An impeachment investigation in search of a crime
SAN DIEGO. More drivel about the impeachment of President Trump spews forth this week. This is no surprise. The desire to impeach Trump dates back to November of 2016, the night he won the election. Reasons for his removal change from the Russia Hoax, to porn star payments, to being generally unfit, all suggesting a willingness on the part of his many enemies to “fill in the blank” with any possible crime. The goal of the impeachment investigation is to find a crime. Any crime will do.
The current insinuation is that Trump abused his office during a phone call with the new Ukrainian Presiden Zelensky. President Trump is being accused of requesting an investigation into possible corruption involving Joe Biden. A few years ago, as Vice-President, Biden openly admitted to threatening to withhold U.S. funds unless a certain Ukrainian prosecutor was fired. This was the very prosecutor investigating (coincidentally) a company his son Hunter was involved with.
But instead of being concerned about Biden, some view President Trump as the real culprit. How dare he ask for an investigation or withhold funds, however temporarily, from Ukraine? Since Biden is hoping to run for president against Trump, the solicitation of foreign involvement supposedly presents a conflict of interest. Should Biden win, where would his support of Ukraine lie?
On the same day President Trump delivers a historic speech at the United Nations, a speech about world-wide religious freedom, Nancy Pelosi announces a formal impeachment inquiry about a phone call:
“Today, I am announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry…The President must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
Of course, a “formal inquiry” is little more than a dressed-up way of saying, “We’re looking into impeachment.” This does not, as of yet, represent any formal House vote.
Pelosi is caught between a rock and a hard place.
Some of the “moderate” Democrats from districts Trump won in 2016 will have a difficult time explaining impeachment to their constituents. Unfortunately, she must also think about the leftward morphing base of her party, those fueled by the informal and more effective “Speaker-of-the-House,” Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez.
This leaves Pelosi with little choice but to thread a needle. Apparently, they will be impeaching without impeaching. They probably hope uninformed people will refrain from voting for Trump simply because of his association with the word ‘impeachment.’ It just makes him sound guilty and if you say something enough, it will become true.
Timing is everything
One would have thought Pelosi would postpone this announcement since President Trump had promise to release a transcript of the phone call one day later. But alas, waiting one day would have allowed the news to focus on his United Nations speech!
In any event, the transcript has been released as Trump promised.
While Biden did come up in the conversation, there was no insinuation that any kind of U.S. aid would be held back if the matter was not looked into.
Trump saying to President Zelensky
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…It sounds horrible to me.”
President Zelensky has since confirmed this himself in the presence of reporters.
“I think you read everything. I think you read text… I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic, open elections of U.S.A. No, you heard that we had good phone call. It was normal, we spoke about many things. I think, and you read it, that nobody pushed me.”
Of course, to the House Democrats, this is not enough. According to their well-rehearsed talking points, even asking that Biden be investigated violates election law because Trump is making this request as President of the United States.
So now, a president sworn to protect the United States is not allowed to examine corruption between a previous administration and a foreign country, even when the alleged corruptor himself openly bragged about this long ago on camera:
According to Biden’s own rant,
“I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a b-tch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”
This is on video for all to see despite the many ways it gets spun and excused by Democrats. The message is clear. If you’ve done something shady at an international level and you don’t want it investigated, just run for president; then you are no longer fair game.
Certainly, in this case, the President’s concern for ending corruption holds the additional benefit of “getting dirt on an opponent.” Be that as it may, since opposition research is done all the time in campaigns, many of Trump’s supporters are arguing that without any quid pro quo, this phone request is not a problem.
The Federal Election Commission says,
“A foreign national shall not, directly or indirectly, make a contribution or a donation of money or other thing of value, or expressly or impliedly promise to make a contribution or a donation, in connection with any Federal, State, or local election (52 U.S.C. 30121, 36 U.S.C. 510).
Meaning of the phrase “other thing of value” has been open to much debate.
In 2012 the Supreme Court did affirm (without opinion) Bluman v. FEC, 800 F. Supp. 2d 281 (D.D.C. 2011), upholding a ban on foreign contributions but they limited foreign influence to expenditures alone.
And so, just as there were no grounds for impeachment found in the Mueller report, there are no grounds in this latest attempt to unseat a duly elected president. Naturally, this will not matter to the House Democrats.
Our Constitution does provide for the impeachment and conviction of a president, but the standard is “high crimes and misdemeanors.” This means the proceedings take place after a crime has been established or at least a good deal of objective evidence has been uncovered. It was never intended to be “impeachment in search of a crime.”
But that’s what it seems to be when the goal post for impeachment keeps getting moved.
The first impeachment salvo
In December 2016, Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, Chris Coons, Ben Cardin, and Jeff Merkley tried to sell a bill that would force the President of the United States to divest any assets that might create a conflict of interest.
Under this new law, failure to come forth was to be labeled “high crimes and misdemeanors” the prelude to impeachment. The bill didn’t pass but the desire to impeach President Trump continued.
In 2018, when Rep. Rashida Talib was giving her acceptance speech, she said,
“And when your son looks at you and says, ‘Mama look, you won. Bullies don’t win,’ and I said, ‘Baby, they don’t,’ because we’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherf****r,”
Whatever other reasons Talib may articulate or go along with, her statement here about impeachment seems founded upon pure emotion. She simply does not like him.
As a matter of fact, hysterical reading of racism between the lines over Trump’s statements about border security were already floated as official grounds for impeachment long before Talib even came along.
In December of 2017, Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) introduced a House resolution (H.Res. 646) to impeach President Trump claiming that Trump:
“Harmed the society of the United States… by associating the majesty and dignity of the presidency with causes rooted in white supremacy, bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, white nationalism, or neo-Nazism” on multiple occasions.”
While the resolution failed, 58 congressmen joined him by supporting the motion.
Apparently waiting for the Mueller Report did not matter to Green or his many sympathizers in Congress. They were happy to come with another reason in the meantime which had nothing to do with the Mueller investigation.
Then in May, after the Mueller report failed to find any collusion, Congressman Green says:
“I’m concerned if we don’t impeach this president, he will get re-elected. If we don’t impeach him, he will say he’s been vindicated.”
Perhaps those words come closest to the truth. With all the vile accusations thrown at Donald Trump, his only real crime seems to be that of winning the election in 2016. He was not supposed to do that. We were supposed to see the coronation of Queen Hillary.
Trump broke the rules and for that, he will not be forgiven.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and a regular CDN columnist. Bob’s novel “The Dangerous Christmas Ornament” is a 2017 “Distinguished Favorite” of the Independent Press Award and the New York City Big Book Award. “About Read” lists this book as one of its Top 30 Recommended Action Adventure Books for 11-Year-Olds.