Below is my column in The Hill on the unfolding impeachment hearings. As I have stated, the hearings have proved damaging for President Donald Trump — damage that was bizarrely magnified by Trump himself with an attack on Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. The move only pushed many Republicans on the Committee to avoid aggressive questioning of the diplomat. The tweet was unfair and remarkably self-defeating. As with the attacks by Trump on Taylor and Kent as “never Trumpers,” the tweet was wildly off base. While I have raised concerns over these allegations as a basis for impeachment, these diplomats strike me as people who have served our country with distinction and dedication. They are indeed the type of professionals that we need in our foreign posts.
That does not change the difficult questions that lie ahead. Perhaps this week’s testimony will materially change the zen-like questions discussed in this column.
If, as expected, the House impeaches President Donald Trump on the basis of the Ukrainian controversy, the contract of Hunter Biden with the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, will likely be a focus of the defense. That has made some members uneasy since the $50,000 paid every month to Biden is widely viewed as a classic scheme to influence his father, who was the key official in charge of Ukrainian aid and assistance. For that reason, the defense of the Bidens by Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) on CNN’s “State of The Union” drew many Beltway insiders. Murphy however may have highlighted the problem with the omission of a single word.
As the impeachment of Donald Trump unfolds, it is inevitable that comparisons are drawn to the Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton impeachments. This column in The Hill discusses the most notable distinction: the narrowness of case for impeachment. While Trump has long been portrayed as a type of perpetual criminal motion machine and many have claimed that an array of crimes are proven from the Russian investigation, none of the crimes discussed over the last three years will apparently be included in this impeachment. The question is why. Democratic members insisted after the Mueller hearings that the impeachable acts were now laid bear on the record. If such violations are so obvious and proven, it is unclear why the Democrats are insisting on proceeding on such a narrow basis — a decision that greatly reduces the chances of success in the Senate.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has caused a stir in suddenly injecting the possible use of bribery as a basis for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Converting the Ukrainian controversy into a bribery theory is both constitutionally and historically unsound. It would undermine the credibility of the impeachment effort by struggling to reshape the facts into a more compelling criminal image. Impeachment cannot be an exercise in creative reconstruction. It is not license for imaginative or untested theories of criminality. The House needs to establish a clear and credible theory of impeachable conduct based on well-established definitions. Ironically, I testified on this issue in the Clinton impeachment hearings but last had this argument (over broadening such definitions for purposes of impeachment) with my opposing counsel in the last impeachment trial: Adam Schiff.
Note: I will be doing commentary today with CBS and BBC on the impeachment hearings.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the curious profile of the emerging impeachment against President Donald Trump. Notably, while Democratic members have been saying for three years that there are established crimes and impeachable offenses found by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, reports indicate that none of those allegations will be the basis for impeachment. Instead, Democratic members are saying that they want to limit impeachment to the Ukrainian controversy. Not only that, but they want to hold just a couple weeks of public hearings and vote an impeachment vote. If so, this would be the most narrow and least developed impeachment of a president in our history.
I have previously disagreed with the overextended and unsupported claims of critics on allegedly clear criminal violations by President Donald Trump, including past statements by Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush and is a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. I am no fan of President Trump and have repeatedly criticized him for his language and actions in office. However, legal analysis continues to erode as analysts assure viewers that well-established crimes have been committed. The latest such example by Painter is that Trump continues to fundraise for Senators, a common practice of all presidents in election years. Painter insists that any such fundraising can constitute “felony bribery” since these senators will likely sit in judgment in any impeachment trial.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on growing and preemptive criticism of the Durham investigation by Democrats. Given the acknowledgment that United States Attorney John Durham is a widely respected and apolitical prosecutor, the rising criticism of his investigation seems suspiciously premature. For those of us who support full and transparent investigations of both sides of the 2016 election controversy, the campaign against Durham is reminiscent of the attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Below is a slightly expanded version of my column in the Washington Post on increasingly McCarthyite conduct evident in this election. I am particularly interested in the new trend toward boycotting other states that do not share your “values” in a given area.
Below is my column on the call by Democratic members for censorship of political ads by Facebook. The overwhelming support for the call by members like Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez shows the erosion in our values of free speech. Democrats and the media were once the defenders of free speech and critics of censorship. They are now demanding that corporations police political ads and remove ads viewed as false or misleading. It is a standard that many of these members would quickly denounce if applied to some of their own past comments.
The Ukraine scandal racketed up further with the testimony of Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor who testified that President Donald Trump held up military aid until the Ukrainians agreed to investigate election interference and Hunter Biden’s business dealings. While Taylor was the headliner this week, another figure appears to be emerging as the matinee star: John Bolton. When the Ukraine story broke, I stated that the likely key for Congress would be Bolton who had only recently been fired. Taylor reaffirmed earlier reports that Bolton spotted the serious danger of the Ukraine call and worked to prevent it as a “disaster” in the making.
Below is my column the Hill newspaper on the recent accusation of Hillary Clinton that presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is a “Russian asset.” What is most astonishing is the silence of virtually all of the other presidential candidates. Only Yang and Williamson came out quickly to support Gabbard. For presidential candidates denouncing Donald Trump for his personal attacks and reckless hyperbole, it is the height of hypocrisy to remain silent unless they believe that Gabbard is indeed a Russian asset. If so, they should have the courage to say so, particularly front runner Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.
Below is my column on the ABC interview with Hunter Biden. The interview preceded his father’s debate that day, but former Vice President Joe Biden awkwardly declined to address the issue. As I discussed in another column, there remains a media mantra that there is “no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden.” That dismisses the long objections by many of us that these lucrative jobs and contracts for spouses and children are part of an unethical and corrupt practice. Most of us view what Hunter did as clearly “wrong” but the media has adopted a narrow focus on whether criminal charges have been brought as opposed to whether the Ukraine deal was a raw and obvious form of influence peddling.