By Joseph diGenova | Fox News
One only need look at past impeachment proceedings to realize that the Democrats are making a baseless political attack on President Trump that has no justification under the Constitution.
House Democrats claimed, for weeks, that their impeachment circus didn’t need any sort of vote to authorize it. They lost that argument in the court of public opinion, so now they’re focused on making sure that Republicans aren’t able to derail their scheme with facts.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mocked the notion that she should hold a floor vote before trying to impeach a duly elected president of the United States, calling it a “Republican talking point.” The liberal commentariat dutifully fell in line behind her, tearing into White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s brilliantly drafted letter calling out the blatant, unprecedented procedural games that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and the other ringleaders are playing in their soft coup attempt.
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Pointing out these failings — especially the Democrats’ refusal to hold a vote to proceed with and set the ground rules for the “inquiry,” as the House did before it impeached Presidents Clinton and Nixon — was, in the words of a Washington Post columnist, Trump’s “dumbest” move yet. Schiff even absurdly claimed that criticizing his clown show was itself evidence of obstruction, despite the fact that he had invited such criticism when he blatantly lied about what Trump said to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Now, though, Pelosi and her pals are effectively admitting that they did need to take basic, well-established steps to establish a legitimate impeachment inquiry. Pelosi still insists the vote is unnecessary, but her decision to schedule one anyway is a tacit acknowledgment that trying to remove a president in secret with effectively no rules was never an appropriate course to follow.
Unfortunately, the resolution the Democrats have brought forward is arguably even more outrageous than their refusal to hold this vote a month ago. The rules it sets forth are so blatantly rigged in the Democrats’ favor, and so completely out of step both with basic notions of due process and historical impeachment precedent, that it should be rejected out of hand by any honest legislator from either party.
The Nixon and Clinton impeachment inquiry resolutions established reasonable procedures acceptable to both sides, but Pelosi has decided that the impeachment of President Trump should proceed along shamelessly partisan lines.
Previous proceedings were limited to just one committee, the one best suited for handling this type of inquiry: the House Judiciary Committee. Pelosi and Schiff’s resolution, however, will allow seven different committees to run their own kangaroo courts simultaneously. Can you imagine if a prosecutor tried to bring a single criminal case to seven different grand juries at once, hoping that one of them would deliver a conviction?
Far more egregiously, Pelosi’s plan also severely restricts the rights of the minority party, Republicans, to participate. Whereas the Nixon and Clinton resolutions gave equal rights to both sides, Pelosi’s resolution puts all the power in the hands of Democrat committee chairs.
Democrats know exactly what they’re doing with this resolution: they’re trying to stack the deck to get the most possible mileage out of their latest bogus conspiracy theory.
Under Pelosi’s rules, Republicans — and only Republicans — would be forced to submit requests to Democrat committee chairs for any witnesses they wish to call within 72 hours of a hearing’s announcement, along with detailed written justifications. If the request is denied by the chair, Pelosi would graciously allow Republicans to call a vote by the full committee, which would inevitably affirm the chair’s decision along party lines. Since the Democrats control those committees, these rules are entirely for show — the Democrats just want to proclaim that they’re giving Republicans a voice, even as they systematically exclude the GOP from every significant aspect of the impeachment process.
Not one of these lopsided restrictions was in place in 1974 or 1998, and for good reason. Can you imagine if a prosecutor or the plaintiff in a lawsuit were given the unilateral right to object to the defense’s subpoena requests?
Democrats know exactly what they’re doing with this resolution: they’re trying to stack the deck to get the most possible mileage out of their latest bogus conspiracy theory. If they had any real confidence in their case against the president, they would use the same basic rules that Democrats adhered to while investigating Watergate, and that Republicans later emulated while investigating the Lewinsky scandal.
At least one Democrat, New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, is already balking at this brazen effort to rig the rules. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who would handle the trial of Trump in the Senate if the House Democrats are able to pull off their ploy, says the resolution “falls way short” and turns Schiff into a “de facto special prosecutor.”
The Democrats are obviously incapable of taking this process seriously. Unable to defend Pelosi’s dictatorial declaration of an impeachment inquiry without a floor vote, they’re now trying to salvage the scam by preventing Republicans from exposing their perfidy and revealing the truth.
Joseph diGenova was US Attorney for the District of Columbia and an Independent Counsel.