Democrat Impeachment Strategy Chugs Along

Last week, House Democrats launched their “public” impeachment hearings in an effort to convince the American public that there is sufficient evidence to prove that Trump deserves to be removed from office. Instead, the televised event had the feel of a carefully staged theatrical exercise rather than an honest search for truth.

Because the outcome of the hearings is a foregone conclusion, Democrats are having a hard time generating any serious national interest in the testimony.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff plans only five days of public hearings. He has already heard all the witnesses testify in secret, and is carefully focusing their testimony at the public hearings to maximize the damage to President Trump’s reputation. He has rejected requests by Republicans to call the witnesses who could answer questions that Democrats would find embarrassing.

These include the still-anonymous Democrat whistle-blower who started it all, based upon second-hand information about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Republicans also want to call Hunter Biden, who was hired by Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt Burisma Group, a natural gas company. Hunter, in turn, was protected by his father, then the vice president, who forced the Ukrainian government to fire the prosecutor investigating the company by threatening to cancel a billion dollars in aid the US had promised to Ukraine.

QUESTIONS THE DEMOCRATS FEAR

Democrats have pulled out all the stops to prevent these witnesses from being publicly asked the obvious questions. Their answers would make it clear that Trump had good reason to call for an investigation of what the Bidens did in Ukraine. If the whistle-blower testified, he might be forced to reveal that his complaint was manufactured with Democrat members of Schiff’s committee, or perhaps Schiff himself, in order to create a new pretense to keep the impeachment effort going after the ignominious collapse of Robert Mueller’s probe the day before the Trump-Zelensky phone call.

In Schiff’s opening statement at the first public hearing, he offered every possible justification for the impeachment of the president by claiming that Trump sought to “condition, coerce, extort or bribe an ally into conducting investigations to aid his re-election campaign.” Schiff knows perfectly well that there is no evidence that would stand up in any court of law that Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine violated any federal criminal statute, so in the end, he made up a new crime, “abuse of power,” and then tried to re-interpret the Constitution and long-established legal precedents to suggest that it meets the requirements for impeachment.

When it evaluated the whistle-blower’s original complaint this summer, the Justice Department dismissed his claim that Trump was trying to bribe the president of Ukraine because, in the end, there was no “thing of value” that was actually exchanged. The Ukrainian president rejected Trump’s request, and Trump released the military aid for Ukraine anyway.

PRESIDENTS AND FOREIGN LEADERS

It has been common practice by all previous American presidents to ask foreign leaders for actions or policy cooperation that serve the president’s personal political interest, as well as America’s national interest. In 2012, for example, President Obama was overheard on a hot mic asking then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for some diplomatic “space” until after Obama was re-elected, when he promised he would be more willing to grant Russia’s demands for more security concessions from the US on the issue of missile defenses.

It was also perfectly appropriate to Trump to make it clear that the US would not support Zelensky’s new government if he was not willing to carry out his campaign promise to Ukraine’s voters to fight the corruption for which Ukraine’s government has long been notorious. There is also no good reason for the Democrats to insist that Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, be granted immunity from investigation for what seems to be, on its surface, an embarrassingly corrupt arrangement.

A notorious Ukrainian-owned natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, sought to influence the decisions of then-vice president Biden by hiring his son. The vice president then used his control over US foreign aid to Ukraine to force the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor who was looking into Burisma’s corrupt practices. Years later, Biden boasted about the firing in front of an audience of American foreign policy experts. Trump’s supporters argue that the fact that Joe Biden is running for president now should not grant him immunity from prosecution for his apparent past abuse of power as an elected official of the United States.

MULTIPLE EVIDENCE TRAILS LEAD BACK TO UKRAINE

In his phone call with Zelensky, Trump referred to accusations of rampant political corruption in Ukraine voiced by his private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. In 2017, Politico, a mainstream American news outlet, also reported that Ukrainian state officials had provided Democrats with opposition research to use against Trump in the 2016 election campaign. Giuliani and others have claimed that some of the source material for the Steele dossier, which was jointly paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), originated in the Ukraine.

