The House Democrats and other Trump critics have failed to make the case against President Donald J. Trump.
Two questions arise?
1. Why has this happened?; and
2. Who, if anyone, will make the case against Trump?
The answer to the first question has much to do with the daily news cycle and its focus on new developments, and is essentially a subject for a second article.
The second question is difficult to answer.
Currently, the House Democrats are focused on the Ukrainian affair, which involves Trump’s withholding of military assistance for the Ukraine while demanding Ukraine launch public investigations into Joe Biden’s and his son’s activities in the Ukraine, and a separate investigation aimed at supporting a conspiracy theory–long discredited by all reputable news sources–that it was Ukraine, not Russia, which was behind the intervention in the U.S. elections in 2016–which U.S. intelligence agencies and Robert Mueller in his report found to be directed by Russia and by Vladimir Putin himself.
Before the Mueller Report, Democrats excused their own inaction on the grounds that they were waiting for Robert Mueller to conclude his investigation and issue his report. After that report became public, instead of synthesizing and broadcasting its conclusions for the American public to digest, they placed rheir hopes in Mueller’s one day of testimony to dazzle the American public. Dazzle he did not, referring instead to his report, which called on Congress to act on his evidence and conclusions.
This the Democrats did not do, allowing the mass media to repeatedly report that the Mueller Report had “fizzled”. What in fact had fizzled was any determination on the part of the House Democrats to take on the conclusions and evidence in the Mueller Report in order to synthesize its findings and present them to the American people, in digestible form, as part of the case for impeachment of President Trump.
With the revelations about Trump’s July 25 telephone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, House Democrats debated whether to focus only on the Ukraine affair, or more broadly on the principal examples of Trump’s alleged malfeasance in office, including matters detailed in the Mueller Report. With a focus primarily on the Ukraine affair, but without definitively excluding other matters, House Democrats are now holding public hearings while moving quickly toward voting on Articles of Impeachment.
While final decisions have not been made on how broad these articles will be, the current focus remains on the Ukraine affair.
Still, the Ukraine affair probably represents 1% of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” Trump appears to have committed and to continue to be committing while in office.
Almost every day, it seems, he appears to engage in some form of obstruction of justice, whether witness tampering (e.g., by demanding that the identity of the Whistleblower in the Ukraine affair be made public–despite the fact that his or her anonymity is protected by law), corruption, or some other abuse of power.
The apparent Trump conspiracy to commit crimes and intimidate witnesses and otherwise cover up those crimes seems to be sprawling and ongoing. The Justice Department and other government agencies appear to have been corrupted to serve Trump’s personal ends, whether to avoid removal from office after impeachment or to win reelection in 2020, or to avoid prosecution after leaving office for other crimes.
The House Democrats delayed the impeachment inquiry for many months, losing valuable time. Yet if the impeachment process can be viewed as an opportunity to educate the American people about the alleged and proven facts of Trump’s alleged malfeasance in office, it will serve an incredibly useful purpose, reintroducing facts and their analysis into the public discussion of his actions in office.
So finally, at least in this regard, they seem to be on a fruitful track.
Whether they, or anyone else, makes the broader case based on all of of the high crimes and misdemeanors Trump has allegedly committed, or a selection of the most salient examples, remains to be seen.
Who will make the case against Trump?
A brilliant synthesis of all the evidence that is out there is required, presented in readable form that can be digested by the American electorate. Whoever writes this synthesis should neither overestimate nor underestimate the intelligence of the American people when thy become focused on matters of ultimate importance.
Nor should whoever writes this synthesis get caught up in the technicalities of the criminal law, preparing a synthesis for what is essentially a political process. That does not mean that crimes, such as those described in the Mueller Report, should be overlooked.
Who, indeed, will make the case against Trump?
The Trenchant Observer