This is in response to C. Norman Allen’s opinion column on Dec. 21, “Weak Articles of Impeachment Will Hurt Dems.”
I thought it was a bad thing that Trump supporters keep defending the president against impeachment by talking about everything except the charges in the articles of impeachment, but Mr. Allen has actually added some specific defenses. The problem is that his defenses are based on lies.
First, he makes the same old tired and factually incorrect claim that a crime is required for impeachment. My studies show that high crimes and misdemeanors are left undefined in the Constitution for the very purpose of making a president accountable for any abuse of office. Not all crimes are impeachable and not all impeachable offenses are crimes. It’s true that Lindsey Graham made this very argument during the Clinton impeachment.
Second, that all the witness testimony was based on “hearsay, conjecture, or supposition.” There was firsthand, secondhand and third-hand testimony that was all relevant in corroborating the president’s documented self-incriminating words.
Third, that the witnesses weren’t on the July 25 phone call with the president. Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman were on the call and both understood that it was exactly what you’d think it was: a demand to have a U.S. citizen and political opponent investigated.
Fourth, that in the phone call, Trump never directly asked for help to meddle in the 2020 elections and was only interested in investigating general Ukrainian corruption. Trouble is, Trump never brought up corruption during the call – he only talked about the DNC server myth and the specific investigations of both Joe and Hunter Biden. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the issues the president wanted investigated, but scandal on the Bidens (real or not) would greatly benefit him in 2020 and corroborative witnesses testified that was indeed his goal.
This was the extent of Allen’s defense of the president directly on the articles of impeachment. His further points are both unrelated to the articles of impeachment and not true.
First, complaints about the whistleblower. The whistle is blown, Trump released the call summary and therefore the whistleblower is now a moot issue or, at most, a subject for another day. Second, and most egregiously, that Joe Biden asked for quid pro quo under Obama, and therefore, Trump’s sins are forgiven? This, of course has never been close to a valid argument. Biden pressured Ukraine on behalf of the U.S.A. and most of our western allies – a great accomplishment and certainly not a crime. The problem with the ousted Ukrainian prosecutor was that he didn’t investigate. Biden helped put in a new prosecutor who would investigate.
Finally, the Democrats know the danger of trying to impeach the president and failing. After all, Democrats benefitted when Republicans did that very thing to Clinton. It takes courage and integrity to do the right thing regardless of consequences. I wish at least a few Republicans had that kind of courage.