Sunday, December 15, 2019

Fox Poll: Majority Favors Impeachment And Removal

A new Fox News poll released today found that a majority of registered voters now support impeachment and removal of President Trump. When voters who support impeachment but oppose removal are considered, voters favor impeachment by a double-digit margin.

The poll found that a total of 50 percent of voters want to see Trump impeached and removed. An additional four percent of voters wanted Trump impeached but opposed removal. Forty-one percent of voters opposed impeachment.

In comparison, public support for the impeachment of Richard Nixon hovered in the high 40s throughout the spring and early summer of 1974. Support for Nixon’s impeachment rose dramatically in late July after the Supreme Court ruled that Nixon had to turn over his secret tapes, reaching 57 percent by the time he resigned on August 8. In the case of Bill Clinton, a CBS News poll from December 1998 found that 60 percent opposed the House impeachment vote and 68 percent opposed Clinton’s removal. Approval for Trump's impeachment more closely resembles that of Nixon than Clinton.

As one would expect, there is a stark partisan divide on the impeachment question. Ninety percent of Democrats favor impeachment while 81 percent of Republicans oppose it. Fifty percent of independents want Trump impeached with only 40 percent opposed.

While one individual poll is possibly an outlier that is not a true representation of public opinion, there are now several months of data from polling on the impeachment question. A FiveThirtyEight average of polls shows that the average of recent polls is within the margin of error of the Fox poll. Respondents favor impeachment and removal by an average of 47.8-45.9 percent. Americans support the impeachment inquiry by an average of 52.3-41.9 percent.

Respondents in the Fox poll also believed that Democrats were running the impeachment inquiry fairly by a slim 45-42 margin. Voters were more convinced that President Trump was obstructing the inquiry. Fifty-two percent thought that Trump was not being “cooperative enough” with the inquiry compared with 36 percent who approved of Trump’s strategy of stonewalling.

With respect to the upcoming election, voters were split on how an impeachment vote would affect their preference for a congressional candidate. Thirty-eight percent said that voting for impeachment would make them more likely to vote for a candidate compared with 36 percent who would be less likely to support a candidate who voted for impeachment. Twenty-five percent said it would make no difference or didn’t know how it would affect their vote.

The poll also showed that Republican talking points are not resonating with voters. Only 37 percent were extremely or very interested in the allegations about Joe and Hunter Biden compared with 54 percent who only somewhat or not-at-all interested. Those numbers have barely changed since October.

The Fox poll also had bad news for Republicans on the policy front. The poll found that many Democratic policies are popular among voters. Sixty-eight percent favor a two-percent wealth tax on people with more than $50 million, 66 percent favor a public option to purchase Medicare, 63 percent favor marijuana legalization, and 53 percent want to keep Obamacare in place with only minor changes. The poll also showed that voters oppose the border wall by a 52-44 margin.

The best news for Republicans in the poll is that Americans reject Democrat calls for Medicare-for-all. Fifty-three percent oppose abolishing private health insurance while only 41 percent support the idea.

The Fox poll confirms that Americans are closely divided on the question of impeachment. While public opinion is against Trump, it is not strong enough to persuade Republicans to break ranks with the president. Nevertheless, polling data does not support the Republican notion that Democrats will pay a price next November for going through with impeachment. Republican defenses of Trump are falling flat outside the party faithful.

If Democrats delayed impeachment and continued to pursue the investigation, they might build public support for impeaching and removing the president in a scenario that followed the Nixon model. The conundrum for Democrats is that 1974 was a midterm election year while the clock is currently counting down to a presidential election. The longer Democrats wait, the more powerful the argument to let the voters decide will become.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, December 13, 2019

