20 December 2019

Trump Is Still ALMOST Impeached

Even the sobriquet "Clown World" fails to do the absurdity of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives justice. Having engaged in an unprecedented act of political self-immolation in voting ludicrous Articles Of Impeachment against President Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi now seeks to nullify her party's effort at nullifying the 2016 electoral outcome by refusing to send those Articles on to the Senate for an impeachment trial.

Her reason? A concern that the Senate trial will not be "fair" to the Democrats.
“So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us,” Pelosi told reporters at a news conference just moments after the House charged Trump with abuse of power and obstructing congressional investigations. “That would’ve been our intention, but we’ll see what happens over there.”
The answer to Casey Stengel's immortal question "Can't anybody here play this game?" for the House Democrats is a resounding "No".

Partisanship Without End

One thing has been evident from the outset: the impeachment efforts by the Democrats have been a cherished political objective since before President Trump was sworn into office. The now infamous Washington Post headline "The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun" has proven to be chilling in its prescient accuracy.

Robert Mueller's failed special counsel investigation into the Russian Collusion Hoax was the Democrats fever dream of impeachment. Their hope was that Mueller's report would give them the damning allegations they needed to frame articles of impeachment that would pass muster with the American people. Alas for the poor Democrats, Mueller declined to give them the raw meat they craved, instead dropping only a few vague hints about possible instances of obstruction, while declining to say specifically whether President Trump's documented actions constituted an obstruction of justice.

Perversely, Robert Mueller himself still gave the Democrats the best case for an impeachment inquiry in his brief statement to the media after his report was published to the Congress and to the public. By pointing out that "it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge" Mueller established a perfect rationale for opening an impeachment inquiry: conduct an inquiry and, if warranted, vote articles of impeachment and hold an impeachment trial in order to give Donald Trump his day in court to defend himself. The Democrats declined to take the opportunity Mueller provided.

Instead, the Democrats latched on to a brief telephone conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, claiming the call amounted to--in turns--a corrupt "quid pro quo", abuse of power, extortion, bribery, and finally abuse of power again.  When the House voted to formalize Adam Schiff's Star Chamber hearings on the matter, I referred to is as a "Clown World Impeachment". Little did I realize at the time how charitable I was being.

Throughout the impeachment inquiry, legal commentators such as Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University were critical of the impeachment case being advanced. Not only was the abuse of power argument itself legally suspect, but the narrowness of the alleged malfeasance--a single instance of supposedly withholding promised military aid to Ukraine until an investigation into Hunter Biden, son of Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Biden was publicly announced--was derided as an extremely thin and risible basis for impeachment.

Despite such warnings, the Democrats have persisted. They persisted even when House Democrats broke ranks to vote against the resolution authorizing Adam Schiff's impeachment inquiry. They persisted despite having no Republicans supporting impeachment. They persisted even as public opinion turned against impeachment.

There could not be a clearer illustration of the meaning of partisanship than the Democrats' obsessive pursuit of impeachment.

Case For Impeachment Not Made

Throughout the impeachment inquiry, the simple challenge for the House Democrats, led by Congressman Adam Schiff, has been simple: present a compelling case as to why President Trump should be impeached. It was a challenge to which Congressman Schiff failed to rise. Even as the House assembled to vote on articles of impeachment, the compelling case never materialized.

Indeed, Democrats have tacitly admitted as much by insisting that investigations into President Trump continue, and impeachment-related subpoenas for individuals such as former White House counsel Don McGann to testify. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gave further confirmation by demanding the Senate trial include the testimony of several witnesses whose testimony was not heard by either the House Intelligence Committee or the House Judiciary Committee.

Schumer's demands were particularly telling in light of recent Supreme Court decisions to hear challenges to several subpoenas issued by Congress against President Trump, decisions which undercut the logic of the second article of impeachment. Several of the witnesses Schumer wishes to have testify at the impeachment trial were subpoenaed by Adam Schiff during his impeachment inquiry, and when they refused to testify until the courts adjudicated the subpoenas, Congressman Schiff opted not to go to court to enforce the subpoenas, choosing instead to convert Trump's refusal to cooperate on the subpoenas into another impeachable offense, "obstruction of Congress." Professor Turley was blunt and emphatic in criticizing that decision, pointing out that to make seeking judicial resolution of a dispute with Congress an impeachable offense was a Congressional abuse of power.

What Professor Turley did not say (but could easily have said) was that the second article was merely a coverup for the inadequacy of the case made for the first. Schumer's demands for witnesses to many appeared as nothing more than an effort to have the Senate perform the inquiry work that should be done by the House prior to voting articles of impeachment. The purpose of a trial is to adjudicate facts already assembled by an investigative body, not to assemble those facts before adjudicating them. The notion that Democrats need additional fact witnesses to testify at the impeachment trial is simply absurd.

