President Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow opened the Senate impeachment trial with a blistering attack on Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Jerry Nadler by quoting the two Democrats and using their exact words against them while making his case for the defense of the President.
Schiff, the lead manager for the House Democrats’ case against the president, has aggressively accused Trump of attempting to obstruct Democrats from their impeachment inquiry by instructing WH aides not to comply with congressional subpoenas to appear and testify.
But as Sekulow pointed out, it was the very same Adam Schiff who in a 2012 Politico column wrote,
“The White House assertion of privilege is backed by decades of precedent that has recognized the need for the president and his senior advisers to receive candid advice and information from their top aides.”
Schiff wrote those words in response to-then Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to provide documents demanded by the Republican-led Congress for their inquiry into President Obama’s controversial Operation Fast and Furious gun running scandal.
In terms of Nadler, Sekulow quoted him as saying at the time of Fast and Furious that Republican efforts to hold Holder “in contempt for refusing to comply with various subpoenas was ‘politically motivated’.” Sekulow then went on to quote Nancy Pelosi who at the time, called the Holder matter ‘a little more than a witch hunt.’
Let’s not forget how we got here. After arbitrarily sitting on the articles of impeachment for the past month as a ploy to urge the Senate to agree to favorable trial terms, House Democrats suddenly voted to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate and demanded that Mitch McConnell allow for witnesses in the trial. This was the very same demand which caused Democrats to slow up the process in the first place.
Apparently aware of the optics, House Democrats now claim there is new evidence to be presented, hence their reason for demanding new witnesses and documents be allowed. But for now, McConnell is having none of it. He announced there will be no more witnesses and blasted Pelosi for treating impeachment “like a political game.”
Adding to the irony – some would say hypocrisy- is that the very same House Democrats who are now demanding more witnesses and documents be presented are the same ones who did not allow Republicans to have subpoena power, did not allow the President to cross examine witnesses and it was Adam Schiff who prevented witnesses from answering Republican’s questions. But, I guess that was different.
Of course what many believe is that Democrats are betting they can call former National Security Advisor John Bolton as a witness and he will provide damaging testimony on Trump. Bolton, someone I’ve interviewed on multiple occasions is regarded as a war hawk on Middle East policy, a neocon and did not leave the White House on the most favorable of terms. Nonetheless I would be shocked if he gave Democrats anything of significance which they are seeking.
Then there is the indicted former associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Ukrainian Lev Parnas. Democrats want to call Parvas as a witness. Trump has said he doesn’t know Parvas, while Parvas says he does. Meanwhile, Politico is now reporting that documents show Schiff appears to have mischaracterized evidence involving Parvas and a text message. Republican’s are prepared to pounce.
It’s not likely any Democrat truly expects Trump will ever actually be impeached. Republican strategist I’ve spoken to tell me they believe the true agenda behind the impeachment is: a) It helps Democrat candidates with campaign fundraising b) it can be used to sway undecided voters in November’s election.
A recent Gallup poll shows public support for impeachment has now dropped to 46 percent, down six percentage points since the start of the impeachment inquiry. The same poll also found that 51 percent of Americans oppose impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office, a five percent increase. Furthermore Trump’s approval rating has increased by six percentage points, now at 45%, since the launch of the impeachment probe.
If Trump’s rally in front of a large, energetic crowd in Wisconsin last week, and now, news of a record-breaking 100,000 people who want tickets to the President’s upcoming rally in New Jersey is any indication, then Democrats are going to need all the help they can get.
Trump is touting his successes: Jobs, stock market records, trade deals with China and Canada and Mexico and of course let’s not forget Iran. This President has changed the way the world now views Iran. In fact Britain, France and Germany are now saying Iran violated the Obama nuclear agreement and a new ‘Trump Deal’ needs to be negotiated. None other than former Obama National Security Advisor (2009-2010) General James Jones recently said it was ‘absolutely correct’ what Trump has done in Iran. Let that sink in for a moment. It was just one presidential administration ago when America was dropping off cash on a tarmac in Iran.
All of which brings me back to impeachment and the election. Remember impeachment actually began before Trump was even President. On July 31, 2016 the FBI opened up a case and spied on four U.S. citizens associated with the campaign. Since it began three Democrats voted with all of the House Republicans not to impeach. One Congressman, Van Drew of New Jersey, has switched parties from Democrat to Republican.
If recent poll numbers and crowd sizes in the blue states of Wisconsin and New Jersey (upcoming) are any indication, then impeachment will continue to energize Trump’s supporters and not outweigh his triumphs.
By Rick Amato
Television Host of ‘Politics & Profits with Rick Amato’