What is that ancient curse? May you live in interesting times! We certainly do.
I didn’t tune in to hour-after-hour of the Senate impeachment hearings, but, as with many people, I’ve been playing catch up at the end of the day, to find out the key points that were made.
There are better sources than this blog for all those summaries. But I guess I’m the expert on what interests me and what I think about things. So that is what we’ll cover here today.
First, as we have noted for well over a month, the House has not charged President Trump with any crimes. No lawbreaking whatsoever. While in the hysteria leading up to the impeachment, they floated words like quid pro quo (meaning literally “this for that,” or an exchange, which is not necessarily illegal) and bribery. But that wasn’t what the evidence showed.
So the summary of the charges comes down to, President Trump asked the President of Ukraine to investigate corruption, which included a company called Burisma, which has Hunter Biden, son of former VP Joe Biden, on its board.
Those impeaching the president make the claim that there is no possible motive for this request other than to damage a political opponent in the upcoming election.
The impeachment prosecution must, therefore, prove not only that that was the motive, but that no other possible motive exists.
The House called 18 witnesses. They passed the testimony along to the Senate—except for one, which remains cloaked in secrecy somewhere in the recesses of Adam Schiff’s private lair.
While an impeachment is not exactly a court trial, it is analogous to think of the impeachment articles, and all that was done in the House, as the prosecution’s case. When they pass along the articles of impeachment, that is akin to the prosecutors saying, “The prosecution rests its case.”
|Pam Bondi, of the White House defense team, |
details Biden Ukraine connection
screenshot from here
When the Senate takes up the case, they have a couple of options beyond holding a further trial. One is to look at the evidence and say, “No, the evidence does not show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant [the president] is guilty of these charges,” and they could rule not guilty.
Or they could look at the evidence and say, “He may have done these things he’s charged with but still not be guilty of something requiring his removal from office,” and they could rule not guilty.
Either of these they could do based on the prosecution only. If the prosecution presented an insufficient case, the Senate can dismiss without needing the White House team to mount a defense beyond their opening arguments. And let’s be certain we understand—no defense was allowed by the House. No defense witnesses were called. No testimony that contradicted the prosecution testimony has been allowed—which is probably why that one testimony is kept hidden. In an actual court trial, that and any other evidence must be disclosed to the defense. Nothing about Schiff and his process has been fair, or even anything close to resembling due process, which every person—including a president—is entitled to.
Speaking of Schiff, he is literally guilty of perjury. He claimed, during the answering of questions—while he is under oath—that he unequivocally does not know who the whistleblower is, that his team never met with, helped, or otherwise corroborated with the whistleblower. But we know that is factually false. His team had already admitted otherwise. Schiff, during House hearings, refused to have questions asked that were going to lead to identifying the whistleblower—questions that, if he didn’t know who the whistleblower was, he could not have known would lead to identifying him.
Can we charge Schiff with perjury—and impeach him for that crime? Son Political Sphere says, maybe the DOJ could charge him. The House could impeach him, but they would have to have to will to do so.
About that whistleblower. There has been blowback against Chief Justice Roberts for refusing to ask questions from Senator Rand Paul—two days in a row. The name of the whistleblower must have been revealed to Justice Roberts, or he would not know to prevent the question. Who revealed it to Justice Roberts, if not Schiff and team? Rand Paul says, in a tweet, that his exact question was,
Are you aware that House intelligence committee staffer Shawn Misko had a close relationship with Eric Ciaramella while at the National Security Council together, and are you aware and how do you respond to reports that Ciaramella and Misko may have worked together to plot impeaching the President before there were formal house impeachment proceedings?
He points out in another tweet,
My question is not about a “whistleblower” as I have no independent knowledge on his identity. My question is about known Obama partisans within the NSC and House staff and how they are reported to have conspired before impeachment proceedings had even begun.
Chances are high that Senator Paul has a strong suspicion of who the whistleblower is, since he has been identified in media for several months as Eric Ciaramella.
In a recent episode of Verdict, Senator Ted Cruz’s daily podcast on the impeachment, which showed up after late Wednesday night questioning, he talks about some of the questions that were asked. While he submitted a dozen ahead of time, only one of those got asked. He submitted another four from the floor, which is a sort of cross-examination, done by notecards handed in to be read by the Chief Justice. Three of these got asked, two of them were handed to other senators to submit. One of Cruz’s questions indirectly addressed the whistleblower. As Senator Cruz tells it, he asked,
Did the whistleblower ever work for Joe Biden? If so, did he work for Joe Biden on issues involving Ukraine? If so, did he assist in any material way with the quid pro quo that Joe Biden executed when he demanded that Ukraine fire the prosecutor that was investigating Burisma, the company paying his son a million bucks a year?
|Ted Cruz, Verdict episode 8, screenshot from here|
Schiff completely refused to answer. Instead he offered a prepared speech on preserving the sanctity of whistleblowers and protecting their identity.
