It has now become a frequent occurrence to wonder if I have taken leave of my senses and am imagining the unutterable nonsense being uttered by apparently normal, functioning news readers and commentators on television and in print.
This began when the Washington Post reported the “Republican talking point” two-and-a-half years ago that the Steele dossier had been commissioned and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. I had just finished Hillary Clinton’s book "What Happened" about the election, the outcome of which she attributed to Trump’s “treason” with the Russians and being “shivved in the back three times by Jim Comey.” I wandered aimlessly, like a zombie, through the media, looking for confirmation that the Russian collusion whopper had been abandoned and that its authors were testing the nation’s air raid shelters for refuge.
Comey was negligent in not taking Clinton’s evidence under oath. He exceeded his authority in overlooking her lies and in saying she would not be prosecuted. When her victory seemed secure, he went through the charade of briefly reopening the inquiry. Presumably, he will be prosecuted and disbarred and further punished according to the law, but not for giving Clinton the shiv. It will be a spectacle worth waiting for, given Comey’s bloated sanctimony. And if he imagines his lawyer, Patrick Fitzgerald, will be of much use to him, with his long record of dishonest prosecutions, Comey’s disillusionment will be becoming. The film rights will be valuable.
It hardly need be noted that the Steele fiasco, an admitted pastiche of lies and defamations, not “unverified intelligence” or even, as Hillary henceforth described it, “campaign information,” simply vanished but the criminal assault on the Trump presidency by those whom it had displaced, burbled on for more than a year. The country was still recovering its balance from the atmospheric decompression of the Mueller inquiry, not even defended by its geriatric nominal chief author, when the “whistleblower” emerged. Everyone knows his name, and that the whistleblower protocols had to be altered to permit his hearsay to qualify.
We know he wasn’t a whistleblower, just a former Biden political helper misrepresenting what he had been told of a conversation the president had with the president of Ukraine. First, he said, President Trump had threatened to withhold aid Congress had approved if the authorities in that country did not investigate the activities of Joe and Hunter Biden in Ukraine. In fact, the money was not withheld, the request and the aid were not related, the Bidens haven’t been investigated, the Ukrainian president has denied there was any pressure, the Democrats will not allow the so-called whistleblower to testify and be questioned, Trump did not direct findings on the Bidens — he just wanted to know what happened, and the president has a perfect right to conduct foreign policy as he wishes.
At first, we were told Trump was using government money to extort a smear of Biden, but there was no connection and he wanted the facts, not a smear and didn’t even get that. Again, warped by the observation that sophisticated societies will respond rationally to emergent facts on matters of public interest, I awaited the evaporation of this latest farrago of desperate partisan nonsense. But the Democratic National Committee made no secret of the fact that it consulted a public relations firm and went through focus groups and the like to find that the most damning charge against the president was “bribery,” the crime used along with “treason” in the Constitution to justify recourse to impeachment. Treason hadn’t worked and back they all came, like synchronized Radio City choristers, with incantations of “bribery” directed at the president.
Now they say he bribed the Ukrainian president with aid in exchange for the presumed campaign advantage of learning why the young Biden was getting the unheard-of fee of $87,000 a month from a notoriously corrupt energy company, an industry in which Hunter Biden had no experience. This, they said, was the bribe, even though Congress voted the aid, and President Trump never got the information he was seeking — the facts not a smear, a question all politically interested Americans would also like to have answered; and there is no persuasive evidence of any connection between the aid and the request for the facts anyway: not a bribe, not a crime, nothing wrong.
The polls don’t move, the airwaves are empurpled with gasps of horror at these unnewsworthy banalities. The most inveterate liar in the history of American politics, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who makes Joseph R. McCarthy seem like a soothsayer, continues as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to deny Republicans the right to cross-examine or call their witnesses. Meanwhile, the media just romp along like a pantomime horse nodding at this relentless avalanche of imbecilities and outrages.
Fox News host Chris Wallace solemnly stated that Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, was a “powerful witness.” A “powerful witness” to what? She had no evidence of any illegality committed by the president, and this is an inquiry into whether the president committed “high crimes.” Schiff started to read to her a tweet the president had just sent out saying that everywhere this ambassador had gone had turned out badly and that she was a partisan opponent of his and was disliked by the government to which she had been accredited. Schiff called it “witness intimidation.” She responded that she did not know the president’s motives but that she felt “very intimidated.”
Again, I thought my ears were deceiving me; Ukraine is a wild and woolly place and if she was intimidated by that, Trump didn’t get her out of there fast enough. Let’s have more robust ambassadors!
It might have been understandable if Yovanovitch had said she found it intimidating to be a featured witness where she didn’t have any relevant evidence for this spurious kangaroo court and publicity-fest. Schiff and the rest of the lynch mob not only want to defame and impeach with no evidence, but they also want to turn the White House into a judgment-free zone where the chief resident can’t express an opinion, like in a kindergarten for challenged children.
Reports that the Republican Senate leaders will prolong the trial to inconvenience the six Democratic senators running for their party’s nomination are nonsense. The country would resent it, the Trump campaign has no fear of any of them, and only Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders still have their heads above water anyway.
If the Democrats actually vote this out for an impeachment trial in the Senate, they will pay for it at the polls. But if they do, it is so feeble and ludicrous, I suspect the Republican majority will refuse to hear it, or will send it to the Supreme Court for referral, contending it does not reach the constitutional threshold of possible conviction to bring the country’s business to a stop for six weeks, especially in a year where the people themselves will decide whom they wish to be president.
Americans should pause to remember how far this has sunk: the idea is that the president’s request to know the facts about the Bidens’ financial involvement in Ukraine, after congressionally voted aid funds to Ukraine had been resumed, with no demonstrated connection between them, as the Ukrainian president affirms the absence of pressure, is held to be offering a bribe to elicit information American voters would wish to have but which has not been produced, within the president’s authority over the conduct of foreign policy, and that this should be judged by two-thirds of U.S. senators to be a “high crime” on the scale of bribery or treason, and President Trump should be removed from office because of it.
Any American adult who believes any substantial part of that should seek psychiatric help at once, regardless of his healthcare plan. Henry Kissinger is fond of quoting Metternich that public “policy is a drama that ends by following the script to its conclusion or because the audience mounts the stage and stops it.” What is left of American national dignity requires that the audience mount the stage, stop the media auto-da-fé and let their congressmen and senators know that this farce must end. There was never a legal basis to it and there is no longer even an entertainment justification for it. It merely makes the United States appear absurd, to itself and to the world.
This article originally appeared in American Greatness.
Conrad Black is a financier, author and columnist. He was the publisher of the London (UK) Telegraph newspapers and Spectator from 1987 to 2004, and has authored biographies on Maurice Duplessis, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Richard M. Nixon. He is honorary chairman of Conrad Black Capital Corporation and has been a member of the British House of Lords since 2001, and is a Knight of the Holy See. He is the author of "Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other" and "Rise to Greatness, the History of Canada from the Vikings to the Present." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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