1. Statement

Democracy is at Stake in the Impeachment Trial

By Diane Randall, January 17, 2020

The foundation of our country is at stake—whatever the outcome is of the ongoing impeachment trial in the Senate.

The Senate’s decision on President Donald Trump’s impeachment may batter the Constitution and weaken our democracy or it may uphold the rule of law and strengthen these 243-year old United States.

The system of checks and balances among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches is central to our form of government and must be strengthened. — The World We Seek, FCNL Policy Statement (2013)

The House has now given the Senate two articles of impeachment against President Trump – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. While no one should be joyful with the impeachment of a president, there is a sense of relief that comes with moving into the final phase of this constitutional process.

Since the impeachment process began last year, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) has fully supported action by Congress to uphold its responsibility—to assure that the checks and balances of authority provided by the Constitution are followed.

The impeachment articles against President Trump have been investigated by various House committees. Government witnesses bravely offered testimony detailing the White House’s attempts to cover up the president’s use of federal power for his own personal gain. The final House vote on impeachment, while not bipartisan, was overwhelming. It earned a place in history for Donald Trump as the third president to be impeached.

The Senate now has an important choice to make, one that could either weaken or strengthen our constitution and our democracy. While the American public watches intently, 100 senators must decide between a fair, impartial trial or a partisan rally to salvage the Trump administration.

The Senate should call witnesses – especially White House officials who refused to testify during the House hearings – and they should exercise every means to determine the truth. Congress must act as a check on the executive branch and never be content in allowing the personal desires of a president to determine the foreign or domestic policies of the entire country.

Democracy does not work properly if the public does not know what its government is doing. Secrecy erodes the government’s accountability to the people. — The World We Seek, FCNL Policy Statement (2013)

Even as the impeachment trial proceeds in the Senate, we hear new revelations about this administration’s efforts to thwart the rule of law the for the benefit of Donald Trump. A new witness has publicly presented evidence that further supports the abuse of power article. Even the Government Accountability Office has concluded that the White House hold on aid to Ukraine violated federal law.

Full accountability through a fair impeachment trial in the Senate is possible. And it is not too late. Witnesses must be called, sworn in, and heard. The process need not be overly burdensome, but it cannot be rushed so no Senator misses a flight home or cuts into their election campaigns.

American democracy, the rule of law, and our trust that elected leaders are both acting in our best interests and being honest with us are at stake.

As a faith-based public interest lobby, FCNL’s mission is to live a prophetic Quaker vision for a peaceful, just, and healthy planet. Realizing this mission requires all of us, especially our leaders, to conduct ourselves responsibly and courageously in the service of the greater public good.

We firmly believe this final stage of President Donald Trump’s impeachment is imperative to affirm the Constitution, preserve our democracy, and uphold the rule of law.

Diane Randall

  • General Secretary

Diane Randall is the General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Diane leads FCNL’s staff to effectively educate and lobby for the policies and legislative priorities established by FCNL’s General Committee. A lifelong advocate for peace and social justice, Diane is a fierce proponent for citizen engagement that advances policies and practices to create a better society for all.