The presidential impeachment process is pretty arduous.
First, the House must pass articles of impeachment by way of a vote. Then, the Senate conducts a trial, over which the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides. Finally, the Senate votes as to whether to convict and, ultimately, to remove the president from office.
While the decision to impeach a president is a serious one, it typically can’t succeed from a political perspective without public support. In the “case” involving President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president, recent concerning developments should leave the U.S. public feeling unimpressed and should result in diminished public support with respect to the House’s impeachment effort.
The prospect of successfully impeaching a duly-elected president consists of several “parts.” The first part is obviously the law and the ability to prove that the alleged perpetrator committed an act that amounts to bribery, treason, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
The second, and oftentimes more difficult part, is garnering the support of the American public. After all, the impeachment process takes time and money and can virtually render Congress “ineffective” for an extended period of time.
For these reasons, the public should demand compelling evidence and proof of an impeachable offense before supporting any efforts to impeach the president.
According to a recent USA Today–Ipsos Poll, 45 percent of Americans support a vote by the House to impeach the president while 38 percent don’t support a vote.
With this in mind, the “formal impeachment inquiry” revolving around Trump’s telephone call with the Ukrainian president (and the circumstances leading up to the inquiry) contains several serious irregularities and holes that should raise red flags in the eyes of the public.
For example, recent reports have suggested that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is leading the impeachment drive, or a member of his staff, was in contact with the alleged whistleblower before the whistleblower complaint was filed (the staff member shared the information with Schiff), and that Schiff was allegedly in possession, or had knowledge of, the complaint (or the contents thereof) before it became public.
Indeed, Schiff posted a tweet on Aug. 28 that mimicked the allegations in the whistleblower complaint before the complaint was made public.
This is troubling for several reasons. First, Rule 14(b) of the Rules of Procedure for the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence states:
“(b) Access to Classified Information by Members. All members of the Committee shall at all times have access to all classified papers and other material received by the Committee from any source. If the Executive Branch seeks to limit such access to classified papers and other material in accordance with existing law or policy, the Chair, in consultation with the Ranking Member, may agree to restrict Member and staff access to certain classified materials pursuant to the Executive Branch’s request. Such restriction shall apply on equal terms to the Majority and Minority.”
In accordance with this rule, if Schiff knew about, or was in possession of the whistleblower complaint (or any other related information), he should have notified or shared it with the remaining committee members.
The fact that he didn’t do so is suspicious and creates the impression that he was somehow involved with the preparation, filing, or timing of the complaint and its release. Moreover, in a televised interview, Schiff previously claimed that “we have not spoken directly to the whistleblower.” This statement was false, which is likely why an aide to Schiff later tried to explain this contradiction by claiming that by “we,” Schiff was referring to the members of the House committee, not his staff.
To put this in proper perspective, if these reports are true, Schiff is asking the American public to trust his word, although he denied any previous direct contact with the whistleblower, failed to timely notify the remaining committee members of the complaint (which he should have done), and knowingly mischaracterized the president’s words in his opening remarks during the recent House Intelligence hearing with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.
These items seriously undermine the merits of the House’s impeachment inquiry and should cause Americans on all sides of the political spectrum to seriously question the House’s motivation behind its push for impeachment.
Another recent development that should cause Americans to question the House’s entire Ukraine-related impeachment push revolves around Schiff’s attempt to prevent Republican members of the Foreign Affairs Committee from asking questions or having equal representation during the interview of Kurt Volker, the former State Department special representative for Ukraine negotiations.
According to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s ranking member:
“I was alarmed to learn – less than 24 hours before the first interview is scheduled to start – that it will be led by the Intelligence Committee and that questioning will be done solely by their staff.”
“We were told that only a single Republican professional staffer from the Foreign Affairs Committee will be allowed to attend while the majority will have two. These constraints on committee and Republican participation are unacceptable and at odds with House Rules and general fairness. We demand equal representation and participation in this inquiry, there is too much at stake for America and Congress.”
Ultimately, Democrats made concessions and allowed for equal representation of both parties (by way of counsel). However, while representatives from the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees were present, only the Intelligence Committee was allowed to question Volker.
Schiff’s attempt to stymie Republican efforts to question Volker is inexplicable and unconscionable. Why would the chair of the committee that is looking to impeach the president want to prevent Republican members from thoroughly questioning Volker? Shouldn’t the chair of the committee encourage questions by Republicans and Democrats in an effort to discover the truth? His unwillingness to do so makes it seem as if he is trying to prevent certain types of questions or issues from being raised.
As is evident, the House’s push to impeach the president contains some significant flaws and irregularities. While the House continues to try to steamroll the president, the American public should have significant reservations about impeaching the president based on the information that has been disclosed to date.
While impeachment is a political act, it shouldn’t be used for purposes of revenge. While Republicans and Democrats don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues, they should definitely agree on this one.
The people of this great country are smart. As such, they should carefully and objectively critique the facts and circumstances in this case. In doing so, they should withhold their support if they feel that the facts and circumstances establish that the impeachment process is being utilized for an improper purpose.
Elad Hakim is a writer, commentator, and attorney. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Algemeiner, The Western Journal, American Thinker, and other online publications.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.