Posted by Curt on 22 November, 2019 at 9:04 am. 121 comments already!


With the likely conclusion of Rep. Adam Schiff’s impeachment proceedings, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at how things went for the majority Democrats and minority Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Democrats ideally would have started their inquiry with credible bipartisan support and run things in such a way that public opinion developed in their favor. Public opinion would build pressure on Republican members toward an impeachment vote that had even stronger bipartisan credibility.

That did not come even close to happening. To begin with, not only was the vote to begin proceedings not bipartisan, there was bipartisan opposition to it. Polling initially looked promising for impeachment, with media outlets attempting to claim significant bipartisan support for inquiry and removal, but then the polling moved in the wrong direction for Democrats.

Emerson polling showed that support for impeachment flipped since October from 48 percent support with 44 percent opposing to now 45 percent opposed and 43 percent in support. Among key independents, the switch was even more pronounced. In October, 48 percent supported impeaching President Donald Trump, with 39 percent opposed. Now, 49 percent of independents oppose impeachment, while only 34 percent support it.

A new Marquette University Law School poll found that 40 percent of registered voters in the swing state of Wisconsin think that Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 53 percent do not think so. Another 6 percent weren’t sure.

A new Gallup poll shows that Trump’s approval has ticked up two points since the impeachment drama began, with 50 percent of Americans opposed to it and 48 percent in support. Henry Olsen notes that Gallup polls all adults, not just registered voters, meaning that a poll of registered voters would have Trump’s job approval even higher and impeachment opposed by closer to a 52-46 margin.

And not only are no Republicans expected to join with Democrats in an eventual impeachment vote, some members expect the bipartisan consensus against it to grow.

Republicans, by contrast, needed to aim for bipartisan opposition to the impeachment proceedings, keep their members in line, make the case that the impeachment proceedings lacked fairness, and that concern about Ukrainian corruption was legitimate. They managed to do all that.

Here’s why things went well for Republicans in phase one of impeachment.

It was completely unclear what crime, much less what high crime, Trump was accused of committing.

Before we get to the politics and how they were played by Republicans and Democrats, it should be noted that President Donald Trump has not been credibly accused of committing any crime, much less a high crime or misdemeanor. It’s almost shocking that Trump, of all people, keeps managing to do well on this score. Yet, as with the ussia collusion hoax, in which he was accused of being a traitor to his country, the lack of evidence for the charges against him is his ultimate saving grace.

What the charge is keeps changing, of course. The whistleblower initially suggested a campaign finance violation arising from a call Trump had with the president of Ukraine. That morphed into a quid pro quo for military aid to Ukraine, then extortion, then bribery, then obstruction of justice, then back to a quid pro quo, but this time only a quid pro quo for a White House meeting. The lack of certainty among even Trump’s critics certainly worked in his favor.

There can be no question that President Trump generally dislikes the boatloads of taxpayer cash in the form of foreign aid that is sent to countries, wishes other countries would support their neighbors more, and absolutely disliked Ukraine corruption. Further, we all know Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Ukraine’s 2016 election meddling and the involvement of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden in well-known corruption of Burisma, the energy concern on which’s board the former VP’s son found himself on in questionable circumstances. We know these things because of Trump’s public statements and the release of his transcripts with Ukraine’s newly elected president.

We also know that Trump’s support of Ukraine increased over the Obama years, including with the provision of Javelin missiles. And precisely no one had any evidence of anything actually illegal happening, even if they wished that Trump loved foreign aid more and didn’t want the investigations he told everyone he wanted. That further made the case against Trump difficult to argue.

The hearings were boring and complicated.

Objectively speaking, they weren’t just boring but soul-crushingly boring. The testimony was lengthy, the discussion was complicated and bureaucratic. The questions weren’t particularly interesting and the answers they elicited weren’t particularly compelling. You can complain all you want about the fact that they were boring, but they were boring.

Media outlets did all they could to bolster Schiff’s show and ran the impeachment hearings non-stop, as if Schiff’s inquiry had a legitimacy it never quite managed to earn on the merits. But instead of viewership increasing over time, it decreased.

Reporters kept deleting their tweets because they were getting facts about the hearings wrong. If reporters who were paid to follow the hearings weren’t able to keep details straight, what hope was there for normal people who have real lives and better things to do than watch hearings all day?

Adam Schiff lacks credibility.

Democrats didn’t want Rep. Jerry Nadler chairing impeachment since he had so completely botched the initial impeachment effort that was the Robert Mueller probe. Any chair worth his salt would have investigated whether star witness Robert Mueller was fit to answer any questions, much less the questions needing careful handling for an impeachment probe given the failure to find treasonous collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election.

Instead, a seemingly confused Mueller destroyed the chance of convincing the country that he had run the probe that bore his name and had morphed into an attempt to nail Trump for vehemently fighting the false charge he was a traitor. A few other mistakes by Nadler meant that Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave Schiff the gavel for the big show.

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