Prior to this past week, for days Adam Schiff had concocted a pretty effective fix. He conducted secret impeachment inquiries in the House basement. Schiff kept quiet about his rigged rules. He orchestrated selective media leaks from the opening statements of favorable witnesses and then more or less threatened with ethical violations any Republican member who copied his tactics and leaked their own often effective cross-examinations.
The result was that the public heard only from Schiff about Schiff’s damning slam-dunk hearings. A drip-by-drip melting of both Trump’s polls and resistance to impeachment followed.
Schiff emerged for brief soundbites, bit his lip, and for a minute or two regretted the tragedy of having to hear damaging testimony about his own president.
But then I suppose Schiff’s Hubris finally lured in Nemesis.
Schiff’s overweening ambition and ego drove him into a full-fledged, prime-daytime soap opera. Previously washed and rinsed witnesses returned for televised cross-examinations with Schiff in the star inquisitor role. He apparently thought he could outperform his own Republican colleagues on camera — people he had blatantly misrepresented for weeks.
But television allowed the country to conclude that seeing and hearing Schiff all day long was a different experience from catching minute- or two-minute glimpses of him. The TV version was entirely toxic.
In person, some of the House civil-servant witnesses were haughty. They were certainly obsessed with their positions, titles, and résumés, and eager to talk down to others while talking themselves up. But mostly they sounded incoherent in decrying a brief hold on military assistance to Ukraine by a president who in fact has armed Ukrainians in a way his predecessor never dared. Most of the public came away with several general takeaways — all harmful to the Democrats.
One, the more viewers learned of the corrupt, wily Ukrainians (who were constantly shifting alliances to bet on the anticipated 2016 front-runner), the more they thought that Trump might have been circumspect to have held up, if only for a few weeks, U.S. military assistance in the first place, at least until he learned the nature of the new Ukrainian president. The more one learned about the baffling array of freelancing and often duplicitous Ukrainian ambassadors, prosecutors, foreign ministers, presidents, and gas directors, the more one concluded it might be better to let them get their house in order first.
Two, why blast a president who armed the Ukrainians while staying silent about a prior president who refused military aid and even used non-military aid as a lever to adjudicate Ukraine prosecutions?
Three, the House Republican interrogators, previously mostly unknown, turned out to be far more effective cross-examiners than their Democratic counterparts, in part because the latter were trying to remove a president on the basis of hearsay.
While Democrats talked of Fiona Hill’s pigtails as an eleven-year-old and raincoat metaphors, Republicans Conaway, Jordan, Nunes, Ratcliffe, Stefanik, Stewart, Turner, and Wenstrup drew out contradictions, hearsay, fuzzy memories, and mostly anemic “I suppose,” “I heard,” “I assumed,” and “I presumed,” rather than documents, tapes, and proofs from the witnesses.
Schiff had no White House tape of Trump channeling Richard Nixon’s obscenity-ridden machinations, a Ken Starr or a Leon Jaworski report, or Monica’s stained dress.
By Thursday night, a pale Schiff was reduced to mock outrage and lecturing a purportedly dense nation — on the admissibility of hearsay. When the last remarks of the chairman were to rail into the microphone, one knew he had lost control of his star chamber.
So, after that boondoggle, where do the Democrats go now? Remember, Adam Schiff hijacked the impeachment inquiry from its proper place in Gerald Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee. Speaker Pelosi’s apparent gamble was that the off-putting Schiff would be nonetheless more telegenic and charismatic than the buffoonish Nadler. The latter had disastrously introduced in person and at length an embarrassingly addled Robert Mueller. If Nadler now copies Schiff’s methods, the pro-impeachment polls will collapse altogether. Nadler is as duplicitous as Schiff but lacks the Californian’s cunning. We should expect Nadler to get the inquiry over as fast as possible on the theory that he will have higher negatives even than Schiff.
All this is the mere microlevel of impeachment.
