Ohio Sen. Rob Portman should recuse himself from impeachment

FILE- In this July 20, 2017, file photo, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, heads to the chamber for a vote, on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Ohio on Tuesday, July 25, as the U.S. Senate could vote on beginning debate on a Republican health care bill. Portman could be a key swing vote on the legislation and is facing immense pressure from both sides as he makes his decision. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

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FILE- In this July 20, 2017, file photo, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, heads to the chamber for a vote, on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Ohio on Tuesday, July 25, as the U.S. Senate could vote on beginning debate on a Republican health care bill. Portman could be a key swing vote on the legislation and is facing immense pressure from both sides as he makes his decision. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

As our Founding Fathers mandated, when the impeachment trial began 10 days ago, U.S. senators took an oath to “do impartial justice” as jurors at that trial. 

And as James Madison wrote in Federalist 10, a key principle of impartiality is that “No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.” Black letter law applies this principle not just to parties, but to anyone who has a direct interest in a case.

Ohio’s Senator Rob Portman has such an interest.

Even voting on the rules of the trial, as he did last week, constituted an egregious conflict of interest. Voting to further block witnesses and evidence this week would only double down on the problem, and voting on the ultimate outcome would taint both our senator and the overall trial for the history books.

So how does Portman have an interest?

Like others, he made initial statements suggesting he had already made up his mind on key facts. But that’s just the beginning. Unlike others, his involvement runs far deeper than that.

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