Finley: Bring order to impeachment process

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

America could use a little order in its House.

Congressional Democrats have embarked on  a helter-skelter impeachment process that seems to be following no clear path to no discernible destination other than removing President Donald Trump from office.

That goal is out of reach unless Democrats can settle down and slow down. They can't count on a shift in public opinion towards support for Trump's ouster to move the Republican-controlled Senate to convict the president.

The public is fickle. Democrats risk losing voters if they continue to behave like a mob of witch hunters.

Impeachment is a political process more than it is a legal one. But it should not be as hyper-partisan as the Democrats are making it appear.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the impeachment by declaration, and without conducting a vote of the full House. The Constitution is vague on how impeachment should play out. There's no language requiring a vote.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

But precedent in the impeachments of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton favors asking members to take an official stand. Doing so would take some steam out of the Trump administration's charge that Pelosi is engaging in an illegitimate enterprise.

If the Democratic-controlled House votes to launch an impeachment inquiry, Pelosi should assign the investigative duties to the Judiciary Committee, where it belongs.

Currently the Intelligence Committee is leading the probe, presumably because what Democrats see as the impeachable offense — Trump's phone call requesting Ukrainian help in investigating his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden — falls under national security concerns.

The problem is that California Rep. Adam Schiff chairs Intelligence. Schiff is a proven liar with no credibility in pressing the case against Trump. He has obsessively searched for a smoking gun with which to slay the president since Day One of the administration. 

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, gives a statement to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.

Schiff has repeatedly distorted and withheld information and leaked classified testimony in a continuous effort to destroy Trump. Now we learn that Schiff's staff secretly met with the whistleblower who revealed the phone call before his complaint was filed. 

Schiff has no credibility, and as long as he is in charge of the hearings the impeachment process will have none, either. 

As for the whistleblower, if Democrats aren't willing to publicly identify him, this train should stop immediately in its tracks.

It's absurd that a president elected by the people can be toppled by an anonymous source passing on second-hand information. 

Americans deserve to know who the whistleblower is, how he obtained the information and what his motivations are in making the complaint.

The New York Times reports he is a former CIA agent. The Washington Examiner reports he has close ties to Biden. Knowing his identity, background and political ties are essential in judging the veracity of his complaint. The Democrats' expressed concern for his safety seems like a smokescreen.

While I still think the case against Trump should be made on the campaign trail and his fate decided at the ballot box next November, I'm not as convinced as I was at first that impeachment is impossible. Trump boosts the odds with every tweet.

But it should be carried out in a serious, orderly process, devoid as much as possible of partisan showboating. 

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN