Good Friday Morning! I’m currently sitting at my desk, writing this newsletter much later than usual. After spending an excessive amount of time in traffic and trying to catch BBC and SkyNews alerts, I finally got home so I could stream those networks and watch United Kingdom election returns. At the time I’m watching this, the BBC and others are projecting a monster victory for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives. I have a column coming out late today on how Democrats should take the downfall of Jeremy Corbyn. I’ll probably have more thoughts later on when we get a clearer picture of what happened.
Long story short, though: Brexit is happening. After three years of non-stop delay, Boris Johnson seems set to deliver Brexit and fulfill the referendum. In this issue, though, I’m talking about the Articles of Impeachment getting drawn up by Democrats. Links to follow.
Where you can find me this week
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This week on the show, host Daniel Vaughan tackles the topics of the porn debate on the right, the collapse of the campaigns of Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, and why Joe Biden is struggling to answer questions and scrutiny on his son, Hunter Biden.
Kanye West is showing the way. Jay-Z should follow. – The Conservative Institute
Some thoughts comparing Jay-Z and Kanye West after I had my Spotify year in review.
Pornography is a cultural problem – and free speech – The Conservative Institute
There’s renewed debate about pornography and conservatism’s response to it. I wade into that debate here.
Democrats settle on articles of impeachment
I expected two things to happen as I got ready to write this week. First, I expected to get distracted by the British elections. That happened, and as I mentioned at the top, I’ve been glued to the coverage. Second, though, I expected that the House Judiciary Committee would have voted on, by now, articles of impeachment. That hasn’t happened.
At the end of a 14-hour hearing, Chairman Jerry Nadler suddenly announced that the House Judiciary Committee was in recess until 10 am Friday. And he said the following:
Before banging his gavel to end the meeting, Nadler said, “It is now very late at night. I want members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over the last two days and to search their consciences before they cast their final votes.”
Collins accused Nadler of running a “kangaroo court.”
“Mr. Chairman, there was no consulting for the ranking member for tomorrow in which you’ve just blown up schedules for everyone,” he said. “This is the kangaroo court that we’re talking about.”
My first reaction to this was that maybe Nadler had lost votes on the committee and needed time to figure things out. By the time you read this, it’s likely all this will have sorted itself out, I’m just got thrust into the dark last second on the topic I had sketched out.
It could be that Nadler wanted to stick it to Republicans by throwing them off. Who knows at this stage. I can’t tell from the reporting if there’s more to this or not. But it is very odd.
Articles of impeachment
Democrats have settled on two primary articles of impeachment: 1) Abuse of power, and 2) Obstruction of justice. The abuse of power one was wholly expected and unsurprising. The obstruction is more surprising if only because it’s so weak and barely worthy of discussion. I’ll hit both here and explain both.
Abuse of power
To show you how little has changed since this story initially broke, I went back and pulled my description of the best case for impeachment from October 3rd. I wrote out the best case Democrats could make based purely on the call readout and initial news reports.
Donald Trump abused the power of the Presidency by withholding Congressionally designated money meant for Ukrainian defense aid in order to further his own personal gain by damaging the campaign of a political rival in Joe Biden. Trump withheld the aid, had a phone call with the new Ukranian President, and implied that if they wanted that aid or further US support, Ukraine should step up to the plate and offer something in return, which was dirt on Hunter Biden and anything related to the DNC. Once Trump secured that promise, he released the aid and sent his personal attorney, Rudy Guiliani, who is not an official government representative, to ensure the bargain was kept. The Trump/Ukraine relationship was built off quid-pro-quo, and Trump only held malicious personal intent, with no American interests at stake.
Not much has changed. Democrats held a series of hearings on that phone call, and whatever the voted on articles of impeachment say — the abuse of power one will say something close to that paragraph.
As I’ve maintained, the entire case for impeachment rests in the phone call readout. If you can’t make a case for impeachment from that, you’re a lousy salesman. So, it’s incredibly telling that the American people, after reading that readout, showed increased support for impeachment. But once Adam Schiff started his public hearings, support for impeachment started waning.
It’s also telling that Democrats didn’t add things that got reported, like an article of impeachment for treason or bribery. They poll-tested bribery and used it as a political line rather frequently. But in the end, Pelosi and Nadler backed off those as options.
Abuse of power is the only real issue in this impeachment case. I’ve made plenty of arguments for and against it in the past so that I won’t belabor it here. But I would say, the key to it is that call. Legally, it’s impeachable conduct. Politically, is it impeachable? I tend to think not, and it’s probably something best left to an election. I don’t see this impeachment push as attempting to fix the breach of trust that Trump’s conduct creates, so it’s best to let an election answer this question.
Obstruction of justice
The second article is obstruction of justice. This article gets premised on the idea that Congress has issues subpoenas and requests to the White House over impeachment, and the executive branch has refused to cooperate. Now, while this is refusing to comply with the subpoena, it’s also not unusual.
Congress and the Executive branch have argued and fought over Congressional subpoenas for decades. Presidents have refused to follow them for a variety of reasons. Eric Holder famously refused multiple times, and Congress held him in contempt. Other Presidents did the same thing.
In this case, the Trump administration claimed executive privilege with certain witnesses and documents. If Democrats wanted the people or materials, they could do two things: 1) fight it in court, or 2) negotiate with the White House. Because Pelosi and her team believed they didn’t have much time, they went with making it an article of impeachment. So while it’s true, the President resisted the subpoenas sent over, it’s also true that historical practice made this a pretty typical maneuver.
I’m keeping an eye on the articles of an impeachment vote in the committee after Nadler’s stunt, but I am expecting everything to make it out of committee. The obstruction charge is remarkably weak, so weak it’s barely worth noting. The abuse of power article is the million-dollar question ,and it seems like Adam Schiff has done his best to destroy the confidence of people in that argument.
Conventional wisdom has held for a while that it was inevitable that House Democrats would impeach, and Senate Republicans acquit. That’s the safest bet. I still believe you’ll see more Democrats vote against it than Republicans. But we’ll find out very fast.
Links of the week
American Leftists Believed Corbyn’s Inevitable Victory Would Be Their Model – Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
Investigators See Jersey City Shooting as Potential Act of Domestic Terrorism – ‘The evidence points towards acts of hate,’ says New Jersey’s attorney general – Joseph De Avila, The Wall Street Journal
The FBI’s Corrupt Cops: The falsified documents and the many errors all disadvantaged one side. That’s not bias? – Kevin D. Williamson, National Review
The Person Of The Year Is Not Greta Thunberg. It’s The Hong Kong Protester – Ben Domenech, The Federalist
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire piece of the week
U.S.—A new study found that most people would rather be annihilated by a giant tidal wave caused by climate change than continue to be lectured by climate change activists.
Study participants were given the option of having the earth flooded by massive tidal waves or listening to virtue-signaling, smarmy lectures by environmentalists for the next decade. Over 87% of respondents selected, “Bring on the tidal wave.” A few people said they’d rather take the lectures, but after hearing a few minutes of the lectures, quickly changed their minds. Several respondents rushed straight to the ocean, arms outstretched, and asked the sea to take us all.
Thanks for reading!