Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

How Republicans Won Phase One Of Impeachment
The Federalist ^ | 11/22/2019 | Mollie Hemingway

Posted on 11/22/2019 12:32:02 PM PST by SeekAndFind

With the likely conclusion of Rep. Adam Schiff’s impeachment proceedings, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at how things went for the majority Democrats and minority Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Democrats ideally would have started their inquiry with credible bipartisan support and run things in such a way that public opinion developed in their favor. Public opinion would build pressure on Republican members toward an impeachment vote that had even stronger bipartisan credibility.

That did not come even close to happening. To begin with, not only was the vote to begin proceedings not bipartisan, there was bipartisan opposition to it. Polling initially looked promising for impeachment, with media outlets attempting to claim significant bipartisan support for inquiry and removal, but then the polling moved in the wrong direction for Democrats.

Emerson polling showed that support for impeachment flipped since October from 48 percent support with 44 percent opposing to now 45 percent opposed and 43 percent in support. Among key independents, the switch was even more pronounced. In October, 48 percent supported impeaching President Donald Trump, with 39 percent opposed. Now, 49 percent of independents oppose impeachment, while only 34 percent support it.

A new Marquette University Law School poll found that 40 percent of registered voters in the swing state of Wisconsin think that Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 53 percent do not think so. Another 6 percent weren’t sure.

A new Gallup poll shows that Trump’s approval has ticked up two points since the impeachment drama began, with 50 percent of Americans opposed to it and 48 percent in support. Henry Olsen notes that Gallup polls all adults, not just registered voters, meaning that a poll of registered voters would have Trump’s job approval even higher and impeachment opposed by closer to a 52-46 margin.

And not only are no Republicans expected to join with Democrats in an eventual impeachment vote, some members expect the bipartisan consensus against it to grow.

Republicans, by contrast, needed to aim for bipartisan opposition to the impeachment proceedings, keep their members in line, make the case that the impeachment proceedings lacked fairness, and that concern about Ukrainian corruption was legitimate. They managed to do all that.

Here’s why things went well for Republicans in phase one of impeachment.

It was completely unclear what crime, much less what high crime, Trump was accused of committing.

Before we get to the politics and how they were played by Republicans and Democrats, it should be noted that President Donald Trump has not been credibly accused of committing any crime, much less a high crime or misdemeanor. It’s almost shocking that Trump, of all people, keeps managing to do well on this score. Yet, as with the Russia collusion hoax, in which he was accused of being a traitor to his country, the lack of evidence for the charges against him is his ultimate saving grace.

What the charge is keeps changing, of course. The whistleblower initially suggested a campaign finance violation arising from a call Trump had with the president of Ukraine. That morphed into a quid pro quo for military aid to Ukraine, then extortion, then bribery, then obstruction of justice, then back to a quid pro quo, but this time only a quid pro quo for a White House meeting. The lack of certainty among even Trump’s critics certainly worked in his favor.

There can be no question that President Trump generally dislikes the boatloads of taxpayer cash in the form of foreign aid that is sent to countries, wishes other countries would support their neighbors more, and absolutely disliked Ukraine corruption. Further, we all know Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Ukraine’s 2016 election meddling and the involvement of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden in well-known corruption of Burisma, the energy concern on which’s board the former VP’s son found himself on in questionable circumstances. We know these things because of Trump’s public statements and the release of his transcripts with Ukraine’s newly elected president.

We also know that Trump’s support of Ukraine increased over the Obama years, including with the provision of Javelin missiles. And precisely no one had any evidence of anything actually illegal happening, even if they wished that Trump loved foreign aid more and didn’t want the investigations he told everyone he wanted. That further made the case against Trump difficult to argue.

The hearings were boring and complicated.

Objectively speaking, they weren’t just boring but soul-crushingly boring. The testimony was lengthy, the discussion was complicated and bureaucratic. The questions weren’t particularly interesting and the answers they elicited weren’t particularly compelling. You can complain all you want about the fact that they were boring, but they were boring.

Media outlets did all they could to bolster Schiff’s show and ran the impeachment hearings non-stop, as if Schiff’s inquiry had a legitimacy it never quite managed to earn on the merits. But instead of viewership increasing over time, it decreased.

Reporters kept deleting their tweets because they were getting facts about the hearings wrong. If reporters who were paid to follow the hearings weren’t able to keep details straight, what hope was there for normal people who have real lives and better things to do than watch hearings all day?

Adam Schiff lacks credibility.

Democrats didn’t want Rep. Jerry Nadler chairing impeachment since he had so completely botched the initial impeachment effort that was the Robert Mueller probe. Any chair worth his salt would have investigated whether star witness Robert Mueller was fit to answer any questions, much less the questions needing careful handling for an impeachment probe given the failure to find treasonous collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election.

Instead, a seemingly confused Mueller destroyed the chance of convincing the country that he had run the probe that bore his name and had morphed into an attempt to nail Trump for vehemently fighting the false charge he was a traitor. A few other mistakes by Nadler meant that Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave Schiff the gavel for the big show.

Schiff had run the Democrats’ efforts in the Russia collusion conspiracy they peddled for several years. During that time, his team leaked like sieves to compliant media outlets such as CNN and falsely claimed for years to have secret knowledge of Trump being a traitor who had colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election. With compliant media outlets, again, he tore down Republican members on his committee and their efforts to get at the bottom of the Russia collusion theory.

When it came time for impeachment, he followed the same pattern, leaking to the compliant media selected excerpts of transcripts to paint a false narrative. But this time, it didn’t work nearly so well. For one thing, the complexity that he weaponized so successfully in the Russia hoax didn’t work with the public. The public had been willing to at least consider an elaborate tale of Trump being a traitor who had colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election.

But when it turned out that Schiff, other Democrats, and the media had been completely wrong about their elaborate theory, it had consequences. They weren’t nearly so willing to fall for the old song and dance a second time, particularly on a story that conveniently began precisely the day after Mueller’s failed testimony.

Even worse for Schiff, he had destroyed the goodwill and comity that had once existed on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. While the compliant media were willing to spoon up whatever he gave them, Republican members knew not to trust him at all. They had also learned from the Russia collusion hoax that they had spent years painstakingly evaluating. Their report outlining Russian meddling as well as a report on some of the concerning behavior of government officials investigating the Trump campaign holds up infinitely better than the Democrats’ report on the same.

Democrats’ witnesses kept making Trump’s case for him.

While the argument for impeachment was difficult to understand, Democrats’ own witnesses kept making Trump’s case against “the swamp” for him. There is no question that these bureaucrats, sometimes using third-hand information, were deeply opposed to Trump, his policies, and his behavior. Their problem was that they were not elected president. In fact, they weren’t elected anything. Some of them were political appointees — a testament to the awful job Trump has done at finding personnel who can accomplish his policy goals — and other times they were career bureaucrats.

The Resistance has generally had a difficult time with this issue, but the proper way to litigate political differences is not with the 25th Amendment, threats to the Electoral College, leak campaigns, spying operations, or impeachment proceedings, but at the ballot box. At no time did any witness make an effective case for anything other than, at best, a trip to the ballot box.

In part because Schiff and his team seemed confused about what case they were prosecuting, questions to witnesses were almost always leading, but never focused on a particular or consistent goal. Conversely, Republicans kept focused during their questions, always pointing out that the witnesses didn’t actually have first-hand information, or were basing their views on their own conjecture, a shaky basis for impeachment.

In general, Republican members did a surprisingly good job on cross examining witnesses. The Democrats kept rolling out new star witnesses, and some, such as Gordon Sondland and Lt. Col. Alex Vindman had opening statements that were quite strong for Democrats. Their opening statements withered under strong GOP questioning.

GOP members stayed on message about the unfairness of the proceedings.

Schiff kept a tight hand on the wheel, controlling witness lists, controlling their testimony, keeping things secret, selectively leaking, and withholding information. That’s his prerogative, but for impeachment to be considered something other than political theater, the unfairness didn’t work.

The entire proceeding began because of a whistleblower claiming a nefarious phone call took place. Initially, Schiff insisted that this whistleblower testify. Schiff repeatedly demanded that testimony. That all changed the precise moment that it was revealed the whistleblower had communicated with Schiff’s staff, something both the whistleblower and Schiff had been dishonest about.

Republicans hammered Schiff about his self-serving about face, even if the media wanted to pretend it wasn’t a big deal. They also reminded him that they weren’t being allowed to call their own witnesses, ask questions, use transcripts of previous depositions, and other things that a fair proceeding would allow. It worked to their benefit.

