Deep State On Display
Today, the House Intelligence Committee (an apparent contradiction in terms) held its first public impeachment hearing against President Trump. Here are some initial observations.
- This process is all wrong. The House Judiciary Committee is the appropriate venue for such investigations, not the Intelligence Committee. But Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler fumbled his opening attempt so badly that Speaker Pelosi was forced to hand the impeachment football to Adam Schiff.
- The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, has repeatedly discredited himself. (Here and here.) Schiff insisted over and over that there was "ample evidence in plain sight" of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. But Robert Mueller, with 500 witnesses and 2,800 subpoenas, couldn't find it. As Rep. Devin Nunes put it, the Ukraine hoax is a "low-rent sequel" to the Russia collusion hoax.
- The so-called "whistleblower" who triggered this constitutional crisis is nowhere to be seen. Schiff refuses to produce him. In short, the president is being threatened with impeachment from an anonymous source that he cannot confront or cross-examine.
- Schiff claimed that he does not know the identity of the whistleblower, even though his staff met with him. Schiff also claimed that he was determined to keep the whistleblower's identity confidential. Well, how can Schiff do that if he doesn't know the whistleblower's identity?
- The "star witnesses" Schiff called to kick off these public hearings -- Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and Ambassador William Taylor -- are career bureaucrats who have never spoken to the president and did not participate in the call with the Ukrainian president.
- I heard these gentlemen repeatedly express their opinions and their disagreements with the president, but they weren't elected to anything. They don't get to set policy. That's the president's job, not theirs. Their participation in this impeachment farce is evidence of the Deep State's arrogance and resistance to the duly elected president. That is the real constitutional crisis confronting America today.
- Kent and Taylor claimed that they were concerned about aid to Ukraine being held up as it was fighting Russian aggression. But as we have reported before, President Trump gave Ukraine lethal military aid that Obama refused to supply. In fact, during previous testimony, Taylor said he was pleased with the Trump aid package and called it a "substantial improvement" with "serious weapons" that sent "a very strong political message that . . . Americans were willing to provide more than blankets."
- The Democrats are alleging that Trump was "extorting" the Ukrainian president by demanding an investigation of his political opponents and thus inviting foreign interference in our elections (a rehash of the Russian collusion charge). That's false. The president was asking the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Democrats' well-known corruption and political meddling in Ukraine during the 2016 election.
- Ukraine's President Zelensky has denied feeling "extorted" or pressured by Trump's call, and Zelensky told Ambassador Taylor that he was "happy" with the call the day after it took place.
- Rep. Jim Jordan demolished Ambassador Taylor's "clear understanding" of a quid pro quo by noting that the ambassador was in multiple meetings during which the alleged "demand" for political investigations never came up.
These proceedings are a complete sham that have turned into a carnival-like atmosphere. There's no crime here and we have known that for weeks.
Congress has far more important things to do, like passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, the defense budget, funding border security and lowering healthcare costs. Unfortunately, Democrats are blocking all those things and ignoring the people's business as they chase the impeachment unicorn.
Nunes Demands Answers
Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the impeachment proceedings should stop until we get answers to three questions:
"First, what is the full extent of the Democrats' prior coordination with the whistleblower, and who else did the whistleblower coordinate this effort with?
"Second, what is the full extent of Ukraine's election meddling against the Trump campaign?
"And third, why did Burisma hire Hunter Biden and what did he do for them, and did his position affect any U.S. government actions under the Obama administration?"
As Nunes noted, House Republicans are powerless to get answers to these crucial questions because Schiff shot down their witness requests and in the House the majority rules with an iron fist.
But there is no reason why Republicans who control the majority in the Senate can't pursue these issues. Perhaps Senator Richard Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, should spend less time trying to tax student athletes and more time taking on the Deep State!