Now Schiff wants all of Trump’s calls with Putin

Written By BlabberBuzz | Source: Hot Air | Monday, 30 September 2019 11:05

To borrow a phrase from one popular series of memes on social media… well, that escalated quickly.

Having managed to secure at least a partial transcript of a call between President Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff seems to think he’s on a roll. After learning that the White House had been keeping records of the President’s various phone calls with other world leaders under tight security, Schiff is now thinking about demanding some more of them as part of the ongoing impeachment hearings. What’s not been made clear is the reason he might offer for the request, or what he suspects he will find. (Reuters)

The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said on Sunday Congress is determined to get access to President Donald Trump’s calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders, citing concerns he may have jeopardized national security.

“I think the paramount need here is to protect the national security of the United States and see whether in the conversations with other world leaders and in particular with Putin that the president was also undermining our security in a way that he thought would personally benefit his campaign,” Democrat Adam Schiff said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Unlike the Zelensky call, Schiff is moving into uncharted waters here. In the case of Ukraine, whether you like it or not, there was at least a plausible reason for the Intelligence Committee to request the transcript. A potentially credible source (the anonymous “whistleblower”) had raised allegations that some sort of improper quid pro quo had been discussed for political rather than diplomatic reasons.

That one will take a while to sort out, but the call really did happen so it was theoretically worth looking into. Whether the transcript should have been made public as opposed to only being shown to committee members and senior elected officials is another question.

But now Schiff is talking about going after the transcripts of previous calls with Vladimir Putin and potentially other world leaders. To my knowledge, there has been no credible suggestion of any specific calls where anything illegal or inappropriate was discussed. In other words, Schiff is looking to launch what amounts to nothing more than a fishing expedition to see if he can dig up any dirty laundry to dangle before an eager press corps as we move deeper into election season.

For the same reasons I previously explored regarding the Zelensky call, this is a foolhardy move that sets a dangerous precedent. First of all, Zelensky is already “disappointed” that the transcript was released and will no doubt be far less candid in any future conversations he may have with Trump, knowing that everything they say could wind up on the front page of the New York Times a few days later. If this pattern spreads to Putin and other world leaders, the same will apply to most of the President’s calls.

Schiff and the rest of the Democrats should also keep in mind the old rule about geese and ganders. A Democrat may indeed occupy the White House again in the near future, but control of the two chambers of Congress is constantly shifting. Once this precedent is established, what’s to stop a Republican committee chair from demanding a peek into all of the new President’s calls and airing them out on cable news? You know… just to make sure there’s nothing questionable going on.

This will kneecap future presidents of both parties and limit their ability to conduct more subtle diplomatic negotiations. And Congress might start looking at taking a walk down memory lane, as well. Should we be able to retrieve and publish transcripts of all of Barack Obama’s calls with Putin to see what they were discussing after he told the Russian leader he would have “more flexibility” after his election? Something tells me the Democrats are opening a can of worms that they won’t be able to close again.

Trump: I want to meet the whistleblower — and have Schiff arrested for “Fraud & Treason” too

This article was sourced from Hot Air

Maybe he already has met the whistleblower! Well, probably not, considering the second- and third-hand nature of the information in the whistleblower complaint, but Donald Trump argues that he should get the chance before the House goes down Impeachment Road.

Trump made the constitutional argument on Twitter last night, and continued in a similar vein this morning.

In another constitutional argument, he also wants Adam Schiff interrogated and arrested for “Treason.” And that is called overplaying your hand, to put it mildly:

Trump escalated to asking for Schiff’s arrest this morning:

This is as stupid as Schiff’s parody last week. It’s incredible that we have to explain this to adults, but what Trump describes here bears absolutely no resemblance to treason — not even in a moral sense, let alone the legal sense over which Trump rants. Article III Section 3 of the Constitution establishes the only legal definition of treason:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

In other words, it requires a declaration of war (which we haven’t had since World War II) and explicit aid to the enemy named by it. Bzzzzt! Thank you for playing! Nor is what Schiff did treason in a moral sense; he’s attacking Trump, not the United States of America. We do not have lese majeste laws in the US; one is allowed to criticize the president, even unfairly, even dishonestly, without it being a case of treason. Schiff may be lying, he may be smearing Trump, and he may be abusing his position as House Intel chair, but those are all things that fall a very, very long way short from treason. Or even fraud, although at least that one’s arguably in the ballpark in the moral sense, if not legal.

If Barack Obama had accused Republicans pushing the birther conspiracy theory of treason and called for their arrest, his critics would have screamed for Obama’s impeachment. If Trump wants to make a case that Schiff’s dishonest about him abusing his office, then just stick to that. It would be a lot easier to defend Trump against allegations of abusing the powers of his office if Trump wasn’t going all Red Queen in demanding Schiff’s arrest for a non-existent crime. Just sayin’. 

Anyway, the whistleblower does plan to meet with someone, but it’s not Trump:

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff said Sunday that his panel has reached an agreement to secure testimony from the anonymous whistleblower whose detailed complaint launched an impeachment investigation into President Trump.

The announcement from Schiff came on the same day that Tom Bossert, a former Trump homeland security adviser, delivered a rebuke of the president, saying in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that he was “deeply disturbed” by the implications of Trump’s recently reported actions.

It’s not quite clear just how solid this agreement is. His attorney Mark Zaid was more ambiguous about a specific date for this meeting, and even whether it had been fully nailed down:

One of the whistleblower’s attorneys, Mark Zaid, said in a statement that bipartisan negotiations in both chambers are ongoing “and we understand and agree that protecting the whistleblower’s identity is paramount.” He added that no date or time for the testimony has been set.

Eventually the meeting will take place, but almost surely in closed session. Unfortunately for Trump, it’s not a judicial process that would put his liberty or property at risk, so the House does not have to allow him to personally face his accuser. Fortunately for Trump, a number of Republicans on the committee will act as his proxies in that regard, testing the veracity of the hearsay in the complaint. That might be enough … if Trump doesn’t lose his mind and call for the arrests of opposition lawmakers for the crime of being politicians. Maybe someone should take his phone away for the next few weeks.

This article was sourced from Hot Air

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