The moment House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chose Adam Schiff to be the point man for the House “impeachment inquiry,” the effort to create a credible case against President Trump was doomed. The overarching case the Democrats have made against Trump is that he is a deeply dishonest man and this fundamental flaw in his personality has inevitably manifested itself in a variety of impeachable offenses. This was the primary theme of the Russia collusion hoax, and it is the basic narrative underlying the Ukraine scandal. Consequently, the decision to put a man of Schiff’s well-documented mendacity in charge of the inquiry was a colossal blunder.
Before Russiagate collapsed, Schiff claimed to have seen “ample evidence of collusion in plain sight.” That assertion turned out to be a cynical lie, of course. Then, when an anonymous bureaucrat filed a complaint concerning President Trump’s conduct during a July call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, Schiff emphatically stated that neither he nor his committee had prior contact with the “whistleblower.” This misrepresentation was too much even for the Washington Post, which awarded him four “Pinocchios.” Worst of all, he fabricated part of the Trump–Zelensky transcript as he opened a hearing to investigate the matter.
It’s hardly a surprise, then, that Schiff’s impeachment inquiry has not exactly been a model of transparency. Closed-door hearings, selective release of transcripts, and leaks of deceptively edited testimony have exacerbated public uncertainty about Schiff’s honesty. This lack of transparency has stunted the growth in voter support for impeachment that followed the whistleblower complaint. A recent Suffolk University/USA Today poll found that only 36.2 percent of registered voters favor impeachment. As for Schiff’s credibility, a new Monmouth survey reveals that 73 percent of voters have little or no trust in the conduct of his inquiry.
Nor has Schiff’s credibility been enhanced by his attempts to hide the identity of the whistleblower. Having repeatedly said that the House Intelligence Committee would interview this individual, Schiff reversed himself. He appeared on Face the Nation and claimed that President Trump had been “threatening the whistleblower” and that it had become necessary to protect the identity of the mystery witness for safety purposes. This is nonsense. Federal law protects whistleblowers against retaliation, but it doesn’t guarantee anonymity. This individual’s lawyer has nonetheless threatened to sue anyone who reveals his client’s name:
Our client is legally entitled to anonymity. Disclosure of the name of any person who may be suspected to be the whistleblower places that individual and their family in great physical danger. Any physical harm the individual and/or their family suffers as a result of disclosure means that the individuals and publications reporting such names will be personally liable for that harm. Such behavior is at the pinnacle of irresponsibility and is intentionally reckless.
Not many are taking that threat seriously, however. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told Fox News anchor Bret Baier on Tuesday, when asked about the legality of revealing the whistleblower’s identity, “There’s nothing that prevents me from saying it.… There’s no law that prevents me from mentioning the name of who’s been said to be the whistleblower.” Sen. Paul continued, “I think he should be interviewed not as the whistleblower, but as a material witness to the Biden corruption in Ukraine.” There is some doubt as to whether this individual is a “whistleblower” as the term is legally defined. As attorney and author Gregg Jarrett writes,
To put it plainly, there is no whistleblower statute that permits an unelected and inferior federal employee to blow the whistle on the president, the most superior officer in the U.S. government.… Article II of the Constitution gives the president sweeping power to conduct foreign affairs, negotiate with leaders of other nations, make requests or solicit information. The Constitution does not grant the power of review, approval or disapproval to bureaucratic employees. Indeed, the whistleblower law explicitly excludes a complaint involving “differences of opinion concerning public policy matters.”
In other words, Schiff’s actual reason for hiding the identity of the so-called whistleblower probably has less to do with the latter’s “safety” than with preventing Ukrainegate from blowing up in the faces of congressional Democrats and the anti-Trump apparatchiks in the federal bureaucracy with whom they have been frantically working to politically damage President Trump, if not actually oust him from office. This would also explain Schiff’s preference for closed-door hearings and his refusal to allow witnesses to answer certain questions from the few Republicans who have been allowed to participate in the secretive process. As Steve Scalise (R-La.) put it,
It’s clear Pelosi needs to declare a mistrial. This has been a tainted process from the start. What happened today confirms even worse just how poorly Adam Schiff is handling this process, denying the ability for Republicans to even ask basic questions that are critical to the heart of whether or not a President of the United States is impeached.
In the end, this kind of skullduggery won’t fly. The American people place a very high value on fairness, and they aren’t going to allow the president of the United States to be brought down by corrupt politicians and bellyaching bureaucrats. The voters want to make the call themselves. The Monmouth poll noted above captures the mood of the electorate perfectly: “Most Americans (59%) agree with the statement that ‘if you want Trump out of office, it makes more sense to focus on next year’s election rather than go through an impeachment process now.’ ” Unlike Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, the voters know the difference between Schiff and Shinola.