Two weeks ago, partisan Democrats passed their two articles of impeachment against President Trump. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) immediately started playing coy about when or if she would send the articles to the Senate. Some think she is trying to provide a bit of leverage for Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in negotiating the trial procedures with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Others speculate that she will hold onto them because she knows they’re weak and are not going to lead to the Democrats’ desired result (removal of the President from office). There are variations on these themes and much speculation ongoing among the chattering class.
On Sunday, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) was interviewed on ABC’s “This Week” by Jonathan Karl (sitting in for the execrable George Stephanopolous). I watched the interview with interest, as Karl actually asked a couple of good questions about the Democrats’ tactics (politics) regarding moving forward with a Senate trial.
ABC – being a cheerleading arm of the Democrat Party – introduced the Van Hollen segment with a short video of RINO Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) questioning Mitch McConnell’s public statements about working closely with the President during a Senate trial. It’s a reminder of her nuzzling up to the Democrats during the Kavanaugh hearings, isn’t it? Anyway, the Murkowski comments were used to convey the notion that the Democrats have a shot at getting some Republicans to vote with them on trial procedures and processes. Let’s pick up the dialog with a question from Karl.
Karl: That’s one Republican senator – and as far as I can tell the only Republican senator – who has expressed concerns about that. But if you want to call witnesses at this trial, you’re gonna need at least four Republicans to join with the Democrats. Are you seeing any other signs of Republicans breaking ranks?
Me: Stephanopolous would be proud of that question, as it was posed from the point of view of benefiting Democrats.
Van Hollen: Well, John, that’s the entire reason we are focusing on the importance of a fair trial, and all Americans I think understand that a fair trial means that you get to call your witnesses, and Sen. Murkowski put her finger on the big issue, right? Is Sen. McConnell, the Republican leader, gonna try to rig this trial right from the start, working in lockstep with the president and his lawyers, or is he gonna allow a fair trial, which your own ABC poll showed 70% of Americans say that requires witnesses and documents? So, that’s exactly why we’re having the conversation that we’re having over these weeks because you keep hearing President Trump saying he’s gonna be exonerated. Look, if you have a rigged trial, there is no exoneration in acquittal.
Me: There’s always at least one RINO who gives Democrats aid and comfort; Murkowski has made a career of doing that. Did you catch the poll-tested phrases used by Van Hollen? “fair trial,” “rig this trial,” “no exoneration in acquittal (in a rigged trial).” We watched three weeks of the Democrats rigging the House impeachment inquiry, and now we’re just supposed to fuhgeddaboudit and move on to a “fair trial” in the Senate. Uh, nope; McConnell already signaled how this is going to go down, and Harry Reid made it easy thanks to handing the majority the “nuclear option” in 2016 (only 51 senators are needed to approve the rules). And then there’s another media push-poll intended to support the Democrat trial narrative. The polls are meaningless and are Democrat tools to influence opinion, not accurately reflect it; the only polls that count are on election day.
Karl: But, but, but, are you talking to others? Are you talking to Mitt Romney, are you talking to Susan Collins, or who else is potentially there for you? Not even Murkowski is saying she wants witnesses. Are you going to get those four Republicans?
Me: Even Karl knows who the RINOs are who are the Democrats’ natural political allies. Once again, the question is posed from the point of view of what would benefit Democrats.
Van Hollen: There are ongoing conversations. I think it’s too early to say how those individuals will vote, but look, John, there’re gonna have to answer for the fact that they don’t wanna see any more evidence, right? Those who vote against witnesses and vote against documents are essentially telling the American people that they don’t want to see anything, they don’t want to hear anything, and in doing so, you’re really complicit in a coverup. I think more of this information will come out over a period of time … we will eventually see more documents … we will find out the truth, and senators who vote to deny the American people the ability to hear witnesses and get additional evidence are gonna be part of covering that up. And I think a lot of senators when it comes right down to it are gonna have to think long and hard on that vote.
Me: Talk about playing a weak hand! We’ve spent three weeks seeing the “evidence” and witness testimonies associated with the two articles of impeachment (less the IC IG’s testimony that Schiff and the Democrats have withheld from public scrutiny!), and the senators will get all of that in the House majority and minority reports. There is ZERO need to listen to the same witnesses testify about hearsay and personal opinions. The Republican majority isn’t going to authorize a fishing expedition just because the Democrats in the House couldn’t make a real case for impeachment that pointed to real impeachable offenses! Trying to put pressure on Republican senators by implying they’re part of a “coverup” is absurd. You Democrats claim that the “evidence for impeachment” is overwhelming, yet now you want to go fishing for new witnesses and new documents and claim that “new evidence” will be forthcoming? That’s intellectual incoherence, Senator.