McConnell Says ‘No Chance’ Senate Will Remove Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Sean Hannity on Thursday that there was “no chance” that the Senate would vote to remove President Trump from office after he is impeached by the House.
“The case is so darn weak coming from the House,” McConnell said. “We know how it’s going to end. There’s no chance the president’s going to be removed from office.”
“My hope is that there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles of impeachment, and Sean, it wouldn’t surprise me if we got one or two Democrats,” McConnell added.
Earlier this week, McConnell raised the possibility of a brief trial in which no witnesses are called and the Senate votes summarily on evidence and arguments that would be presented by Democrats acting in the role of prosecutor against the president. At that point, McConnell suggested to Reuters that the Senate “could go down the path of calling witnesses and basically having another trial” or, he added, a majority of senators could decide “that they’ve heard enough and they believe they know what would happen and could move to vote on the two articles of impeachment sent over to us by the House.”
President Trump seems to have embraced the idea having a long trial and turning it into a spectacle in which his defense attempts to put Joe and Hunter Biden on trial. On Dec. 5, Trump tweeted that Democrats should impeach him “fast” so that he could “have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify….”
White House spokesman told reporters last week that the president “wants his case fully made in the Senate,”  adding that, “We need witnesses as part of our trial and a full defense of the president on the facts.”
A vigorous defense could complicate matters for the Trump Administration. One of the articles of impeachment is obstruction on the grounds that the White House has refused to provide documentation and witnesses that were requested by Congress. Witnesses at the White House, the Pentagon, and even civilian attorney Rudy Giuliani all refused to comply with congressional subpoenas. In a long trial, these and other subpoenas might be renewed and enforced. At the very least, uncomfortable questions about why the president’s inner circle is not testifying on his behalf may be raised.
An extended trial would also give Democrats an opportunity to dig deeper and find more witnesses with information that is embarrassing for the president. By forcing a quick House vote, Democrats are passing up the opportunity to find more evidence against Mr. Trump, but a long trial in the Senate could mean that the president fails to benefit from their error.
Further, the Constitution specifies that the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over an impeachment trial. Since John Roberts would control the proceedings, Senate Republicans will likely have fewer opportunities to score partisan points than Democrats did in the House where they controlled the committees conducting the impeachment process.
On the bench, Roberts has a history of avoiding partisanship and has a moderate record with one of his most famous (or infamous) decisions upholding Obamacare’s individual mandate as a tax. The chief justice is not a person who can be expected to toe the Republican Party line.
However, a summary vote to dismiss the impeachment has risks as well. The country is closely divided on impeachment with a slight plurality favoring the removal of Donald Trump. A rubber stamp vote to dismiss the charges against Trump is unlikely to win Republicans many friends among voters skeptical of the president. These voters would include many of the suburban voters who abandoned the GOP en masse in 2018.
In the end, Mr. McConnell seems correct that the Senate will vote to acquit Donald Trump. The numbers for removal just aren’t there. The Constitution requires a two-thirds majority to remove the president, meaning that 20 Republican senators would have to defect and vote with Democrats. The chances of such a mass desertion of the president are nil at this point.
On conducting a short trial, however, McConnell is on shakier ground. Both sides seem to be adopting self-defeating strategies for impeachment with Democrats rushing what they could shape into a public approval nightmare for Donald Trump with a slow drip of investigations over the next year and the Trump Administration pushing for a long trial that it is unlikely to be able to control.
No one knows where the impeachment trial will ultimately lead, but, if it concludes early in the year, I have to wonder if voters will even remember it by November. Such is the nature of the incredibly fast news cycles of the Trump era.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Trump, Pelosi Make Deal On USMCA

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an agreement with President Trump to allow passage of the United States -Mexico-Canada trade treaty. The USMCA is an updated version of NAFTA, which was ratified in 1994.
“There is no question of course that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA,” Pelosi told the Associated Press, calling it “infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration.”
It is unclear what changes have been made to the USMCA to secure passage in the House, but The Hill reported yesterday that some Republican senators were concerned that the president, desperate for a victory with impeachment looming, gave away too much to the Democrats.
“I just hope he hasn’t gone too far in Speaker Pelosi’s direction, and the AFL-CIO’s direction that he might lose some support here,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “My concern is that what the administration presented has now been moved demonstrably to Democrats, the direction that they wanted.” 
“I mean if they got the unions my assumption is that there are going to be a lot of things that were changed from the last time we’ve seen anything on this,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) agreed. “So yeah, I think there’s a potential that you could have in their … desire to try to satisfy Democrats in the House, labor unions cost you some Republican support depending on what those changes are.”
On Twitter, President Trump lauded Democrats for supporting the USMCA and called NAFTA “our country’s worst trade deal.”

