Now obviously aware that her failure to require a full House vote before authorizing Chairman Adam Schiff’s Intelligence Committee to investigate possible grounds for impeachment and conduct secret interviews was a mistake, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi belatedly called for a vote. Her decision followed closely a ruling by a federal judge that Schiff’s committee was indeed engaged in an impeachment inquiry and was therefore entitled to access secret grand jury information from the Mueller investigation.
The vote, of course, was strictly along party lines, unlike all three previous impeachments. Only two Democrat representatives, both from districts which Trump won in 2016, broke ranks. Not a single GOP member voted for the measure. So much, then, for Speaker Pelosi’s earlier warning against a rush to impeachment without strong bi-partisan support. When none emerged, she did what politicians usually do when things don’t turn out their way; she flip-flopped. To describe this vote as a vote of the People’s House for impeachment is to disguise the political reality that it was really a vote by the Democrat members of the House to impeach a Republican president whom they never forgave for winning the 2016 election against their heavily-favored lady in waiting.
Some Democrats actually feigned regret over having to take the grave step of impeachment. “None of us came into office hoping to impeach a president,” said one. That’s really rich. The people may not always vote wisely but they’re not fools. The intent of most Democrat members of Congress to impeach this president was obvious from the very next day after his election.
Pelosi’s belated vote and the ensuing discussion regarding Democrat ground rules for making the impeachment proceedings more transparent and fair and letting Republicans participate was simply too little and too late. It was too little in that witnesses called by Republicans and the president would be subject to Democrat approval. It was too late in that the damage has already been done by authorizing Schiff’s secret hearings without a vote of the full House in a matter as serious as impeaching a president. The process is already corrupted. The “fruit of the poisonous tree” concept would seem to apply here. The process is tainted by its flawed beginning, just as the Mueller investigation was tainted by the obvious anti-Trump bias of many of the investigators, including the one-time lead investigator Peter Strzok and his FBI girlfriend, Lisa Page.
When the Senate took up the Bill Clinton articles of impeachment in 2000, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va) immediately moved to dismiss. His motion failed by only a simple majority. Apparently Democrats, at that time anyway, didn’t believe that lying under oath to a grand jury constituted an impeachable offense. When Sen. Mitch McConnell takes up the Trump articles of impeachment, as he will be required to do if the House approves them, perhaps some senator should immediately move to dismiss, based on the flawed beginning of the process. A simple majority in the Senate, which the Republicans enjoy, could then dismiss the matter without a trial and end this sham. The voters would then get to make their own decision one year from now in a national election where the decision belongs.
It would be a fitting end to this shameful episode which, if allowed to play out, would help establish a dangerous and disruptive precedent by making it much to easy for a hostile Congress to remove a duly elected president or render him a lame duck over purely political differences, thus negating the votes of the citizens.