The Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives pulled off something uniquely devious and dangerous on Thursday when it passed a barely debated “impeachment inquiry” resolution along partisan lines.
The supposed benefit of a formal House vote to authorize an impeachment investigation is that Democrats now have the judiciary to enforce congressional subpoenas. Ordinarily, those would not be so enforceable in day-to-day legislative proceedings, thanks to the separation of powers.
In normal times, executive privilege acts as a firewall against relentless partisan attempts to disrupt the president’s ability to obtain (and retain) trusted counsel. In times of impeachment, however, those protections are practically gone.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) may or may not have breached that firewall, depending on who appointed the judges who will review this monstrosity.
If the courts eventually affirm the impeachment inquiry as “judicially enforceable,” the House resolution would give Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) real legal teeth. They are salivating to bite down hard on the administration, and poised to attack the president with relentless direct attempts to compel his inner circle to attend what are going to be nothing but elaborate, and 100 percent partisan, perjury traps.
That’s not even the devious or dangerous part. This much is obvious, even to a layman.
And Now For Something Completely Different
To experience the next “Aha!” moment, it is important to understand that Pelosi and House Democrats have been taking all their legal cues, including the drafting of this peculiar resolution, from a private group of lawyers known as “Lawfare.” As their name implies (sounds like “warfare”) they exist expressly to help left-wing politicians weaponize the law against their political rivals. And the resolution last week proves it.
I will leave it to others to dig into who these people are (you really should read “Sundance” at Conservative Treehouse regularly; he has been all over their schemes since Pelosi quietly hired them, around the time she got her paws on the speaker’s gavel again). My main concern is bringing attention to the devious nature of this specific resolution.
The impeachment resolution is something of an evil masterpiece toward the weaponization of the law. It is a bold, neon-flashing exclamation point to the four-year effort to entrap Donald Trump, and any and all of his associates who helped make him president, in a vast, ever-spinning web of certain legal (read: financial) destruction.
Notice, for example, the inquiry has no explicit time limit. It is in force as long as President Trump is in office and the Democrats remain in charge of the House. Nor does it name a single law that may have been broken to justify this farce. It is, as Trump has called it, a witch hunt, a fishing expedition. We could be looking at many more years of this relentless nonsense, even if President Trump loses in 2020.
Consider how often Democrats have insisted the president can be “held accountable,” or even indicted, after he leaves office. If a Democrat wins in 2020, all this “material” would be handed over to the Justice Department, which would then use the mechanisms of a federal criminal investigation to continue the endless persecution of a man who dared to run against the establishment.
One can only imagine the moment it dawned on Pelosi just how brilliant this little IED in the heart of our rule of law really is.
Where before (at least officially) Pelosi was circumspect about impeachment, on Thursday she could barely contain her glee as she droned on and on about the Constitution, separation of powers, the children, and so forth. Even as she and her surrogates disingenuously assured everyone in the media they took “no joy” in the action, she was all smiles. Why?
This unholy beast of a resolution pays no mind whatever to how previous impeachment proceedings were structured. The modern examples of impeachment investigations involving Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were much more somber, bipartisan, and deliberative affairs, but this is something else altogether.
It is a study in revenge, a big cold dish of it, served up not just against the president, but against a system—and an electorate—that could allow Donald Trump to become president.
Pelosi’s Perpetual Impeachment Investigation Machine
The Constitution’s vague language about impeachment assumed a lot about its readers that is no longer true—namely, that they understood implicitly what was meant by “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and that the House would, of course, proceed with openness and follow the spirit of liberal-democratic norms, especially regarding minority rights, and the rights of the accused.
It was, for this reason, they made impeachment an open political process, and expressly not a closed-door legal process.
But this resolution is a meditation on mocking that which you purport to protect, and becoming what you say you hate; so of course, it does the opposite.
The word “unfair” doesn’t do justice to this in-your-face mockery of the whole idea of grand jury secrecy.
Essentially, it sets up, for as long as it is “in force,” something that superficially looks like a mini “constitutional” republic, established by legal fiat, inside the House of Representatives. It’s almost like it’s intended as an infomercial for how our government “works” (or could work, if only Democrats alone ran it).
It empowers the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to act as a kind of mini-Justice Department (an executive branch function), with authority to behave like a kind of permanently empaneled “grand jury”; and the House Judiciary Committee becomes a kind of mini-judiciary, able to make final determination in any dispute between the House (in its impeachment function) and the executive under impeachment inquiry.
Who needs the actual executive or judicial branches of our government, when one can simply make up, or even better, simply be, one’s own three-branch government? With this construct, the Democrats in the House have become a law unto themselves.
Everything the Founders Feared Enshrined in Fake Republicanism
But unlike real republics, this one is not designed to defeat the singular bane of democracy that our Founders dreaded, that inevitable dynamic of unchecked majority rule that they most feared—namely, “majority faction.”
Rather, it is designed to enshrine it. It is an audition for the California-style, one-party government that Pelosi hopes to sell to the American people in 2020 on the basis of its frightening efficiency—not to mention her personal cleverness in sticking it to Trump.
And they can get away with it because the Constitution says “the House shall have sole power of Impeachment.” There really aren’t clear rules about precisely how the House of Representatives has to perform this function. So it’s all the more important to see precisely how the House engages its duty in each case.