In reality, the USMCA is an update to NAFTA which leaves much of the old trade agreement intact. The new treaty includes agreements on e-commerce, intellectual property, and mechanisms to resolve disputes among other things.
“There are those who I read about in one place or another that say, ‘why would you give President Trump a victory?’” Pelosi said at a corporate event on Monday. “Well, why wouldn’t we? This is the right thing to do for our trade situation, for our workers.”
If Nancy Pelosi is excited about revising a very successful free trade deal, I can’t help but worry.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Democrats Unveil Articles Of Impeachment

House Democrats have formally unveiled the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. The list of charges includes two broad counts.
The AP reported this morning that the list of charges includes abuse of power and obstruction that stem from the president’s alleged attempts to exchange an Oval Office visit and aid to Ukraine for the announcement of an investigation into Hunter Biden’s association with Burisma.
President Trump responded with a tweet calling the impeachment process “sheer madness.”
There is substantial evidence for the abuse of power charge. A call summary released by the White House shows the president asking for a “favor” after Ukrainian President Zelensky requests anti-tank missiles from the US. The favor included an investigation of Crowdstrike, the company that investigated the DNC hack in 2016 and which does not have a presence in Ukraine, as well as a specific request to investigate the Bidens. Many Republicans have expressed concern about the call.
The obstruction article is less certain. House Democrats have not pursued legal action to back up requests for information and testimony by Trump Administration officials. The Trump Administration is claiming executive privilege.
President Trump has maintained that his call with Zelensky was “perfect.”

Originally published on The Resurgent

IG Report: No Political Bias But ‘Significant Problems’ In FBI Investigation Of Trump Campaign

The inspector general for the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz, has released his report on the origins of the Russia investigation and the FISA applications for surveillance of Carter Page. As expected, the report found that the investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russia, codenamed “Crossfire Hurricane,” was opened in good faith and that the surveillance of Page was carried out with a valid probable cause. Although the inspector general did not find a conspiracy biased against Donald Trump, he did find that there were 17 errors or omissions by the FBI in the four Page FISA applications.

In the report, which is available online here, the IG team found that Crossfire Hurricane was opened on July 31, 2016 and was based entirely upon information from a friendly foreign government (FFG) that detailed George Papadopoulos’ claims that “the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President Obama).”

“We did not find information in FBI or Department ECs, emails, or other documents, or through witness testimony, indicating that any information other than the FFG information was relied upon to predicate the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” the report states.

The investigation found “that, under the AG Guidelines and the DIOG, the FBI had an authorized purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane to obtain information about, or protect against, a national security threat or federal crime, even though the investigation also had the potential to impact constitutionally protected activity.”

“Additionally,” the report continues, “given the low threshold for predication in the AG Guidelines and the DIOG, we concluded that the FFG information, provided by a government the United States Intelligence Community (USIC) deems trustworthy, and describing a first-hand account from an FFG employee of a conversation with Papadopoulos, was sufficient to predicate the investigation.”

The report cites Bill Priestap, then the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division (CD) Assistant Director, who said that the FBI considered notifying the Trump campaign that some of its staffers could be compromised. Priestap told the IG that he decided against the notification because “if someone on the campaign was engaged with the Russians, he/she would very likely change his/her tactics and/or otherwise seek to cover-up his/her activities, thereby preventing us from finding the truth.” The IG determined that this was a judgment call that was not addressed by FBI policy.

