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Grassley exonerates Trump in impeachment trial, then slams him afterward


This news story was published on February 14, 2021.
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Charles Grassley, collecting paychecks and hundreds of thousands of dollars in farm subsidies in office since 1959

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Saturday detailed his vote to find former President Donald Trump not guilty of the House of Representatives’ article of impeachment, but leveled severe criticism of the ousted politician.

In his statement for the Senate record, Grassley reiterated that the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was an assault on democracy itself, and that former President Trump had displayed poor leadership, but stated that the impeachment managers for the House of Representatives failed to prove their case.

“We do not have the authority to try a private citizen like former President Trump. Even if we did, he should have been accorded the protections of due process of law in his trial. And even if we assume he has been, the House Managers still did not prove that he committed incitement to insurrection, the specific crime of which he stands accused. This does not excuse President Trump’s conduct on and around January 6th of this year,” Grassley said in the statement for the Senate record.

Grassley’s full statement for the Senate record follows:

Statement for the Senate Record by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
United States Senate
On the Senate’s Acquittal of former President Donald Trump
February 13, 2021

Just barely a year ago I was here making a similar statement. Impeachment is one of the most solemn matters to come before the Senate, but I worry that it’s also becoming a common occurrence.

Before getting into the merits of this impeachment, it is important to reiterate that January 6 was a sad and tragic day for America. I hope we can all agree about that.

What happened here at the Capitol was completely inexcusable. It was not a demonstration of any of our protected, inalienable rights. It was a direct, violent attack on our seat of government. Those who plowed over police barricades, assaulted law enforcement, and desecrated our monument to representative democracy flouted the rule of law and disgraced our nation. Six people, including two U.S. Capitol Police Officers, now lie dead in the wake of this assault. The perpetrators must be brought to justice, and I am glad to see that many such cases are progressing around the country.

While the ultimate responsibility for this attack rests upon the shoulders of those who unlawfully entered the Capitol, everyone involved must take responsibility for their destructive actions that day, including the former president. As the leader of the nation, all presidents bear some responsibility for the actions that they inspire — good or bad. Undoubtedly, then-President Trump displayed poor leadership in his words and actions. I do not defend those actions and my vote should not be read as a defense of those actions.

I am a member of a court of impeachment. My job is to vote on the case brought by the House Managers. I took an oath to render judgment on the article of impeachment sent to the Senate by the House of Representatives. We are confined to considering only the articles charged and the facts presented.

First and foremost, I don’t think this impeachment is proper under the Constitution. This is the first time the Senate has tried a former president. Whether or not it can do so is a difficult question. The Constitution doesn’t say in black and white “yes, the Senate can try a former president” or “no, it can’t.” In contrast, many state constitutions at the time of the Founding specified that their legislatures could, so it’s notable that our federal charter did not. In order to answer this question it’s therefore necessary to look at the text, structure, and history of the Constitution. That’s what I have done. In the end I do not think we have the ability to try a former president.

I start always with the Constitution, which gives Congress the power of impeachment. As I mentioned, impeachment was a feature in many state constitutions at the time and it came from a power enjoyed by the English Parliament.

Impeachment in England was a powerful tool whereby Parliament could hold individuals accountable for actions against the government without having to rely on the King to enforce it. It applied not just to sitting government officials, but also to former government officials, and even to private individuals. It was not simply a way to remove government officials but a general method of punishing the enemies of Parliament, including with fines, jail time, or even death.

This is not the system established by our Constitution. Our Constitution restricts the power of impeachment in two important ways. First, it says that Congress can’t just impeach anyone: only the president, the vice president, and “all civil Officers of the United States” can be impeached. It then restricts the penalties for impeachment to removal from office and disqualification.

A former President is not in any of those three categories. He is not the president. In fact the Constitution also specifies that when the president is impeached, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall preside over the trial. Chief Justice Roberts has not presided over this trial, thus making it clear that it is not the trial of a president. He is obviously not the vice president. He is not a civil officer of the United States.

Because he does not fall into any of these categories, I don’t think that this trial was appropriate.

Moving beyond the text of the Constitution, the history of the Senate confirms this. The United States Senate has never convicted a former official in an impeachment. The Senate has tried three individuals who were former officers—William Blount (a former Senator in 1798), William Belknap (a former Secretary of War in 1876), and Robert Archibald (an incumbent Commerce Court judge in 1912 tried as well for conduct while a District Judge). Belknap is the only executive branch member tried after leaving office. None was convicted for his prior conduct—Archibald was convicted on counts relating to his incumbent judicial service on the Commerce Court. In all three cases the jurisdictional question loomed large at the trial and was cited as an important argument justifying the acquittals. In other words, Senate practice is consistent: it has never convicted a former official in an impeachment.

