The long-awaited report from IG Michael Horowitz has dropped. The investigation into the origins of the FBI’s probe into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election found several procedural errors, but overall no indication of any “political bias” by the agency. The review also found that the FBI was justified in launching its July 2016 investigation into the campaign, known as “Crossfire Hurricane.”
The 434-page report is based on more than 1 million documents from the Justice Department and the FBI and interviews with more than 100 witnesses. It examined the procedures for obtaining the 90-day surveillance warrant and renewals of that warrant for Carter Page, a Trump campaign aide. Horowitz probed the use of the Steele dossier as justification.
While the report did not contain the anticipated bombshells hoped for and predicted by the GOP, it is not the end of the story for Republicans and allies of the president.
Soon after the report was released, Attorney General Bill Barr challenged its findings. In a statement to the press, Barr said, “The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.” reads.
U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is leading a separate review of the FBI’s investigation, joined the bar in rejecting Horowitz’s findings.
“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said in a statement.
Durham noted that his investigation includes information from other entities outside the Justice Department, “both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.” Durham’s probe is a criminal investigation, which gives him the authority to issue subpoenas to witnesses and documents, as well as to impanel a grand jury, whereas Horowitz’s report was just as a procedural review.
Durham’s inquiry has had a broader scope than Horowitz’s, including a focus on foreign actors as well as the CIA, while Horowitz concentrated his attention on the DOJ and FBI.
What Should We Expect From Durham’s Investigation?
Still, Horowitz’s report offered several clues as to potential avenues that Durham may be pursuing. For example, Horowitz noted that the FBI omitted exculpatory statements by former Trump aide George Papadopoulos in its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrant application to surveil another ex-Trump aide, Carter Page.
Horowitz noted that the bureau, in its FISA application and subsequent renewals, completely failed to mention that Page had been “approved as an operational contact” and served as a valuable asset, presumably for the CIA, from 2008 to 2013.
Papadopoulos previously told Fox News he was convinced that the CIA was behind an “operation” in which he met intelligence community informants in London in late 2016 who tried to probe whether the Trump campaign had ties to Russia. He later said he would head to Greece to obtain money in a safe from the FBI or CIA that he said was intended to entrap him.
Additionally, according to Horowitz’s report, the CIA viewed the now-discredited dossier from British ex-spy Christopher Steele as an “internet rumor,” even though key bureau officials including former FBI Director James Comey sought to include the dossier in its highly sensitive intelligence community assessment on Russian interference, known as the ICA.
Sources previously told Fox News that a late-2016 email chain indicated Comey told bureau subordinates that then-CIA Director John Brennan insisted the dossier be included in the ICA. A Brennan representative pointed the finger back at Comey.
Current FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement that he accepted the report’s findings and acknowledged that “certain FBI personnel” had failed to comply with the FBI’s policies and standards of conduct. He wrote that the bureau “embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action,” and in response to the report, Wray said that he has “ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the Report’s recommendations.”
Last week, in an exclusive interview on “Justice with Judge Jeanine” Vice President Mike Pence responded to the House Intelligence Committee’s 300-page impeachment report, which listed the Vice President among other senior officials as “either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the president.”
He told host Jeanine Pirro, that he doesn’t believe “it’s a foregone conclusion” that House Democrats will secure enough votes to pass articles of impeachment.
The report also blames Pence for failing to produce “a single document” requested by panels and blocking the release of part of a transcript of his September 18 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Witnesses that actually testified before the Democratic committee actually testified that the subject of investigations never came up either before, during, or after my meeting with President Zelensky in Poland,” Pence told Pirro. “What did we talk about was what President Trump asked me to ask about.”
“When he asked me to go to Poland to represent him, he’d already scheduled a meeting with President Zelensky. And, the president sat me down and said, ‘Look, we are reviewing this aid, but I wanna know what he’s doing about corruption.’ President Zelensky was literally elected in a landslide and the parliamentary election for his party was a landslide on an anti-corruption agenda,” Pence explained. “And, the president said to me: ‘Find out what he’s doing on that — in a sense, you know — check him out, see what you make of him on that.”
Last Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced that Democrats would proceed with articles of impeachment against President Trump, declaring that the president’s conduct “leaves us no choice but to act.”
But, when Pirro asked, “Will the president be impeached?”
