Terry H. Schwadron
Oct. 1, 2019
As the last several days of frantic raw tweets, televised insults and unsupported charges flying over the Ukraine scandal, Washington should make plain old hostile incivility an impeachable offense.
It is expected that Donald Trump and his coterie of fervent supporters mount a credible defense against the train that is chugging aggressively now towards impeachment. But the deluge of insanely offensive language and deeds are making it impossible to give Team Trump any sense of persuasiveness.
Democrats say they want to gather the facts before leaping to the inevitable articles of impeachment, but, often, their verbiage, too, is making it hard to believe that there is anything open-ended about the growing number of questions on the table.
Let’s be clear from the outset, at least about my take on what’s happening:
What has gone wrong has happened at the hands of Donald Trump and friends, not as the result of a “treasonous” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-CA, head of the investigating committee, not as the result of a “subversive” whistleblower, to quote White House adviser Stephen Miller in defense of Trump, not because Democrats are “savages,” as Trump tweeted.
For Trump to say repeatedly that he wants to unmask the whistleblower “to confront his accuser” is a violation of law itself. The law is set up to protect the identity of whistleblowers, and, perhaps more importantly, the president has yet to dispute a single matter of fact that was forwarded in the whistleblower report.
For Trump to call his political enemies “treasonous” and suggest that they be put to death shows his unfitness for office.
For Trump to make the phone calls in question inviting foreign leaders to dirty up Joe Biden as a domestic election political foe, to unleash three personal lawyers to run a shadow foreign policy to demand actions on his political fortunes at the cost of national security, to run a series of events that make the phone call on July 25 just one of many — those are all on him.
No Democrat, no whistleblower, no deep state perceived enemy made him do those things.
Here’s what I’d like to see at the moment: Republicans and Democrats agree on what has happened, and then argue about whether they amount to impeachable offenses.
Instead, the Republican strategy is to throw as much muddiness into each and every part of the sequence of events — and political events not part of these series of events — as to try to make the central tenets of the investigation beyond understanding. What you get then is endless delay, confusion, and chaos in government.
As Americans, we should believe in protecting values, responsibility, Constitutionality and truth. What we do with the facts, well, we accept that politics as practiced these days mean that we will have spirited, even ugly debate over what the right action should follow.
The ideas advanced by Republican defenders that Trump did nothing wrong in his phone call with the president of Ukraine — ignoring the fact that the phone call was just one in an organized series of events — is wrong on its face. We’ve all read the White House’s own summary of the call, stating in black and white that Trump sought a favor of political dirt before approving already-promised military aid. When I hear Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-SC, arguing that there was nothing wrong in the phone call, it simply belittles Graham’s credibility for me in anything else that he manages to talk about. When I heard House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, dispute the words in Trump’s own summary, I lost respect for his ability to even understand what is at issue.
We’re about to start hearing from various ambassadors and officials, the whistleblower, albeit in private, even Rudy Giuliani confirm what the whistleblower report faithfully recorded. We have questions without end for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is said to have sat in on the July 25 phone call, but who has tried to distance himself from any explanation of why Trump could dispatch private lawyers to represent State. We have questions for Atty.
Gen. William P. Barr, who is bent on defending Trump from any and all criticism, never mind violations of law. Meanwhile, can we make clear that Barr’s participation in asking other nations to offer aid to him in looking backwards at the origins of the Robert S. Mueller III special counsel report is different in kind from the current case of leaning on the Ukrainian leader to find dirt on Biden prospectively?
In short, this impeachment business is a serious one, a stain on our country that deserves fact rather than bluster, and even a healthy argument over what is acceptable White House behavior. The issues at hand revolve around whether the president has limits, whether Congress has Constitutional authority to provide oversight, whether the American people have a right to believe that their leaders uphold the oaths they swear.
If America is Great, impeachment should be a stage where we see it. Otherwise we have chaos — even in this disruptive process.