Oklahoma’s two U.S. senators spent the beginning of the week undermining a process for which their serious attention is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
When the document set forth by the Constitutional Convention of 1787 is given even a passing perusal, the responsibilities of senators at an impeachment trial practically leap off the parchment.
And, both U.S. Sen. James Inhofe and U.S. Sen. James Lankford are failing in their duties.
I am going to delineate all of this not just for readers, but for our senators in case they want to actually pay attention to the laws of this land, and if this contains a whiff of condescension, it is because it is richly deserved.
OpinionFrom George Lang, our lead opinion columnist
Article I, Section 3 of the U.S Constitution states “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.”
Most of us have heard or read that part since the formal impeachment vote in the U.S. House of Representative against President Donald Trump on Dec. 18.
Nearly one month later, both Lankford and Inhofe took the following oath.
“Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?”
But much like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, both Lankford and Inhofe have constantly and chronically violated that oath either through inattention or disregard for the words Chief Justice John Roberts administered to them Jan. 16-17.
Lankford’s embarrassing behavior was at a fever pitch during his Sunday appearance on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
Not only was he not acting as an impartial juror, but he went so far as to say that Trump was completely justified in appealing to other nations to investigate Hunter Biden’s role in the Ukranian energy company Burisma Holdings Limited in exchange for dropping the purse strings on half a billion dollars of defense aid.
Lankford told Stephanopoulos that Trump was justified in calling for Ukraine to at least announce an investigation because “no one’s paying attention to what is potential corruption with the Bidens in the past.”
Statute of frustration?
Simply put, there is no such thing as a statute of frustration. It is unlawful for Trump to ask a foreign nation to interfere in a U.S. election. Many, if not all, U.S. presidents have been frustrated by domestic politics.
Furthermore, no one is claiming that Hunter Biden’s father, U.S. presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden, did anything improper by asking that Ukraine’s corrupt chief prosecutor be fired in 2016.
That same day, Lankford was interviewed by CNN’s Jake Tapper. In his questioning, Tapper asked Lankford which countries other than Ukraine Trump has prevailed upon to investigate corruption.
Lankford complained that Tapper was trying to “put him on the spot” — twice. The gentleman from Oklahoma serves on the subcommittee on state, foreign relations and governmental affairs. Tapper was asking a senator with experience in foreign relations and diplomacy about an issue specifically tied to foreign relations and diplomacy.
Lankford got terrible reviews from media outlets across the political spectrum for not being willing or able to answer Tapper’s question.
Then on Tuesday, Lankford told CNN’s Dana Bash that the senate should be able to review the manuscript for former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book “The Room Where It Happened” in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or SCIF.
This administration has thrived on obfuscation, and with the memories of U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s four-page memo on the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller still fresh in our memories, Lankford is trying this again. This is his plan to avoid Bolton’s testimony and keep the real findings under wraps until the impeachment is concluded.
Inhofe was less forthcoming in his animosity toward time-honored systems of government, but it was not for lack of trying.
He is steadfastly against any witnesses appearing before the senate, and he even attempted to impugn Bolton’s state of mind in a Monday interview with The Oklahoman, telling Chris Casteel, “Bolton has always been a friend of mine, but he was fired by the president. That can have an effect on a person.”
Inhofe is absolutely correct. It could cause a person to volunteer to testify before the senate about the reasons why he was fired, and maybe write a book about it.
Against the truth
Regardless of where you stand politically, truth is a valuable commodity, and anyone who calls for a lack of transparency in this matter is against the truth.
Perhaps Bolton is conducting a kind of high-level briar patch scenario in which he testifies and completely exonerates Trump. We will not know unless he is subpoenaed by the Senate.
Lankford and Inhofe owe Oklahoma and our nation to support transparency on this issue. Instead, they comport themselves like scurrying toadies.
We sent these men to Washington, D.C. to fight for what is right and just. If they are unwilling to do that and are completely cowed by the president, we should fire them.
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