• The Case for Impeachment Is…

    November 5, 2019

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    Posted in: Democracy, Impeachment, Trump


    On Thursday Nancy Pelosi held a vote to, well, reaffirm her impeachment inquisitiveness. It was theatre; everyone knows the hyper-politicized Democratic House will impeach. It’s a weak case, but that doesn’t matter. A partisan Senate (who will also see a weak case but that doesn’t matter) won’t convict. America will leave that steaming mound of democracy aside the road and reflect forever which side stepped in it after we’re done arguing who won in November 2020.

    So looking at the actual evidence for impeachment is mostly academic. Call it… quaint.

    Forget the whistleblower; he had one job, to start this all into motion in August in time for the autumn session of Congress and he did it even without any first hand knowledge of a “high crime and misdemeanor,” just an opinion on a phone call he wasn’t party to. Yet even after DOJ ruled the whistleblower revealed no criminal act, Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment “inquiry.”

    Trump then released the memorandum of conversation between himself and Ukrainian president Zelensky. This is the U.S. government’s record of what was said. That record will form near 100 percent of what Dems will use to impeach Trump. After all, it is the only primary document/first hand “testimony” in the case. Yet despite its short length, some five pages, many people prefer to characterize what it says instead of just reading the thing. So follow along if you like.

    The call was a routine congratulatory message to Zelensky on his election. So the first couple of exchanges are chit chat along those lines. We’re on page three before the first bit of possible significance comes. Here it is in its entirety:

    “The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows alot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are alot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance. But they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”

    Zelensky gives a generally positive reply. There is nothing to indicate he feels pressured, bothered, evasive, defensive or concerned.

    Trump again: “Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney·General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”

    That’s it for substance.

     

    To impeach, one must be willing to conclude from the text above

    a) Trump asking for information, however far-fetched one may believe it is, on possible foreign interference in the 2016 election was wrong (and then explain why the Dems conducted a three year investigation of the same);

    b) Trump asking for an investigation into whether then-Vice President and perhaps soon President Biden used his office for personal gain is of no interest to the people of the United States, even if that same information were also of great interest to Trump (and account for Dems asking in 2018 the Ukraine to cooperate with Mueller to dig up dirt on Trump, and allowing that a Ukrainian investigation would exonerate Biden as Dems claim); and

    c) that Trump made it clear to Zelensky aid was contingent on conducting these investigations given Trump made no mention of that.

     

    If you can prove that from the memorandum of conversation, well then pilgrim, you have a case. And remember, you have to use Trump’s words. You can’t do it with Godfather references to consiglieres, third-party opinions of this all, or by characterizing Trump’s words — pressured, demanding, weaponized, implored, forced, quid pro quo — to your advantage.

    The base problem is  Trump never said anywhere in the July 25 call he was withholding aid for Ukraine and there is no evidence Zelensky knew Trump had been slow walking it at the time of the call. The earliest tick the Ukrainians even knew the aid was being delayed was “early August” and even those claims are based on anonymous sources in the NYT who somehow have not been found to testify by the Dems. Official U.S. and Ukrainian sources instead say knowledge the funds were held up didn’t get to the Ukranians until late August, shortly before they were released. (Dems made a stink then claiming the funds were held up by Trump to favor Putin. It’s always something.)

    It is thus supposition at best that Trump’s requests, assuming they were pressure at all and Zelensky’s easy going responses suggests he was not bothered by them, were connected in any way to the aid. Correlation is not causation. This was the big gap in Russiagate; because A happened before B, Democrats rushed to claim A must have caused B, and thus collusion!

    And that leads to a second base problem. Nothing happened. Trump never even asked the Attorney General to contact Zelensky. It is unclear who if anyone Guiliani spoke with, but either way there is no evidence the Ukrainians ever investigated anything. This impeachment will be the first in American history without any underlying crime asserted. Democrats seek to impeach Trump for talking about something, and never doing something, that itself may not be a real offense anyway. If you hear echoes of Russiagate, of obstructing something that wasn’t actually obstructed, you have sharp ears.

    When you have a smoking gun you usually don’t need to keep searching for evidence, but that is exactly what the Democrats are doing. Knowing the weakness in their case — it is literally based on a partisan reading of Trump’s own words and the supposition that two events, the call and the aid holdup, are causational — Dems are engaged in a process of finding someone to claim Trump’s policy was to (not) withhold aid to force the Ukraine to do something they never did.

    Ambassador Gordon Sondland stated specifically, under oath recently and in a leaked text from around the time of the original call, there was no such quid pro quo. So did Trump and Zelensky.

