The ongoing impeachment sham is a show trial — one that ought to be reviewed as a drama critic would. After all, the lead House prosecutor, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), is a failed screenwriter.
Last month featured the first act, before Schiff and the House Intelligence Committee, with “star” witness Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.
This Wednesday, the second act, featuring Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and the House Judiciary Committee, will begin.
The term “show trial” comes to us from the former Soviet Union, referring to the “Great Purges” that took place in the mid- to late-1930s under dictator Joseph Stalin. These trials were staged theater to which the foreign press was invited to “prove” the fairness of the Soviet justice system.
Admittedly, there are two differences between Sondland’s performance last month and the Soviet show trials. The first is that this process is not likely to end with the execution of the president (despite the apparent hopes of Kathy Griffin, Madonna, Johnnie Depp, Snoop Dogg, and countless others).
The second difference is that the American media, unlike the “useful idiots” of the 1930s foreign media, are not being duped. Quite the opposite, they are willing participants and have a leading role in the scripted farce.
In a world governed by reason, or political leaders of integrity who are committed to truth rather than fairytales, Sondland’s testimony would have concluded this dark comedy — “The End”!
Yet, even as ratings sank for the Democrats’ primetime flop, the shrinking share of Americans still watching were subjected to a cringeworthy charade.
Amb. Sondland delivered his opening lines by claiming there had been a “quid pro quo.” Democrats used leading questions to reinforce the claim that the president had used his official powers to investigate a political opponent.
Adam Schiff ran out to tell the press, in so many words, we’ve got him!
The problem was that everything Sondland said was the product of his own conjecture and imaginings. Nobody had actually told him anything, he “just knew.”
The Democrats’ star witness proceeded to crumble under cross-examination by Ohio Republican Reps. Mike Turner and Jim Jordan. Sondland soon admitted that President Trump never actually told him anything about a “quid pro quo” — either for security funding or a White House meeting.
Thankfully, these impeachment hearings, this show trial, has given us three Republicans of whom we can be very proud, and who have plainly tossed the historical Republican script in the circular file.
On top of Reps. Jordan and Turner, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York rose from relative obscurity by way of her relentless and methodical questioning to become a new, rising GOP star herself.
Turner and Jordan traded the stage with Stefanik and proceeded to eviscerate the Democrats’ central claims.
Jordan pointed out that the phone call that started the whole process happened on July 25. Funds were ten released to Ukraine on September 11, and a meeting between the presidents took place on September 25. He then mockingly asked Sondland how the investigation announcement was made.
In one of the few scenes of this spectacle that didn’t feel totally contrived, Sondland fumbled his lines. There was no announcement because there was no demand of which Sondland had any real knowledge!
Jordan’s performance was as good as we’ve come to expect, but Turner stole the show. After Rep. Schiff’s statement that Sondland had given him what he needed to impeach President Trump—leading CNN to report that “Sondland Ties Trump, Pence, Pompeo to Ukraine Pressure Campaign,”—Turner forced Sondland to refute the headline. Sondland admitted he was “presuming.” He then flatly admitted the president had not told him, nor anybody that he knew of, of a “scheme” to tie a “quid pro quo” for money, meetings, or even Christmas gifts!
Game over, right? Wrong. Here is where the press enters the show trial stage left. At the end of the day, the New York Times, in its daily video impeachment briefing, claimed that there was a “quid pro quo” with regard to a White House meeting; that “major figures … were fully aware of the president’s demands, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo”; and that Sondland was forced to work with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, in negotiating with the Ukrainians.
Even when The Times mentioned that Sondland had not heard directly from the president about withholding the $400 million in military aid, the paper still made it sound like he heard it from somebody. Sondland said in testimony that he did not.
The Washington Post was just as complicit. Their key points summary included the headings, “Connecting this to the President”; “Pointing Fingers and Naming Names-Including Pompeo, Mulvaney, and Pence”; and “Trump team didn’t care about actual investigations-just announcements.”
None of that acknowledged what Sondland admitted in testimony: Nobody told him anything. He just made it all up.
But of course, what should we expect from actors in a play other than pure fiction?
Rep. Schiff’s awful screenwriting is a Soviet-style show trial with a predictable ending. But sometimes in Hollywood even a bad first act gets an underserved sequel.
So, as this trainwreck heads to the Judiciary Committee, President Trump and his Whitehouse counsel are wisely refusing to participate.
The president seems to understand that an A-lister would never allow himself to be cast in a cheap daytime soap that nobody watches.
The Democrats have made a mockery of our system, and their impeachment fantasy is a disgrace to our country.
It cannot be dignified with a serious response.
Charlie Kirk is the founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, the nation’s largest and fastest growing conservative youth organization with a presence on over 1,400 college and high school campuses; he is also host of “The Charlie Kirk Show.”