After Saturday morning’s take-down of House managers by the Trump attorneys, I was expecting great things from them on Monday --- and was not disappointed. They triumphed. Among the highlights:
Our friend Pam Bondi, former attorney general of Florida, offered ample justification for the Trump administration to want Ukraine to include the Bidens in their investigation of high-level government corruption, and for Trump to raise this issue with Zelensky (even though it was Zelensky who brought it up during the call). She showed that the Bidens’ massive profiteering looked so bad, even the major (i.e., Democrat) media had done big news stories on it. Her produced video retrospective included numerous examples of these. She noted that even the Obama State Department had had concerns.
It seemed obvious after watching Bondi’s 30-minute presentation that President Trump would have been remiss if he HADN’T expected Ukraine to take a look, whether Joe Biden might ultimately be the Democrat candidate for President or not.
In fact, after hearing what she had to say and seeing the evidence of personal monetary gain by the Bidens, I don’t know why Hunter Biden is even useful as a witness in this forum. (Are you listening, Mr. Romney?) We have what we need. As I’ve said, Hunter would likely just take the Fifth; what good would that be, especially if it opened the door to a parade of witnesses put on by House managers just to stall the inevitable? If the Democrats offer such a deal --- “we get Bolton, you get Biden” –- Trump’s attorneys should turn it down.
The uproar over one passage in Bolton’s book manuscript concerning funds for Ukraine being contingent upon investigating the Bidens is based, at least so far, on very little. It turns out that no one who has “revealed” anything about the manuscript has even seen it. That’s right, even THE NEW YORK TIMES didn’t actually see it and doesn’t know exactly how it was worded. A “source” told them about it. In other words, this is just more hearsay. As the WALL STREET JOURNAL points out, Bolton doesn’t have to testify to clarify this, but simply make a public statement or write an op-ed for, say, the WALL STREET JOURNAL.
Anyway, Bondi did a stellar job of exposing the seriousness of the Biden issue. “All we are saying is that there was a basis to talk about this, to raise this issue, and that is enough,” she concluded.
Harvard legal professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz turned exceedingly professorial, presenting a primer on what the founders meant by “high crimes and misdemeanors” and their rationale for that (as if House managers care). He explained that if Congress starts finding reasons to impeach Presidents they don’t like, we’ll have, in effect, a parliamentary system, not the balance of powers we have (as if House managers care). He quoted widely, including from Alexander Hamilton, who warned in Federalist #65 that “the greatest danger is that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.” No kidding.
Dershowitz furiously called out Democrats, notably Maxine Waters for saying, “Impeachment is whatever Congress says it is. There is no law.” (Yes, she actually said that.) He offered this gem: “For Congress to ignore the specific words of the Constitution itself and substitute its own judgments would be for Congress to do what it is accusing the President of doing.” Amen.
He explained how difficult it is to separate a leader’s political gain with what’s good for the country. Obviously, what’s good for the country will seem self-serving, he said, as it’s bound to benefit the leader politically. He ripped into the managers for trying to look into “the real reason” Trump has done something, the reason “actually in his mind.” It was a stellar moment: “Would you want YOUR actions to be probed for what was ‘the REAL REASON’ why you acted?” The framers couldn’t have intended this ‘psychoanalytic’ approach to presidential motives to determine what is impeachable and what is not, he said.
Dershowitz also brought up the “shoe on the other foot” test for objectivity, which, coincidentally, my staff and I always like to use, to make sure we apply equal standards to everyone. And regarding that, he definitely practices what he preaches. He took great pains to clarify: he votes Democrat, he voted for Hillary, and he disagrees with Trump on many issues. STILL, what Trump has been accused of does not rise to the level of impeachment, he said, not anywhere near. That holds true even on the off-off-chance that there’s anything to the latest NYT story. “Even if a President, any President, were to demand a quid pro quo as a condition to sending aid to a foreign country --- obviously a highly disputed matter, in this case --- that would not in itself constitute an abuse of power,” he said.
For that, he used the “shoe on the other foot” test: Suppose a Democrat President tells Netanyahu that foreign aid authorized by Congress won’t be sent, or an Oval Office meeting scheduled, unless the Israelis stop building settlements. An obvious quid pro quo. “I might disapprove on policy grounds,” he said, “but it would not constitute an abuse of power.” This is how Presidents have always used their power.
Speaking of the “shoe on the other foot” test, my favorite moment of the day may have been Trump attorney Eric Herschmann’s application of that principle. To illustrate the double standard, he DARED to compare President Trump with...wait for it...President Obama. Gasp! Herschmann had the nerve to show the clip of Obama’s March 26, 2012, “hot mic” moment with Russian President Medvedev on the eve of the nuclear security summit in Seoul, South Korea, in which he was caught leaning in close and saying, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” Obama pats Medvedev on the arm, and they nod in mutual understanding. Medvedev replies, “I’ll transmit this information to Vladimir and I stand with you.”
Herschmann provided context for this stunning exchange and explained how it clearly meets the House managers’ standard for “abuse of power.” Can you even imagine the freak-out Democrats would have if Trump were overheard saying this? (Not that he ever would; this is hypothetical.) There would be riots in the streets --- funded by George Soros, of course --- and calls for the President to be hanged as a traitor and agent of Russia.
Ironically, people were so bored or put off by the House managers’ arguments last week that this week’s audience is relatively small. Too bad –- they’re missing history in the making. Trump’s defense is doing a magnificent job, and I could not be prouder to be on their side. After the Democrats’ embarrassing lies, distortions and name-calling, these attorneys showed themselves to be the adults in the room, the guys in the white hats. I’m not sure how Alan Dershowitz can still say he’s a Democrat after what his party did and continues to do, in the name of power, to the Constitution he loves, but that’s a question for another time.