Speaker Nancy Pelosi, reacting to ongoing impeachment proceedings in the House, issued a remarkably egregious demand, not just once but twice, that went like this: Mr. President, you need to prove your innocence.
This, from one of the leading voices in politics supposedly tasked by oath to support, uphold and defend the Constitution and America’s freedoms.
Can you say Fifth Amendment?
Can you say due process?
How about presumption of innocence — or innocent until proven guilty?
True, this impeachment inquiry is not being held in a court of law. Different scenario, different standards. But shouldn’t the same spirit of America justice guide and prevail, just the same? Yes. Indeed. Indubitably.
Not in Pelosi’s world, though.
“If the president has something that is exculpatory — Mr. President, that means you have anything that shows your innocence — then he should make that known and that’s part of the inquiry,” Pelosi said, as The Week noted. “And so far, we haven’t seen that. But we welcome it.”
Pelosi then went on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday and told host Margaret Brennan that if Trump had “information that is exculpatory — that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame — then we look forward to seeing it.”
This is a flip of American justice.
It’s just not how we do things in a free U.S. society.
Democrats, leftists, socialists and President Donald Trump haters of all political walks may cheer this nonsense. But they’re blinded by hate. And nobody with any affinity for America at all would — should — applaud such a call.
It’s the way of the dictators, it’s the stuff of secret police and Gestapo types and tyrannical rulers throughout history. It’s the line of logic that goes, “Well, if you have nothing to hide, then what’s the big deal?” And it can be used for everything from pulling over a citizen on a sidewalk to frisk through pockets and purse, to hauling a political enemy into court on less-than-factual charges in order to slam, slander and shame — which is kind of where we’re at in the impeachment inquiry, by the way.
Admittedly, the Constitution doesn’t specifically say the phrase “innocent until proven guilty.”
But the Fifth and 14th amendments speak to “due process” — Ms. Speaker, that means you have anything that shows the president’s guilt — and the right to keep life and liberty and property, unless found guilty of some offense in a court of law. Moreover, that “due process” — the proving of guilt — has to take the shape of a speedy trial, as the Sixth Amendment points out.
Pelosi’s idea of “due process?”
In her world, it’s Trump who must prove innocence, not Democrats who must find guilt.
And here’s the thing: If Pelosi is successful in swaying the American people that this is the way the justice system must go, then the justice system in America for all will fall. History testifies to that truth.
Founders, in the Declaration of Independence, condemned the king of England for “depriving us in many cases of the benefit of trial by jury,” for “transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences;” for “abolishing our most valuable laws and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;” for “suspending our own legislatures and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in al cases whatsoever” — and more.
Founders saw first hand the egregiousness of a kangaroo court system, and as such, took care to insert provisions in the Constitution that would keep out the kangaroos.
Now Pelosi’s trying to drag ’em back in, pretending all the while as if she’s simply, aw shucks, making a sensible request. Do not be fooled.
This impeachment inquiry isn’t just about the president. It’s about the fate of our country, the future of American justice.
And if partisan hacks and con artists like Pelosi aren’t stopped in their destructive tracks, then it won’t be long before political views become jailable offenses. Never mind the Fifth, Sixth and 14th amendments; it’ll be the First that’s ultimately destroyed.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ckchumley.
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