Opinion

Dems' Plan to Drag Out Impeachment

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Posted: Dec 18, 2019 12:01 AM
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Dems' Plan to Drag Out Impeachment

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

As the impeachment battle moves to the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is wisely holding the line against Democratic efforts to drag it out.

Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is demanding that Democrats be able to call new witnesses. He insists an impeachment trial has to "pass the fairness test." Fairness? He must think Americans are fools.

House Democrats have rushed to impeach President Donald Trump without evidence he committed a crime. They concocted two phony charges, "abuse of power" and "obstruction of Congress." Then they rigged the House hearings to exclude testimony from the whistleblower, whose complaint was the pretext for impeachment. And bar witnesses requested by Republicans. How fair is that?

Schumer's insistence on more witnesses -- in addition to the 17 already grilled in the House -- is a ploy to boost the House Dems' pathetic case. Get ready for more demands for witnesses and investigations.

No wonder McConnell is telling Schumer to pound salt. The public is fed up. Polls show independent voters and swing-state voters increasingly oppose impeachment. Ending it quickly will allow Congress to get back to serious issues instead of this invented crisis.

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is proposing a brief Senate trial, with no witnesses. "Here's what I want to avoid," said Graham, "this thing going on longer than it needs to."

House Dems will rehash their feeble case to the 100 Senators who serve as jurors. After the White House legal team rebuts, the Senate will deliberate and vote. It could all be done by mid-January. Better yet, start immediately, and have it done before Christmas.

Under the Senate's long-standing impeachment rules, the trial format does not require witnesses. Schumer falsely claims no witnesses means a cover-up. He needs to read the rules.

Predictably, many Republicans seething over unfair House proceedings want witnesses. They're salivating to put the Bidens, the whistleblower and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on the hot seat.

But avoiding a battle over witnesses will allow the Senate to focus on the more important issue -- the Democrats' preposterous grounds for impeachment.

Democrats accuse Trump of "abuse of power," a vague charge. They argue a president can be impeached despite acting legally, and that the test is whether he's motivated by "private self-interest" or the national interest.

That's a trap. Who's to say what's in the national interest? Republicans and Democrats always disagree about that. That's why we have elections.

House Dems also charge Trump with "obstruction of Congress" for refusing to surrender documents and release advisors to testify. That's another made-up charge. Trump was prepared to let the courts decide what he has to release. Last week's Supreme Court's decision to review executive branch subpoenas shows Trump's approach is correct. But House Dems are rushing to impeach instead.

The Senate's task is to give Trump a fair hearing but also discredit Dems' phony grounds for impeachment. Otherwise, every future president will have to kowtow to the House majority.

Foregoing witnesses doesn't mean the public has to be cheated out of uncovering the truth about possible Ukrainian election meddling, Schiff's link to the whistleblower, or the Bidens' corruption.

Democrats charge Trump with promoting a "discredited theory" that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. What's the harm in investigating, as U.S. Attorney John H. Durham is currently doing?

The Senate must also probe Schiff's role in engineering the whistleblower complaint. Schiff's staff met with the whistleblower before the complaint was filed. Schiff lied about that until The New York Times caught him. He also refused to surrender documents about his possible dealings with the whistleblower to House investigators.

As for Hunter Biden's lucrative position with a Ukrainian company while his father was then-President Obama's point person for Ukraine, Joe Biden himself admits that "may have looked bad."

It's possible to end the impeachment frenzy and still get to the bottom of these wrongs.

Meanwhile, Trump leads all his Democratic 2020 rivals in the latest USAToday/Suffolk University poll, indicating what the public thinks of impeachment.

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.