Whither Impeachment?

More information is coming out about the “whistleblower”–read, Democratic Party activist–who triggered impeachment mania, and it does not put the Democrats in a positive light. The New York Times reports that the “whistleblower” has long been working with Congressional Democrats:

The Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, learned about the outlines of a C.I.A. officer’s concerns that President Trump had abused his power days before the officer filed a whistle-blower complaint, according to a spokesman and current and former American officials.

A “spokesman”? I assume that means a Schiff spokesman, although that isn’t clear.

The C.I.A. officer approached a House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump only after he had had a colleague first convey them to the C.I.A.’s top lawyer. Concerned about how that initial avenue for airing his allegations through the C.I.A. was unfolding, the officer then approached the House aide. In both cases, the original accusation was vague.

A striking admission!

The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and meet with an inspector general, with whom he could file a whistle-blower complaint. The aide shared some of what the officer conveyed to Mr. Schiff.

So a great deal has been going on behind the scenes. The complaint was filed in August, so Schiff had known about it for a month and a half before it became public. This means that the leaders of the Democratic Party had lots of time to coordinate the rollout of the impeachment drama. Which, in turn, explains my observation that within hours after Nancy Pelosi announced the launching of an impeachment inquiry, I was getting emails from Democratic politicians with coordinated talking points, demanding that the president be impeached.

Many have noted that the “whistleblower’s” complaint reads like a brief written by a lawyer. It turns out that his is exactly what happened. Democratic House staffers lined the “whistleblower” up with a lawyer–another Democratic Party loyalist who has worked for Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, and donated to Joe Biden–who drafted or helped to draft the complaint. The whole story stinks.

Why are Schiff and the Democrats using the friendliest possible news outlet to make these facts public now? Because the “whistleblower” will testify before the House Intelligence Committee, and Republican members of the committee will bring out the history of his or her contacts with Democratic officials and staffers. The story isn’t pretty, and the Democrats are using time-honored messaging techniques–getting ahead of the news, putting out their version preemptively, and using a friendly news organ to give it a positive spin.

Still, the facts are bad, mostly because the “whistleblower” was wrong. The conversation that he or she described in the complaint never happened. Trump’s discussion with President Zelensky was, in my view, blameless. In any event, no sane person could consider it grounds for impeachment. The Democrats must be frustrated about this. That frustration came out in Schiff’s bizarre committee performance, where he pretended to be quoting from the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call, but in fact made the entire thing up, along the lines of the “whistleblower’s” complaint. If only it were real, Schiff seemed to be saying!

Schiff also, by the way, lied when he claimed that “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower.” No surprise there; the surprise would be if Schiff, for once, told the truth.

Meanwhile, President Trump went on offense today during a press appearance with the President of Finland. The White House press office is pushing out quotes from Trump’s comments on the impeachment fraud. This is just a sampling:

The whistleblower said terrible things about the call, but I then found out he was secondhand and third hand. In other words, he didn’t know what was on the call. No. These are bad people, these are dishonest people.

He wrote a vicious conversation. In other words, he either got it totally wrong, made it up or the person giving the information to the whistleblower was dishonest and this country has to find out who that person was, because that person’s a spy, in my opinion.

This whole thing revolves around a simple conversation and if you remember at the beginning, it was ‘quid pro quo.’ That’s all you heard about and I think he said seven or eight times ‘quid pro’ — in other words, ‘you’re going to do that or we’re not going to give you money. You’re gonna do this or we’re not’… I never said it.

That is true, of course. Trump teed off on Adam Schiff:

Not a thing wrong unless you heard the Adam Schiff version where he made up my conversation. He actually made it up. It should be criminal, it should be treasonous. He made it up, every word of it, made up, and read it to Congress as though I said it. And I’ll tell you what, he should be forced to resign from congress, Adam Schiff.

On the impeachment inquiry:

They’ve been trying to impeach me from the day I got elected. I’ve been going through this for three years. They’ve been trying to impeach me from the day I got elected. And you know what? They failed. And this is the easiest one of all, because this one is based on one conversation.

Trump is right about that: Pelosi has said that the impeachment inquiry will be limited to Ukraine, and there is nothing to Ukraine but a single phone call, which is easy to defend to anyone who has read the transcript. Maybe Pelosi will decide to broaden the inquiry.

Finally, on the president’s favorite target:

You have corrupt media in this country and it truly is the enemy of the people. You people should be ashamed of yourself. We have the most dishonest media that you could imagine and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Again, Trump is right. More important, a majority of Americans agree with him.

Where do we go from here? Soon we will be awash in poll data. A few days ago I cited a survey that found a majority of respondents agreeing that the Ukraine allegations are “serious.” Of course, that was before most people knew they are also false.

At The Hill, Sharyl Attkisson dissects a CBS News poll that over-sampled Democrats, the results of which were equivocal. Another basic indicator is the Rasmussen survey, the only poll that continuously samples likely voters on a daily basis. Trump had been climbing in Rasmussen’s numbers before the impeachment frenzy broke, with an approval rating of 52%, implying a relatively clear path to re-election. The Democrats have indeed brought his numbers down, to 48/51, currently. But that is hardly a catastrophic drop during a period when the Democrats have had the news cycle mostly to themselves.

But the problem with these early polls is that very few people know the facts. Many, not surprisingly, assume that where there is a great deal of smoke, there likely is some fire. But the Democrats face an intractable problem that will only get worse with time: no rational person could find grounds for impeachment in Trump’s phone call with Zelensky.

While guest hosting for Dennis Prager yesterday, I likened the transcript of the call to the child’s game of “find the hidden picture”–where is the outline of a tiger, a baseball cap, etc., in a drawing? It would be fun to take a liberal through the transcript line by line and ask him to specify where, exactly, the impeachable offense occurs. Any possible answer to that question could only be laughable.

All of which is to say that I am beginning to come around to the view, not that the Democrats have overreached–that has been obvious from the beginning–but that there is a good possibility the voters will punish them for their fanaticism and their dishonesty in November 2020.

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