If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That appears to be the mantra of the House Dems. The first impeachment hearings, conducted by the House (un)Intelligence Committee failed miserably. They controlled the entire proceedings, such as which witnesses were allowed to testify and which questions they were allowed to be asked. What did we find out? In summary, a lot of opinion, but no firsthand accounts of impeachable offenses, no collusion, no obstruction, no smoking gun, and ultimately, no interest outside the Beltway and a few fake news cable outlets.
Still, the House Dems, undeterred, are determined to press on. They continue to tilt at the big orange windmill (apologies to Cervantes and his fictional hero, Don Quixote). If you thought Round 1 was a colossal waste of time and money, I predict Round 2, to be presided over by the House Judiciary Committee, will be even worse. It will be akin to watching a sequel to a bad movie hoping it will be better than the original, but knowing it likely will not.
Wouldn’t it have been more logical and efficient to have one combined impeachment hearing? Probably, but, as the late comedian, John Belushi, might have said, “noooo!” Why the public needs to be subjected to two separate impeachment hearings conducted by two separate committees, is anybody’s guess. But, that is what we will have. A cynic might conclude that these hearings will drone on indefinitely.
On Day 1 the Committee brought in four witnesses to testify. Three of them were legal scholars with impressive resumes — Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard, Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina, and Pamela Karlan, a law professor at Stanford University.
Each of them opined that, essentially, President Trump had committed an impeachable offense by “pressuring” Ukraine’s president for “political gain.” Gerhardt characterized it as “a horrifying abuse of power.” Feldman stated “if we cannot impeach a president who uses his power for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy.” Karlan added Mr. Trump “must be held to account.”
Their testimonies seemed to be damaging to Mr. Trump, but, once again, they were based on opinion, not firsthand accounts. They were not “witnesses,” per se. Moreover, various GOP representatives on the Committee pointed out that each of the three had a strong anti-Trump bias, which damaged their credibility. For example, Gerhardt and Karlan had donated to Obama’s and Warren’s campaigns. Also, Karlan had previously stated on TV that she despised Trump so much she could not even walk on the same side of the street as the White House.
Moreover, Karlan made a tasteless comment about Mr. Trump’s 13 year-old son, Barron. She said: “The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility. While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.” As Ms. Karlan should know, there is an unwritten law in politics that family members, particularly minors, are untouchable. Ms. Karlan was roundly criticized for her comments, but not nearly as much as a GOPer would have been for criticizing, for example, Obama’s children.
The only witness who made any sense at all was the fourth one, Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University. While agreeing that a quid pro quo would be an impeachable offense, he opined it has to be proven, and it has not as yet. He characterized the evidence presented so far as “wafer thin,” … “woefully inadequate,” … and “dangerous.” In his opinion, stronger evidence is needed. Furthermore, he contended that the current case would “collapse” in the Senate.
If these are the best witnesses the Committee will be calling these proceedings will be a colossal waste of time, and public support for impeachment will erode further. Many people are questioning why the anti-Trumpers are pursuing a weak case for impeachment that has no chance in the Senate when there is an election in eleven months. Those who dislike Mr. Trump can remove him then, legally and as the Constitution provides, by voting him out. (Of course, they probably realize that they don’t have the votes, and Mr. Trump will likely be re-elected.)
As Josh Holmes, former Chief of Staff for Mitch McConnell, succinctly put it: “The [House] Dems want to impeach Trump based on [a quid pro quo for] withholding foreign aid that was given in exchange for demanding an investigation that has not yet taken place.”
In summary, the first day of these hearings did not disclose anything new. As has been the case for the past three years Trump-haters see impeachable offenses, while Trump supporters look at the same facts and see a witch hunt/vendetta/massive waste of time and money.
After all this time I don’t see any possibility of new evidence turning up, but I’m sure the House Dems will still try. Meanwhile the real problems of the country are not being addressed.
Objective voters are not stupid . They are not pleased with the “do nothing” Congress (to quote former President Harry Truman), and I expect they will vent their frustrations at the ballot box in November.