“Trick or treat?” is the question on everyone’s lips each Halloween. House Democrats this year opted for tricks.
On Halloween, of all days, they voted for a resolution supposed to lay out the “next phase” in their impeachment of President Trump.
But the next phase looks similar to the past several weeks. There will be more closed hearings, limited input by the Republican minority, and due process for the President only at the discretion of the majority.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) remains in the driver’s seat, notwithstanding his proven inability to conduct an impartial investigation or the fact that impeachment proceedings have traditionally been led by the Judiciary Committee.
This process falls far short of the standards set by previous impeachments. Impeachment proceedings against President Nixon were begun by a Democratic House, and those against President Clinton by a Republican House. Yet in both cases, the majority guaranteed more rights for the president and gave the minority more ability to participate.
Although I do not serve on the House Committee on Rules, I attended its hearing to markup H. Res. 660, the impeachment resolution, and watched as amendment after amendment – seventeen in all – designed to bring fairness and transparency to the process were shot down by the Democrat majority.
For example, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) offered an amendment requiring any exculpatory evidence regarding the President to be provided to the Judiciary Committee. “Exculpatory evidence” is a legal term of art which means any evidence that could tend or lead to a showing of innocence. In other words, facts found during the investigation by Chairman Schiff that would support the President’s innocence need to be in front of the Judiciary Committee and the American people.
But the Democrats on the Rules Committee rejected it.
She offered another amendment to require, rather than simply allow, release of the transcripts of testimony that has been heard behind closed doors.
It, too, was rejected.
Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA) put forward an amendment simply changing the requirement that Chairman Schiff have “an open hearing” to “open hearings,” so that he could not get by with one hearing and claim transparency.
The majority said no.
It was in this spirit that the majority moved its sham resolution on impeachment to the floor.
I voted no.
After the resolution passed, Speaker Pelosi declared, “Without objection, a motion to reconsider is laid on the table.” I objected. Notwithstanding my properly-timed objection, Pelosi nevertheless proceeded with business without recognizing the objection.
This impeachment “inquiry” had been irreparably tainted before the Democrats put their hastily-written resolution onto the floor. H. Res. 660 was a failed attempt to add legitimacy to an arbitrary, politicized process, not an honest effort to formalize the inquiry.
To be clear, I have not seen anything in President Trump’s interactions with Ukraine to warrant impeachment. The transcript indicates that he wanted Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate corruption. He did not tell President Zelensky to reach a certain outcome regarding the company with which former Vice President Biden’s son was associated.
If asking Ukraine to conduct an investigation is impeachable, then so is demanding that Ukraine fire a prosecutor. Joe Biden openly bragged that he demanded the prosecutor be fired, even though the prosecutor was investigating his son’s company.
Three Democratic senators – Richard Durbin, Robert Menendez, and Patrick Leahy – sent a letter to Ukraine noting the extensive aid the United States had provided to it. They then told Ukraine to cooperate with the Mueller investigation and to report on certain activities of the Trump Administration.
If Democrats believe President Trump committed an offense in his phone call, then these “offenses” would be similar in nature and deserving of condemnation and censure.
I have not heard any uproar from the Democrats regarding Vice President Biden or the three senators, however, which leads me to believe that their impeachment proceedings against President Trump are focused on political ends, not justice.
The resolution they rushed through the House only reinforces this belief in my mind.
If they had confidence that President Trump’s conduct constituted one of the “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” that demand impeachment, they would not deny the same rights to President Trump that his predecessors had or cut the minority so thoroughly out of the process.
Speaker Pelosi’s impeachment resolution changed nothing. It confirmed instead what we knew: that the House majority is engaged in a partisan, unfair pursuit of the President.
Clearly, this Halloween was no treat.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, or my Washington office at 202-225-3861. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.