Pence's outrageous op-ed holds deeper meaningRoundup
tags: Senate, impeachment, Mike Pence
Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a professor of history and public affairs. He is the author and editor of nine books, most recently "The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Highest Office."
For only the third time in American history, the US Senate has opened a trial for an impeached president. On Thursday, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered a special oath to all senators, requiring that they "do impartial justice" in their judgment of the president's alleged "high crimes and misdemeanors." What does that mean in practice, when the Senate is so divided by party, with a majority leader who has promised to coordinate closely with the impeached president?
Vice President Mike Pence published a powerful, but deceptive article in Friday's Wall Street Journal that offers the White House position. Pence called for "courage" from Senate Democrats who, he contended, must be willing "to stand up and reject a partisan impeachment." He invoked former Republican Senator Edmund Ross who, during the trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868, voted against the Republican Party to prevent the removal of the president. As Pence put it: "Ross was determined to render a fair judgment, resisting his own party's stampede."
Pence bought into the false notion that Ross was a "profile in courage" for refusing on principled grounds to be the final vote needed to remove Johnson from office. His account is historically dishonest on every count and it reveals the contortions the White House is willing to perform to protect its power at all costs -- precisely the attitude that helped to trigger impeachment in the first place. When a president and his closest advisers pathologically lie to the public, and Pence's article is yet another example, how can the American people (and our allies) believe anything coming out of the White House? How can a president lead when he has violated all foundations for public trust?
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