Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Monday, November 28, 2022 — Houston, TX

The Senate’s “independent” jurors aren’t even pretending anymore

Channing Wang/Thresher

By Dan Helmici and Harry Golen     2/18/20 10:17pm

Donald Trump is an innocent man, at least according to the United States Senate. Congress has decided that Trump didn’t abuse his power to solicit derogatory information about his political opponents, bribe Volodymyr Zelensky with the withholding of nearly $400 million in crucial foreign aid necessary for Ukraine to defend itself against Russian aggression or obstruct Congress by defying mandatory subpoenas and covering up the aftermath of his misguided dealings. 

The majority of Americans, on the other hand, think he’s guilty. Those closest to the crime agree, including the people who withheld the aid, the people who witnessed the the aid being withheld and the Government Accountability Office, which analyzed the manner in which the aid was withheld and concluded the executive branch violated the Logan Act by withholding foreign aid for “policy reasons.” Even Mitt Romney, the presidential candidate and face of an astoundingly different Republican Party only eight years ago, believes that Trump is a guilty man.   

How could Congress decide to exonerate this man? Quite simply, it was far more convenient for the Republican caucus (and the few Democrats who joined them) if he got off clean. For a long time, members of Congress have prioritized their own political expediency over their duty to the American people. That selfishness has now escalated to the point where our most sacred democratic institutions have been completely swept away. 

Senator Lisa Murkowski (Republican from Alaska) agrees. “I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything,” she said in announcing her intent to block witnesses from testifying in the Senate trial. “It is sad to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed.”

According to Murkowski, this devolution has occurred because we have reached “a low point of division in this country.” We agree. Murkowski’s statement is, without a doubt, an appropriate assessment of the manner in which Congress has handled the impeachment proceedings, but her implied blame on House Democrats is misplaced. By declaring their commitment to acquit Trump before the trial even began, Republican senators showed Americans that they didn’t care about justice, only about political power. Responsibility for this embarrassment lies solely in the hands of these partisans within Congress, a group that Murkowski has always been part of. As bystanders to history, we should remember not to exonerate her and others’ complicity in this constitutional travesty.

Senator Marco Rubio (Republican from Florida), a staunch defender of the president and loyal follower of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has gone so far down the rabbit hole of political greed that he is unwilling to do his job even if he has to completely ignore the Constitution and any sense of morality.

“Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office,” Rubio, who advocated during his 2016 presidential run for a strict, originalist interpretation of the Constitution, said prior to the Senate’s vote to reject witness testimony. “To answer this question, the first step was to ask whether it would serve the public good to remove the president, even if I assumed the president did everything the House [of Representatives] alleges.”

Republicans’ spineless arguments over the past month are representative of their self-serving agenda. Their singular aspiration seems to be furthering their own party goals, leaving the needs of the nation by the wayside. Throughout this trial, McConnell and his cronies were given multiple opportunities to prove their loyalty to their constituents; instead, they have shown their complete devotion to their party and their president. 

While our Congress has proven its incompetence, Trump still has another hurdle to overcome. This November, another trial will be held: his attempt for re-election. We hope that the American people are not so easily fooled as Republican politicians would like them to be. We also hope that Americans will look further down the ballot than just the big names at the top. This year, Texas will have both a competitive presidential and senatorial election for the first time in modern political history. We’ve seen over the past few months that these elections can both be impactful, and it’s crucial that all Rice Owls represent their interests in 2020. Early voting for the Democratic Primary has already opened in Harris County, and although there are no polling places on campus, all students have access to carpool services and other means of transportation organized by various student groups on campus. Students on college campuses will be crucial voting blocs in the upcoming election, with Rice being no exception. 

More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 11/15/22 10:21pm
Where we must agree: the politics of humanness

The words “free speech” will likely elicit groans from Thresher readers. Over the last three years, there have been three articles in the Opinion section bemoaning the need for a “classically liberal” political discourse at Rice. Unfortunately, between their self-righteousness and needless wordiness, they read more like whiny lectures than conversation starters. However, despite their condescension, their existence does suggest something unsettling about not just our campus politics, but politics at large. As the electorates of democracies around the world have become more sharply divided, the way we speak to each other, not just across the aisle but to our similarly minded partisans, has become more accusatory, exclusionary and violent. Put simply: we do not want to talk to each other, and understandably so. It is exhausting, and, more than that, we just don’t seem to know how to.

OPINION 11/15/22 10:16pm
Off-campus students should sublet their rooms to those who need winter break housing

For the first time since 2019, Rice is not allowing undergraduate students to remain in their on-campus housing during winter break. While this is a disappointing development, we understand why this decision needed to be made. Like students, staff need a break after a long semester. Further, keeping students on campus by providing housing over break was originally implemented to address pandemic travel restrictions, which are mostly gone. However, the need for winter housing is not gone. This decision still leaves some international students — or any other on-campus student looking to remain in Houston — scrambling for housing.

OPINION 11/8/22 11:39pm
The Honor Council needs to act more responsibly

For the past year, I have served as an at-large representative on the Rice Honor Council. I have sat through dozens of cases, read hundreds of pages of evidence and spent countless hours working to improve the transparency and fairness of the Honor System. While there are a myriad of issues with the Honor System, as there are with any institutional system, there is one in particular that needs to be addressed with expediency. The Honor Council is currently not an effective deliberative body due to the general lack of engagement from some of its members, which include elected representatives.  


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.