Clarice Feldman – The week ended with the President trumping a low pair — congressmen Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler — when White House Counsel Pat Cipollone responded to Congressman Nadler’s demand that the Judiciary Committee be informed if the White House intended to participate in the second act of the impeachment clown show. The letter in sum says, “go right to impeachment so we can have a real trial in the Senate”:
In effect, he was telling the 31 congressmen who won in 2016 in districts carried by Trump, along with others on shaky ground, that they can vote for this only at substantial cost to their own careers.
What to Expect in the Senate Trial
Mollie Hemingway who, like me, doesn’t believe the President will be impeached, notes the likely witness list in a Senate hearing, which, unlike the House hearings, operates like a real trial with due process protections.
Among those she thinks would certainly be subpoenaed: Adam Schiff, Eric Ciaramella and his lawyer Mark Zaid, Schiff staffers, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and Democratic members of Schiff’s Permanent Select Committee on Investigations.
She indicates the trial will have access to extensive declassified materials (declassified by the President) including transcripts of those that Schiff’s committee questioned in closed-door hearings which he has refused to release (probably because they support the President).
A re-examination, this time by hostile questioners, of the parade before Schiff’s committee and a subpoenaing of many of the upper levels of the Obama administration.
Did Nadler’s hearing this week, add a single thing to the Schiff hearings? No, says Hemingway, who very accurately described them:
Of his three witnesses, one was an Elizabeth Warren donor who previously said she couldn’t stand to walk on the same sidewalk as the Trump hotel. Another witness previously said Democrats didn’t even need evidence of crimes committed by the president in order to impeach him. And their third and final witness previously helped run Dianne Feinstein’s anti-Brett Kavanaugh smear operation in 2018.
To those skeptical that any of the wrongdoers at high level will be jailed, she reminds us of other consequences they’d face: lost clearances, extensive legal fees, and vastly diminished reputations.
The end result: an acquittal and ”a massive election victory for Trump.”
Chances This Will Ever Reach the Senate are Slight
It’s a puzzlement to many that Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for her party to begin drafting articles of impeachment now. Why? Each day this farcical pretense continues the President’s popularity and war chest grows.
It doesn’t take a lot of deep political thought to see where this is headed. Even if the Democrats in the House vote to impeach — and it still isn’t a given that they’ll have the votes — the Senate will never convict.
The president, however, may end up with a campaign war chest the likes of which no incumbent has ever seen. Impeach him, and he shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
Indeed, Cipollone’s letter, as I note, was a flag to wavering Democratic congressmen that they may well be sacrificing their careers for nothing.
The speaker’s reluctance to move forward until now (if not simply a feint) may have been based on acknowledged reality that the president will not be removed from office. Perhaps it’s simply a belief that impeachment is so unlikely that her best bet is to let this drag on and on without resolution in the hope that the mud that has not been sticking will suddenly take hold.
It will be interesting, in any event, to see what the articles of impeachment allege. The last I saw, they shifted the rationale to bribery, but as Mickey Kaus tweeted:
It’s an indication of the clumsiness of the poll-tested “bribery” charge that Rep. Karen Bass — who’s on the Judiciary committee — says the problem is Trump “attempting to bribe” Zelensky. [2:05 in] Isn’t it that supposedly Trump solicited a bribe for himself?
Maybe it’s to distract from the Horowitz report due to be released on Monday and anticipated criminal prosecutions by U.S. Attorney John Durham of those who illegally authorized the spying on the Trump campaign in 2016.
Parties out of power tend to be foolish and irresponsible, but I’ve never seen anything as stupid as this.
Mark Thiessen sees it as I do. “[I]t could prove to be the biggest political blunder in modern times,” he writes.
Thiessen shows support for removal has slipped since the hearings began and “opposition to impeachment and removal has nearly doubled.”
For those who suggest maybe the Democrats should drop efforts to impeach and just vote to censure, Thiessen argues the time for that face-saving measure has passed:
Censure today would be seen as a sign of weakness, a signal that Democratic leaders might not be able to muster the votes for impeachment. Indeed, they might not. Only two Democrats voted no on authorizing an impeachment inquiry, but voting to allow an inquiry is different from actually voting to impeach the president. After sticking their necks out to authorize hearings that failed to move the needle in favor of removal, will those 31 vulnerable Democrats in Trump districts really vote to remove him from office? They may have to choose between delivering a historic defeat to their party in the House on impeachment, or suffering defeat at the polls next November.
Democratic Support for Impeachment Is on Shaky Ground
Larry Schweikart notes the slippage has begun and Pelosi’s margin is already down to 10: “So now it appears Max Rose (NY) and Dan Kildee (MI) are joining Jeff Van Drew (NJ), Cindy Axne (IA), & 1 other IA congresswoman in opposing impeachment. Brindisi (NY) & Horn (OK) are under water. Are they going to support?“
Lest you think that my belief that an impeachment resolution will never pass is Pollyannaish — think about it — the drafting of the articles and the votes will drag on until months in 2020. The speaker gave no timeline, and as this appears to be no more than a further attempt to smear without jeopardizing their majority, I expect the Democrats will take a long time drafting the articles, voting on them individually in committee and then in the House. By then we will be heading into the election period and it is unlikely that Democratic congressional members running for the nomination will even be in Washington for the hearings and vote.
Pelosi’s is a Hail Mary pass because with this gaggle of losing candidates and the ferocious and out-of-hand left wing the party has cultivated, there seemed to be nothing left for her to do to satisfy them. It reminded my Facebook friend Alexander Gorman of Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant,” when he as a colonial policeman in Burma he reluctantly shot an elephant he didn’t want to kill because the native population expected him to do so.
Fortunately, the longer this goes on, the worse the party’s chances in November as employment soars, the stock market booms, the economy hums, and voters grow increasingly intolerant of this ridiculous, evidence-free, utterly boring (even Nadler fell asleep in his own hearing), show in place of real legislative accomplishment.