President Donald J. Trump has been facing frame-ups set up by some ideologically opposed American bureaucrats inducted during Democratic Administrations who could not reconcile to Trump’s election in 2016. Failure of President Trump to weed out such bureaucrats before they struck is another cause for his recurring troubles. Democratic politicians took advantage of such bureaucrats to harass President Trump.
The current impeachment saga is the latest one in a chain of palace coup attempts against Presidential Candidate Trump before the 2016 election, and, against President Trump after the 2016 election.
This impeachment chain publicly started on September 9, 2019 when Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, notified the House Intelligence Committee that he received a whistleblower’s complaint related to an “urgent concern” on August 12 and that he found the information credible, and sent “my determination of a credible urgent concern” along with a copy of the complaint to Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who had seven days to forward the complaint to Congress. But, contrary to “past practice,” Maguire did not forward the complaint to Congress, believing “the allegations do not meet the definition of an ‘urgent concern’ under the [whistleblower] statute.” Consequently, three House committees all controlled by Democrats announced investigations into whether Trump and Giuliani tried to pressure Ukraine into conducting “politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity.”
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman House Intelligence committee, on 13th September issued subpoena to the Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to submit all relevant documents. Joseph Maguire called the complaint “unprecedented.”
The whistleblower complaint filed on Aug. 12 but not released until Sept. 26 — is partially corroborated by official transcript of July 25 call between US President and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The transcript released by the White House on Sept. 25, confirmed that Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter: “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” Trump told Zelenskiy. Trump added: “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
Perusal of the whistleblower complaint shows that he had no firsthand information on telephone talks of July 25 between two Presidents and that his complaint is based on what he learnt from other unnamed officials.
Adam Schiff refused to divulge identity of the whistleblower citing the anonymity guaranteed under the Whistleblower Act and refused to call whistleblower before the Committee to be cross examined by Republican members of the Committee and attorneys of President Trump. Not giving an opportunity to President Trump team to cross examine whistleblower violated 5th and 14th Amendment rights of President Trump as an American citizen putting under question mark constitutional validity of the entire proceedings of this committee. Adam Schiff also did not allow Republicans to issue subpoenas and call their witnesses, which was objected by Republicans. Schiff held many depositions behind closed doors which were also vehemently opposed by Republicans. President Trump, therefore, did not cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee accusing this committee of not honouring due process as guaranteed by the US Constitution. Republicans openly suspected Chairman Adam Schiff to have vetted the whistleblower complaint before 12 August which Adam Schiff vehemently denied though admitted that some staff of Intelligence Committee did meet whistleblower to guide him about filing of complaint.
For the same reasons President Trump did not cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee also though the Judiciary committee did ask President Trump to be represented by his attorneys.
The Real Clear Investigations recently reported the identity of the whistleblower that he is a registered Democrat Eric Ciaramella having close ties to former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and former CIA Chief John Brennan. Not only does Ciaramella have an extreme political bias against President Trump but he reportedly also helped start the Russian collusion investigation into President Trump campaign back in 2016.
On 13th December 2019 the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee adopted two articles of impeachment (Resolution H 755) against President Trump recommending his impeachment to the full House of Representatives. Both articles appear to have clay feet which can be demolished by sustained Republican publicity. The first article accuses President Trump of abuse of power and the second article accuses him of obstructing the Congress. Important thing to be noted is that voting on both articles of impeachment in the Judiciary Committee was on party lines 23:17, all 23 Democrats voting for and all 17 Republicans voting against articles of impeachment.
In the House Intelligence Committee all Republicans joined hands to issue their version of minority report defending President Trump and voted against report of the Committee.
Now as per procedure the two articles of impeachment will be placed before the full House of Representatives for voting. If the House approves the two articles by simple majority, the articles as approved by the House will be transmitted to the Senate for conducting impeachment trial. It is expected that all Republican representatives shall remain united in voting against the impeachment articles, and, that some Democrat House members shall vote against impeachment.
While conducting impeachment trial senators will function as juries and the Senate trial will be presided over by the US Chief Justice Mr. John Roberts. This Senate trial may commence in January 2020 if the full House passes the articles of impeachment. If the US Senate approves articles of impeachment by two third majority President Trump will stand removed from the office of US President. Full strength of the US Senate is 100 so two third majority means support of not less than 67 Senators to convict the President. At present there are 53 Republican Senators, 45 Democrat Senators and two independent Senators. So if all the Republican senators remain united in upholding innocence of the President Trump as has been the case so far in the House Committees, the impeachment will certainly fail. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Republican senator from Ky told reporters that there was no chance of Trump being convicted by the Senate.
