There is no mistaking that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to wrap the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump in the Constitution, but in reality she is undermining it.
In announcing her decision last week to go forward with the inquiry, she referenced the Constitution multiple times.
During a joint news conference with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Wednesday, Pelosi took it to the next level, saying “Constitution” dozens of times.
One of the more ironic and troubling instances came near the end of the 30-minute session when the speaker said, “We have to be worthy of the Constitution as we go forward. We have to be fair to the president, and that’s why this is an inquiry and not an outright impeachment, and we have to give the president his chance to exonerate himself.”
Did you catch that? “Exonerate himself.”
In other words, in her mind and Schiff’s too, as I will show in a moment, Trump is guilty of an impeachable offense until he proves himself innocent.
It doesn’t take a law degree to know that this statement is unconstitutional.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides that no one (including the president) can be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.
Due process of law in our centuries of legal tradition includes the presumption of innocence.
All the protections placed in the Constitution — including the Sixth Amendment’s right to a “public trial by jury by an impartial jury” and the opportunity “to be confronted with the witnesses against him” and to call witnesses in one’s favor — are there to protect the presumption of innocence.
The Fourth Amendment’s right of people “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures” is in the Constitution for the same reason.
Pelosi and Schiff have thrown these foundational constitutional principles out the window. They have already determined Trump is guilty.
“Our Founders … they put guardrails in the Constitution because they knew there might be someone who would overplay his or her power,” Pelosi said. “They never thought that we would have a president who would kick those guardrails over and disregard the Constitution.”
“We will have investigations and questioning that are worthy of the Constitution of the United States,” she added. “It is unworthy of the Constitution of the United States to do what he did in that call. And he admitted to me, said, ‘It’s perfect.’ No, it’s not perfect.”
Asked if she was making too much of one phone call between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart — a conversation many said might have been inappropriate but not impeachable — the speaker deferred to Schiff.
He proceeded to lecture the room, saying that one of the Framers’ primary concerns was protecting the United States against foreign influence.
“It’s hard to imagine a set of circumstances that would have alarmed the Founders more than what’s on that call,” the California Democrat said.
“It’s hard to imagine a more corrupt course of conduct,” Schiff argued.
Stop right there. “Hard to imagine a more corrupt course of conduct.”
Are you kidding me?
During the course of the 30-minute July 25 phone call, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky once if he could look into an alleged quid pro quo involving Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s pressure on a Ukrainian prosecutor, which the former vice president bragged about on tape last year.
Biden demanded the prosecutor — who happened to be conducting a corruption investigation targeting the company for which his son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board — be fired or Ukraine would not receive $1 billion in U.S. aid.
That sure looks a lot like abuse of public office by Joe Biden for his own personal benefit. If Schiff needs to spur his imagination, he should look no further.
Or how about, the Obama administration employing information obtained by foreign intelligence operatives to launch a counterintelligence investigation in 2016 against the candidate of the opposing party? That sounds pretty corrupt.
As chief executive, Trump’s job is to faithfully execute the laws of the land, and if a past high U.S. government official appears to have engaged in public corruption, he does not get a pass from being investigated just because he is a candidate for president.
While Schiff is accusing Trump of engaging in a quid pro quo arrangement, the transcript of the phone call does not bear that out.
The president did direct the delay of military aid to Ukraine, but the country was not made aware of it either before his call with Zelensky and up to a month after it.
This means that if Trump was seeking some sort of implied quid pro quo for an investigation of Biden, he was not very effective at communicating it.
Further, Zelensky told reporters at the United Nations last week that he did not feel pushed by Trump to investigate the alleged wrongdoing by Biden and his son.
Proof of the lack of feeling pressured is that Ukraine said it had not opened an investigation on the Bidens.
Finally, Trump released the aid last month, nearly two weeks before the whistleblower story about the call broke, at the request of GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and other lawmakers.
The delay in payment to Ukraine was really the only quasi-legitimate constitutional issue Pelosi raised during the news conference.
“We supported that military assistance in the interest of our national security, undermining our national security, undermining his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution as he was overthrowing an act of Congress just on his own,” she said.
It’s true Trump did delay the aid, but it was paid by the end of the fiscal year in which it was authorized.
Additionally, if Pelosi truly believes the president somehow threatened the United States’ national security by the less-than-two-month delay, how much more did former President Barack Obama do so by refusing to offer Ukraine any lethal military aid at all?
This was a pro-Russia policy the supposedly Vladimir Putin-loving Trump reversed the year he was in office.
I don’t recall Pelosi and Schiff accusing Obama of undermining our nation’s security, his oath of office and the Constitution then.
Take all this high-sounding rhetoric about the Constitution for what it is: an attempt to legitimize what is clearly a purely partisan undertaking to try to remove a duly-elected president from office.
This fact will become more and more apparent in the days ahead, and hopefully will lead to the American people taking power away from Pelosi and Schiff next November, for they truly are threats to our constitutional republic.
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