The initial phase of impeachment being done prior to a vote being held, and in manipulated secrecy did not help Schiff’s case.

The media generally overpromised and underachieved.

The lack of daylight between Democrats and many in the media was difficult to ignore. They seemed to march in lockstep with the day’s messaging from Schiff, as well as the overall legitimacy of the proceedings.

Here, too, the media seemed to underestimate the significant toll their participation in the Russia hoax had on their credibility. Where the public previously may have been willing to trust them when they claimed they had done their homework before claiming some evidence of wrongdoing by Trump, that trust no longer exists.

Each day, Schiff’s team would leak out the messaging for the day along with the prepared testimony of the morning witness. “Wow,” the corporate media would all say in unison as they repeated the message.

The problem is that none of their bombshells exploded, as the Washington Post’s Marc Thiessen noted. The supposed “bombshells” rarely made sense, were frequently contradictory, were never based on first-hand information, and mostly just supported the claim that many bureaucrats wish they ran foreign policy instead of the president.

The general wackiness of the Resistance.

When Republicans mounted an effective case against the impeachment, NeverTrump zealots reacted in a crazed fashion. Some of them became enraged when Rep. Elise Stefanik, a young Republican member, effectively showed weaknesses in witness testimony.

George Conway called her trash and distributed a fake photograph of her supposedly behaving in boorish fashion. Nicolle Wallace, a woman who undermined the McCain-Palin campaign on which she ostensibly served before going to MSNBC, lashed out at Stefanik as “pathetic” and compared her negatively to Nikki Haley. Former Ted Cruz aide Amanda Carpenter called the fake photo “believable” and derided Stefanik as “obnoxious.”

By the end of the hearings, the media were falling back into their most dramatic Russia collusion theories, long since debunked. GQ writer Julia Ioffe, who has had a rough couple of years, saw a Russian plot in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s story about Hunter Biden being the father to an Arkansas child.

Impeachment will occur, but on the weakest possible grounds.

Impeachment has been all but a foregone conclusion since the moment Trump shocked the ruling classes with his 2016 victory. The Washington Post announced within minutes of his inauguration that the “campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.”

The Mueller probe was supposed to be the vehicle to accomplish this goal and it would have been if it had been able to come up with anything in favor of its dramatic tale of treasonous collusion to steal the election. Democrats responded to that defeat not by coming up with a stronger case, but a dramatically weaker one.

Still, if media reports are to be believed, it will proceed apace before heading to the Senate where Republicans will control the inquiry on much more favorable ground for Trump. There, they may drag things out to showcase questions about the Biden family’s enrichment during the previous administration, general corruption with countries that have powerful and connected American board members, and other witnesses that Schiff forbade.

They will presumably call the whistleblower to testify about who leaked information to him and which members of Schiff’s committee he worked with before filing his claim. They will almost certainly call Schiff himself to testify about his team’s role in helping the whistleblower set things in motion.

While many in corporate media will attempt to pretend otherwise, the first phase of impeachment did not go well for Democrats. It needed to be their strongest phase. It needed to be a time when support for the inquiry and impeachment grew. Instead, it shrank. Partly that’s due to Democrats’ failed strategy.

But GOP members also played a significant role. They stood strong against both the media and Democrats, showed very little weakness, sent signals early on that they weren’t going to sit back and cower during the proceedings, and generally learned a great deal from the previous few years’ efforts to undo the 2016 election.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. She is Senior Journalism Fellow at Hillsdale College and a Fox News contributor.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: democrats; impeachment; republicans; ukraine
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021 next last

1 posted on 11/22/2019 12:32:02 PM PST by SeekAndFind
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

This writer is a moron. I don’t think there was a crime so there should be no impeachment at all.

But, I don’t care if Donald Trump physically beat the president of Ukraine up after tying him to a chair. Until the demnonrats start holding themselves to the same standards they demand of Republicans I don’t care. There is no rule of law while demonrats don’t go to jail.

There is no rule of law while Antifa is not prosecuted.

While The PIAPS and her husband still walk free there is no justice.

If the demonrats want me to care they need to clean their own house first and imprison, exile and execute several 1000 of the felons on the DNC payroll.

2 posted on 11/22/2019 12:38:51 PM PST by Fai Mao (There is no rule of law in the US until The PIAPS is executed.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
Impeachment has been all but a foregone conclusion since the moment Trump shocked the ruling classes with his 2016 victory

Well, not quite - when the 'rats flipped the house in 2018, THEN it was a sure thing. They have been promising and harping on this since then, searching for a reason. When they couldn't find one, they made one up.

