Schiff's Impeachment Train to Nowhere

Like the expensive California fast train to nowhere, Schiff’s funhouse impeachment hearings are a useless waste of time and money, and subject him to well-deserved ridicule. They are certain not to prevent President Trump’s reelection in 2020 and may well cost the Democrats their majority in the House. With a pack of losing candidates and a series of “now we got him” flops ahead of them, this is a losing desperation ploy.

Roger L. Simon notes that the market figured this out this week. 

What does it mean after the House of Representatives -- on an almost one-hundred-percent pure partisan vote, save for two Democrats who wisely demurred -- decides to expand an impeachment investigation on what they claim to be serious charges when... the very next day... the stock market zooms to all-time highs, breaking records substantially on all major indexes, and black unemployment goes to all-time lows?

Well, the latter spells big trouble for the Democrats a year from now and the former means the investment world thinks impeachment is a bunch of horse hockey that will never happen (the Republican Senate will never convict Trump, not even envious Mitt) and the real news was the job figures.

And it's easy to see why both of those are true. No matter what polls tell you, it's not just Kanye. African Americans are wising up to the fact they've been royally you-know-what'd by decades of Democratic Party rule. Under Trump, their paychecks are going up faster than anybody's. Even black youth unemployment is at record lows. You think they're not making the connection?

To the dummies of their far left base, the Democrats hope this week’s vote signals that the president will be impeached, but the vote was not to impeach, nor even to begin a formal impeachment inquiry. It was to set the procedures for any impeachment hearing in the house. And what a lulu it is.

Under these rules Adam Schiff can block testimony from witnesses called by Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee he chairs. It does not require the previous secret proceedings of the committee, held without even a semblance of due process, be disclosed. (For those of you muttering angrily about the selective, clearly partisan leaks to compliant press and demanding that Republicans release the transcripts, bear in mind they don’t have them. Schiff has withheld them.)

Schiff and the Democrats can subpoena whoever they want; Congressman Devin Nunes and the Republicans must make a showing of relevance in writing to Schiff’s satisfaction.” The president and his counsel will have no opportunity to participate until after the Schiff inquiry is done and a report filed with the Judiciary Committee of the House.

“There are sections of the resolution that allow  [Adam Schiff] to literally have veto power over Republican witnesses,” Scalise noted. “There’s a section in the resolution that allows the chairman to literally kick the president’s legal counsel out of the room if he so chooses, not because there has been some wrong that was done, [but] just because, all at the whim of the chairman.” 

I studied Russian law as an elective in law school so these kinds of rules are not unfamiliar to me, but Americans used to fair play and due process ought to find it troubling. 

Conrad Black predicts they will, particularly given Adam Schiff’s record to date:

A shabby fraud launched by a partisan whistleblower who is acting on hearsay about an innocuous telephone call whose summary, though perhaps not entirely complete, was immediately released to the public cannot go much farther. It has been kept alive by a Star Chamber in which the president is not represented and the Republican questioning and calling of witnesses is done at the behest of the Democratic leadership.

It cannot produce a serious offense that the president could actually be accused of committing, and now it is to be sustained by a dubious vote that will only slightly alter its almost totalitarian one-sidedness. This ghastly farce has been presided over by a pathological public liar, Representative Adam Schiff, who has outdone even his previous fiasco of failing to produce his “conclusive evidence” of the president’s “treason” with Russia. The country will not tolerate seeing its elected leader defamed and smeared by odious little people who would strip him of his elected office.[snip] Now, finally, the majority realizes that the chief culprits for the venomous indignity of the political atmosphere are the president’s enemies. At a certain point, late and far down on the behavioral scale, the country demands that the president be treated with the dignity due to the person they have chosen to be not just the leader of the government but the personification of the state, the head of the people, as Roosevelt said. Whatever else he may be, Donald Trump is the rightful president, and those who don’t like it can vote against him next year.[snip] Under any scenario, the wheels are coming off this disgraceful Democratic garbage cart in all directions. Impeachment will fizzle ignominiously while the former administration is arraigned on serious charges from the Russian scandal, and the Democrats will wallow in their squalid failure to produce a feasible candidate for the White House.

Normalcy, for which the country longs, is not dead; it is reawakening at last.

In fact, analysis of polling on impeachment bears him out: impeachment will help the president’s reelection campaign in swing states. 

Impeachment is a two-step process, and no president in U.S. history has been impeached and removed by Congress. The House of Representatives opens the process, with a bare majority of representatives required to impeach a president, opening the case up for a trial in the U.S. Senate. Only the Senate can remove the president, and that requires a two-thirds majority -- extremely unlikely with the current Republican majority [snip] Because Democrats have called for Trump's impeachment since shortly after his inauguration, a jaded view of this latest push is warranted.

