Friday, November 1, 2019

UPDATED: Can't Make This Up! An Impeachment Without Witnesses?

Yes, that's what the Washington Examiner is reporting. Eric Ciaramella is alarmed at what the world is learning about him and is apparently refusing to testify to the House. Hmmm, will Schiff "subpoena" him, or is that reserved for Trump staff? Further, the backup to Ciaramella is also getting cold feet. Is the House really going to "impeach" and send to the Senate articles that for which there has been no testimony from the supposed witnesses? Is this a travesty within a hoax ... or a hoax within a travesty?

Here, from the Washington Times--'No further discussion': Talks halt between whistleblower lawyers and Schiff staff amid expectation he won’t testify.

The whistleblower whose complaint launched impeachment proceedings against President Trump is unlikely to testify to Congress, as talks have ceased between his legal team and committee leaders. 
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who has overseen depositions in Democrats' impeachment proceeding, was initially eager for the whistleblower to testify before citing concern about the person being identified. 
Republicans accuse Schiff, a California Democrat, of changing course to prevent inquiries into his staff's dealings with the whistleblower before he filed his Aug. 12 complaint to the Intelligence Community inspector general. 
A source familiar with the discussions told the Washington Examiner that talks halted over potential testimony from the whistleblower and there is no discussion of testimony from a second whistleblower, who supported the first's claims. 
“There is no indication that either of the original whistleblowers will be called to testify or appear before the Senate or House Intelligence committees. There is no further discussion ongoing between the legal team and the committees,” the person said. 
Schiff said last month that the whistleblower had indicated a willingness to talk and that he “look[ed] forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.” On Sept. 25, he declared in a statement, “We need to speak with the whistleblower.”

Schiff has since backtracked, saying on Oct. 13, “Our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected.”

Zerohedge comments:

In other words, House Democrats are about to impeach President Trump over a second-hand whistleblower complaint by a partisan CIA officer, and neither he nor his source will actually testify about it (for now...). 
Meanwhile, once the House impeaches Trump - which it most certainly will - the tables will turn in the Senate, which will hold a mandatory trial. Not only will the GOP-Senators controlling the proceedings be able to subpoena documents and other evidence, they'll be able to compel Ciaramella, the Bidens, Chalupa and any other witnesses they desire as we head into the 2020 US election. 
Nancy Pelosi saw this coming and caved to her party anyway. There isn't enough popcorn in the world for what's coming.

The GOP Senators face an interesting dilemma--how to fulfill their duty to uphold the Constitution? Consider the alternatives:

1) They could dismiss the articles for failure to state an impeachable offense. 
2) They could dismiss the articles as the product of a corrupt process led by a corrupt and conflicted Committee Chairman and an offense to due process. 
Or ... 
3) They could take the opportunity to conduct a searching inquiry into the origins of the articles, calling witnesses and demanding documents.

Oh my--choices! Instead of wondering which is the least bad choice, McConnell and his lieutenants may need to decide which is the most best!

I have to wonder what Dem senators are talking about these days. It's one thing for House Dems in safe districts to gamble with their majority, but how does all this affect Dem senators? New York, California, and a few other states may be safe "districts" for Dem senators, but that's not the case for most senators, who have to run on a statewide basis and could face tough elections if the election is run on the issue of impeachment. They've already seen Trump's precedent breaking success in flipping Senate seats in the 2018 midterms. Dem senators can hardly be happy with the way things are going.

UPDATE: Yesterday morning John Ratcliffe pointed this out to Fox News:

Think about it this way, Bill. Yesterday Democrats passed a resolution to give Chairman Schiff the most authority in the impeachment process, moving forward. Adam Schiff is someone who has tried to impeach the president not once, not twice, but now three times. The first time he accused the president of treason and said he had evidence to support collusion with Russia. That wasn't true. Then he said we should impeach the president because he obstructed justice, and promised Bob Mueller would breathe life into that--until Bob Mueller admitted his obstruction analysis was under a legal standard and burden of proof that didn't exist. So now we're on to fake impeachment effort number three, surrounded by a whistleblower--a whistleblower who first met with, yeah, that's right! the staff of Chairman Schiff. The details of that haven't been released. Chairman Schiff won't release the Inspector General's sworn testimony, which will confirm the contacts between Chairman Schiff and the whistleblower.

