‘There is still time. You can still do what’s right’


Editor’s Note: Rep. Christina Marie Sablan (D-Saipan) delivered the following statement during the Public Comments section of the Motion to Dismiss hearing for Gov. Ralph DLG Torres in the Senate chamber Tuesday, April 19, 2022.

If we knew nothing about the history leading up to today, it would be more than a little puzzling that the Senate would be conducting this proceeding in this way. After all, what is a trial without prosecutors? What is a trial without evidence? And how can you hear a motion to dismiss the Articles of Impeachment without prosecutors or evidence?

If you will hear only one side, there can only be one foregone conclusion. And that, of course, is dismissal. In that event, there could be no pretending that there was any fairness or justice in this trial. But we do know about the history leading up to today.

We know that the Senate has rejected the House’s attempts to submit the impeachment record, not just once, but twice. The first time the submission was deemed “premature”—attempted before the rules were adopted.

The second time the record was deemed out of compliance with the rules. The House clerk said she would need more time to reorganize 8,000 pages to the Senate’s liking. Her request was rejected, because the rules are the rules.

Of course, we know about these rules too. That neither the public nor the House were allowed to see them before they were adopted by the Joint Committee, in violation of the Open Government Act.

We know who did get a chance to see them though. And more than just see them: the governor’s counsel actually had a hand in writing these rules. So it makes sense why the rules are the way they are. One-sided in favor of the impeached official, every time. Tainted by the perception and the reality of bias.

And it makes sense why the rules would be slanted so much against the House. That there could only be one House prosecutor chosen by the Senate, and no other. That the rules would make it possible to reject the House’s entire record of evidence on mere technicalities. That the rules would also make today’s proceeding possible: for the Senate to hear only the governor’s side and his motion to dismiss, without a word from House prosecutors at trial, or a shred of evidence for why you should, instead, convict.

The rules are the rules. And yet if the Senate were truly committed to strictly following the letter of the rules, the governor’s motion to dismiss is actually out of order and time-barred. It should not be entertained today at all, based on your rules.

But since you are proceeding with this hearing, it’s worth noting that the governor’s motion to dismiss speaks not at all to the merits of impeachment. Half of his arguments are based on more technicalities, half are based on me. It’s classic deflection. But also revealing. It shows so much about the governor’s lack of actual defenses against the volumes of evidence pointing to his abuses of power and misuses of public funds. And it explains why he has gone to great lengths, even a lawsuit, to avoid testifying under oath at all costs.

It’s all there in the record, senators, if you will only look at it: enough evidence for 15 members of the House to impeach Gov. Torres. Enough evidence for the attorney general to file criminal charges. Enough evidence for you, senators, to convict.

In closing, I’d like to share with you some of the responses I received from members of the public to that question I posed, “What is a trial without prosecutors or evidence?” This is what people said: It’s a kangaroo court. A corrupt trial. A fixed trial. A farce. A slap in the face. A disservice to the people. A mockery. A travesty. A waste of taxpayer dollars. A huge betrayal. Not a trial, at all.

The eyes of the commonwealth are upon you, senators. How will you be judged, not just by our people today, but by history? Yet even at this juncture—I submit to you that it is not too late to do what’s right. Reset this trial. Revisit your rules. Allow the House prosecutors appointed by the speaker. Allow the impeachment record.

Above all, senators: allow the fair trial that the people deserve. Let your vote be according to your conscience and based on your analysis of the facts and all the evidence. There is still time. You can still do what’s right.

Christina Marie Sablan (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Rep. Christina Marie Sablan (D-Saipan) is a member of the House of Representatives in the 22nd Legislature.

Christina Marie Sablan (Special to the Saipan Tribune)

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