by Roger Kimball
On Friday, as I and about 456,874 other people predicted, the Senate voted against calling yet more witnesses in the make-believe, 100 percent certified partisan impeachment fiasco run by the Democrats and their media cheerleaders.
That vote brought this lucrative entertainment to an end, de facto if not de jure. The official, signed-sealed-and-delivered end will come Wednesday, we’re told, when the Senate will vote on whether to acquit the president of the two charges on which he was impeached by the House. Spoiler alert: They will.
A quick refresher. Those two charges were “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.”
Let’s take them in order. The alleged abuse of power charge stemmed from President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelinsky. Trump was keen to have Zelinsky look into alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He was also keen to have him look into allegations that Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, who is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, was knee-deep in corrupt activities.
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son,” President Trump said, “that [Joe] Biden stopped the prosecution [of Burisma, the corrupt company on whose Board Hunter sat and from which he collected more than $50,000 a month] and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.”
Was that an abuse of power? Opinions vary. I do not think so. Nor do I think the president erred when he went on to tell Zelinsky that Joe Biden “bragged” he had stopped the prosecution of Burisma. He did so, and was gracious enough to be filmed doing it.
As Peter Schweizer has shown in meticulous detail in his book, the Bidens’ corruption – like Falstaff’s dishonesty – is “gross as mountain, open, palpable.” This was not an abuse of power. Far from it. Indeed, I believe that Ted Cruz was right: President Trump, confronted with credible allegations of Hunter Biden’s corruption, had a “responsibility” to investigate Biden’s activities.
So much for “abuse of power.” What about “obstruction of Congress”? Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of that. I hadn’t either. In essence, the House alleged that President Trump was guilty of this newfangled tort because, rather than instantly capitulating to their demands, he asked the court to review the case. In other words, he asked for the same due process that protects you and me to protect him.
Not much to build an impeachment case on is it? No treason. No bribery (though the House tried furiously to fabricate such a case). No high crimes or even misdemeanors.
But according to the Constitution (Article II, Section IV) those are the only impeachable offenses: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Those are the reasons, and the only reasons, for which a president may be impeached.
I know, I know: Alexander Hamilton, writing about impeachment in Federalist 65, said that “The subjects of [impeachment’s] jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” That concern is in the background for the Framers. But the fact is that the Constitution does not mention such scruples. Moreover, I do not believe that, in the case of President Trump’s phone call, there was any “misconduct” or “abuse or violation of some public trust.”
So, as many observers have been predicting since the impeachment clown show began, the president will be officially acquitted in a few days. According to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate trial was “the greatest cover-up since Watergate” and hence the acquittal will be “meaningless.” It pains me to disagree, but I feel constrained to point out to Schumer that President Trump’s acquittal will have at least this irrefragable meaning: Donald J. Trump will still be president of the United States.
It is obvious to anyone who is paying attention that “cover-up” is the new phrase of the month and I predict that the Democrats will run with it all the way to November 3. I predict, further, that the charge will have zero effect on the election.
Still, Schumer’s contention that the president’s acquittal (which he now implicitly acknowledges is a foregone conclusion) will be “meaningless,” coupled with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s insistence that the “stain” of impeachment will “forever” be attached to the name of Donald Trump, prompts me to suggest a few courses of action the president might take in his second term (some parts of which might be started even now).
First, to discourage such frivolous, wholly partisan efforts to overturn the results of a free, open, and democratic election, people who have committed felonies by leaking classified material or lying under oath should be prosecuted. A dozen or so indictments would have a clarifying and salutary effect.
I’d start with a few of the women who perjured themselves when lying about Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings. I’d follow up with some people involved in the “Russian collusion” hoax. And I’d finish by looking into Representative Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) and Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman’s claim that they did not know the “whistleblower” (Eric Ciaramella) and also into who leaked information from John Bolton’s memoir and revenge drama.
Second, as for removing the “stain” of impeachment, I propose that when the House flips to the Republicans again next year, a bill be introduced rescinding President Trump’s impeachment and publicly exonerating him of any and all wrongdoing.
Third, since the media as well as the Democrats (pardon the pleonasm) clearly enjoy the spectacle of impeachment, I suggest that Barack Obama retroactively be impeached, not for anything as mealy-mouthed as “obstruction of Congress” but for aiding and abetting America’s enemies by shoveling billions of dollars to the Iranian mullahs.
Other charges doubtless will be forthcoming when U.S. Attorney John Durham begins handing down indictments in the “Russian collusion” ruse and we have hard evidence that the attempted soft coup against Donald Trump was an explicit creature of Obama’s Administration. I’ve bought stock in popcorn companies in anticipation of this entertainment.
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Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the president and publisher of Encounter Books.