Well, I'll be honest with you. I never thought they'd pull it off. Even up until the moment it started, I figured there'd be some weaselly political flim-flam going on to stop it in its tracks. But here we are.
This morning at 10 am Eastern Time, the United States House of Representatives kicked off an impeachment inquiry against Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States of America. Led by Californian Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, the House saw testimony from William Taylor, the head diplomat in Ukraine, and State Department official George Kent. The charge against Trump involves illegal activities with regard to monetary aid to the former Soviet republic, specifically the president encouraging the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on former Vice-President and 2020 Democratic nominee hopeful Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
This makes Trump the fourth president to have an impeachment inquiry launched at him. Andrew John was the first, followed by Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Only Johnson and Clinton were actually impeached, as Nixon resigned office before the hammer came down. If the House does impeach Trump, the case will have to go through the U.S. Senate before he can be possibly removed from office. So far, this has never happened, though Johnson slipped through by one vote.
This is also unprecedented in that it happens in Trump's first term. Clinton was impeached with two years left in an eight-year run, while Johnson was at the end of the only term he served, taking the office from the assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Nixon was also well into his second term when the dogs were turned on him.
The GOP sent up fake rancher Devin Nunes of California and Ohio's rock-stupid Jim Jordan to lead the defense for Trump, which basically boils down to "this is all a show and it's a boring one at that". Both Nunes and Jordan are currently entangled in individual scandals that, in a just universe, would've tanked both their political careers before we even got to this point.
Nunes, furthermore, has insinuated that the impeachment process is another attempt to "overturn the results of the 2016" - which has to chaff Vice-President Mike Pence - and suggested the still-unnamed whistleblower in all this had a "bias against President Trump". He said all of this without a shred of evidence, as is his wont, nor did he actually address the transcript of the call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Nor did he really say anything concerning the facts presented by Taylor and Kent in their testimony, choosing rather to push a debunked Ukraine conspiracy theory and be a shit ass.
Jordan pulled his normal raggedy bullshit, interrupting witnesses and double-talking smartassery to through them out of whack. From all accounts, though, Taylor and Kent stuck to their stories, even in the light of the... let's say "inventive" excuse that since nothing substantial was gathered from Trump's attempts to get Ukraine to do dirty for him, it really wasn't that big a deal. However, close to when the aid to Ukraine was full released (Sept. 11), Congress had begun to investigate why the aid was being withheld. This was done on a partisan basis, and the whistleblower complaint - alleging the wrongdoing by Trump on the call - had been formally filled on August 11. All that sort of shoots holes in the "well, he didn't get what he wanted so it's not illegal" dodge.
For his part, Taylor laid some pretty heavy strokes. He gave details about the formation of an "irregular" channel of give-and-take with the Ukraine, as well as laying an extremely specific timeline. His testimony along with Kent's roped in gargoyle-looking lawyer and constant fuck-up Rudy Giuliani into the mix, as well as former National Security Adviser and mustache wrangler John Bolton and US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who I don't have a joke for.
Taylor also noted that none of this was "normal", contra to what this week's White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's claim that this was done "all the time with foreign policy" and that we should all "get over it". Amusingly, Taylor called the conspiracy involved Giuliani, Sondland, U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry a "shadow diplomacy". One new facet to this, which has been reported by multiple sources, is Taylor's testimony brings Mulvaney into the whole mix as an active participant.
There'll be more testimony next week, three in total, with Shiff announcing appearances by, along with Sondland and Volker, Jennifer Williams (aide to VP Pence, approved by Mother), Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (National Security Council aide), Tim Morrison (former NSC official), Defense Department official Laura Cooper, and under secretary of state for political affairs David Hale. Unless something drastic happens, it'll wrap up next Thursday with a public hearing with Fiona Hill, a former NSC official who was the administrations top Russia policy specialist.
The House Judiciary Committee will also hold hearings for the impeachment inquiry. The hearings will provide the president and his counsel the opportunity to attend hearings so they can respond to evidence presented and question potential witnesses. This, by the way, is where all the subpoenas that Trump has been telling his goons to ignore are coming from, possibly building a case for one article of impeachment for obstruction of Congress. So, smooth move there.
Woof. So there we are. Big day indeed. All things considered, given the make-up of the House and, frankly, how solid the evidence for the hinky shit Trump's accused of is, I figure he will be impeached but will survive being tossed out by the Senate. It's just a matter of numbers; while the Democrats have a solid majority in the House, Republicans have a slim if undeniable hold on the Senate. This, of course, presumes no more Republicans jump ship, but we won't deal with "what if's".
I really don't see any, any Republican congress critters breaking rank with Trump, knowing that the base will chew them up and spit them out if they do. They are still rock-hard for the big goober and I really doubt anything will shake them loose. Even if ugly shit via Jeffery Epstein comes to light, they'll put it aside and say it's okay for such a rich man.
Nor do I see this having a big impact on the 2020 election. Again, the base will kill for Trump - which is why he wants the whistleblower named - and I seriously doubt this will push so-called Never Trumpers over the edge. Best you can hope for from that bunch is that they stay home and sulk on election day. Trump's support has waned over his term and there really is no telling what sort of impact which candidate will have on the wobbly middle. I guess it depends on how much they like licking billionaires' boots, to put not too fine a point on it.
But that's it for tonight. Strap in, y'all, this won't be over soon and it won't be a smooth ride. Before is all said and done, we might see some seriously crazy shit go down. Interesting times, indeed.