Nancy Pelosi has just done what we’ve been waiting for for months. She announced that six major Congressional committees will begin an impeachment inquiry against Pres. Trump regarding his alleged threats against Ukraine. During a July phone call with its new president, Trump demanded that it investigate Joe and Hunter Biden for alleged “corruption.” No charges were filed or even suggested against them as a result of this threat. The country’s corruption prosecutor has not found any evidence for these charges.
Pelosi has always been the key obstruction in the path of impeachment. But in the past week, the whistleblower complaint and its suppression by the Director of National Intelligence at the direction of Trump and the attorney general, have broken down any resistance. Even the most moderate and resistant Democrats have come around finally.
There are different views on what impeachment would mean. The pessimists claim that it is an empty gesture since the GOP-held Senate will never vote to convict. This is probably true. But Prof. Lawrence Tribe has suggested an alternate approach with has not been widely known till he broached it. There is no provision saying the House must refer its impeachment to the Senate for trial. If Congressional Democrats only vote to impeach, but do not refer the matter to the Senate, the latter cannot take up the case.
That would mean that Trump would not face a trial and would not be removed from office. But he would have the scarlet letter of impeachment hanging around his neck during the entire upcoming election. If you add to that the incessant coverage of every angle and aspect of the Ukrainian scandal, it should be a huge burden on his campaign, which already faces a huge uphill climb given he is underwater in almost every battleground state.
I have always favored impeachment despite the criticism of this approach by moderate Democrats. It may not provide the absolute means of ridding us of this president, but it will be one added arrow in the quiver all of which may accomplish the task in November 2020.
Trump just announced that he will release the transcript of his call with Pres. Zelensky. He claims the call “was very nice,’ whatever that means. He claims there is nothing to the entire episode. That remains to be seen. Regardless of what Trump says he plans to do, the proof is in the pudding. He says the transcript will be unredacted. But he has said many things that turned out to be otherwise than what he promised. Trump is now on very thin ice. The Democrats have significantly raised the stakes. And everything he does or says from now on will receive added scrutiny and could add more nails to his political coffin.
The whistleblower’s complaint is a key part of the impeachment inquiry and the battle over its release will remain a key bone of contention between Congress and the executive branch. The very fact that Trump refuses to release it leads the public to believe it is the smoking gun to impeachment. House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff announced that the whistleblower him/herself will likely testify before Congress in the next week or so. Even without the actual complaint, this could prove quite damning depending on what is said.
Reporters will, of course be investigating the Bidens. Hunter’s role on the board of a major Ukrainian energy company with interests in Crimea opens him to such an investigation, since these are precisely the sorts of enterprises which Russian oligarchs have been manipulating to make their dirty billions. But thus far, there has been absolutely no proof of anything untoward. And he is innocent till proven otherwise, despite what Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump might claim.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.