Between the text of the Constitution and the consistent practice of the Senate, I’m convinced that this is not an appropriate use of our power. While I realize there are arguments on the other side from learned scholars, to me they do not overcome these problems of text and history.

That’s why I voted twice to deal with this impeachment on jurisdictional grounds. But my position didn’t prevail, with the majority Democrats voting in lockstep to proceed, and we went to trial. As I’ve said, even though I think this is inappropriate, I kept an open mind during the process and I listened to both sides as they presented their evidence.

The House Managers tried to prove that President Trump incited an insurrection. That is a difficult argument to make. There were many other articles over which they could have impeached President Trump but this is what the House of Representatives chose. They didn’t meet their burden.

Before getting to the merits of the charge, I need to point out that this impeachment trial has not aligned with principles of due process of law. Other impeachments have involved significant fact-finding in the House, where proper legal formalities are followed, witnesses are heard from and cross-examined, and hard evidence is reviewed. Here there were no hearings in the House. The evidence presented was mostly video montages and news reports. We even had the unusual spectacle of voting to call witnesses for the first time as the trial was ending only to immediately reverse course and call none. Given the seriousness of the situation, I think we should expect better when the House exercises its constitutional duty of impeachment.

This issue involves complicated legal questions. In our legal system, though, it is very difficult for speech to rise to the level of incitement. Incitement is a legal term of art. Usually it takes place in the context of incitement to violence. Incitement, in our legal system, doesn’t mean “encouraging” violence or “advocating” violence or even “espousing” violence. It means intentionally causing likely violence. Because the article of impeachment uses the word “incitement,” I need to evaluate President Trump’s actions under the rubrics of the law of incitement, which were set out in the Supreme Court case of Brandenburg v. Ohio. In that case the Court held that incitement required speech that, first, encourages “imminent lawless action” and, second, “is likely to incite or produce such action.” In other words, in order to succeed the House Managers must have shown that President Trump’s speech was intended to direct the crowd to assault the Capitol and that his language was also likely to have that effect.

As I said before, what happened on January 6 was tragic. We can’t let it happen again. But the House Managers have not sufficiently demonstrated that President Trump’s speech incited it. While I will have more to say about President Trump’s conduct, the fact is that he said this: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” That speech is not an incitement to immanent lawless action as established in the case law. I wish the crowd would have listened to him.

Just because President Trump did not meet the definition of inciting insurrection does not mean that I think he behaved well.

To be clear, I wanted President Trump to win in November. I gave over thirty speeches on his behalf in Iowa the week before the election. He—like any politician—is entitled to seek redress in the courts to resolve election disputes. President Trump did just that and there’s nothing wrong with it. I supported the exercise of this right in the hopes that allowing the election challenge process to play out would remove all doubt about the outcome. The reality is, he lost. He brought over 60 lawsuits and lost all but one of them. He was not able to challenge enough votes to overcome President Biden’s significant margins in key states. I wish it would have stopped there.

It didn’t. President Trump continued to argue that the election had been stolen even though the courts didn’t back up his claims. He belittled and harassed elected officials across the country to get his way. He encouraged his own, loyal vice president, Mike Pence, to take extraordinary and unconstitutional actions during the Electoral College count. My vote in this impeachment does nothing to excuse or justify those actions. There’s no doubt in my mind that President Trump’s language was extreme, aggressive, and irresponsible.

Unfortunately, others share the blame in polluting our political discourse with inflammatory and divisive language. As President Trump’s attorneys showed, whatever we heard from President Trump, we had been hearing from Democrats for years. National Democrats—up to and including President Biden and Vice President Harris—have become regular purveyors of speech dismissing and even condoning violence. It’s not surprising that when they talk about taking the “fight” to “the streets” organizations like Antifa actually take to the streets of our cities with shields and bats and fists, destroying lives and livelihoods.

Yes, I think President Trump should have accepted President Biden’s victory when it became clear he won. I think Secretary Clinton should have done the same thing in 2016. But as recently as 2019, she questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s election, saying “[Trump] knows he’s an illegitimate president. I believe he understands that the many varying tactics they used, from voter suppression and voter purging to hacking to the false stories … there were just a bunch of different reasons why the election turned out like it did.”

If there’s one lesson I hope we all learn from not only last year, but the last few years, it’s that we all need to tone down the rhetoric. Whether it’s the destructive riots we saw last summer or the assault on the Capitol, too many people think that politics really is just war by another name. To far too many people, our democracy isn’t free people coming together to make life better for our communities. It’s a street fight.

We don’t need to agree on everything. In fact, part of what makes our democracy great is that we don’t agree on everything. But we do need to resolve these differences with debate and with elections, not with violence. Whether the violence comes from the left or the right, it’s wrong. The same goes for speech that claims to define enemies by political views or affiliations.