Meanhwile, more evidence has surfaced proving that Democrats conspired with members of the American intelligence community against Trump back in 2016. They knowingly used Russian disinformation to justify the launching of an FBI counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign that eventually morphed into the Mueller investigation.

THE DIRTIEST POLITICAL TRICK IN HISTORY

A Wall Street Journal editorial labels that as “one of the dirtiest political tricks in history, yet Democrats and the impeachment press justify it to this day. . . When it comes to inviting foreign meddling in U.S. politics, Democrats and the impeachment press have a double standard.”

It is embarrassingly obvious that despite their current claims to the contrary, Democrats don’t really care about the fate of Ukraine. If they did, they would have protested five years ago when President Obama refused to grant Ukraine’s request for American arms it needed to defend its territory against the Russian invasion of Crimea and the Donbas region. Democrats also don’t care what Trump said on the phone to Zelensky, as long as they can use it to justify continuing the impeachment effort.

Many of the most vocal critics of the Democrat impeachment effort do not defend Trump’s request to Zelensky during their phone call to investigate the Bidens, or Trump’s rationale for temporarily suspending US military aid to Ukraine. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, John Bolton, was not alone in White House circles in vigorously opposing the freeze.

Many Trump supporters also agree that dispatching his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to make an end run around US diplomats in Ukraine and interfere with the goals of official US policy there was both dumb and ultimately self-destructive. But all that still does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense, or justify the misleading tactics Democrats have been using to try force Trump from office.

WEIGHING THE GOOD AGAINST THE BAD

Trump does have a right to complain that since the day he took office, he has not been fairly treated by the Democrats or the mainstream media. That does not justify some of the crude tactics Trump has used to publicly strike back at his enemies – or the policy mistakes he wanted to make, but which were ultimately prevented by the actions of his friends and foes alike.

But despite all those distractions, Trump was able to keep many of his campaign promises, including reviving the American economy, strengthening the US military and cementing US ties to Israel. The Democrat impeachment effort has uncovered more of Trump’s darker side, but nothing that would justify his removal from office. It has also revealed the growing desperation and frustration of Trump’s enemies at their inability to build a credible impeachment case against him.

Voters who are undecided will have to evaluate a mixed picture of the president when deciding whether Trump should be re-elected next year, and whether his accomplishments outweigh his personal flaws.

GIULIANI’S CONTROVERSIAL ROLE

Giuliani’s provocative public statements as Trump’s private lawyer served as a lightning rod for the president’s opponents during the height of the Mueller investigation, and now again in the dispute over Trump’s Ukraine policy. The mainstream media has tended to dismiss many of Giuliani’s allegations, some of which turned out to be inaccurate and had to be retracted. But Trump continues to rely on his advice, and Giuliani continues to claim that his private efforts have uncovered credible evidence of Ukrainian interference on behalf of Mrs. Clinton in the 2016 election, as well as wrongdoing by the Bidens.

In an op-ed last week in the Wall Street Journal, Giuliani referred to a ruling by a Ukrainian court last December “that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko illegally interfered in the 2016 election by releasing documents related to Paul Manafort [who had been Trump’s campaign manager].”

Giuliani cited the 2017 report in Politico and newer stories by investigative reporter John Solomon claiming that Alexandra Chalupa, a DNC staff member, sought dirt on Manafort in Ukraine and admitted to supplying that dirt to “a lot of journalists.” The media reports based on that dirt resulted in Manafort being forced to resign from the Trump campaign and becoming a main target of the Mueller investigation. Republicans would like to call on Chalupa to testify about her activities in Ukraine at the public impeachment hearings, but Schiff won’t allow it.

Giuliani cited an October statement by Andriy Derkach, a member of Ukraine’s Parliament, that he had seen documents showing that Burisma paid $900,000 to Rosemont Seneca Partners, the lobbying firm co-owned by Hunter Biden. The money was for lobbying Vice President Joe Biden, who had been given control over all Obama administration aid to Ukraine at the time.

Giuliani also claims that President Trump was duty bound as president to ask Zelensky to investigate corruption in the Ukraine, citing Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution which obligates the president “to take care that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed.”

COMPLAINTS ABOUT A FIRED US AMBASSADOR

While career State Department diplomats have complained bitterly about the president authorizing politically connected amateurs like Giuliani to encroach on their turf, nobody seriously challenges Trump’s constitutional authority to do so. After voicing those complaints in congressional testimony last week, questions from committee Republicans forced the diplomats to admit that as employees of the executive branch, they all served at the pleasure of the president, which means he does not need to give any reason if and when he fires them.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a career State Department diplomat, was the third witness to testify in Schiff’s public impeachment hearings last week.

Republicans questioned why Yovanovitch was asked to testify at all, since she was removed as ambassador months before Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, and was not involved or initially aware of Trump’s decision to delay US military aid to Ukraine. Democrats said that they wanted to show Trump had removed Yovanovitch from her post on the advice of Giuliani, because he said that he was obstructing the effort to convince Ukraine to launch a corruption investigation involving the Bidens.

During the spring of this year, Yovanovitch became aware of Giuliani’s criticism of her performance as ambassador, but when she complained about it to senior State Department officials, she did not receive the public support she expected.

Trump had mentioned his removal of Yovanovitch in his July 25 conversation with Zelensky immediately after urging Zelensky to speak with Giuliani. Trump referred to “the former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad.”

Yovanovitch said that when she first read the transcript of the call, “the color drained from my face. . . [I was] shocked, appalled, devastated that the president of the United States would talk about any ambassador like that to a foreign head of state.”

WAS TRUMP’S TWEET A MISTAKE?

While she was testifying at the public hearing, Trump renewed his criticism of her performance as a US ambassador on Twitter. “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go [it was then in the midst of a civil war]? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian president spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him.” Trump then noted that as president, it his “absolute right to appoint [or fire] ambassadors.”

When committee chairman Schiff learned of Trump’s tweets about Yovanovitch, he interrupted her testimony to criticize the president for trying to intimidate one of the witnesses against him. Trump then responded to Schiff’s criticism directly. “I have the right to speak,” he tweeted. “I have freedom of speech, just as other people do.”

In April, Yovanovitch was told in a late-night phone call from a colleague that Trump wanted her removed as ambassador, and that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could no longer protect her, even though, she was told, “you did nothing wrong.”

Her other friends in the US foreign service, including Ambassador William Taylor, the chargé d’affaires at the US embassy in Kiev, had contacted Pompeo and asked him to intercede on her behalf, but the Secretary of State did not respond.

Yovanovitch told the committee that being fired “was not the way I wanted my career to end.” At one point, she said, “I don’t disagree that the president has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time. I do wonder why it’s necessary to smear my reputation falsely.”

Conservative commentator Andrew McCarthy agreed that Ambassador Yovanovitch’s testimony was irrelevant to the impeachment complaint against Trump. However, because she came across as a compelling witness, with a long history of dedicated service to America at difficult foreign diplomatic posts, Trump made a mistake by renewing his Twitter attacks on her while she was testifying before the impeachment panel. His harsh accusations gave the impression that he was bullying the woman, and led credence to her complaints that the president had not treated her fairly earlier this year when he trashed her reputation while removing her from her post.

McCarthy called Trump’s hostile tweet directed at Yovanoitch during her testimony “a gift to Schiff. He promptly framed it for the national television audience as ‘intimidation’ of his very sympathetic witness. He argued that it fortifies the Democrats’ mounting basis for an article of impeachment alleging obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry.” McCarthy added, “the real problem is that the tweet’s effect, if any, was the opposite of what Trump intended: The public saw Yovanovitch, not the president, as the victim of an unfair attack.”

Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh disagrees with McCarthy’s analysis. He says that the polling data on the public’s reaction to the impeachment hearings last week, and the dismal ratings for their live television coverage, has Democrats “wringing their hands together and lamenting, ‘Nothing has happened so far that’s gonna make that happen. Oh, it’s just so disappointing.’” Limbaugh’s conclusion is that “the American people have shown no interest in this [impeachment process] at all.”

After Trump started criticizing Yovanovitch on Twitter, Republicans on the impeachment committee decided to treat her gently, while at the same time renewing their questions about what relevant information she had to add to the proceedings. “I’m not exactly sure what the ambassador is doing here today,” said the ranking Republican on the committee, Devin Nunes. Because of the restrictive way Pelosi and Schiff wrote the rules for examining witnesses, other Republicans on the committee were largely silenced, and Nunes was forced to serve as the main defender of the president during the public hearing.

Committee Republicans were careful to praise Yovanovitch to avoid being criticized for “piling on” following Trump’s tweet attack. They also got Yovanovitch to admit that she is happy with her current posting as a State Department fellow at Georgetown University.

THE CASE AGAINST YOVANOVITCH

The only attempt to challenge Yovanovitch came in her questioning by Congressman Jim Jordan, who was temporarily added to the Republicans on the panel for that purpose.

Jordan was able to dent the claim by Yovanovitch and her supporters that she acted as a studiously non-partisan diplomat throughout her tenure as the US ambassador to Ukraine, which began in 2016. Jordan showed that she failed to protest when Ukrainian government officials openly supported Hillary Clinton and opposed Donald Trump during the 2016 US election campaign, and threatening State Department efforts to create bipartisan congressional support for US aid to Ukraine.

Under Republican questioning, Yovanovitch also admitted that when President Obama nominated her as his ambassador to Ukraine in 2016, she was warned as part of the White House preparations for her Senate confirmation hearings not to respond to any questions about Hunter Biden’s job in Ukraine, and to refer such questions to the vice president’s office.

But that was as far as the Republican challenge to Yovanovitch’s record went during the public hearing. Because of the sympathy for her created by Trump’s tweet attack, they refrained from asking her why she didn’t stop the pro-Clinton efforts by members of the US embassy staff in Kiev, who transmitted anti-Trump opposition research material to the DNC. She also worked to block a Ukrainian investigation of an organization backed by George Soros, who was a major Obama campaign supporter, and denied US visas to Ukrainian officials who might have blown the whistle on the ongoing anti-Trump activities in the Ukrainian embassy.

In a parting shot, complaining about the way she had been treated, Yovanovitch expressed concern that “as foreign service professionals are being denigrated and undermined, the institution [the State Department] is also being degraded. This will soon cause real harm, if it hasn’t already.”

DEMOCRATS TRYING TO REWRITE HISTORY

McCarthy points out that Democrats are trying to rewrite their history of indifference to Ukraine’s fate immediately following the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014. Democrats now falsely claim that they always viewed Ukraine as an important American ally and had been worked hard to safeguard it from Russian aggression. Their claim that Trump has abandoned Ukraine, consistent with the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory which some Democrats are still pushing despite the absence of any credible evidence to support it.

The truth is that Trump has gone much further to help Ukraine retain its independence than Obama ever did, by approving Ukraine’s requests for lethal military aid which Obama had denied. That includes shipments of the Javelin missile, an American anti-tank weapon, which the Kiev government needs to fight a Russian-armed and supported insurgency in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

McCarthy believes that the current impeachment effort is not meant to be taken literally, because Democrats understand that they still don’t enough credible evidence of a crime committed by Trump that would justify his removal from office. From that point of view, the impeachment effort is just a Democrat 2020 campaign tactic intended to further tarnish Trump’s candidacy ahead of next November’s election. McCarthy argues that by gaining some sympathy in the eyes of voters for the way she was mistreated by Trump, Yovanovitch’s testimony must be viewed as a success for the Democrats seeking to defeat him next November.

