Shocking his conservative audience, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace trumpeted Democrats for impeaching President Donald Trump over “far broader” wrongdoing than President Bill Clinton.
The anti-Trump Fox journalist said that Trump’s impeachment impinges on issues of “national security” and election integrity, while Clinton’s impeachment was basically about whether the president “lied about sex,” the Hill reported.
Wallace claimed that he wasn’t picking sides, but nevertheless echoed the Democrats in describing their charges as grave.
Wallace: Trump impeachment “far broader” than Clinton’s
As it turns out, the case is “broader” in the imagination of the media only. After months of drama, Democrats dropped the “bribery” accusations and laid out just two rather anodyne articles of impeachment Tuesday, one for “abuse of power” and another for “obstructing” their so-called solemn process.
Speaking with Ken Starr the day before, Wallace indicated that he was impressed by the gravity of the accusations being leveraged against Trump. The tut-tutting Fox anchor was responding to Starr’s claim that Democrats were pursuing Trump over “narrow” and “slanted” charges.
“It seems to be a much bigger issue. Whether or not you believe the president did it is a different issue. but it seems to me it’s about an issue of foreign policy, national security, the security of our elections,” Wallace said. “It’s a much bigger issue than whether or not Bill Clinton lied about sex.”
Wallace also pushed back against Starr for saying that Democrats’ impeachment push is doomed to fail in the Senate, with Wallace saying that the likelihood of success shouldn’t matter and that Republicans are now working by a “different standard” than twenty years ago. But then as now, there is no bipartisan support, and then as now, a partisan impeachment would deepen divisions in the country — something with which the Democrats seem to be okay.
“That seems to me to be a relevant fact,” Starr said, noting that Democrats could not show any crime committed by Trump. “When some president has committed actual federal felonies, then that puts, it seems to me, the impeachment inquiry in a very different context.”
A “broad” nothingburger
The other side of the “much broader” coin is that the breadth of an accusation doesn’t make it more serious or true. Trump’s “crimes” have always been something of a moving target, morphing from Russian collusion, to obstructing the Russia investigation, to “quid pro quo,” to the more sensational “bribery,” before Democrats settled on “abuse of power” and “obstruction.”
It’s easy to construct a grand, elaborate narrative of wrongdoing when there’s nothing actually there to give it form. Ironically, Democrats are now going down a narrower path than their previous bluster suggested — not before fooling self-serious journalists at Fox, it seems.
Democrats appear sensitive to the PR risks of a formless impeachment, so to speak, as their decision to focus exclusively on Ukraine suggests. But this narrowing came after weeks (to say nothing of years of Russia frenzy) of public testimony that revealed an important element of Trump’s so-called treason involved his fateful decision to temporarily suspend military aid to a “critical” Eastern European ally in its conflict with Russia.
Since when is foreign policy heterodoxy an impeachable offense? Wallace might think so, but to about half the country it’s a “broad” nothingburger — not that the left seems to care.