As the phony impeachment investigation targeting President Donald Trump rumbles on, there really is no definitive list of questions that as yet remain unanswered. Were anyone to compile such a list, it would probably start with five questions that strike at the heart of the entire affair. These questions clarify whether the current process is being conducted correctly or is colored by partisan hostility – and, indeed, whether the Russian “collusion” investigation was similarly tainted.
It seems curious, to say the least, that neither the FBI nor former special counsel Robert Mueller discovered the successful 2016 efforts by the Democratic National Committee to reach out to the Ukrainian government to provide dirt on Trump and his campaign associates. Considering that both of those investigations were focused on uncovering a possible conspiracy with a foreign power to influence the presidential election, why was the Ukraine-DNC connection not looked into? It can only be gross incompetence or a deliberate decision to overlook that vital piece of the puzzle.
The so-called whistleblower who came forward with a complaint about the nature of the president’s phone conversation with the new Ukrainian president is hardly a credible witness since he or she had no firsthand knowledge of the call. Democrats are already making elaborate but secretive plans to extract testimony from this individual. Can his or her identity be kept from the public – and from the president – indefinitely?
The president’s opponents cannot possibly believe that they can impeach Trump using secondhand allegations provided by an anonymous source. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has vowed that, if Democrats refuse to identify this “whistleblower,” then he will ensure that any Senate impeachment trial will do so. Further, it would be necessary for the identities of White House sources from whom the whistleblower claims to have obtained information to be exposed.
Regardless of laws and rules designed to protect whistleblowers, any formal impeachment cannot be based upon testimony from unknown persons. Given that Democrats, since day one of the Trump presidency, have made no secret of their desire to impeach the president, the entire credibility of such an effort would stand or fall on complete transparency. The American public and the president himself deserve nothing less than to know the identities of the accusers and the sources from which they drew their information.
At least one additional whistleblower has now come forward, according to reports, but does this fact change anything? Indeed, the outrage over the phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appears even more fabricated the more that anonymous individuals come forward with complaints. Already, it is highly suspicious that almost three weeks passed between the phone call itself and the filing of a complaint about what was said. Additional complaints filed even later hardly bolster the credibility of the case against Trump.
How has Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) role in this latest assault upon the president compromised the entire process? Schiff has been less than forthcoming about his knowledge of events or the extent to which his own staffers worked with the whistleblower even before any complaint was filed with the intelligence community’s inspector general.
As if the congressman were not already looking foolish and dishonest, his performance at a recent hearing was reason enough for Schiff to be compelled to recuse himself. During the event, he read out his own version of what Trump said to Zelensky – which bore no resemblance to the now-public transcript. The very idea that Schiff has either the capability or the desire to conduct a fair and objective investigation is utterly laughable.
Window of Opportunity?
Finally, how big is the window of opportunity for congressional Democrats to impeach the president? They may have so far avoided making the process official, but articles of impeachment must, at some point, be brought to the floor of the House for a vote.
Once the opposition party chooses its presidential nominee, the campaign for the White House begins in earnest, and impeaching Trump during an election campaign is going to be seen as purely an attempt to influence the 2020 election – even by those Americans who do not already see it as such.
Democrats, therefore, have around eight months to conclude their investigations, draw up articles of impeachment, and bring them up for debate and a vote. The holiday season will take a bite out of that time, so the clock is ticking. The chances of impeachment going before the Senate before the 2020 Democratic National Convention are slim to none.
These five basic questions, when answered objectively, determine whether there is any realistic chance of Trump’s enemies removing him from office before the next election or this entire exercise is, for Democrats, a political catastrophe.