Throughout the weekend, D.C. was in a severe lather over the latest outrage/scandal/impeachable offense involving the president. In fact it continues to gather steam well into this week.
Reports are claiming the White House, and President Trump himself, had attempted to leverage the new president of Ukraine into providing opposition research into Joe Biden. While Trump and the administration have admitted to speaking with the Ukrainian president, the flashpoint to all of this is a supposed whistleblower claiming foreign aid to the Ukraine has been held back as a quid pro quo arrangement.
In predictable fashion the Democrats have been in full-bore outrage over another chance to claim scandalous behavior is afoot, and a passel of Florida politicians have joined in the chorus. Have a look at Kevin Derby's story on this page.
What is amusing is that the outrage is not at all rooted in anything approaching factual reasoning, but that is not impeding theses Democrats' desire to join the torch-and-pitchfork crowd in their party.
In July national Dems brought up an impeachment resolution (honestly, I forget what the reason was THIS time -- I think Trump was mean to some freshmen House members, or such). That was easily tamped down, but now a number of the Florida contingent who voted “no” this summer are now seemingly intent on getting in on this latest impeachment impetus.
“If true, this is a flagrant, corrupt abuse of power," said Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “If the president criminally blocks this whistleblower's complaint from coming before Congress, it will likely exceed any tolerable executive conduct our Constitution could withstand." She was not alone. "If the president continues to stonewall Congress,” said Donna Shalala, “it would demonstrate a new level of contempt for the laws of our country and require Congress to pursue all remedies at its disposal."
Chiming in is Rep. Kathy Castor. "Trump has violated his oath of office,” declared the Democrat from Tampa. “He operates for himself, in his personal interest — and not in the interest of the American people. The impeachment inquiry should be put on the fast track and all of the facts made plain."
That's a great idea, Kathy -- relying on facts. Note the use by Wasserman of the words “if” and “likely” -- terms you don't invoke when you actually possess proof. Yet, as Castor wants facts, the interesting thing here is that this hyperbolic response to the latest tempest-in-a-crockpot is being done while ignoring numerous key details that are already made plain. We can start with the fact that the White House did not initiate this round of discussions with Ukraine.
Incidentally, this morning the list of Florida congressional Democrats had grown to include, among others, Alcee Hastings, Charlie Crist, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch and newcomer Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Stephanie Murphy has said she backs a special committee to look into the matter, stopping shy of calling for impeachment.
This all began with the State Department asking for a meeting, on behalf of the Ukranian leadership. Eventually stemming from that meeting, which involved Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, was talk involving the past actions and words of Joe Biden, regarding a prosecutor in that country who had been working a case involving Joe’s son, Hunter Biden. Much of this is mundane political gears turning, but then came the loud announcement that a whistleblower was coming forward with details that President Trump had threatened to withhold foreign aid money for the Ukraine unless the leadership helped him obtain oppo-research on the man he regards as his biggest challenge in next year’s election.
As a result, the Democrats have been in hair-set-on-fire mode, screaming about impropriety and how impeachment hearings need to be undertaken immediately. All of this is based on the testimony supposedly delivered by a lone, unnamed and unknown source. As Congress has called for documents from the presidential phone calls be turned over, the administration has been reluctant. Oh-oh! Violation of whistleblower laws, claim Dems drooling for impeachment. The whistleblower laws are designed to both protect anyone who comes forward and to provoke an investigation into their claims.
And here is where an already fragile set of accusations begins to crumble like a rose parade float on Feb. 1.
During the CyberWars podcast on Sunday, I sat in and discussed why the claims by Adam Schiff’s Intelligence Committee are meaningless. The whistleblower law states the information concerning claims is to be turned over to the Office of Director of National Intelligence, but only in matters that fall under the jurisdiction of the DNI. This being a matter involving the executive branch -- a call involving the president speaking to a foreign leader -- means it is not under the purview of the ODNI. So any claim of the administration blocking the turning-over of transcripts is made either from the position of ignorance, or of partisan accusation.
But there is one other reason the whistleblower law would not pertain here. As reported by CNN, amid its hysterical headlines and insinuations, the whistleblower had no way of knowing about his/her own accusations. "The whistleblower didn't have direct knowledge of the communications,” reported CNN, deep in its accusatory piece. Then, about three-fourths of the way into its lengthy piece, was this revealing detail:
"The whistleblower didn’t have direct knowledge of the communications, an official briefed on the matter told CNN. Instead, the whistleblower’s concerns came in part from learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work, and those details have played a role in the administration’s determination that the complaint didn’t fit the reporting requirements under the intelligence whistleblower law, the official said."
Put another way, this individual does not qualify as a whistleblower, therefore any requirements invoked by whistleblower-law are voided. This means the Democrats are screeching for impeachment over the testimony of a lone individual with no way of knowing what took place on the call they are commenting on. Wasserman-Schultz, Shalala and Castor are hinging their political hopes not on an informed whistleblower, but on a gossip.
In the end, this will simply become yet another example of their party shrieking about the president with claims that are baseless. All they end up doing is appealing to their extremist wing while accomplishing little else on behalf of the state or the nation.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.