One of the stranger features of the current efforts by Congressional Democrats to impeach President Donald Trump is their breathtaking view of what constitutes an impeachable offense. From the statements of Reps. Pelosi, Schiff, and Nadler, it would seem Trump isn’t permitted to engage is constitutionally-assigned activities if he will personally benefit as a result – even if official wrongdoing at the highest levels is thereby exposed.
So the president – the head of the American government and its chief magistrate – is said to have committed an impeachable offense because, when he spoke to a foreign head of state, he pursued some damning evidentiary leads relating to senior governmental officials and the origins of the Mueller investigation. This despite its failure to make findings against him. And this despite an ongoing investigation on the origins of the Mueller probe by U.S. Attorney John Durham.
According to the Democrats, a president apparently commits an impeachable offense – despite being the head of government and chief magistrate – when he encourages government officials in countries that are the recipients of significant foreign aid to investigate allegations of financial corruption involving Americans if the investigation involves someone running for president in the next election.
In Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president, he urges an investigation into Ukrainian ties to the appointment of Special Counsel Mueller and allegations of financial corruption involving Ukraine, Joe Biden, and his son. So what? With nothing other than the mere conjecture about a personal motive, aren’t we required to assume that he was acting within his constitutional responsibilities? Surely the Democrats cannot be heard to say that rank speculation can derail an otherwise facially proper presidential initiative.
Of course, it might be a wholly different situation if there were compelling evidence – beyond a reasonable doubt? – of a solely personal agenda. And even then, caution is the first order of business considering that we’re talking about possibly undoing the results of a presidential election.
Frankly, the antics of Pelosi/Schiff/Nadler suggests to us that they have more to answer for in the motive department than the president. They have never accepted the legitimacy of his election and have worked unceasingly to derail his administration. They kept claiming that there was overwhelming evidence that would lead Special Counsel Mueller to find that he worked with the Russians to secure his victory and that he engaged in obstruction.
They also regularly warned that Mueller must be left to do his holy work without presidential interference. Yet, when their predictions went bust and Mueller sorely disappointed them, his work product was simply dismissed as being naïve and non-dispositive.
Fast forward to the complaint of the “whistleblower” (who doesn’t meet any standard definition of a whistleblower). Before even seeing the text of the notorious transcript of Trump’s conversation with the Ukrainian president, Pelosi and company declared that they now had enough evidence to move forward on impeachment. Yet, as noted, that document turned out to be a decided dud.
Now they have now proceeded to broaden their inquiry to include any senior Trump official – like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr who are soon to be subpoenaed – who may have had a connection to Trump’s phone conversation with the Ukrainian leader.
Incredibly, they have also now called for all records memorializing all of Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders. Not only does there seem to be a plan afoot to utterly undermine Trump’s ability to consult with foreign leaders; the Democrats apparently want to compromise and deplete the ranks of those who would support his work.
The congressional power to impeach carries with it the power to investigate and seek documents and is an exception to the general rule of the separation of powers, which grants co-equal status to the president and Congress. As such, the power to impeach should be exercised with the utmost caution. It was not meant, nor can it be allowed, to become a convenient alternative device to replace presidents or to access their documents willy-nilly.
What is playing out before us is a hell-bent crusade against a sitting president where at best the evidence offered for wrongdoing is ambiguous.