Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander apparently has heard enough (join the club) and has been swayed to the “no witnesses” side, while Sens. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney are breaking with the majority and voting “yes,” to have them. (I'd expected no better from Romney but had of Collins.) At this writing –- early Friday –- the one Republican said to be still undecided is Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. If she votes “yes,” it’ll be 50-50, but according to Senate impeachment rules, a tie means the motion fails.
It’s likely that no Democrat, no matter how sick to death of the process he or she might be, dares vote against prolonging it with more witnesses, more court challenges, more mess. This makes no logical sense when House managers have said repeatedly that they’ve already proved their case.
Friday promises to be extremely contentious, before (and maybe after) the vote. As I said yesterday, I think this fight over witnesses is a huge act; the managers don’t WANT them, or want them only if they can be sure certain defense witnesses will be ruled “immaterial.” They have a plan for that, which they pushed on Thursday: have Chief Justice John Roberts rule on the admissibility of each witness’s testimony. Ah...”fairness.” (Ah, sarcasm.) They said they were proposing this –- I kid you not –- in order to “save time” and keep the witness period to one week at most. Judging from Chief Justice Roberts’ decisions Thursday regarding admissibility of questions touching on “whistleblower” ERIC CIARAMELLA, managers can get a good idea which witnesses will and won’t be ruled “material.”
Here’s what I mean: When Rand Paul submitted a question to both House manager Schiff and the President’s counsel, Chief Justice Roberts glanced at the card, set it aside, and said, “The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted.” Apparently he’d determined that no one may utter this person’s name, whether the question specifically identifies him as the “whistleblower” or not.
Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, who has sued for records on this individual, called this “an extraordinary example of the ‘deep state’ protecting itself.” As we’ve discussed, ERIC CIARAMELLA has ties to Joe Biden and was assigned by the CIA to deal with Ukraine issues in the White House under both Obama and Trump. Fitton told Tucker Carlson Thursday that questions about him are “of intense public interest,” but that even YouTube will take down any video that mentions his name. The ban on saying his name is a political consideration, not a legal one. Fitton theorizes that Schiff has actually intimidated (he used the word “bullied”) the Chief Justice and others on this point.
So, here’s one question Republican senators SHOULD have posed to Trump’s legal counsel: “Please explain why the Whistleblower Statute and whatever level of anonymity it might convey doesn’t APPLY to the person who filled out the whistleblower complaint on the Trump/Zelensky phone call.” I don’t think, in 16 hours of asking about 180 questions, that anyone asked this. I would’ve loved to hear the answer, as my understanding is that this statute applies just to internal affairs within the intel community, concerning an “intelligence activity.” Going outside that realm to express concerns about the President of the United States is not covered by the statute. That’s why I’m fine with saying “ERIC CIARAMELLA.”
But as long as Democrats are pushing, there’s one thing Republicans should demand: the release of Transcript #18, the one with Intel Community IG Michael Atkinson’s testimony reportedly concerning the “whistleblower,” ERIC CIARAMELLA, and the origins of Schiff’s “inquiry.” There you go, Democrats; you said you wanted more witness testimony!
Dems have a new talking point: this won’t be a “true” acquittal unless witnesses are called.
Nancy Pelosi, who has come unglued, said this: “The President’s team is there to dismantle the Constitution of the United States...well, he will not be acquitted; 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 documentation and, and that...I think they disgraced themselves TERRIBLY...”
Call the men in the white coats; she is out of her mind. This ridiculous line of argument has nothing to do with the law as it applies here, but that won’t stop Democrats from repeating it over and over until everybody’s brain feels mushy or until the election, whichever comes last. And never mind that it was the Republicans who weren’t allowed to call witnesses in the House. Schiff called 17. Oops, I mean 18.
Here’s a great question that actually got asked, from a group of Republican senators: “Recent reporting described two NSC staff holdovers from the Obama administration attending an all-hands meeting of NSC staff held about two weeks into the Trump administration and talking loudly enough to be overheard saying, ‘We need to do everything we can to take out the President.’ On July 26, 2019, the House Intelligence Committee hired one of those individuals, Sean Misko. The report further describes relationships between Misko, Lt. Col. Vindman, and an individual alleged as the ‘whistleblower.’ Why did your committee hire Sean Misko the day after the phone call between President Trump and Zelensky, and what role has he played throughout your committee’s investigation?”
From the pauses he took while reading this aloud, it was easy to see that the Chief Justice was, shall we say, ticked off. Schiff slowly walked to the podium. He said he was “appalled at some of the smearing of the professional people that work for the Intelligence Committee.” He said, “I will not dignify those smears on my staff by giving them any credence whatsoever. Nor will I share any information that I believe could or could not lead to the identification of the whistleblower.” Then he gave a seethingly self-righteous lecture on the protection of whistleblowers’ identities. He said the President likes this question because “he wants his pound of flesh.” What a performance! This was PRICELESS.
“I can’t tell you who the whistleblower is because I don’t know,” he lied, “but can tell you who the whistleblower should be. It should be every one of us. Every one of us should be willing to blow the whistle on Presidential misconduct.” Yes, he really said this. Say, how about blowing the whistle on this guy?
He said people won’t blow the whistle “if their names are going to be dragged through the mud.” Hey, guess who knows how that feels more than anybody on earth? President Trump.
The Senate will convene at 1 p.m. Friday for four hours of deliberations. Then there’s a vote called the “gateway,” as in “open up the ‘gateway’ to witnesses.” Since the “yes” to witnesses requires 51, that will probably fail. After that, there could be more debate and maybe voting on specific witnesses. As Majority Leader, Sen. McConnell will receive “first right of recognition” by Chief Justice Roberts, meaning he’d be recognized first on the Senate floor and could make a motion whenever he senses the time is right to dismiss charges or to call a final vote to “Acquit” or “Convict” on the two Articles of Impeachment.
According to NewsBusters, broadcast evening news reports gave the Trump legal counsel 100 percent negative reviews of their opening arguments and the House Democrats 95 percent positive. (!) I see they’re increasingly focused on running down Alan Dershowitz and grossly distorting his legal arguments.
So I’m going to leave you with a very positive review in THE FEDERALIST from someone who exhibits something increasingly rare: a rational mind: