Notwithstanding last week’s catastrophic appearances by former special counsel Robert Mueller and House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s nervousness about impeachment, 118 die-hard Democrats (plus renegade former Republican Justin Amash of Michigan), are hell-bent on prying President Donald J. Trump from the White House, long before Election Day 2020. But for what? “Trump–Russia collusion” turned out to be a bad acid trip, although the attendant hallucinations still reverberate among fervent Democrats. As for obstruction of justice, there was none. Somebody should explain this to these Trump haters — perhaps with crayons and butcher paper.
Here’s what impeachment-grade obstruction looks like:
On June 17, 1972, the so-called White House “plumbers” illegally broke into the Democratic National Committee’s Washington, D.C., headquarters in the Watergate office complex to spy on President Richard Milhous Nixon’s opponents. Nixon and his top aides unlawfully funneled “hush money” to these criminals, in cash, so they would clam up rather than sing. They also pressured the CIA to tell the FBI, in Nixon’s words: “Stay the hell out of this.” Nixon six times asserted his presidential right to executive privilege and hid incriminating materials from scrutiny (not least Oval Office audio tapes of Nixon conspiring with his henchmen). This cover-up prompted Nixon’s resignation on August 9, 1974.
In contrast, Russiagate involved no underlying crime. According to the Mueller Report: “The Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes.”
Furthermore, Trump waived executive privilege. Consequently, “approximately 1.4 million pages of documents were provided to” Mueller, wrote Emmett Flood, then-special counsel to the president, to Attorney General William Barr on April 19. Trump, Flood added, “encouraged every White House staffer to cooperate fully with the SCO [Special Counsel’s Office] and, so far as we are aware, all have done so.” Among many others, these “voluntary interviewees” include senior adviser Jared Kushner, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, and these former aides:
• Chief Strategist Steve Bannon
• Deputy Counsel Annie Donaldson
• Communications Director Hope Hicks
• Chief of Staff John Kelly
• Counsel Don McGahn
• Chief of Staff Reince Priebus
• Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
• Press Secretary Sean Spicer
Trump himself answered questions in writing, as his attorneys and Mueller negotiated. Mueller could have pressed to quiz Trump in person, but he did not. That was Mueller’s decision, not Trump’s dodge.
The top three Russiagate inspectors testified under oath that Trump never obstructed their efforts:
“At any time in the investigation, was your investigation curtailed or stopped or hindered?” Representative Doug Collins (R., Ga.) asked Mueller before the House Judiciary Committee on July 24.
“Were you ever fired as special counsel, Mr. Mueller?” Representative Debbie Lesko (R., Ariz.) asked.
Lesko: “Were you allowed to complete your investigation unencumbered?”
Former FBI director James Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2017, that he never felt political pressure to halt any inquiry, presumably including Russiagate.
“I’m talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason,” Comey said. “That would be a very big deal. It’s not happened in my experience.”
Former acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe also said that “there has been no effort to impede our investigation today.”
None of the president’s men defunded the Russiagate inquest. As McCabe told the Senate Intelligence Committee on May 11, 2017: “I know that we have resourced that investigation adequately.”
Despite this overwhelming proof of non-obstruction, these Democrats (and the independent Amash) still lust for Trump’s ouster. But they’ve got nothing. They look like 119 naked people trying to stage a fashion show.
“My personal view is that he [Trump] richly deserves impeachment,” House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler told CNN’s State of the Union on July 28. “He’s violated the law six ways from Sunday. But that’s not the question. The question is, can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people?”
Nadler has capsized the very concept of justice.
Officials seek evidence. If they find it, they present it at trial. If a jury convicts, only then is someone proved guilty of a crime.
Nadler’s approach is even worse than the old Soviet legal standard: guilty until proven innocent. By Nadler’s own admission, his new, sub-Soviet legal standard is: Guilty, with evidence TBD.
Nadler now craves grand-jury testimony. This is supposed to stay secret. Here’s why:
Imagine that Jack Jones is accused of beating his wife, Jackie. A grand jury hears confidential testimony and decides not to indict him. That’s it. End of story.
But what if an unhinged zealot like Nadler unsealed Jones’s file and spilled grand-jury testimony?
Wow! Jones loves to scream at his family. What’s this? He walks around all weekend in his bathrobe, unshowered and unshaved. Gross! One day, he yelled that Jackie’s cooking tastes like fried flat tires. Another time, when his son refused to clean up his room, Jack smashed little Johnny’s train set to smithereens. One night, Jack got really grumpy, grabbed his little girl Julie’s dollhouse, and grilled it on the barbecue. He even made the family’s yellow Lab sit there and watch. Walter, a good dog, was smart enough to stay quiet. Walter worried, What might Jack do next?
So, while Jack Jones broke no laws, and was not charged with domestic abuse, his friends, neighbors, coworkers, and clients learned that he is an ogre, a bully, a rotten dad, a nasty husband, and a total slob.
None of this behavior is admirable. But none of it is illegal.
Grand juries are not TMZ-style gossip factories. They only should weigh evidence and either indict or not indict. Period. That’s why their deliberations otherwise remain secret — forever.
Nadler has a Fordham University law degree, so he understands this. Indeed, on September 9, 1998, as President Bill Clinton’s impeachment loomed, Nadler tutored then-PBS host Charlie Rose on why Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure No. 6 has concealed such evidence since March 21, 1946.
“It’s grand-jury material,” Nadler said. “It represents statements which may or may not be true by various witnesses, salacious material, all kinds of material that it would be unfair to release.”
Alas, Nadler — like House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) — is so foam-at-the-mouth enraged that Trump defeated Hillary that the foam has flooded his brain. Nadler no longer thinks straight.
Like Nadler, too many Democrats suffer a Captain Queeg-like obsession with impeaching Trump — never mind that the Mueller Report found no Trump/Russia collusion. Never mind that Mueller, Comey, and McCabe testified under oath that their Russiagate probes never were obstructed.
Democrats should find a new hobby.
Note: Michael Malarkey contributed research to this opinion piece.