With the right witnesses, five lines of questioning will end this impeachment. Here they are.
First, federal statutes and the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) prohibit federal officials from selling influence to profit relatives. Example: 5 CFR 2635.702 states an official “shall not use his public office for his own private gain… or for the private gain of … relatives.”
Accordingly, Joe Biden and his son, have answering to do. Did actions of either – in Ukraine or China – amount to selling influence? Did the younger leverage his father’s position for money? Did the Vice President know?
When Vice President Biden flew his son to Ukraine and China, after which his son secured large contracts, did the older Biden see the conflict? Did the elder Biden facilitate those contracts? When Vice President Biden insisted a prosecutor be fired who was investigating a company on whose board his son sat, under penalty of lost aid, was that illegal?
The answer to each question is: probably yes.
Second line: If the answer is probably yes, actions by either Biden create probable cause to suspect a crime occurred. Is there a treaty with Ukraine allowing inquiries into those acts? If the treaty exists, does it allow a president to seek information on suspected criminal activity?
Answer, yes. Called the “Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters,” the treaty was ratified in 2000. Biden voted for it. It entitles US authorities to seek investigations into corruption, including by a former Vice President. It encourages Ukrainian cooperation.
So, there can be no article of impeachment premised on requests for cooperation in a potential Ukraine corruption probe involving a former US official. Being a current candidate for public office does not immunize the offender.
Third line: Historically, do we condition foreign assistance on cooperation in criminal matters, anti-corruption probes, law enforcement engagement on public corruption? Yes, in 70 countries.
Who in the US Government conditions security assistance on cooperation in criminal justice matters? Typically, State, often Defense and Justice, invariably the White House and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Why? Each has equities and OMB controls apportionment.
Can others “hold” that money – conditioning release of US security assistance on criminal justice matters? Yes, any Senator. Has it been done? Yes, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) regularly placed “holds” on foreign security assistance to Colombia, conditioning on investigations.
So, there can be no article of impeachment for conditioning foreign security assistance on investigations into corruption. Conditioning aid on criminal justice matters is commonplace. It serves US fiscal and national security interests.
Fourth line: If origins of the Russia Collusion Investigation prove criminal – that is, if crimes were committed by Obama Administration officials, can resisting the false narrative be obstruction?
The answer is no, and here is why: Obstruction of justice requires unlawful acts that interfere with or delay the administration of justice. If the investigation was based on false, illegal, criminal or politically motivated footings, resisting cannot be obstruction.
So, no article of impeachment for obstruction can be framed against the president if there is reason to believe predicate facts were false, illegal, criminal or politically motivated. Increasingly, that appears to be the case.
Fifth line: The unidentified “whistleblower” who initiated Impeachment 2.0 – the post-Mueller “impeachment inquiry” – must testify. He is a material witness.
Initial questions: Were you aware when you filed your complaint that it was hearsay? Who drafted it? Who advised you on it? Did you consult members of Congress or staff? Intelligence Committee members or staff?
Next: Who referred you to the lawyer you are using? Did that lawyer share statements suggesting partisanship, such “coup has begun?” Who was your White House source? Do you or they hold a clearance? Is he or she still employed in the White House?
Final strand: Are you a registered Democrat? Did you work in Obama’s White House? Did you work for a presidential candidate? When did you last speak with the candidate or staff? Did they advise you on the complaint? Is this part of a political strategy to unseat the president?
The gravamen is serious. An impeachment article premised on whistleblower hearsay is inapt. It would smack of partisanship, especially if coordinated with Democratic House staff. It would be doubly inapt if brought by a former staffer to a Democratic presidential candidate. It would be trebly inapt if part of a political scheme aimed at reversing the 2016 election.
The hearsay complaint is suspicious. That is why the so-called whistleblower must testify. Absent that protection, the Sixth Amendment right to confront an accuser – prior to harm done – is voided. Impeachment does historic damage. That witness needs to be summoned now.
In the end, these five lines would end impeachment. Will Democrats allow fairness and impartiality into this process? Probably not. That leaves only November 2020.