by George S. Bardmesser
The impeachment farce will likely conclude this week – and not a minute too soon. On Friday, the Senate voted on whether to call witnesses to Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The weak link, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, held the line and the resolution was defeated, 51-49. So the Democrats will not get to hear from John Bolton or Mick Mulvaney or Mike Pompeo or Rudy Giuliani. And Republicans, alas, will not get to hear Adam Schiff, Eric Ciaramella, or Joe and Hunter Biden testify under oath. Now that would have made for interesting television. Ah, well.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has outfoxed the Democrats yet again. Master Legislative Strategist Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is looking less masterful by the day with her hysterical diatribes. Perhaps the Democrats can drag this thing out a few more days, even as the vast majority of Americans have tuned it out. Only political junkies still follow the ins and outs of the grotesque absurdity taking place in the Senate chamber. With the final acquittal vote to take place on Wednesday, the day after Trump’s State of the Union address, I expect the president’s speech Tuesday night will be a blockbuster for the ages.
For over a week now, my father would call me multiple times a day, in a near panic. He would watch Adam Schiff and his merry gang of Democratic goblins throw out accusation after accusation, and he was certain that the end was near. The idea that Trump was about to lose his job was a virtual certainty in his mind. He had to go see his internist earlier this week – the blood pressure medication wasn’t working well enough, especially on days when House manager Adam Schiff was talking. Just listening to the Schiffmeister was enough to make his blood pressure spike.
I would tell him to stop watching CNN, that everything would be fine, that Trump wasn’t going anywhere – but he wasn’t buying it. He and all his friends were in full panic mode over the notion that Trump was about to be convicted and removed.
“Trump violated a rule!” he told me, after listening to a few hours of Schiff. “The rule . . . I don’t know exactly what the rule says, but there is a rule is that he had to tell the Senate that he was . . . doing something!”
It did little good to explain that I, a lawyer, had no idea what he was talking about, much less what this “rule” is, that Trump supposedly violated.
“And don’t forget – Democrats sent a written request for documents and witnesses to Trump!” my father said. “In writing! And he refused! You just wait and see – Trump won’t even wait for the final vote, he’ll resign before that.” The power of left-wing TV talking heads to brainwash even conservative minds is truly remarkable.
I asked my father what would happen if Congress demands documents, and the president says they are not entitled to them. Who is right, and who is wrong?
“I don’t know,” he said, after thinking for about 20 seconds. “It literally has never occurred to me to even ask that question.” So perhaps, I suggested, things aren’t as clear-cut as they seem? Maybe Trump isn’t quite done for yet, and it’s a bit early to panic?
Dispatches from #TheResistance
Schadenfreude is one of those unpronounceable and unspellable German words that means, roughly, delight in the misfortune of others. At times, I feel that I need to keep my finger on the pulse of what the other side is thinking. To that end, I read Slate – there is no pretense that we’re getting anything other than the unvarnished lefty viewpoint there. And reading Slate Friday and Saturday, I truly feel their pain.
Every Slate commentator writing about the Senate trial sounds as if they want to scream their heads off in impotent rage – and would scream their heads off, if only they got paid for screaming (instead of writing lefty polemics). Their emotional pain is palpable. Their psyches are scarred, their minds are struggling to process what is happening. Donald Trump, the man they’ve dedicated three years of their lives to tearing down, is on the cusp of yet another victory – a resounding Senate acquittal. Victory doesn’t need spin, but Democratic defeat will need lots of it. We are already seeing some of that desperate spin – it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t legitimate, it wasn’t a real trial, the Senate didn’t do its job, the Republicans are scared of Trump, blah, blah.
And I’m lovin’ every minute of it.
I like Dahlia. I used to like her more, a few years back when she was trying to be just barely objective, but that’s fine – I still like her. “Just barely objective” is about the size of it, but still – that’s more objectivity than a lot of what we see in leftist media these days. She is kind of funny, though not in the way that she intends. She is probably a decent person – I am unwilling to demonize her just because I disagree with her on just about everything. If I ever met her, and if we could have a civil conversation that doesn’t involve politics, she would probably be an interesting person to have a beer with after work, at Capitol City Brewing Co., in downtown D.C.
And, let’s be honest: in this day and age, if she tried to be even a teeny-weeny bit objective, she’d probably get fired from Slate – and good luck getting another job in this media landscape. Nobody expects objectivity anymore, certainly not from Slate. But, it’s all right. I still read her when she writes apocalyptic things about Trump’s judges, for example, just to get that warm and fuzzy feeling of schadenfreude. It goes without saying that anything Dahlia finds objectionable, because it throws a monkey wrench in some progressive scheme or scam, I find uplifting and inspiring.
But, back to impeachment. Dahlia criticizes everyone – John Bolton, Chief Justice John Roberts, Mitch McConnell, Senators Lamar Alexander and Lisa Murkowski, the GOP – and it only serves to remind us just how close we came to having to endure weeks more of this constitutional burlesque. Just imagine if Murkowski and Alexander had voted “yes” on witnesses. We would still be here in March, or maybe even April, masticating on the same nonsense about Trump’s Ukrainian thought crime. There is no room for doubt as far as Dahlia is concerned – Trump is guilty of everything, including things he hadn’t done yet and hadn’t even thought of doing.
