It was a foregone conclusion.Trump has been impeached in a strictly partisan vote in the House of Representatives. Article I was 232-196 with 2 Democrats voting no. Article II was 229-198 with 3 Democrats voting no. Trump becomes only the third president in US history to be impeached.
In the articles of impeachment here, Democrats charge that Trump abused his power as president by pressuring a foreign government, Ukraine, to help him win re-election. At the heart of their impeachment case is testimony by current and former officials alleging an “extraordinary” effort that went outside official channels to pressure Ukraine to announce a corruption investigation into former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, a potential political rival in 2020. Democrats also charge Trump with obstructing Congress. The following is an RFSO (Real Free Speech One) analysis.
Impeachment Article I – Abuse of power
Reuters – Trump pressed Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in a July 25 phone call (transcript) to work with his attorney general, William Barr, and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate the Bidens and also a debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election. Democrats allege that the evidence they have gathered in their inquiry shows Trump withheld a high-profile White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security aid to pressure Zelensky to announce the investigations. Trump ultimately released the money after news of the delay became public, although the White House meeting has yet to take place.
RFSO Analysis: You can read the transcript yourself. Yes, the Ukrainian investigation into Biden was mentioned (the 2016 election not the 2020 elections), but the topic was brought up by the Ukranian president Zelensky himself, not Trump. In the transcript, there was no mention of a quid-pro-quo. But Democrats said there was an “implied” quid-pro-quo. So basically, we are talking opinion and not actual evidence.
The key testimony to prove this assertion came from Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union – click here for the video. He clearly states that he has no direct evidence of the quid-pro-quo concerning the $400 million in security aid – he said he just “presumed” a quid-pro-quo. Trump on the record of saying, “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid-pro-quo.” So it’s Gordon’s perceptions vs. Trump’s words. Trump asserts he held back the $400 million in security aid simply because he wanted European countries to pitch in more cash in support of Ukraine.
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a new legal memo on December 11th, which indicated that the administration’s decision to temporarily hold military assistance to Ukraine was a “routine” practice and that the administration was reviewing whether Ukraine complied with U.S. policy and not political. There were lesser witnesses, but all again, “made presumptions and opinions” and were made from 3rd party hearsay evidence. None of the witnesses to date testified to knowing the President engaged in any illegal activity.
Then there is one topic seldom discussed – motivation. Though the alleged quid-pro-quo was to discover nefarious activities of Biden in the 2016 election, the notion is that finding “dirt” on Biden on past elections could help Trump to take down Biden in the 2020 election. But the elections are over a year away. Biden is not even sure to win the nomination. Furthermore, does Trump really need this supposed “dirt” to take down Biden? Some would argue, Biden does enough gaffs on his own. There is no need for “extraordinary efforts” to get “dirt” on Biden. Besides, many would say these type stories only build confirmation bias of the candidate and has little effect on the election outcome. For example, our belief is that, no, Hillary did not lose the 2016 election because of WikiLeaks – another subject.
Ukraine’s corruption and Biden’s son’s business dealings with Burisma had already been made public by the NYT and Politico back in 2016. The Obama Administration had even joined the UK investigation into Bursima albeit shutting down the US Justice dept. from directly investigating Hunter Biden. The notion that the Biden conflicts had been investigated and debunked is laughable. Any assertion that running for public office makes one immune from any legal scrutiny is absurd.
The Epoch Times – The United States military aid to Ukraine was sent as scheduled, according to a senior administration official, putting in context a key claim by an anonymous intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint. The aid underwent the review around the time White House officials were considering a broad range of foreign aid cuts. Instead of being delayed or held back, the money was sent out once the policy process was completed, the official added. The funds, which were set to expire on Sept. 30, went out in early to mid-September, according to the Department of Defense.
RFSO Analysis: In other words, there were no monies allocated in the $400 million in the Ukraine security aid package that was not improperly withheld within the Congressionally-mandated time. This means we are talking about the potential abuse of power, not actual abuse of power.
Yes, one can see where one could think there was a quid-pro-quo. But the evidence is quite weak and all based upon opinions, implied, presumed, or hearsay evidence of potential abuse of power that did not actually happen. These assumptions come from a handful of interagency staff who testified feeling left out of the loop of influence over the president’s policy objectives for Ukraine. Sondland was the conduit to the President and his characterizations regarding Giuliani and Perry having the president’s ear perpetuated interagency staff feeling slighted.
Interagency staff was not on the same page with Trump’s approach to being a good steward of taxpayer funds and assurances real changes were underway to address corruption in Ukraine’s government. During the time frame of Trump communicating with the newly elected Zelensky and the State Department communicating with counterparts, the Ukranian Parliament removed many corrupt players in Parliament and made significant changes to establish anti-corruption focus. There are no specific crimes listed within the two Articles of Impeachment. To impeach a president we need to set the bar of proof higher than this. Trump is correct, this is a political “witch hunt.”
