As most of you know by now, the House Dems have initiated an impeachment investigation against President Trump. To no one’s surprise, they are being aided and abetted by their allies in the mainstream media. Their primary basis for it is the phone call on July 25 between Mr. Trump and Ukranian President Volodimyr Zelensky. Specifically, the anti-Trumpers are claiming that as a quid pro quo to a foreign aid package Mr. Trump pressured Zelensky to re-open an investigation into certain questionable activities regarding Joe and Hunter Biden.
In order to provide some context to this assertion it is important to remember that the movement to impeach Mr. Trump did not begin with the phone call. Actually, it began before he even took office. It began on Election Day 2016 even before the last vote was counted. It began as soon as it became apparent he had won the election to the surprise and dismay of the establishment.
First, there were various FBI officials emailing and tweeting each other about an “insurance policy” should he win. Many of us were mystified at the time as to what that cryptic phrase meant. Well, we soon found out. Soon after the election, the anti-Trumpers initiated a campaign to convince the voters that Mr. Trump and his campaign had participated in election fraud, for instance, tampering with voting machines. After all, in their minds he couldn’t possibly have won legitimately.
Then, he was accused of conspiring with Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. Many of you will recall the infamous “dossier” and legally questionable FISA warrants. These led to the Mueller investigation, which took three years and millions of dollars, and in the end the team of attorneys, whose objectivity was open to question, found no collusion and no obstruction. Not content with that aforementioned conclusion the House (un)Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Mueller to testify hoping to find that elusive “smoking gun.”
They also subpoenaed a bevy of other people, including former FBI Director, Jim Comey. All of them “struck out.” On various occasions Chairman Adam Schiff has sworn he was in possession of damaging information, and in all cases he was ultimately shown to be lying. And on and on it has gone. Yada, yada, yada. I can’t keep track of all the disinformation, obfuscation and outright lying, nor do I want to.
In the sage words of Hillary Clinton, “what difference at this point does it matter?” Mr. Trump has been the president for three years and we are less than one year until the next election. By the time the impeachment process and possible trial in the Senate will have concluded we will likely be at or near Election Day. So why bother? What is the point? I will provide my opinion on that below.
In summary, none of these claims has provided the “smoking gun” that the anti-Trumpers have longed for. For three years the Dems and their allies in the media have subjected the country to one false claim after another while the Congress has accomplished virtually nothing of substance. It has ignored the major issues the voters want addressed, what they elected them to address, such as healthcare, border security, infrastructure and income inequality. And now, comes the latest one – the phone call.
The Dems and their allies in the media, aka the anti-Trumpers, have adamantly claimed that the phone conversation contains a quid pro quo, a foreign aid package in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens. I have read the transcript as, probably, most of you have. I did not see any “smoking gun,” no blatant quid pro quo. The foreign aid package is not even mentioned. The tone is cordial. Mr. Trump congratulates Mr. Zelensky on his “great victory.” Zelensky praises Trump for showing him a blueprint for success, eg. “I had an opportunity to learn from you. We used quite a few of your skills and knowledge.” Zelensky actually states he wants to “drain the swamp” in his own country. He notes some of the changes he has made already, such as the ambassador and the prosecutor. He assures Mr. Trump that “all investigations will be done openly and candidly.” In the ensuing press conference Zelensky made a point of asserting that “no one pressured me.”
Keep in mind, the foreign aid package could have been delayed for a variety of reasons that had nothing to do with the Biden investigation, for instance, until we had some assurance that the corruption that had plagued the Ukraine in the previous administration was being addressed. We’re not really sure. Don’t assume the worst.
The one comment that anti-Trumpers have seized upon is when Mr. Trump said “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son that Biden stopped the prosecution[,] and a lot of people want to find out[,] so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution [True. It’s on tape.] so if you can look into it…” Zelensky “ensure[d] [Mr. Trump] that we will be very serious about the case.” That’s it. No mention of the foreign aide package, nor a quid pro quo.
That said, if one is an anti-Trumper desperate to “get him” on something I can see how one could choose to interpret that exchange as a subtle threat of a quid pro quo. But, I think that is a big stretch, certainly not enough on which to base an impeachment of a duly-elected president less than a year from the next election.
And now to the 500 pound gorilla in the room – the whistleblower. The Dems and the media have been steadfastly guarding his identity, ostensibly to protect him. But, if they are going to use his information in the impeachment process common sense would say they must identify him so that the GOP representatives can cross examine him. Also, that pesky little document known as the Constitution states that Mr. Trump, like anyone else, has the right to face his accuser. Otherwise, how do we know what he is saying is true? Are we supposed to take Schiff’s word for it? The same Schiff who has lied repeatedly? That is preposterous on its face.
According to Paul Sperry, reporting for “RealClearInvestigations” the identity of the whistleblower is Eric Ciaramella, a CIA analyst who had been assigned to the White House. Sperry quoted national security advisor, Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst, as saying that Ciaramella’s name has been “bandied about on twitter feeds and intelligence blogs” for weeks. It’s an open secret in the media. “CNN, the NYT, the Washington Post, even the President all know.” So, what’s the point of all this secrecy?
According to Sperry, Ciaramella is a holdover from the Obama WH staff who has worked closely with Joe Biden and John Brennan, among others. According to a former NSC official he has, on many occasions, leaked information negative to the Administration to the media. Furthermore, before going public he met with Schiff’s staff, or possibly Schiff, himself for “guidance.”
Given the foregoing, he is hardly an objective observer, and his comments should be taken with a big “grain of salt.” Why am I not surprised. Supposedly, next week he and other witnesses will be called upon to testify publicly, and then we can all form our own opinions.
So, what are fair-minded people supposed to make of all this? Why are the anti-Trumpers pushing so aggressively for impeachment. Everyone knows, that even if it were to pass the Dem-dominated House it would have virtually no chance of passing the Senate with the requisite 2/3 vote. In fact, Mitch McConnell has indicated there is a chance that the Senate will not even “take it up.”
In my opinion, the anti-Trumpers are desperate to defeat Mr. Trump in November, but they realize they have little chance of doing so, particularly with the current field. I believe that is why Bloomberg has entered the race, and other candidates, such as Hillary Clinton, may follow. Therefore, they are hoping that the impeachment process will be their “Hail Mary.” Good luck.
To be fair, according to the Constitution the House has an absolute right to proceed with impeachment if it concludes that there is sufficient grounds, such as “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Although the Constitution does not define that phrase clearly the Founding Fathers intended for it to be a high bar. I don’t think disliking the president personally meets that test, but that’s just my opinion. Note, only three presidents have been impeached – Johnson, Nixon and Clinton – and none has been convicted in the Senate.
No one really knows what it means, but Gerald Ford, the only person to have served as both president and vice president without having been elected to either office, provided some guidance. During the Nixon impeachment investigation he famously intoned “an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” So, based on that, if a majority of the House wants to impeach Mr. Trump based on ambiguous language in a phone call, I say go for it. Just remember that Bill Clinton received a big bump following his impeachment and his “crimes” were a lot more serious. So, beware of the consequences, particularly among Dems who won in 2018 in states that Mr. Trump carried decisively in 2016.