Op-ed: Schiff’s own words undermine Democrats’ impeachment theory

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) can’t get his legal analogies straight, to the serious detriment of his party’s broader argument, a former law professor writes in a new column dismantling the Democrat congressman’s muddled impeachment rhetoric.

In his closing remarks prior the impeachment vote, Schiff made a confused comparison between Trump’s “bribe” of Ukraine and a hypothetical scenario in which a person tries to bribe a cop. The analogy doesn’t work because Trump was never under any legal obligation to provide military aid to Ukraine, Sandeep Gopalan, vice chancellor and executive vice president of academic affairs at Piedmont International University, argues at The Hill.

Indeed, Schiff and his fellow Democrats are trying to turn a foreign policy dispute into a crime — and the American people aren’t buying it, he writes.

Columnist: Analogy weakens case

As some conservative commentators have pointed out, the Democrats’ impeachment narrative is based on the confused idea that Trump is somehow obligated  to provide military aid to Ukraine, and that by not providing that aid, Trump committed an “illegal” bribe. Notwithstanding the fact that Democrats did not accuse Trump of “bribery” in their impeachment articles, that is the essence of their accusation against the president.

“My colleagues continue to make the argument that the Ukrainians got the money,” Schiff said in closing comments before last week’s impeachment vote. “Yes, the president got caught, but they got the money, no harm, no foul. It’s the equivalent of saying, ‘If you’re pulled over by a cop and you attempt to bribe the cop, and the cop doesn’t take the money but arrests you, where’s the crime in that?’”

In a column at The Hill, Gopalan carefully dismantles Schiff’s points. If Ukraine is the “cop” and Trump is the one who got “caught,” there’s a problem with that analogy, since Trump was never legally required to do what the “cop” — in this case Ukraine — says.

Moreover, Gopalan argues, Trump did not make any such bribe in the phone call, as the transcript shows that Trump spoke only loosely of a “favor” rather than explicating a quid pro quo. And even if, as Schiff says, Trump only released the aid when he got “caught,” it doesn’t matter because Trump doesn’t work for the president of Ukraine.

Criminalization of policy disputes

What crime, exactly, Trump is supposed to have committed has been something of a moving target, floating in a vague cloud of misdeeds having something to do with U.S. foreign policy towards Russia and Ukraine. As Democrats see it, Trump trampled on the Constitution by momentarily suspending military aid to Ukraine — aid he is not required to provide — which was ultimately supplied anyway.

“Remember, Trump was not bound to provide aid — he generally has been skeptical about U.S. entanglements abroad and particularly reluctant to spend American money to fund the security of other countries, even longstanding allies,” Gopalan writes.”Ukraine is not a longstanding ally; it is not a contributor to U.S. security and not a NATO ally. Moreover, the U.S. aid will not make a difference in Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.”

Such sober common sense is nowhere to be found on the left, unfortunately, as Democrats seem to have gotten it in their heads that Trump has no legitimate power whatsoever — that he’s basically the subordinate not only of Ukraine, but of his own advisers, the “brave public servants” who testified about how Trump endangered “national security.”

Is it any wonder that Americans are tuning out of this boring charade? If the president committed a real bribe — the kind of salacious smoking gun Democrats have claimed — then Democrats would have named the crime in their articles of impeachment, and the wrongdoing would be so intolerable that a bipartisan majority would support his removal from power.

But that’s not the case here, because Democrats have criminalized the act of diverging from their deranged obsession with Russia. Fortunately, the American people can see right through it.

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