Impeachment Article II – Obstruction of Congress
Democrats also charge Trump with obstructing Congress by preventing members of his administration from cooperating with the probe, in defiance of the Constitution.
RFSO Analysis: The obstruction charge is questionable – one for sure that would have less Constitutional standing. The White House saying that Congress lacks authority to investigate a standing president and has the option to ignore subpoenas. The Congress can not compel a member of the Executive branch to testify – they would have Executive privilege, though for sure a constitutional debate.
AP – “The Constitution says virtually nothing about the procedures the House and Senate are to employ in carrying out their respective impeachment roles,” wrote Georgia State University law professor Neil Kinkopf in a recent article. “Indeed, the Constitution is completely silent regarding the procedures in the House.” The obstruction charge was just an icing topper.
PJ Media – A bit of “whataboutism,” but here are 9 times the Obama administration fought subpoenas or blocked officials from testifying before congress – though Obama never faced impeachment.
Commentary on the impeachment process
Pogo – There is no independent counsel report. Both Presidents Nixon and Clinton faced impeachment following an outside investigation authorized by the Department of Justice. It was upon the completion of those independent investigations (or, in the case of Nixon, the firing of the prosecutor conducting the investigation) that the House leaped into action to formally adopt a resolution to investigate whether grounds for impeachment existed.
In the case of Nixon, then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson appointed Archibald Cox to investigate the Watergate break-in and related matters concerning Nixon’s reelection campaign in May 1973. In the case of Clinton, then-Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Robert Fiske to investigate various matters involving the president’s financial and real estate dealings in 1994, pursuant to the Independent Counsel Act. Later that year, Kenneth Starr replaced Fiske, and the investigation expanded to several other matters, which ultimately gave rise to Starr’s finding in 1998 of information that could be grounds for impeachment.
RFSO Analysis: Donald Trump complains that Adam Schiff would not let the Republican list of witnesses testify in impeachment hearing after the Intelligence chairman said a hearing with the whistleblower would be “redundant and unnecessary” – Daily Mail. Because the House had no independent counsel nor allow the president to defend himself, this means that the House impeachment inquiry was unfair and totally politically based.
BBC – This is now the fastest investigation with the thinnest record supporting the narrowest impeachment in modern history. The articles for impeachment unveiled by House Democrats against President Donald Trump suggest this is a party putting haste before justice. The schedule-driven more by the Iowa caucuses in February than impeachment criteria.
Daily Citizen – Regardless of his culpability during this Ukraine call, if there was any at all, the media and the Democrat’s desperate attempt to remove him from office is a sign that impeachment is no longer a tool to remove a president that threatens the stability and autonomy of this country, but a political weapon used to damage a leader that the rival party doesn’t like. That’s not what the Founding Father’s intended, and it threatens the ability of future presidents to lead this country.
RFSO Analysis: If impeachment becomes a political tool, the Republicans will have no choice but to jump into the quagmire of endless impeachment processes every time a president gets elected. Setting the bar so low for impeachment will hamstring any president in doing their job – everything could be construed as helping one’s chances of being elected and hence becomes a quid-quo-pro. A sloppy partisan impeachment process sends us even further into political quicksand. Under this low bar of proof, one could impeach about every president.
A said before, Trump is only the third president to be impeached. But the last impeached president, Bill Clinton who had four articles of impeachment, only 2 passed. Indicating there was at least some House members that didn’t vote solely on party affiliation. In the case of Trump’s impeachment, it was 100% political – no republicans cross over against the president. This is telling.
Benjamin Franklin once described the future U.S. government as “A republic, if you can keep it.” As the Trump Administration moves through this impeachment process, it is questionable if we’ll be able to keep our democracy in the long run. It seems more and more that things are being led by the “democratic mob” that the founders sought so hard to avoid.
After only one day of limited debate on the House Floor over the Articles of Impeachment the democrats falsely claimed the following: The facts are not in dispute, The process has been fair and open, Trump used Ukrainian Aid for political Leverage, Trump actively sought foreign election meddling, and no one is above the law.
What is done is done. Trump has been impeached. The process now goes to the Senate, where Republicans are in control of the impeachment process. We shall see where this takes us, but it is most likely to fall flat. The real issues will be the political spin coming from all these activities and the results of counter investigations where “real” wrongdoing was most likely done – but let’s not get into “whataboutism” in this post. In the meantime, nothing is getting done within our government.
Is the case for impeachment justice or mere political revenge? The latter seems to be the case.