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OPINION

Dems Frame Trump

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AP Photo/Susan Walsh

House Democrats are stampeding to impeach President Donald Trump without evidence of any crime. On Tuesday, they announced two articles of impeachment based on a new, rigged definition of an impeachable offense. They claim Congress can impeach a president who "ignored and injured the interests of the Nation" even if he hasn't violated any law.

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That's a dangerously vague standard. After all, who's to say what's in the national interest? Democrats and Republicans always disagree about that. That's why we have elections.

To back up their charges, House Dems issued a 300-page impeachment report, written by Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff. The report plays tricks to frame Trump and damage his reelectability while bending over backward to inoculate Joe Biden from accusations of foreign scandals. This isn't a fact-finding report. It's a Democratic campaign plan. Dems cannot undo 2016, but they're determined to rig 2020. Tellingly, it treats Joe Biden as if he's already got the nomination.

Lacking a crime, Schiff resorts to an abusive prosecutor's trick: obstruction of justice charges. The report shows Schiff's the one hiding evidence.

The impeachment focuses on Trump's July 25 call asking Ukraine's president for a favor: Help the U.S. investigate Ukrainian tampering with the 2016 election and Biden's role, as vice president, getting a prosecutor there fired while Hunter Biden was on the payroll of a company possibly under investigation.

Trump didn't say military aid depended on the investigations, but Democrats claim it did. Schiff's report comes up with zero evidence of that.

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The Committee grilled 18 witnesses. Only one, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, had first-hand knowledge of whether Trump intended a quid pro quo for aid. Sondland said Trump was "crystal clear" that aid did not hinge on investigations. Schiff dismisses that as a "false exculpatory" on page 24.

Instead, Schiff inflates testimony from disgruntled diplomats and National Security aide Tim Morrison. They never talked to Trump, but heard rumors aid was delayed waiting for Ukraine to act. They "believed" or had an "understanding" of it. Slippery words, on page 134, that Schiff tries to pawn off as evidence.

Lacking proof, Schiff charges obstruction. He implies, on page 107, that Trump hid the transcript of the July 25 call on a highly classified server. Nonsense. Morrison and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman both testified the call record ended up there by mistake. And when asked, Trump released it.

Schiff also tries to nail Trump with obstruction for withholding documents and instructing White House officials not to testify, as page 217 claims. That's farcical.

Democrats are rushing to impeach, and Schiff refuses to "allow the White House to engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts." But Trump's entitled to court review of what he has to release. The Constitution gives judges, not Schiff, final say. Trump's not guilty of obstruction unless he defies the courts.

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It's Schiff who's thwarting justice by impeaching without key witnesses or documents.

Instead, Schiff's report makes exonerating Biden top priority. The 300-page report mentions the Bidens 239 times and is riddled with statements like this, on page 103: "Multiple witnesses ... testify that they were not aware of any credible evidence to support claims that former Vice President Biden acted inappropriately."

Schiff's report has an entire section titled "President Trump Promoted False Information About Former Vice President Joe Biden." All politicians badmouth rivals. What business is it of the Intelligence Committee?

Schiff insists allegations of wrongdoing by Biden "have been discredited," "lacked any basis in fact," "are without merit" and are a "false narrative."

The real false narrative is about the whistleblower. On page 143, Schiff's report disingenuously claims first hearing about the whistleblower on Sept. 9. He also claimed that in media interviews, until The New York Times caught him in the lie. Truth is, his staff guided the whistleblower to file a complaint.

Yet Schiff refuses to surrender documents on his involvement and sees no reason to testify in a Senate trial. Without the whistleblower, there would be no impeachment. Did Schiff orchestrate a phony scandal, once the Mueller investigation led nowhere? It's alarming to hear Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, speculate that perhaps witnesses are not needed. And Senator Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., express reluctance to compel a House member to testify. The nation needs to know.

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Trump's already gotten a raw deal in the House. He deserves fairness in the Senate.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York state and author of "Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution." Contact her at betsy@betsymccaughey.com. 

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