- - Tuesday, January 7, 2020

It happens: A prized Christmas gift, buried under a mountain of torn wrapping paper, gets thrown away by mistake. Impeachment is like that. It’s both the most momentous story of the just-concluded year and, owing to the bustle of the holidays, the most forgotten. As Americans take down the ornaments and look up the headlines they disregarded during the Yuletide season, the conscientious need to turn a wary eye toward the efforts to expel a U.S. president without the use of the ballot box.

At last sighting in December, a smirking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveled the chamber closed following approval of two impeachment articles charging President Trump with obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. Though impeachment topped Democrats’ to-do list even before Mr. Trump checked into the White House, their selected complaint is a July 25 phone call to Ukraine’s president that anti-Trumpers interpreted as an attempt to condition military aid on a probe of energy company dealings conducted by political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

To this day, the speaker has not gotten around to forwarding to the Senate for trial those “high crimes and misdemeanors” she claims are a threat to democracy.

The Pelosi Pause appears to be an attempt to use impeachment as a bargaining chip — brandishing it in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s face until he agrees to an open-ended Senate trial that puts the president’s closest advisers in the witness chair. That’s akin to vowing, “Give in to my demands or I’ll, I’ll do nothing.” Seriously.

On the other hand, Nancy’s hesitancy suggests Pelosi paralysis. The Republican-controlled Senate is positioned to slam back her weak impeachment case like a fat blooper on the pickleball court. Who could blame her for balking? The hard-core progressives — that’s who. But it is her personal legacy that’s on the line, not theirs.

In the meantime, Democrats scrounge for fresh revelations surrounding the president’s 2019 handling of U.S. relations with Ukraine, which they reckon to inflate into a firing offense.

Just Security, a left-leaning national security policy website, reports a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit has pried loose communications from officials at the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Defense engaged in finger-pointing. The bone of contention: Who would catch blame if appropriated funds were left unspent in violation of the Impoundment Control Act as a result of the White House’s June order to freeze military aid to Ukraine.

Mr. Trump’s adversaries will need a better “gotcha” than that. The suspension of money for Kiev was temporary and no laws were broken. Compared to President Obama’s secret order to fly pallets loaded with $150 million in cash to Tehran as part of his Iran Nuclear Deal, the Ukrainian tempest in a teapot doesn’t nudge the needle on the scandal meter.

Other, more vital questions remain, though, such as how, with special counsel Robert Mueller’s inept testimony, the Trump-Russia collusion tale was demythologized, and the very next day a routine (though not perfect) phone call to the president of Ukraine came to be hyperbolized.

Judicial Watch, a conservative government accountability foundation, has launched a foray into that mystery, filing its own Freedom of Information Act lawsuits on Dec. 26 against the CIA and Department of Justice. The target is conversations between a CIA employee and former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI Attorney Lisa Page, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and/or the Special Counsel’s Office.

A CIA agent widely reported to be the mysterious individual who blew the whistle on Mr. Trump’s Ukraine phone call “is documented to be involved in the Russia collusion investigation, and was a key CIA operative on Ukraine in the both the Obama and Trump White Houses,” says Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Our lawsuits are designed to break through the unprecedented cover-up of his activities.”

Americans are not to be blamed for their own holiday pause in concern over impeachment — hearth and home deserve a special season, and “the deep state” can wait. With the start of the new year, though, there is a need to explore whether the failed Russia collusion fandango and the current Ukrainian impeachment drama are both the handiwork of the same determined mischief-makers.

There may be more to the roots of impeachment than the president’s adversaries care to share, and therein may lie the cause for the Pelosi pause.

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