For the past three months the President has been treated to nonstop calumny and disingenuous invention from the Democrats in the House of Representatives, ostensibly stemming from the revelation by an Intelligence Department ‘whistleblower’ complaining about a phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine. In this call our President asked Pres. Zelensky to investigate the possibility that Ukrainians colluded with Democrats in our Presidential elections of 2016, and also to look into then-Vice-President Joe Biden’s interference with the prosecution of the Ukrainian natural-gas firm Burisma, where his unqualified son Hunter had gotten a lucrative board position, for no reason other than being the son of the US Vice-President. Biden had bragged about getting the prosecutor, Victor Shokin, fired in a public session of the Foreign Affairs Council.
The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, caving in to demands from the radical Left Democrats, who had been threatening ‘impeachment’ of this President since the day he was inaugurated, appointed Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) to lead a House Intelligence Committee investigation, oddly designated as an ‘Impeachment Inquiry’. The problem was, there were no grounds, no ‘Treason, Bribery, or High Crimes and Misdemeanors’, as the Constitution requires. So it was necessary to invent some.
The ‘whistleblower’ complaint provided one for the inventors. The President, claimed Adam Schiff—making up his own version of the phone call—was asking a foreign country to “dig up dirt on a political opponent,” and withheld military aid until they did so. But President Trump gave the lie to this charge by taking the unprecedented step (with Zelensky’s permission) of releasing a transcript of the actual call. It was clear that the context was cooperation on various fronts, including investigating corruption, for which Ukraine was notorious, and on which Zelensky had campaigned. And the promised aid was held up for only a couple of months, once President Trump was satisfied that the new Ukrainian President was intent upon reform.
The ensuing weeks of Schiff-led ‘Impeachment Inquiry’ hearings were a travesty, with Democrat witnesses providing depositions in a secure basement room (called a ‘SCIF’, for ‘Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility’) and Republican members denied witnesses or the ability to speak publicly about the content of testimony. Even after the hearings were opened to the public, they were patently unfair to the minority members. The claims that the President required a ‘quid pro quo’ from Ukraine, that he furthered his own interests by trying to ‘get dirt on a political rival’ were adduced from State Department bureaucrats, opposed to the President’s policies, testifying only to second- and third-party hearsay.
All of this was, for patriots and supporters of President Trump, exasperating to a fault, the more so as it quickly became apparent that the ‘whistleblower’ had colluded with the reprehensible Adam Schiff and the anti-Trump ‘Lawfare’ group of lawyers, who clearly wrote his ‘report’ to the Inspector General of the intelligence agencies (whatever the official title is)—who, of course, is responsible only for internal agency complaints, not for any matters of the White House or the President. Turns out the ersatz whistleblower is one Eric Ciaramella, an Ivy League Democrat who worked for Vice-President Biden, and then the CIA, and had been detailed to the National Security Council in the White House.
In response to one of the many posts on the Power Line Blog (PLB), on 7Nov19 I vented my spleen:
In the first place, this was a set-up. The anti-Trump Democrats have had spies in the White House, including the whistle-faker Eric Ciaramella, for months just waiting for something their Lawfare buddies and Sleazy Schiff could blow up into a media scandal they could try to hang an ‘impeachment’ charge on.
In the second place, Presidential phone calls are privileged and top secret. Why haven’t Ciaramella and his cohorts been charged with leaking to Congress and to the press, and worse, for espionage? Because Donald Trump is too easy-going, I’m afraid. They should be strung up by their toes.
In the third place, it’s the President’s duty and responsibility under Article 2 to conduct foreign policy as he and his advisors see fit. That includes asking a foreign leader to cooperate with investigations (as per the agreement Bill Clinton signed with Ukraine in the ’90s). President Trump likely would not have mentioned Quid-for-Joe Biden, if Joe’s video bragging about getting the Ukrainian prosecutor fired wasn’t already all over the Internet.
I amplified the ‘first place’ point on 11Nov, responding to a post by PLB principal Paul Mirengoff:
I don’t think the whistle-faker’s report “triggered the current impeachment process” [as Mirengoff had written]. It was long in the works. Ciaramella was assigned to the White House to wait for his co-conspirators spying on the President to come up with something they could spin as ‘scandalous’. Then the plan devised by Schiff, the anti-Trumpers in the CIA, and the Lawfare group was for Ciaramella to report the President’s ‘offense’ to the Intel IG, and they would start the game in the House of Representatives.
The spy was probably Lt. Col. Vindman, who actually listened to the call where the President mentioned the Bidens to the Ukrainian President. He is apparently still active duty, so his superior officers should be convening a court martial for espionage. And the rest of the gang should be prosecuted by the Attorney General for seditious conspiracy. It is time for the President to fight back.
This Vindman was a popinjay. He showed up for the hearings in full-dress uniform, which got him a lot of adulation from the press, and deference from the committee. He doesn’t wear the uniform when on duty in the White House. As I said on 20Nov,
That’s OK; if he wants to show off by wearing his uniform, that’s his choice. It was telling when he pompously insisted that Rep. Nunes call him ‘Lieutenant Colonel Vindman’ and not ‘Mr Vindman’.
But since he wants to show off his rank, and since he violated the chain of command by telling the CIA whistlefaker, Eric Ciaramella, about the President’s phone call, where are his superior officers? Why is he still in the White House? Why hasn’t he been brought up on charges of leaking confidential information, ignoring the chain of command, and seditiously conspiring with others to undermine and subvert his Commander-in-Chief?
