When was the last time a crime’s victims served as judge and jury for a U.S. trial? Never, right? But that’s exactly what we’ll see as the second impeachment trial of Donald John Trump kicks off tomorrow (Feb. 9).
When rioters stormed the Capitol Jan. 6, they were attacking Congressional representatives and senators alike. House members responded by bringing articles of impeachment against the former president for his alleged role instigating the insurrection. Senators then became the judge and jury—even though they were attacked that day, too.
How is that fair? Does anyone really expect them to be unbiased?
Here’s a reminder: judges regularly recuse themselves from hearing cases they have even the slightest connections to. But apparently not one of these 100 senators has even considered this honorable route.
Here’s another reminder: potential jurors are routinely rejected during discovery for having seen news coverage of the case, or for having a distant relative on the police force, or because the defendant’s lawyer doesn’t like they way they look. The impeachment jury obviously wouldn’t pass muster—yet this trial has no juror discovery process!
How can we fix this? Short of stopping the impeachment, which seems unlikely at this point, a common precedent is to move the trial to a location where the news coverage is less likely to bias the jury. Sites such as Russia or North Korea could surely meet this mandate.
Another approach would be to seat a jury of Donald Trump’s true peers. That’s difficult, because the man has few peers, but a suitable jury could be pulled from a pool of distinguished figures such as Roger Stone, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Steve Bannon, Sean Hannity, Kellyanne Conway and—if you can find him/her/them—Q.
Obviously if the trial moves forward in its current form, Trump doesn’t stand a chance: the victims will vote to convict. So who can blame Trump’s allies for fighting back as best they can, perhaps suggesting to jurors that it would be a shame if something happened to their family, or if they got primaried by a far right candidate? The Trump team has to do something, because this trial is unfair.