Mark Penn’s assessment of the impeachment proceedings, posted at The Hill, echo mine pretty closely:
The first count of the two articles of impeachment against President Trump accuses the president of abuse of power by withholding aid in an attempt to force Ukraine to look into possible corruption on the part of Joe and Hunter Biden. He is called corrupt in motive for asking for an investigation of potential corruption over questions that had been raised in the New York Times, Politico, The New Yorker and other media outlets.
Bringing this up on a call to the president of Ukraine was probably a boneheaded thing to do, but not an impeachable one. Aid was not actually held up. No investigation was ordered. The president of Ukraine and other Ukrainian officials deny that any pressure was applied to them. Trump’s overall policy was, in fact, far more helpful to the Ukrainians than President Obama’s policies that denied them much aid for weapons. There was and is no urgent threat to the national security of the United States.
There is definitely something about all this that the American public doesn’t like, that reasonable people can judge as wrong, but that is quite different than removing a president from office through a process designed to use impeachment as a political vehicle. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was not a truth-seeker — he is on tape soliciting naked pictures of Trump, and he repeatedly exaggerated evidence against Trump over the last three years. He was simply a weapon jamming through impeachment and ignoring fair procedure or legal process.
The last few days in the media have underscored this bias with the release of material from Lev Parnas, who — like Christopher Steele and his dossier before him, or like Michael Avenatti, now out on bail — is a questionable character with obviously wild claims for which he has no proof, including claims against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr, whom Parnas has never met. It was a political dirty trick to release his information and him on the eve of the Senate impeachment trial, and this act alone would have gotten any real prosecutor’s case thrown out.
The second article of impeachment — obstruction of the House by the assertion of executive privilege — is, in my view, wholly without merit. Despite endless allegations of lawlessness, this administration has implemented every court ruling it has lost without exception. Asserting executive privilege is not the same as paying hush money or suborning perjury, as was alleged in the Clinton and Nixon impeachment efforts. President Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, frequently asserted privilege in response to investigations and Holder was even held in contempt of Congress, a resolution he promptly ignored.
This article should be immediately dismissed, as there is really no factual basis for it at all, especially since the House deliberately avoided allowing the president to adjudicate the claims in court by failing to subpoena witnesses or withdrawing subpoenas from witnesses who challenged them in court.
I think I called this right back in August. Here we are a half year later and it looks even more right. President Trump’s approval rating, while still extremely low by historical standards, has not collapsed. As long as the economy doesn’t tank between now and November, something that looks decreasingly likely, Trump is likely to be re-elected.
It looks right now as though the Democrats are being held hostage by their most extreme and strident members. It’s not a good look.