Vindman had nothing substantial to add, other than to confirm that the transcript President Trump had released was accurate. The Washington Post reported however, based on leaks from his earlier, ‘secret’ testimony, that “[Vindman] was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert US foreign policy. . .” To which Fox News’s veteran commentator Brit Hume responded in a tweet: “There is a huge fallacy in this. Anyone know what it is?”
Three guesses, and the first two don’t count (as we kids used to say). Who did the American people elect to decide and execute our foreign policy? See my ‘Third place’ above.
It appears that President Trump faces an ongoing rebellion, not only from House Democrats, but from career foreign-service bureaucrats left over from the Obama administration, who regard the President as an interloper, and view carrying out his policies as an imposition. This puzzled me, as I wrote on 14Nov:
Since when did the Democrat left suddenly become rampant Cold Warriors? Apparently these State Department bureaucrats think that our policy is to make Ukraine a part of NATO. That has never been President Trump’s stated goal. He is rightly suspicious of Ukraine after their involvement in anti-Trump, Democrat politics in 2016 and their evident corruption. The two witnesses yesterday [William Taylor and George Kent] apparently had no idea that there was any such involvement, and they minimized the corruption. They seemed intent on elevating Ukraine to the status of a paragon of European, anti-Russian virtue.
There is something else going on, besides the applecart that Mr Trump is turning over. I find myself wondering whether this business about Ukraine may be much bigger than just the sham impeachment show. Both John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi have relatives tied to Burisma or other corrupt entities, including the Atlantic Council, where Hillary Clinton is a member. George Soros has sticky fingers in multiple Ukrainian pots. And of course there are the Bidens.
Has Ukraine been a money-laundering operation for Congressional and Deep State Democrats (send pots of aid over there, and get relatives on the payrolls)? Is the real ‘impeachment’ desire aimed at getting Mr Trump and his allies out of Ukraine to keep the graft coming?
Just wondering. . .
In all likelihood, it’s much bigger than Ukraine, or Russia, or even China. There is a reason why politicians go to Washington, often giving up well-paying jobs in the private sector, for Congressional salaries (which are ample, but not grandiose), and end up after enough terms with multi-millions in their bank accounts. But that is a topic for another post. As I write today, the Democrats in the House are set to vote upon two Articles of Impeachment.
These Articles, released from Jerry Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee last week after receiving a ‘report’ from Adam Schiff and holding a few pro-forma and cursory hearings, are both bogus and unconstitutional. The first Article alleges an ‘Abuse of Power’:
Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election. He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection. . .
This is bogus because the President did not request any announcements, nor any conditions for announcements. And even if he had, such requests or demands would have been entirely within the scope of the President’s responsibilities and duties under Article 2 of the Constitution, and so not an ‘Abuse of Power’. See ‘In the third place. . .’ above. In point of fact, ‘Abuse of Power’ is akin to what the Founders called ‘maladministration’, and they did not think that sufficient grounds for Impeachment, because it would open up the process for one ‘faction’ (now ‘party’) to impeach a President for purely self-serving ends—which is exactly what is happening now.
Article Two is called ‘Obstruction of Congress’, not a crime in law or custom. The Article says,
. . .As part of this impeachment inquiry, the Committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry for various Executive Branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials
In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. . .
But, as everyone knows, the Executive Branch can withhold documents and testimony under the long-established doctrine of Executive Privilege, which derives directly from the Constitutional establishment of Three Branches of Government, with separate privileges and powers. Had the House committees wanted, they could have gone to the third branch, the Judiciary, for rulings on the individual subpoenas. But Speaker Pelosi had decreed that the President should be impeached before Christmas: no time to go to the courts! So impeachment Article Two simply condemns the President for exercising his unchallenged Constitutional privileges.
Both of these Articles are so lame as to be laughable; neither come close to the lofty criteria in the Constitution needed for Impeachment: “Treason, Bribery, and High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” It is as if we had asked a kindergarten class to create them. Nonetheless, under the Constitution, when the full House (in this case, the Democrats in the majority, with no Republicans) votes Articles of Impeachment, the Senate must hold a trial and determine if the President should be removed from office.
So there we are, dragged along by the Democrats in the House, who have been crying “We must impeach President Trump” from the day he was inaugurated, into a Shampeachment that makes a mockery of the Constitution. Having wasted months in the House in frivolous inquiries on contrived offenses by the President, we are now faced with the prospect of more faux-constitutional proceedings in the Senate, which of course will occupy the President and his Administration with endless days of discussion, paperwork, and all the folderol that goes on in bureaucratic disputes. President Trump is great at multi-tasking, but how much of the time he should be spending on the business of the government and the American people will be wasted on Shampeachment tomfoolery?
If Majority Leader McConnell has any sense, he will shut the Senate ‘trial’ down without ceremony, declaring the Articles null and void upon arrival, being bereft of meaningful content (no ‘High Crimes’), unconstitutionally vague, and just plain silly. But he probably won’t.
All this reminds me of a song Hank Williams, Jr. wrote back in the ‘80s about venturing beyond the Nashville orthodoxy, introducing rock ‘n’ roll and ‘outlaw’ elements into country music. “Why,” he complains, “don’t you leave them boys alone and let ‘em sing their song?” Here Bocephus is joined by the legendary Ernest Tubb, and compatriot Waylon Jennings:
That’s my complaint, too, for all of you in Congress, and in the ‘Lawfare’ offices, and in the Administrative State,
Why Don’t You Leave the President Alone, and Let Him Do His Job? /LEJ