The VP responded, “I don’t yet know what’s going to happen in the House. I know that Speaker Pelosi has announced articles of impeachment, but I have to tell you — I served in the Congress for 12 years and I don’t think it’s a forgone conclusion… that the Democrats will be able to get the votes to pass articles of impeachment.”
The Latest From the Impeachment Hearings
However, Vice President Pence’s comments came before Monday’s contentious Judiciary Committee hearings where lawyers from both parties sparred in blunt terms over whether President Trump indeed abused his power in dealings with Ukraine — while committee members clashed repeatedly over a process, Republicans decried as a “rubber stamp.”
The hearing — which consisted of lawyers for both parties essentially making their closing arguments, including by showing video clips of key statements from witnesses, Trump and others — comes as the committee is expected to vote in the coming days on articles of impeachment against Trump.
The hearing sets off a pivotal week as Democrats march toward a full House vote expected by Christmas. In drafting the articles of impeachment, Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Trump and his allies acknowledge he will likely be impeached in the Democratic-controlled House, but they also expect acquittal next year in the Senate, where Republicans have the majority. A vote to convict requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate, where Republicans hold 53 of 100 seats. Regardless of what happens in the lower chamber, it is unlikely that any Republican senators would cross party lines and vote to remove Trump from office.
An ex-marine, who is running for Congress has called former NFL pro, — a national disgrace.
Jeremy Staat, who also played in 31 NFL games across four seasons, wrote to supporters in a recent fundraising email that Kaepernick is a “national disgrace and I’m tired of seeing him celebrated like he’s a hero.”
Last week, Staat – who served in Iraq and is now running for Congress in California – told “Fox & Friends that “[Kaepernick] knew what he was getting into when he decided to kneel and now he’s going to go ahead and capitalize” on his decision. He accused the former NFL quarterback of “essentially extorting the black community and using Nike as his little shiny horse, if you will, to ride in on.”
Staat’s comments came after Kaepernick spoke the week prior to the “Indigenous People’s Sunrise Ceremony” also known as “Unthanksgiving,” on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. The event is intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Native Americans occupying the famous island, which previously served as the site of a federal prison. The protest, which began on November 20, 1969, lasted 19 months.
Kaepernick tweeted on Thanksgiving Day, “Spent the morning at the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Ceremony on the 50 year anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz. The US government has stolen over 1.5 billion acres of land from Indigenous people. Thank you to my Indigenous family, I’m with you today and always.”
Kaepernick started a national firestorm when he decided to kneel during the national anthem before NFL games to raise awareness about perceived social injustices across the U.S. He accused NFL owners in a grievance of blackballing him from the league because of the anthem protest, but the two sides settled earlier this year. He has not played since 2016.
Staat, who is running for Congress as a Republican in California’s 8th district, said that he is tired of veterans being treated as second-class citizens and that instead of attacking law enforcement like Kaepernick, he wants to be part of the solution by helping President Trump in Congress.
“If you want to be part of the solution, go out and find ways to make the problem better. Don’t go out and attack individuals who are just doing their jobs,” he said, adding that he wants to reform the V.A. but is not going to “attack” doctors and nurses at V.A. hospitals.
Staat played alongside the late Pat Tillman at Arizona State before playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1998 to 2000. The former defensive end joined the Marine Corps in 2006 and deployed to Iraq the following year.
While billionaire superheroes like Tony Stark’s Iron Man, are unabashed capitalists, it seems that the Hulk wants to smash capitalism. Or at least that’s the feeling of Mark Ruffalo who portrayed the “Jade Giant” in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The “Avengers: Endgame” and “Dark Waters” actor, who has been an outspoken critic of America’s economic and capitalist structure in the past, took to Twitter recently to share an article and ask for the country to consider getting rid of capitalism.
“It’s time for an economic revolution,” Ruffalo wrote. “Capitalism today is failing us, killing us, and robbing from our children’s future.”
The tweet was accompanied by a Nov. 21 op-ed from Time entitled, “How America’s Elites Lost Their Grip,” in which writer Anand Giridharadas lays out the case that Americans are increasingly in support of gutting the country’s capitalist economy in favor of a new system. The writer credits the rise of people like 2020 presidential hopefuls, democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for not only calling capitalism into question but making its removal seem more and more viable since 2016.
