I try to resist hyperbole in my commentaries – and do not admire it in President Trump. So, when I say that the unprecedented “impeachment inquiry” is taking on all the elements of a witch hunt — I do not use the term indiscriminately.
In the classic examples of witch hunts, individuals were deemed to be possessed by intangible demons suspected of producing odd behavior. The Salem Witch Trials did not depend on hard evidence or any concept of a rule-of-law.
The subjects were often victimized by secret accusers whose accusations were tantamount to evidence. Those put on trial were provided no opportunity for defense beyond their one protestations of innocence. Deliberations were often carried out behind closed doors. And verdicts were more the result of mob hysteria than empirical evidence. In many cases, the “trial” was actually in violation of existing law and customs.
The same characteristics were seen during the Inquisition, in the vigilante justice and biased courts of the old segregated Democrat southland, in the purges that killed millions in Maoist China and Stalinist Russia and countless genocides throughout history.
No matter what one thinks of Trump’s personality and behavior, you would have to be a blind partisan critic – under the influence of rage rather than reason — to not see the similarities in the old witch hunts and the conduct of the Democrats in pursuing their efforts to impeach and remove Trump from office.
In the event you do not see the similarities, allow me to point them out.
The refusal to hold a vote to launch an impeachment inquiry
Democrats say that such a vote is not necessary. They can vote to impeach the President at any time for any reason. So they have launched a series of committee “inquiries” to set the stage for impeachment. While they are technically correct – that the Constitution does not require a vote by the full House of Representatives to authorize an open hearing conducted by the House Judiciary Committee. They claim that the impeachment process is more like a Grand Jury hearing in which testimony is taken in secret and the accused has no right to mount a defense.
(In citing the Grand Jury as an example, Democrats are pointing to one of the most corrupt and abused practices in our judicial system. The United States stands with Liberia as the only two nations to use a Grand Jury system. I refer readers to my commentary on that subject.)
The approach the Democrats are using is unique in modern impeachment history. The first effort to impeach a President – Andrew Johnson – was over the question: Can a President remove a Cabinet member who was confirmed by the Senate. The impeachment failed and that is why Cabinet members serve at the will of the President.
The denial of defendant rights
President Nixon resigned before an impeachment vote was taken by the House – or even the Judiciary Committee. That makes President Clinton only the second President officially impeached and subjected to a trial in the Senate. In both the Nixon and Clinton cases, the entire house voted an impeachment resolution be carried out by the Judiciary Committee in open hearing – and with a number of rights afforded to the President. These included the right to face all witnesses, the right to subpoena witnesses, the right to mount a defense.
Under the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats are undertaking a series of secret hearing in which the testimony of witnesses can be interpreted or selectively leaked by the Democrat majority to a shamefully friendly news media. The Pelosi process completely denies the President all the rights enjoyed by Nixon and Clinton as they faced impeachment.
The novel approach being taken by the Democrats is an affront to any concept of fairness. It is an abusive and crass strategy designed to prevail politically despite dubious evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as the Founders intended them. They believed that Congress should NOT remove a President from office based on disagreements over policy, style, and administration of office. While the Founders made impeachment a political – not judicial – process, they clearly did not intend it to be carried out for partisan political purposes.
The secret accuser
Great emphasis has been placed on the so-called whistleblower(s) who make their accusations from a protective shield of anonymity – a practice strictly forbidden in the Constitution or our courts-of-law. More than any other political chicanery engaged in by the House Democrats, this one is the most reflective of the old witch hunts.
If the Democrats are successful, neither the President, the public nor the members of the House who have to vote on impeachment will know the name of the accusers. In fact, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff – who is currently leading the impeachment effort – now says that the whistleblower(s) may not even be called as witness(es).
It should not be overlooked that Schiff does know who they are, and his office has worked with them to file their whistleblower statement. What Schiff has set up is a classic “kangaroo court” within the larger framework of a witch hunt.
The concept of a fairness
Most Americans – even Trump critics – have a sense of fairness. As the political shenanigans become better understood by the public, it is possible that we the people will see this impeachment charade for what it really is – the continuation of a three-year verdict on the Trump presidency looking for a crime. No … not even a crime. Just some salable interpretation of abuse of office. All those claims of criminality by Trump advanced by the political calls are merely opinions stated as facts. In fact, most of the actions they cite would never survive past the first motion to dismiss in a real court-of-law.
If the House votes to impeach, the Democrats may find their crass partisanship and outrageously unfair process to be on trial in the Senate as well as the President – maybe more so.
So, there ‘tis.