The three wise monkeys are a Japanese pictorial maxim, embodying the proverbial principle “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” The three monkeys are Mizaru, covering his eyes, who sees no evil; Kikazaru, covering his ears, who hears no evil; and Iwazaru, covering his mouth, who speaks no evil. The proverb and the image are often used to refer to a lack of moral responsibility on the part of people who refuse to acknowledge impropriety, looking the other way or feigning ignorance. Another name is code of silence.
Our congressional delegation and their staffs have issued statements in various media that indicate they are in the camp of Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru, seeing, hearing or speaking no wrongdoing in the case of Trump impeachment charges. An editorial cartoon shows a husband and wife watching TV. The man says, “I don’t know who to believe … the career diplomats testifying under oath and constitutional experts or the hand-picked political cronies who blew off their subpoenas.” Who does our congressional delegation trust or respect? If our congressional delegation shows no apparent curiosity or concern about President Donald Trump’s charges then I wonder how they interpret their oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. In my career as a Navy nuclear submarine officer, I never believed I had perfect knowledge of our enemies so always depended on intelligence. Testimony under oath is the most reliable information in the impeachment drama so our delegation should demand to hear all of it.
In July 1974, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon, for obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of Congress and reported those articles to the House of Representatives for a vote. Republican support for Nixon was strong; however, by August 1974 enough evidence against Nixon resulted in loss of support of his most loyal defenders in Congress so Nixon resigned rather than face trial in the Senate.
We don’t know if the loyal Trump supporters in Congress will continue to cover eyes, ears and mouths. In my cynicism, there is more at stake than simply phone-call allegations against Trump. Complex issues like impeachment make me heed my father’s advice to help understand, advice which was “follow the money.” We know that Trump, his personal and family businesses benefit from his being president of the United States. Critics claim violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. Trump is accused of bribery in the Ukraine case. Trump has blatantly stated he will provide money from his extensive backers to any in Congress who will remain loyal to him. Is this bribery? If any member of Congress feels that Trump money is a key part of their re-election then what will he or she do? Do Trump’s big donors and groups like Citizens United who may be buying Congressional support have a stake in the impeachment process outcome?
Many of my veteran colleagues are calling for members of Congress to put country over politics and support the impeachment process. In the news are stories of hundreds of attorneys and constitutional scholars who advocate continuing the impeachment process. The impeachment process will be covered by media news and analysis. We do not know if authoritative information from persons currently refusing subpoena testimony will be forthcoming. We do not know what a final house vote will be or what senate action may be if the house votes to impeach. All we and our congressional delegations can do is to pay attention, watch, listen and have conversation to help weigh and decide what is true and what action should be taken.
Larry Gebhardt of Pocatello is a retired Navy nuclear submarine captain and manufacturing leader.