by Bob Barr
The number of ways in which Democrats have abused the rules of the House of Representatives, the jurisdiction of committees, the importance of precedent, and virtually every other aspect of their so-called “impeachment inquiry” is clear beyond any reasoned dispute.
However, if Republicans continue to focus their energies on process, no matter how accurate their complaints, they will never gain the offensive advantage critical to ensuring President Trump remains in office.
Ask the average voter if he or she cares whether Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff has abused his power as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee by investigating matters that have nothing to do with oversight of the Intelligence Community, and the response is likely to be a blank stare. Sure, individuals who serve in the CIA care; but the average American voter, not so much.
Debate whether a resolution has or has not been introduced in the House of Representatives officially directing the House Judiciary Committee to begin a formal “inquiry of impeachment” as had been the case in prior impeachments, and listeners’ eyes are as likely to glaze over as to express interest in what is a “House Resolution.” To those of us who are or have been involved in such matters, that is a valid and important question. But few others would understand or care about such a technicality.
As we witnessed during the impeachment of President Clinton 20 years ago, it was far easier for his cohorts to defend the charges against him by claiming “it was all about sex,” than it was to argue the merits or lack thereof of “perjury” or “obstruction of justice” — the actual charges on which he was impeached. It is far more important to frame the argument in terms easily understood by the average person, and to remain on the offensive, than it is to engage in lawyerly dissertations. In this regard, the process is not so different from trial lawyers making their case to juries.
The bottom line right here, right now as the Democrats in the House of Representatives are moving — however ham-handedly — to impeach President Trump, is not so much how they are doing it, but that they are doing it in the first place; and without a shred of substantive evidence of anything remotely “impeachable.” Fighting the Democrats over process and procedure plays on their field; and it is a field about which only Beltway insiders care deeply.
Upon taking office on Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump swore an oath of office written into our Constitution 230 years ago and repeated by only 44 other men. No member of Congress, no cabinet officer, and no member of our armed forces takes that same oath. Adam Schiff has not taken it, nor has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In taking the oath, Trump committed to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” and as president it is his responsibility to do so in all aspects of the office he holds.
If Trump believed this past summer — as he apparently did — that before committing hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer dollars to support a foreign government, he needed assurances from that government that it would work with our government in cleaning up corruption that affected our elections, then it would have been irresponsible for him not to seek those assurances. In demanding that Ukraine commit to working with our Department of Justice to get to the bottom of evidence of corruption involving former and possibly current officials in our government, Trump was acting in accord with the oath of office he swore in January two years ago, not against it.
For Schiff and Pelosi to use the powers of their offices to punish Trump and try to remove him from office for such acts is an outrage. For Schiff and Pelosi to march State Department careerists and anonymous “whistleblowers” up to Capitol Hill to testify against their president in secret is further affront to our president, to every American voter, and to our very constitutional Republic.
That is the narrative, and that is what the American electorate needs to hear as clearly and as often as possible; otherwise these conspirators may very well succeed in removing a duly elected president.
Bob Barr (http://www.twitter.com/BobBarr) represented Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He currently serves as president and CEO of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation.