Democrats Call Trump’s Bluff

At this point, the House impeachment hearings are being carried out according to the timetable they originally identified.

  • November 11-22 House Intelligence Committee holds public hearings
  • November 25-29 Thanksgiving break, during which House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees prepare their report to the Judiciary Committee
  • December 2-6 House Judiciary Committee holds public hearings
  • December 9-13 House Judiciary Committee votes on articles of impeachment
  • December 16-20 Full House votes on impeachment

The Intelligence Committee held public hearings and, over the Thanksgiving break, prepared their report. It is being circulated among lawmakers on Monday and the committee is expected to approve it on Tuesday.

The Judiciary Committee’s first public hearing will take place on Wednesday, with a review of the constitutional grounds for impeachment by legal scholars. That begins a four-stage process.

[T]he Judiciary Committee’s first move may be explain to Americans what impeachment is and how it works [scheduled for Wednesday].

The second set of hearings would entail Schiff and other chairmen presenting their findings formally to the Judiciary Committee, with the overwhelming bulk of that material coming from the Intelligence panel’s review of the Ukraine scandal…

A third phase could allow the White House and Trump to present exculpatory evidence and call witnesses. And a fourth — and final — phase would be the consideration of articles themselves before the panel sends them to the House floor.

Judiciary Chairman Nadler issued an invitation for the White House to participate in Wednesday’s hearing, but Trump’s lawyer, Pat Cipollone, wrote a four-page screed refusing to be involved. The claims range from the fact that the hearings overlap with the president’s trip to NATO (even though no one ever expected the president himself to participate) to allegations about an unfair process. On the latter front, the circular reasoning suggests that the White House won’t participate because the White House is being excluded.

In response, Nadler issued a statement that included the following.

The American people deserve transparency. If the president thinks the call was ‘perfect’ and there is nothing to hide then he would turn over the thousands of pages of documents requested by Congress, allow witnesses to testify instead of blocking testimony with baseless privilege claims, and provide any exculpatory information that refutes the overwhelming evidence of his abuse of power.

At this point, the Democrats are calling the president’s bluff. The evidence that he abused his power has been gathered and is overwhelming. He is now being offered the opportunity to provide exculpatory evidence or face impeachment (ie, indictment) by the House.

Rather than mount a defense, Trump will continue to lie, distract, and blame—because he’s guilty. That is what the attacks on the whistleblower amount to, as well as the accusations that Ukraine attempted to interfere in the 2016 election and that Joe Biden is corrupt. They are all lies designed to distract us from Trump’s guilt and point the finger of blame elsewhere. What they do not amount to is exculpatory evidence in defense of the president. He has nothing and the Democrats just called his bluff.

The Washington Monthly is in the midst of its annual fundraising drive. If you think our work is valuable and important, there’s something you can do to help: make a donation today. For a limited time, your contribution will be matched, dollar for dollar, thanks to a generous challenge grant from NewsMatch. Thank you for your support!

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.