AN OVERHEARD CELL PHONE CONVERSATION

Immediately after the public testimony by Yovanovitch ended, the House Intelligence Committee reconvened in the basement of the Capitol building for a secret hearing featuring the testimony of David Holmes. He is an aide to Ambassador Taylor, who testified publicly last week that Holmes had told him that he had overheard a July phone call between President Trump and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union. Holmes had been eating lunch with Sondland at a restaurant in Kiev, and that Trump was speaking so loudly that he and another person at the table could hear what Trump was saying.

Democrat Congressman Ted Lieu, who heard Holmes testify, told a CNN reporters that Sondland reassured the president that President Zelensky admires him and would do “anything you ask,” including launching a collusion investigation. Holmes added that in a later conversation with Sondland, who had been a major contributor to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, he confirmed Holmes’ impression that Trump really didn’t care about the Ukraine, and was only interested in the “big stuff,” which Holmes presumed referred things that could Trump thought could help him win re-election.

Holmes’ testimony was a prelude to Sondland’s appearance this week at one of Schiff’s public hearings. His testimony is important, because he is one of the few witnesses who spoke to Trump directly about his intentions towards Ukraine. Sondland is on the record as having told his diplomatic colleagues that Trump had explicitly denied that there was any quid pro quo in his relationship and discussion with Zelensky, but it was not clear, based on subsequent statements by Sonderland and his lawyer, whether he believes what Trump had told him.

DEMOCRATS ARE OVERPLAYING THEIR HAND

Republicans continue to argue that the Democrats do not have sufficient cause to pursue impeachment. Despite all the bumbling and confusion over Trump’s policy towards Ukraine, no real harm was done. The military aid was unfrozen and delivered before Ukraine’s military missed it. President Zelensky got the aid without having to comply with Trump’s requests for him to launch a corruption investigation against the Bidens. As a result, another one of Trump’s bad ideas, such as firing Robert Mueller before his special counsel investigation was finished, was blocked, saving Trump from himself.

It would be perfectly legitimate for Democrats to criticize Trump’s mishandling of aid to Ukraine in the upcoming presidential election as an example of his faulty foreign-policy judgment. Democrats could even justify introducing a joint congressional resolution of censure over Ukraine that more than a few Republicans would likely support. But to use what is essentially a disagreement over foreign policy to the level of impeachment is a serious overreach by Democrats, which is already showing signs of boomeranging against their interests.

They have had no success in getting any influential congressional Republicans to support the impeachment effort. By the way Schiff has been conducting the “open” hearings, it is clear that the Democrats are unwilling to try to turn it into a truly bipartisan effort, dooming it to ultimate failure in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats are pursuing impeachment largely because, after almost three years of promising their supporters that they would forcibly remove Trump from office, the effort had gained too much political momentum within their party to stop.

The formal impeachment effort is further hampered by its late start. Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are also running out of time to finish the impeachment effort before it starts to interfere with the Democrats’ 2020 presidential primary campaign. They have had to forgo the opportunity to secure more potentially damaging testimony from members of Trump’s inner circle because they have threatened to challenge Pelosi’s subpoenas in court, which would further delay the impeachment process.

The Democrats have cheapened the impeachment process by turning it into a routine political weapon. Their blatantly partisan tactics and transparent motives are setting a dangerous precedent by reducing the requirement on opposition parties for starting impeachment efforts. Future presidents of both parties are likely to ultimately regret it.

SWITCHING FROM LATIN TO ENGLISH

Last week, Democrats changed the rationale for their impeachment effort. Most Americans were unconvinced by their accusation that President Trump had offered a corrupt quid pro quo, by offering to release $391 million in temporarily frozen US military aid to Ukraine in return for a public pledge by Ukraine’s president to launch a corruption probe into the activities of then-Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

The whistle-blower’s original accusation was always a hard sell, because the White House transcript of the phone call did not support his quid pro quo accusation. It shows that Trump never mentioned the frozen US aid to Ukraine during his conversation with President Zelensky. In fact, Zelensky and his government officials were unaware that the aid was being held up when the phone call took place.

