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I think most Americans can agree that the Trump impeachment trial is rigged.  I expect that conservatives are thrilled about that and liberals are outraged.  Before anyone gets too 'holier than thou', we should remember that the parties were making their opposite arguments when Clinton was impeached.  The biggest problem with both impeachments is that they have destroyed Americans' faith in the criminal justice system.  Because if the people who make the laws for as important a country as the United States are not willing to judge a plaintiff based on facts, documents, and witnesses, why should the public trust any court?

As many Supreme Court justices do, Chief Justice John Roberts has been a surprise.  When he was appointed by President Bush it was widely expected that he would lean the court toward conservative rulings, but he has actually garnered a reputation for keeping the Supreme Court non-partisan.  Presiding over the impeachment trial, he is swept in the tide of partisan maneuvering and rules that, at best, give the trial the appearance of a 'not guilty' verdict being preordained.  Will he be able to preside over a fair trial when there are so many powerful forces trying to make it not be fair, one way or the other?

What is the point of impeachment if it is obvious beforehand that whichever party has a majority in Congress or the Senate will get its desired result, regardless of actual evidence and testimony?  Is it worth millions of dollars of taxpayer money -- reportedly at least $3 million for the impeachment, and (no pun intended) the jury is still out on the cost of the Senate trial --  to impeach a president in the House of Representatives, and find him innocent in the Senate when it is almost certain before any of it started that these would be the two results?

I had a chance to talk to ask Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY) about his take on impeachment (see story on the News page).  He agreed that it is a purely political process and suggested that rather than leaving it to 100 senators, that American voters should make the determination in November.  Given that nobody thinks the Senate trial is fair for whatever reasons, maybe he is right about that.

Not that elections aren't partisan -- after all, that's the point of elections, to present a choice of philosophies and a choice of people.  And don't get me started on the harm primaries do in weeding out any reasonable centrist candidates so our choices in the general election are often both unpalatable.  But the way things are looking, it would be a fairer process than the party politics tainting the impeachment and trial.

I was in England during the Watergate scandal, and I was sorely tempted to lie and tell Brits I met that I was Canadian, because when they found out I was American they wanted to know what it was like here.  Was everyone paranoid?  You fill in the questions... My point is that in Britain we were seen through the narrow lens of the Watergate scandal and the impeachment proceedings, which were never completed because the President resigned before he could be impeached.

The same thing is happening now.  Look at world news headlines.  Impeachment, impeachment, impeachment.  Republicans, Democrats.  Numerous articles about the trial being Robert's worst nightmare because of the perception of unfairness.  The Canada Prime Minister being caught in a video mocking our President's behavior.  And Canadians are the nice people in the world!  This is how people around the world see all of the United States, not just Washington.

The cost to the reputation of our country is the real danger the DC shenanigans will bring.  When our partner countries find us, our President, and Congress untrustworthy, it will be quite a bit harder to come to agreements with them that might have been mutually beneficial.  That will impact our economy, and influence whether or not we find ourselves in wars, at least in the immediate future.

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