by Bob Barr
Now that one phase of the impeachment process is finished — sort of — the question is, where are we? Has the needle moved? Are we closer to the goal? Where do we now go?
In every sense that means anything of substance, we are right back where we started many weeks ago. We have come full circle.
The sum total of what we have learned can be summarized in one half dozen points:
• The Washington Establishment — especially that ensconced in the Department of State, and often referred to (not without good reason) as “Foggy Bottom” — dislikes President Trump with an animosity bordering on hatred.
• The president disdains the Washington Establishment, most notably those careerists at the Department of State, who regularly exhibit a predisposition in favor of the foreign countries to which they are or have been assigned rather than to the country they are sworn to serve.
• California Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is the 21st century version of the ancient philosopher Diogenes, who was doomed to search vainly with his lantern for an “honest man,” though Schiff’s vain search for an “impeachable offense” lacks the aid even of a lantern.
• The ratio between opinions, presumptions, conclusions and inferences on the one hand, and factual evidence adduced during the two weeks of hearings and a dozen or so witnesses, is a mathematical nullity, as division by zero is not calculable. Zero being the number of actual fact-based pieces of evidence, related by witnesses purporting to establish a “quid pro quo” that Trump sought to force Ukraine’s president to investigate a “political rival” of Trump’s in return for supplying military assistance to that corruption-infested country.
• The impeachment process as played out thus far, is 100 percent partisan; with not a single witness allowed to be called by the minority party.
• Impeaching a president of the United States based on focus-grouping words and phrases designed to convey criminality is a really bad idea. It’s far more likely to sow confusion and discredit rather than confidence in its purveyors.
So where are we, now that we are back at square one; not having passed “Go” and not even been able to collect our $200? It is difficult to say with any degree of confidence.
Remember, the “Inquiry of Impeachment,” passed in October by Democrats in the House without a single Republican vote, did not establish a clear path to an end, as was the case in 1998 when the House impeachment President Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice.
Instead, Pelosi opted for a vague, multi-landed roadmap with six different avenues demarcated — the Intelligence Committee, the Financial Services Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, the Oversight and Reform Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and last, but certainly not least the only House committee with actual, rule-based jurisdiction regarding impeachment, the Judiciary Committee.
At this point, all we know for certain is that the Intelligence Committee has held hearings designed to elicit evidence of an impeachable offense. We do not know if this committee is finished, or intends to hold additional — and equally unrevealing — hearings. We have not been informed if this committee is ready to turn over its “findings” — whatever they might be — to the Judiciary Committee. And we have no knowledge of what any of the other five committees with a “piece of the action” have done in similar regard, or what they might do moving forward, if anything.
For a House majority which two months ago declared itself fully ready to launch the most solemn and serious action capable of being undertaken pursuant to our Constitution — removing an elected president — this is a sorry, and embarrassing position in which Speaker Pelosi finds herself. And it promises not get any better if and when the venue shifts to the Senate, where the GOP holds the reins of power.
Despite recent indications by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the upper chamber would hold a trial on whatever the House might send over if labeled “Article(s) of Impeachment,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has advanced a proposal that a House resolution lacking any substantive, precedential or procedural characteristics of a legitimate impeachment process, is not worthy of a Senate impeachment trial, and should be dismissed summarily by simple majority vote.
Any way one looks at where we are “at this point in time,” the fate of the exercise so piously undertaken by House Democrats, is uncertain even if they complete their desired task of impeaching President Trump on something; on anything.
The famous bard, William Shakespeare, wrote four centuries ago in the tragedy King Lear, that “the wheel is come full circle.” So has now the impeachment wheel come “full circle.” and the results are just as theatrical.