A Flawed Impeachment Process
The last several weeks have been eventful in terms of one particular topic, and that is House Democrats and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unprecedented pursuit of impeachment. Especially on something as consequential as impeaching the President of the United States, it is a disservice to the American people for one political party to dictate the terms of the process, as Democrats have done since day one.
To fully understand the current state of impeachment proceedings, it is important to review the turn of events that have taken place since the midterm elections shifted majority control of the House to Democrats. When lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were sworn into the current Congress, they were also launched into an era of divided government. As I have said on numerous occasions, it is in eras of divided government that bipartisanship is most critical. Unfortunately, instead of finding ways to work together on meaningful legislation for the American people, House Democrats have focused their efforts on nonstarter messaging bills and politically motivated investigations into the Trump Administration.
Until earlier this fall, most of the Democratic-led investigations were conducted by the House Judiciary Committee and focused on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Such investigations by Judiciary Democrats persisted despite the thorough findings of the Mueller Report that confirmed there was no collusion between Russia and President Trump’s campaign, nor was there sufficient evidence to justify indictment for obstruction of justice. Though some embarrassing information may have been revealed, no impeachable offenses could be found. All the while, despite the activity in the Judiciary Committee and insistence by Chairman Nadler, Speaker Pelosi contended that an impeachment inquiry was not actually underway.
It was not until late September – amid reports about a whistleblower complaint on an entirely different matter related to Ukraine and U.S. military aid – that Speaker Pelosi then declared an impeachment inquiry was underway in the House. Months prior to her announcement, Speaker Pelosi insisted, “I’m not for impeachment without bipartisan support.” Needless to say, bipartisan support does not exist for the impeachment proceedings currently taking place in the House. Moreover, there are serious flaws in the process by which Democrats are pursuing it. Most egregious, the inquiry was not originally authorized by a formal House vote.
Undoubtedly in response to weeks of Republican complaints about the unauthorized inquiry and the resulting closed door and deceptive process led primarily by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, House Democrats last week attempted to do some damage control. This came through the introduction of an impeachment process resolution written by Democrats, without any Republican input whatsoever. It’s worth noting that during the Nixon and Clinton impeachments, both sides treated the process with the seriousness it deserved, negotiating and finding agreement across the aisle to ensure fairness and due process for all involved in the inquiry.
While I am not on the investigating committees of jurisdiction, I was more directly involved in impeachment related matters last week since the process resolution came through the House Rules Committee, where I serve as the Ranking Republican. As you may know, this committee focuses on procedural matters, most often setting the terms for consideration of major legislation before it goes to the House floor for debate and a vote. But last week, the committee marked up the Democrats’ impeachment process resolution. During the markup, Rules Republicans offered several constructive amendments – 17 in total – to ensure a fair, open and transparent process as was done during the impeachment process for both President Nixon in 1974 and President Clinton in 1998. All were blocked from inclusion, further affirming that Democrats are pursuing a one-sided process to ensure a pre-ordained result. However, such a process is severely flawed and surely cannot yield a legitimate outcome. Moreover, it makes political polarization and divisions in the country even worse.
Rather than drag the country through the drama of impeachment 12 months before an election, lawmakers should legislate. Even in divided government, there is plenty of room for agreement on many pressing issues that the American people care about – like trade, drug pricing, immigration reform, border security, providing for our troops and funding the government. Unfortunately, the more consumed the country becomes over impeachment, the less likely lawmakers are to tackle productive things.
In the days and months ahead, you can count on me to keep you informed. For the latest on impeachment and other topics, tune into my “Weekly Chats” video series on my YouTube channel here: YouTube.com/TomColeOK04.