Could the United States Senate use a secret ballot to remove President Donald Trump from office? Possibly, but it would be an absolutely terrible idea.
An article published Tuesday at Politico Magazine floats the idea, noting that Senate procedure allows the upper chamber to set its own rules for trying impeachment and that a bloc of just three Republicans could potentially force the issue.
The article — written by a former adviser to Republican politicians — argues that “the Senate’s role in an impeachment is analogous to a U.S. jury, where secret ballots are often used” and that Trump would “benefit in the long run” by being able to “focus his energies on his post-presidency.”
The appeal for some in the upper chamber seems obvious; those tired of the Trump presidency or who just can’t stand the man himself get to vote to remove the president from office and replace him with Vice President Mike Pence without having to face certain backlash from their own party and their constituents. But unlike jurors, senators are not selected at random. They are selected by the people with the knowledge that the person elected may have to sit for an impeachment trial, along with approving treaties and voting on the president’s nominees. Senators are accountable to the voters.
To seriously suggest removing this president from office via secret ballot — which has never been done before — could almost pass for bad satire at this point in the current impeachment process.
The president, his allies in Congress, and his supporters have so far criticized this impeachment process as merely the latest partisan endeavor to undermine a duly elected president, aided by the entrenched forces of the Washington, D.C., Swamp. They have argued that the investigation was initially started without the public accountability of a full House vote, contrary to the precedent set by previous impeachments, and that its preliminary testimony was given behind closed doors, thereby shutting out the American people. Capping the whole thing off with an unaccountable secret vote that breaks with the precedent of past impeachments would only serve to bolster those claims and further delegitimize the final results in the eyes of millions.
Furthermore, it would only boost the narrative that despite the clear results of the 2016 election, Trump has never been given a fair shot at the office by the entrenched, unaccountable forces of the D.C. Swamp voters elected him to drain.