We’re all Americans, always trying to form a more perfect union. We have more in common than what divides us. It’s high time those of us who have been elected to serve lead by example. We can take the high road. We can tone down the rhetoric. We can be respectful even when we disagree strongly. If we don’t, we’ll be betraying the trust that the American people have placed in us and we’ll endanger the democracy and the freedom that so many of us have worked to preserve.

These are difficult issues I have considered over the past week. But in the end I am confident in what I think is the correct position. We do not have the authority to try a private citizen like former President Trump. Even if we did, he should have been accorded the protections of due process of law in his trial. And even if we assume he has been, the House Managers still did not prove that he committed incitement to insurrection, the specific crime of which he stands accused. This does not excuse President Trump’s conduct on and around January 6th of this year. It satisfies my oath as a U.S. Senator in this court of impeachment. I therefore voted to acquit.

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48 Responses to Grassley exonerates Trump in impeachment trial, then slams him afterward

  1. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 17, 2021 at 5:36 pm

    If Trump had done more during the beginning of the pandemic to stop it, not as many people would have used mail in ballots. It’s pretty easy to see, common sense.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 18, 2021 at 6:06 am

      Does that come in 40 lb bags for my garden?

      That is Varsity, 1st string, starting lineup stupid.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        February 18, 2021 at 9:29 am

        That is why you have always been a 3rd teamer. You can’t see.

  2. Avatar

    Peas n Taters Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    What happened to the 3 other comments?

  3. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2021 at 11:34 am

    The only real answer to our problems in this great country is term limits for politicians, no more than two 4 year terms then back to the real world. Guys like Grassley have been in the game for so long they lose site of who they are supposed to be supporting.
    Grassley will probably hang in long enough to get his grandson set up for the long term.
    I like Grassley, but come on the fastball is gone, similar to Biden he has trouble with sentences.
    After what happened over the summer how could anyone accuse Trump of wrongdoing with what he said.
    Trump’s policy’s were good, he just couldn’t behave like the rest of the politicians. Total outsider and the swamp tore him to pieces for 4 years.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 16, 2021 at 4:18 pm

      Trump couldn’t behave like a leader or a decent human being. That is why he lost.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        February 17, 2021 at 12:20 pm

        Trump told you the unvarnished truth, and you couldn’t handle it. You want your politicians to pretend to be humble and grandma-like. Trump saw no need to do that.

        • Avatar

          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          February 18, 2021 at 7:29 am

          Not true. Trump lied over and over and over. I understand truth but I also understand what trump was and I rejected him because of that. He was a crass, uncaring womanizer whose opinion of himself far outweighed any concerns he might have had for the rest of us. He fooled you and I am sorry about that but you admired him because he acted like you wanted to act and he did it to people you were jealous of and resented.

  4. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Get a grip losers. Your boy lost, deal with it. Btw, all caps only magnifies how stupid you are.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 16, 2021 at 12:42 pm

      stupid? not really. what’s wrong with uncial script?

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 17, 2021 at 12:42 pm

      It’s interesting how Dominion voting systems has not sued Mike Lindell yet. Every day, many thousands and maybe millions more viewers see Lindell’s voter fraud documentary, and that does irreparable damage to Dominion, but they STILL don’t sue him. He taunts them and dares them to come on the air and defend themselves, and the best they will do is threaten him. That’s not the way an innocent voting machine contractor would behave. Dominion did sue Sidney Powell and Rudy, but you don’t see them retracting anything. Things that make ya go “HMMM”

  5. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2021 at 9:17 am

    RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE. THOSE THAT WOULD NOT SEE ARE NOW STARTING TO SEE!!! VOTING FOR BIDEN WAS SO SHORT SIGHTED!!! THANK GOD, THE MASSES ARE STARTING TO GET IT… BUT HOW MUCH DESTRUCTION OF AMERICA NEEDS TO TAKE PLACE FOR THEM TO REALLY GET IT!!! MAYBE WE NEED TO REMOVE HIM FROM OFFICE????

    • Avatar

      HOLN1 Reply Report comment

      February 16, 2021 at 12:07 pm

      are you responding to the correct article , or is your LP record scratched . Maybe just need to clean it .

  6. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2021 at 9:13 am

    I wonder how these people can live with themselves, doing the things they’ve done to bilk & steal from the American people.

  7. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2021 at 9:12 am

    CNN = Commie News Network

  8. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2021 at 9:11 am

    No, Biden should not be impeached for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. With a little investigating there will be found real evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors for which removal from office may be done with just cause.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 17, 2021 at 5:20 am

      That’s what they tried with Trump, and they even made up what was said(doctored the footage by omitting some and changing time stamps).

      But, that is beneath conservatives, we leave that to low life Commies, I mean intolerant Democrats.