Recall, when this first came out, Schiff couldn’t wait for the whistleblower to testify in an impeachment trial. That was his intention. I don’t know if there is a direct correlation, but Glenn Beck came out with an investigative report on corruption in Ukraine—and how players in that story were key in coming up with the false information used in the FISA warrant in the first place, allowing surveillance of presidential candidate Trump and some former staff. Suddenly Schiff turned on a dime and absolutely insisted no one should ever know the whistleblower’s identity (after his staff had already admitted their contact). Later Beck investigations noted that Ciaramella’s name kept popping up. They found his name on various documents prior to knowing he was the whistleblower.
|Glenn Beck, explaining the Ukraine Scandal, October 4, 2019|
screenshot from here
BTW, whistleblowers' identity is not sacred. Their jobs are protected, so they can’t be fired for coming forward. But they don’t get to accuse anonymously.
What Senator Cruz is pointing out is that the “whistleblower,” who had no first-hand knowledge of the president’s phonecall and was therefore in no position to blow a whistle, had a self-preservation motive to prevent the investigation into the Burisma-Biden connection from going forward, because he could personally be found guilty in that corruption. Let me repeat that: the whistleblower’s motive, when he heard that Trump was interested in investigating the Burisma-Biden connection, was to prevent discovery of the whistleblower’s own involvement in that prosecutable wrongdoing.
Was it corrupt, what Joe Biden did? In another question, Senator Cruz expanded—and made more accurate—a hypothetical that Schiff had put forward. Cruz’s version, as he retells it on his podcast, was handed to Lindsey Graham to ask:
Using Mr. Schiff’s hypothetical, if President Obama had evidence that Mitt Romney’s son was being paid a million dollars a year by a corrupt Russian company—Schiff’s hypo was Russian instead of Ukraine—and Romney had acted in his official capacity to benefit that company, would Obama have had the authority to ask that the potential corruption be investigated?
As Cruz adds,
It’s not randomly, “Hey, investigate this guy.” It’s if you’ve got evidence—that on the face of it looks pretty crooked.
As I’m writing, the decision on whether to call witnesses is getting close to be voted on. That vote may even take place today. (Maybe it has while I’m not tuned in.)
There are many Americans (as high as 70%) who think there should be witnesses called. But both sides have very different ideas of who those should be. The defense ought to have the right to call the whistleblower, because it is unthinkable that a person can be convicted in America without being allowed to face his accuser—to know who makes the accusation, and to explore that person’s motives and truthfulness.
|Joe Biden brags about getting Ukraine prosecutor fired.|
screenshot from here
And then there’s the possibility of calling Hunter Biden and maybe Joe Biden. I’d like to know from Joe Biden—who claimed he had to fire the prosecutor in that quid pro quo that he brags about on video—what evidence did he have that the Ukrainian prosecutor into his son’s corrupt business dealings was too corrupt to remain in office? What were the complaints about that prosecutor? Where did they come from?
Because, if that was the motive instead of what it looks like, there must be supporting evidence. If not, then probably it was what it looks like—abuse of power for personal purposes. The very thing, ironically, that the Democrats have been yelling from the rooftops is disqualifying for a president.
Do I care about hearing from John Bolton? Not really. The only possible contribution would be what his personal opinion is of President Trump’s motives. He can’t know those motives—the other witnesses could not either. The defense already had the opportunity to hear from Bolton. All they had to do was get a court to override the president’s claim of executive privilege. Rather than do that, they withdrew the subpoena, saying they did not need to hear from him. So their tearful cries for him now are disingenuous. And, I’ll add, they can’t claim the president “obstructed Congress” if he didn’t defy a court-ordered subpoena. Congress didn’t do its part to get legally obstructed. (And, as I’ve heard said, a lot of people voted for Trump so he would “obstruct” Congress, which is obviously not a crime; it’s a feature of the separation of powers.)
If there were to be witnesses, and along with that there’s some claim that there needs to be fairness, we need to remember that 18 witnesses have already testified for the prosecution. Until there have been that many witnesses for the defense, let’s not talk about any “you get one and we get one.”
Since I don’t trust the Republicans to adopt that hard line, I would prefer they hear from none.
The White House defense team has presented more than ample evidence that there was plenty of incentive for President Trump to care about corruption in Ukraine, where billions in aid had already disappeared into a corrupt black hole. The Burisma-Biden connection is in the middle of that, but it’s not by any means the whole corruption story.
What have we learned from this whole impeachment ordeal? These Democrats are corrupt. They lie. They do not believe in due process, truth, or the Constitution. They were unable to come up with anything treasonous, anything that could be called bribery, or any other thing that would similarly jeopardize the country—in other words, anything worthy of impeachment.
|Ben Garrison cartoon|
They couldn’t even come up with a misdemeanor. They started on the eve of Trump’s inauguration, and they haven’t stopped. They have found nothing to charge him with. Yet they have put the country through this attempt at a coup for their own selfish purposes.
The biggest takeaway is that, for someone they claim is evil on a Hitlerian scale, Trump sure is law-abiding.