Unlike elections where you have a winner and a loser, the two proposed articles of impeachment, published on December 10, 2019, to be passed in the House next week with a January acquittal in the Senate virtually certain will yield no such result. That’s a severe headache for both political parties.

The presidential election is eleven months away. The assumed results of impeachment could be a dagger in the heart of the Democratic candidate and a boon to Trump’s reelection. Or they could stain the President and lead to a loss in 2020 or play no significant role in the outcome.

There’s a lot about the process used by the Democrats that seems peremptory.

If I were more result-oriented I would applaud the process because it gives Trump what he deserves: impeachment for placing his own interests above those of the nation. I abhor what he has done.  But that does not deter me from a critical examination of the process that was and is being used.

Let’s examine what they did and did not do.

Two committees. Although the House Judiciary Committee is the committee charged with pursuing impeachment, Speaker Pelosi decided to bifurcate the process by assigning the “impeachment inquiry” to the House Select Committee on Intelligence leading to the calling of live witnesses and the use of documents there. The Judiciary Committee did not play a role in the “inquiry” awaiting the result to take action thereafter.

After the Intelligence Committee completed its hearings, the majority wrote a “report” and sent it to the Judiciary Committee for consideration in reaching its decision. There was a minority report as well.

The Judiciary Committee held two days of hearings, the first to hear from four professors on the meaning of impeachment and the second to hear from lawyers for each side who summed up their respective reports.

Although the first day was no great shakes, the second day was preposterous. Each side held forth on its partisan view of the witnesses and documents reviewed by the Intelligence Committee leaving the members to question lawyers who could not testify to any facts. The lawyers’ regurgitation of their respective views of the “inquiry” facts left the Judiciary Committee–the committee charged with impeachment–without any facts to support or reject impeachment.

This process led to some truly stupid questioning, most of the “do you beat your wife?” variety. Super leading questions and speechifying were the order of the day for the members.

Why this bifurcation in the first place?  Maybe Speaker Pelosi doesn’t like Chairman Nadler or likes Chairman Schiff better. Whatever the reason, her decision left the Judiciary Committee out in the cold until its majority could rubber stamp what the Intelligence Committee’s majority reported without hearing a single fact witness.

The articles of impeachment. There are two of them, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

We all know that the abuse of power article claims that Trump sought to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election.

Obstruction of Congress is said to result from the White House’s lack of cooperation with the Intelligence Committee by withholding documents and instructing witnesses not to honor congressional subpoenas. This action by the President has a Fifth Amendment flavor. It was probably his view that he should not assist in  a process directed at him, much as person need not be a witness against himself.

Moreover, the Congress did not exhaust its remedies in response to the President’s intransigence thus giving the President a defense to this article.

If Congress had gone to court to direct compliance with its subpoenas and if its case against the President resulted in a court order directing the President to comply and he subsequently failed to do so, that most certainly would be obstruction of Congress.

In announcing the articles on December 10, Chairman Schiff said that the unwillingness to go to court to enforce subpoenas was based on the length of time such litigation would take, yielding a danger that Trump would manipulate the 2020 election. This is a practical answer to the failure to exhaust remedies. Its effectiveness is another matter.


I have previously said that I do not support impeachment principally because it’s a closed box with no assurance as to what the public reaction will be when it’s opened.

I reject the idea that the members are obligated by “duty” to impeach and that politics plays no role. Although there may be some outliers, this is 99.999% political on both sides.