Nine days before the House voted to impeach Bill Clinton on Dec. 19, 1998, Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, warned his Republican colleagues not to take that step.
“The effect of impeachment is to overturn the popular will of the voters as expressed in a national election,” he said. “We must not overturn an election and remove a president from office except to defend our very system of government or our constitutional liberties against a dire threat. And we must not do so without an overwhelming consensus of the American people and of their representatives in Congress of the absolute necessity.”
Fast forward to July 19, 2019. As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler told CNN that President Trump “richly deserves” to be impeached. “He has done many impeachable offenses. He’s violated the law six ways from Sunday.” Bear in mind he said this nearly four months before the Democrats held their bizarre, one-sided hearings on Ukraine orchestrated by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.
Mr. Nadler made his pugnacious remarks following the release of the Mueller report, which found no collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives and no actionable obstruction. But Mr. Nadler revealed more than he probably intended:
“The question is, can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people? We have broken the logjam. The president and the attorney general were lying to the American people consistently, saying that the Mueller report found no obstruction, no collusion and exonerated the president.”
Sure, it didn’t. That’s why Democrats abandoned it after nearly three years of falsely accusing Mr. Trump’s campaign of conspiring with Moscow.
A week after Mr. Nadler’s gross misrepresentation of the Mueller report, and his stunning admission that Democrats lacked actual evidence to convict Mr. Trump — unlike Mr. Clinton, who had been convicted of committing perjury before a grand jury — they cooked up the phony scandal based on President Trump’s July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ignoring the elephant in the room — OK, make that a donkey — that Joe Biden and his son were knee-deep in Ukrainian corruption, they barreled ahead, brushing aside the telephone call transcript that destroyed their narrative. They’ve also managed to ignore the growing scandal over how President Obama’s FBI criminally misled the FISA court into issuing warrants to spy on Trump officials in 2016.
Let’s return for a moment to Mr. Nadler’s words before the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 10, 1998:
“There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other. Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come. And will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.”
Well, he got that right, but it was less partisan in 1998. The House voted, with 31 Democrats joining, to approve an impeachment inquiry. Then the House rejected two articles of impeachment but approved two, with a handful of each party voting with the other side. In 2019, not a single Republican voted in the House to impeach Mr. Trump. Surveys, meanwhile, show public support rising for the president in the face of the Democrats’ impeachment mania.
Unsurprisingly, the media reacted quite differently from how they reported the Clinton impeachment vote in 1998. This is well documented at newsbusters.org, so I’ll cite only a couple of examples.
After the House voted to impeach Mr. Clinton, NBC Nightly News weekend anchor Brian Williams reported from Capitol Hill that, “Historians may not look kindly on what transpired behind me here today.”
NBC’s Maria Shriver “scolded that the vote was ‘a mark against this Congress, and this Congress will be forever known as the Congress that impeached the President of the United States.’”
Not to be outdone, Geraldo Rivera blasted the vote on NBC’s “Today” show, saying: “It was a spiteful action. … It was a legislative coup d’etat, and it has been rejected utterly by the American people.”
By contrast, some Washington Post staffers this past Wednesday tweeted out a happy photo of themselves celebrating the Trump impeachment at a tavern with the message, “Happy Impeachmas from the WaPo team!”
On MSNBC, former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham exulted, “It’s an extraordinary political achievement, but even more important, I think it is an important constitutional one.”
Forced into this charade by New York freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her socialist comrades who have taken over the Democratic Party, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delayed sending the articles of impeachment over to the Senate. She wants assurance that there will be a “fair” trial. You know, unlike the Stalinist-style show trial that her House conducted.
Mrs. Pelosi, who knows that her speakership will probably be over in 2020, cautioned her colleagues before the vote to be “solemn,” and not to cheer or “act happy.” But after three frustrating years of not nailing Mr. Trump, some of them couldn’t contain themselves, laughing and taking selfies.
They might as well enjoy it while they can. God willing, the bill for this little party may well be very steep for them next November.
• Robert Knight is a contributor to The Washington Times.
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