While Trump may be tainted with scandal if the House votes to impeach him, he will also be able to decry the blatantly partisan nature of the push to remove him from office. The Senate is extremely unlikely to remove him, and the impeachment charade may actually help the president in the swing states he needs to win for reelection.

This impeachment battle could backfire on the Democrats, badly.

Certainly private polling by the Democrats have made them aware of this, so the plan seems to be to keep throwing mud, not impeachment.

The “Whistleblower” and the Lieutenant Colonel

So far we know of three people the Schiff Committee or its staff have spoken to in secret: The so-called “whistleblower,” Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, and Tim Morrison. Only the last two of them had been in on the call to Zelensky and the “whistleblower” flatly contradicted the two who had firsthand knowledge of the phone conversation.

The whistleblower has refused to testify after presumptively being the predicate for the inquiry. For at least two weeks, clues in the New York Times have led people to identify him as Eric Ciaramella.

Real Clear Investigations tells us a great deal about Ciaramella, and in so doing, make it obvious why he will not testify: He’s a registered Democrat who had worked with then-vice-president Joe Biden and former CIA Director John Brennan (widely believed to be the kingpin of the Russian Collusion fairy tale and attempted coup). He was employed by the CIA, had been one of the then-300 members of the National Security Council and left in 2017 after leaking concerns. He then returned to the CIA headquarters. (They must have some fine vetting at the agency to readmit someone credibly accused of leaking.) We know he met with the staff of Schiff’s committee, which included former NSC colleagues of his. He also worked with a Democratic operative, the Ukrainian-American Alexandra Chalupa, who was instrumental in spinning the Russian Collusion slander. (See John Solomon’s excellent, detailed debunking of the Ukrainian myths) 

In any event, he was not on the phone call, had no direct knowledge of it and was reporting the kind of hearsay which would never be considered evidence in a U.S. courtroom. The transcript released by the White House is the best evidence and it is at great odds with his report of it. Clearly he won’t testify because his canoodling with Schiff staffers could not be avoided in any sort of inquiry nor could the source(s) of his hearsay report.

And then there’s Lt. Col. Alex Vindman’s testimony.

The Ukrainian-born witness may well have a distinguished military career or not. It doesn’t matter to me, but clearly wearing his uniform and medals to the hearing and circulating his opening statement, suggests that he and the committee hoped sentiment and one-sided reportage would disguise what was clearly the carefully vetted “unfounded and unsupported” opinion of a functionary who confused his role and that of the chief executive. 

First, as discussed below, Vindman’s testimony about the July 25 call between the two presidents does not add any new facts. So, what does he say? He offers his opinions about the wisdom of the call. That’s it. His testimony about the substance of that call consists of five sentences at the end of his prepared testimony. Those five sentences basically comprise two opinions.

Here is what he said: “I was concerned by the call. [1] I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine. [2] I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security. Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel.” [snip]

It is correct that Vindman has “firsthand knowledge” of the call. However, his personal knowledge of that call is not important. Why not? Because the president released the transcript and we know what was said.

In fact, Vindman’s prepared statement indicates he believes that the released transcript is accurate… claimed.

Although some left-leaning media outlets now claim the transcript has omissions and is not accurate, Vindman did not make that claim or dispute the accuracy of the transcript. If he later changes course and claims, contrary to his prepared statement, that the transcript is not accurate, then such a shift would raise obvious credibility issues. But that discussion is for another day, if it happens.

I leave to others the question of the propriety of a military officer testifying against the president whose opinion contradicts his own.

Tim Morrison

Finally, there was witness Tim Morrison, an NSC official who actually was on the call, affirms the transcript of it released by the White House is accurate, and who does not confuse having an office in the White House with his being the President. He testified that there was nothing in the call that was illegal or corrupt. 

So here we are, an inquiry based on hearsay by a person who’s a longtime Democratic operative, who clearly was a Brennan stooge on the NSC and who confected this with buddies on Schiff’s staff. Two other people who worked in the White House’s NSC – Vindman and Morrison -- were on the call. Both agree that the transcript released by the White house was accurate. The call transcript, of course, substantially undercuts the Schiff parody and Ciaramella’s creative version of it. One man’s view that it was improper -- contrary to what surely had been the advice given the president by his better-informed legal counsel -- contradicts Morrison’s view that there was nothing illegal or improper about it. 

To be blunt about it, the “evidence” Schiff has elicited is as weak as his party’s candidates to replace Trump.