On 13th December 2019 the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee adopted two articles of impeachment (Resolution H 755) against President Trump recommending his impeachment to the full House of Representatives
Let us look at the text of the articles of impeachment as passed by the House Judiciary Committee:
Article I of Impeachment ABUSE OF POWER partly reads: “Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election. He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage. President Trump also sought to pressure the Government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the 2 investigations. President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process. He thus ignored and injured the interests of the Nation.”
ARTICLE II of Impeachment: OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS……………. “ in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed Donald J. Trump has directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its ‘‘sole Power of Impeachment’’.
Democrats in effect are, thus, creating a new political principle by impeachment: that a Republican President cannot ask to investigate allegations of corruption against his potential Democratic rival as such investigations may give advantage to that Republican President in election. Such a demand by Democrats is immoral as well as untenable in law. Republican publicity should draw focused attention of American voters to this new political principle being laid down by Democrats.
Further Joe Biden was not the sole official Presidential candidate of Democrats in July 2019 at time of telephone talk. So how could Joe Biden be claimed by Democrats to be an electoral rival of President Trump as Joe Biden may or may not get democratic nomination for 2020 presidential election. So first article of impeachment has clay feet.
As the Chief Law enforcement officer of the USA and as Republican election promises made in 2016 to American people to eradicate corruption in public life of the USA President Trump was/is duty bound to ask US officers as well as all those countries with which the USA has mutual legal assistance treaties to investigate all cases of corruption involving Americans. So President Trump soliciting Ukraine President to investigate Bidens cannot be called unlawful or inviting undue/illegal foreign interference in 2020 US election.
It is common sense that asking for a report or investigation does not mean inventing dirt on persons under investigation as wrongly presumed by House Democrats in first article of impeachment. Investigation either clears persons investigated or holds them guilty. Investigations bring out facts and not dirt.
It is seen that the US-Ukraine Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters which was signed at Kiev on 22nd July 1998 during the Bill Clinton Presidency has not yet been invoked by Republican strategists to defend President Trump. Existence of this US Ukraine Treaty justifies and legitimatizes President Trump taking up Biden Burisma issues with Ukraine President.
Admiral James Lyons in his article of 11 April 2018 carried in the Canada Free Press has quoted former US Ambassador to Ukraine opining that Hunter Biden’s employment by Burisma undercut that message of anti-corruption emanating from the Obama-Biden administration. It was, therefore, necessary for President Trump to distance his administration from this cloudy image of Obama-Joe Biden administration on issue of fighting corruption as Joe Biden was rumored to have pressed the former Ukraine President to fire the Prosecutor General Shokin who was prosecuting the Burisma matter. President Trump did distancing by asking Ukraine President to continue with investigations of corruption. President Trump’s this action is well covered under Articles 1 and 2(4) of the US Ukraine Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
In July 2019 telephone talk President Trump never asked Ukraine President to invent dirt on Bidens as incorrectly alleged by Democrats. President never personally linked investigations into Burisma/Bidens to disbursement of US military aid. There is no documentary or even firsthand evidence of such linkage or quid pro quo. In fact as events show that US military aid was disbursed by Trump without new Ukraine President starting Biden investigations.
Not giving an opportunity to President Trump team to cross examine whistleblower violated 5th and 14th Amendment rights of President Trump as an American citizen putting under question mark constitutional validity of the entire proceedings
A lot of fuss has been created by Democrats about use of word “favour” by President Trump in 25 July telephone talk. It is a polite form and never constitutes a demand or order or pressure particularly when both parties to talk are sovereign equals. In addition Ukraine President has himself clarified time and again that there was no pressure from President Trump to start investigations against Biden/Burisma or link it with release of US military aid. Democrats state that such denial by Ukraine President cannot be real.
When we diplomats talk of seeking favour from our counterparts we never mean any personal favour, it is always favour for the country. Here again Democrats have given a spin to word favour which Republicans should explain to public.
It is, thus, clear that President Trump committed no illegalities in his dealings with Ukraine that he has been accused of but presentation of Trump’s defense so far has been rather ad hoc and weak which should be augmented by lining up US Ukraine Treaty, arguments of violation of 5th and 14th Amendment rights of President Trump by House committees among others. Position of President Trump that subpoenas issued by House committees were unconstitutional, so invalid needs more elaboration in Republican publicity.
(The writer belongs to the 1971 batch of Indian Foreign Service and served as Indian Ambassador, High Commissioner and Consul General in many countries)