One would hardly describe President Donald Trump as a babe in the woods. If anything, he has more than demonstrated that he is quite capable of taking care of himself. Yet, we can’t avoid the sense that he has slowly been maneuvered into a sort of Star Chamber impeachment process by his Democratic adversaries – the insidious nature of which has not yet dawned on most Americans.
From House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on down, it seems clear that not only has a decision by House Democrats to impeach already been made and any inquiries and hearings merely formalities; it also appears that the Democrats believe there is no objective, compelling case for impeachment to be made. How else to explain the Democrats’ determination to stack the deck against the president by imposing a veil of secrecy over everything that’s going on? Why would they not want all the supposed damning evidence circulating as much as possible?
Amazingly, Pelosi simply announced that the House would begin an inquiry on impeaching the president without having the House formally vote for one. This is not some inconsequential procedural lapse. A formal vote has real world consequences including entitling Republican members of the Intelligence Committee to cross-examine witnesses called by the Democrats, and Republicans to call their own witnesses and subpoena documents the Democrats do not believe support their case for impeachment.
Consider also that Democrats secretly worked with the supposed whistleblower before he/she filed his/her now notorious complaint about Trump’s call to Ukraine and continue to insist on the complainant’s anonymity. Don’t think this is not a big deal. It is. Fundamental notions of fairness and due process require that an accused – or his or her representatives – be able to confront and question his or her accusers about such things as motivation and possible bias, as well as be given an opportunity to ferret out information that might cast doubt on the accusations.
And then there is the significant matter of the hearings by the Intelligence Committee being held in closed session to prevent the public from learning what is being testified to. The recent testimony by the former U.S. special envoy to the Ukraine was said, inaccurately, in a Democratic spin effort, to have provided the smoking gun of a quid-pro-quo arrangement between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. It was only later learned from the envoy himself that he disclosed no such information in his secret testimony. Yet, the false claim was out there first and provided, for a while, the defining – and highly negative – take on the testimony.
Also testifying in closed session before the Intelligence Committee was the inspector general of the intelligence-community, but there were no leaks and the public still has no idea as to what he said about the supposed whistleblower’s complaint.
Impeachment is often said to be a purely political exercise, not a judicial one. And this is largely true; so all of this secrecy and procedural shenanigans may not be in technical violation of the rules. But if we are right and the lack of transparency betrays a lack of confidence in what is provable against Trump, then Trump has been right all along, and all of this really is just an attempt at a coup-d’etat to unseat a duly-elected president. And for that there has to be a full accounting.