It feels like many years ago, but we are talking only months ago when Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was the most incorrect, most conspiracy-crazed person in Washington.
“Undoubtedly there is collusion,” Schiff said in March, according to The Washington Post, after Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report, which definitively stated there was no collusion.
“We will continue to investigate the counterintelligence issues. That is, is the president or people around him compromised in any way by a hostile foreign power? … It doesn’t appear that was any part of Mueller’s report.”
There have been plenty of liberal complaints about Barr’s letter summarizing the Mueller report, but his statement that there was no Russian collusion hasn’t really been one of them. Trump was and remains Kremlin-free.
But Schiff is still the leader of the House Intelligence Committee, and he’s now also the leader of the impeachment inquiry in the House. That means after all this time, he finally gets his wish of trying to chase Donald Trump out of office.
Lest you think this responsibility has weighed upon his words and they’re suddenly being chosen with, if not gravity, at least some semblance of reality — ahahaha, nah.
The Democrats have a majority in the lower chamber of Congress, and they’ve made it clear that their inquiry isn’t particularly an inquiry at all but a fast-track to articles of impeachment before we ring in the new decade — all the better with which to start off the election year, after all.
This means roughly zero when it comes to these articles of impeachment having any sort of chance of passing muster in the Senate, where a two-thirds supermajority is needed to convict.
If impeachment is just a political vehicle, best of luck with that, sir.
But no, according to Schiff. He’s definitely sure he’s got a case to get Trump removed from office. In fact, he’d go so far as to call it “ironclad.” And no, he hasn’t thrown away that shopworn Russia conspiracy to make room for Ukraine. He can walk and chew gum at the same time, provided the walk is along Nevsky Prospekt and the gum was made in Kyiv.
Schiff was appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday talking about the impeachment inquiry and stating that even after the inquiry was over there would continue to be an investigation.
Because of course. Once the tents get taken down, nobody cares about the circus.
“Even after you have handed in the report, you’re going to continue?” host Jake Tapper asked.
“Yes. Oh, yes. The investigation isn’t going to end,” Schiff said. “But this gets back to, I think, something the inspector general said, which is, this is an urgent concern. This president has now twice sought foreign interference in our election. And that election is coming up.”
“The first time being with Russia,” Tapper said.
“The first time being with Russia, when he invited the Russians to hack [Democratic opponent] Hillary [Clinton]’s emails, and, later that day, they attempted to do exactly that,” he said. “There is a sense of urgency when you have a president who’s threatening the integrity of our elections that we need to act now, if we’re going to act, and we can’t allow this obstruction to succeed. The other point I would make is, the case in terms of the Ukraine misconduct is ironclad, but so is the case of the president’s obstruction of the Congress.”
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall.” It’s kind of hard to watch now, what with what we know about Allen. However, there’s a great scene where his character has an argument in a movie line with a pontificating academic talking to his date about media theorist Marshall McLuhan.
Allen tells the man, after a short argument, that he knows nothing about McLuhan’s theories. The man says he teaches a class on McLuhan at Columbia. Allen walks over and pulls McLuhan out from behind a coming attractions poster; McLuhan proceeds to tell the professor, “You know nothing of my work … how you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.”
“Boy, if only life were like this,” Allen says to the camera.
I have a simpler wish along the same lines. Right after he said that, I wanted Jake Tapper to say, “You say your case is ‘ironclad.’ You know, it’s funny, because we have Mandy Patinkin right here offstage …”
Tapper would walk off camera and bring Patinkin, dressed as Inigo Montoya from “The Princess Bride,” onto the set. He’d simply say, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Boy, if life were only like this. Alas, I think that Patinkin is a liberal, and I don’t think Tapper is really that meta, but a man can dream.
As for the ironclad nature of what Schiff is pushing, let’s keep in mind what we’ve heard so far: A bunch of people heard stuff from other people and maybe phone calls happening on other people’s phones that there was definitely some monkey business going on in Ukraine.
Solid, definitive, John Dean-flipping-on-Richard Nixon-type stuff? Nope.
But Trump is definitely guilty, Schiff said. Tapper then asked about the obvious next step.
“If the facts aren’t contested and your committee is writing up the report and you don’t, at least as of now, have any scheduled witnesses or depositions — do you think President Trump should be impeached?” he said.
“I want to discuss this with my constituents and my colleagues before I make a final judgment on it,” Schiff said.
“But if that’s your view — and you have also said that this week’s testimony — quote — ‘goes right to the heart of the issue of bribery,’ and you have also said that what you have seen is — quote — ‘far more serious than what Nixon did,’ explain to me how you have not come to the conclusion that the President should be impeached,” Tapper said. “I mean, it sounds like you think he should be impeached.”
“Well, I certainly think that the evidence that’s been produced overwhelmingly shows serious misconduct by the president,” Schiff said. “But I do want to hear more from my constituents, and I want to hear more from my colleagues. This is not a decision I will be making alone.”
Except what you just said you’d made that decision alone, Chairman Schiff.
Oh, whatever. What Schiff is admitting is that he doesn’t have an “ironclad” case.
What he has is one party that believes the president acted improperly in Ukraine and another that may have an issue with the way diplomacy was handled but that isn’t convinced asking for investigations into two things — one of which was clearly problematic and one of which was admittedly a dodgy theory — isn’t “ironclad” proof of anything aside from the fact that Adam Schiff and the Democrats are pretty sure — but not entirely sure — this will look good as a political move.
And then this will go into the Senate, where the “ironclad” theory will be picked apart by a body where Republicans are in control and can set inquiry rules that include subpoena power.
In other words, Schiff will rapidly find out that word — “ironclad” — doesn’t mean what he thinks it means and he’s just as wrong as when he said there was Russian collusion. He’s going to realize that Trump “invit[ing] the Russians to hack Hillary’s emails” was just a joke and nobody still believes in that fantasy anyway.
Boy, it turns out life really is like this.
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