On Feb. 5, news networks across the country turned their attention to the trial of President Trump expecting its outcome to be as dramatic a show as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff had built it to be. Instead, the verdict House Democrats witnessed was delivered in the same predictable, partisan fashion by which they forced articles of impeachment against the President through the House last December.
Now, after a mess of their own making, Democrats must face the reality that impeachment, for their part, is over. For their failure, Democrats in Capitol Hill have no one but Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff to blame. Not Senate Republicans. Not Chief Justice Roberts. Congressional Democratic leaders’ handling of the impeachment inquiry was not in any way guided by a desire to apprehend the President for whatever wrongdoing he might have committed; rather, their clear disdain and hostility toward the Trump was, from the beginning, the determining factor in the way Pelosi and Schiff moved through the process.
When compared to Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton’s impeachment inquiries, in 1973 and 1998 respectively, the investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged trespasses was nonsubstantive and plagued by ultra-partisan passions, with these being evident long before the inquiry was formalized. When the House of Representatives decided to launch an impeachment inquiry into Richard Nixon, they had clear reason and proof to do so: the Nixon White House had authorized the wiretapping of the Democratic Party’s headquarters at the Watergate Complex, and subsequently ordered the Justice Department to cover up the President’s wrongdoings. In the case of Clinton, a longstanding Kenneth Starr investigation found the President had committed perjury to Congress in regards to his inappropriate personal relationship with Monica Lewinsky. In both of these cases, the investigations themselves, and not hear-say or contextual interpretations on the part of Congressional committees, were the markers of impeachment. Moreover, even though the Clinton impeachment was indeed partisan, such partisanship did not dictate the course of the independent counsel investigation.
In the case of Donald Trump, however, House Democrats were determined to impeach the President months before he even took the oath of office. In fact, talks of impeachment had been emanating from Democratic circles even before the 2016 election. Democrats in the Hill called for impeachment of the President for allegedly being a Russian asset during the 2016 election, “associating the Presidency with White Nationalism, Neo-Nazism, and Hatred,” and possible violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. None of which either led to serious formulation of articles of impeachment or carried significant weight to satisfy the removal of a President. When these allegations did not bear fruit, House Democrats called upon an independent counsel investigation headed by Robert Mueller, a former FBI director. After hundreds of interviews and thousands of leads, Mueller found no conclusive evidence of wrongful behavior on the part of the President. One would think Democrats would be satisfied by the Mueller Report, except they were not–until their goal of impeaching the President became a reality.
Without any attempt to reach consensus among members of the two parties, and without any proof that the President engaged in behavior worthy of removal from office, Speaker Pelosi moved the articles of impeachment through the House before the holiday break knowing there would be no way the Senate would vote to convict Donald Trump. If the Speaker of the House had any confidence in the case presented by Congressional Democrats, she would have immediately scheduled the articles of impeachment to be sent to the Senate. Instead, Pelosi held onto them for nearly a month with the pretext that the conduct of Senate Republicans toward an impeachment trial would not be fair.
The reality is that Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff did not provide a punishment fitting the President’s conduct. Yes, Donald Trump withheld Ukraine’s military aid. However, he was hardly the first President to withhold military aid intended for a foreign government. And yes, Trump did ask a foreign entity to investigate a political rival, which was wrong on his part. Nonetheless, the development of these events did not warrant the conviction of a President.
The hope for convicting Donald Trump lied in 67 Senators acknowledging that Donald Trump abused his power as President by soliciting opposition research from a foreign entity–at least that is what House Manager Hakeem Jeffries wanted the Senate to understand. Yet, when confronted with Hillary Clinton’s use of a foreign spy to dig up information on Donald Trump in 2016, he dismantled his own party’s case by accepting Clinton’s openness to foreign interference because, in her case, such interference was purchased.