Dahlia rejects any notion that there was anything wrong with the sham House inquiry. The shattering defeat in the Senate cannot possibly be tied to the rank partisanship of the House “inquiry,” or the bad tactical decisions made by Schiff and Pelosi, or because Republicans have a legitimately different view of what “high crimes” mean, or because scams that worked with the Kavanaugh confirmation don’t work anymore, or because the over-the-top apocalyptic rhetoric grated even on those GOP senators who weren’t big Trump fans, or because Schiff and Nadler chose a strategy of insulting Republican senators, or because getting a root canal done is preferable to sitting like a hostage for hours listening to Adam Schiff drone on and on, or because the Schiffmeister and the Nadster just weren’t as good at persuading as the sycophantic media wants to believe, or because the Schiffster has been lying his ass off nonstop on TV for three years and has no credibility left.
But any reader who is not a committed leftist would probably remember the top-secret basement where Adam Schiff coached witnesses, the nakedly partisan nature of the entire process, the Democrats’ rejection of even a thought of bringing any Republicans on board, of denying the accused the right to bring his own witnesses (and forget cross-examining the Schiffmeister’s witnesses) – none of this is even remotely objectionable, as far as Dahlia is concerned.
Dahlia was entirely on board with the Pelosi timeline of ramming impeachment through before Christmas, because (remember?) Trump is a dire, urgent, existential danger to our Republic, and impeachment couldn’t wait for those pesky courts to resolve subpoena issues.
Every day Trump remained in office mattered, because we are in the fight for the soul of our nation . . . No, wait – that’s Joe Biden’s line. Dahlia is Canadian by birth, so she probably doesn’t buy into that “soul of our nation” claptrap. She is also entirely on board with Pelosi going on a long vacation, and waiting for a month after the impeachment vote to send the articles to the Senate, because, well, Nancy is the Master Legislative Strategist, and she must surely know what she is doing.
And now, this disaster. So much hope was riding on the whole witness issue. Maybe Murkowski would fold, the Left thought, like she folded during the Kavanaugh confirmation vote. Maybe Alexander, soon to retire, would discover his inner John McCain. Maybe Chief Justice Roberts would finally swing the Democrats’ way, and break a tie the way the Democrats need it – because we all know, any time the Left loses, it’s invariably because all alternative views are illegitimate, and any arguments other than their own lack merit.
I feel Dahlia’s pain. And I hope to continue feeling her pain for at least the next five years, as I read her articles.
Success has many fathers, but failure is always an orphan. This impeachment charade will have Democrats squabbling over its paternity, once the dust begins settling and the Democrats start blaming each other. It will be glorious to watch.
Mark Stern makes a point that Dahlia herself made in one of her earlier articles – that an impeachment where the outcome is known in advance to be an acquittal sets an awful constitutional precedent – first, because now there is literally nothing left to throw at Trump and Trump will feel even less constrained (and the Left very much feels the need to constrain him), and second, because the next president won’t fear being impeached, and will not feel constrained at all. All the next president will need is 34 votes in the Senate.
This is actually the precise argument that many conservative commentators made against this impeachment, including those who don’t like Trump much. And yet, for some strange reason, the Slatesters fail to see this is an argument that the Democrats should never have gone down the impeachment road in the first place. It feels cognitively dissonant to read Dahlia Lithwick’s arguments for initiating impeachment while at the same seeing her admitting that impeachment, once initiated, would lead to the very result the Left abhors!
Stern goes through a laundry list of Trump’s alleged offenses against Congress:
Trump has fought the House of Representatives’ oversight tooth and nail every step of the way. His lawyers have successfully stopped the House from obtaining information that may be relevant to impeachment, including his tax returns and other financial records. They’ve prevented the House from seeing potentially incriminating grand jury materials from Robert Mueller’s probe. And they have stopped executive officials like former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying before impeachment investigators, asserting a sweeping claim of executive privilege that could gag all witnesses to the president’s crimes.
He would have been better off leaving this out of his piece, that is, if he wanted to persuade anyone not on the Left. There is little sympathy among most Republicans and many independents for congressional Democrats’ fishing expeditions. By overreaching with their demands for tax returns and financial records from years before Trump was even a candidate, congressional Democrats have ensured that many Americans see “congressional oversight” for what it is – harassment.
In response to an assault on his presidency, and on himself, that is historically unprecedented, it is unsurprising that Trump is forced to rely on the fullest panoply of executive privileges and scorched-earth litigation. Nor is it surprising that many Republican-appointed judges aren’t buying into the Democrats’ efforts to enlist the judiciary in tormenting the president.
But Mark Stern obviously doesn’t see it that way. He blames the GOP for taking the low road and doing exactly what everyone predicted the GOP would do in September – acquitting Trump. (Well, we’re almost there – more schadenfreude to come on Wednesday.) I get it – his job is not impartial analysis. His job is partisan polemics in a left-wing publication. But it’s hard not to feel satisfaction at his closing words:
Impeachment will remain an option for lawmakers who seek a symbolic condemnation of the president. But Trump’s acquittal will take removal off the table for good.
The Left brought this on itself. Whatever the long-term implications, I have a huge grin on my face now, as I hear their primal screams in my mind. Schadenfreude has never felt this good.
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George S. Bardmesser is an attorney in private practice in the Washington, D.C. area.