What are the House Democrats trying to accomplish with their “impeachment inquiry”? Are they doing their constitutional duty to remove President Trump from office for “high crimes and misdemeanors”? Are they engaged in a elaborate political stunt to make Trump easier pickings in the 2020 election? Is the exercise to appease their more radical members? Trying to draw attention away from their own misconduct? A fit of pique? As the editors of the Wall Street Journal point out, the process that the House Democrats are pursuing certainly makes it excusable to suspect they are not motivated purely by the first objective:
Democrats are moving fast toward what looks like an inevitable vote to impeach President Trump, so why aren’t they doing more to persuade Americans who don’t already agree with them? They won’t convince anyone else with their current method of irregular order, secret hearings and selective leaks to the pro-impeachment press.
Start with the news that Democrats may attempt to keep secret the identity of the intelligence whistleblower whose complaint started the impeachment drive. The Washington Post reports that Chairman Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee may have the official testify away from Capitol Hill, or allow only staff to attend, or obscure his image and voice as in a mafia trial.
This is astonishing. The key witness in an attempt to depose an elected President would testify without the American public getting a clue about who he is or what his motivations might be. Impeachment isn’t a criminal proceeding, so the right of Mr. Trump to face his accuser doesn’t apply. But you’d think that annulling the 2016 vote of 63 million Americans would be significant enough to demand witness transparency and a chance for both parties to test his knowledge and credibility.
At this point if the objective is to push Trump’s approval rating far enough down that the voters abandon him, it’s not working. According to the RCP index of polls, Trump’s approval rating has declined about two points after weeks non-stop criticism. It’s still 6-8 points higher than it was a year ago.
IMO the House Democrats should follow the procedures of the last two impeachment inquiries. They should take a vote. They should comport themselves with dignity. Stunts like Adam Schiff’s imaginary conversation should be eschewed. The spirit of the proceedings should be one of inquiry not inquisition.