  9. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2021 at 9:05 am

    “B” iden
    “I” s
    “D”estroying
    “E”ntire
    “N”ation

  10. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2021 at 9:05 am

    I always thought the community organizer was the worst until this clown came along.

  11. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 16, 2021 at 9:04 am

    RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE. THOSE THAT WOULD NOT SEE ARE NOW STARTING TO SEE!!! VOTING FOR BIDEN WAS SO SHORT SIGHTED!!! THANK GOD, THE MASSES ARE STARTING TO GET IT… BUT HOW MUCH DESTRUCTION OF AMERICA NEEDS TO TAKE PLACE FOR THEM TO REALLY GET IT!!! MAYBE WE NEED TO REMOVE HIM FROM OFFICE???

  12. Avatar

    HOLN1 Reply Report comment

    February 15, 2021 at 8:10 am

    No comments from the right yet today , that’s weird

    • NIT Publisher

      NIT Publisher Reply Report comment

      February 15, 2021 at 8:52 am

      The Russian bot algorithm picks up later in the morning on Mondays, evidently.

      • Avatar

        HOLN1 Reply Report comment

        February 16, 2021 at 8:30 am

        still nothing , ya don’t suppose this Grassley story is true . Sometimes the fake news hurts . Ouchie

  13. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 15, 2021 at 7:02 am

    Coward POS just like the rest of the rePUBICan party!

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 16, 2021 at 9:13 am

      If the House can impeach President Trump for using the word “ fight” , should we the people demand the impeachment of the current dictator and comrade for past statements of violence against Trump ?

  14. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 15, 2021 at 2:07 am

    its time for grass to go

  15. Avatar

    republican Reply Report comment

    February 14, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    Time for him to go. Part of the problem!!

  16. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 14, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    The irony. Grassley is part of the problem Trump was fixing.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 16, 2021 at 9:15 am

      Traitor Joe will be one of the very worst Presidents this country has ever endured.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        February 16, 2021 at 10:48 am

        No trump set the bar way to high. He is and always will be #1.

        • Avatar

          Bernie Reply Report comment

          February 17, 2021 at 1:58 pm

          4 years will tell, if Kamala lets him stay that long

  17. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 14, 2021 at 11:47 am

    If one of the senators or house of representatives had died instead of a capitol police officer. Maybe your VOTE would have been different, or did you even think that there could of been a different outcome.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 14, 2021 at 6:13 pm

      Depends on which party the Senator or House member was affiliated with and whether or not he or she was a cult member.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        February 16, 2021 at 9:11 am

        Hey DumbAss! now they have found out he wasn’t killed in the so called riots. So, what is the next lie?

        • Avatar

          Anonymous Reply Report comment

          February 16, 2021 at 11:53 am

          What? Where did that news come from?

  18. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 14, 2021 at 11:36 am

    You’re a blanking LIAR Grassley. The senators voted it was constitutional. You failed us and this country. I hope you NEVER get elected to office again.

    Trump was in OFFICE when he incited, and you should have voted to impeached.

    Your excuse is pathetic. I don’t buy it one bit.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 16, 2021 at 2:31 am

      “You’re a blanking LIAR Grassley. The senators voted it was constitutional.” He did not lie. The Communists and RINOs in the Senate did. They ATTEMPTED to subvert the Constitution Article 1 Section 3, which states:

      “Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States”

      Please learn to read and comprehend, we know that Communists and RINOs in the Senate CAN NOT. It says Judgement shall not extend further than (pay attention to this part) REMOVAL FROM OFFICE, AND (pesky word used to used to connect words of the same part of speech, clauses, or sentences, that are to be taken jointly.) DISQUALIFICATION ect..

      That would mean that YES, the person being impeached needs to be in office. That pesky little word, and.

      Trump was in OFFICE when he incited, and you should have voted to impeached.

      Your excuse is pathetic. I don’t buy it one bit.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        February 16, 2021 at 9:15 am

        The only Biden voters who are disillusioned are the living ones.

      • Avatar

        Anonymous Reply Report comment

        February 17, 2021 at 9:21 pm

        Where did you get your degree for assessing other peoples comments?

        I’m assuming it’s from the University of Dumb A**

        He will pay for his vote when he comes up for reelection. Unless he retires first. He part of the swamp. Time say good bye, and for some NEW BLOOD TO TAKE HIS PLACE.

        Assess this dirt bag. HE’S A PATHETIC LIAR!

  19. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    February 14, 2021 at 10:29 am

    Another gutless republican bootlicker. Tough talk after the fact. Can’t disappoint your asinine base to save your senate seat for grandsonny Patty.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous Reply Report comment

      February 16, 2021 at 9:06 am

      Republicans who voted to convict Trump face backlash at home | Fox News.. DESTROY THEM LIKE THEY TRIED TO DESTROY PRESIDENT TRUMP!