Are Republican complaints about the impeachment process valid?

No! A big fat NO. They’re just throwing arguments at the wall hoping one sticks.

The impeachment inquiry is not a “witch hunt.” Trump himself has acknowledged conduct that, without further evidence, would be enough to impeach him. And the inquiry is squarely within the House of Representatives’ constitutional authority.

Is the impeachment inquiry being conducted in secret without Republican participation? No. In every one of the committees involved in conducting the inquiry, Republican members have a seat, are allowed to participate, and are doing so.

Are Republicans abusing their participation? Arguably yes. On Thursday, Oct. 29, 2019, Democrats complained their questioning of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a witness to Trump’s now-infamous July 25 phone conversation with Ukraine President Zelensky, attempted to extract the identity of the whistleblower. Federal law protects the whistleblower’s identity, and Democrats have expressed fear the person’s life could be in danger if his or her identity became public. Vindman has said he’s not the whistleblower, and doesn’t know who is.

This isn’t the first act of irresponsibility by Republicans in regard to the impeachment inquiry. Last week, dozens of Republican House members, some video-recording with cellphones, crashed and delayed a closed-door witness deposition being conducted in a secure facility our adversaries would love to get a better look at. They just did.

Do the Democrats have a valid reason for interviewing witnesses behind closed doors? Yes. Trump’s bullying, intimidation, and threats against witnesses (he’s suggested at least one witness should be shot as a spy) alone justify protecting the witnesses. And also, for that matter, warrant separate articles of impeachment for that conduct.

But in addition, while the Nixon and Clinton impeachments were preceded by special prosecutor investigations, this one is not — you’ll never get a special prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Barr, who himself deserves to be impeached for turning the Department of Justice into a law firm dedicated to defending Trump — so the closed-door hearings are a substitute for the special prosecutor investigation that’s absent from this impeachment, and function as a kind of grand jury.

Republicans have no problem with grand jury proceedings being secret. It’s the law. In fact, they’re trying to keep Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury proceedings — which resulted in multiple indictments, guilty pleas, convictions, and prison sentences of people close to Trump and his campaign — secret. (There are circumstances where a judge can order grand jury records unsealed; and, in this case, a judge just did.)

Democrats have explained the witness depositions need to be taken behind closed doors so the witnesses — many of whom are hostile and uncooperative — can’t coordinate their stories. In other words, lie.

Republicans complain this process denies Trump due process. That argument is specious, and they know it. It’s specious because there will be public hearings, with public testimony subject to cross-examination, and full participation by Republican members and counsel — including the right to cross-examine witnesses — before any vote is taken on articles of impeachment. Trump will get the same due process every other federal official who’s been impeached has gotten.

The bottom line is that everything Republicans are doing and saying is in bad faith. They’re not interested in the truth. To the contrary, they’re doing everything they can to derail the impeachment proceedings and protect their president from being held accountable for behavior that is simply outrageous: Converting congressionally appropriated and desperately need aid for an ally under attack by Russia into bribe money used to extort fabricated evidence of wrongdoing against Trump’s political opponent.

Not only is it outrageous, it’s a threat to our democracy. That Republicans are not only defending this, but trying to block the constitutional process the Founders created for specifically this kind of presidential misbehavior, is beyond the pale.

For Republicans, though, attacking the process is merely a cynical tactic. They know Trump’s behavior was indefensible and he essentially has no defense on the substance. So if House Republicans, now in a minority and unable to control the critical votes in that chamber, can’t shoot down impeachment in the process stage, and the House — as it surely will — impeaches Trump, Senate Republicans will be put in the awkward position of having to either approve of Trump’s behavior or remove him from office … a choice they don’t want to make with an election just around the corner.

