White House

The Check-the-Box Impeachment

Adam Schiff joins Nancy Pelosi to speak about Democratic legislative priorities and impeachment inquiry plans during her weekly news conference in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
A partisan impeachment pursued on a political timetable

Nancy Pelosi said she undertook impeachment “prayerfully,” and apparently what she was praying was that she could get it over with as soon as possible.

The House is preparing to send a flagrantly incomplete factual record to the Senate as the basis of an effort to remove a sitting president for the first time in our history.

Pelosi has affected a posture of heavy-heartedness since the outset of the process, saying that “there’s no joy in this” and urging a somber spirit as Democrats pursue the facts wherever they may take them — so long as that’s not too far into an election year.

In substantive terms, the Democrats had a good set of public hearings before Adam Schiff’s Intelligence Committee the past two weeks — with one gaping hole. They didn’t have anyone with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s directives on Ukraine or his state of mind. The closest was EU ambassador Gordon Sondland who, still, could only “presume” a quid pro quo over the defense aid.

There are people who probably don’t have to presume, and Sondland named some of them: Trump’s personal counsel Rudy Giuliani, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They were all closer to this than Sondland, yet Democrats are happy to make the guy from the outer bounds of the inner circle their “star witness” and forgo the inner circle.

This makes no sense as an investigative matter. The logic of skipping the most knowledgeable witnesses is entirely political. Pelosi doesn’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time on impeachment, holding her vulnerable members hostage to an initiative that may not play well in their districts and ticking ever closer on the clock to the beginning of the campaign season.

To get the more central witnesses requires litigation because they all have at least colorable claims of privilege. The Democrats don’t want to wait for the courts. Instead, Pelosi and Schiff have talked loosely of including an obstruction count in the articles of impeachment, even though some of the Trump claims might ultimately prevail.

The minimum requirement of a historic impeachment case, only the fourth in our history, would seem to be a complete account of the facts. Schiff used to say as much: “We have to flesh out all of the facts for the American people. The seriousness of the matter and the danger to our country demands nothing less.” Now, the seriousness and the danger are demanding that Democrats rush things along so the president can be impeached by the end of the year.

No matter how often Democrats say, “Let’s honor the Constitution,” their actions say, “Let’s check the box.”

Democrats have had the difficulty from the beginning of trying to build an edifice of impeachment and removal atop the narrow foundation of the Ukraine episode, and now they aren’t even going to finish the edifice, content with what they could complete in a two-month investigation largely reliant on the testimony of people who weren’t around for the main events (former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch) or were out of the loop (former Trump Russia adviser Fiona Hill).

It’s not as though getting firsthand witnesses will weaken the Democratic case; it will in all likelihood make it stronger. But with every day that passes, it becomes a little more absurd to say Trump should be impeached and removed when the public can make its own verdict in the election. Besides, Democrats know that impeachment is going nowhere in the Senate, so why bother locking down the case to make it worthy of the gravity of the process?

They might as well go with what they have, in a partisan impeachment pursued on a political timetable. During Clinton’s impeachment, it was his defenders who were saying, “Let’s move on.” Now, it’s Trump’s pursuers, who prayerfully and sorrowfully want to get impeachment over with.

© 2019 by King Features Syndicate

Most Popular

Film & TV

Knives Out Takes On the Anti-Immigration Crowd

Since the beginning of the Obama era, the Left has broadcast two contradictory messages on the subjects of race and immigration. The first is that a so-called Coalition of the Ascendant will inevitably displace white Americans as the dominant force in the country’s politics and culture. The second is that ... Read More
Film & TV

Knives Out Takes On the Anti-Immigration Crowd

Since the beginning of the Obama era, the Left has broadcast two contradictory messages on the subjects of race and immigration. The first is that a so-called Coalition of the Ascendant will inevitably displace white Americans as the dominant force in the country’s politics and culture. The second is that ... Read More
From left: Harvard University's Noah Feldman, Stanford University's Pamela Karlan, University of North Carolina's Michael Gerhardt, and George Washington University's Jonathan Turley testify before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, December 4, 2019.

The Impeachment Eye Test

To put it mildly, the 1960s were not notorious for juridical modesty. They might compare favorably, though, to Wednesday’s episode of “The Lawyer Left Does Impeachment” at the House Judiciary Committee. Oh, I have no doubt that the three progressive constitutional scholars spotlighted by Democrats yearn in ... Read More
From left: Harvard University's Noah Feldman, Stanford University's Pamela Karlan, University of North Carolina's Michael Gerhardt, and George Washington University's Jonathan Turley testify before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, December 4, 2019.

The Impeachment Eye Test

To put it mildly, the 1960s were not notorious for juridical modesty. They might compare favorably, though, to Wednesday’s episode of “The Lawyer Left Does Impeachment” at the House Judiciary Committee. Oh, I have no doubt that the three progressive constitutional scholars spotlighted by Democrats yearn in ... Read More
Culture

The Absurd Crusade against the Salvation Army

We all know some individuals who are so obviously good and kind that we are certain if anyone were to dislike them, that's all we would need to know about the person. We would immediately assume he or she is a bad person. To hate the manifestly good is a sure sign of being bad. Such is the case regarding the ... Read More
Culture

The Absurd Crusade against the Salvation Army

We all know some individuals who are so obviously good and kind that we are certain if anyone were to dislike them, that's all we would need to know about the person. We would immediately assume he or she is a bad person. To hate the manifestly good is a sure sign of being bad. Such is the case regarding the ... Read More
Elections

It’s Not Because She’s a Woman

In early October, Elizabeth Warren hit her stride. Her stock in the Democratic primary had been climbing steadily since midsummer, and as Joe Biden continued to lag, the Massachusetts senator became the first presidential hopeful to overtake him as front-runner in the RealClearPolitics polling average. She’s ... Read More
Elections

It’s Not Because She’s a Woman

In early October, Elizabeth Warren hit her stride. Her stock in the Democratic primary had been climbing steadily since midsummer, and as Joe Biden continued to lag, the Massachusetts senator became the first presidential hopeful to overtake him as front-runner in the RealClearPolitics polling average. She’s ... Read More
Film & TV

Clint Eastwood’s Messy, Nuanced Triumph

After a pipe bomb exploded at a concert held to celebrate the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta’s Centennial Park, the FBI came to suspect that the security guard who discovered the device might have planted it to gain a reputation as a hero. The knotty story of that security guard, Richard Jewell, does not lend itself ... Read More
Film & TV

Clint Eastwood’s Messy, Nuanced Triumph

After a pipe bomb exploded at a concert held to celebrate the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta’s Centennial Park, the FBI came to suspect that the security guard who discovered the device might have planted it to gain a reputation as a hero. The knotty story of that security guard, Richard Jewell, does not lend itself ... Read More
Elections

More Bad News for Medicare for All

The hits keep coming for Medicare for All. Gallup’s annual health-care survey of adults found that Americans back a system based on private insurance rather than government provision by 54 percent to 42 percent. “This could create a challenge in a general election campaign for a Democratic presidential ... Read More
Elections

More Bad News for Medicare for All

The hits keep coming for Medicare for All. Gallup’s annual health-care survey of adults found that Americans back a system based on private insurance rather than government provision by 54 percent to 42 percent. “This could create a challenge in a general election campaign for a Democratic presidential ... Read More