The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.
Ethan: Here’s my position. In response to Donald Trump’s treasonous act inciting a riot on Congress to try to overturn a legitimate election, he has been impeached. He should now be convicted in the Senate, stripped of all post presidentials privileges, and barred from ever running for office again.
Phil: Were there more than a few days left, I might agree with you. I make no apologies for the narcissist that he is, and what happened on Jan. 6 will be his legacy. That said, he will thankfully be out of office in less than a week and what you propose will only divide our nation further.
Ethan: Holding people accountable should never be put aside because the person is out of sight. If an employee stole from you one week before they were scheduled to leave, would you keep them the final week? Would you not pursue legal action?
Phil: Taking legal action is the point. That involves filing a complaint and investigating. Under our Constitution everyone is afforded due process, even a disgraced president. Our constitutional process means the earliest Trump could be convicted and removed is on the 19th, and likely without an opportunity to present a defense.
Ethan: The 19th is the earliest only because senators don’t want to do their jobs sooner. However, our Constitution is clear that pursuing a conviction after someone leaves office is well within the Senate’s precedent. Just as you would with an embezzling employee.
Phil: Would you agree that impeachment is fundamentally to protect the people from the abuse of power by government officials?
Ethan: Yes. That is why the House voted so strongly for Trump’s impeachment on Wednesday.
Phil: Certainly. And in the heat of this moment, I can understand why. I feel similarly. But in the end, the final determination of that abuse is something we should not decide based on our emotions. It must be decided factually, in the Senate, after they hold a full trial.
Ethan: Now that the House has impeached Trump in a bipartisan vote, I am fine with the Senate waiting for both sides to fully flesh out their evidence.
Phil: But then you have to ask yourself, what is the ultimate outcome you seek? A conviction results in his being removed from office and possibly blocked from running again. The first we already have, and the second is already achieved by his being disgraced.
Ethan: I don’t believe that for one second. He still owns your party and could win any Republican primary he chooses to run in. He is now the first president in American history to be impeached twice. And soon he may be the first to be tried twice. That is a stain he deserves to wear for the rest of history.
Phil: He will wear the stain of Jan. 6 no matter what the Senate does, but it is time to heal. It is time to put this presidency and all Trump’s egomaniacal shenanigans behind us. However, if the Senate proceeds with a trial, it will sadly distract the nation for weeks and infuriate half the country. Let’s let Joe Biden have his first hundred days. I hope the House simply holds their impeachment articles indefinitely.
Ethan: Even Mitch McConnell appears to disagree with you.
Phil: I understand that. Trump’s consistent abominations, at a minimum, made his supporters feel that what they did on Jan. 6 would be appropriate. McConnell, and many other Republicans, are upset. I am upset. But in the end, I hope that once Jan. 20 arrives, we will all bring down the volume and turn the page.
Ethan: It will be a lot easier to turn the page if more Republicans publicly step up and unite around holding Trump accountable. If so, we will be a better nation for it. If not, our country is in for a generation of trouble.
Phil Harriman, a former town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth, is the founding partner of Lebel & Harriman, a financial services firm. Ethan Strimling, a former mayor and state senator from Portland, is the president of Swing Hard. Turn Left, which promotes progressive policy at the local, state and national levels.