by Conrad Black
The sudden death of the unutterable nonsense of collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and the Russian government, announced as it was in the hand-off to the Southern New York U.S. Attorney of the shabby fruit of Michael Cohen’s plea bargaining, has divided onlookers into three communities of opinion.
The true believers in the collusion canard are left slack-jawed, like the international Left after the announcement of the Nazi-Soviet Pact: an immense fervor of faith is instantly destroyed; it is the stillness of a sudden and immense evaporation.
The professional Trump-haters, the Democratic Party assassination squads in Congress and the media, like disciplined soldiers, have swiveled with parade ground precision and resumed firing after a mere second to reload, at the equally fatuous nonsense about illegal campaign contributions. Disreputable, contemptible myth-makers and smear-jobbers though they are, they deserve credit for fanaticism, improvisation, and managing in unison to sound half plausible in the face of the crushing defeat they have suffered and the piffle and pottage they are left to moralize about.
Third, and slowest to respond, so sudden has been the change of the whole Trump-hate narrative, are those who never wavered from the requirement of real evidence of something before they would endorse the drastic act of impeaching and removing the nation’s leader. Some feel betrayed and some vindicated, but sensing no need for instant response, unlike the Trump-haters who are scrambling to try to cooper up some credibility for continuing their assault on the president, the third group is preparing with only deliberate speed to counter-attack the assassins-by-impeachment with their full and now overpowering armament of facts and law.
The Trump-haters can make a strong case that the president is an obnoxious public personality—that he is boastful, exaggerates constantly, sends out silly tweets with grade two typographical errors in them and gets into ill-tempered slanging matches with half the people with whom he comes into contact. To a great many, he is just refreshingly puncturing official self-importance.
But whatever anyone thinks of Trump, there are two points his enemies will have to face: he won the 2016 election and that can only be undone by the 2020 election, and high office-holders can only be impeached and removed from office by high crimes and misdemeanors as prescribed by the Constitution.
We may assume that the tactical battlefield commanders of the impeachment squad are now Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the incoming chairmen of the judiciary and intelligence committees. As of now, they are merely alleging criminal offenses that may not secure removal from office by the Republican Senate, but could lead to the conviction and imprisonment of the president after he has finished his term, in two or six years.
To appreciate the absurdity of this, remember that the impeachable and indictable offense the Democrats have in mind is that Michael Cohen, a lawyer in the midst of the inherently corrupt plea bargain catechism classes, trading extorted and false evidence against the president with a guarantee of immunity from perjury charges, for a lighter sentence, asserts that Trump ordered him to pay off women who claimed to have had sexual relations with him over 10 years ago for their silence, to enhance his chances of election.
To evaluate the probative quality of this evidence and the gravity of such charges, we must remember that Cohen has been charged with lying to Congress, has pleaded guilty to various acts of fraud, that the women were trying to blackmail then-candidate Trump and were breaching non-disclosure agreements, that Trump paid Cohen’s legal bills, that a person can contribute to his own campaign, and that the jurisprudence is that such payment are not campaign expenses anyway. That was the finding in the John Edwards case, where there was a child out of wedlock. Here, the facts of what actually happened between Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal are disputed, and the wording of the relevant statute could just as well be interpreted as meaning that a candidate who buys mouthwash or gets a haircut or a new suit, is equally trying to enhance his likelihood of election.
Up to a point, Nadler and Schiff, egregious, obsessive Trump-haters and mud-slingers as they are, can only be accused of doing their jobs, or at least carrying out their self-assigned mission to bring down the president. Their accomplices in this foredoomed mission to self-immolation do not have the excuse of carrying out their misconceived duty. All the televised useless idiots with talking heads seem not to realize that they are now giving voice to ideas and outcomes that are so impossible and nonsensical, they are insane.
While Mueller could be represented to the malicious and the credulous as possibly having or being in the process of obtaining real evidence of cooperation by the Trump campaign with the Russian government to affect and falsify the results of the U.S. presidential election, at least the offense being alleged and which they sought to prove, would be, if it had happened, a very serious matter that would have justified the removal of the president. This was what Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party, and all its immense army of media jabbering puppets claimed. It was obvious at every stage to any serious person that this was extremely unlikely, but if it had actually happened, the alarms and accusations would have been justified and vindicated, and skeptics like me would have had to recant.
When that phantasmagorically impossible mission failed, without missing a newscast the president’s enemies opened fire with the new theory. This is that a confessed criminal and accused liar could prove that the president committed crimes when he paid his legal bills, including, with or without his specific knowledge, inducements to two women not to violate agreements to keep private their own contested recollections of innocuous sexual encounters with the president ten years before the election.
The theory further holds that these supposedly criminal violations of election financing laws could cause a two-thirds majority of the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate to remove the president from office, or at the least, that a prosecutor who patiently waited until the president left office could then send him to prison for this conduct.
I was even astounded at the reaction of the Trump-haters who had been citing the Steele dossier as incontrovertible evidence of his “treason” (Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, and many others), when they had to deal with the fact that it was a smear-job commissioned and paid for and shopped to the media by the Clinton campaign. Without breaking their strides, they called this inconvenient fact “a talking point” (Washington Post), and altered the dossier’s status to “campaign information,” (Hillary Clinton).
This latest display of sangfroid is even more remarkable and ethically disturbing. All of them knew that the Russian collusion claim was defamatory fiction, and no one with an IQ in double figures or higher could believe that the election finance crime theory generated by putting the screws to a low-life like Cohen could seriously inconvenience the president. The Democrats are now on suicide watch. It is not too late to recognize that however much they may hate Trump, and however objectionable he may be to some reasonable people, he is the president and only the voters or a medical catastrophe or the passage of his constitutional term will remove him. That is as it should be.
The country noticed that the same James Comey whose bias didn’t affect his judgment, didn’t remember 245 times in his testimony last week, and then told a New York audience of the absolute necessity of defeating Trump at the next election. If the Democrats use their new majority in the House to send this campaign-finance clunker for a Senate trial, as they shut down the existing investigations into the Justice department and Clinton campaign (which will be taken up by the Senate), they will destroy themselves. That, too, is as it should be.
The disappearance of most currently visible Democratic federal politicians and opinionated journalists would be a welcome national enema. But the self-destruction of a great political party would be a gruesome and destabilizing event. Somewhere in there must be some trace of the political DNA that from Alfred E. Smith to Hubert H. Humphrey, and intermittently since then, rendered magnificent and irreplaceable service to the nation and the world.
As Christmas approaches, the thoughts of Democrats should be of resurrecting themselves, not of crucifying an enemy so maddeningly invulnerable to their murderous rage.
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Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.