The Real Problem With Impeachment: Time

The Real Problem With Impeachment: Time


Leonard Zwelling

Jonathan Turley’s claim in front of the House Judiciary Committee that the current rush to impeachment is just that, precipitous, is an argument with some merit.

There are many people who ought to be testifying but who have not. They include John Bolten, Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, Mike Pompeo and, of course, Rudy Giuliani. We have heard from none of these folks except Mulvaney who told us to “get over it.”

Remember back in the Nixon case, the Watergate break-in occurred in June of 1972, before Mr. Nixon was even re-elected. He did not resign until August of 1974. It was a long and protracted process for Congress to acquire the tapes that led to the Nixon resignation. It required the courts. Mr. Turley’s point, if I understand it, is that all efforts to acquire the testimony and documents of many key personnel have not been exhausted and thus it is too soon to impeach. And he’s right—sort of. The Dems have not given it enough time. But they feel that they don’t have much time.

Mr. Schiff and Mrs. Pelosi have elected to short-circuit a lengthier process which would undoubtedly take months, if not years, in the courts, to move forward with what they have already. claiming that it’s enough. Turley disagreed, but the Dems are afraid that Trump will interfere in the 2020 election unless he is stopped now. Turley thinks it is not enough and the case is too thin, even as the three other witnesses before Judiciary think there’s more than enough to impeach.

So the obvious question is—why the rush?

While, as I have written in previous blogs, I believe what happened is well-known and even admitted to by President Trump, and that what he did is more than enough to have him removed from office, what stands in the way of a Nixonian tidal wave to get to impeachment and removal is the testimony of just those people. But let’s remember, most of the Nixon episode and all of the Clinton nonsense occurred in the second terms of these two men. Neither would stand for re-election nor be held accountable by the American people. We are only in Trump’s first term and there’s an election only 11 months away. Shouldn’t we just let the American people decide?

Yes, we should. If we could. But we can’t. Time is not on the side of the Democrats. They need to get whatever facts they can out now.

As long as Mr. Trump and his closest advisors seek to avoid answering any questions by obstructing the subpoenas and requests of the Congress, but are NOT compelled to talk by a court, they are officially not obstructing justice, at least in the minds of some, like Professor Turley.

This is the dilemma of the Trump Presidency. The true referendum on how it sits with the American people occurs very shortly and long before any court would give definitive orders to Trump’s minions to testify and fill out the truth of the Ukrainian, Russian and other stories. So, by definition, Turley is right. We are not getting the fullest picture of the impeachment case against Trump. This does two things. It forces Speaker Pelosi’s hand to either move forward or withdraw. She doesn’t withdraw. It also provides shelter for the 50% of Americans and 100% of Republicans to deny what is in full view of the world. I know it’s not a trial, but beyond reasonable doubt? I’m there!

On a logical level claim of Trump’s innocence seems absurd. But on a procedural one that adheres closely to historical precedent and congressional process, it does give the GOP in the House a hiding place and they have chosen to use it.

So the reason things are moving along the way they are is because no other avenue is open to the Democrats and to the 50% of the country that believe Mr. Trump abused his office, or so the Dems believe. It also means that the Republicans can suspend all logic when the president admits to asking Ukraine for help investigating the Bidens and claim the whole thing is a witch hunt.

One of the things I learned in Washington during my year there was that things happen in very predictable ways. There really aren’t many surprises on the Hill. Most people know what legislation will look like before it is drafted and how the vote will go is also known. John McCain’s thumbs-down to eradicating ObamaCare was a rare surprise.

That being the case, this impeachment process is pretty predictable and the drama that MSNBC and Fox are trying to infuse into it, rings as falsely as a bad made-for-TV movie.

There is only one part of this drama that is unknown. How will the American people vote in November of 2020? All the rest is commentary.

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