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January 31, 2020

Impeachment Charade Almost Over?

Republicans have the votes to block new witnesses, which should lead to Trump’s immediate acquittal.

Thursday was the second and final day for the Democrat House managers and President Donald Trump’s defense team to make their arguments for and against impeachment as they responded to written questions submitted by senators. However, the biggest development yesterday came in the evening, as one of the four Republican senators the Democrats were counting on to side with them in calling for new witnesses unequivocally declared that he would vote against doing so.

Explaining his decision in a statement, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander argued, “The framers believed that there should never, ever be a partisan impeachment. That is why the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate for conviction. Yet not one House Republican voted for these articles. If this shallow, hurried and wholly partisan impeachment were to succeed, it would rip the country apart, pouring gasoline on the fire of cultural divisions that already exist. It would create the weapon of perpetual impeachment to be used against future presidents whenever the House of Representatives is of a different political party.”

We speculated that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s partisan impeachment vote would come back to bite Democrats, and it certainly appears that’s the case.

Speaking of Pelosi, she pompously declared that Trump “will not be acquitted,” regardless of the Senate vote. Why? “You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial. And you don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documents.” But that raises a big question: On what evidence did the House Democrats rest their impeachment case if they need new witnesses that they themselves refused to call and more documents that they failed to obtain?

Pelosi might want to check with Joe Biden. Back in 1999, then-Sen. Biden explained why the Senate didn’t need to call additional witnesses in Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. “The Senate may dismiss articles of impeachment without holding a full trial or taking any evidence,” Biden said then. “Put another way, the Constitution does not impose on the Senate the duty to hold a trial. … In a number of previous impeachment trials, the Senate has reached the judgment that its constitutional role as a sole trier of impeachments does not require it to take new evidence or hear live witness testimony.”

Meanwhile, among the most notable questions Thursday was one from Sen. Rand Paul, which Chief Justice John Roberts refused to read for reasons that were not clear. Paul then posted his question publicly: “My exact question was: Are you aware that House intelligence committee staffer Shawn Misko had a close relationship with Eric Ciaramella while at the National Security Council together? … My question is about the actions of known Obama partisans within the NSC and House staff and how they are reported to have conspired before impeachment proceedings had even begun.”

What Paul endeavored to force Democrats to answer is precisely what Mark Alexander has asserted from the early days of this charade and reiterated Wednesday in his column, “Topping My Impeachment Witness List: Adam Schiff” — Schiff and his staff colluded with Ciaramella. “Schiff has coordinated the entire impeachment narrative and is its principal author and director. Thus, subjecting Schiff to Republican cross-examination would reveal his collusion with the ‘whistleblower’ — which would unravel the entire case against Trump.”

While Roberts blocked Paul’s question, he did read a similar one from Sen. Ron Johnson that asked about Schiff’s reported hiring of an individual who had contact with the whistleblower — a hiring that occurred the day after Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president. Schiff responded with righteous indignation suggesting that the question itself was a “smearing of the professional people that work for the Intelligence Committee” and that he “will not dignify those smears on my staff by giving them any credence whatsoever; nor will I share any information which I believe could or could not lead to the identification of the whistleblower.”

But Chief White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was having none of Schiff’s obfuscation. He argued, “So I think [the senators] deserve an answer to that question, and I think it’s time in this country that we stop assuming that everybody has horrible motives, in the puritanical rage of just everybody’s doing something wrong, except for you. ‘You cannot be questioned’ — that’s part of the problem here.”

Finally, it looks likely that wily Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has once again rallied Senate Republicans to hold the line and vote against calling any witnesses. If that does indeed happen, then the vote for acquitting Trump should occur soon afterwards, finally ending this Democrat partisan impeachment charade by this evening. This would be a huge win for Trump, Republicans, and the entire country. Of course, as the saying goes, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. Here’s hoping she’s singing loud and proud tonight.

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