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Sen. Marsha Blackburn: Impeachment Trial is a Political Farce

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House Democrats’ impeachment managers had one big goal yesterday: trying to quickly rewrite their own three-year narrative on impeachment.

This is exactly why the House impeachment managers spent the remainder of their speaking time trying to rewrite their own three-year narrative on impeachment.“Chief revisionist Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, began by asserting that the House Democrats have compiled evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors perpetrated by the president,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) writes for Fox News.

“Later, however, Schiff revealed that the over 100 hours of testimony, and thousands of pages of documents, that led to his conclusions simply weren’t enough. He then asked that the Senate fetch additional evidence he neglected to secure.”

The fact is that the House impeachment managers’ case – some may call it a vendetta – relies not on missing evidence, but on a vicious partisan hatred of President Trump that survived the initial impeachment proceedings.

House Democrats dressed up their demands for a parade of witnesses and fresh subpoenas by arguing that they are simply seeking fairness and transparency. They knew that argument would play well with the anti-Trump media.

But if you lift the veil, you’ll find the Democrats are really engaged in a lazy, intellectually dishonest attempt to force the Senate to do the House’s dirty work.

Let’s rewind,

Long before the House Intelligence Committee held its first impeachment hearing, House Democrats knew they were in for an uphill battle. They knew whose testimony they wanted, and they knew with absolute certainty that they would need to “pierce” executive privilege to get it.

It was a nonstarter. Any effort to get around executive privilege would have taken their inquiry out of the safe, comfortable realm of politics and sent it into the courts – a dangerous place for constitutionally defective arguments.

This is why, for example, the Intelligence Committee yanked its subpoena of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s top deputy (and never actually issued a subpoena for Bolton himself), rather than risk litigation over the highly sensitive testimony it requested. Instead, the House committee punted the issue down the hall and simply demanded that the Senate summon Bolton to testify.

In the days to come, out of respect for the Constitution, 100 senators will sit quietly and listen to arguments that will no more reveal President Trump’s darkest intentions than they will those of Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or any other person who has relied on candor and objectivity to keep our country afloat.

No additional witnesses or documents are necessary for the impeachment trial. To admit them would be to legitimize Democrats’ caricature of fairness, and the continuation of a process that will never be more than a political farce.

Adam Schiff’s Sorry Attempt To Dismiss Criticism

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“There is a strong case to be made that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff seriously mismanaged the House’s impeachment proceedings into President Trump. But Schiff has one word for his critics: whatever . . . This is as lame as it is deceptive,” Kaylee McGhee writes in the Washington Examiner.

The Senate’s impeachment trial is still in its early stages, but, as one of the House’s appointed trial managers, Schiff took to the Senate floor on Tuesday and dismissed Republican concerns as nothing more than a “distraction.” Schiff basically argued that the next time Republicans complain about the impeachment managers, himself included, voters should ask themselves: What are they trying to distract me from?

This is as lame as it is deceptive. Schiff is arguing that, because the Senate is weighing charges against Trump, the only information important to the trial is information that has to do with Trump. But Schiff’s past role in the impeachment proceedings is indeed relevant insofar as it informs the impeachment process.

There is substantial evidence that Schiff used his position as House Intelligence Committee chairman to kick-start the impeachment proceedings for nakedly partisan reasons, permitting his staff to meet with the anonymous Ukraine whistleblower, concealing that meeting from his colleagues, and then lying about it repeatedly when confronted. Schiff also spread misinformation about Trump throughout the process, making up the content of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to make the Democrats’ accusations sound more legitimate.

Schiff played a role in orchestrating the Ukraine scandal, leaking knowledge about the whistleblower’s complaint to the media while reportedly advising the whistleblower. The result, of course, was impeachment. So, it’s completely fair that Republicans would criticize Schiff for his past dishonesty and his present attempt to feign seriousness.

Denunciation of Schiff is both legitimate and relevant. If anything, Schiff’s attempt to dismiss these criticisms is in itself an attempt to distract the public from his past dishonesty and political maneuvering. Let’s hope they see through it.

The Never-Ending Impeachment

“Efforts to remove Trump didn’t start with Ukraine. And won’t end there . . . Maxine Waters has been chanting ‘impeach 45’ since the spring of 2017. Representative Al Green introduced the first impeachment resolution that summer . . . In November 2017 a group of House Democrats introduced additional articles of impeachment. The same thing happened in December 2017, January 2018, March 2019, May 2019, and July 2019,” Matthew Continetti writes for National Review.

In Pelosi’s eyes, impeachment is something to celebrate. It’s more than an accomplishment. It’s the most significant product of the 116th Congress. What McConnell calls “the gravest process” has been the preferred means of Democrats to inflict maximum damage on President Trump and possibly remove him from office before the end of his term. The trial that begins on Tuesday has been years in the making. And the drive to impeach Trump won’t end when the verdict is rendered. He may well end up the first president to be impeached multiple times.

Pelosi resisted. Why? Not because she thought impeachment was wrong. Because none of the articles advanced by the left could win a majority of her caucus.