Karl: What’s the bottom line here, though? If the Republicans do not agree to call witnesses, will Nancy Pelosi send over the articles of impeachment to the Senate?
Van Hollen: I think has been very clear that there will be a trial, and so yes, she will be sending over the articles of impeachment. I think right now, we’re engaged in this conversation about the importance of being able to call witnesses. Look, we just saw not that long ago more documents surfaced out of the White House from Michael Duffy, one of the folks at OMB, and very close to the President and Mick Mulvaney, and that just highlights the importance of getting access to this evidence and documents. In the previous impeachment trials, they all had witnesses, they all had documents, and this should not be different from that.
Me: Hmmm. Pelosi has never definitively said that she will be sending them over to the Senate. And the “conversation” to which Van Hollen refers is merely the Democrats talking to their media allies like Karl in order to stir up public pressure in support the Democrat narrative. Van Hollen must think we don’t pay attention. Michael Duffy’s “new documents” CONTRADICT Chuck Schumer’s claim that it is “explosive,” as noted by Redstate colleague Bonchie here. And comparing previous impeachment trials to this one is a strawman argument because there were actual impeachable crimes cited with supporting documentary evidence in the past trials unlike this farce.
Karl: But I want to be clear with what you just said. You say that there will be a trial, Speaker Pelosi will send over the articles of impeachment even if Republicans do not agree to have witnesses.
Me: That’s a fair follow-up question because, to my knowledge, no Democrat has ever gone on record stating that Pelosi definitely will send over the articles to the Senate.
Van Hollen: Look, ultimately Speaker Pelosi will of course make that decision, but I think she’s been clear. She will send over the articles of impeachment, but we’re in this important period of time right now where people are going home – like Sen. Murkowski, like others – and having to answer question about having a fair trial. Whether this is gonna be a rigged trial or a fair trial, and again, everybody who’s grown up watching trials, whether it’s on TV or whether it’s in the movies, everyone understands that requires witnesses in order to be fair.
Me: He just made news by confirming Pelosi will indeed send the articles to the Senate. Will this survive a couple of news cycles, or will the narrative shift yet again? I think there are other questions that will be posed by constituents than a “fair trial,” too, e.g., “when are you gonna get past this impeachment crap and get on with the country’s business?” Those are the questions that Republican senators (and probably more than a few Democrats, as well) will face before they return in January. Oh, and Van Hollen’s definition of “fair” really means rigged in favor of Democrat aims – in this case, open-ended witnesses and documents and a never-ending fishing expedition. Ain’t gonna happen!
Karl: Are you expecting a trial to start in the beginning of January?
Van Hollen: I don’t know exactly when the trial will start. That’s why we’re having this conversation.
Karl (interrupting): I’m confused a bit here. The Democrats in the House said explicitly that the President is a “clear and present danger.” Why the delay here if it’s such an urgent and immediate threat, why the delay? Why not get on with the trial?
Me: This is a decent question, but I suspect it’s coming from the point of view of those who swallowed the House’s impeachment farce and believe that they’ve got everything they need to remove the President from office and want to immediately press on toward that conclusion (in their fever-pitched minds).
Van Hollen: An urgent and immediate threat requires a fair trial, right? If it’s rigged, then obviously that doesn’t address the concerns that folks in the House had. The House wanted to call these key White House witnesses. This president has taken the unprecedented stand that he has absolute immunity. No president has ever claimed that kind of immunity before. Now in my view, the House has already put on ample evidence to show abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. President Trump has said that he wants a trial; he wants to exonerate himself. So, he’s gonna have to ask for documents and witnesses, so why shouldn’t the House prosecutors be able to come forward and put on their full case. If you get an indictment in a grand jury proceeding, it doesn’t mean you don’t get to call witnesses at trial or have documents at trial. That would be nuts.