But that was in the morning, which comes before ... the afternoon! In the afternoon, as I pointed out in a comment yesterday, Nancy Pelosi had a new gambit. Maybe, she said, they'd be looking at more than just Ukraine. It looks like they know--just one day after their flop of a resolution vote, that gained no GOP support and failed to attain Dem unanimity--that Impeachment 3.0 has collapsed, just as 1.0 and 2.0 did. So now it's on to Fishing Expedition 4.0!

Scott Jennings at CNN:

Let's be honest. The Democrats were always going to do this. From the minute we realized on election night that Donald Trump had won, they began fantasizing about nullifying the election results. Indeed, in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, the Democrats' biggest concern was that Trump would not accept the outcome -- a Hillary Clinton win, of course! -- of which they were quite certain.
And as it turns out, it was the Democrats who had no intention of accepting it. How odd that they have again become what they claim to detest about Trump. 
I might ask: where is the Democratic profile in courage, someone willing to stand up to Nancy Pelosi and call the House impeachment what it is: a norm-obliterating, kangaroo court, run by a party that apparently has little confidence in its ability to beat Trump in the next election?


  1. In the end, it isn't going to matter. As I have pointed out on other sites, the story from all the friendly witnesses is exactly same- they are just repeating their own conversations about the phone call with other- relating each other's opinion about it. In other words, the testimony doesn't build towards anything but confirmation of each other's belief about it. Unfortunately for the Democrats, they haven't been able to find anyone to add anything new- in total, we literally haven't learned anything meaningful since the day Trump released the phone transcript- at least nothing that leads to impeachment having a firm basis. In fact, the most important parts of the testimony is that Taylor and Morrison both confirmed that the Ukranians had no idea at all that the aid had been held up at Trump's order, which completely destroys the quid pro quo part of the allegations.

    1. Yes. And just this afternoon Pelosi came out and said that they might look into other things. Which shows that it's an unpredicated witchhunt, targeting the man and not any crime.

      How running this on into the campaign season could possibly help Dems in her view ...

  2. Just to give an indication of how bad it is for the Democrats, earlier this afternoon I saw CNN have a big "breaking news" story- the substance of the story was that Vindman testified that he was asked to talk about the phone call by a White House lawyer. I mean, seriously- so what? How does this even qualify as breaking news?

    1. It doesn't. However, it does qualify as grasping at straws.

  3. I'm still of the opinion that the Senate should vote for a summary judgment (or equivalent), and dismiss the charade forthwith.

    That said, I do not know how the arcane Senate rules work outside the broad outline of 2/3s vote to convict.

    One must remember that once the Democrat representatives enter the Senate chamber to prosecute their case, all bets are off. Presumably President Trump will defend his innocence and attack the credibility of everyone in sight to discredit the effort.

    Does Sen McConnell want to turn the Senate chamber into a circus of desperation by the Democrats.

    The political calculation is beyond my imagination.

    1. In the Clinton impeachment the proceeding opened with Sen. Byrd moving for dismissal on a straight majority vote--not 2/3 at that point. It was defeated, but it set the precedent.

    2. IOW, conviction requires 2/3, but not dismissal.

    3. It is 2/3 of Senators present.

    4. That's true. Jeff Flake has attempted to gin up conspiratorial scenarios whereby anti-Trump GOPers would secure Trump's conviction either by a secret ballot or by absenting themselves. However, there are also rules whereby McConnell could probably compel attendance. Given that 50 GOP senators have already signed on to Graham's resolution, I find the conspiracy theories to be nutty.

