House Democrats have unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump: Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. It is not clear if these will be the only articles marked up and brought to the House floor for a vote.
Interestingly, the president’s foes have opted for somewhat broad and vague charges, an indication that Democrats realize how weak their case really is. Every witness called to testify in a series of hearings presented only hearsay and assumption regarding Trump’s intent toward Ukraine. With no documented proof of wrongdoing or nefarious intent, Democrats have settled upon articles that can be supported by circumstantial evidence and partisan interpretation.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) presented the articles. “It is an impeachable offense,” Nadler said, “for the president to exercise the powers of his public office to obtain an improper personal benefit.” No such thing has been proven, but an absence of fact concerns neither Nadler nor Schiff.
Schiff’s statement was even more outrageous. Addressing concerns that the impeachment process had been rushed, the Democrat – who has yet to produce evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia that he, for more than two years, claimed to have seen – said: “The argument ‘why don’t you just wait?’ amounts to this: ‘Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election?’”
And, with that, Schiff admitted what every rational observer has known for a long time: Trump faces impeachment because he won the 2016 election, and Democrats are simply unwilling to accept that victory.
The news follows the somewhat farcical House Judiciary Committee hearing in which the counsels for Democrats and Republicans were the only witnesses – a final attempt, it seemed, by Democrats to make their case.
It is hard to imagine a congressional hearing convened for the grave purpose of determining the impeachment of a sitting U.S. president running some nine hours without a single fact witness present. That this is exactly what happened on Dec. 9, proof enough that congressional Democrats have no case against Trump. This latest hearing was designed to allow the majority counsel to declare that, in his opinion, overwhelming evidence of criminality and abuse of power had been revealed – as if his opinion is the final word.
Essentially, Democrats decided that, since no documentary evidence of a crime had been produced, their counsel would explain that Trump was guilty based on what the attorney for the opposition party had heard.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) was furious, describing the hearing as a “kangaroo system.” Several Republican colleagues made similar points. Indeed, from the perspective of discovery (fact-finding), the hearing made no sense, being nothing more than nine hours of Democrat counsel Dan Goldman saying: “The president is guilty because that’s the conclusion I came to.”
At least Gohmert made a significant observation: The bar for impeachment has been set so low that a future Democrat president could be easily impeached.
“We’ve had people already mention, you know, the next president – Joe Biden. We’re told, you know, gee, he may be the next president. Well, we already got the forms. All we have to do is eliminate Donald Trump’s name and put Joe Biden’s name in there because he’s on video… he basically has admitted to the crime that’s being hoisted on the president improperly.”
The congressman was referring to Biden bragging about how, in 2016, the then-vice president threatened to withhold U.S. assistance from Ukraine unless the country’s prosecutor general was fired. At the time, that prosecutor was investigating Burisma Holdings, the company that seemingly gifted Biden’s son, Hunter, a directorship in order to buy influence with the United States.
Following the Script
Democrats in the hearing followed the same script. Like a broken record, they all pointed to Trump saying to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, “I want you to do us a favor though,” interpreting this innocuous phrase as sinister. Not a single Democrat entered that chamber with an original thought or question; all had been strictly schooled as to what they would say and what questions they would ask.
Since this was the last hearing and articles of impeachment are now being marked up, it is worth remembering the fundamental flaw in the investigation: The accusations against the president are based entirely on assumption and suspicion, that Trump – in asking Ukrainians to participate in the investigation of certain matters – intended to use that participation as a political weapon in the 2020 election.
Of this intent, there is neither proof nor compelling evidence. The Democrats want to impeach Trump based upon nothing more than an assumption of his motive. For that reason – regardless of the president’s policies – this impeachment is entirely unwarranted. If a sitting president can be removed from office — or even impeached and acquitted, for that matter – based upon what his or her political enemies decide to assume, then the United States will become a banana republic, in which political parties constantly seize power from each other and elections are meaningless.
Read more from Graham J Noble.