The Democratic scheme to evict President Trump from office, which collapsed Wednesday when a majority of the Senate voted to acquit him of impeachment charges, was an extravagant waste of time. Sadly, amid today’s feverish electoral polemics, rage has replaced reason.
Impeachment was always a fatuous and frivolous exercise initiated by House Democrats. Their constitutionally cited grounds were incurably weak and driven by a visceral hostility toward Trump.
Democrats who supported Trump’s impeachment and conviction were motivated by an irrational but overwhelming desire to avenge their loss of the presidency in the 2016 election, obscuring their reason and judgment. The politics of hate now predominates in Washington. Vilifying Trump is a blood sport.
Not a single House Republican voted to impeach the president. Only one Senate Republican – Mitt Romney of Utah, who was a Trump antagonist during the impeachment proceedings – voted to convict the president on Article 1 (abuse of power), but acquit Trump on Article 2 (obstruction of Congress).
Romney has a complicated and contentious history with Trump. The senator’s vote was no surprise. Last October, before he had even seen much of the evidence, Romney said the president’s actions were “wrong and appalling.” Trump fired back by denouncing the senator and calling for Romney’s removal. The feud has not abated and will surely persist.
Except for Romney, impeachment turned out to be exactly what it seemed – a partisan smear driven by political animus and personal disgust of everything Trump. Americans recognized it for what it was. On the eve of Trump’s acquittal, a Gallup poll showed that he had earned the highest approval rating of his presidency.
The Democratic dream of instigating a populist insurrection against Trump by damaging him politically was an embarrassing bust. Impeachment had the reverse effect, boosting the president’s approval ratings by 10 points. Americans are adept at spotting scams.
All of this was easily predictable.
The two articles of impeachment were conjured up by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nader, D-N.Y.
The impeachment articles were constitutionally anemic and bereft of any plausible evidence beyond assumptions, opinions and multiple hearsays. Even accepting the accusations as true, the articles did not rise to the elevated standard imposed by the framers of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Speaker Pelosi doomed her impeachment chances from the outset by commandeering authority she did not have and manipulating the process through a series of subversive maneuvers.
Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry improperly – without approval from the full House and before she had even bothered to read a transcript of the July 25 telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Pelosi then sanctioned secret hearings in a basement bunker of the Capitol, excluding three-quarters of all House members.
Witnesses were threatened with prosecution if they did not appear and deprived of legal counsel. The president was denied the right to participate, have his lawyers present, cross-examine witnesses, and see or hear the evidence.
Republicans were prevented from calling their own witnesses or presenting evidence. Pelosi destroyed the fundamental principle of due process, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled applies to congressional hearings.
When public hearings were eventually convened, the same due process violations were repeated. The entire proceeding was anathema to the principle of fundamental fairness. It was nothing more than a carefully choreographed Democratic charade masquerading as an impeachment.
Realizing that her evidence against Trump was based on nothing more than rank speculation by witnesses who magically intuited the president’s motives as nefarious, Pelosi blitzed impeachment through the House with record speed.
The impeachment process had to be abbreviated, the Speaker argued, because Trump was an imminent national security threat and a risk to democracy! She rushed to judgment and her fellow Democrats followed her like lemmings jumping off a political cliff.
Then Pelosi sat on the articles of impeachment for a month, completely undermining her rationale of “urgency.” Her attempt to extort the Senate into capitulating to her demands of how the trial must be conducted proved to be a spectacular failure. Exigency, it turns out, was just another transparent deception.
It was abundantly clear that Pelosi’s personal and political disdain for Trump was the motivating force. After insisting that impeachment was “sad, somber and heartbreaking,” she gleefully announced that “he’s been impeached forever.” She passed out souvenir impeachment pens like party favors and openly celebrated with a fist-bump on liberal Bill Maher’s HBO show.
When it was obvious that Trump would not be convicted by the Senate, Pelosi absurdly declared that “it will not be an acquittal” because “you don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses.”
If there was any question about Pelosi’s enmity, she resolved it when she ripped up her copy of the president’s State of the Union address Tuesday night like a petulant child, immediately after Trump delivered the speech in the House chamber.
The Schiff Show
Pelosi’s biggest blunder was her decision to select Adam Schiff as the face of impeachment. After presiding over the majority of the House hearings with the aplomb of a snake oil salesman, Schiff was picked as the lead prosecutor for the Senate trial. Trump won the moment it happened.
