“Not standing up to Trump’s abuses will write the history of our decline with our own hand.”
— Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), one of seven Dem impeachment managers (1/22/20).
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (1/23/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
We are right in the thick of it, Impeachment of Trump. I will offer a few quick observations.
- Kudos – the Dems are punching above their weight, working with a weak hand against the controlling heavy hand of Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump and doing well.
- The wait-and-see approach of the GOP ‘moderates’ will come into direct conflict with the McConnell-Trump calendar.
- Trump, crowing from Davos, mocks the Dems over the documents he’s withheld – his obstruction worked. Republicans turn a blind eye and deaf ear.
Kudos to Dems and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
If you want the best single snapshot of Impeachment and what is all about, you can do no better than Rep. Adam Schiff’s Wednesday afternoon opening argument making the case against Trump. Schiff opened with this quote from Alexander Hamilton:
“When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’”
But Schiff also got right to the danger of Trump’s actions and why the Constitution has provisions for Impeachment, see if this rings true:
“The Framers of our Constitution worried then—as we worry today—that a leader could come to power not to carry out the will of the people that he was elected to represent, but to pursue his own interests. They feared that a president could subvert our democracy by abusing the awesome power of his office for his own personal or political gain.
“And so they devised a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to combat: Impeachment.”
Much about the trial is fluid but we already know certain things. On Tuesday, over 13 hours, the Senate voted 11 times on amendments put forward by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Collectively the amendments dealt with issuing subpoenas for testimony and document, calling witnesses and treatment of testimony and materials amongst other procedural matters.
Amendments were voted down on party lines, 47-53. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) did lend support for one Dem amendment to allow more time for responding to motions but it was also tabled with a GOP majority.
GOP lawyers don’t even try to defend Trump’s actions
The Dems put forward a masterful set of presentations; GOP lawyers mouthed a repetitive set of circular procedural arguments, never once making any attempt to defend Trump’s actions. Pick a GOP excuse – it’s wasn’t illegal, simply power politics, Dems didn’t make their case… – or no need to pick, often there is a litany of lies stitched together in repetitive sentences and paragraphs.
One point of Dem mastery; McConnell’s process ran from 1 PM ET until 2 AM. But each time an amendment was put forward the Dem Impeachment managers took full advantage to offer a robust justification both for Impeachment and for the motion. Repetitive yes, but effective – every hour was dominated by effective Dem presentations followed by short sets of ‘harrumphs’ by Trump lawyers, who offered up no defense. Zero.
Think about it, prime time television, for every time zone, was dominated by the Dem presentations. Aside from outcome, this was grand strategy and execution. McConnell and Trump may ‘win’, but the public wants a fair trial, they won’t get one, but they are hearing a sound justification for Impeachment.
Second best way to have witnesses? Dem arguments every step of the way have included video testimony from House witnesses. Such excellent execution making the best of a weak hand.
The Impeachment Calendar – Or Why It Won’t Be a Fair Trial
And here’s why the GOP stuff about ‘let’s start and we’ll address subpoenas, witnesses and documents at the right time’ is unlikely to work.
Trump will deliver a State of the Union address scheduled for February 4. McConnell and Trump want the trial to end before this so Trump can crow about he wasn’t caught; ‘never laid a glove on me’. GOP will call it power politics, ‘tsk-tsk’ Dem Impeachment case and life goes on.
IF there is agreement to bring witnesses and provide documents, how does this work? Documents have to be sourced, copied, distributed, digested, considered for new lines of questioning. Witnesses have to be subpoenaed, deposed and then agreed prior to appearance. How does any of this happen before a trial conclusion in advance of February 4?
Trump Mocks Impeachment, Brags About Obstruction From Afar
Trump is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos (he returns Wednesday evening). Before his Wednesday departure he offered this prototypical Trumpian remark (stupid, true and taunting):
Yep, one of the GOP circular arguments – can’t prove obstruction because the obstruction has been effective. GOPers follow this with advice — to prove obstruction you must go all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary; who would maybe weigh in at some future date – you know, like after the 2020 election.
There you have it – Trump testifying from Davos in favor of the Dem Impeachment case – bragging about how well he obstructs.
“Everybody’s talking about,” as Trump might say.
McConnell’s constituents want McConnell to make sure Trump is NOT removed from office, and it looks like he will deliver.
Dems stood up. Instead of equivocating, they dealt with Trump’s offenses head on. And at least for now, public opinion is in their favor. Will this work against Trump for his reelection effort? Would Dems have been punished at the polls for inaction? We’re not likely to know more before the election results.
There is an odd proposal kicking around – a Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) initiative to barter a former Trump national security adviser John Bolton appearance in trade for a Hunter Biden or even former VP Joe Biden witness appearance. My prediction – this won’t be agreed to, but more importantly, this is a bad trade. It’s a political move by Cruz to ‘fish’ for a Biden embarrassment of some form in trade for an unpredictable Bolton. I am not saying embarrassment over presumption of guilt – Biden’s are not related to Trump Impeachment and forcing a Biden to appear will be used by Trump to repetitively shift the argument of wrong-doing from him to Biden.
Kudos to the Dems for their preparation and execution – kudos to the GOP, excellent execution of the cynical mantra of ‘hear no, see no’.
Impeach and Remove.