November 1, 2019

House Votes for Impeachment Inquiry

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Democrats swept a rules package for their impeachment probe of President Donald Trump through a divided House Thursday… By 232-196, lawmakers approved the procedures they’ll follow as weeks of closed-door interviews with witnesses evolve into public committee hearings and — almost certainly — votes on whether the House should recommend Trump’s removal. All voting Republicans opposed the package. Every voting Democrat but two supported it.” AP News

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From the Left

The left supports the resolution and impeachment in general.

“The resolution undermines the president’s political defense. Republicans argued the House’s inquiry is a ‘sham process.’ Absent an impeachment resolution, they say, the investigation lacked transparency, due process rights for the president and the validity of a House vote. They had a point. Until now… But perhaps most important, the resolution details the specific roles of committees and members… Several committees and chairmen can, and surely have, made legitimate arguments to be central participants in the impeachment inquiry. This resolution, like any offensive strategy, clearly delineates the role various powerful members and committees will play.”
Joshua C. Huder, New York Times

“Mr. Trump and his lawyers will have the opportunity to make statements, question witnesses and call their own, with the concurrence of the committee chairman. The rules are virtually identical to those adopted by Republicans when they pursued the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998 — which makes their breathless claims about a ‘Soviet’ process ludicrous as well as dishonest. One wrinkle is a provision that if Mr. Trump ‘unlawfully’ refuses to make witnesses available or produce documents — as he has so far — the committee chair may restrict the president’s privileges. It seems only reasonable that Mr. Trump should not be allowed to call his own witnesses while blocking those sought by Democrats.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

Some note, “Trump’s critics will dismiss the vote as a procedural affair, which is almost always a straight party-line vote in the House. But in other ways, this resolution—merely affirming an impeachment investigation, not judging any articles themselves—should have been the easiest for Republicans to go along with. Instead, lawmakers once again retreated to their corners of comfort. Trump will begin the formal impeachment process with his party still behind him, the House having sent a signal of GOP unity to potential wobblers in the Senate… Count this initial vote as a win for the president.”
Russell Berman, The Atlantic

Regarding the charges themselves, “There’s no question that Trump was deeply involved in pressuring Ukraine. He even released a partial transcript showing it. In Watergate, everyone knew there was a crime, and the question was who did it. In the Ukraine scandal, everyone knows who did it. The only debate is whether it’s a crime, or perhaps a high crime… In earlier stages of the process, Republicans and Trump defenders could hide behind a series of excuses: The whistle-blower didn’t have firsthand knowledge, or there wasn’t really a quid pro quo, or the Ukrainians didn’t understand it as a quid pro quo, or maybe Trump didn’t know what was going on. But the testimony has shredded each of these, as witnesses with direct knowledge speak and more becomes clear about the Ukrainian side and Trump’s own involvement.”
David A. Graham, The Atlantic

“The evidence that has surfaced thus far indicates that Trump orchestrated a mob-style shakedown, withholding nearly $400 million in military aid and a promised White House meeting in an attempt to coerce Zelensky into investigating — and publicly smearing — Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The play-ball-with-us message was apparently delivered not just by the president himself but also by various emissaries… In other words, Trump was actively and personally colluding with a foreign government to interfere in our coming presidential election. No wonder Republicans prefer to pound the table about process.”
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

“The argument is often made that Trump has done wrong but that our marathon course should run through the voting booth, not the impeachment process: Let the electorate make the call. This argument leaves me incredulous given where we are in the course of events. The president appears to have attempted to direct the considerable powers of his office toward eroding the integrity of the electoral process. This is like saying that we should let the outcome of the boxing match determine whether the guy accused of having lead in his gloves has lead in his gloves.”
Danielle Allen, Washington Post

“Impeachment and removal remain extraordinary remedies for extraordinary misconduct by the president of the United States. But the founders would have been appalled at the suggestion that such measures are illegitimate solely because their result would be that the president is no longer the president. If that didn’t faze them even when the result could have been to hand the presidency to the president’s rival, it certainly wouldn’t faze them today, when it would hand the presidency to the president’s own handpicked running mate.”
Stephen I. Vladeck, New York Times

From the Right

The right is critical of the resolution and impeachment in general.