Then the whistleblower arrived. The story he told about shenanigans in Ukraine was enough to bring aboard moderates from swing districts. The rushed inquiry and polarized vote on two vague and weak articles betrayed the political motivations behind the enterprise. Impeachment shields Pelosi from left-wing recriminations in the event that Trump is reelected and Democrats retain the House. And the investigations, hearings, and trial guarantee a steady stream of bad press for Trump and hostile questions that make some Republicans squirm.

Pelosi is more than happy for additional evidence to be disclosed and for the Senate to call witnesses, even after the House has impeached and when the resolution of the trial is foreordained. It’s not justice she’s after. It’s victory in November. Expect leaks of damaging information before key procedural votes just as happened during the Kavanaugh confirmation fight. When Trump is acquitted or the charges against him dismissed, Democrats will pronounce the verdict illegitimate and accuse Republican senators of involvement in a cover-up. No charge is too outlandish. Pelosi and impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries have advanced the ridiculous conspiracy that McConnell has “Russian connections” of his own. “It’s a win-win,” Chuck Schumer told the New York Times.

There’s a cautionary lesson for Democrats in the Kavanaugh episode. As the allegations against Kavanaugh grew more absurd, and the D.C. climate more inhospitable, Republicans found themselves more unified. The senators that Democrats hope will side with them on procedural motions might demur. Susan Collins, for example, isn’t anybody’s pawn. “I don’t think Chuck Schumer is very interested in my opinion,” she said in a blistering comment to the Times. “I don’t think he’s really very interested in doing anything but trying to defeat me by telling lies to the people of Maine. And you can quote me on that.”

After the House Intelligence Committee dropped a trove of documents from Lev Parnas, the former Giuliani associate under indictment for campaign-finance violations, the day before senators were sworn in as jurors, Collins said, “I wonder why the House did not put that into the record and it’s only now being revealed.” Good question!

House Republicans voted in unison against impeachment not because they fear President Trump but because the Democratic case was weak. A similar dynamic might take shape once senators who haven’t been paying attention to the scandal listen — in silence — to the House managers and the president’s attorneys. How the House managers such as Adam Schiff behave on the Senate floor might also sway jurors.

The test of Republican unity will be a motion to call witnesses. Republican senators will have to ask why they would want to make Schumer’s job — winning the Senate for Democrats in 2020 — any easier by crossing party lines. Prolonging the trial would legitimize a flawed and politicized investigation. Republicans understand by now that Pelosi and Schumer aren’t engaged in an honest fact-finding mission. They are the leaders of an impeachment that will never end.

Anything other than a rapid acquittal will deeply damage the presidency

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“If the purely partisan and reckless maneuvering of House Democrats receives more than it deserves — rapid disposition with a strong dose of senatorial scorn — future presidents, at least those who face House majorities from the opposite party, can look forward to the impeachification of all political disputes down the road,” Hugh Hewitt writes in The Washington Post.

The president’s lawyers know this is the strongest argument even for senators who most dislike Trump, whether Republican or Democrat. If senators care about the Constitution, they have to think not in terms of the next hundred hours or days but of the next hundred years. And they have to consider that it is not only the other party that might be gored but their own. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned then-Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) that the latter would rue the day he destroyed the judicial filibuster for nominees to the federal bench. Whether Reid ever admits it, Trump’s two appointees to the Supreme Court, his 50 appointees to the federal circuit courts and 133 to the district courts are stark reminders of the costs of short-term thinking.

Senators must dwell on the “what if’s” that lie down the road. I think everyone in the chamber hopes the republic endures another two centuries at least. Political combat has been continually escalating, long before Trump became president. But the attempt to “flood the zone” with new charges and witnesses follows by less than two years the outrageous, late-in-the-process attacks on Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in the closing days of his confirmation. Now, in our politics, even “that which almost gets rewarded” is being repeated.

I know the pressures from the left wing weigh very heavily on Democratic senators, but some of them need to find the courage to speak about the dangerous precedents that threaten to be created in the next few days. Certainly every Republican senator should do so. Armed with Footnote 565 of the president’s trial brief, senators can quickly dismiss the idea of the necessity of new witnesses. In that footnote are citations to early press accounts of Ukrainian conduct that was indeed interference in our 2016 election (though nothing on the scale of the Russian attempt to sow discord in our politics). These accounts include stories from Politico, the Financial Times, and the New York Times, and they reveal a predicate for the president’s concern over some Ukrainians’ conduct in 2016. There is therefore no doubt that a responsible president would request, if not demand, an inquiry by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The second article of impeachment is even more dangerous than the first. It would deprive the executive of its Article II status as a separate but equal branch and would oblige future presidents to yield their rights and privileges no matter how specious the claims against him or her, or how intrusive the inquiries into privileged communications or into matters of national security. Whatever one thinks of the first article of impeachment — and it takes partisan blinders to think much of it at all — it is constitutional ignorance to credit the second article with any merit whatsoever. Both will do damage to the presidency every second they are infused with any sort of credibility.

The left is full of ominous warnings that history is watching. In fact, it will record only outcomes and brave votes from electorally endangered senators who would rather side with future presidents and the lasting and necessary separation of powers than the fleeting approval of media elites.

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