The House Democrats’ urgency in moving ahead to impeach President Trump over the so-called Ukraine “scandal” is turning into a sequel to Lewis Carrol’s Through the Looking Glass. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less. The question is which is to be master—that’s all.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is following Humpty Dumpty’s advice. She believes that she has the unilateral power, as master of the House of Representatives, to wave her magic wand and convert ordinary legislative oversight investigations into an “official” impeachment inquiry by just declaring it to be so.
“I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi declared on September 24th without introducing a resolution for adoption by the full House of Representatives to formally launch an impeachment inquiry. With her Democrat cohorts, she is hoping that Ukrainegate will turn into the decisive gotcha moment that finally checkmates President Trump and leads to his removal from office before next year’s presidential election.
A second whistleblower, who supposedly has first hand knowledge to back up the first whistleblower’s second hand account, has reportedly come forward. More whistleblowers may follow. Mere coincidence or an orchestrated attempt by Trump-haters to build up public pressure to impeach him by inflicting a thousand cuts with drip by drip leaks? Almost certainly the latter, considering that the first whistleblower’s attorney, who said he is also representing the second whistleblower, “co-founded Whistleblower Aid, a small nonprofit that blasted advertisements around D.C. actively seeking whistleblowers during the Trump administration,” as reported by Breitbart. “Whistleblower Aid is heavily tied to far-left activist organizations and Democratic politics.”
“Speaker Pelosi has confirmed that an impeachment inquiry is underway, and it is not for the White House to say otherwise,” wrote three Democratic House chairmen, Reps. Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff and Eliot Engel, in issuing a wide-ranging subpoena last Friday to the White House demanding documents and witness testimony. Democrats warned that defiance of the subpoenas by President Trump could itself be considered an impeachable offense of obstructing Congress’ constitutional authority to exercise its power of impeachment.
The White House plans to send a letter rejecting the subpoena on the grounds that a vote by the full House of Representatives is necessary to launch an official impeachment inquiry. Pelosi appears to have enough votes to authorize the launch but is reluctant to jeopardize the seats of freshmen Democrats who won districts that had gone for President Trump in 2016. She does not want to prematurely force them at this stage to go on the record supporting actions that move towards achieving the impeachment goal. She wants instead to use her kangaroo proceedings to stir up enough public support for an impeachment in these freshmen’s districts to make the decisive House vote on approving articles of impeachment less of a political risk for them. She is latching on to the narrative of the president’s alleged “abuse” of his office to supposedly “pressure” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to get dirt on the president’s political opposition because it is easy to demagogue in those terms to the public. “Right now, we have to strike while the iron is hot,” Pelosi said. She already decided the case before even having seen the whistleblower’s second hand complaint, let alone the evidence being accumulated in the committee investigations. The president’s actions, Pelosi said before all the evidence is in, reveal a “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
Nancy Pelosi may be the House speaker, but she is not individually invested with the institutional powers of the House side of the legislative branch. Initiating the House of Representatives’ exercise of its most solemn power, leading potentially to charges against the president of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” should not belong to Pelosi alone or a few House committee chairmen. It should require a vote on the record by all the representatives in “the peoples’ house.” The House followed this course in the cases of the start of impeachment inquiries against both former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. This is not merely a technical procedural argument. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent a letter Thursday to Speaker Pelosi raising fundamental issues of fairness and due process as she and her zealot left wing champions of impeachment seek to trample over the normal rules governing separation of powers such as executive privilege. “Unfortunately, you have given no clear indication as to how your impeachment inquiry will proceed — including whether key historical precedents or basic standards of due process will be observed,” Rep. McCarthy wrote. “In addition, the swiftness and recklessness with which you have proceeded has already resulted in committee chairs attempting to limit minority participation in scheduled interviews, calling into question the integrity of such an inquiry.” He asked the speaker to clarify whether the minority would have the right to subpoena witnesses and whether the president’s counsel would have the right to attend the hearings and cross-examine witnesses.
