November 19, 2019

‘Schiff Show’ Roundup: Perjury, Nine Witnesses

Democrats have a busy week of testimony, and are also going back to the Mueller well.

Just when you thought Democrats had moved on to nailing President Donald Trump on Ukraine, they go back to the “Russia collusion” well. The Wall Street Journal reports, “The top lawyer for the Democratic-led House said impeachment investigators were examining whether President Trump lied in statements to former special counsel Robert Mueller.”

Rep. Jame Raskin (D-MD) explains, “It’s a crime to lie to federal prosecutors in the course of a federal proceeding. That’s perjury. It was also the basis for the GOP-controlled House’s impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying under oath, for committing perjury. So it’s a very serious offense — and it’s obviously something that we take seriously.”

So, along with shifting to “bribery” instead of “quid pro quo,” Democrats have latched onto a second word — “perjury” — to bolster their impeachment case. Constitutional and legal terms tested better than Latin in focus groups. Democrats may also be baiting Trump into testifying on his own behalf. He says he would “strongly consider” it.

But given how poorly the Mueller report panned out for Democrats the first time, we’re going to go out on a limb and say the sequel won’t be any better.

Nine people are set to testify this week. The so-called whistleblower is not among them.

As Mark Alexander argues, “We have assumed the Demos would spread their net to catch Trump on something beyond Ukraine — the same model Mueller used to catch Trump associates like Paul Manafort on charges completely unrelated to the Russia investigation — but with the two Justice Department reports coming up, some Demos may get caught in their own net. Again, it’s concern about getting caught in their own net that accounts for Schiff’s reversing himself by not allowing testimony from the CIA deep-stater/whistleblower, which could very likely end up landing at his own feet.”

The four people on tap Tuesday are Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia; Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs at the National Security Council; Kurt Volker, former special envoy to Ukraine; and Timothy Morrison, deputy assistant to the president and the National Security Council’s senior director for Europe and Russia. (Williams’s opening statement. And Vindman’s opening statement.)

Another Wall Street Journal report notes that Vindman and Williams “told impeachment investigators that they were concerned by the political nature of the president’s request.” According to Vindman’s prepared remarks, “It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent.” That is the case Democrats hope to parlay into an impeachment vote.

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