It was foolhardy for Pelosi to think that Schiff – a person with a long track record of deceit and distortion – would ever be accepted by senators as remotely credible. Who could trust someone who, without conscience or regret, has peddled a multitude of exaggerations, misrepresentations and outright falsehoods?
It was Schiff who spent more than two years claiming to have “direct” and “ample” evidence that Trump and his campaign engaged in a collusion conspiracy with Russia to steal the 2016 presidential election. Except that he didn’t.
It was Schiff who stated with absolute certainty that the FBI “did not ‘abuse’ the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) process.” Except that it did.
It was Schiff who argued that the warrants to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page “met the rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis needed to meet the FISA’s probable cause requirements.” Except that they didn’t. The Justice Department admitted that at least two of the warrants were illegally obtained and without probable cause.
It was Schiff who insisted that Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy who authored the largely fictitious anti-Trump dossier, was “credible.” Except that he was not, according to the Justice Department inspector general’s report.
It was Schiff who said that the FBI did not rely heavily on the dossier in seeking surveillance warrants against Page. Except that the bureau did. The document was “central and essential,” noted the inspector general.
It was Schiff who argued that Steele’s work had been corroborated by “multiple independent sources.” Except that it had not been corroborated.
When Schiff's prodigious prevarications were eventually exposed, he never had the decency to apologize to the American people for misleading them in hundreds of televised appearances. Instead, Pelosi rewarded Schiff’s mendacity by appointing him to oversee the impeachment charade.
At the outset, Schiff delivered opening remarks that were a blatant lie – inventing significant portions of a conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. Schiff later dismissed his fictional account as a “parody,” as if his false portrayal was perfectly acceptable. It seems that when Schiff is determined to smear someone, the end justifies the means and truth become irrelevant.
Thereafter, Schiff lied about the contact and coordination that he and his staff had with the so-called “whistleblower.” This earned him “Four Pinocchios” from The Washington Post fact-checker, who called his statements “flat-out false.”
Schiff’s Humiliating Defeat
A columnist for the Chicago Tribune described Schiff as “the Inspector Javert of the Trump impeachment theater.” It is an apt description.
Schiff’s unhinged obsession fed his countless embellishments of the president’s motives in asking Ukraine to examine former Vice President Joe Biden’s demand that Ukraine fire a prosecutor who was investigating the natural gas company that employed Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
Incredibly, Hunter Biden was paid an exorbitant $1 million per year to serve on its board of directors of the Ukrainian company – even though Hunter had no experience or expertise involving either the energy industry or Ukraine.
Was Joe Biden using his high office to protect his son?
Schiff conveniently ignored the Bidens’ behavior, even though it was obviously and objectively suspicious. By any reasonable standard, it merited the investigation that Trump requested.
Suspected corruption was a legitimate reason for President Trump to ask President Zelensky to look into the conduct of the Bidens. Even if there might be some ancillary electoral benefit of the investigation down the road, Trump’s request was justified and clearly did not constitute an impeachable offense.
In reality, there is a political calculation to nearly all presidential actions. This does not make them impeachable.
Of course, the liberal-leaning media fawned over Schiff. They called his opening statement “brilliant,” “masterful,” and “dazzling.” His closing argument was greeted with an equal measure of hyperbolic adoration.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow gushed on Twitter that Schiff’s argument was “one for the ages.” She ventured that it might be “taught someday as the seminal opposition speech from this era in presidential (and Republican party) history.”
Maddow’s tweet was met with skepticism and mockery. Many regarded Schiff’s argument as a nauseating blend of histrionics and hysteria. For the better part of an hour, he waxed about honesty and virtue – this from a man devoid of both.
Schiff repeatedly accused Trump of trying to “cheat” in our elections – past and future. He warned that “Trump could offer Alaska to the Russians in exchange for support in the next election” and that he would “sell out his country for a political favor.”
Schiff’s embroidery was more destructive than constructive. His failure to persuade even a majority of senators – much less the two-thirds supermajority required under the Constitution to remove a sitting president– was a humiliating defeat.
“History will not be kind to Donald Trump,” intoned Schiff. He is wrong. History will not be kind to Schiff and Pelosi. For purely political purposes, they abused the power entrusted in them and damaged future presidencies.