I've been researching the impeachment allegations against President Trump for a couple of hours, to try to get a handle on why the Democratic Party thinks it can impeach him over his conversation with the President of Ukraine.
I have two questions. The way I see it, if neither can be affirmatively answered, then the President has no case to answer. Instead, as Kimberley Strassel noted this morning, "This is another internal attempt to take out a president, on the basis of another non-smoking-gun."
1. The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998, and subsequent legislation, specifically reference intelligence operations. Slate - hardly a pro-Trump source - explains:
The act protects intelligence officials—just as a similar 1989 bill protected other federal officials—who report actions that constitute “a violation of laws, rules or regulations, or mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety.”
What’s so dramatic and controversial about the current crisis is that the whistleblower filed a complaint of “urgent concern,” which the act defines as a “serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive Order, or deficiency” relating to intelligence activities and involving classified information.
Would someone please identify any intelligence activity, or any classified information, or any function of any intelligence department whatsoever, that was discussed between President Trump and President Zelensky? If there were none, as appears to be the case from the transcript of their conversation, surely the "complaint" from the as-yet-unidentified whistleblower does not concern an actionable offense, and does not fall under the protection of the laws mentioned above? If there was no criminal act, no "high crime or misdemeanor", how can impeachment be justified?
2. It might well be an impeachable offense if a sitting President were to ask a foreign leader to investigate his opponent in a forthcoming Presidential election. However, former Vice-President Biden is one of many candidates currently contesting the Democratic Party's nomination for the Presidency in 2020. He is not - at least, not yet - President Trump's electoral opponent. How, therefore, is it impeachable for the President to request an investigation of potential offenses to which Biden has already openly admitted, on camera?
In sum, we appear to have no impeachable crime being committed, and no influence being exerted against a duly nominated political opponent. Therefore, what grounds exist for impeachment? I simply can't see any, in terms of U.S. law.
Readers, can you help me out?