At the macrolevel over the next six months, it is difficult to see how impeachment might become a winning Democratic strategy. The Democrats’ witness list is mostly shot; the Republicans’ is still full of new narratives: Who is the whistleblower, and what is his background? What were the geneses and nature of the whistleblower-Schiff connection, and the Vindman-whistleblower relationship? Who, probably illegally, leaked classified transcripts of multiple presidential conversations? What is the full story of Joe Biden’s interventions into Ukrainian jurisprudence, the role of Ukrainians in past U.S. electoral affairs, or the tenure of Hunter Biden in Ukraine? Would Hunter Biden be able to clear up misimpressions? Mitch McConnell is not likely to repay Nancy Pelosi’s strong-arm tactics by turning the other cheek.
We are already seeing a few embarrassing leaks from Michael Horowitz’s IG report about an FBI lawyer who is alleged to have criminally altered documents — apparently the same Peter Strzok subordinate Kevin Clinesmith who was kicked off the Mueller team for texting lots of anti-Trump antipathy, including “Viva le [sic] Resistance!” Some additional leaks may follow in the next two weeks. John Durham’s looming conclusions may at some point become a force multiplier of the IG’s findings. Impeachment, not Trump, may bleed out from a thousand cuts.
Dems in “swing districts,” that could go either Dem or Rep number 30.
There is pressure on them to vote against impeachment by Dems in SAFE districts (by 30 points, no less!) who are saying they won’t vote impeachment.
Schiff is painting himself into a very slow impeachment corner by insisting on interrogating McGahn knowing he’d need a Supreme Court decision in his favor to have the necessary Grand Jury transcripts from the Mueller investigation to even have a hope to get anywhere with this lawyer.
The Supreme Court won’t be hearing/deciding this issue until at least January!!!
Then, if it does manage to get thru the House vote, it goes to the Senate in Feb or later.
The Presidential candidates who happen to be Senators will be prohibited from talking about this case while on the campaign trail.
But those candidates who are not Senators will be FREE to opine.
And time will be passing by for time on the campaign trail for Senators.
But they will be stuck in their role as “jurors.”
They will be pissed beyond belief at those Dems who put them in this lose/lose situation.
PS, there’s a Trump Rally today in about 2 hours.
It’s his celebration of leaving high income tax New York for no income tax Florida.
FBI lawyer who is alleged to have criminally altered documents — apparently the same Peter Strzok subordinate Kevin Clinesmith who was kicked off the Mueller team for texting lots of anti-Trump antipathy, including “Viva le [sic] Resistance!”
Not such a “low level lawyer” huh, he was going to be part of the Mueller dream team.
Suspect the document altered was an email sent by cooperating Carter Page 1 day before the 3rd FISA renewal in April 2017.
Absent any new evidence that spying tool would not have been renewed.
“Viva le [sic] Resistance!”
The @carterwpage email to Kevin Clinesmith was sent on April 6, 2017 at 7:43:51 AM EDT.
[For reference – the 3rd FISA renewal was signed in April 2017]
They can’t even GO on the campaign trail. When the impeachment proceedings begin in the Senate, they have to be present. You think McConnell is going to move with alacrity in order to get them back on the campaign trail? Yeah, let’s make sure we accommodate the always accommodating Democrats. Let’s play hardball.
Schiff is a pompous priss. Nadler is a disheveled slob (but at least he’s not as fat as he used to be). They both lie as default. Like the Mueller investigation, they entered into impeachment merely hoping something would pop up that would be useful and, like the Mueller investigation, that didn’t happen. Quo vadis, indeed. What is Latin for “WHAT THE F**K WERE YOU THINKING?”
Keep in mind this is a House majority that ignores income tax fraud, sexual harassment, campaign finance abuse, graft and corruption of its own members; do they think if they fall back to a “censure” position, it will mean anything to anyone? But, they could be looking at the real possibility that an impeachment vote might fail; how would they explain that, especially after all of their “solid, irrefutable, readily available” evidence of Trump colluding with Russians to win in 2016 that evaporated and disappeared when Mueller’s report destroyed all their hopes and dreams?