Speaker Nancy Pelosi, amid the largely laughable testimony of the diplomats — can you say heavy on the hearsay, guys? — came out with her own largely laughable conclusion of all that hearsay testimony and said: President Donald Trump is guilty of bribery.
She even found him guilty of confessing to bribery.
Who knew Pelosi, at her advanced age, could perform so many contortions? This has to be the greatest acrobatic spin in political history.
“The bribe,” she said, in a widely reported news conference on the heels of the first public impeachment hearing, “is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That’s bribery.”
She then referenced a quip Trump made about his call with the Ukraine president — when he said it was “perfect,” that he did nothing wrong.
And she went on: “What the president has admitted to and says it’s ‘perfect,’ I say it’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery.”
From there, the media played its part.
“Pelosi says Trump admitted to bribery,” CBS News reported.
“What Trump did ‘makes what Nixon did look almost small,’ Pelosi says,” CNN reported.
Thing is: Pelosi’s all smoke and mirrors — and daggers.
If Trump were guilty of bribery, if Trump had confessed to bribery, we wouldn’t be entering Day Two of public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill, would we? We’d be covering the jail cells and making guesses about Trump’s new home.
The root of the whole impeachment madness Democrats have driven over Ukraine focuses on that very matter — determining whether Trump used his power and platform to force Ukraine to do something he wanted in exchange for money.
Democrats have come up short in proving this.
So they’ve sent in their spinmeister experts to bridge the gap.
It’s no coincidence that the very word Pelosi chose to characterize Trump’s behavior during his call with Ukraine’s president is specifically named in the Constitution as an impeachable offense. Article II, Section 4 provides that the “president, vice president and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Quid pro quo wasn’t getting it.
So the left had to slap on a label that’s impeachable.
But the fact that Pelosi’s jumped over the whole investigative process and sailed right by due process to try for a slam dunk on impeachment shouldn’t detract from the basic thing here: Trump’s innocent until proven guilty.
Imaginations are not the same as realities.
And Pelosi’s premature and politically charged jump, laudable for its magnificent stretching as it is, has fallen far, far short of the hoop. She’s crashed on the court. It’s not just the Constitution that calls for facts to come before conviction. It’s common sense. It’s the American people.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.