With respect to allegations of political bias in opening the investigation, the IG report says, “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations.” Specifically, Lisa Page did not play a role in opening any of the investigations. While Peter Strzok was involved in the investigations, the report points out that Strzok “was not the sole, or even the highest-level, decision maker as to any of those matters.” The decision to open the investigation was “reached by consensus after multiple days of discussions and meetings that included Strzok and other leadership in CD, the FBI Deputy Director, the FBI General Counsel, and a FBI Deputy General Counsel.”

Regarding Christopher Steele, the IG found that the FBI use of Steele was based on five factors. These included “(1) Steele's prior work as an intelligence professional for [the FBI]; (2) his expertise on Russia; (3) his record as an FBI CHS [confidential human source]; ( 4) the assessment of Steele's handling agent that Steele was reliable and had provided helpful information to the FBI in the past; and (5) the themes of Steele's reporting were consistent with the FBI's knowledge at the time of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections.”

The report found that “the FBI's decision to rely upon Steele's election reporting to help establish probable cause that Page was an agent of Russia was a judgment reached initially by the case agents on the Crossfire Hurricane team. We further determined that FBI officials at every level concurred with this judgment, from the OGC attorneys assigned to the investigation to senior CD officials, then General Counsel James Baker, then Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and then Director James Comey.”

However, the IG found that “FBI personnel fell far short of the requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are ‘scrupulously accurate.’” The report identifies “seven significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the first FISA application. These include:

1. Omitted information the FBI had obtained from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, including that Page had been approved as an "operational contact" for the other agency from 2008 to 2013, and that Page had provided information to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers, one of which overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application;
2. Included a source characterization statement asserting that Steele's prior reporting had been "corroborated and used in criminal proceedings," which overstated the significance of Steele's past reporting and was not approved by Steele's handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures [safeguards against abuse that went into effect in 2001];
3. Omitted information relevant to the reliability of Person 1, a key Steele sub-source (who was attributed with providing the information in Report 95 and some of the information in Reports 80 and 102 relied upon in the application), namely that (1) Steele himself told members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that Person 1 was a "boaster" and an "egoist" and "may engage in some embellishment" and (2) [redacted]
4. Asserted that the FBI had assessed that Steele did not directly provide to the press information in the September 23 Yahoo News article based on the premise that Steele had told the FBI that he only shared his election-related research with the FBI and Fusion GPS, his client; this premise was incorrect and contradicted by documentation in the Woods File- Steele had told the FBI that he also gave his information to the State Department;
5. Omitted Papadopoulos's consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in September 2016 denying that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like Wikileaks in the release of emails;

6. Omitted Page's consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in August 2016 that Page had "literally never met" or "said one word to" Paul Manafort and that Manafort had not responded to any of Page's emails; if true, those statements were in tension with claims in Report 95 that Page was participating in a conspiracy with Russia by acting as an intermediary for Manafort on behalf of the Trump campaign; and

7. Included Page's consensually monitored statements to an FBI CHS in October 2016 that the FBI believed supported its theory that Page was an agent of Russia but omitted other statements Page made that were inconsistent with its theory, including denying having met with Sechin and Divyekin, or even knowing who Divyekin was; if true, those statements contradicted the claims in Report 94 that Page had met secretly with Sechin and Divyekin about future cooperation with Russia and shared derogatory information about candidate Clinton.

“None of these inaccuracies and omissions were brought to the attention of OI before the last FISA application was filed in June 2017,” the IG found. “Consequently, these failures were repeated in all three renewal applications.”