According to the transcript, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate the Bidens as a personal favor only once during their conversation. Others who were on the call testified that Trump actually mentioned the Bidens more than once, but nobody has ever said that during that conversation, Trump told Zelensky he had to agree to investigate the Bidens to get what he wanted from the White House.

While Trump’s accusers claim that he was conditioning release of the aid on the investigation, they have not produced any direct evidence which proves that assumption.

In the end, Trump released the frozen aid to Ukraine without Zelensky having to launch the investigation of the Bidens, so the corrupt exchange that the Democrats have been complaining about, in fact, never took place.

Even if Democrats could prove that Trump did offer such a quid pro quo, it still is not clear that would have met the Constitution’s requirement for evidence that would justify convicting the president for having committed a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

According to the Washington Post, Pelosi and Schiff decided to change their impeachment strategy after focus groups of voters in key battleground states said that a “bribery” accusation against Trump is far more effective than accusing him of offering Ukraine’s president a “quid pro quo,” which many voters do not understand. Democrat House Intelligence Committee member Jim Himes publicly signaled the shift in an NBC interview, in which he said plainly, “it’s probably best not to use Latin words” in the impeachment inquiry.

Substituting bribery for quid pro quo simplifies the Democrats’ argument because the Constitution itself mentions bribery as an example of an impeachable offense, and it does not require voters to interpret a relatively obscure Latin phrase.

THE DEFINITION OF BRIBERY

Schiff tried to explain the shift in a November 12 interview with NPR, claiming that the nation’s “Founders understood bribery. . . not as we understand it in law today. It was much broader. It connoted the breach of the public trust in a way where you’re offering official acts for some personal or political reason, not in the nation’s interest.”

But that is not what the historical record shows. According to an expert on constitutional history consulted by the editors of the Wall Street Journal, “the Founders understood bribery then, as we do now, as involving the offer or acceptance of a quid pro quo…

“At the constitutional convention, Governor Morris [who wrote the preamble of the Constitution] discussed the meaning of bribery and used the example of Britain’s King Charles II taking money from King Louis XIV in return for supporting French policy in Europe.

“Mr. Schiff’s problem is that he still hasn’t found a quid pro quo in the Ukraine episode that fits this traditional definition of bribery,” the WSJ editorial points out. In fact, “Even if an investigation had started, it is unlikely to qualify as a quo under the bribery law because it isn’t a specific and tangible enough benefit like money.”

The editorial also notes the historical fact that “Every President asks foreign leaders for actions or policies that would benefit him politically in some way. None of this absolves Mr. Trump of rotten judgment in all of this, but it doesn’t qualify as bribery.”

New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin notes that Pelosi confused some reporters by accusing Trump of offering to bribe the president of Ukraine into investigating the Bidens with a promise to release $391 million in frozen US military aid. “Many public officials get in trouble for taking a bribe,” writes Goodwin, “but I’m not aware of any who were arrested for paying a bribe. Certainly, no president was ever impeached for that.”

Goodwin also said that Pelosi’s decision to go all-in for impeachment, after resisting it for almost a year following the Democrats’ takeover of the House, undermines her credibility and effectiveness as Speaker. Immediately after the midterm election, Trump expressed a hope that “we can all work together next year to continue delivering for the American people, including on economic growth, infrastructure, trade, lowering the cost of prescription drugs. These are some of things that the Democrats do want to work on, and I really believe we’ll be able to do that.”

But that is no longer possible. Impeachment has completely consumed the Democrats’ legislative agenda. Many doubt that, despite Pelosi’s repeated claims that she supports and intends to pass the Trump-negotiated USMCA trade treaty, which would give a badly needed boost to the American export economy, there will be enough time left on the impeachment-crowded legislative calendar this year for the House to vote on it.