Although that “system” which he maligns, seems to be doing very well by Ruffalo. Ruffalo made $6 million for his role in “Avengers: Infinity War” and is worth an estimated $30 million.
The actor previously lent his support in the 2016 presidential election to Sanders before he lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton. Speaking on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in November, Ruffalo admitted that the years since, have only strengthened his support for Bernie.
“For me, I started with Bernie on this trip and… when I think about it, what I see is, he led then and now he’s leading now,” the actor explained. “He was never another party, he never had different views about these things. The rest of the United States has finally caught up to what this cat has been doing already for his entire career. And you know that when he gets into office, he is going to be fighting for us!”
In October, the “Hulk” actor took to Twitter to call for democratic socialism once again, writing, “Democratic Socialism says it’s a moral wrong that 57% of income is going to the top 1%. Universal health care. Medical & family paid leave.”
Congressional Democrats have now released their scathing nine-point impeachment report, which accuses President Trump of abusing his office for partisan advantage in the Ukraine scandal, and of then seeking to obstruct the probe of his misdeeds.
The landmark report says the Intelligence Committee’s investigation determined that President Trump used $391 million in aid to Ukraine and a White House visit for its president, as leverage to force the embattled nation to announce “unfounded” investigations into Joe Biden and his son, as well as a conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.
The 300-page report comes less than 24 hours before the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin taking up the case with its first formal impeachment hearing Wednesday morning. The report is expected to be transmitted to that committee following an evening vote and would form the basis for any articles of impeachment to be drafted.
“President Trump’s scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign,” the report said.
It said the inquiry “uncovered a months-long effort by President Trump to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election.”
White House Dismisses Report
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham swiftly hit back in a statement slamming the nature of the Intelligence Committee’s inquiry and claiming it failed to prove any wrongdoing on Trump’s part.
“At the end of a one-sided sham process, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump,” Grisham said. “This report reflects nothing more than their frustrations. Chairman Schiff’s report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing.”
The Intelligence Committee, led by Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., conducted extensive interviews with witnesses connected to the Trump administration’s relationship with Ukraine after an anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint alleging that during a July 25 phone call, Trump tried to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to help Rudy Giuliani investigate Democratic activities in 2016, as well as former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
That phone call was at the center of the report, which said that “The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage,” the report said. “In doing so, the President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.”
Trump has denied wrongdoing and said his call with Zelensky was “perfect,” while maintaining there was no such quid pro quo tying aid to investigations. One key witness, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, alleged a clear quid pro quo involving a White House meeting and a “potential quid pro quo” involving the aid — but also acknowledged he never heard those conditions from Trump directly.
Zelensky has also denied there was any pressure put on him or any talk of a quid pro quo between the two leaders, but he did recently criticize the decision to delay the aid.
Meanwhile, Republicans drafted a report of their own, which rejected most, if not all of the claims, made by the Democratic majority.
“The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations, and none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” the GOP report said.
With the Intelligence Committee’s report in their hands, the Judiciary Committee is next going to call constitutional law experts to testify regarding the relevant legal principles involved in impeachment, before determining whether or not to approve articles of impeachment, which would then go to the full House for a vote.
If the House should vote to impeach, the Senate would hold a trial, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict.
One of the evergreen characterizations of our two major political parties is that Democrats represent the poor and Republicans represent the rich. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren lead in the demonization of people with wealth – with the rest of the Democrat presidential field serving as the “MeToo” chorus (not to be confused with the Democrat feminist #MeTooMovement).
While they castigate people with wealth, virtually all the Democrat presidential contenders ARE people of wealth. When they condemn those contemptible “millionaires and billionaires,” they fail to admit that they are among them.
The latest billionaire to throw his David Shilling hat in the presidential ring is Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He has a net worth of $52 billion dollars. He will not take any donations but rely on spending potentially billions of dollars on his own campaign. To become the 46th President of the United States, Bloomberg would actually spend more money than all the 45 previous Presidents combined!
His closest competitor – at least in money – is businessman Tom Steyer, who is worth $1.6 billion – and who has already spent tens of millions of dollars on name-recognition ads (fronting as impeachment ads) before announcing his candidacy.
