The near-hysterical reaction of Democrats to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s letter on the due process deficiencies in their highly irregular impeachment proceedings against President Trump is more revealing than they admit.
In an eight-page letter sent last week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Cipollone wrote: “Your [impeachment] inquiry is constitutionally invalid and a violation of due process. In the history of our Nation, the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the President without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step.”
"President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process," Cipollone added. "Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances."
In order to keep up the facade of outrage and paint Cipollone’s defiant letter as grounds for impeachment in its own right, Democrats have ignored the substance of the letter itself and resort to threatening administration officials who comply with the historical and legally irrefutable principle of executive privilege.
Among other things, Cipollone’s letter takes Democrats to task for calling their stunt an “impeachment inquiry” without passing any kind of impeachment resolution.
Cipollone wrote: “Here, House leadership claims to have initiated the gravest inter-branch conflict contemplated under our Constitution by means of nothing more than a press conference at which the Speaker of the House simply announced an ‘official impeachment inquiry.’ Your contrived process is unprecedented in the history of the Nation and lacks the necessary authorization for a valid impeachment proceeding.”
The refusal of Democrats to follow historical precedent regarding impeachment is not simply a matter of semantics or procedural niceties. Rather, it is a transparent attempt to run an open, one-sided, partisan pillory without granting President Trump the due process rights to which he is clearly constitutionally entitled.
The impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton established that the ground rules required by the Constitution are guaranteed. These right include allow the president’s lawyer to be present at all proceedings and “question any witness called before the Committee.”
It’s telling that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and other Democrats who vociferously advocated for the rights of the accused in President Clinton’s impeachment proceedings have now hypocritically flipped the script and claim that President Trump has no such rights.
Democrats have used the cover of their press conference-declared “official impeachment inquiry” to deny Republican ranking members on each of the investigating committees their own subpoena powers, which are traditionally guaranteed for the minority party.
Even among those who accept Schiff’s collapsing Ukraine narrative and believe President Trump must be impeached, there’s a growing admission that something is very off about the Bidens’ dealings involving Ukraine.
The Democrats are in effect pretending their refusal to set ground rules creates an “inquiry” where they have unlimited powers of subpoena, with none of the secrecy requirements that justify those powers in a grand jury investigation – the analogy liberal commentators keep drawing. At the same time, the Democrats want no one to be allowed to investigate their own conduct.
Congressional Democrats’ obstinate refusal to accept these basic due process concerns, and their insistence on making Cipollone’s letter into a “constitutional crisis,” highlights Democrats’ underlying uneasiness with the facts of the case and their unwillingness to invite scrutiny of their own behavior.
There seems to be as much to blowback in Democrats’ faces as they have to throw at Trump.
We have seen increasingly shady looking interactions between House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and the CIA leaker – that so-called “whistleblower,” who has reported links to an unnamed Democratic presidential campaign.
We have also seen a renewed focus on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his business dealings in Ukraine.
Even among those who accept Schiff’s collapsing Ukraine narrative and believe President Trump must be impeached, there’s a growing admission that something is very off about the Bidens’ dealings involving Ukraine. There is, as the old saying goes, “a there there.”
But Democrats want to strip Republicans and the president of the procedural safeguards and rights needed to air out all the facts – not just those convenient for the Democrats’ narrative.
Peter Schweizer, a defender of the president, wrote a recent New York Times op-ed headlined “What Hunter Biden Did Was Legal – And That’s the Problem.” Schweizer explains that “Hunter [Biden], a businessman, landed deals he was apparently unqualified to score save for one thing: his father” and that Joe Biden has been transparently dishonest about his discussions with his son about those dealings.
Meanwhile, The Intercept’s Ryan Grim, who supports impeachment, documents decades of “soft corruption” on the part of the Biden clan in a new report. Grim writes: “Democratic voters … can see the corruption in front of their eyes, and they have to decide whether that’s the argument they want to have with Trump in 2020 – or whether they want to nominate someone else who will allow the party to make the corruption argument cleanly.”
For all the talk about the political costs the president is supposedly accruing from his dealings with Ukraine, the only unequivocal loser thus far is Joe Biden. Until Pelosi and Schiff began their impeachment push, Biden was the clear frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s now lost that position to Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – and continues to decline.
Biden himself seems to have taken notice of this untoward development. Until Warren overtook him, Biden was by far the most reluctant of the leading Democratic presidential candidates to endorse impeachment. He clearly reasoned it was better to downplay an issue that implicated him and his family.
Only after losing his spot as the Democratic frontrunner to the impeachment-happy Warren – and suffering a downturn in support as Hunter Biden’s activities dominated the headlines – did Joe Biden himself get on the impeachment bandwagon. It may prove to be an ill-fated choice.
As President Trump correctly observed, if Democrats continue to refuse the White House’s and House Republicans’ reasonable demands for basic due process, the legitimacy of their pseudo “impeachment inquiry” will be tried in the court of public opinion. This could have potentially disastrous results for Democrats and for public trust in the integrity of Congress and our presidential elections, which Democrats clearly seek to reverse by illegitimate means such as sham impeachment proceedings.