September 27, 2020

House Intel Committee votes along party lines to approve impeachment report

California Democrat Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee voted to authorize a report laying out Democrats’ case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment on Tuesday, the Washington Examiner reported.

In a vote as divided as the impeachment itself, Schiff passed the baton to Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and the House Judiciary Committee with an elaborate, 300-page novel about Trump’s “scheme” to bribe Ukraine. In a sign of trouble ahead for Democrats, Republicans immediately rejected the report as nothing more than a partisan tall tale.

“President Trump’s scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign,” the report said.

Committee approves impeachment report

The report is the product of weeks of “investigations” led by Schiff, first in secretive depositions in the Capitol basement and then through two weeks of public hearings. With the kind of faux gravitas that has become familiar from Schiff’s theatrical performances, the report accuses President Trump of treasonous abuses of power and “unprecedented” obstruction.

Schiff’s report asserts that Trump “placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security” by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and alleged 2016 election interference in support of Hillary Clinton, Fox notes. Detracting from the seriousness of the report, Schiff attempts to throw the book at Trump with charges of obstruction and “witness intimidation.”

The Democrat lawmaker had long threatened to hold Trump “accountable” for obstructing his inquiry, but Republicans have rejected the inquiry as an abuse of legitimate oversight power. The report also accuses Trump of attempting to intimidate witnesses such as diplomat Marie Yovanovitch, whose job performance the president criticized on Twitter in real-time during her testimony before Schiff’s committee.

Schiff’s panel voted to pass the report along to Nadler’s Judiciary panel — which will now consider impeachment articles —  in a 13–9 vote split down party lines. Nadler’s hearing kicked off Wednesday morning with testimony from “legal scholars” who denounced Trump in strong, partisan rhetoric.

“On the basis of the testimony and the evidence before the House, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors,” Harvard professor Noah Feldman stated in his opening statement before the committee.

Divided vote signals trouble for Dems

The report’s array of charges is weakened in its impact by fading public enthusiasm for impeachment. Americans are split on the issue, and that’s unlikely to change after Schiff’s hearings failed to move public opinion, and stalwart Republican opposition still threatens to stop the impeachment push dead in its tracks. Republicans who have long condemned Schiff’s role in the inquiry have rallied behind Trump and rejected the report as the fact-free “ramblings of a basement blogger,” in the words of Trump’s press secretary Stephanie Grisham. As The Hill reports, she went on:

At the end of a one-sided sham process, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump. This report reflects nothing more than their frustrations. Chairman Schiff’s report reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing.

Republicans also issued their own report Monday which outlined their defense of the president while emphatically dismissing Schiff’s document.

The Democrats’ failure to garner bipartisan support for impeachment has led to some speculation that they might censure Trump instead, but it looks like they are forging ahead with the most dramatic option at their disposal. But the effort is likely to fail once Republicans in the Senate take control of the process, and Trump’s acquittal is considered all but certain.

Worse for the Dems, Republicans could presumably turn things around on them by refocusing the narrative on Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine and on the political motivations of the “whistleblower,” who has remained mysteriously out of sight despite playing a central role in starting the impeachment process. Republicans in the Senate could take over as soon as January, assuming that Nadler drafts articles of impeachment and the full House votes this month.

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