Democrat lawyer Abbe Lowell, a key figure in the defense of President Clinton during his impeachment for the Monica Lewinsky scandal, says his party’s leaders on Capitol Hill harmed their case to impeach Trump because they’ve been talking about it since he was elected.
Speaking to Law and Crime’s Ross Garber, Lowell said the angry back-and-forth over Trump’s impeachment is similar to what he saw 20 years ago.
And the outcome is a forgeone conclusion, the high-powered lawyer said. The Senate will vote to acquit Trump if the House votes to impeach, which it most certainly will along party lines.
Impeachment Talk for Four Years
The background to Lowell’s assessment is this: The Democrats have been babbling incoherently about impeachment since 2016, when Politico published a lengthy piece about it.
In other words, ever since it became clear that Trump would become the GOP nominee for president, the motto of the hate-Trump Democrats and NeverTrump Republicans has been that of Joseph Stalin’s secret police chief, the rapist and mass murderer Lavrentiy Beria: “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”
Lowell’s description of Clinton’s impeachment sounds a lot like Trump’s. Republicans under then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde “knew one thing,” Lowell said. “They had the votes. They did not want to let the president survive. They were going to equate whatever he did to an impeachable offense no matter what.” Likewise for the party of Pelosi.
As well, “the Democrats in 1998 made the same allegations that the Republicans are making in 2019: You’ve been trying to get rid of this guy from the beginning. You’re just finding the most convenient way to do it.”
The difference between the two, Lowell added, was that Clinton’s impeachment offense involved private conduct: sex in the Oval Office with an intern. But Trump’s relates to his official conduct: i.e., asking Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, during a phone call on July 25, to probe the Biden-Burisma influence-peddling scheme and Ukrainian interference in 2016 on Hillary Clinton’s behalf in return for military aid, the so-called quid pro quo.
“It’s a big difference,” Lowell said.
Lowell also said the “background music” to Trump’s impeachment is partisan rancor that cannot be ignored: “If you ignore that background music, it’s not like all the sudden we get this very constitutionally significant event called impeachment, and everybody rises to the occasion and performs the way the Founders would have liked.”
Both parties are “perform[ing] based on the momentum they got from what’s been happening for the last three or four years.”
The Problem for Pelosi and the Democrats
Problem is, again, the long-term campaign for impeachment. That has included the silly claim that Trump could be impeached for criticizing NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem.
“The Democrats ... did not do themselves any good by starting a process that, number one, had them all stating for the last two-and-a-half-years that anything and everything was going to lead to, or be an impeachment,” Lowell said. They “basically chipped away at their credibility.” And that has permitted Republicans to say the impeachment is a partisan coup.
Thus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s telling those Democrats that impeachment was a non-starter without a serious reason to impeach did no good, because the previous efforts muddied the water. Indeed, Pelosi was firmly against it, at least until Ciaramella unleashed his hearsay report on Trump’s phone call to Zelensky.
But Pelosi going along with the charade won’t make much difference. She did “admirably not to let this be, ‘We’ll impeach him over anything and everything,’” Lowell said. But “you still have all those people who wanted to impeach the president over anything.”
Whatever supposed offense the Senate trial considers if it doesn’t dismiss the impeachment, “the result is absolutely predictable,” Lowell said. “There may not be one Republican vote for impeachment in the House. And there might be every Republican vote for acquittal in the Senate. And therefore that outcome will be foregone.”
Lowell was chief minority council for House Democrats who had to defend Clinton during CigarGate. His clients have included disgraced Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards, deceased and disgraced Representatives Jim Wright and Dan Rostenkowski, and convicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Photo: AP Images
R. Cort Kirkwood is a long-time contributor to The New American and a former newspaper editor.