Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed giddy as she announced the impeachment managers who would go to the Senate and attempt to prosecute a case against President Donald Trump.
She said “He’s been impeached forever. They can never erase that.”
However, Pelosi has it exactly backward. The Senate is going to refuse to convict President Trump. He will be exonerated, and she and the Democrats will be condemned by history.
The wide repudiation of the House Democratic betrayal of the Constitution is already beginning. As a historian myself, I think it’s important to document these reactions.
Consider historian Victor Davis Hanson’s analysis for the National Review, which was subtitled: “The new normal: Impeachment as a routine partisan tool, endless investigations, lying under oath with impunity, surveillance of political enemies, zero accountability.”
This is hardly an endorsement of Pelosi’s trivialization of the Constitution.
Abraham Lincoln scholar and highly respected historian Allen Guelzo asserted in The Wall Street Journal:
“[Charles] Pinckney and [Rufus] King might have been right in 1787. Americans prefer to choose their presidents with elections, and whenever impeachment is used in an attempt to nullify those choices, the results aren’t happy for anyone. That was true in 1868, and as both Andrew Johnson and his accusers might warn us, it remains true after a century and a half.”
Clearly, Pelosi did not know enough history to understand the warnings of Pinckney and King – or the sad end of the impeachment process against President Johnson.
When Interviewed by Arun Rath, Harvard law professor and ACLU liberal Alan Dershowitz commented:
“[Alexander] Hamilton said that the greatest danger would be an impeachment that was based on who had the most votes in the House or removal based on who had the most votes in the Senate. And that’s precisely what we’re seeing happen, and the reason we’re seeing it is because of the use of open-ended criteria. Every controversial president since John Adams has been accused of abuse of power. And obstruction of Congress? That’s part of our system of checks and balances. Right now, it seems like Nancy Pelosi is trying to obstruct the Senate by delaying furthering the articles of impeachment. …So I think the House of Representatives violated the Constitution when they impeached him on these two grounds.”
When interviewed by Congress, Law Professor Jonathan Turley warned:
“One can oppose President Trump’s policies or actions but still conclude that the current legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous, as the basis for the impeachment of an American president.”
So, from these perspectives, it is Pelosi – not Trump – who threatens to undermine the Constitution.
As former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy pointed out on Fox News, the Pelosi strategy is simply to “bruise President Trump with an unending stream of new impeachment allegations” in order to hurt his chances at re-election. McCarthy added, “[a]fter over 230 years, we have entered the era of partisan impeachment that the Framers feared. This is what it looks like.”
So, McCarthy sees Pelosi behaving in exactly the unconstitutional and narrowly partisan manner the writers of the Constitution hoped to avoid. Again, it is Pelosi – not Trump – who is undermining the Constitution.
In addition, The New York Post’s editorial board noted that “Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has been lying to the world for years in his nonstop campaign to smear President Trump.” Their judgement is that it is Schiff – and not Trump – who has been a continuous serial liar.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board summarized the disaster of Pelosi’s bid to delay sending the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, saying her move “further exposes how Democrats have defined impeachment down. The House hearings blocked GOP witnesses and limited cross-examination. Despite selective leaks and a pro-impeachment media, they failed to move public opinion or persuade Republicans that Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses.”
The WSJ editorial board went on to call Democrats’ actions “an abuse of the impeachment power” and reiterated that the things alleged in the Articles of Impeachment “aren’t close to impeachable.”
Madison Gesiotto in the Hill called this “the flimsiest and most partisan impeachment in history.”
In fact, as Pelosi played games with appointing managers, even senior Democrats began to lose patience. “The longer it goes on the less urgent it becomes,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told reporters. “If it is serious and urgent, send them over. If it is not, do not send it over.”
Republican Senator Susan Collins suggested that the delays were wrong. As she put it, “[d]oesn’t that suggest that the House did an incomplete job, then?”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell neatly summarized the Democrat House-created calamity in his floor statement on Thursday, saying “[i]t was a transparently partisan performance from beginning to end.”
McConnell went on to remind the country of the Founding Fathers’ fears of exactly the kind of narrow bitter partisanship Pelosi has been displaying. Paraphrasing Hamilton, McConnell warned that “blinded by factionalism, the House of Representatives would abuse the power of impeachment to serve nakedly partisan goals rather than the long-term interests of the American people and their Republic.”
Finally, it’s clear the House Democrats have failed utterly to live up to the standard of prosecution set out by former Associate Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson (who served as chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials). Jackson cautioned the Conference of United States Attorneys on April 1, 1940:
“With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him. It is in this realm-in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense, that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies. It is here that law enforcement becomes personal, and the real crime becomes that of being unpopular with the predominant or governing group, being attached to the wrong political views, or being personally obnoxious to or in the way of the prosecutor himself.”
So, no, Nancy. President Trump does not have to fear the judgement of history on this impeachment effort.
The judgement of history is going to be that a group of scoundrels in control of the US House of Representatives placed partisan interests above the country, undermined the Constitution, weakened America in the world, and lied about the duly elected President of the United States.
This will become Pelosi’s moment of shame, and Trump’s moment of redemption.