missed it. The video is below.

In the first twelve minutes, he reviews the two articles of impeachment.

You can jump ahead to 12:12 to hear him talk about the second article, Obstruction of Congress. The case for that article is so clear-cut and the offense is so serious, that it alone justifies removing this “president” from office:

Article 2 is every bit as important as Article 1. Without Article 2, there is no Article 1 ever again. No matter how egregious this president’s conduct or any other. It is fundamental to the separation of powers. If you can’t have the ability to enforce an impeachment power, you might as well not put it in the Constitution.

At 18:30, he starts previewing the arguments the president’s lawyers are expected to make in the next few days. He knocks each one to pieces. His conclusion at 47:50:

So what do all these defenses mean? … What do they mean collectively when you add them all up? What they mean is that under Article 2 [of the Constitution] the president can do whatever he wants…. That’s really it, stripped of all the detail and all the histrionics. What they want us to believe is that the president can do whatever he wants under Article 2 and there is nothing you [the Senate] or the House can do about it.

At 48:30, he quotes Robert Kennedy, who said:

Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery on the battlefield or great intelligence.

Schiff said he was skeptical of that remark until he realized what Kennedy was referring to. It doesn’t take moral courage to disagree with your enemies, it takes moral courage to disagree with your friends. Or your political party. Or your president. Or the majority of voters who elected you. He was challenging the Republicans in the Senate to exhibit moral courage by standing up for the Constitution.

At 58:20, he repeats the Democrats’ demand for a fair trial in the Senate, with testimony from witnesses and production of documents. Four Republicans would have to join the Democrats to make that happen. The senators will vote on that question after the president’s lawyers use their time to lie, whine and say stupid things.

One note:

At one point, Schiff refers to a CBS news report that someone who works for the president told Republican senators that if they vote against the president, their heads will end up “on a pike”. A number of Republicans claim to have been shocked that Schiff would even mention this report. Apparently, some accounts of tonight’s proceedings led with that story. It’s the kind of fake outrage Republicans have practiced for years and news people love to report. It’s bullshit. But that’s the state of the union today.