      Here's an article that explores some of the ins and outs of the "2/3 present" provision:

    5. This theory isn't even worth discussing since there is no way for a senator of either party to abdicate their responsibility in this manner and win reelection. Even a senator isn't this stupid, though maybe Flake is.

    6. Mark, thanks for that bit of history on Sen. Byrd and the Clinton impeachment. I've now forgotten where I first heard the suggestion of a 'summary judgment' vote at the opening, but it makes sense that there's some history behind it. Seems to me a majority vote to dismiss is all that is necessary, i.e. normal parliamentary procedure in the absence of a rule specifying otherwise. And it is greater than the necessary 1/3 +1 to acquit in the Senate.

    7. Yes, it makes perfect sense. It's the Constitution that specifies the 2/3 for conviction, but otherwise normal rules should apply.

  4. Have enjoyed the analysis over the last year.

    The US judicial system has a process called voir dire. The purpose of voir dire is to exclude from the jury people who may not be able to decide the case fairly. Members of the panel who know any person involved in the case, who have information about the case, or who may have strong prejudices about the people or issues involved in the case, typically will be excused by the judge.

    Question(s): As Senators are jurors, can the President's defence council challenge jurors for cause? Does the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court have the judicial authority to remove Senators for cause? How many Senators have publically stated for the record that the President is guilty or have disqualifications per above?

    1. Consider: By that reasoning, all 50 GOP senators who signed on to Graham's resolution would have to be disqualified.

      May I ask, do you come up with this stuff on your own, or are you getting it from other web sites?

  5. Forgive my naiveté - i'm a different Anonymous. This is my first post and was I interested in the legal v political nature of an impeachment 'trial'.

    I just finished several days of jury duty selection (potential juror) where this was a major point of contention between local prosecutors and defense counsels ..... moreso than ive ever seen in 6 pools i've been called for over the years. It appeared that jury pools are now 'googled' and 'facebooked' - potential juror data sliced and diced by both sides of the attorney class.

    If 'decidig the case fairly 'is taken so seriously at the local level one would think that at the supra- national level, it would be equally taken as serious. Apparently no one in Congress is taking it serious.

    If impeachment is nothing more than a political show and lady justice is blind, gagged, bound up and tossed to the curb and lying, cheating and stealing is now the norm rather than the exception and truth, justice etc etc has no place in the procedings, why should we be bothered then by all the machinizations of the political class and the bureaucrats and analyze the minutia of the political theater?

    If impeachment has no legal nature - then let's call it what it is - a political fundraising stunt - and leave it in the hands of super pacs, dark money and 535 paid off Senators and Congressmen. Let the best financed win!

    Then again we COULD read a 1979 science fiction novella by H. Beam Piper called 'Lone Star Planet'. The 'Court of Political Justice' is an intersting concept....

    1. "a major point of contention between local prosecutors and defense counsels"

      That's part of the point. If senators are merely jurors, then they should be challenged not only for prejudice against but for prejudice in favor of the defendant. But they're not merely jurors--they're members of a legislative body who are expected to express their opinions on a wide variety of public matters, many of which may involve opinions on the president and his policies. That's their job, and the framers of the Constitution were well aware of the dynamics involved.

      Further, impeachment was intended to be--and was--very rare and restricted to extreme cases: in the case of the president, high crimes and misdemeanors such as treason or bribery in office.

      "In impeachment is nothing more than a political show"

      The founders and framers wanted We The People to be involved in the machinations of politics, not excluded. Perhaps they were wrong in thinking that the broad public could be expected to take a more than superficial interest in public affairs. That argument has been made--that they expected that over the years a permanent governing class would emerge at the federal level.

    2. This is one of the distortions that was introduced by the 17th Amendment. Originally, and until the "Progressive Era", senators represented the states and were selected by the legislatures of the states. In an impeachment trial they would therefore have been presumed to be representing the interests of their states. Now they represent political parties and often their own interests.

      One remedy in presidential impeachments would be for the Chief Justice to take a more active role. This is suggested by the fact that it's only in presidential impeachments that the Judiciary is involved.