What if they gave an impeachment and nobody came?
For those of you who weren’t around during the antiwar protests of the 1960s, this line is a take-off on the catchphrase from that era, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?”
When applied to literal war with military combat, that question is about as unrealistic as it gets. If an army comes at you with all its weaponry and you don’t show up to fight, it runs right over you and conquers you. Think France and World War II –- it took other nations coming to the war to get them out from under the boot of Nazis. The only way this idea works is if absolutely NOBODY with any firepower decides to wage war.
Of course, that didn’t stop hippies, too tripped-out on hallucinogens to think clearly, from hanging the posters and wearing the T-shirts. Often, the question was illustrated with a picture of a gun with a daisy sticking out of it. Flower power. Right on.
But for an impeachment “war” --- especially the unconstitutional semi-impeachment inquiry currently underway in Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee, it makes sense.
Yesterday, White House counsel Pat Cipolloni sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi and three House committee chairmen outlining the myriad problems with their so-called “impeachment inquiry” and saying that unless they followed legal precedent and due process, the administration would not be cooperating thank-you-very-much. It was a masterful, must-read letter; I’ll link to it again here, this time in a more layman-friendly edit with John Hinderaker’s comments:
To play along with this farce is to lend legitimacy to an illegitimate inquiry. If the Intelligence Committee really were on a fact-finding mission, it would allow the President to submit his own evidence, have access to evidence, call and cross-examine witnesses, receive transcripts of testimony, and to have his own counsel present. (Recall that Newt Gingrich, as then-Speaker, allowed Bill Clinton all of these civil rights.) But this is about furthering the narrative that they themselves created and trying to “get” Trump on obstruction of justice for his non-cooperation with this sham. To have obstruction of justice, don’t you first have to have JUSTICE? There is no justice here to obstruct.
Cipollone’s letter says it well: “Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it. Because participating in this inquiry under the current unconstitutional posture would inflict lasting institutional harm on the Executive Branch.”
Of course, the radical Democratic base doesn’t care what their anti-Trump fight does to the Executive Branch, the Constitution and the American system of justice. They don’t respect these institutions, anyway, and if they can bring down Trump and destroy the concept of individual rights for people with whom they disagree, they’ll consider it a two-fer.
Can Republicans just not show up at all? Ranking House Intelligence Committee member Devin Nunes says they at least will have to have one member of Congress present and a lawyer to take notes. “If not,” he told Sean Hannity on Wednesday, “they do control the gavels, they have the power, and they can do a lot of really bad things.” In other words, not staying apprised of what Democrats are doing would be very much like sticking a daisy into the barrel of a soldier’s rifle.
He expressed surprise that Pelosi wasn't bothering to go to court to challenge the White House counsel, saying “that means they really are just racing to get this done.”
He went on, “...I think what you’re seeing is, they’re on a ‘sugar high’ with polls right now, they’ve got 90 percent of the media poisoning people, they’ve got all the tech companies poisoning people, so they read the polls right now and they want to race quickly, as long as it’s 50 percent plus 1, to impeach the President.”
This kind of accelerated schedule, called a “rocket docket,” is in this case being used to get an impeachment before the various Justice Department investigations on the Trump/Russia probe and abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) are complete and made public. Some of that –- IG Horowitz’ report on FISA abuse by Obama’s FBI/DOJ –- will probably be out in the next couple of weeks, so Democrats don’t want anything to slow them down.
Not only has White House counsel questioned the legitimacy of the so-called impeachment inquiry, but a federal judge has questioned how she could know if an inquiry had begun when there had been no floor vote. This was in a hearing on Tuesday about whether the House Judiciary Committee should get secret grand jury materials from Mueller’s special counsel report as part of the inquiry. Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, ranking member of the committee, had filed a brief in the House application for this to point out that prior impeachments had been authorized by a floor vote. He wrote that the Judiciary Committee would normally be able to get the materials if the full House had voted to start a formal inquiry, but that this hadn’t happened.
“Without an explicit authorization from the full House, the Court has no determinative measure of when an official impeachment proceeding has begun and when the Committee is merely exercising its normal oversight powers,” Collins wrote in his brief. “Votes --- not words or press conferences, by Members, the Chairman, or the Speaker –- are the mechanism through which Congress acts.”
According to Todd Ruger in ROLL CALL, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell asked House General Counsel Douglas Letter, “Where are you suggesting I should draw lines?” She said it would “make it easier for all of us” if Speaker Pelosi would have a floor vote, and she has yet to rule on whether the Judiciary Committee can see the secret special counsel documents. Ruger says Pelosi appears to have the support to pass a resolution authorizing the inquiry. So the question is, why wouldn’t she just have the doggone vote?
I say it’s because she wants to be able to do this while denying Trump due process, which would require them to let Trump produce documents and call witnesses. This is NOT a search for truth, and the last thing Democrats want is for him to submit evidence that conflicts with their narrative and, worse, shows what THEY did.
University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck said Cipollone’s letter will elevate this “from a series of squabbles to a full-on confrontation.” President Trump said Wednesday that “the whole thing is a scam, a fix” and that the letter would probably lead to a Supreme Court case. (He also taunted Democrats a bit by saying, “I sort of thrive on it.”) Though a 1993 Supreme Court decision seems to give Congress the power to make its own rules for impeachment, there might be a question of whether it can enforce such rules without a floor vote on opening an inquiry. But, again, impeachment-mad Democrats are in a hurry and do not want to be slowed down for anything.