There were three subsequent FISA applications that contained an additional 10 errors. These errors were:
8. Omitted the fact that Steele’s Primary Subsource, who the FBI found credible, had made statements in January 2017 raising significant questions about the reliability of allegations included in the FISA applications, including, for example, that he/she had no discussion with Person 1 concerning WikiLeaks and there was “nothing bad" about the communications between the Kremlin and the Trump team, and that he/she did not report to Steele in July 2016 that Page had met with Sechin;

9. Omitted Page’s prior relationship with another US. government agency, despite being reminded by the other agency in June 2017, prior to the filing of the final renewal application, about Page's past status with that other agency; instead of including this information in the final renewal application, the OGC Attorney altered an email from the other agency so that the email stated that Page was “not a source" for the other agency, which the FBI affiant relied upon in signing the final renewal application;

10. Omitted information from persons who previously had professional contacts with Steele or had direct knowledge of his work-related performance, including statements that Steele had no history of reporting in bad faith but “[d]emonstrates lack of self-awareness, poor judgment,” “pursued people with political risk but no intelligence value,” “didn’t always exercise great judgment,” and it was “not clear what he would have done to validate” his reporting;

11. Omitted information obtained from Ohr about Steele and his election reporting, including that (1) Steele's reporting was going to Clinton’s presidential campaign and others, (2) Simpson was paying Steele to discuss his reporting with the media, and (3) Steele was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being the US. President";

12. Failed to update the description of Steele after information became known to the Crossfire Hurricane team, from Ohr and others, that provided greater clarity on the political origins and connections of Steele's reporting, including that Simpson was hired by someone associated with the Democratic Party and/or the DNC;

13. Failed to correct the assertion in the first FISA application that the FBI did not believe that Steele directly provided information to the reporter who wrote the September 23 Yahoo News article, even though there was no information in the Woods File to support this claim and even after certain Crossfire Hurricane officials learned in 2017, before the third renewal application, of an admission that Steele made in a court filing about his interactions with the news media in the late summer and early fall of 2016;

14. Omitted the finding from a FBI source validation report that Steele was suitable for continued operation but that his past contributions to the FBI's criminal program had been " minimally  corroborated," and instead continued to assert in the source characterization statement that Steele's prior reporting had been "corroborated and used in criminal proceedings";

15. Omitted Papadopoulos's statements to an FBI CHS in late October 2016 denying that the Trump campaign was involved in the circumstances of the DNC email hack;

16. Omitted Joseph Mifsud's denials to the FBI that he supplied Papadopoulos with the information Papadopoulos shared with the FFG (suggesting that the campaign received an offer or suggestion of assistance from Russia); and

17. Omitted information indicating that Page played no role in the Republican platform change on Russia's annexation of Ukraine as alleged in the Report 95, which was inconsistent with a factual assertion relied upon to support a probable cause in all four FISA applications.

While the 17 errors “represent serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory  agents with responsibility over the FISA applications” in the eyes of the IG, the report further states, “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct on the part of the case agents who assisted OI in preparing the applications, or the agents and supervisors who performed the Woods Procedures.” Nevertheless, the IG was not satisfied with explanations for the errors and omissions and believed that “case agents may have improperly substituted their own judgments in place of the judgment of OI [Office of Intelligence]” or the FISA court.

Regarding Bruce Ohr, who met separately with Steele, the IG “concluded that the federal ethics rules did not require Ohr to obtain Department ethics counsel approval before engaging with the FBI in connection with the Crossfire Hurricane matter because of Nellie Ohr's prior work for Fusion GPS. However, we found that, given the factual circumstances that existed, and the appearance that they created, Ohr displayed a lapse in judgment by not availing himself of the process described in the ethics rules to consult with the Department ethics official about his involvement in the investigation.”

While any significant error in such a high-profile investigation is troubling, the 17 errors and omissions identified by the inspector general are cause for concern. However, rather than a Deep State conspiracy, the IG report identified “an absence of sufficient policies to ensure appropriate Department oversight” as the probable cause of the problems with the FBI’s handling of the case. Despite years of claims to the contrary, the investigation “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation” in the investigations of Trump campaign aides. That should be cause for celebration.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Play The Reverse Card

One of the many frustrating problems of modern politics is the partisan nature of almost every aspect of every issue. As many of us have pointed out, the parties seem to flip their positions based on who is in office at the time. This is no way to run a country, especially one that values the rule of law.