The two State Department officials who testified at the first public impeachment hearing last week, Ambassador William Taylor and George Kent, another senior State Department official involved with official US policy toward Ukraine, were impressive witnesses. They were dignified, experienced, and eloquent in testifying about their objections to Trump’s decision to suspend US military aid to Ukraine and the change in direction in US policy that Giuliani and his allies were urging Trump to adopt.

But Taylor and Kent were forced to admit that their objections to the changes in US policy towards Ukraine were based entirely on second-hand reports. Neither of them had ever discussed these issues directly with the president, so they could not testify about his intentions.

NUNES LEADING THE REPUBLICAN RESPONSE

Congressman Nunes, who, as the ranking GOP member of Schiff’s committee, is leading the Republican rebuttal effort at the public hearings, has nothing but contempt for the current impeachment effort, calling it the “low-rent sequel” to Mueller’s elaborate but failed special counsel investigation.

During a lengthy interview with conservative commentator Mark Levin that was broadcast on Fox News, Nunes said that Trump had a duty to investigate the Ukrainian role in the smear campaign Democrats launched against him. However, a legitimate fact-finding mission commissioned by Trump and led by Giuliani and other trusted allies of the president had been twisted by Democrats and the media and unfairly used as an excuse for impeachment.

Nunes also told Levin that Democrats had been conspiring with Ukrainians against Trump for years. “You had so many problems in Ukraine. The Democrats, they hate to admit this, but their sources for the Fusion GPS [dossier] – a company that they were paying to dig up the dirt on Trump that ultimately made its way into the FBI – there were Ukrainian sources there, so they were paying people to go into Ukraine and dig up dirt. Some of this dirt came from high-ranking Ukrainian officials, allegedly,” Nunes added. “Remember, we spent three years with this Mueller nonsense. [Giuliani] had every right and responsibility to be over there.”

REVEALING THE OTHER 2016 CONSPIRACY

Nunes and Levin agreed that the most important corruption scandal of the 2016 election had very little to do with the Russians. It was the conspiracy by high-level intelligence and Justice Department officials to launch an unprecedented FBI counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. After Trump won the election, during the last days of Obama’s presidency, the intelligence community fabricate a misleading narrative claiming that the Russians had subverted the election process, in an effort to delegitimize Trump’s victory and his presidency.

Nunes and Levin say that those efforts to undermine Obama’s duly-elected successor using any means available continue to this day, yet the mainstream media and the Democrats continue to shield President Obama and members of his administration from any blame for their abuse of power.

Nunes expressed the hope that the Democrat conspiracy will be exposed by the ongoing investigation launched by Attorney General Bill Barr and his highly respected federal prosecutor, John Durham, and by another report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the abuses by the FBI and high officials of the Justice Department in using the unverified accusations in the Steele dossier to obtain a search warrant from the FISA court on Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page.

Barr has become a favorite target of Democrats, who accuse him of serving as Trump’s lackey. In an speech Barr made last week at a conference sponsored by the Federalist Society, which has supplied Trump with the names of conservative candidates whom he has appointed to the federal bench, Barr again vigorously defended Trump’s presidential authority and condemned Democrats for “using every tool and maneuver to sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration.” He added that Trump’s opponents “essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.

“Resistance is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power,” Barr said. It connotes that the government is not legitimate, which “is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion.

TURNING THE TABLES ON THE DEMOCRATS

Nunes said that he has evidence that the notorious dossier was actually written by Democrat party operatives rather than Steele, and that he now has proof to back his previous allegations of extensive Democrat wrongdoing during the 2016 election.

Nunes predicted that when all this new evidence is made public in the weeks and months ahead, it will steal the headlines from the Democrats’ impeachment circus. Republicans will begin to turn the tables, accuse Democrats of abusing their power, and hold them responsible for trying to overturn the outcome of the 2016 election, and prevent the American people from voting to re-elect Trump next year.