The Impeachment Inquiry as a tool for educating the American people and electorate

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on September 24, 2019 that the House would proceed with an impeachment investigation, using the six committees currently investigating Donald Trump and his administration.


Spirit of Publius, “The Impeachment Inquiry, education of the electorate, and the facts,” Trump Impeachment, September 25, 2019.

This article continues,

The immediate stimulus for Pelosi’s change from her previous position of opposing an impeachment inquiry was the failure of the Trump administration to transmit to Congress a whistle-blower complaint as required by law, and Donald Trump’s public admissions that he had raised his desire for an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden with respect to their activities relating to the Ukraine, in a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, 2019.

Pelosi made it clear that the investigation would be a broad one, and would not be limited to the alleged pressuring of Ukrainian president Zelensky on July 25, despite the fact that some lawmakers and even commentators had been arguing for just sucha narrow investigation.

Given the multiple alleged crimes and outrages committed by President Trump, the question arises as to which should receive priority.

A cogent answer to this question was provided by by an excellent article in LAWFARE. See

See Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, and Benjamin Wittes, “So You Want to Impeach the President,” LAWFARE, September 24, 2019 (2:02 p.m. ET).

The authors

make a compelling case that the most important categories of crimes and abuses of power should be investigated, but not all offenses. They understand, rightly, that the inquiry must be organized in a manner which makes for a coherent narrative which the electorate can understand.

It would be a mistake to assume that the only purpose of the inquiry is to gather facts o inform the drafting of articles of impeachment. Equally important, if not more important, is the objective of educating the American people, and in particular potential voters, as to the facts and the law regarding the offenses which Mr. Trump has allegedly committed.

For only by shifting the ground of discussion from the realm of political opinion to the hard ground of the detailed facts and law regarding Trump’s alleged offenses will the Democrats have any chance of piercing the bubble of lies and distortions which the president and the Republicans have been spinning, for over three years.

What we need is a sharp and detailed focus on the facts. While a cogent development and presentation of the facts may at times seem to be a little plodding, over time it should have a powerful cumulative effect. At the end, the American people and likely voters should have a much better and grounded understanding of what Trump and his enablers and agents have done, why it is significant, and why articles of impleachment should be drafted and voted upon.

The immediate goal of the Impeachment Inquiry should be to educate the American people and electorate. Should the Democrats skip this step in a race to getting out articles of impeachment, they may lose the only opportunity they will have to break through the bubble of lies and distortions which engulf Trump supporters.

Breaking through that bubble may represent the only chance they have to win the 2020 elections, against an incumbent president in a prospering economy when the incumbent is one of the greatest demagogues we have seen since the leader of the Germans in the 1930’s.

Here, the Democrats themselves need to understand that Trump’s support is a product of mass propaganda, which has much more to do with the mass psychology of Germany in the 1930’s than with their own highly refined arguments.

They need to smash Trump’s bubble. Only then will those who might otherwise vote for Trump be able to hear their arguments. The Impeachment Inquiry represents their best shot at piercing that bubble of propaganda, lies and distortions.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.