Like the expensive California fast train to nowhere, Schiff’s funhouse impeachment hearings are a useless waste of time and money, and subject him to well-deserved ridicule. They are certain not to prevent President Trump’s reelection in 2020 and may well cost the Democrats their majority in the House. With a pack of losing candidates and a series of “now we got him” flops ahead of them, this is a losing desperation ploy.

Roger L. Simon notes that the market figured this out this week. 

What does it mean after the House of Representatives -- on an almost one-hundred-percent pure partisan vote, save for two Democrats who wisely demurred -- decides to expand an impeachment investigation on what they claim to be serious charges when... the very next day... the stock market zooms to all-time highs, breaking records substantially on all major indexes, and black unemployment goes to all-time lows?

Well, the latter spells big trouble for the Democrats a year from now and the former means the investment world thinks impeachment is a bunch of horse hockey that will never happen (the Republican Senate will never convict Trump, not even envious Mitt) and the real news was the job figures.

And it's easy to see why both of those are true. No matter what polls tell you, it's not just Kanye. African Americans are wising up to the fact they've been royally you-know-what'd by decades of Democratic Party rule. Under Trump, their paychecks are going up faster than anybody's. Even black youth unemployment is at record lows. You think they're not making the connection?

To the dummies of their far left base, the Democrats hope this week’s vote signals that the president will be impeached, but the vote was not to impeach, nor even to begin a formal impeachment inquiry. It was to set the procedures for any impeachment hearing in the house. And what a lulu it is.

Under these rules Adam Schiff can block testimony from witnesses called by Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee he chairs. It does not require the previous secret proceedings of the committee, held without even a semblance of due process, be disclosed. (For those of you muttering angrily about the selective, clearly partisan leaks to compliant press and demanding that Republicans release the transcripts, bear in mind they don’t have them. Schiff has withheld them.)

Schiff and the Democrats can subpoena whoever they want; Congressman Devin Nunes and the Republicans must make a showing of relevance in writing to Schiff’s satisfaction.” The president and his counsel will have no opportunity to participate until after the Schiff inquiry is done and a report filed with the Judiciary Committee of the House.

“There are sections of the resolution that allow  [Adam Schiff] to literally have veto power over Republican witnesses,” Scalise noted. “There’s a section in the resolution that allows the chairman to literally kick the president’s legal counsel out of the room if he so chooses, not because there has been some wrong that was done, [but] just because, all at the whim of the chairman.” 

I studied Russian law as an elective in law school so these kinds of rules are not unfamiliar to me, but Americans used to fair play and due process ought to find it troubling. 

Conrad Black predicts they will, particularly given Adam Schiff’s record to date:

A shabby fraud launched by a partisan whistleblower who is acting on hearsay about an innocuous telephone call whose summary, though perhaps not entirely complete, was immediately released to the public cannot go much farther. It has been kept alive by a Star Chamber in which the president is not represented and the Republican questioning and calling of witnesses is done at the behest of the Democratic leadership.

It cannot produce a serious offense that the president could actually be accused of committing, and now it is to be sustained by a dubious vote that will only slightly alter its almost totalitarian one-sidedness. This ghastly farce has been presided over by a pathological public liar, Representative Adam Schiff, who has outdone even his previous fiasco of failing to produce his “conclusive evidence” of the president’s “treason” with Russia. The country will not tolerate seeing its elected leader defamed and smeared by odious little people who would strip him of his elected office.[snip] Now, finally, the majority realizes that the chief culprits for the venomous indignity of the political atmosphere are the president’s enemies. At a certain point, late and far down on the behavioral scale, the country demands that the president be treated with the dignity due to the person they have chosen to be not just the leader of the government but the personification of the state, the head of the people, as Roosevelt said. Whatever else he may be, Donald Trump is the rightful president, and those who don’t like it can vote against him next year.[snip] Under any scenario, the wheels are coming off this disgraceful Democratic garbage cart in all directions. Impeachment will fizzle ignominiously while the former administration is arraigned on serious charges from the Russian scandal, and the Democrats will wallow in their squalid failure to produce a feasible candidate for the White House.

Normalcy, for which the country longs, is not dead; it is reawakening at last.

In fact, analysis of polling on impeachment bears him out: impeachment will help the president’s reelection campaign in swing states. 

Impeachment is a two-step process, and no president in U.S. history has been impeached and removed by Congress. The House of Representatives opens the process, with a bare majority of representatives required to impeach a president, opening the case up for a trial in the U.S. Senate. Only the Senate can remove the president, and that requires a two-thirds majority -- extremely unlikely with the current Republican majority [snip] Because Democrats have called for Trump's impeachment since shortly after his inauguration, a jaded view of this latest push is warranted.