    The Dems in turn produced a series of angry State Department people to testify they had been sidelined out of the decision making process and thus knew very little first hand. The noisiest witness, Ambassador William Taylor, made it clear he was cut out of the White House’s backchannel for Ukrainian policy, and only knew what insiders Ambassadors Volker and Sondland told him second hand. His other knowledge of the supposed quid pro quo came when he heard “a [unnamed] staff person from the Office of Management and Budget say that there was a hold on security assistance to Ukraine but could not say why. Toward the end of an otherwise normal meeting, a voice on the call — the [unnamed] person was off-screen — said that she was from OMB and that her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending of security assistance for Ukraine until further notice.”

    Taylor even went on to impeach himself a little, admitting he had no evidence aid was connected to investigation. He testified National Security Council Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs Fiona Hill and the NSC’s Director of European Affairs Alex Vindman “reassured me that they were not aware of any official change in U.S. policy toward Ukraine, OMB’s announcement notwithstanding.”

    Taylor never spoke to the president. He did not speak to the Secretary of State, or any other senior White House official. He was cut out of the loop. His testimony was just his opinion. Deep Throat that is not.

    What else? The media found a way to wordtrick Ambassador Sondland’s attorney into saying what his client described in testimony “amounted to” a quid pro quo, possibly thinking they would use a client’s own lawyer’s recharacterization of testimony to impeach.

    There are no documents, policy papers, notes, memcons, texts, or anything at all to support the claim the White House policy was aid for investigation.

     

    Imagine in a real trial how a defense lawyer would cross examine Taylor, or any of the other witnesses who have no actual knowledge:

    Did you ever speak directly with Trump about this quid pro quo? How do you know it was his policy? Pompeo? Mulvaney? Exactly who in the WH did you ever speak to to learn this is the policy?

    If the answer is “no one in the WH” how do you know this was the policy? Who told you in explicit terms?

    So where is the investigation into Biden you say we paid for? Why would Trump demand that quid pro quo but never follow through?

    Why wasn’t Ukraine told the aid was being withheld? Wouldn’t it be necessary for Ukraine to clearly and explicitly KNOW the aid was being withheld for this to be a quid pro quo?

    Isn’t it true there is no quid, and no pr quo at all, except in your supposition? What the heck grounds of impeachment is that?

    Actually, why was the aid paid out without an investigation?

    Why are you claiming something happened when it did not happen?

    Isn’t your testimony about what you personally thought Trump was thinking about something that didn’t happen, even though it never happened?

    Other than your own supposition, how exactly do you know Trump’s intent? Any documents? Any evidence besides saying we should believe you over others?

    Do you have any documents, notes, Memcons, texts, anything at all to support your supposition that the White House policy was literal aid for investigation? If not, why not? Because they do not exist? Because this is all your interpretation?

    Why does Ambassador Sonderland say the intent was different? Is he lying? Are you?

     

    Much is also being made of Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman allegedly telling impeachment investigators the July 25 memcon omitted references to tapes of Biden discussing Ukrainian corruption, and Zelensky mentioning the company Biden’s son worked for in Ukraine.

    Such omissions (if they are real and there is no evidence besides Vindman’s own statement) add or detract nothing from the core questions at the heart of this impeachment: did Trump withhold aid in return for a Ukrainian investigation, and was seeking such an investigation solely a personal political goal or something of interest to the United States.
    Vindman’s remarks are also helpful in setting the stage for Democrats to downplay the memcon, the official USG record of the July 25 phone call. As the sole primary document in the entire case, the memcon should be all the evidence needed to vote on impeachment. The fact that it is not a smoking gun is a fundamental weakness in the Dems’ case. So anything which can be manipulated to lessen the memcon’s value is welcomed by the MSM and Democrats. Expect to see more of this — Are there recordings? What do the ellipses in the memcon really mean? What else is missing!?!?!?
    It’s an old trick; find a way to discredit the other side’s best witness. The breaking news coverage Vindman’s grumping about his edits not making the final cut offers an important lesson: as with Russiagate, critical thinkers will be constantly challenged by some new shiny but irrelevant object. Always returning to the core questions is the way forward.

     

    Reminiscent of the high hopes once held that Flynn, Manafort, Cohen, et al, would flip, Democratic plans for a slam dunk currently rest on John Bolton, a deep conservative nearing the end of his public life. They hope he will testify such that the last lines of his biography will call him “the man who more than any other individual helped elect Elizabeth Warren.” Sorry, Bolton is not gonna be your Fredo.

