by Peter J. Thomas
If truth and justice are valued by Congress, the Senate will acquit President Trump and the House will expel Rep. Jerry Nadler.
The two impeachment charges adopted by the House of Representatives do not deserve to be taken seriously. The obstruction accusation ignores the fact that the President has the right to claim executive privilege, a practice which began when George Washington refused to provide Congress with documents relating to the Jay Treaty. Bill Clinton asserted executive privilege fourteen times while Barack Obama attempted to use it to withhold information related to the Fast & Furious scandal. The Supreme Court, in U.S. v. Nixon, confirmed the existence of executive privilege, while denying that it is absolute. The proper procedure for challenging executive privilege is to go to court. Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama were all forced by Federal judges to surrender documents they hoped to keep from the public and Congress. The House could have followed this course, but instead was looking not for information, but rather for an additional charge to add to its weak impeachment resolution.
The abuse of power charge is equally unconvincing. Although the House Democrats used secret hearings and highly selective leaks in their attempt to shape public opinion before all the facts were known, the Republican cross-examination during the later public hearings allowed most of the facts to come to light. We now know that President Trump, from the beginning of his administration, had expressed concern over corruption in Ukraine, and that those concerns were shared by many others. We know that although President Trump went further than President Obama in providing aid to Ukraine, doubts regarding corruption and worries about corrupt individuals close to newly-elected President Zelensky forced a policy review with a temporary delay of aid. We know that in August, before any investigation of the President had begun, the President had been assured by several Senators that Ukraine was now deserving of aid, and he had indicated that aid would be resumed.
Most important, we know that the President never made the aid conditional on actions by the government of Ukraine, and never made any threats.
If the President has been cleared, the case against Rep. Nadler is very different. The release of the Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s dishonest FISA applications proves that Rep. Nadler lied to the American people in order to protect a corrupt agency that had grossly abused its power and had become a serious threat to civil liberties. The report states unequivocally that the never-verified “Steele dossier” “played a central and essential role” in persuading a FISA judge to allow the FBI to spy on Carter Page. Yet this fact had been revealed almost two years earlier by Rep. Devin Nunes, only to have Rep. Nadler leak a report denying it and defending the conduct of the FBI. Nadler even accused Page of being “more likely than not, an agent of a foreign power”, even though Page had actually been assisting the CIA. Had it not been for the IG report, Rep. Nadler’s lies (backed up by a sympathetic, unquestioning news media) would still be giving the public a false sense of security and the FBI would be free to continue deceiving the FISA court.
Rep. Nadler’s lies were a betrayal of his duty as a member of the House, and of his responsibility to the American people. By trying to cover up the scandal at the FBI, he made each one of us more vulnerable to illegal spying by an out-of-control agency.
Such an offense justifies the use of Article I, Section 5, which allows the House to expel a member for misconduct.
The House and Senate each have a clear duty before them. Now they must be willing to put aside partisanship and proceed.