Rep. Adam Schiff is a poor man’s Harry Houdini. He is a cheap illusionist performing amateurish parlor tricks of deception in his quest to convince his audience that he possesses damning evidence of an impeachable offense committed by President Trump.
Schiff, D-Calif., has no such evidence, of course. But like most illusionists, Schiff employs misdirection and confusion. He attempts to convince you that opinions are evidence, while facts are not. This is the stuff of rank political magic where perceptions are distorted through clever manipulation of the process.
Schiff has become the master manipulator aided, in large part, by the secrecy of his faux magic act. He won’t allow you to peek behind the curtain to see for yourself the witnesses he has called in his “super top secret” impeachment inquisition. You are never permitted to view transcripts of depositions or examine testimony that purports to incriminate the president. That, of course, would ruin all the hocus-pocus.
Republicans have spent weeks trying to pierce the veil of secrecy. They have now partially succeeded by pressuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., into a resolution for a full House vote on the heretofore partisan and unjust proceedings that are bereft of due process. At the very least, this new action will establish some fundamental rules of fairness and transparency that are the bane of pretend-illusionists like Schiff.
Americans will finally get to see how the House Intelligence Committee chairman rigged his inquisition with hearsay witnesses and others who had nothing meaningful to offer except their own personal interpretations of a July 25 conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The best evidence of what transpired is, in fact, the only pertinent evidence. Everything else is secondary and immaterial. The transcript of the telephone call and the statements of the two participants, Trump and Zelensky, are the only relevant evidence. All other witnesses are simply offering their gratuitous interpretation and opinion of the conversation to which they were not a party.
Take, for example, William Taylor, acting ambassador to Ukraine. Schiff and his confederates leaked to their friendly media outlets that Taylor testified that Trump wanted to withhold U.S. military aid unless Zelensky vowed to investigate alleged Ukrainian meddling in the U.S. election and possible corrupt acts by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
But wait. It appears that Taylor’s testimony was not based on any first-hand knowledge. Instead, it seems to have been his interpretation derived from conversations by others who had no first-hand knowledge. In other words, it was conjecture built on speculation. How’s that for reliability?
Schiff, the illusionist, can offer nothing but impressions, perceptions, judgments and opinions. It is all irrelevant and a sham. Facts are what matter.
Another example was the much-anticipated testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who oversees Ukraine policy at the National Security Council. Vindman listened in on the telephone conversation and then expressed his “concern” to his superiors about its propriety inasmuch as Joe Biden’s name was mentioned. But hold on. Isn’t that his judgment or opinion? It most certainly is.
Vindman said, “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen.” He can perhaps be forgiven for not knowing that the U.S. quite often enlists the assistance of foreign governments in investigations, many of them involving U.S. citizens.
Still, Vindman is offering nothing more than his opinion, and a mistaken one at that. His interpretation of what he thinks is “proper” in a phone call has no greater value simply because he heard it instead of reading it.
Anyone with computer access can download and read the transcript while forming their own opinion. What is indisputable are the facts contained in the transcribed conversation.
Nowhere is there a reference to a “quid pro quo” of U.S. military aid in exchange for an investigation of the Bidens or anyone else. There is no demand, no condition and no pressure.
Zelensky is on record stating there was no blackmail involved during the call and no pressure applied. “Nobody pushed me,” Zelensky said. “We had a great phone call,” he added. “It was normal.”
Separately, the Ukrainian government has confirmed that it did not even know that the U.S. had suspended security funds until almost five weeks after the call with Trump. This seriously undermines the argument by Democrats that there was a “quid pro quo” for the aid.
It is impossible for there to be a “quid pro quo” when the recipient of the “quid” is oblivious to the existence of the “quo.” This is common sense, which is in short supply these days in the bowels of the House basement where Schiff pursues his “super top secret” inquisition.
It is folly for Democrats to argue that a diplomatic conversation of this nature somehow constitutes an impeachable offense. Schiff, the illusionist, can offer nothing but impressions, perceptions, judgments and opinions. It is all irrelevant and a sham. Facts are what matter.
A hundred so-called “whistleblowers” relying on hearsay about a conversation to which they were never privy cannot change the factual equation laid bare by the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky telephone call.
Not even the great Houdini could pull off that trick.