The President’s epic and historic letter to Speaker Pelosi on the eve of the vote to impeach him is nothing if not audacious and to someone who has been making many of the same points the President’s letter does, satisfying. I bet Bill Clinton wishes he had thought of it, except that he had a problem Trump does not: Clinton had in fact committed felonies by lying under oath, something a President must not do. (As I said at the time, without ever hearing a satisfactory rebuttal, if a lawyer would be disbarred for such conduct, as Clinton essentially was—he was forced to quit the Arkansas bar before he was fired from it—how can a President be held to a lower standard?).As President Trump’s letter correctly states, “The Articles of Impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee are not recognizable under any standard of Constitutional theory, interpretation, or jurisprudence. They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever.”
Well, they are recognizable under some bad and dangerous Constitutional theories, many of which have advocates in the House and among the “resistance” punditry. For example, even now, prominent Democratic House leader Maxine Waters admits that she has no facts to back up her conviction that the President had a deal with Putin, she’s just sure he did. Waters said she was “ready to talk about” impeachment in February 2017, three weeks after Trump was sworn into office.Her theory later became that an opposing party House majority could impeach a President at will, and didn’t need any reasons other than as assertion that he was “unfit.”
That appears to be what Nancy Pelosi allowed her team to settle on, lacking anything better.
Naturally, the letter has prompted the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media coup team (what Ethics Alarms calls “The Axis of Unethical Conduct,” or AUC) to have a collective head-explosion orgy. The mainstream print media would not even report on the letter fairly, in most cases not giving readers the chance to make their own assessment and publishing it with “factchecks” attached, many if not most of which were just partisan spin as rebuttals. For example, in the New York Times version, the section I quoted above was linked to this: “The articles charge Mr. Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But an impeachable offense does not have to be a specific crime.” Well…
- That’s an opinion, not fact. Every previous impeachment has involved a specific crime.
- As Prof. Dershowitz pointed out, the “obstruction of Congress” referred to in the Articles of Impeachment cannot be called misconduct, since the Supreme Court has deemed the President’s power in this regard an open question until they rule on it—next June.
- As Jonathan Turley (and Trump) pointed out, “abuse of power” is too subjective a standard to use as an excuse for impeachment.
Characteristically, as we have seen the past three years, the attacks on the letter have focused on style at least as much as substance. (On substance, however, the letter is difficult to rebut.)
On yesterday’s CNN Newsroom, the spectacularly hypocritical John Avlon (who once pretended to lead a “no labels” movement as a neutral non-partisan) claimed that the President’s letter would cause Republican Senators to raise questions about his “mental state.” This is rich: Impeachment Plan S is blowing up in Democrats’ faces, so Avlon pivots to good old, evergreen, Plan E : ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.”
Yeah, boy, putting out that letter laying out exactly what the impeachment is in language anyone can understand was crazy.
Avlon’s foolishness does raise a question: did the President really write the letter himself? I doubt it. I think someone–Steven Miller has been mentioned as a prime suspect—did an excellent job channeling the President’s unique style and tone, but the letter is too well constructed to be Trump’s alone. Hey, John: if someone else authors a letter for the President that he signs, and you think it’s an “unhinged rant” and “the definition of not presidential,” does that mean he’s crazy? Can you delegate crazy?
As with so much that has gone before, the President has triggered his foes into broadcasting their own derangement.
A typical, measured, lawyer-checked, restrained Presidential letter would be far less effective. Ann Althouse figured this out, writing,
1. It’s not just one more statement in the voluminous back and forth about impeachment. It’s a written compendium of everything the President of the United States wants to say on the subject of this important historical event. It is long in that it’s 6 pages. (Anti-Trumpers have enough to be able to disparage it as rambling.) But it’s also short. (The Mueller Report is 448 pages.) It will surely be preserved and read and studied and reflected upon far into the future. It is clearly a historical document, unlike virtually all the other statements bandied about in — to use Trump’s term — “this impeachment fantasy.”
2. The letter refrains from purporting to say what the People of the Future think. It speaks to them. It’s modest in that regard: I’m thinking of you, and I want to talk to you, to “put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record” for you. He wants you “to understand… and learn.” There’s a mellow, humble tone to that.
In a subsequent post today, she writes about the letter’s style and language:
His language is an early manifestation of evolutionary change. And he’s an especially influential user of the language. Look around. More and more Americans are talking like him, including his critics! The people 100 years from now will probably speak and write much more like him than the people of today. And if that is where we’re going, they are likely to read Trump’s letter as a quite ordinary expression of a President’s position and to read the criticism of his letter (if it survives to be read at all) as trivial banter.
Super Bingo, Ann. Exactly. I can’t stand the way Trump speaks and writes, but he knows what he’s doing, and his primary audience isn’t people like me. Besides, I already agree with him.
Here are some excerpts from the letter, but by all means, read the whole thing.
By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy. You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme—yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America’s founding and your egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build. Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying “I pray for the President,” when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!
Comment: I love it.
You are turning a policy disagreement between two branches of government into an impeachable offense—it is no more legitimate than the Executive Branch charging members of Congress with crimes for the lawful exercise of legislative power.
Comment: I couldn’t say it better myself, except I would lose the exclamation point…
Everyone, you included, knows what is really happening. Your chosen candidate lost the election in 2016, in an Electoral College landslide (306-227), and you and your party have never recovered from this defeat. You have developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome and sadly, you will never get over it! You are unwilling and unable to accept the verdict issued at the ballot box during the great Election of 2016. So you have spent three straight years attempting to overturn the will of the American people and nullify their votes. You view democracy as your enemy!
Comment: The truth hurts, or should. Sadly, I don’t think most of the Trump Deranged do understand this, based on the daily nonsense I read on my Facebook feed.
Speaker Pelosi, you admitted just last week at a public forum that your party’s impeachment effort has been going on for “two and a half years,” long before you ever heard about a phone call with Ukraine. Nineteen minutes after I took the oath of office, the Washington Post published a story headlined, “The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun.” Less than three months after my inauguration, Representative Maxine Waters stated, “I’m going to fight every day until he’s impeached.” House Democrats introduced the first impeachment resolution against me within months of my inauguration, for what will be regarded as one of our country’s best decisions, the firing of James Comey (see Inspector General Reports)—who the world now knows is one of the dirtiest cops our Nation has ever seen. A ranting and raving Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, declared just hours after she was sworn into office, “We’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf****r.” Representative Al Green said in May, “I’m concerned that if we don’t impeach this president, he will get re-elected.” Again, you and your allies said, and did, all of these things long before you ever heard of President Zelensky or anything related to Ukraine. As you know very well, this impeachment drive has nothing to do with Ukraine, or the totally appropriate conversation I had with its new president. It only has to do with your attempt to undo the election of 2016 and steal the election of 2020!
…You are the ones interfering in America’s elections. You are the ones subverting America’s Democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain.
Comment: Ethics Alarms has chronicled all of this, of course, and more. That paragraph is damning and irrefutable.
Well, I better stop or I’ll end up posting the whole letter. However, this is brilliant, and is both what engaged Althouse and what is infuriating the AUC:
It is time for you and the highly partisan Democrats in Congress to immediately cease this impeachment fantasy and get back to work for the American People. While I have no expectation that you will do so, I write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.
One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it, so that it can never happen to another President again.