“The facts are uncontested,” said the Speaker of the House, signaling her caucus to proceed with levying articles of impeachment. “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.”
Is that true? Is it an honest statement to say that the facts are uncontested? How about the accused? Does the accused contest the facts? Does the Republican caucus in her own House agree that the facts are uncontested? Those are the first questions that jump out as a hysterical leadership plunges onto the very course against which it — Mrs. Pelosi included — once counseled.
Not to be coy about the matter, we don’t think Mrs. Pelosi is being honest on this head. The facts are very much contested. Some of the facts may be agreed by both sides. There was, say, a phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine. The exact words spoken is not agreed upon, though, and, more importantly, even if one stipulates the words that were said, the meaning — the intent — is not agreed upon.
It strikes us, for one, as inaccurate to suggest as a given that the President’s personal political benefit is the motive for asking Ukraine to investigate the activities of Vice President Biden and his son. It might have been a motive. It might not have been. What about the possibility that the President, sworn to faithfully execute the laws, is genuinely concerned about the integrity of the Bidens? We certainly are.
It was also inaccurate, by our lights, for Mrs. Pelosi to suggest, as if it were an agreed-upon fact, that the President “abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.” That formulation is contested. How could Mrs. Pelosi suggest that it is not?
It is contested by at least one witness — Professor Turley — who appeared just this week before the Judiciary Committee. He was the one witness called at the behest of GOP members of the committee. Even he reckoned that Mr. Trump’s call wasn’t “perfect” but disputed that the call amounted to a “plausible case for bribery.” Said he: “Trump does not state a quid pro quo in the call.”
If, the professor added, Mr. Trump “honestly believed that there was a corrupt arrangement with Hunter Biden that was not fully investigated by the Obama administration, the request for an investigation was not corrupt, notwithstanding its inappropriateness.” This is is all nicely encapsulated in an editorial in Alexander Hamilton’s old paper, the New York Post.
“This is not how an American president should be impeached,” Mr. Turley concluded. Yet on the basis of Mr. Turley and three tendentious professors, Mrs. Pelosi declared that the facts were uncontested, and rattled on about how what the Founders feared was a monarchy (the left tried that gambit against President Washington, too, though unlike both George W. and Mr. Trump, George III never stood for election).
Our own view is that one can say a lot of things about the American people but not that they’re dumb. The country deserves better than it got from Mrs. Pelosi today. Americans, we’ll wager, are going to come to to see Mrs. Pelosi’s call to impeachment as an act of hubris — and desperation. In respect of the evidence, she is way ahead of her skis, doing exactly what she warned against. We wonder whether she believes her own words.