If you take a step back and consider the actual process described in the resolution, the House Democrats are driving a Mack truck through the impeachment clause and attempting something so politically ambitious, one is almost impressed by their diabolical genius.
Think about it. This resolution effectively has made Adam Schiff into something akin to the attorney general of the United States—but accountable to Pelosi only, not to the president.
Schiff can deny any witness or line of questioning his “deputy attorney general” Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking minority member of the committee, wants to pursue, and use his majority on the committee to put the kibosh to any challenge from Nunes or his Republican colleagues.
The grand jury analogy they use to justify secrecy in this “process” is especially perverse. Grand jury secrecy is designed to protect the accused from false allegations and damage to his reputation, when a prosecutor determines that insufficient evidence exists to justify an indictment according to a specific law. Hearsay and innuendo are often filtered out in this process, and should the process not result in an indictment, it should never be made public.
Notwithstanding that Schiff has already concluded at the outset that many unlawful acts of many different kinds must have been committed by the president (we’ll find them, just you wait and see!), Schiff has openly stated with barely contained excitement that his actual intent is to “keep Trump in the dark” about his mercurial evidence.
It is the darkness, and not the protection of the rights of the accused, in which he cruelly delights; and the media delights also in this injustice. Not coincidentally, any information that can be spun as damaging to the President somehow gets instant circulation in the media as each witness walks into the chamber. Exculpatory evidence walks into that chamber only to die.
The word “unfair” doesn’t do justice to this in-your-face mockery of the whole idea of grand jury secrecy.
But it gets worse. The Democrats in the House simultaneously are in a real court, asking an actual judge to compel the real Justice Department to give them all of Mueller’s grand jury materials. It’s not exculpatory evidence they seek. They are suspiciously certain that in there somewhere is a nugget or two of innuendo or damaging hearsay they can use to stoke support for impeachment—despite the fact that even the vaunted Mueller could find no laws broken by a single accused Trump associate that relate in any way to actual remit of his investigation—identifying any Trump campaign collusion with Russia.
And they appear to be on the verge of getting that evil wish granted by Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama-appointed judge. To anyone with any sense of fairness, this “process” borders on the macabre.
Never forget: If they can do this to a duly and constitutionally elected president, under some supposed pretext of “constitutional duty,” you better believe they can and would do it to you if they want to and they regain control of all three branches of government.
Schiff’s political goal, in his words, is to make sure the minority can’t “smear” his star witnesses before he can put the best possible spin on their testimony, and the worst possible spin on the avalanche of accusations coming out of this “process” (of which there will be many).
The whole point of questioning witnesses, which Schiff is determined not to allow the Republicans to do, is to determine their credibility. A good prosecutor, who can of course put anyone before the grand jury that he wants, would at least make some effort to vet the witnesses who come before them. Schiff knows the political reality in the Senate offers little promise of “innocent until proven guilty” or “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” so his real goal is to circumvent any real vetting of any witness who says anything about the president that can give their otherwise frivolous accusations some kind of serious weight.
Now let’s consider Jerry Nadler’s twisted role in all of this. He has been transformed into a kind of chief justice and leader of the majority of a kangaroo Supreme Court. The resolution gives him power to deny the White House counsel participation for any reason, including denying any request for anything at any time—meaning if the White House even once claims executive privilege or fails to turn over a document on time, Nadler can kick the White House counsel out of the proceedings altogether.
And all “minority” justice Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking minority member on the Judiciary Committee, can do is write a dissenting opinion.
Ominously, Schiff already has determined that the House Democrats in this sham process won’t even bother going to the real courts over any such disputes. With Jerry Nadler as the sole judge of whether the White House’s defense is worth putting on TV, he can dispense with any potentially damaging legal rulings by pursuing disagreements with the executive in Nadler’s rubber-stamp “court.”
Even more telling is the fact that Schiff has said his committee will simply add any and every form of White House resistance to its proceedings to the articles of impeachment the Democrats have already determined to write. Not only does this cut the real judiciary out unless the president sues them, it does something even more insidious: it paints practically any defense as “obstruction of justice.” (The irony here is this whole sham impeachment itself is an actual “obstruction of justice” in the matter of Ukraine’s collusion with the Democrats in 2016, and is arising out of Trump’s open attempts to get to the bottom of that.)
President of the House, Nancy Pelosi
Which brings us finally to Pelosi. Her role in this appears to be a hybrid between the chief executive of this impeachment banana republic she’s created, and speaker of the House. She gets to run all of this as though she were president of her own republic, one who has simply delegated to her attorney general the prosecution of political fugitive Donald J. Trump, while she pretends to conduct House business.
Such a hideous picture of our republican form of government is reflected in this cracked mirror of a process, that I am reminded of a quote from Kierkegaard:
A passionate, tumultuous age overturns everything, turns everything upside down; but a revolutionary age that is at the same time passionless and reflective leaves everything standing, but cunningly empties it of significance.
At long last, Pelosi has found a way to beat back the more “passionate, tumultuous” elements of her party in their blood-lust for Donald Trump’s head—she will give them what they want in a way that also gives the passionless (“no joy”) appearance of honoring our republican institutions. But on further reflection, it really makes a monstrous mockery of them in her pursuit of petty personal revenge.
Nothing but a grotesque picture of America can come out of this cynical charade. The televised portions of this farce will impeach not just the man but the office, and also our very republican form of government, presenting a distorted view of it that is ugly, partisan, and grossly unjust.