Democrats who voted for the rushed impeachment of President Donald Trump and are now demanding additional witnesses in the Senate trial deserve to be primaried in their home districts.
The reason is simple: the House Democrats — led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler — presented an incomplete case for impeachment and proceeded to demand that the Republican-led Senate finish the work they failed to do.
In so doing, House Democrats have demonstrated that they are willing to not only abdicate their responsibility but also cede their power in the impeachment process, giving the Senate the power to both investigate and try the accused. In addition, they are openly advertising their inability to do the job they were elected to do — that is, when tasked with a specific investigation, to follow it through to completion without begging another body to complete the work that was too difficult or would take too long.
The president’s defense team explained the effect of this move during the Senate’s question-and-answer period Thursday, saying that it would fundamentally change the role of the Senate in the impeachment process. (RELATED: Joe Biden Pushed For A Summary Impeachment Trial With No New Witnesses Or Evidence — In 1999)
The argument, presented by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, was that bringing new witnesses, documents and other evidence into the Senate trial would turn the Senate into an investigative body — a role reserved for the House in cases of impeachment, as the Senate is expected to sit as a court of impeachment, acting as jury and judge.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the Senate trial, presented a question referencing the House Impeachment Managers’ opening statement, saying, “They argue that it is necessary to pursue impeachment because, quote, the president’s misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won. End quote. How would acquitting the president prevent voters from making an informed decision in the 2020 presidential election?”
Cipollone responded by making the case for the American people, saying that they should be the ones to make the decision about who should be president.
“Here’s the other thing when we’re talking about impeachment as a political weapon, they didn’t tell you what they told the court over the holidays when they were waiting to deliver the impeachment articles,” Cipollone added. “They went and told the court they’re actually still impeaching over there in the house. Did you know that? They’re actually still impeaching. They’re coming here, they’re telling you please do the work that we didn’t do … in the House Judiciary Committee. We had the rush delivery for Christmas, and then we waited and waited and waited, but now we want you to call witnesses that we never called, that we didn’t subpoena. They want to turn you into an investigative body.”
And it’s an argument that has been made by others as well.
The Senate is not sitting as a committee of investigation, but as a court of impeachment.
Its single task is to determine if the House has proven its case and to decide whether they should remove the president from office now: https://t.co/3DYUotYGou
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) January 31, 2020
“Democrats failed to complete their investigation in the House because they were in a hurry to move the issue to the Senate, telling the public that President Trump was a threat to national security.”
Fixing unfinished business in the Senate:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 24, 2020
And while that is certainly true, there is an underlying fact that should concern the constituents of all House members who are suggesting this is a wise course of action: they are conceding a fundamental inability to do the job that they were elected to do.
During the impeachment process, the House is tasked with the investigation — a fact that Chairman Schiff made great use of while he ran that investigation. For weeks, over the objections of the White House and Republicans in both the House and the Senate, Schiff pushed forward under his own rules and allowed the few Republicans who were allowed access to hearings and documents very little latitude. (RELATED: Mitch McConnell: Adam Schiff’s Impeachment Timeline Is ‘Antithetical To American Justice’)
Schiff and other Democrats mentioned a number of witnesses they’d like to interview, but when the White House threatened to mount an active defense — which, as George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley explained was perfectly legal and well within the president’s rights — Schiff withdrew at least one subpoena, failed to file subpoenas for other witnesses, and reframed the president’s legal attempt to defend his office as “obstruction of Congress.”
As soon as the impeachment articles went to the Senate, Schiff doubled down on referring to the White House’s defense strategy as “obstruction.” He and other Democrats called loudly for the witnesses that the House had failed to secure — and in most cases, had failed to even formally request.
If the Senate gives the House Democrats what they want, the face of impeachment will forever be changed: the House will no longer feel obligated to complete investigations, lowering the threshold for impeachment even further, and the Senate will absorb an unprecedented amount of power.
That House Democrats would ask for this to happen is evidence that they are incapable of performing their prescribed duties and should face primaries in their home districts.