As an exercise, I find it useful to look at events with the roles reversed. For me personally, if I would oppose an action by a Democrat, I also oppose it when Donald Trump does it and vice versa. The mental exercise helps me to keep my principles straight rather than bending to partisan biases. It helps to keep me objective.

Along those lines, let’s play a game. Let’s imagine that American politics have rules similar to a giant game of Uno. In our game, let’s throw the reverse card down and see what happens.

In our reversed, bizarro world, Hillary Clinton won the election. Now three years into her Administration, witnesses come forward to allege that she demanded a quid pro quo from a foreign leader, let’s call him the president of Scandalstan, in exchange for access and foreign aid, which has already been approved by Congress. Further, the witnesses claim that Hillary ordered her trusted personal fixer, Sidney Blumenthal, to bypass the State Department’s chain of command and go to the Scandalstan himself to do campaign research.

At some point, Hillary gets the idea that there is a massive scandal against her presumptive Republican opponent, Donald Trump, brewing in Scandalstan. Preferring to face a weaker opponent, she pressures the president of Scandalstan to announce a public investigation that names Trump personally. She ties this announcement to a White House meeting with the new president of Scandalstan and then places a hold on military aid, which Scandalstan needs to defend itself against an incursion by its arch-enemy, Evilonia.

However, Scandalstan doesn’t seem to be taking the hints. Months go by and they haven’t announced the investigation. The Scandalstanians say that they don’t want to get involved in American politics.

So, Hillary agrees to a phone call with the Scandalstanians. In the call, they exchange pleasantries and President Clinton (I shudder to type those words) notes that America does a lot for Scandalstan but that the US does not get much out of the relationship. The president of Scandalstan then says that he needs more American missiles to defend his country against the Evilonian tanks.

“I would like you to do us a favor though,” are the next words out of Hillary’s mouth. She wants Scandalstan to “find out what happened” with people running a website that claims that Hillary is a secret serial killer. The president agrees to look into the people running the fake news site. He stresses that his aids have already spoken with Blumenthal on the matter and that he will do whatever he can to stay in Hillary’s good graces.

Then Hillary asks the president for another favor. She wants him to help Blumenthal look into Ivanka Trump’s business dealings in Scandalstan, which Hillary believes are corrupt. There is no firm evidence of corruption. Hillary doesn’t have enough information to instruct the DOJ to get a warrant or go to a grand jury for an indictment, but she knows that the whiff of Ivanka’s corruption could hobble Trump’s campaign enough for someone like John Kasich or Ted Cruz to become the nominee.

The call, along with other associated meetings on the subject of the investigations, sets off alarm bells in the heads of many staffers. Several White House employees who were privy to the call go to in-house lawyers with their concerns and others file whistleblower reports. Through it all, the vital military aid to Scandalstan is still locked up tight with the end of the fiscal year rapidly approaching. If the aid isn’t released by the end of September, Congress will have to appropriate the money again and Scandalstan’s soldiers will be hard-pressed to fight off the Evilonian tanks.

But then a whistleblower report is leaked. Coincidentally, Hillary releases the aid to Scandalstan the next day. This allows her a fig leaf in her claim that there was no quid pro quo because Scandalstan got its aid without announcing the investigation.

Republicans are apoplectic at Hillary’s behavior. Not only did she try to sell access to the Oval Office for a political investigation, the evidence is strong that she tried to use aid appropriated by taxpayers to benefit her reelection campaign and smear her likely opponent. When Republicans ask the Clinton Administration for documents relating to the delay in the Scandalstan aid, they face a stone wall.

However, the debate over quid pro quos and whistleblowers and the original intent of impeachment obscures one of the most important facts of the entire Ukraine scandal. For a president to use his office to leverage a foreign government to conduct (or announce) a sham investigation of a political opponent is wrong on its face. The favors requested in the president’s own call summary represent a flagrant abuse of power. 