But money is not everything. Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney is the third richest Democrat in the race – worth more than $200 million. Despite his wealth, he is in that “below one percent” category.
Another barely relatively unnoticed candidate – outside of Colorado, where he is the United States senator – is Michael Bennet. He is worth $15 million.
The next richest person in the race has some ‘splaining to do. It is Elizabeth Warren with a net worth of $12 million. While she chagrins the influence of money in politics, she has not been shy on using her wampum as fuel for her own political career. Interestingly, Warren’s “wealth tax” would not apply to people with her level of wealth. Surprise! Surprise!
Following Warren is former Vice President Joe Biden, with a fortune of more than $9 million dollars. That one is particularly interesting because he often talks about his humble beginnings. At the age of 29, Biden was elected to the United States Senate (turning 30 – the legal minimum age – before the swearing in.) He was never a businessman, a big-time actor – never invented anything – so how did he get so damned rich from public service? Hmmmm. I am reminded of what President Harry Truman famously said: “You can’t get rich in politics unless you’re a crook.”
Another candidate who promotes her alleged “humble beginnings” and a life of public service is California Senator Kamala Harris. She is worth $6 million. Humble beginning … life of PUBLIC service … and $6 million. What was that Harry Truman said?
Then there is the folksy home-spun Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. No one seems to hate the rich more than socialist hypocrite Sanders. Another story of the humblest of beginnings and a life in public service – and a $2.5 million nest egg. Bernie is a variation on Robin Hood since he wants to take from the billionaires and give it to millionaires, like him.
The “poor” millionaires – $2 million or less – include Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar ($2M), New Jersey Senator Cory Booker ($1.5M) and businessman Andrew Yang ($1M).
A couple of candidates fall short of membership in the Millionaires’ Club. That includes Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard ($500K) and at the bottom of the list is South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($100K). If the examples above are indicative, Buttigieg has a bright future in Democrat politics – which should make him one of the millionaires in the near future.
Keep in mind that all these candidates are richer than these estimates. The reporting requirement a not all that stringent, Also, does the figure include spousal wealth? Some assets may be undervalued. Regardless, they are all much richer than the people they hope to serve.
The wealth disparity between these candidates and their impoverished supporters is wide and growing. I have always maintained that any political party that depends on poor people as their power base has no incentive to make them rich. We see this in virtually every Democrat-run major city in which segregated and impoverished voters live in the economic status quo generation after generation. That does not happen by accident.
It is interesting that so many of these candidates would destroy America’s capitalistic economic system — denying we the people the same opportunities that gave them their fabulous wealth.
So, there ‘tis.
America seems to be consumed … CONSUMED … by politics. It has spilled over into every phase of American life. If you want to get away from political references and implications forget about sports. The NFL cleaves on patriotism. The NBA on foreign policy.
Forget about enjoying a few laughs. The predominant subject of jokesters is politics. Forget about the movies. More and more of them are politically based or incorporate obvious political messaging. Same for television shows. If you are interested in news around the world, forget about our so-called news industry. They broadcast in bright colors of blue and red.
No wonder it is so difficult to find a topic of discussion as we sit around the Thanksgiving table with family members of differing viewpoints. So firm are our staked positions that we cannot even engage in civil intelligent conversation.
Well, at least we can play games. Or can we?
Uno has just released the latest version of their game that has no red or blue backed cards. They have been replaced with a purple card. The Uno company proudly notes that this change is to take politics OUT of the game. In fact, they put politics into the game.
Who ever played Uno and thought that the red and blue represented political affiliation? Uno’s decision is like the bikini bathing suit. It draws attention to that which it alleges to conceal. To change something that was never viewed as political by making it political – even in the name of avoidance, it brings politics into the game. Who will ever play with that sans red and blue deck and not consciously or subconsciously think of our political divisions?
Now, if we were to take up Uno’s thinking, I can already hear Senator Bernie Sanders demanding the replacement of that iconic cute little millionaire representing Monopoly. Hell, Sanders would probably want to ban the entire game as being a promoter of capitalism.
Perhaps Sanders would enjoy a game in which Big Brother owns everything – and if you do not pay up you are sent to prison to be tortured and brainwashed — and have no way to get out, free or otherwise.
