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Nate Jackson / Jan. 30, 2020

Impeachment Trial Day 8: Dershowitz, Schiff, and Bolton

Distortion reigns supreme, from the president's defense to Schiff's act to Bolton's book.

“If the president does something that he thinks will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a member of President Donald Trump’s defense team, told the Senate Wednesday. Predictably, his statement, which outlines his consistent defense of Trump, was mischaracterized by Democrats and the Leftmedia in service to the impeachment agenda.

Dershowitz certainly could have been clearer, but the Trump team’s argument is this: A lawful quid pro quo in service to U.S. interests is not illegal or impeachable, regardless of whether it benefits the president politically. Thus, even if Democrats’ allegations are true, Trump’s “offense” doesn’t rise to an impeachable one. Of course, there’s also an inconvenient truth: There was no actual quid pro quo, though one was attempted. Ukraine got its military aid and Volodymyr Zelensky got his presidential meeting, all without opening the investigations Trump requested.

In any case, Trump’s request regarding the corruption of a previous and potentially future American administration is absolutely in U.S. interests, though Trump was unwise to ask this of one of Europe’s most corrupt countries.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand exemplified the hyperventilating on the Left, arguing that Dershowitz “essentially said that if President Trump believes his election is for the good of the American people that he could do whatever he wants.” That’s a false representation of what Dershowitz actually argued, and leftists know it.

Patrick Philbin, one of the president’s lawyers, bolstered Dershowitz’s point: “If there is something that shows a possible public interest” in what Trump said, “that destroys [the Democrats’] case.”

Adam Schiff, one of the leading and most dishonest of the Democrat impeachment managers, disagreed. “If any part of the president’s motivation was a corrupt motive,” he insisted, “it would be enough to convict under criminal law.”

To illustrate his preposterous contention, Schiff engaged in another bit of absurd B-movie theater, mockingly saying, “Let’s … see how you feel about this scenario:”

President [Barack] Obama, on an open mic, says to [then-Russian President Dimitri] Medvedev, “Hey, Medvedev, I know you don’t want me to send this military money to Ukraine because they are fighting and killing your people. I want you to do me a favor, though. I want you to do an investigation of Mitt Romney. And I want you to announce you found dirt on Mitt Romney. If you’re willing to do that, quid pro quo, I won’t give Ukraine the money they need to fight you on the front line.”

Do any of us have any question that Barack Obama would be impeached for that kind of misconduct? Are we really ready to say that that would be okay if Barack Obama asked Medvedev to investigate his opponent and withhold money from an ally that needed to defend itself to get an investigation of Mitt Romney? That’s the parallel here.

The especially brazen aspect of Schiff’s latest attempt to win an Oscar is that he comes fairly close to what Obama actually did. Unknowingly on a hot mic, Obama told Medvedev in 2012 that he would have “more flexibility” after his reelection to make changes to U.S. defense policy sought by our Russian geopolitical foes and detrimental to our European allies. Obama was not impeached, of course, though Democrats — four years too late — eventually realized that Russia is in fact a threat to U.S. interests.

No, Romney was not mentioned in the real conversation, but Obama had to defeat Romney before he could give Medvedev’s puppet master, Vladimir Putin, what he wanted: American capitulation on missile defense. Nothing Trump said is even remotely close to being that bad for U.S. interests.

Meanwhile, as John Bolton and his leaked book allegations have dominated the news this week, there’s more misinformation and distortion coming out of even libertarian and conservative news outlets. Without getting lost in the weeds, any book written by a top administration official like Bolton must be reviewed by the National Security Council (NSC) to determine if any classified information is revealed.

In a letter to Bolton’s publisher, the NSC contended that there was indeed classified information — some of it TOP SECRET — in Bolton’s manuscript. That would need to be removed before the book could be published. This was not a ham-handed attempt at “muzzling” Bolton, and it wasn’t a “threat” to block his book entirely, either. The NSC review is standard procedure that Bolton rightly submitted to in order to honor his own nondisclosure agreements.

The NSC letter is dated January 23, three days before the New York Times blockbuster revealing that Bolton says there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine. The Times depended on a well-timed leak of Bolton’s manuscript, leaving us to wonder whether the leaker — one of the Vindman twins? — violated federal law by disclosing classified information.

Democrats still want Bolton to testify before the Senate, though that is increasingly unlikely. But we thought it would be enlightening to highlight Schiff’s long history of denigrating Bolton. In 2005, Schiff complained of Bolton’s “lack of credibility.” And all the way back in 2018, he groused about Bolton’s “love of conspiracy theories.”

Now we have to hear from Bolton? What changed, Mr. Schiff?

And finally, Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the president’s trial, refused to read a question submitted by Sen. Rand Paul because Paul named the whistleblower. The worst-kept secret in the swamp is that Eric Ciaramella is likely the whistleblower. Federal law protects whistleblowers only from retribution, not from being named, so the continued charade of keeping his name a “secret” is absurd. Not only should Ciaramella’s name be spoken, he should have testified before the House.

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