HORIST: What those Articles of Impeachment really mean
The Democrats have decided on two Articles of Impeachment – down from the five, six or the seven they were considering. Since they have been assuring the American public that it was their moral duty to hold President Trump accountable for all his alleged misdeeds, the decision to advance only two needs to be explained.
The Democrat explanation is that they want to focus on the two that presented their strongest case – as they see it. They were worried that the public would not be able to deal with or grasp all the nuances and complexities of more than two charges – again assuming the stupidity of we the people.
That is a peculiar rationale, however, since the Articles are not drafted for the general public. It will be for the members of the Senate to deal with them. It would seem that the House Democrats do not believe that senators have the sophistication and mental capability to grasp more than two Articles. Or … that the Articles were really drafted to influence public opinion on the eve of the 2020 presidential election. Of course, that would make the entire impeachment process a political gambit.
A more likely reason is that all those other charges – bribery, extortion, shakedown, obstruction of justice – were just a bunch of political poppycock. In fact, it has been widely reported that several House Democrats would not support the other charges. It is also reported that a number of House Democrats will not even support the two passed by the Judiciary Committee on strict partisan lines.
So, what about those two Articles?
Abuse of Power
Democrats claim that Trump abused his power by trying to have the Ukrainians investigate one of his political challengers – former Vice President Joe Biden. According to the Democrats’ narrative, such an investigation was either to dig up dirt on Biden or at least cast a shadow over his campaign.
That sounds pretty damning until you consider that all the testimony and the conclusions drawn by impeachment-obsessed Democrats rests on one humongous assumption – that Trump’s sole purpose was to get some advantage in the upcoming election.
This Articles should be put to rest pretty easily. It assumes that Trump had no governmental or national security reasons to encourage investigations of the Bidens. If he had any suspicion that there may have been real wrongdoing … corruption … on the part of the Bidens, Trump would be obligated to push for an investigation.
The primary target of any investigation was not the former Vice President. It was his son, Hunter – although there are questions how Hunter scored that job and a big deal in China. Did his father work on that?
That Hunter scored a million dollar a year part-time job after being dishonorably discharged from the Navy raised natural suspicions. He was hired by Burisma Holdings, a known corrupt Ukrainian energy enterprise – and a business in which Hunter had zero experience in a nation of which he had no knowledge.
He was hired by one of the most corrupt Oligarchs in Ukraine and served in that environment for five years. Still unanswered is … what did Hunter do all those years? What does he know about the operations of Burisma? Was he involved in any shady activities?
All this was at a time when Hunter’s father was Vice President of the United States with specific responsibilities for all things Ukrainian. Biden senior also confessed to withholding much-needed humanitarian aid to Ukraine until the lead prosecutor – who incidentally was investigating Burisma – was fired.
While that is not proof of wrongdoing, it was sufficiently troublesome for State Department official George Kent, who testified at the impeachment inquiry that the situation created an “appearance of conflict-of-interest.” He was so concerned that he sent a warning to Vice President Biden’s office. He never heard back. Other witnesses concurred with Kent’s description of a potential conflict.
Trump never said he wants the Ukrainians to “dig up dirt” on Biden. That has been asserted by dishonest Democrats and media folks. In fact, Trump never even hinted at a desired outcome – just to investigate.
To say that Trump’s motive was political has no more validity or evidence than to say it was based on legitimate concerns that Hunter may have been involved in money laundering – and that it could even involve America’s financial aid to Ukraine. In that case, Trump would be obligated to push for an investigation.
Most of the witnesses supporting impeachment admitted that they had no direct information, have never heard Trump say the request was for political reasons and in most cases had never met Trump. They relied on hearsay – gossip passed on to them from others. Those who were so-called fact witnesses expressed concern over Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – BUT admitted under Republican questioning that they had no evidence to connect Trump with any criminal activity. In fact, the only conversations with Trump on the core question – was there a quid pro quo? – had Trump reporting that he wanted nothing from Zelensky and that there was no quid pro quo.
It is easily argued that the investigation of the Bidens’ past activities in Ukraine is justified and central to the Democrat’s accusation of abuse of power – and the fact that Joe Biden is one contender for the Democrat presidential nomination is coincidental and irrelevant. To exempt Biden from any inquiry in view of the facts just because he is running for President would suggest that he is above the law.
Obstruction of Congress
This is a unique charge, and arguably weaker than the abuse of power claim. It is based on a theory that Trump’s claim of Executive Privilege over administration documents and testimony associated with the office of the presidency enables him to refuse to submit to congressional requests – even subpoenas.
The Supreme Court has long recognized the right of presidents to keep conversations and documents confidential. It would be virtually impossible to conduct presidential business if adversaries in Congress could acquire letters, transcripts of phone calls, recordings and compel the sworn testimony of presidential aides and advisors. It would make it virtually impossible for a President to have a conversation – by phone or in person – with another head of state.
The question is not whether a President has such Executive Privilege, but to what extent. That is the crux of the battle between Trump and Congress. It is an old battle that has been adjudicated many times. For example, when President Obama tried to make recess appointments when the Senate was not officially in recess, the high court struck down his Executive Order declaring that he had abused his power. Obama had invoked a broad definition of Executive Privilege when he refused to respond to congressional requests for documents associated with the Fast and Furious scandal that put deadly guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartellians – resulting in the murder of a U.S. border agent.
There is a nuance, however. In writing about a President’s power, George Washington suggested that the privilege to withhold documents and testimony might not apply to an impeachment hearing. Of course, Washington could not have presaged phone conversations and tape recordings.
This exception informally advanced by Washington, however, has never been adjudicated by the Supreme Court. What we have today is nothing more than two divergent opinions. Before even considering impeachment over this disagreement, the House should have exhausted the normal remedies – bringing the issue to the nine justices of the Supreme Court to render their decision.
But instead, House Democrats are claiming sole power over impeachments. In fact, Washington State Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal stated in a CNN interview that “we [members of the House] are not accountable to the courts.” Ponder that for a moment. In impeachment – according to Jayapal – they can do ANYTHING they please – presumably, even break the law – without any accountability to the courts or to we the people. Talk about abuse of power.
Democrats ASSUMED that Trump was wrong, and therefore was obstructing their impeachment inquiry. It could be equally argued that, in this case, it was the House that was abusing its power – the power to impeach.
So, there ‘tis.