As the contrived impeachment investigation got underway, Pelosi’s lead henchman, Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, held a televised committee session to hear testimony from the U.S. top intelligence officer, acting Department of National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire. Schiff had in hand the memo detailing President Trump’s July 25th phone call with President Zelensky, around which the second hand whistleblower complaint revolved. What the president actually said to Zelensky was not good enough for Schiff, however, because the words lacked the dramatic tone of a mafia boss. So, Schiff supplied the mafia boss tone himself by putting words into President Trump’s mouth during his opening statement that the president never said. Schiff peddled his mobster narrative to the public on live TV, which Americans who do not take the time to read the call memo itself may end up believing if repeated often enough.
The Democrats’ distortions, amplified by the pliant mainstream press, continued with the release of selected text messages accompanied by a letter by House Democrat leaders. The texts were exchanged among Kurt D. Volker, who resigned last month as the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine and submitted to hours of questioning by House investigators as part of Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry; William B. Taylor Jr., the Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine; Gordon D. Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Andrey Yermak, and Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney.
The Democrats’ letter and press summaries of the texts paint a sinister, misleading picture to supposedly buttress the central allegation of “pressure” from President Trump to force reluctant Ukrainians into doing his political bidding. The Democrats’ letter accused President Trump and his aides of “engaging in a campaign of misinformation and misdirection in an attempt to normalize the act of soliciting foreign powers to interfere in our elections.” They are projecting their own campaign of misinformation, previewed by Schiff’s disgraceful opening monologue.
It is true that one State Department official, William Taylor, did raise concerns in text messages as to whether military assistance to Ukraine and a White House meeting between Presidents Trump and Zelensky were being withheld for improper reasons. Taylor asked rhetorically, in a text dated September 1, 2019, “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” On September 9, 2019, he texted, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” However, he cited no direct evidence to support his suspicions.
As usual, the Democrats and the Trump-hating media want the public to hear only the part of the story that favors their sinister narrative. Other texts by Gordon Sondland expressly rebut William Taylor’s unsubstantiated supposition. Sondland’s text to Taylor said, “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.”
At most, we have contrasting views of what President Trump was trying to achieve and why – hardly enough on which to base a credible impeachment charge. Moreover, the hold on delivering additional military aid to Ukraine was consistent with President Trump’s desire to have U.S. allies pay more to help Ukraine, a point he made during the July 25th call.
What we know so far about the timeline also casts doubt on the strength of the Democrats’ version of the facts they use to infer an abuse of presidential power for corrupt political purposes. Much has been made about the texts that reveal attempts after the July 25th call to arrange a White House meeting on certain conditions. The idea being discussed back and forth was that the Ukrainian president would first make a public statement committing to open investigations of possible Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and of the corrupt Ukrainian energy company that employed Joe Biden’s inexperienced son Hunter for lots of money while Joe Biden was serving as vice president. Nothing came of these efforts, however. The Ukrainians pushed back and did not release the public statement as and when requested. Yet the military aid that the Trump administration had suspended before the July 25th call was released anyway on September 11th. Taylor’s suspicions about withholding security assistance for help with a political campaign appears to have turned out to be wrong.
The wisdom and propriety of President Trump’s words and actions regarding Ukraine should be thrashed out in the political arena during the 2020 presidential election campaign. The American people can decide for themselves whether President Trump acted improperly and then give their up or down verdict in a little more than a year from now. Instead, House Democrats are abusing their powers to usurp the people’s electoral decision in 2016 with contrived proceedings they call an impeachment investigation and to take the decision on Trump out of the people’s hands in 2020. The House Democrats most likely have the votes to approve articles of impeachment against President Trump and send them to the Senate for a trial. The Republican-controlled Senate will almost certainly acquit when presented with the kind of circumstantial, hysterical hearsay and contradictory evidence brought to light so far by the Democrats.
Congress will have wasted even more time chasing its tail rather than working on important legislation.