As the impeachment not-quite-a-trial wraps up, I am left wondering if normal processes are applied to Senate impeachment hearings. Can, for instance, a lawyer get disbarred for standing before the Senate and making false claims? Does judicial estoppel apply when a defendant is simultaneously asserting X and NOT X in the impeachment and another legal proceeding?
A parade of horribles is not always a fallacy . Yes, the rhetorical device is often used in inappropriate manners; but the fact it can be misused does not invalidate the technique in toto. The parade of horribles which stems from accepting the parade of horribles as a valid reasoning tool do not render the rhetorical device a logical fallacy. When someone marches out this particular class of argument, the validity of the argument needs to be determined in its specific instance. Horrors which will occur either way do not make a persuasive argument. Horrors which are very likely to occur and are actually horrible compared to any benefit from the argument? The parade is a legitimate argument.
I find myself thinking a lot about these parades while watching the Senate Impeachment trial. There are horrifying consequences to accepting some of the Defense’s positions. Dershowitz proclaims that “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest; and, if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” How is that a reasonable position? Not holding the next election is “in the public interest” … but quite clearly an offense against the core tenants of this country.
Their argument fell apart a bit because it essentially exonerates Nixon — he wanted to get re-elected “in the public interest”, had people break into the Watergate to increase his re-election chances … and saying that Nixon is different because he destroyed evidence is a laughable contortion. Didn’t he destroy evidence in the nation’s best interest too?
Something I never put much thought into — impeachment isn’t subject to jeopardy protections. Which means the House could continue to pursue judicial remedy to force witnesses and vote on additional articles of impeachment for the exact same event.
Intellectually, I know that invoking one’s Fifth Amendment right is not an admission of guilt. But, any time I hear someone taking the 5th, my subconscious assumption is either that they’re guilty of whatever is being asked or the answer brings up some other admission of guilt. Because, seriously, why refuse to answer if the content of the answer is exculpatory and doesn’t implicate someone important to me?
In the same way, I intellectually know that my subconscious brain went somewhere not legally valid when Dr. Fiona Hill refused to answer a question citing executive privilege. The line of questioning was basically “you’ve been high up on the Russia desk for some time, so you’ve been on a lot of these phone calls with foreign heads of state”, “yes”, “is the content of this (the declassified 25 July phone call with Zelensky) call unusual”, PRIVILEGE! Which only makes me think that demanding personal favors that run counter to national interest (or having favors that run counter to the national interest demanded of him) isn’t unusual.
So, if I go jack, say, a Lambo … and when the cops show up say I’m heading out to return it … that’s OK?! Because chatting with an Ambassador and telling them he doesn’t want anything from the Ukraine after knowing the whistle-blower complaint is headed to the House isn’t exactly a great defense. Similarly, saying the money got released after the complaint … not exonerating.