What a difference 28 days makes.
On Dec. 18, House Democrats rushed to impeach President Donald Trump on charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, with chief prosecutor Adam Schiff calling him a "clear and present danger" to the nation.
Speed was of the essence, they told us. So critical, in fact, that the very security of the nation depended on it.
There wasn't time to call people who Democrats now say are essential witnesses and to fight the president's likely claim of executive privilege in court. There wasn't time to allow the president's legal team to participate in the hearings or give Republican members the ability to call their own witnesses. Democrats were in such a hurry, they said there wasn't time to go to court and resolve the constitutional conflict between the executive and legislative branches.
Daniel Goldman, Schiff's chief investigator on the Intelligence Committee, told the Judiciary Committee, "To the extent that other witnesses would be able to provide more context and detail about this scheme, their failure to testify is due solely to the fact that Trump obstructed the inquiry and refused to make them available."
Or as Schiff put it, "We are not willing to let the White House engage in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope in the courts, so we press ahead."
It seems Schiff and Goldman have forgotten President Barack Obama and his attorney general Eric Holder's decision to refuse to hand over documents requested by Congress pertaining to the Fast and Furious scandal. That claim to executive privilege seems to have been deemed acceptable or certainly non-impeachable by the same crowd that now finds Trump such a threat to the security and stability of the nation that their "solemn" constitutional duty and deep concern for the safety of the country requires them to act, and act quickly to move impeachment forward.
And so they did, voting to impeach the president and promptly heading home for the Christmas break that left the nation in the so-called peril of the Trump presidency for 28 days.
But while Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sat on the articles of impeachment for the past month, the world has apparently decided that the "imminent" threat another 11 months of Donald Trump in the Oval Office poses isn't quite as imminent or as dire as Democrats would have you believe.
In fact, in contrast to the Democrats' overwrought warnings, the world continued to turn, the sun came up every morning, and more than a few positives have characterized the last 28 days.
The last 28 days weren't without challenges. But for a nation whose national security, Democrats contend, is under constant threat from a "clear and present danger" named Trump, the past month belies their argument.
In her speech on the House floor before the impeachment vote, a month ago, Pelosi said, "It's tragic the president's reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice."
Democrats have always had a choice. They chose not to resolve their constitutional differences with the White House over executive privilege in court where it belonged, and instead redefined the argument as obstruction. They chose to pass impeachment suddenly, only to later claim that without further witness testimony, the Senate trial would have no credibility.
Pelosi chose to demand that McConnell do the job she should have done. It was a gamble she lost.
David Winston is the president of The Winston Group and a longtime adviser to congressional Republicans.
Editorial on 01/17/2020
Print Headline: Impeachment gamble sunk