From the Right

The right is critical of the resolution and impeachment in general.

“If Democrats had uncovered a truly serious crime in this probe, that would likely convince at least 20 Senate Republicans to make Mike Pence president. The core problem is that Ukraine-Gate doesn't appear to involve an explicit statutory crime at all, but instead an alleged abuse of authority to gain political advantage over former Vice President Joe Biden. The House can decide what constitutes an impeachable offense, but the Senate decides whether it's even worthy of a full trial, let alone a removal. An impeachment without a removal will, in the end, look a lot like a political campaign no matter how much Pelosi improves the process.”
Edward Morrissey, The Week

“The base problem is Trump never said he was withholding aid in the July 25 call. The earliest tick the Ukrainians knew the aid was being delayed was ‘early August’ and even that is based on anonymous media sources who somehow have not been found to testify. Official U.S. and Ukrainian officials instead say knowledge the funds were held up didn’t get to the Ukrainians until late August, shortly before they were released…

“[Furthermore] nothing happened. Trump never asked the attorney general to contact Zelensky. It is unclear who if anyone Guiliani spoke with, but either way the Ukrainians never investigated anything. This impeachment will be the first in American history without any underlying actual crime taking place on the ground.”
Peter Van Buren, The American Conservative

“Democrats want to impeach Mr. Trump for asking a foreign government to investigate his political rival for corruption, though the probe never happened, and for withholding aid to Ukraine that in the end wasn’t withheld. Assuming the facts bear this out, the attempt was self-serving and reckless and a long way from the ‘perfect’ behavior Mr. Trump claims. But Democrats will need more than the facts on the public record so far to justify short-circuiting a Presidency. Their partisan rush to impeachment suggests that their real purpose is revenge for the humiliation of having lost in 2016 to a man they think is unworthy of the office. The impeachers have the burden of showing why this shouldn’t all be left to the judgment of American voters in 2020.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

Some argue that “President Trump deserves to face an impeachment hearing, but his Republican defenders are right that Democrats still aren’t promising a fair process… As it stands right now, the resolution is woefully inadequate, nonsensical, and unjust. It leaves the wrong committee largely in charge of the process; it affords Republican congressmen too little opportunity to call witnesses; it keeps too many of the proceedings behind closed doors; and it still does not provide any specifics as to when and how the president’s own counsel will be allowed to rebut allegations against him. If this is how the impeachment investigation will proceed, it will fail to persuade large portions of the public that the allegations are legitimate.”
Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

“The House Democratic caucus has 233 members. In a group that large, many members will be role-players. Some members are serious policymakers. Some are mostly communicators. Some are deal-makers. Adam Schiff’s value to his party is his willingness to be a partisan attack dog who is willing to baldly speak untruths to the television cameras. It is normal and expected for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to have Schiff play a role. But to put Schiff in charge of the impeachment process reveals what sort of thing the Democrats are up to — and finding the truthis not the main goal.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

[Ukranian President] “Zelensky has said repeatedly that he never felt extorted in his July 25 phone call with Trump. Zelensky told journalists on September 25, ‘Nobody pushed me.’ During extensive discussions with some 300 journalists in Kyiv, Zelensky said on October 10: ‘There was no pressure or blackmail from the U.S.’ The available evidence, from the supposed victim of Trump’s vise, is: What vise?

Zero Republicans voted for this impeachment resolution. Unlike the multi-party votes in favor of opening impeachment actions against presidents Clinton, Nixon, and Andrew Johnson, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and all but two Democrats voted to begin the effort to unseat President Trump with no backing whatsoever from the president’s own party. Thirty-one Democrats joined Republicans to launch impeachment against Democrat Clinton. Nearly every Republican opposed Nixon when the House voted 410-4 to begin efforts to dislodge him… No, the Constitution doesn’t allow impeachment just because you despise the president.”
Deroy Murdock, National Review

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

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