There were many events to choose as the biggest political story of last week but since I invested so much time watching the House Judiciary Committee’s meeting I am selecting it for today’s topic. The meaning of today’s title will become apparent below. Let’s explore.
At 10:07am Wednesday morning Chairman Gerry Nadler gaveled the House Intelligence Committee to order. Before the clock struck 10:08 Republican Jim Sensenbrenner tried to disrupt the proceedings with an objection. At 10:09 Republican Andy Biggs raised a supposed parliamentary inquiry as Nadler attempted to commence his opening statement. After Nadler yielded to Ranking Member Doug Collins he made a motion and when it obviously failed on a voice vote he called for the roll since the whole thing was just part of the Republican delay, distract and disgust strategy.
The strategy was to delay the hearings in the hope to distract from the proceedings and perhaps even throw Nadler off. That second part didn’t work; Nadler actually exceeded expectations and did a good job of maintaining control of the proceeding with an important and largely unnoticed assist from Zoe Lofgren.
However there was another part of the strategy – disgust. The Republicans hoped that if they could turn the hearing into a complete shamble they could get viewers to tune out. The whole idea of the public hearings is to sway public opinion and thereby force Republican Senators to vote to remove Trump from office. It is all but a complete forgone conclusion that the House will vote to impeach Trump.
Biggs repeatedly tried to interrupt the first witness, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman. As Feldman “passed the torch” to Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan, Republican Kelly Armstrong interrupted with a motion that failed and then a call for a roll call vote.
While the frequency of interruptions dissipated significantly, it continued through the long day. I’ll go through a loser and winners analysis below (the reason for the reverse order will become apparent in time.)
Jonathan Turley – As we entered the hearings he was the only one of the expert witnesses I was familiar with. My respect for him dropped as the day continued. His only saving grace was that he was largely uncalled upon. His most memorable moment was when he said his golden doodle Luna was mad. He was against impeaching Trump and upheld the Republican theory of the moment that the proceedings were incomplete and moving too fast. Where have he and the Republicans been for about the last two+ years? Suddenly there is a need for more fact witnesses; you know the ones Trump is preventing from testifying. Apparently the Turley aided Republicans have decided there is a need for more documentation; you know the documents Trump is preventing the executive branch from turning over to Congress. The “Turley solution” is for the Democrats to take all those obstructions to court and wait for rulings and appeals which conveniently plays right into the hands of the Trump delay game.
Doug Collins – The Republican ranking member actually looks like a nice guy but not an exceedingly bright one. Other than right wing rhetoric his big complaints were that the room was too cold and the chairs were uncomfortable.
Paul Taylor – While he was an improvement over the Republican Counsel at the Intelligence Committee he did his reputation harm when it came out that he made an omission in what he portrayed as a quote from Neal Katyal’s recent book, Impeach, that change the entire meaning of the cited words.
Kelly Armstrong, Andy Biggs, Ken Buck, Steve Chabot, Ben Cline, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Debbie Lesko, Tom McClintock, John Ratcliffe, Guy Reschenthaler, Martha Roby, Jim Sensenbrenner – Republicans claim the entire process is a circus. If that is so at this point Doug Collins is driving the clown car and the aforementioned are the clowns. Most spoke their entire time never asking a question. The exception was Buck who attacked Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Roosevelt, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Abraham Lincoln. I still don’t know what that was intended to prove or what constituency it played to.
Greg Steube – I had to cite him separately from the other clowns because his performance was special. He was actually late for his five minutes. In fact three Democrats had to speak while the world waited for him to get back from the potty or wherever. The he rambled a bit, asked an inane question that was ruled out of order and promptly yielded to Ratcliffe. We actually were forced to wait for this?
Truman – I too have a golden doodle (a micro mini named Truman – yes, after Harry Truman) and he wins because he has an owner with higher moral standards than Luna’s. Truman’s owner doesn’t take ridiculous positions just to please a constituency. Truman may have been the biggest winner and all he did was nap in my wife’s recliner for most of the hearing.
Pamela Karlan – Professor Karlan was without a doubt the biggest human winner of the day and the star of the show. She displayed an exemplary knowledge of the Constitution and passionately made her arguments in language everyone could understand.
Gerry Nadler – Admittedly even progressive had set the bar low for him going into the hearing but he did a nice job of keeping order and his cool.
Eric Swalwell – The Californian just decimated Turley when he quoted verbiage Turley used in the unsuccessful impeachment of then-federal judge G. Thomas Porteous, Jr. in 2010. It was almost verbatim of the language he used earlier in the hearing to defend Trump. I know coaches usually use the same winning plays repeatedly. I guess defense lawyers only have so many plays to run for obviously guilty clients.
I haven’t seen any good polling lately but from what I have heard and seen Trump’s support among Republicans is still very high. Until that moves the Senate Republicans won’t. It may well still come down to “we the people” in November.
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