While Trump may be tainted with scandal if the House votes to impeach him, he will also be able to decry the blatantly partisan nature of the push to remove him from office. The Senate is extremely unlikely to remove him, and the impeachment charade may actually help the president in the swing states he needs to win for reelection.

This impeachment battle could backfire on the Democrats, badly.

Certainly private polling by the Democrats have made them aware of this, so the plan seems to be to keep throwing mud, not impeachment.

The “Whistleblower” and the Lieutenant Colonel

So far we know of three people the Schiff Committee or its staff have spoken to in secret: The so-called “whistleblower,” Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, and Tim Morrison. Only the last two of them had been in on the call to Zelensky and the “whistleblower” flatly contradicted the two who had firsthand knowledge of the phone conversation.

The whistleblower has refused to testify after presumptively being the predicate for the inquiry. For at least two weeks, clues in the New York Times have led people to identify him as Eric Ciaramella.

Real Clear Investigations tells us a great deal about Ciaramella, and in so doing, make it obvious why he will not testify: He’s a registered Democrat who had worked with then-vice-president Joe Biden and former CIA Director John Brennan (widely believed to be the kingpin of the Russian Collusion fairy tale and attempted coup). He was employed by the CIA, had been one of the then-300 members of the National Security Council and left in 2017 after leaking concerns. He then returned to the CIA headquarters. (They must have some fine vetting at the agency to readmit someone credibly accused of leaking.) We know he met with the staff of Schiff’s committee, which included former NSC colleagues of his. He also worked with a Democratic operative, the Ukrainian-American Alexandra Chalupa, who was instrumental in spinning the Russian Collusion slander. (See John Solomon’s excellent, detailed debunking of the Ukrainian myths) 

In any event, he was not on the phone call, had no direct knowledge of it and was reporting the kind of hearsay which would never be considered evidence in a U.S. courtroom. The transcript released by the White House is the best evidence and it is at great odds with his report of it. Clearly he won’t testify because his canoodling with Schiff staffers could not be avoided in any sort of inquiry nor could the source(s) of his hearsay report.

And then there’s Lt. Col. Alex Vindman’s testimony.

The Ukrainian-born witness may well have a distinguished military career or not. It doesn’t matter to me, but clearly wearing his uniform and medals to the hearing and circulating his opening statement, suggests that he and the committee hoped sentiment and one-sided reportage would disguise what was clearly the carefully vetted “unfounded and unsupported” opinion of a functionary who confused his role and that of the chief executive. 

First, as discussed below, Vindman’s testimony about the July 25 call between the two presidents does not add any new facts. So, what does he say? He offers his opinions about the wisdom of the call. That’s it. His testimony about the substance of that call consists of five sentences at the end of his prepared testimony. Those five sentences basically comprise two opinions.

Here is what he said: “I was concerned by the call. [1] I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine. [2] I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security. Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel.” [snip]

It is correct that Vindman has “firsthand knowledge” of the call. However, his personal knowledge of that call is not important. Why not? Because the president released the transcript and we know what was said.

In fact, Vindman’s prepared statement indicates he believes that the released transcript is accurate… claimed.

Although some left-leaning media outlets now claim the transcript has omissions and is not accurate, Vindman did not make that claim or dispute the accuracy of the transcript. If he later changes course and claims, contrary to his prepared statement, that the transcript is not accurate, then such a shift would raise obvious credibility issues. But that discussion is for another day, if it happens.

I leave to others the question of the propriety of a military officer testifying against the president whose opinion contradicts his own.

Tim Morrison

Finally, there was witness Tim Morrison, an NSC official who actually was on the call, affirms the transcript of it released by the White House is accurate, and who does not confuse having an office in the White House with his being the President. He testified that there was nothing in the call that was illegal or corrupt. 

So here we are, an inquiry based on hearsay by a person who’s a longtime Democratic operative, who clearly was a Brennan stooge on the NSC and who confected this with buddies on Schiff’s staff. Two other people who worked in the White House’s NSC – Vindman and Morrison -- were on the call. Both agree that the transcript released by the White house was accurate. The call transcript, of course, substantially undercuts the Schiff parody and Ciaramella’s creative version of it. One man’s view that it was improper -- contrary to what surely had been the advice given the president by his better-informed legal counsel -- contradicts Morrison’s view that there was nothing illegal or improper about it. 

To be blunt about it, the “evidence” Schiff has elicited is as weak as his party’s candidates to replace Trump.