Why not just wait for the election and let the voters decide? That was, in fact, where House Speaker Pelosi was leading her caucus until this Ukraine scandal came along. That changed everything. Why? For one thing, it was just too egregious to let pass. Even more importantly, if Democrats didn’t respond to this behavior, Trump was likely to do something even worse. Throughout his presidency, he’s been testing boundaries, and acting like there aren’t any. Hitler did the same thing, and history tells us what happened when the forces of law, decency, and right didn’t draw the line soon enough or firmly enough. Trump’s immorality and disrespect for the rule of law makes it more necessary to stop him in his tracks before he goes even farther.

The American people, who will be the ultimate arbiters of Trump’s fate, agree with what the Democrats are doing. The most recent polls show a majority now support impeachment and removal from office. That number is likely to grow as witnesses testify in public and the sordid facts are put in front of the nation in public hearings. Americans have a strong sense of fair play, and generally know right from wrong. All the due process in the world — and Trump will get it — won’t save him if those values survive his coming Senate trial.

There’s nothing wrong with how Democrats are conducting this impeachment process. What’s wrong is Donald Trump’s conduct. This process is necessary to set things right.

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Mark Adams #

    There are clear dangers and problems in the way the Democrats have conducted this inquiry. The first being that the President acted lawfully and within the power of his office. Andrew Johnson was entirely guilty of what he was charged with. The fact it was a set up and the law unconstitutional is somehow currently being overlooked. Still at the end of all that Johnson was not removed from office, and that was with Republican’s controlling both houses of Congress and Republicans in the Senate saying the House had gone too far. Using the Democrats current theories of what they are doing Johnson should have been removed from office.
    At some point some poor Democrat is going to have to be the Prosecutor in the Senate and its very likely unless the Senate decides to just dismiss the charges that individual is going to be thoroughly embarrassed. That person or persons will be members of the Judiciary Committee, but they should ask Mr. Schiff to come along for the ride.
    Federal law may protect the Whistleblower, but what happens when the Chief Justice rules the individual is not a whistleblower according to statute. He is not as his complaint was directed at individuals who do fall under outside the DNI’s purview. As such the individual can be called to testify publicly, and the statute clearly states that if there are judicial proceedings the whistleblower can be called to give testimony.
    What do Democrats do when Republicans call for Joe Biden’s testimony? And President Barrack Obama’s testimony? Won’t that be a fun ball of wax, and if they do not testify in the House they will be called in the Senate. Why isn’t former VP JOe Biden being investigated? That would be fair and hopefully transparent.
    The responsibilities of the HOuse are laid out in the constitution and if the Democrats want they can skip to writing up the articles of impeachment and go for a vote. They are the majority. No matter its roles the House is the HOuse of Representatives at the end of the day, and what this is ultimately about is who fills those seats after 2020 election. The Democrats are making a bet they will, but knowing the American people if the HOuse drags this thing out and the Senate fails to remove Republicans will not be the minority in 2021 and it will be President Trump.
    And none of the Democratic candidates are at all saying the right things which if for the HOuse to stop this process, and that they can win the White House and do not need the sitting President removed. They all appear weak calling for impeachment, and if the President is removed the office they are running would be much weakened. And once the REpublican’s have control of the House there will be payback should a Democrat sit in the oval office.
    All the talk of Trump being a tyrant misses the fact it is the Speaker of the HOuse acting like a Greek tyrant. All that is left is the call to impeach Pence for the same crime as he was involved and enabled the President. That is going to ge well with the Senate, but hey maybe Nancy Pelosi needs to be President to bring decency back to the office of President.

  2. Roger Rabbit #

    Mark, you’re presenting vapid GOP talking points, not reasoned arguments. There’s a legitimate reason why the witnesses were sequestered during the inquiry phase: So they couldn’t coordinate their stories. Exactly the same thing is done in grand jury proceedings. Trump will get full due process when public hearings begin — actually more than Republicans gave Bill Clinton when they impeached him. Pelosi knows the public won’t support a star chamber process, and doesn’t need one because the evidence will speak for itself.

Your Comment