My favorite holiday is Christmas. In my more than seven decades of celebrating, I have never thought of that red-garbed Santa Claus as a Republican. Franky, in the way he gives away goodies to keep we kiddies happy, there is a better argument that he is a Democrat. Still, I cannot see a blue Santa.
Are colors really always about politics? if our tradition is dressing newborn babies light red (pink) if they are girls and blue if they are boys, why are proportionately more women Democrats and more men Republicans?
The point is that every time we see the colors red or blue, we DO NOT think of politics – and hopefully we will continue in that tradition. The makers of Uno have now taken away a bit of our ability to do that. Whenever I see the new purple Uno game, I will be reminded of politics and the current divisions that make that reminder unpleasant. Thanks Uno.
So, there ‘tis.
While I have often wondered why so many black voters maintain allegiance to the Democratic Party in view of their long history – to this day – of oppression of black citizens. First it was slavery, then segregation and now the remnants of de facto racism in our major Democrat-run cities today.
The race card is still being dishonestly played against Republicans by the hypocritical Democrats, but that is not the focus of this commentary. It appears that the race card does NOT play well in Democrats intramural presidential politics.
I am referring to the efforts by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Senator Kamala Harris to play the race card to win over black voters. In recent debates and speeches, Booker and Harris have argued that THEY – more than any other candidate – can unite the party by keeping black voters in line.
To fight President Trump in the 2020 General Election, black candidates will have the best chance to bring out the black vote. They refer to it as the “Obama coalition.” That has a certain superficial – albeit it specious – logic.
The assumption is that black voters will always set aside all other issues to vote for a black candidate. They will always vote race over issues – such as gun control, abortion, women’s’ rights, gay rights, employment, education, foreign policy, criminal justice, etc.
The strategy of Booker and Harris is a call to vote race … period. That race-baiting does not seem to be working in this election cycle. There are a lot of black voters in the Democrat coalition. That is for sure. But they seem to have more interests than skin color when it comes to politics – maybe more than ever.
That old white guy name Biden seems to be getting a lot of black votes – so far more than any other candidate in the field. He is getting more black votes than Booker and Harris. So is Bernie Sanders. Even Elizabeth Warren is starting to pull in a significant number of black voters.
The two most prominent black candidates – Booker and Harris – are not getting a lot of support from the brothers and sisters. No matter how many times Booker calls for black unity behind his campaign, he still languishes between 2 and 3 percent in the polls. And Harris’ call for black unity in her campaign has not prevented her being Whack-A-Moled into single digits.
There are even some indications that – despite Democrat state of denial — Trump may exceed his 2016 eight percent black vote. Too early to know, but there are signs of disenchantment with Democrat leadership in our segregated inner cities. As one black community leader said in Chicago. “it would be a mistake to think that Trump would be unwelcomed in the ‘hood.”
This may come as a shock to the Booker/Harris types, but those folks in the inner cities are not monolithic political drones. Skin color is not the number one political issue – not even number two … three … four … or …
So, There ‘tis.
Democrats, who were expecting the other shoe to drop during U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland’s testimony today, may have heard it fall, but it never really hit the floor.
While it is true that Sondland did provide stunning testimony to Congress affirming a “quid pro quo” for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to secure a meeting and phone call with President Trump, he denied having any direct evidence that those conditions were directly tied to holding back critical security aid, nor that they came directly from the president.
Referring to what he labeled a “potential quid pro quo” involving U.S. military aid to Ukraine and investigations desired by President Trump, Sondland testified that he had never heard that link from the president himself.
One of the key witnesses in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against Trump, Sondland claimed he kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo aware of what was going on and said he specifically told Vice President Pence he “had concerns” the military aid to Ukraine “had become tied” to investigations — though a Pence aide denied it. And he repeatedly lambasted Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s leading role in the administration’s Ukraine dealings.
“Everyone was in the loop,” Sondland testified in opening remarks. “It was no secret.”
Taken in their entirety, Sondland’s statements Wednesday are likely to fuel the narratives of both parties. He was seen as a wild card going into the hearing, given he has offered testimony that conflicted with others’ and recently amended his statements to acknowledge he did talk to Ukraine about investigations after initially indicating otherwise.
Sondland made clear that he merely presumed the aid was linked to investigations, at one point referring to this as a “guess,” while repeatedly stating that, “I never heard from President Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement” of investigations.
