.The impeachment inquiry by House Democrats wrapped up scheduled televised hearings Thursday after plenty of smoke, but not much fire.
At the end of the day, it’s hard not to conclude that Democrats knew going into the hearings that they wanted to impeach President Trump regardless of the actual testimony.
If the Democratic-controlled House votes to impeach the president – as is now expected – he will go on trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, where he will almost certainly be acquitted.
Here is what is now known – as opposed to the vast amount of hearsay and speculation that dominated the hearings.
Trump wanted answers on 2016
At one point, President Trump wanted to know “what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine” and the 2016 U.S. presidential election. We also know – not from the hearings, mind you – that there is an ongoing U.S. investigation into just that and that a U.S.-Ukraine treaty allows for such questions.
In addition, we know that President Trump communicated his desire to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the same time Ukrainian officials wanted to arrange a White House visit for Zelensky and wanted American aid to help defend against Russian aggression.
Trump characterized his desires as a “favor” in a phone call with Zelensky. Later, Trump said he wanted “nothing” more from the new Ukrainian leader than for him to follow through on his anti-corruption campaign promises.
Some others, over time, interpreted Trump’s initial desire as a “demand.” One ambassador saw it as nothing more than a “roll your eyes” moment. One “guessed” it was a “quid pro quo.” Others saw it as part and parcel of normal foreign policy interactions. No one who testified, however, has anything more than a personal opinion regarding Trump’s comments.
Trump’s desires remained fluid and were never set in stone
In the end, Ukraine got the military aid it sought (and that President Barack Obama denied when he was in office) and a one-on-one Trump-Zelensky meeting at the United Nations without pre-conditions, without making any statement and without undertaking any investigation. Nothing.
In between the July 25 Trump-Zelensky phone call and the giving of about $400 million in U.S. aid, Trump’s desire for a favor melted away. In other words, there was an evolution in thought – like every other aspect or policy of government.
Trump’s desire changed after (a) meetings between Ukrainians officials and Vice President Mike Pence and others and (b) Pence and others reported to President Trump that Zelensky could be trusted.
The Democrats would have Americans believe that the aid was released only after Trump was “caught” – that is, after the news of the so-called whistleblower complaint became known. However, no one testified to that being a fact.
That assertion of Trump’s political motivation has never been anything more than the speculation of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. It is a fact that Pence made the case for aid to President Trump.
The hearings were dominated by opinions – not facts
The witnesses at the Intelligence Committee hearings had precious few facts to disclose. Few told much beyond what was on the Trump-Zelensky call transcript contained or what was already known. Their opinions, on the other hand, were repeatedly aired as if they were facts.
Schiff’s hearing were a railroad job
The impeachment hearings were a one-sided affair. The witnesses were mostly called by Democrats, to strengthen a weak Democratic case for impeachment. The testimony was orchestrated. The truth obscured. All of that should lead any fair-minded person to believe the outcome was predetermined all along.
The anti-Trump media acted predictably
It was beyond predictable that anti-Trump media would tout in capital letters the slightest of nuances and every favorable opinion they heard. We also know they did so without placing testimony in full context.
American foreign policy has been harmed
The hearings aired the trials and tribulations of American foreign policy. Each of the State Department officials testifying was surely compromised vis-à-vis his or her Ukrainian counterparts and to the world community. Beyond that, former National Security Council aide Fiona Hill – a specialist in Russian and European affairs – had it right when she said that our discord plays into Russia’s hands.
Only Democrats are pushing impeachment
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., once said that for impeachment to be a success, Republicans would have to support it. But Republicans do not. As the days and hours wore on during the Intelligence Committee hearings, Republicans became emboldened and no Republican has declared impeachment the proper next step.
Independents aren’t buying impeachment
In the October Emerson poll, independent voters supported impeachment by a margin of 48 percent to 44 percent. The latest Emerson poll shows a total reversal of that with impeachment opposed by a margin of 49 percent to 34 percent among independents.
In the final analysis, America is a deeply divided nation in what I call The Divided Era. Voters are divided and so are their preferred media. The pro-Democratic media are painting a distorted picture of the pro-impeachment case that casts the actions of President Trump in the most negative light possible.
House Democrats are determined to go forward with impeachment without majority support of our nation. As they do so, our divisions will surely grow. It is more than sad that the Democrats are putting partisanship above what is best for our country.