Yesterday, Jim McGovern (D-MA) claimed that “we are here because the facts compel us to be here.”
What idiots does he imagine us to be? I mean this in all seriousness. Anyone who believes we arrived at impeachment due to facts has been hiding in a cave or is insane, regardless of political leanings. If this were about facts, impeachment would be nowhere on the horizon.
In late 1973, the House Judiciary Committee opened an impeachment process after President Richard Nixon ordered the firing of the independent special prosecutor investigating the Watergate break-in, Archibald Cox. Cox had issued a subpoena demanding copies of taped conversations in the Oval Office, which, he believed, might reveal Nixon’s involvement in Watergate and the subsequent cover-up. Nixon’s attorney general and deputy attorney general both refused the order to fire Cox and resigned in protest. U.S. Solicitor General Robert Bork was then sworn in as attorney general and obeyed the order, but said he did so only in order to avoid a long succession of resignations which would leave the Justice Department “crippled” and in chaos.
It was obvious that a crime had taken place, and it was equally obvious that the president was trying to cover up his involvement. Indeed, Cox’s suspicion was borne out — the tapes revealed that the president had tried to halt the Watergate investigation on frivolous national security grounds. The House resolution to authorize the impeachment inquiry passed 410-4, obviously including overwhelming Republican support.
Bill Clinton went through impeachment in 1998–1999 because the independent counsel appointed at the time, Ken Starr, produced a report to the House Judiciary Committee detailing that Clinton had committed both perjury and obstruction of justice. Clinton’s law license was suspended for five years due to the conclusions of the Starr Report. So once again, it was obvious that the president had committed a crime. The House vote was 258-176, with 31 Democrats voting in favor.
In neither case was anyone willing to state that he “was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” as Tim Morrison, the departing Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council, told the House Intelligence Committee yesterday.
We are here because partisans have wanted to reverse the 2016 election since the day Trump was elected, and the House takeover in 2018 was driven by leftists who demanded we “impeach the mother******” regardless of any justification. They believed the Mueller investigation would deliver the needed grounds, but — quite unlike the efforts of Cox and Starr — Mueller’s report exonerated the president. Dissatisfied House Democrats ran to hold hearings in any case, trying to pull a guilty verdict from the innocence found in the report.
It is no coincidence that those tremendously important, momentous hearings suddenly came to an end after the Ukraine phone call came to light — as no special counsel has officially ruled the Ukraine call similarly devoid of criminal conduct, the call offers a better pretense for the same pitchforks and torches.
And this is why the Democrats never demanded a special counsel or any independent, nonpartisan legal investigation regarding the Ukraine phone call and any hint of quid pro quo that might have been behind it. There is simply no time left if Democrats are to use the call to either remove Trump from office or destroy his re-election prospects before the 2020 election. That is why Democrats have bypassed all semblance of fairness, instead rushing to hold closed-door hearings and launch an impeachment proceeding far too early in the process.
Make no mistake: Were it not Ukraine, Democrats would have found another excuse to impeach. They had to, as impeachment was the goal. And we all already know this — no matter your political preferences or voting patterns, this much should be obvious to all.
This sort of move — to come up with the verdict first, and then find the purported crime to justify it — has ample historical precedent. The Salem Witch Trials are certainly an apt model, but Stalin’s Show Trials have a greater written record. It was Stalin’s head of secret police, Lavrentiy Beria, who bragged that he could make any innocent man into a convicted criminal: “Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.”
That is why we are here. Despite McGovern’s protestations to the contrary, we are not so stupid as to believe this is about justice.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken is the Managing Director of the Coalition for Jewish Values.