The impeachment of President Trump has hit an impasse. Expect the impasse to break with a big event, such as Democrats publicly presenting The Whistleblower.
The impeachment all started with an anonymous “whistleblower” report snitching on Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. From the get-go, Trump and his Republican allies said the whistleblower must reveal his identity and publicly testify, while Democrats insisted the whistleblower should remain anonymous.
Substantively, it does not matter whether the whistleblower testifies. The whistleblower’s report is public information. And multiple other witnesses testified before the House of Representatives to corroborate the whistleblower’s written report.
Politically, however, the whistleblower’s “coming out party” could be a big event. It might seize the public’s attention — just as the whistleblower’s written report did — and break the political impasse by increasing voters’ appetite for more impeachment proceedings.
Right now, Democrats need to revive public interest in impeachment. Poll data shows that public opinion toward impeaching the president is split along party lines, while his approval rating is even increasing.
But Democrats must depress Trump’s favorability among voters in order to win the 2020 presidential election. A big event can help them do that.
Thus, publicly revealing the whistleblower is a win/break-even proposition. If nobody cares about it, then the impeachment remains stalled. If, on the other hand, the whistleblower can captivate the public’s attention, then it might cause Republicans in the Senate to invite the whistleblower to testify.
Or, even if Republicans do not take the bait, the public might. Revealing the whistleblower could affect public opinion. Even if independent voters and Republicans are unmoved by a publicly-identified whistleblower, the revelation could increase Democratic voters’ desire to donate, volunteer, and vote for their party to win the 2020 election.
Therefore, in an environment where every vote and every dollar counts — especially in swing states — Democrats should do it. If not now, then later, during the general election, to revive voters’ interest in the scandal.
The whistleblower is a tool in the Democratic arsenal. Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff’s office knows the whistleblower’s identity. They colluded with the whistleblower before he even filed his written report. Anonymity — and the very title of “whistleblower” — allowed the whistleblower’s written report to enjoy extra credibility beyond its mere substance. Anonymity helped the impeachment process. Shedding that anonymity might help the process again.
After all, this whistleblower would not even be the first anonymous Democratic witness to reveal himself after the 12th hour for political advantage. Sure, the House of Representatives already finished its impeachment hearings. No matter. A similar episode occurred in the Senate last year.
Recall the Senate hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s most recent appointee to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Early in the Senate hearing process, Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office colluded with a witness who accused Kavanaugh of having sexually battered her in the 1980’s, when they were both teenagers.
Rather than admit the existence of such a witness during the Senate hearings, Feinstein and her witness, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, presented Ford’s accusation after the Senate hearings were over — but before the advice-and-consent votes were cast.
The purpose of doing so was to persuade moderate senators who would otherwise vote to confirm Kavanaugh to swing their votes in the opposite direction.
The strategy worked. The Senate re-opened its hearings and invited Ford to testify, then invited Kavanaugh to testify again. This gave Democrats a second bite at the apple to move votes against the president’s nominee.
Even though Democrats failed to defeat Kavanaugh’s nomination, they successfully ruined his reputation. Now Democrats can de-legitimize future Supreme Court decisions where Kavanaugh’s vote as a justice might determine the outcome. And, in the meantime, the episode galvanized many Democratic activists to remain engaged in the political process and continue their hostility against Republicans, redounding to Democrats’ benefit in the form of donations, volunteerism, and votes.
A similar strategy justified revealing Ford as a witness against Kavanaugh after Senate hearings ended. The same calculus justifies revealing the Trump whistleblower after the House of Representatives’ hearings have ended.
Even if the revelation does not result in the president’s removal via a Senate trial, it could help Democrats remove him in the 2020 election, which works just as well. So expect Democrats to do it.
Lew Olowski is an attorney and formerly a clerk to Radovan Karadzic, president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Lew served under Peter Robinson, who is among the world’s premiere international criminal trial lawyers litigating war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. He is a graduate of Georgetown Law School.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.