So, I’ve been loosely following the public portion of the Trump impeachment hearings since they began last month. I’ve had them on my office TV while I work during the day, and they’ve been on the one downstairs so I could listen while I did my evening routine of cooking dinner and sitting down for family meal on the two occasions they ran late. I don’t claim to have heard everything there was to hear. Even if I had, the point that very few of the sheer volume witnesses had any information of value to answering basic questions of fact regarding the President’s direct actions and intentions, I’d be pressed to make rational sense of miles of conjecture. Cold, hard, firsthand facts are lacking in the sum.
In Schiff’s case I think less would have been so much more if simple truths of the matter were indeed being sought. And here, I am not sure that they necessarily are being sought. Schiff has complained incessantly that the administration is not cooperating, and he has had no choice but to take what testimony he can get. But that is true if this impeachment approach is the only way to investigate the President’s activities. The Nixon and Clinton impeachment processes were based off independent counsels’ reports, and thus were not reliant on partisan fact-framing.
The only thing close to independent counsel activity we’ve seen regarding Trump’s activities was the Mueller investigation into 2016 election shenanigans which, despite heavy resistance from those being investigated, was somewhat effective in forming an objective narrative and meting out justice.
If we have an example of what it takes to even begin getting to the truth regarding Ukraine policy conduct and the intent is to get as close to objective facts of the matter for something as serious as impeaching a president, it seems reasonable to me to question the intent and motive for such folly of congressional committees trying to do this investigation themselves and whether any of this makes sense compared to the accusation of soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election.
My hunch is there is likely little to no “there” in the accusations of abusing power to form false narratives to spread around the 2020 election. But there is likely some element of having a whole lot to keep under wraps regarding Ukraine, letting out just enough superficial plausibility without taking any risk that an independent counsel might turn out to be more independent than they’d like.
False narratives take surprisingly very little effort to form and spread and, in an interconnected world, it can be done by anyone from anywhere. At least, supposedly for the Russians in the 2016 election, all it took were some anonymous Facebook and other social media accounts and a few fake political rallies with seemly astounding results. On the onset, according to the accusations lobbed by Schiff and others involved in the impeachment investigation, Rudy Giuliani apparently went to some length to form these sorts of narratives, visiting the ever-popular tourist destination of Kiev multiple times to mingle with the natives. (Don’t we all just want to go there.)
To be able to make rational sense of the accusation that Trump abused power for personal gain within the scope of the facts presented by the Intelligence Committee, one must wonder just how stupid Giuliani may be because if he wanted to make up lies and spread “debunked conspiracy theories about Biden” around at lightspeed to impact the outcome of the election, he could stay at home avoiding the risks of being shot, mugged, implicated or extorted that becoming involved in Kiev presents, and be just a few mouse-clicks away from spectacular success especially with people like Beck, Limbaugh, Gingrich, Levin all bowing at the altar of Trump. He doesn’t need President Zelenski or anyone in Ukraine for this, just his Facebook account and little help from friends.
If Giuliani wanted to get to the facts of any matter involving activities of US citizens or government officials and their relatives in Ukraine, however, Giuliani would need President Zelenski and cooperation of his government to even get started – and in this view, his actions make a lot more sense. One could still question whether any of Giuliani’s actions were appropriate use of executive power, as he has no official government capacity. But this question is not contained in the Committee’s impeachment accusation that Trump abused his authority to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election; that on its face may seem plausible but doesn’t add up to anything close to rational behavior when boiled down to simple form.
But there is even more to the story if one is willing to look. There actually was a do-not-prosecute list maintained by the US Consulate in Kiev that was a byproduct of the amnesty law passed by a Ukrainian parliament that was more interested in national unity than justice regarding actions perpetrated upon the protestors during the fall of the pro-Russian government in 2014 and the help Ukraine was receiving from the United States in holding free and fair elections, drafting a new constitution and forming a new government while trying to avoid a chaotic power vacuum.
Ambassador Yovonovich, when she testified and was asked about this list, she claimed to not know anything about such a list. She also claimed to know nothing about why there were accusations that she was using this list beyond its intended purpose of ensuring that it was honored by Ukraine’s democrat nationalists.
I am not sure why Yovonovich would deny knowledge of it. But because it wouldn’t fit the election interference narrative of the impeachment inquiry, we haven’t been able to find out more about this list or how it was used, which may have some relevancy to Giuliani’s actions and Trump’s intent in Ukraine given that Giuliani supposedly was the source of the “smear campaign” against the Ambassador that we’ve heard so much about during the course of the impeachment hearings.
My guess is this list and discussions about it may lead somewhere that the Committee doesn’t want to go. And if they draft articles of impeachment based off the Committee’s report and it gets to the Senate for trial, we might be surprised at we will learn about it.
If I were inclined to place a bet, I’d bet that articles of impeachment will not pass a full House vote.