Today marks the official beginning of the Schiff Show Impeachment Follies. It is therefore fitting that I take as my text for today’s meditation Matthew 7:5: ‘Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.’
What do I mean? I’ll tell you. The ostensible predicate of this spectacle is President Trump’s alleged effort to influence the 2020 election. Specifically, the allegation is that Trump made aid to Ukraine (the quid) conditional on Ukraine’s investigation of Joe Biden’s demand (the quo) that the prosecutor investigating a company on which his son, Hunter, sat be fired. Biden’s demand is not controverted. He bragged about it himself, in public, at the Council on Foreign Relations.
‘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 bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.’
Unless you haven’t been paying attention, you know that ‘quid pro quo’ is this season’s ‘Russian collusion’. A meme that is ubiquitous but also empty. Just as in yesterday’s phrase, it’s all Oakland, at least so far as Donald Trump is concerned, with respect to any quid pro quo. You can read the transcript of the president’s call with the Ukrainian president. Read it. Then take this reading comprehension quiz: What was that call about? You get a gold star if you said if you said ‘Ukrainian corruption, especially efforts by Ukrainian figures and entities to help Hillary and hurt Donald Trump during the 2016 election cycle.’
Efforts to meddle in the 2016 election: that is what the call was chiefly about. Since that effort was part of a larger concern about corruption in Ukraine, Trump also asked about reports that Biden’s son Hunter was trading on his father’s name and position to peddle influence and line his pockets.
This is a subject that Adam Schiff will be at pains to avoid airing, but do not worry. It has been, and will continue, to be aired.
If you are worried about President Trump asking about Joe Biden in his telephone call to President Zelensky, what do you make of Ukraine’s efforts to aid Hillary Clinton and harm Donald Trump during the 2016 election? Back before ‘Ukraine’ and ‘quid pro quo’ became memes, even Politico, no friend of Donald Trump, was frank about that reality. On January 11, 2017 before Trump even took office, Politico reported that:
‘Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.’
That ‘top Trump aide’, of course, was Paul Manafort, and the Ukrainian efforts, led by one Alexandra Chalupa (whom Julie Kelly aptly described as ‘the Ukrainian version of Christopher Steele’) effectively ruined his career and landed him in the slammer.
A little more on the mote vs. beam in one’s eye motif. Adam’s Schiff Show today was intended to cast grave doubt upon President Trump by bringing the Klieg lights of the establishment — what one representative of that fraternity called the ‘policy community’ — to bear on someone predetermined to be outside their tribe.
How did that work out? Not so well for the prosecution. One of Schiff’s star witnesses was William Taylor, former ambassador to Ukraine and one of the people chiefly responsible for the whole ‘quid-pro-quo’ narrative. But as has been pointed out often over the last weeks, Taylor had no first hand knowledge of what Trump said to President Zelensky. Nor did he even had second hand knowledge. Like the Russian Collusion non-scandal (non-scandal as far as Trump was concerned, anyway), it was all a narrative fueled by wish, not facts. This was made painfully clear in Jim Jordan’s and John Ratcliffe’s evisceration of Taylor today.
‘Travesty’ may be too kind. As Giuliani goes on to note, the manner in which Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi are conducting the impeachment investigation “is unprecedented, constitutionally questionable, and an affront to American fair play.’
We are indeed entering uncharted waters. Impeachment was designed as an emergency last resort for heinous crimes, flagrant maladministration, or serious corruption. Adam’s Schiff show is deploying impeachment as a campaign tool. That way lies madness.
Andrew McCarthy underscored a critical point about the way the impeachment show (‘not inquiry’, he stressed, ‘show’) is unfolding. Behind the patent desire of the Democrats to destroy Trump and make way for their own ascension are real policy issues. They — and their multitudinous collaborators in the Deep State — don’t like they way Donald Trump is handling foreign policy (among other things). They have their own ideas, which they think are superior.
But here’s the rub. Donald Trump is president. His power in foreign affairs is essentially plenary. McCarthy notes that he takes issue with many of President Trump’s decisions and policies. But he makes this point:
‘It is the president, not the bureaucracy, who was elected by the American people. That puts him — not the National Security Council, the State Department, the intelligence community, the military, and their assorted subject-matter experts — in charge of making policy. If we’re to remain a constitutional republic, that’s how it has to stay.’
Bingo, and let’s underline that last remark: ‘If we’re to remain a constitutional republic, that’s how it has to stay.’
The Democrats have decided to weaponize impeachment, lifting it from its proper role and deploying it in an effort to gain partisan advantage over a popular opponent with whom they disagree.
There will be many twists and turns in this disreputable circus before it’s over, which will happen when the public grows tired of the Schiff Show and threatens electoral mutiny. But it is well to be cognizant of what a dangerous game the Democrats are playing. Donald Trump’s real crime was simply being elected. How dare he! The legitimate redress for Democrats’ grievance is the ballot box, but they are too uncertain of that recourse to have faith in it. Hence their destructive grandstanding.
I began with Matthew 7:5. Perhaps it is appropriate to end with Dorothy Parker: what fresh hell is this?