After Trump’s Senate acquittal, the urgent need to reaffirm core values and the Rule of Law

After the sham impeachment trial of Donald Trump, in which Republican Senators voted to not allow new witnesses or evidence, where do advocates of the Rule of Law and constitutional government go?

Where do we go from here?

A few days ago, on January 30, we wrote:

Trump’s defense lawyers have offered an endless stream of bad-faith arguments aimed at sowing confusion and throwing a lifeline to cynical Senators who will vote to acquit Trump, ignoring the evidence that is in front of their eyes.

The arguments these Senators will give to justify their votes–against witnesses and documentary evidence, for acquittal–sound like Fox News talking points. Ignoring the clear evidence. Failing to rebut the factual evidence provided in sworn witness testimony and documents provided by the House.

The Republican Party has become, clearly and beyond the shadow of a doubt, a bad-faith party.

But where does that leave the rest of us, the half of the country which still believes in good faith, truth, and the Rule of Law?

Justifying his decisive vote against admitting new evidence, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander asserted that the charges against Trump had been proven, so no further evidence was needed. Notwithstanding that admission, he concluded that Trump’s actions, while “inappropriate”, did not justify his removal from office.

In other words, he’s guilty as charged, but “so what”?

The one benefit that has come from the impeachment and imminent acquittal of Trump is that it has revealed, down to the bones, the total corruption of the Republican Party in general and the Republican Senators in particular.

Still, where does that leave the rest of us?

The Republican transgression of the Constitution and the country’s core values is disheartening, but not unexpected.

What should we do?

As with any fundamental law or value, the most important thing is not the violation of the law or value, but rather its reaffirmation.

Now is a time for the reaffirmation of the bedrock values upon which the Constitution is based, and upon whose strength its ultimate survival depends. Those values are our values, and now is the moment in history for everyone to reaffirm them. These values are all related, each to the other:

Truth

Integrity

Decency

Character

Facts

Science

Law

Freedom

Democracy

All who criticize Trump should now include, in every speech, in every opinion column, a reaffirmation of these core values and an explanation of why they believe they are central to the future of our country. They should also reaffirm these values within a narrative framework which makes clear how Trump has violated and defiled them, not only in relation to the Ukraine affair but also throughout his presidency.

The Democrats have succeeded in showing how Trump violated the law and committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” in the Ukraine affair. Yet, beyond the Ukraine, for three years he has also systematically violated the core values of American political life listed above.

Now the Democrats must make the case to the country, within the framework of a cogent narrative, as to why the reaffirmation of these values, and the rejection of their wanton violation, is of paramount importance to the future of our democracy.

How they do this is up to them. We have suggested in the past that continued hearings in the House, in a broad investigation of Trump’s misdeeds including the instances of obstruction of justice detailed in the Mueller Report, would be of critical importance.

For the ultimate challenge facing the Democrats, and all of us, is the imperative need to break through the bubble of lies and distortions which enshrouds the consciousness of members of the Trump cult, which Trump’s other accomplices cynically seek to use to their own advantage.

The cumulative effect of many hammers and sledgehammers of truth chipping away at Trump’s wall of lies, distortions, and distractions just might be to bring his wall down, like the sledgehammers which brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.