The Trump Impeachment Theme Song: 'Is That All There Is?'

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Cue Peggy Lee. The theme song of the Democratic conflagration known as the Trump impeachment hearings is now “Is That All There Is?”

I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire…
I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames
And when it was all over I said to myself, is that all there is to a fire?

Is that all there is to an attempt to overthrow the president of the United States? Just a bunch of bureaucrats who felt overlooked? Because if there is more to it than that, I haven’t seen the evidence. What I’ve seen is one witness after the other who swore loyalty to the U.S. Constitution, and claimed to be nonpartisan, but who worked to undermine the foreign policy of the elected president because it didn’t square with the “consensus views of the interagency,” whatever that is. I haven’t found the “interagency” referenced anywhere in the Constitution, but these diplomats and spies swear fealty to it, over and above either the president or the Constitution.

Listen, for instance, to David Holmes, who is based at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, in his opening statement at Thursday’s hearing, as he talks about the infamous July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky:

“Upon reading the transcript, I was deeply disappointed to see that the president raised none of what I understood to be our interagency agreed-upon foreign policy priorities in Ukraine and instead raised the Biden/Burisma investigation.”

This suggests that the priorities of the “interagency” are more important than the priorities of the president. It also implies that political considerations should not influence foreign policy. This is absurd. Political considerations always affect foreign policy. The current president’s approach to China is far different than that of his predecessor. So is his approach to North Korea. Yet Holmes raised concerns in his opening statement about the “emergence of a political agenda” in Ukraine.

The question of whether Ukraine interfered in our 2016 presidential election may be debated, but if it was legitimate for President Obama to authorize spying on candidate Trump’s campaign in 2016 because of concerns about Russian interference, it is certainly equally legitimate for President Trump to ask for an investigation into Ukraine’s role in the same election.

The separate question of whether then-Vice President Joe Biden participated in a corrupt scheme in Ukraine to enrich either himself or his son is considered off-limits by Democrats because Biden decided to run for president. To normal Americans, that makes the question even more pressing. Who wants to elect a crooked leader?

But Democrats say it was improper for Trump to seek the answers because Biden is a political rival. You know what? Let the facts speak for themselves. Why don’t we hire an independent counsel, give him or her a staff of 16 high-paid lawyers, an unlimited budget and two years, and find out if there is any evidence that Biden or his son violated either U.S. or Ukrainian law? Trump endured that treatment and came out clean. It’s the least we can do for Biden, so that he has the chance to clear his name!

We are led to believe that the career diplomats such as Bill Taylor, George Kent, and Fiona Hill are the adults in the room, but maybe they are just the spoiled toddlers in the “interagency.” They sure seem to throw temper tantrums when someone like Trump comes along and takes away their “interagency agreed-upon foreign policy priorities.”

What was plainly evident from the testimony the last two weeks is that the personal success of President Zelensky was more important to the State Department officials than was the success of the president they served. Again, here’s Holmes in his opening statement:

“It is important to understand that a White House visit was critical to President Zelensky. President Zelensky and senior members of his team made clear they wanted President Zelensky’s first overseas trip to be to Washington to send a strong signal of American support, and requested a call with President Trump as soon as possible. We at the embassy also believed that a meeting was critical to the success of President Zelensky’s administration and its reform agenda, and we worked hard to get it arranged.”

You know what? That sure sounds like a political agenda to me. It’s just that the beneficiary was supposed to be the Ukrainian president instead of our own. So, if the political considerations of a foreign leader are important to our Foggy Bottom diplomats, why is it so bad for the U.S. president to also have a “political agenda”?

It is interesting that Holmes, the diplomat who is afraid of the “emergence of a political agenda,” serves as counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. I wondered exactly what that entails, but the embassy website was mute on the point. Nonetheless, I was able to find on the website for the U.S. Embassy in Rome a page that provided significant insight on what a political officer might be doing:

“The Political Section is responsible for political relations between the United States and the Italian Republic. It analyzes Italian domestic and foreign affairs and advocates U.S. Government policies with Italian officials, parliamentarians, politicians, academic institutions/think tanks, civil society leaders, and foreign diplomats. The Section works to advance U.S. positions and increase bilateral cooperation across a broad range of issues, including political-military relations, foreign policy, and law enforcement coordination.”

Hmm, interesting. “Law enforcement coordination.” I wonder if that would include looking into corruption within the host nation? And would the “political relations” between the United States and the host nation appropriately include a look at how U.S. politicians might have abused their power? Seems like maybe David Holmes is not doing his job if he is turning a blind eye to American interference in Ukrainian affairs, such as when a high-ranking U.S. elected official (let’s say the vice president) threatens to withhold a billion dollars of aid in order to ensure that one prosecutor is fired under suspicious circumstances.

Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat from Vermont, said Thursday that the reason Trump is going to be impeached is because he “conditioned our foreign policy, the national security, on getting a valuable political benefit from Ukraine.” That’s the way the Democrats frame the argument, but I see it from the other side around.

If Trump had known about corruption involving a former vice president of the United States and had ignored it because he didn’t want to “get involved,” or was afraid of “how it might look,” then he would have been just like all the other crony capitalist politicians in Washington, D.C., ignoring all the sleaze and thinking somehow that made them clean.

The American people are not stupid, and the longer this farce drags out, the more they will come to realize that if politics played any role in Trump’s actions, then he was just acting exactly the same way as the high and mighty Democrats.

If impeachment does move to the Senate for trial next year, it will be impossible for the Democrats to put the genie back in the bottle. Although Impeachment Czar Adam Schiff doesn’t want to hear from the whistleblower and Hunter Biden, it is inconceivable that the Republican-led Senate will not call these essential witnesses to testify.

I may be wrong, but I suspect Donald J. Trump, although a teetotaler, is watching the Schiff Show and its lineup of disgruntled diplomats with a wry smile, humming an old familiar tune that says it better than all the talking heads in all the world:

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that's all there is, my friends, then let's keep dancing.
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is.

Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics. His books — including “The Media Matrix: What If Everything You Know Is Fake?” — are available at his Amazon storefront. Visit him at to read his daily commentary or follow him on Facebook @HeartlandDiaryUSA or on Twitter @HeartlandDiary.

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