3 posted on 11/22/2019 12:40:33 PM PST by grobdriver (BUILD KATE'S WALL!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

I agree with the article.

After these hearings, I don’t think that even Mitt Romney could vote against Trump if this ever gets to the Senate.

The only way that the democrats can get out of this hole is for every democrat member of the House that comes from a red or purple state to vote against impeachment.

4 posted on 11/22/2019 12:44:45 PM PST by kidd
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Fai Mao

If independents are 49-34 against and Trump has a 93% positive rating among Republicans, are they polling 75% democrats to get to 43% wanting him impeached?

5 posted on 11/22/2019 12:47:47 PM PST by hardspunned
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Impeachment was and continues to be a fool’s errand, when the prosecution fails to make a credible case, and in fact, much exculpatory evidence is constantly burying the original accusations.

Trump Derangement Syndrome is a very real and troublesome thing, feeding on nothing except raw emotion and willful ignorance. Plus, Adam Schiff (and Jerry Nadler before him) failed at even rudimentary persuasion. They are steadily losing even the base they started with.

6 posted on 11/22/2019 12:51:30 PM PST by alloysteel (Nowhere in the Universe is there escape from the consequences of the crime of stupidity.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: alloysteel
But GOP members...stood strong against both the media and Democrats, showed very little weakness...and generally learned a great deal from the previous few years’ efforts to undo the 2016 election.

this important nugget at the end of the article is very important - we've seen a sea-change in the GOP defense of Trump.

7 posted on 11/22/2019 1:01:21 PM PST by ghost of nixon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

It might be best if they do impeach Trump, which will of course be DOA in the Senate, because after winning re-election and accomplishing even more of his MAGA agenda and being recognized as one of the most effective Presidents ever, it will take the stigma out of the word “impeachment”.

Bill Clinton already started this and pretty well succeeded, those who don’t like him do so because of his actions, not because he was impeached. Look at the facts and you’ll see that impeachment by the House only helped him - improving his public popularity and making him wealthy.

Trump is already wealthy, he still will be after he leaves office. Those who don’t like him will still be falsely accusing him of being a racist, sexist, etc - not because he was impeached in a kangaroo court on the weakest grounds and soon thereafter, re-elected.

It’s kind of like what has happened with the “F word”. It no longer has the shock value and instead of being embarrassed to say it, people are proud to do so.

Maybe future Presidents will consider being impeached by leftist morons to be a badge of honor, that they are doing the right thing.

8 posted on 11/22/2019 1:04:22 PM PST by bigbob (Trust Trump. Trust the Plan.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bigbob

RE: It might be best if they do impeach Trump,

I think they will for the following reasons:

1) They’ve come too far to back out now. Without a vote for impeachment, they will just be embarrassed for wasting the country’s time. So, they have to push through.

2) It will be a partisan vote with Democrats voting to impeach and Republicans voting not to. Some Democrats will join the Republicans, but the numbers are just not there to prevent impeachment. Dems have to do this to satisfy their rabid base. They have to do this so as to at least show them that they’ve tried.

But as you said, and I’ll add, other than Mitt Romney and Murkowsky possibly turning traitor (I don’t think Susan Collins will join), it will be DEAD in the Senate.

9 posted on 11/22/2019 1:09:34 PM PST by SeekAndFind (look at Michigan, it will)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

10 posted on 11/22/2019 1:11:37 PM PST by 4Liberty (The taxpayers can always take one more for the team. - The Government)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
The path to impeachment is a transparently partisan political operation.

The question the Democrats have to ponder is, what if during the “trial” the Senate Republican majority behaves the way the House Democrats claimed they were behaving - and at similar length?

Imagine if the Republican Senators proclaim that they can’t vote until they understand - until the public understands - how the Mueller investigation and the Schiff “investigation” even started, and how they proceeded and the consequences to individuals and to the country.

11 posted on 11/22/2019 1:22:40 PM PST by conservatism_IS_compassion (Socialism is cynicism directed towards society and - correspondingly - naivete towards government.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind


12 posted on 11/22/2019 1:37:05 PM PST by Oldeconomybuyer (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: grobdriver

Sorry you feel that way!