Although no analogy is perfect, this is an accurate representation of the case against Donald Trump. It merely changes the names. If Republicans are honest with themselves, I’m sure that they would be extremely angry at Hillary’s abuse of power in using her position to further her own political career. In fact, the allegations that Hillary used her position as Secretary of State to enrich herself and that she acted as though she was above the law were two of the many very good reasons that Republicans gave back in 2016 when they argued that Hillary was unsuited for the presidency.

Let’s look further as well. Assume that Hillary had been the president who was the subject of the Mueller report’s claims that there were 10 separate episodes of obstructive behavior. Even though Mueller did not ask for an indictment of the president, based on his understanding of the DOJ policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted, Republicans would not hesitate to call Hillary’s behavior disqualifying and impeachable.

Finally, consider the use of a national emergency as a legislative tool. It isn’t difficult to picture Hillary Clinton using the pretext of a national emergency to do what Congress has decided not to do. Maybe Hillary would use a state of emergency after a spate of mass shootings or a terror attack to declare a ban on the private use of “assault rifles.” Maybe she would declare the current health care system a public health crisis and use a national emergency to implement a public option. Again, Republicans would rightly consider such actions to be an impeachable subversion of congressional authority.

To be fair, there is also a weakness in Democratic handling of the impeachment process, however. The Constitution is silent on how the House conducts the impeachment process, an inquiry is not even a constitutional requirement, so the Democrats have much leeway in the nuts and bolts of the process. It also isn’t necessarily a disqualifying factor that Democrats did not allow Republicans to call irrelevant witnesses or unmask the whistleblower. Even though the statute does not protect the whistleblower’s identity from disclosure by anyone other than the inspector general, there are legitimate public policy reasons for protecting the anonymity of whistleblowers.

The best reasons for slowing the impeachment process come from Jonathan Turley and David French. In his French Press column, French argued that the Trump Administration’s stonewalling of Congress is not improper based upon precedent that the president and his immediate advisors cannot be compelled to testify before Congress. This position is based upon a Nixon-era interpretation and was also supported by the Clinton and Obama Administrations. The argument is based upon the president’s need for independence from Congress as the head of a co-equal branch of government.

Second, Prof. Turley argued in his testimony, not that Donald Trump was not guilty of the charges before him, but that the investigation was not complete. Turley told congressional investigators, “A quid pro quo to force the investigation of a political rival in exchange for military aid can be impeachable, if proven. Yet moving forward primarily or exclusively with the Ukraine controversy on this record would be as precarious as it would premature.”

“In the current matter, much remains unknown in terms of key witnesses and underlying documents,” Turley said later. “There is no explanation why the matter must be completed by December.”

As both French and Turley point out, House Democrats have not exhausted all means of obtaining more evidence against Donald Trump. Rather than submitting requests, Congress could issue subpoenas for testimony and documents and ask the courts to enforce the subpoenas on an expedited basis. While Republicans often point out that President Obama rejected congressional subpoenas from the Republican House, it is also true that the Obama Administration turned over the subpoenaed documents when confronted with a court order.

Likewise, lawsuits against Donald Trump’s abuse of national emergency statutes are also winding their way through the legal system. A resolution to these cases could impact the articles of impeachment. If the president loses the case and refuses to back down, it would be another clear example of an abuse of power.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I believe that Donald Trump’s actions justify impeachment, but that does not mean that I support a willy-nilly rush to impeach before a self-imposed deadline. Polling shows that a plurality of Americans supports impeachment but further investigation and revelations of corruption by the Trump Administration would help to build public support for his impeachment and removal. If there is to be any chance of removing Donald Trump, then overwhelming public support is required. With the current slim edge favoring removal, that strong public pressure on Republicans is simply not there… yet.

I’ll close with more words of wisdom from Jonathan Turley. As you read his quote, don’t forget that Turley was actually called to testify by House Republicans in Trump’s defense.

“The House should not assume that the Republican control of the Senate makes any serious effort at impeachment impractical or na├»ve,” Turley said. “All four impeachment inquiries have occurred during rabid political periods. However, politicians can on occasion rise to the moment and chose principle over politics.”

Originally published on The Resurgent