Why The Impeachment Inquiry Is Already Over

Image credit: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Robert Siegfried

Ambassador William Taylor was, to say the least, an odd pick to be the Democrat Party’s first public witness in the ongoing impeachment drama in the House of Representatives. Day 1 of any trial is the day that the prosecution must make the strongest, most effective case in support of their desired outcome. Democrats did not do that. In fact, they may have actually caused irreparable harm to their case.

The devil is in the details. Everybody already knows that, when the House of Representatives concludes their inquiry, there will be a party-line vote to indict with maybe one or two defectors from either side, with how the hearings go being largely irrelevant to the vote tally. What can change drastically between now and then is whether public perception shifts towards impeachment or not.

Currently, Americans outside the Democrat Party generally hold a negative view of the impeachment inquiry, and Democrats need to prove there’s a reason for the rest of America to go along with it. To do that, they must show that there is an objective justification for impeachment than transcends party politics, but Taylor’s testimony derailed several major points of the “quid pro quo” theory of impeachment they are currently pursuing.

Even from the beginning, it was fairly clear that there was very little Ambassador Taylor or George Kent could say to hurt the Republican defense, because neither individual has ever even met or spoken to President Donald Trump, nor were either of them on, or privy to, the transcript of the July 25th phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian President before its public release in September. Therefore, the most relevant testimony would be Taylor’s statements on conversations he had with Ukrainian officials, to establish that end of the quid pro quo.

During questioning from Representative Jim Jordan, Ambassador Taylor testified that, in the three meetings he had with the Ukrainian President since the July 25th phone call, the Ukrainian President never suggested he believed that U.S. military aid was contingent on an investigation into Biden. This is consistent with President Zelenskiy’s own consistent public statements on the matter. Taylor also stated that he did not believe he was a “star witness for anything,” which is probably the worst possible thing your star witness can say when their testimony is the basis for your entire case.

The big issue Democrats run into with Taylor’s testimony is that a quid pro quo is like a bridge. It requires a foundation on both ends. Translated from Latin, “quid pro quo” means “something for something”, but with a sinister connotation that doesn’t carry over well into English. There’s three elements to a quid pro quo, and all three must be true in order for one to exist:

First: There must be a linkage established between two specific items (You must give me X, in order to receive Y).

Second: The victim party must feel pressured to the extent that they have no choice but to accept the deal.

Third: Creating the feeling in the second condition was the aggressor party’s intent.

The first condition would be the span of the bridge. The second would it’s foundation on one end. The third: its foundation on the other. Missing any of these parts, there is nothing that distinguishes a quid pro quo from a normal transaction.

A large part of the Democrat questioning was focused on attempting to establish the first condition -- that the two things were linked -- something which Taylor’s testimony did not establish. The Republican defense on the other hand, skipped the first condition and went straight to the strongest defense. The second condition, that President Zelenskiy felt pressured. It’s the easiest of the three to disprove, and the conditions surrounding it are more favorable to the defense.

The first fact which cuts strongly in the Republicans’ favor: Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy, the alleged “victim” of the quid pro quo, has already publicly stated that he felt no pressure. Ambassador Taylor, under questioning from Representative Ratcliffe, stated that he had no reason to believe that Zelenskiy’s statement was inaccurate, and unlike Zelenskiy’s statements, Taylor’s was made under oath and is now in evidence. This single fact ruins the current Democrat theory of impeachment because the second requisite component of their case has already been explicitly disproven by public statements from President Zelensky, and sworn testimony from Ambassador Taylor, the two people who would be most likely to know anything about it.

While this likely will have little effect on the final vote in the House of Representatives, it will have a huge effect on whether or not the public, already leery of the Impeachment Inquiry, considers it justified, or just another partisan political move. The only clear thing is that, if Democrats want the public to support impeachment, they need to track down some better witnesses to support their case, and they don’t have much time to do it.

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