The impeachment trial for President Donald Trump officially began on Thursday, as the chief justice of the Supreme Court and senators alike were sworn in for their Constitutional roles in the process.
Trump faces charges of abusing his power as president, by trying to coerce a foreign nation to announce an investigation into a political rival of his (and using military aid to that nation in order to do so). Trump was also charged by the House’s impeachment articles of obstruction of Congress, for his refusal to adhere to subpoenas for witnesses and evidence to be seen by investigators.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tried to turn those articles around onto Democrats Thursday, writing in a tweet that they were the ones guilty of those charges.
“Obstruction of Congress: The Speaker holding the articles for 4 wks before sending them to the Senate,” Grisham wrote. “Abuse of Power: The House refusing to give the President due process. Anyone notice the Democrats always accuse POTUS of actions they, themselves are guilty of doing?!”
Obstruction of Congress: The Speaker holding the articles for 4 wks before sending them to the Senate.
Abuse of Power: The House refusing to give the President due process.
Anyone notice the Democrats always accuse POTUS of actions they, themselves are guilty of doing?!
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) January 16, 2020
On both fronts, Grisham is playing loose with the facts, and avoiding context in order to get Trump’s supporters to back the claim.
Bogus obstruction claims
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi withheld the articles of impeachment in order to (unsuccessfully) push for a process in the Senate that would have allowed witnesses and additional evidence to be considered by that legislative body when it began the impeachment trial. As Speaker, it’s entirely her right to decide when to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
Obstruction is a crime in which a person purposely tries to interfere with the investigation or fact-finding of officers or other officials who are conducting an inquiry. Delaying the transmittal of impeachment articles in no way disrupted the Senate’s eventual work.
No due process? Hardly the case
Grisham’s other claim, that House Democrats abused their power by “refusing to give the President due process” has already been fact-checked a number of times, including by HillReporter.com. In October, when Grisham made that same claim, we reported the following:
“[Grisham’s] complaint is a disingenuous one: many legal scholars attest that, at this stage in the process (which is akin to a criminal investigation or a grand jury matter rather than a criminal prosecution), Trump and other administration officials aren’t supposed to play a role in trying to question witnesses in depositions or give their side of the story.
The House is conducting an inquiry at this moment. This isn’t yet a trial of the president — that occurs in the Senate, if and/or when the House determines that Trump has indeed committed an impeachable offense.”
Indeed, as the Washington Post has pointed out, Trump was given more due process than ordinarily is given in grand jury matters, as his Republican backers in the impeachment inquiry were able to cross-examine witnesses during the process — something that doesn’t happen in grand juries ever.
Grisham seeks to ‘distort and confuse’
Grisham’s attempts here aren’t to try and make a reasoned argument against impeachment: rather, they’re to distort and confuse those who are on the fence about impeachment or indictment of Trump, and to push the victimhood narrative within Trump’s base, ramping up their support for him in the process.
It’s a disingenuous pair of claims from the press secretary for the highest government office in this nation. But for a president who lies 20 to 30 times per day (or more) to the American people, who can really be surprised by Grisham’s statement? It’s a part of the job title, sadly, that she lie to us as well.