What is the bottom line on this impeachment? Compliments of an overwrought US House, frustrated by a popular, effective, patriotic president, the American people are about to suffer their third presidential impeachment trial in 200 years.
Truth is, we are witnessing a majority abuse the constitutional impeachment process. Every American who watched House impeachment hearings knows they were partisan and unfair. Due process was hardly honored.
Americans know witness interrogation was conducted in secret, misusing an intelligence committee. They know House staff were complicit in shaping the “whistleblower complaint.” They know it was hearsay, violating traditional complaint forms.
They know the presidential inquiry behind that complaint turned on potential criminal conduct by a former vice president. They know his son was implicated, and legal justification existed for the inquiry. They know a US treaty allows cooperation on potential crimes. They know Congress ignored the facts.
They know Congress violated sworn oaths. The majority of “investigating” Democrats are lawyers – sworn to uphold due process and abide civil and criminal procedure, which they did not. In this, they also violated their congressional oath. These Democrats imagine Americans don’t notice, only they do. Ends do not justify means in a constitutional democracy. Americans care about fairness.
Far from “fair and impartial,” House Democrats ignored points of order, procedure, and meritorious questions, silenced political opponents, and ditched 200 years of precedent. They refused to discuss the whistleblower and who drafted the complaint. They misstated facts, lofted false narratives, overplayed witnesses, stopped exculpatory evidence, and thrust a partisan “impeachment” on America.
After the first partisan impeachment of a president, they howled with pride and strutted with condescension. These are not behaviors Americans take pride in. They do not confer confidence.
Now, the miscarriage continues. A Democratic House Speaker is on talk shows laughing. Having wrapped herself in near-religious solemnity signing the articles, she now gloats. Seeming to take pride in one-upping a president she despises, she preened. The spectacle, embarrassing to watch, possessed an adolescent pie-in-the-face cockiness to it. Headline: “Pelosi gleefully reminds Trump he’s ‘impeached forever’ during appearance on Bill Maher Show.”
Asked how she converted from “reluctant” to “no choice,” she cheerfully asserted “the president was self-impeaching almost every single day.” Laughter. Interesting invention – this idea of self-impeaching presidents – and now “every day,” not just on one phone call seeking legal cooperation.
Questioned about the absence of moral authority behind this impeachment – “being impeached is a bad thing, right?” – she exclaimed “and you’re impeached forever!” In effect, gotcha! To gild the lily, she added: “If I knew the president was listening, I would want him to know that he is impeached forever!”
To reassure forgetful Americans: “Because he used the office of president to try to influence a foreign country for his personal and political benefit and doing so, he undermined our national security, he was disloyal to his oath of office to protect the Constitution and he placed in jeopardy the integrity of our election” – presumably, the next one.
This spectacle is wrong in so many ways. Not only were due process, civil procedure, historic precedent, statute and treaties ignored to fashion bogus articles of impeachment, which should make them void ab initio, but the claims are factually inaccurate.
In April 2018, President Trump delivered 100 percent more military aid to the Ukraine – prior to any phone call – than President Obama ever did. Trump delivered javelin missiles and launchers, receiving a thank you from then-president Poroshenko.
In June 2019, President Trump announced another $250 million in defense aid for Ukraine, plus $141 million from State. As in similar situations, all Administrations have wanted accountability. Trump wanted assurances the new government was serious about past, present and future public corruption. He wanted assurances on taxpayer dollars. He wanted parallel aid from lagging European allies.
To be clear, the president had a legal right to ask these assurances – and proof of seriousness about public corruption, protection of tax dollars, and European participation. He could delay funding on such bases without violating the Impoundment or Anti-Deficiency Act. History is replete with similar examples. Moreover, any US Senator can “hold” funds to allies – for any undisclosed reason – and they do. Democratic Senator Patrick Lahey (D-VT), for example, held up security aid to Colombia.
Moreover, the President’s asserted delay was short, well within requirements affirmed by GAO in 1974 for compliance with the Anti-Deficiency Act. For identifiable reasons, the pause in delivering a second tranche of military aid was entirely defensible. And recall that, over eight years, Obama delivered none.
More to the point, inquiring about evidence of criminal behavior by Americans pursuant to the 2001 US-Ukraine Treaty, whether past senior officials, their relatives, corporate leaders, or future candidates is no crime. The treaty encourages cooperation to address past, present and future public corruption.
Nor is there an indication that asking Ukraine to cooperate where crimes are suspected, was either intended to or would have influenced future US elections. Not asking, by contrast, might permit corrupt acts to go undetected and uncorrected, allowing potential offenders free passage.
With respect to the father-son Biden duo, the Administration was in a Catch-22 or no-win. Once the former VP boasted of withholding military aid to compel firing a prosecutor investigating his son’s company, the presumption shifted. Not to understand what occurred would, arguably, be negligent.
Once the Administration learned the two travelled to Ukraine, the son then receiving a weighty contract, and the VP pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor investigating his son’s firm, the dilemma was presented: Let potential criminality go, or ask Ukraine for any existing evidence.
Those – like Speaker Pelosi – who wish President Trump had just let this potential criminality go, condemn him for pursuing facts. To be clear: President Trump protected US national security by seeking assurances Ukraine would tackle public corruption – past, present and future. He protected US taxpayer dollars. If he delayed release of funds, the delay was short, justified, and within the law.
When all is said and done, this chapter – arch-partisan abuse of impeachment – will be remembered as a sad time. The Senate will not convict on flimsy, false, supercilious articles of impeachment – but the chapter will be a talisman, a stern warning against future Houses pursuing such partisan gambits.
If an impeachment vote is “forever,” so is the record of an arch-partisan Speaker abusing constitutional process. Like a false accusation, an impeachment absent conviction is nothing. This impeachment will be dwarfed by footnotes. They will sully this House far beyond its poor power to sully a popular, effective, patriotic president. That is the bottom line.