The dithering Democrats finally settled on two lame articles of impeachment - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The first is lame because it is not the president who is abusing his power but Congress. It is certainly possible for a president to abuse his power - President Obama did that when he created Dreamers out of the ether with the stroke of a pen - but President Trump has not done anything like that. The executive orders he has issued - whether on immigration or building the wall - simply implement statutory obligations or options established by Congress.
Congress, on the other hand, is abusing its power by denying the president even the semblance of due process, including the basic right to be heard, and has made a travesty of judicial standards by trotting out as its first star witnesses three people who had not one single shred of actual first-hand testimony to offer.
Congress is not even pretending to follow the Constitution on impeachment. The “high crimes and misdemeanors” listed there identify just two crimes: treason and bribery. Democrats fooled around with treason for a bit, but that clearly didn’t fit since Trump is the most pro-American president since Reagan.
They even trotted out bribery for a brief moment. But bribery, especially at the time the Constitution was enacted, required the actual exchange of money in return for something of value and no one has ever accused the president of pocketing a dime from Ukraine or anyone else in exchange for political favor. So that turned into a non-starter, even though Democrat focus groups thought “bribery” was scarier than any of the other options. As Matt Margois said, we’re dealing here with an impeachment that’s not about patriotism or politics but polling. Sheesh.
“Other” high crimes and misdemeanors are allowed, and in fact, no president has ever been indicted without being accused of a specific crime. But try as they might, the Democrats couldn’t even find something that looked like a crime, so that was a loser.
The Democrats, who have launched impeachment efforts against every single Republican president since WWII, have actually filed multiple articles of impeachment against Trump, including Obstruction of Justice, Inciting White Supremacy, Sexism, Bigotry, Hatred, Xenophobia, Race-Baiting, and Racism, Perfidy (whatever that is), Encouraging Law Enforcement Officials to Violate the Constitutional Rights of Suspects in Their Care, Custody and Control, Violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, Violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause, Undermining the Federal Judiciary, and Undermining the Freedom of the Press.
In addition to the hollow “abuse of power” charge, they added “obstruction of Congress” because Trump wouldn’t cough up the executive branch witnesses they subpoenaed. The reason Trump wouldn’t allow them to testify? There is no impeachment trial (as yet) to which executive branch personnel could be summoned because the Democrats were in too big a hurry to test their subpoena power in court. (Joe Biden, by the way, said Tuesday he will not honor a congressional subpoena in any matter having to do with Hunter and Ukraine. Apparently he himself is blissfully and shamelessly unconcerned about “obstruction of Congress.”)
A charge of obstruction of Congress ignores the Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine, which Democrats blather on and bloviate about the rest of the time. But the executive branch does not answer to the legislative branch, so Congress has no power to order the executive branch around. Trump is not above the law - but neither is Congress.
Accusing the president of obstructing Congress by defending himself is a bit like a prosecuting attorney accusing a defendant of obstruction of justice because he had the temerity to go out and hire a defense attorney.
So the Democrats literally have nothing - zero, nada, zip, zilch. The chances of getting a conviction in the Senate are less than zero. Democrats would have to flip 20 Republican senators and there is only one senator – named Romney. And some Democrats might even vote for justice rather than jaundice.
Plus, now the Democrats have to worry about vulnerable members of their own kind, 31 of whom represent districts won by Trump in 2016. Ms. Pelosi can only afford to lose 18 votes, and she’s already lost the two congressmen who voted against the impeachment inquiry from jump street. She now has to worry about the dozen or so vulnerable Democrats who huddled Tuesday afternoon hoping for a censure motion instead of impeachment. And beyond the 31, there’s even a second tier of 20 reluctant, uneasy Democrats.
Bottom line: All Nancy Pelosi will get for her huffing and puffing and hectoring is another four years of Donald Trump.
The author may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org