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Adam Schiff: The Sacrificial Lamb

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Democrats’ tireless effort to remove President Trump from office via impeachment will fail. That much, along with death and taxes, is certain. There is no longer a question as to whether the Democrats will lose in their quest to upend 2016, the only remaining unknowns are where, when, and how badly. And, of course, who is to take the blame? If the buzz around Washington is to be believed, it’s Adam Schiff.


The Democrats have their choice as to where they will fail, which, in large part, can help determine the extent of the self-inflicted damage their party will ultimately suffer. They can lose in the House by failing to garner enough votes from their own caucus to secure impeachment, or, if they so choose, they can lose in the Senate on a much larger and more damning stage. Either way, they lose.

Following over a month of both closed-door and public testimony, Democrats have failed to move public perception in their direction. Polls by FiveThirtyEight show support for impeachment consistently dropping since the beginning of the inquiry, while Marquette University Law School polling shows a drop for impeachment in the crucial swing state of Wisconsin. Impeachment is failing because the Democrats’ message simply does not resonate with the public. Despite an ever-shifting narrative, driven by focus groups that prefer “bribery” over “quid pro quo," Democrats have failed to sell their bag of goods to a public whose support they need if their removal fantasies are to remain viable. If the Democrats were unable to sway public opinion with hearings in the House, where they controlled process, witnesses, and optics, their odds of doing so in a Senate trial, where they control none of the above, become insurmountable.


Were the Democrats to lose now in the House, that is to say, should Speaker Pelosi fail to muster the 218 votes needed to impeach the president, that would be a tremendous failure. After all, the Democrats have a 233-member caucus. Failing to secure, among her own members, enough votes, following all of the grandstanding, posturing, and promising of the past two months, would be devastating. Surely the impeachment frenzied base would push back. Independents would question the process and motivations. Republicans, particularly President Trump, would taunt the speaker for her failure. It would be a public relations and messaging nightmare. Still, it wouldn’t be nearly as bad as a Senate trial would surely be.

Should the Democrats convince enough of their vulnerable members to risk their careers on impeachment, a bloodbath of a trial would ensue. A trial where Republicans could call witnesses, such as Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, Adam Schiff, and the mysterious whistleblower, would be a disaster for Democrats. If the Democratic debates have provided anything other than a cheap laugh, it’s proof that Joe Biden does not hold up well under friendly questioning. Imagine him being asked, under oath, whether he knew his son was hired for protection purposes. Would Hunter Biden be able to deflect questions regarding his suspicious Ukrainian employment? How would Adam Schiff fair, as a fact witness, when he doesn’t have the gavel? Would he still deny knowledge of the whistleblower, knowing full well that the whistleblower would be called next?


A trial in the Senate would destroy the supposed Democratic frontrunner, all the while keeping six senators seeking the nomination on the sidelines. A Senate trial would expose the entire impeachment process as a hoax. A Senate trial would be a disaster, only entered into by a great fool, and Nancy Pelosi is no fool. The Democrats have a simple decision: lose badly in the House or catastrophically in the Senate. The only logical choice is the former, but we can still hope for the latter.

Finally, who is to take the blame for the inevitable impeachment implosion? When all of this great political theater comes to an end, someone will have to accept public responsibility. Someone will have to explain why the Democrats went so far with so little. If the Democrats choose to lose in the House, Speaker Pelosi can hardly blame the Republicans. She simply does not need their votes to get to 218 when she already has 233 of her own. If they decide to lose in the Senate, the curtain will be puled back and at least 218 House Democrats will have to answer to their districts for what is revealed in the Senate trial. That probably explains why the whispers in D.C. now circle around different high-profile politicians being in trouble. 

Adam Schiff has, curiously, been the lone face of the Democrats’ impeachment endeavor. Others have spoken up and Pelosi has dutifully supported it, but Adam Schiff appears to be the one, duty bounded, to take the fall for this failure. Pelosi can’t blame Republicans, either in the House or in the Senate. She cannot now publicly state that there was no reason to go this far, she must support the mission and message. If she cannot blame Republicans, and she cannot blame the message, that leaves the messenger. The cause was just, Schiff simply failed to get it across the finish line. After three years of an impeachment drive, someone in Washington is in trouble. It’s just not the president.


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