He said he never personally heard Trump discuss any kind of preconditions. Instead, he clearly pinned the effort to extract the conditions from Ukraine on Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
“Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election,” Sondland said in his written opening testimony, referring to Energy Secretary Rick Perry and U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker.
Burisma, the second-largest energy company in Ukraine, had hired Hunter Biden, the then-vice president’s son, for a $50,000 per month position on its board.
“Mr. Giuliani expressed those requests directly to the Ukrainians. Mr. Giuliani also expressed those requests directly to us. We all understood that these pre-requisites for the White House call and White House meeting reflected President Trump’s desires and requirements,” said Sondland.
He tried to now distance himself from the former New York mayor, saying, “If I had known of all of Mr. Giuliani’s dealings or of his associations with individuals now under criminal indictment, I would not have acquiesced to his participation,” Sondland said. “Still, given what we knew at the time, what we were asked to do did not appear to be wrong.”
After waiting and planning for the better part of three years, Democrats are now in a bit of a hurry to get President Trump impeached. They had hoped to get it accomplished before Thanksgiving, but that deadline is no longer an option.
They now hope to have it out of the six “inquiry committees” and into the Judiciary Committee – where it should have been in the first place. And yes, there are technically six committees serving as impeachment inquiry committees – although the House Intelligence Committee, with California Congressman Adam Schiff chairing, seems to have all the action. If the others are doing anything, it is the best kept secret in Washington.
Democrats had hoped to have the whole damn impeachment thing – Articles of Impeachment and trial in the Senate – done before we get into the 2020 election year. They well understand that if the process drags on into 2020, it will consume media and public attention to the detriment of all those presidential campaigns.
Just a few weeks ago, all those east coast establishment media outlets were giving Democrat presidential candidates enormous airtime. Candidates with less than 5 percent support were being interviewed as if they were contenders. Debate coverage was characterized by pre-debate presentations by Democrat leaders and post-debate butt-kissing analysis. A seemingly endless series of so-called “town hall meetings” were essentially infomercials.
Now that the impeachment process has gone public, the Democrat presidential candidates have disappeared from the news. Impeachment specials have replaced those town hall meetings.
Democrats are committed to a rush-to-judgement — largely because they have already arrived at their judgment. They are so concerned about accelerating the process that they will forego hearing from the most critical witnesses to their case – folks like former White House Intelligence Advisor John Bolton.
If subpoenaed, Bolton will rely on the federal courts to decide if he must testify or if he comes under presidential executive privilege. That could take a few months, and it is not at all certain that Democrats could win that case. So, Schiff has decided to ignore hearing from key witnesses. And why not? They have already reached their verdict.
If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is politically savvy – and he seems to be – he will not pick-up on the Democrats need to speed the process along. Instead, he will proloooong the process into January … February … March.
Just as we already know the outcome of the impeachment process in the House, we can be pretty sure that Trump will be found not guilty by the Senate. But while the Senate trial is going on, EVERY senator is obligated to sit silently as jurors. No questions from them. No speeches. They would even be admonished not to make any prejudicial public statements.
For politicians running for President of the United States, that would have the same effect of tying them up, gagging them and tossing them into the back of a pick-up truck.
Of course, it would only involve the senator-candidates. That would include Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar. Imagine … all the while Biden and Buttigieg are out there campaigning, the quintet would be sitting silently in the Senate chamber day after day … after day.
Of course, it is only a qualified benefit for the other candidates since they will be denied significant media coverage as the trial dominates the news. In a sense, they will also be silenced by the trial as those all-important state primaries come and go.
One way to prolong the trial – and provide Trump with a real defense – would be to allow both sides to call new witnesses – such as Hunter Biden and the whistleblower. During the Clinton trial, both sides agreed to NOT call additional witnesses, but to base their verdict on the Articles of Impeachment as presented by the House.
There is no reason that McConnell would follow that practice. It might have made sense back then because the House conducted the Clinton impeachment much more fairly. The Pelosi-Schiff rules are creating a very one-sided case. The House has blocked crucial witnesses. The other side needs to be heard and the Senate trial is the only option.
This will also be a way to put the House process on trial. The prospective Senate trial is something that should never have happened – and Senate Republicans should make sure that the American people understand that.
So, there ‘tis.