House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning after an investigation that violated fundamental provisions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The investigation of the president began with the complaint of a so-called “whistleblower” who turned out to be a rogue Central Intelligence Agency employee, protected by a lawyer who had called for a “coup” against Trump in early 2017.
Democrats first demanded that the “whistleblower” be allowed to testify. But after House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) was found to have lied about his committee’s contact with the “whistleblower,” and after details of the “whistleblower’s” bias began to leak, Democrats reversed course. In violation of the President Trump’s Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser, Democrats refused to allow the “whistleblower” to testify. They argue the president’s procedural rights, even if they existed, would not apply until he was tried in the Senate — but they also invented a fraudulent “right to anonymity” that, they hope, might conceal the whistleblower even then.
Schiff began the “impeachment inquiry” in secret, behind the closed doors of the Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the U.S. Capitol, even though none of the testimony was deemed classified. Few members of Congress were allowed access. Schiff allowed selective bits of testimony to leak to friendly media, while withholding transcripts of testimony.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), having allowed the secret process to unfold, legitimized it with a party-line vote authorizing the inquiry. The House resolution denied President Trump the procedural rights enjoyed by Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, and denied the minority party the traditional right to object to witnesses called by the majority.
Rather than the House Judiciary Committee, which traditionally handles impeachment, Pelosi also deputized the House Intelligence Committee to conduct fact-finding; the Judiciary Committee was turned into a rubber stamp. Schiff held a few public hearings, but often failed to release transcripts containing exculpatory evidence until after they had passed.
In the course of the Intelligence Committee’s investigation, Schiff quietly spied on the telephone records of his Republican counterpart, Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA). He also snooped on the phone records of a journalist, John Solomon; and on the phone records of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, acting as President Trump’s personal lawyer.
Schiff’s eavesdropping violated both the First Amendment right to press freedom and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Yet he proceeded undeterred by constitutional rights, publishing the phone logs in his committee’s report without warning, confirmation, or explanation, alleging that Nunes and the others were part of a conspiracy to assist the president’s allegedly impeachable conduct. When Republicans on the Judiciary Committee asked the Intelligence Committee’s majority counsel, Daniel Goldman, to explain the phone logs, he refused to answer,
Ironically, Schiff had done exactly what Democrats accuse Trump of doing: abused his power to dig up dirt on political opponents, then obstructed a congressional investigation into his party’s and his committee’s misconduct.
Democrats’ articles of impeachment include one for the dubious charge of “abuse of power,” which is not mentioned in the Constitution; and one for “obstruction of Congress,” which in this case is an abuse of power in itself.
Alexander Hamilton, writing about impeachment in Federalist 65, warned that “there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.” Democrats have fulfilled Hamilton’s worst fears.
The Trump impeachment will soon replace the 1868 impeachment of President Andrew Johnson — which the House Judiciary Committee staff actually cited as a positive precedent — as the worst in American history.
In service of their “coup,” Democrats have trampled the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Republic has never been in greater danger.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.