The Impeachment Inquiry, education of the electorate, and the facts

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.

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 such a 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 in an excellent article in LAWFARE. 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 to inform the drafting of articles of impeachment. Equally important, if not more important, would be 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 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 better grounded understanding of what Trump and his enablers and agents have done, why it is significant, and why articles of impeachment should be drafted and voted upon.

Spirit of Publius

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