House Democrats have promised explosive testimony sure to lead to the impeachment of President Donald Trump; if Monday’s events are a litmus test, perhaps they should rethink their 2020 strategy. Former State Department official Michael McKinley failed to deliver the goods, and ultimately, failed to adequately explain his reasons for speaking to the House in the first place.
In what descended into an almost farcical Walter Mitty style deposition, questioners on both sides of the House sought to understand quite what this four-decade veteran of U.S. bureaucracy had to offer.
A Bad Beginning
Somewhat worse than the actual testimony was the atmosphere of squabbling between the politicos. From the outset, Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.) made efforts to have a point of order made on procedure regarding why Democrats were not being held to account for speaking with the press regarding supposedly confidential information. He asked:
“I am assuming that based on the releases that some of my Democrat colleagues were quoted in various newspaper articles yesterday with specific facts that came from the hearing yesterday, that those releases are not deemed a breach of House rules. Is that correct?”
Chairman Adam Schiff acknowledged that Democrats should refrain from leaking but refused to opt for any form of censure other than a stern reminder for members not to do so.
From here on in, the proceedings took on a mystifying air of pointlessness in which each side tried to find value and validation in the proffered testimony.
No Such Answer
McKinley, despite being a government Head Honcho for almost 40 years first learned about the alleged Quid Pro Quo from the mainstream media. Prior to this, he apparently had no idea that any such incidents were taking place. Yet it was not the dealings with President Trump that encouraged him to ultimately resign (a mere couple of months before he had originally planned to), but rather the language in the transcript that he saw as denigrating of Ambassador Yovanovitch.
In fact, he states that he was generally dismayed that other officials were refusing to release a statement suggesting that they support the maligned ambassador. Over a short period of time – from the release of the transcript up to his resignation – he spoke with numerous officials who all refused to be drawn or offer any opinion whatsoever. He said, “I’d spent a week with people not answering me, and so I’ve been a bureaucrat long enough. That’s a message.”
Apparently, in bureaucracy circles, if someone doesn’t want to speak with you about a matter, that tells you all you need to know.
The Real Gripe
Putting aside for a moment the fact that he had no prior or inside knowledge of the Ukrainian situation, that no one gave him any information or gossip on the subject, and that his reaching out to others failed to garner any new data… we are left with the mystery of why McKinley is being questioned at all.
The bulk of his testimony appears to be based on general gripes with the “hollowing out” of the Foreign Service under former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. His personal bugbears included the ground-breaking news that promotions were curtailed, which means that not everyone in the service would be able to get promotions on their career track and may just have to live like the rest of Americans and earn their rewards. Also a point of contention was that under Secretary Tillerson, the tradition of hiring family members for important roles during foreign service was canceled. Yes … No more gravy train for wives and husbands!
This was little more than an opportunity for a disgruntled man to moan about his private peeves.
The House allowed a man with no knowledge of the events, no prior experience with Ukraine, and no insider information to dominate the day. They gave him free rein to air his grievances against the Trump administration’s attempted streamlining of the unwieldy bureaucracy.
This was not becoming of a serious inquiry; it was a low-level character assassination designed to keep the threat of impeachment in the media eye. The American people are being played, and the masters of this game seek to keep their unwitting players captured in a nightmarish scenario of boredom and Kafkaesque pointlessness.