Mollie is a staunch conservative and Trump supporter!

13 posted on 11/22/2019 1:40:22 PM PST by justme4now (Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: justme4now

Sorry grobdriver, my post was meant for Fai Mao.

14 posted on 11/22/2019 1:43:44 PM PST by justme4now (Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind; All

Patriots won because they’re supporting winner PDJT.

15 posted on 11/22/2019 2:27:06 PM PST by Amendment10
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Fai Mao

Mollie Hemingway is the only one who’s had the nerve to mention Eric Ciaramella on Fox News.

16 posted on 11/22/2019 3:13:06 PM PST by Ken H (And Epstein didn't kill himself.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: kidd


Pelousi will canvass her rats and find too many “noes” for impeachment.

I doubt she’ll find enough to even censure the President.

17 posted on 11/22/2019 3:52:44 PM PST by Jacquerie (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
For Trump it's bring it on time.

Trump fully expected to be impeached when the (D)'s took over and he has planned his counter attack accordingly long ago. Timing is everything, and I think the reason the Horowitz report has been delayed has in part been due to another famous Trump 3-D chess strategy.

The Shiff Show has been a blow out disaster for the (D)'s and any (D)'s that vote to impeach Trump based on the findings of the Shiff Show will suffer on that basis alone. Trump's polls rise, (D)'s calls for impeachment sink. This is 3-D Strategy #1 successfully played.

Strategy 2 can be played whether House impeaches or not. Senate can do its own investigation and call witnesses. Since House set precedent for doing so, Senate can do their own investigation led by Graham. In any event Senate investigation provides the forum for opening the Horowitz can of whoop ass.

In the background - quietly - is John Durham's criminal investigation -- the guy who actually prosecutes what Horowitz and he have discovered. Add to this the recent Ukraine-led indictment of the Burisma clan. No telling what their discovery has uncovered Together this can effectively set up the prosecution of the entire Ukraine conspirators: Biden - Kerry - Pelosi - under terms of the treaty signed in 1999 by Bill Clinton. This is truly "3-D" strategy -- a Trilateral Prosecution from which the Deep State Dept (or any of the Vindman/whistleblower "Oba-moles") will not escape.

Strategy 3: BiteMe bites the dust, but recall what he said in his quid-pro-quo call that he bragged about at the CFR:

“I had gotten,” he added, “a commitment from [President] Poroshenko and from [Prime Minister] Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t. So they said they had — they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to — or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, ‘you have no authority. You’re not the president.’”

“The president said — I said, call him,” Mr. Biden replied, evoking, the CFR transcript notes, laughter.

(Quoted from ‘Well, Son of a Bitch’ : Ukraine Scandal Is About Biden --- Editorial of The New York Sun | September 25, 2019) Call who, BiteMe? Who is "him"?

You mean Obama was personally in on this racket too? As a sitting President? Only a full investigation will reveal this, right?

Strategy 4: Investigation into Obama gets to go anywhere ... just like it did with Mueller against Trump. Columbia U may be getting a call and a subpoena. Trump has a score to settle from an investigation which for him started back in 2011 with the phony birth certificate. Lots of Deep Staters covered for this prick, never mind re-opening Hillary's 33000 scrubbed eMails and Benghazi weapons trafficking cover-up. Might even open up pedo "Liddle" Adam Schiff's connections to the child trafficking cabal in WeHo at the Standard Hotel, hmmmmm?

Who says you can't impeach a President retro-actively for crimes committed during his Presidency?

You see where I am going with this?



18 posted on 11/22/2019 4:15:03 PM PST by Agamemnon (Darwinism is the glue that holds liberalism together)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

The Democrat question puts a strawman in a question that is easy to answer. The strawman is not relevant to the answer. But by answering the question, the witnesses, both R and D, legitimize the strawman.

There are two battle fronts (maybe more). One front is the legal front. A second front is the PR front. Just as many voters still believe that Russian Collusion existed because it was repeated so often, so the Ukranian Strawmen are getting legitimized.

Who is prepping these witnesses, not to the relevant substance, but to the strawmen that are being legitimized?

19 posted on 11/22/2019 4:47:11 PM PST by spintreebob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Fai Mao

Sorry, I disagree with your post.

Mollie Hemingway is one of the smartest journalists out there.

20 posted on 11/22/2019 7:19:45 PM PST by sauropod (I am His and He is mine)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson