An impeachment sidebar

The House impeachment report arrived under the name of Jerrold Nadler and under his auspices as the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The report is posted online here. It is widely described as a 658-page document, as in this NBC News story, but the linked report runs to 298 pages. I may be missing something.

In any event, Michael Tracey has actually read the report. In the RealClearPolitics column “Democrats’ Dubious Impeachment Subtext of Treason,” Tracey extracts the leading motif of the Democrats’ case against Trump.

Based on his reading of the report, Tracey observes that “these impeachment articles were never strictly about punishing Trump for mentioning Joe Biden on a phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. That’s the popular bite-sized depiction of Trump’s purported wrongdoing, but by the House Judiciary Committee’s own telling, the scope of their impeachment went far beyond just that one narrow allegation — and is fraught with highly ideological assumptions that have so far gone largely ignored.”

What’s it all about? We have here the continuation of the theme of the old Russia hoax wine in a new bottle: Trump has “betray[ed] the nation.”

What does this mean, exactly? The Judiciary Committee report helpfully provides a definition of the relevant terms. In a section describing what they believe constitutes “impeachable treason,” the Democratic majority writes, “At the very heart of ‘Treason’ is deliberate betrayal of the nation and its security.”

Trump has been effectively impeached for treason, Tracey observes, except that the drafters of the report recognized that inserting the word “treason” in the text might prove a tad controversial: “[I}nstead they just heavily insinuate it, and confirm that they are charging the president with treason in supporting materials that few will ever read.”

Tracey invites us to be clear on what was done here: “The Democrats set forth a definition of treason in their lengthy impeachment report, and then inserted that same definition into the final impeachment articles — except without using the actual word ‘treason” in the text. This would seem like a rather significant development, but most of the media discussion has blithely glossed over it.”

Tracey has much more to say, all of it worth reading, before he concludes with a question that must be rhetorical: “Is the reality of what was done here going to set in any time soon?”

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