Slipshod Articles Attack The Constitutional Order

While Democrats and their legacy media allies have repeatedly called President Trump's behavior a "Constitutional crisis", the perverse reality is that the assault on the Constitutional order of things comes from the Democrats' slovenly and slipshod approach to crafting articles of impeachment. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lost no time in demolishing the Democrats' handling of impeachment as endangering not merely the Constitutional powers and prerogatives of the President, but of the proper functioning of the Senate as well.

The Democrats would have done well had they borrowed some of Senator McConnell's statesmanlike mien. Then they might have paused their headlong rush to impeach Donald Trump to consider some of the reverberating consequences of their actions.
  • By turning otherwise ordinary disputes between the Executive and Legislative branches of government into impeachable offenses, the Democrats have likely assured that future Democratic Presidents will likewise be impeached. This was echoed by several commentators, and most tellingly by Professor Turley, himself a Constitutional scholar, who concluded that virtually every US President was susceptible to impeachment under the Democrats' theory of impeachable offense, including George Washington.
  • By threatening and pursuing serial impeachments, the Democrats have weaponized the impeachment process not only against the President but against the Senate as well. As Senator McConnell observed, under such an impeachment regime, nothing prevents the House of Representative from bringing the Senate to a standstill by sending impeachment after impeachment to the Senate, thereby bringing all other business to a halt.
  • By pursuing impeachment on a purely partisan basis, the Democrats are effectively neutering impeachment, put in the Constitution as a last resort failsafe mechanism to allow Congress to deal with a President gone rogue, whose actions imperil the Constitutional framework of American government.
Democrats Simply Do Not Care

None of these criticisms are new, and all of them have been made repeatedly, even in the legacy media. None of these criticisms have been heeded by the Democrats at all. 

The Democrats either are not listening, or they simply do not care. Flip a coin as to which is the more egregious sin for a political party.

The Democrats have forgotten that even representative republican democracy is messy by design. Disagreement is the norm, as it catalyzes the debate and discussion that produces the consensus by which government is to be achieved. Paradoxically, good democratic government is by its nature conflicted and inefficient, for only then can all parties to a debate be heard, and only then can the rights of all parties be respected. 

Adam Schiff ran a series of highly efficient closed door hearings, and while they generated thousands of pages of deposition and testimony, they failed to produce an unchallenged set of factual predicates for impeaching President Trump. They failed because Adam Schiff tried to avoid challenges, or instead suppressed them, with the result that testimony which at first glance was viewed by the legacy media as damning and compelling fell apart on closer scrutiny. They failed because Adam Schiff not only made no effort to persuade Republican congressmen on the merits of his case, but showed actual disdain for their questions and concerns.

Jerry Nadler's Judiciary Committee hearings were simply surreal, containing no fact witnesses to establish the necessary evidentiary foundation for articles of impeachment. Even the legal authorities selected by the Democrats to give testimony regarding the legal merits of the impeachment case were clearly partisan, displaying an obvious bias and even hatred of the President.

Ironically, it is one of those legal scholars, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, who advances the case that Speaker Pelosi is actually undoing the impeachment vote by delaying the transmission of the articles to the Senate. By denying the Senate the opportunity to hold the impeachment trial, Nancy Pelosi is preventing the impeachment process from moving forward to its proper conclusion, with either an acquittal or a removal of the President. If the House does not send the articles to the Senate, Professor Feldman argues, they are effectively void, and President Trump is not impeached.

Nancy Pelosi may be about to pull of the first legislative pocket veto of a Presidential impeachment. This is the level of madness that passes for governance in our nation's capitol.

All of this should be of grave concern to Democrats. Their credibility as a political party, both now and in the future, is seriously imperiled by their behavior on impeachment. That much is evident from the speed with which public opinion on impeachment has turned against them. Yet few Democrats have shown any awareness of this.

The articles of impeachment themselves are bad enough; their legal and Constitutional sufficiency are all but nonexistent. Yet whatever shred of Constitutional legitimacy the articles possessed was totally erased by Pelosi's stall tactic. Gaming impeachment is confirming to one and all that this has been merely to seek partisan political advantage over Donald Trump, and to perhaps damage him for the upcoming 2020 elections. 

Democrats and Republicans are expected to be at odds with one another. Opposition and dissent are vital in any democracy. However, that opposition is meant to be predicated on policy, and dissent is meant to be about ideas. Democrats opposing a Republican President merely because he is Republican advances the cause of good government not at all. Democrats opposing Donald Trump merely for being Donald Trump is a rejection of any notion of good government. Opposing the person and not the policy reduces politics to a gladitorial contest with raw political power as the only prize.

Nancy Pelosi, with her bizarre decision to hold up sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate, has confirmed to everyone that she is only concerned with gaining partisan advantage. This is not about policy, nor is it about preserving either the Constitution or the Republic. This is about power, period.

Hopefully her graceless handling of this partisan Clown World Impeachment means she will, come election time, be stripped of what little power she has.

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