    Unlike with Nixon and Clinton, the House is not building its case on the foundation of an existing law enforcement investigation. That was supposed to be what happened with the Mueller saga. Instead, this time the case is built on a single phone call, with the “investigation”jerry-rigged in real-time consisting of a semi-secret, stage-managed parade of credentialed hostile witnesses interpreting what Trump said in the call. Imagine a room full of critics impeaching Bob Dylan by telling us what his lyrics really mean to him. Opinions are not evidence. Case closed.

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    Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      Poor Peter,

      Demented is not the Hard Target; he’s the guy you wound so his cultists are forced to come out from their hiding places. Pelosi is after bigger game than some sex pervert. She wants to kill the whole Republican Party by forcing it to defend someone they wouldnt allow to be alone with their daughters.

      11/5/19 9:43 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      Trump is perfect….oh.

      In July, Biden had the advantage over Trump in national Post-ABC polling of five potential matchups among registered voters. Today, all five lead Trump, w/Biden, Warren and Sanders leading by 14-17 points, Buttigieg by 11 Harris by 9.

      Case closed.

      11/5/19 11:57 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      3

      Trumpie wont be judged by angry white men in the Senate. That is what Pelosi is depending on to energize all those angry white women to grab Trumpie by his tiny balls.

      11/5/19 1:32 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      This is how it ends:

      Nov 9, 2022: EMTs were called to a seedy motel outside Palm Beach but failed to save a homeless man identified as Donald J Trump. Trump had not been seen publicly since his ball crushing defeat in the 2020 national election that also resulted in the Democratic takeover of the Senate. Trump was estranged from his ex wife Melania as well as his daughter, who had restraining orders against him for undisclosed reasons. Rumors persist cause of death was hanging. Some wondered if there was any connection to Jeffrey Epstein, who also died by hanging. Police have reportedly requested Hillary Clinton appear for questioning in the case. President Warren has proactively offered Ms Clinton a pardon.

      11/5/19 2:16 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      Blue Wave in 2020 may be a flood and drown the Trumpie cultists.

      11/5/19 9:30 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      6

      Bauer- if you saw TWELVE ANGRY MEN you’d know that the jurors started out assuming the youthful defendant was guilty. You seem to think that Trump will be fatally gored by an impeachment melee whereas I sense the process might end up disillusioning and repulsing only staunch Democratic voters.

      11/6/19 9:26 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      7

      JP,

      How does “12” translate in Russia? They shoot the jury if Putin doesnt like The Verdict, right?

      11/6/19 9:51 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      8

      Russian trials are “Three Angry Men”

      Russia Eliminates Jury Trials for “Crimes Against The State”

      Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed into law a controversial bill that eliminates jury trials for “crimes against the state.” The law eliminates jury trials for a variety of offenses, leaving people accused of treason, revolt, sabotage, espionage or terrorism at the mercy of three judges rather than a panel of peers.

      This change was made because Most of their peers are already sentenced in Siberia.

      11/6/19 9:56 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      9

      JP,

      How disillusioned are Russians with Putin these days? Can you call him a crook and not get fined over $400?

      “Putin — who officially earns about $145,000 a year — has about $200 billion stashed away in Swiss bank accounts, shares and hedge funds, according to Browder, who in the late 1990s was a shareholder at Gazprom, Surgutneftegas and other state-run enterprises. Browder added that Putin initially supported the businessman’s goal of “naming and shaming of Russian companies” involved in corruption practices, until the American began questioning the Russian leader’s own acquisition of wealth.

      “It’s become absolutely plain and obvious to me now, based on my experience, that Putin wasn’t above it all, Putin was intimately involved in it all, and it wasn’t like he was restraining the oligarchs — he was the biggest oligarch,” Browder told CNN.

      Browder was banned from Russia in 2005 after being branded a national security threat, despite Hermitage being the largest portfolio investor in Russia.

      Russia and Amerika are not so different when it comes to crooks in high places. Why do we hold our highest officials to the lowest standards?

      11/6/19 2:00 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      10

      The case for impeachment is getting stormy. Will lightning Bolton strike twice?

      – Johnny B rains on Trumpies Ukraine drug deal. Trumpie fires Johnny B after he finds out Johnny B. disobeyed Trumpie and okayed the release of military funds to Ukraine.

      – Trumpie then sends Barr on a trip to the UK and Italy to get their intel agencies to rat on the US intel agencies to prove Russiagate was a hoax and Crowdstrike was really behnd it in Ukraine and source of the Hillary email hack and not those nice guy Russkies.

      – Johnny Bolton strikes again and testifies that the Trumpie fake news was just a word salad with Russian dressing. Trumpie was so stupid to get caught in the Ukraine Crowdstrike fake news. Barr ends up behinds bars and Rudy gets washed away in the Ukraine. The End.

      11/9/19 6:52 PM | Comment Link

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