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Count Mark Penn among those unimpressed by the House Democrats’ impeachment of Donald Trump. Penn, who worked as Bill Clinton’s pollster during the 1998-9 impeachment and later on Hillary Clinton’s Senate and 2008 presidential campaigns, blasts Adam Schiff as a political hitman for Democrats angry over Donald Trump’s win in 2016. Americans may not like Trump or even the phone call to Volodymyr Zelensky, but Penn argues that it doesn’t come close to a reason to reverse an election and remove a president.
In an essay for The Hill, Penn argues that Democrats may pay a steep price for their abuse of the system, but that the institutional credibility of Congress will take even more damage:
There is definitely something about all this that the American public doesn’t like, that reasonable people can judge as wrong, but that is quite different than removing a president from office through a process designed to use impeachment as a political vehicle. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was not a truth-seeker — he is on tape soliciting naked pictures of Trump, and he repeatedly exaggerated evidence against Trump over the last three years. He was simply a weapon jamming through impeachment and ignoring fair procedure or legal process.
The last few days in the media have underscored this bias with the release of material from Lev Parnas, who — like Christopher Steele and his dossier before him, or like Michael Avenatti, now out on bail — is a questionable character with obviously wild claims for which he has no proof, including claims against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr, whom Parnas has never met. It was a political dirty trick to release his information and him on the eve of the Senate impeachment trial, and this act alone would have gotten any real prosecutor’s case thrown out.
The second article of impeachment — obstruction of the House by the assertion of executive privilege — is, in my view, wholly without merit. Despite endless allegations of lawlessness, this administration has implemented every court ruling it has lost without exception. Asserting executive privilege is not the same as paying hush money or suborning perjury, as was alleged in the Clinton and Nixon impeachment efforts. President Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, frequently asserted privilege in response to investigations and Holder was even held in contempt of Congress, a resolution he promptly ignored.
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