Me: Back to the “fair trial” narrative. That’s B.S. because neither Pelosi nor any other Democrat has expressed any sense of urgency in getting the articles moved over to the Senate which, constitutionally, has the sole authority to conduct an impeachment trial (as well as set whatever rules the majority supports). He lies when he said the President has claimed absolute immunity – a complete and utter lie. The President is well within his rights (established by the Supreme Court!) to exert executive privilege and separation of powers arguments to deny witnesses and documents, and that’s exactly what he did. Let the Article III branch (the federal courts) decide between the Article I and Article II branches of the government since the Democrats are so concerned about “fairness.” Van Hollen then said that he’s already made up his mind about how he will vote since he agrees with the House’s case for impeachment. That makes him a prejudiced juror, doesn’t it? What about your crocodile tears shed for a “fair trial” now, Senator? By the way, your strawman argument comparing a regular grand jury process and court trial to impeachment (a completely different and arbitrary political process) doesn’t make your argument, Senator.
Karl: But you have said repeatedly, over and over again just in the last few weeks, that the House has produced overwhelming evidence to show that the President abused power, to show that he is guilty of what the House has accused him of doing. So why do you need to see witnesses; why do you need to hear from witnesses? You’ve already said that this is overwhelming evidence produced by the House. Didn’t they produce the evidence?
Me: This convinces me even more that Karl is from the “we believe the House” faction of the media who want to press on with the trial because they believe the evidence is enough for the Senate to sustain the articles of impeachment. [Which also tells me that either Karl didn’t actually watch the House hearings, or he is incapable of discerning just how weak the House’s case for impeachment is]
Van Hollen: Well, well, … they produced a lot of evidence. They produced enough evidence to essentially – you know (while shrugging his shoulders and looking flustered) – to get the articles of impeachment out of the House, but I’ve also said that the President has wanted to put on his case in the US Senate, and that I would reserve judgment on any final verdict until all the evidence is in. In addition to that, House prosecutors have a right at a trial – that is, in most trials, you have a right to put on additional evidence. After all, in the case of the Senate, as you know, you require a two-thirds vote for conviction. So, the Constitution is pretty clear that the Senate is supposed to try this case, and there’s no such thing as a fair trial where the prosecution doesn’t get to put on its witnesses and documents. That is on its face a rigged trial; it’s a sham trial. President Trump says he wants a trial. So, why is it that Mitch McConnell seems to say he doesn’t want to call any witnesses? That is clearly taking the position that you don’t want to see the evidence, and that is irresponsible, and I think it’s an abdication of his constitutional responsibility. He said he won’t be impartial, but he’s going to have to take an oath that he’s going to be impartial, and that means listening to all the relevant evidence.
Me: Once again, Van Hollen confirms that he’s already decided to sustain the articles before a Senate trial happens (throwing his “fair trial” argument baloney right out the window). And “enough evidence” was produced to provide a political fig leaf for partisan Democrats to hide behind in order to vote out impeachment articles without a single impeachable crime cited in them! Then he just repeats the same old narrative about a “fair trial,” the prosecution’s “rights” to bring forth witnesses and documents (nowhere are those “rights” stated in the Constitution), etc. He finishes by accusing Sen. McConnell of “abdicating his constitutional responsibility,” which is completely B.S., as McConnell has the full authority under the Constitution to set the rules and processes for any impeachment trial based on whatever the majority supports – whether Democrats like the results or not. I suspect McConnell will be at least as “impartial” as Van Hollen is, don’t you? Impeachment is a political process, not a trial in a court of law, as Van Hollen continues to conflate, and elections have consequences, don’t they?
- Van Hollen used a combination of poll-tested phrases interlaced with lies to make the case for sustaining the House’s weak articles of impeachment against the President.
- He hides behind the notion of a “fair trial” to claim that the House managers have a “right” to bring forth new witnesses and documents as part of a fishing expedition while at the same time claiming that the House already produced overwhelming evidence to impeach and remove the President. This is intellectual incoherence.
- He knows the evidence for impeachment is weak, yet he has already determined to vote for impeachment despite his tepid claim to “reserve judgment” near the end of the Q&A while also falsely implying that Sen. McConnell is completely biased and ignoring his “constitutional responsibilities. More intellectual incoherence.
- He made a bit of news by claiming that Nancy Pelosi would definitely (in his opinion) submit the articles to the Senate in relatively short order. Will that stand, or will he get “taken to the woodshed”?
The Democrats are playing a weak hand and are hoping constituents put pressure on Republican senators to get on board with the Democrats’ proposals for their definition of a “fair trial.” That’s wishful thinking on their part!