Gregg Jarrett: Trump did NOT commit an impeachable offense on call with Ukraine’s president – Here’s why
In their delusive demands for the impeachment of President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats are substituting partisan politics for the commands and intent of the U.S. Constitution. This became self-evident when Pelosi announced her impeachment folly the day before she even set eyes on the alleged evidence, which turned out to be no evidence at all.
The usual gaggle of misanthropes like Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff of California and Jerrold Nadler of New York have been searching for a reason – any reason – to impeach Trump ever since his improbable election in November 2016.
With a shove from the chronically vapid Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Pelosi and her confederates have now settled on the most implausible of all their impeachment schemes peddled during Trump’s presidency – that his conversation with Ukraine’s president somehow constitutes an impeachable offense. It does not. Not even close.
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Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution defines the basis for impeachment as an act of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Anything less than that is not an impeachable offense. Were it otherwise, those who authored that esteemed document would have so stated.
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Sadly, then-Republican Rep. Gerald Ford, as House minority leader in 1970, forever mangled the impeachment provision when he mistakenly observed: “An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”
This was precisely what our framers did not intend. This is what they feared. They did not want a sitting president to be removed because a capricious Congress controlled by an opposing party disliked a chief executive or disagreed with his policies.
Yet, Ford’s misguided thesis has now been warmly embraced by legions of Democrats who despise Trump. They have dishonestly conjured up a pretext to undo the 2016 election result and drive him from office.
The charade may eventually succeed in the House, where Democrats hold a comfortable advantage and a simple majority is all that is needed to impeach. But conviction in a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate will fail miserably because a two-thirds majority is constitutionally required.
This was the wisdom of the framers. They knew that unscrupulous politicians would inevitably try to subvert the democratic process for purely political reasons. The framers made it exceedingly difficult for such politicians to achieve that end.
As I argued in an earlier column, Trump’s request that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assist in an official and ongoing Justice Department investigation launched by Attorney General William Barr is neither criminal nor unusual.
Indeed, Trump’s appeal for help from Kiev conforms with a treaty two decades old that obligates Ukraine to cooperate with U.S. investigations or prosecutions in any criminal matters by furnishing relevant evidence upon request. This is what Trump did.
Moreover, asking for Ukraine’s help was no clandestine maneuver. On May 24 the president reminded assembled reporters on the White House lawn that Barr was investigating the origins of the Russia “collusion” hoax
“And I hope he looks at the U.K., and I hope he looks at Australia, and I hope he looks at Ukraine,” Trump said of Barr. “I hope he looks at everything, because there was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country.”
The president made it clear that Ukraine was suspected of having been involved in election meddling, along with other foreign actors. Much of this is described in my book, “Witch Hunt.”
In several hearings in April and May, Barr candidly informed Congress that he was conducting this investigation. He appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead the probe.
We now know that Barr asked Trump to initiate introductions between him and foreign leaders in furtherance of his probe. The president did so by approaching Ukraine’s president, while Australia initiated contact with the U.S. on its own accord.
Barr personally contacted officials in Great Britain, and he twice traveled to Italy to solicit assistance. His most recent trip occurred last Friday in the company of Durham.
There was nothing inappropriate about any of this. It was logical, sensible, and not at all uncommon. Other presidents have done the same thing. Our Justice Department has enlisted foreign help in numerous investigations over the years. It is pure sophistry for Democrats to declare such an endeavor is an impeachable offense.
Biden isn’t entitled to a “get out of jail” free card simply because he is now running for president.
Did Trump mention former Vice President Joe Biden and his son toward the end of the conversation? Of course he did. He was right to do so.
If, in addition to meddling, Ukraine possesses evidence that the former vice president’s bragging about a “quid pro quo” was a corrupt act intended to benefit his son by extorting $1 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds, it is incumbent on Trump to ask Zelensky to investigate.
Biden isn’t entitled to a “get out of jail” free card simply because he is now running for president. Hillary Clinton coveted such a card, and it should never happen again.
Lost amid the cacophony of condemnation of Trump is the fact that the Criminal Division of the Justice Department examined the official record of the Trump-Zelensky telephone call and concluded there was no crime, not even a violation of campaign finance laws. “All relevant components of the Department agreed with this legal conclusion,” said the Justice Department.
Some constitutional scholars have ventured that a president’s abuse of his official powers might rise to the level of an impeachable offense, even though it may not fall under the conventional statutory definitions and strict language of crimes and misdemeanors.
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This is not an entirely misbegotten argument. Yet, it has no application to what President Trump is accused of doing. He had every right to ask for foreign assistance in his attorney general’s official investigation. This was not an abuse of power, but a proper exercise of power.
Conversely, it is Democrats who are abusing their power of impeachment by deliberately contorting its constitutional meaning to serve their own political purpose.
Barr is determined to get to the bottom of how the “witch hunt” against Trump began. In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the conclusion of the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Barr posed an imperative question:
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How did we get to the point where the evidence is now that the president was falsely accused of colluding with the Russians and accused of being treasonous and accused of being a Russian agent?” Barr asked. “And the evidence now is that it was without a basis.”
Americans deserve to learn the truth of what happened. A handful of foreign governments may help provide the answers.
It is not an impeachable offense to ask.
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