Why was it so important to President Trump and the Republicans to find out the identity of the whistleblower in the House impeachment proceedings? That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times over the past few weeks. This person never claimed to have heard firsthand conversations, but he felt from what he heard that the information was important enough to pass along. Why does it matter if the information the whistleblower heard was corroborated by eyewitness testimony? This is one of three observations I made by watching the House impeachment hearings.
If the Republicans did find out the whistleblower’s identity, how would it have changed the hearings? Based on past practice of the president and Congressional Republicans, someone would have quickly investigated that person to find out their party affiliation. If he turned out to be a Democrat, then his testimony would have been totally disregarded and discredited as biased against the president. But that happened anyway to the diplomatic civil servants who did testify. It also happened to staunch Republican supporter Ambassador Gordon Sondland. Their testimonies were ignored or discounted by House Republicans.
Whistleblowers are protected by law to encourage them to come forward and speak the truth to bad governmental behavior. To reveal their identities would discourage future whistleblowers from speaking up. Perhaps that was the purpose of Republican complaints?
Rather than finding out the identity of the informant, perhaps what should be done is to is to first listen to what the person has to say, and then do research to either corroborate or discredit his information. Wisdom can come from many quarters. We should be open to any advice no matter where it comes from. Don’t discount the testimony just because of its source.
Secondly, I observed one of the Republican strategies: “If you don’t like what you hear, attack the process and the procedures.” Don’t deal with the actual testimony. Don’t provide evidence that refutes the evidence provided. Find instead ways to deflect attention to other matters. I have constantly been amazed at the variety of techniques to discredit the information provided by those who testified.
Most of the Republican representatives are lawyers who know the law. Yet, they claimed that the evidence was hearsay—secondhand information. They claimed that this information is not permitted in a trial. Yet they should also know that hearsay is only forbidden in criminal cases, not impeachment proceedings. Republican representatives also know that the House acts as the prosecution. Only evidence that points to their perspective of the accused is used. This is not the trial; it’s preparing evidence for the trial in the Senate.
Those same representatives also complained that the trial was moving too quickly with too few witnesses. Yet, they, like Speaker Pelosi, know that the 2020 election season is fast approaching and it’s politically dangerous to have an impeachment trial during such a time. They also know that the president has willfully and unconstitutionally refused to have his aides with firsthand knowledge testify.
They attack Pelosi and the Democrats by accusing them of working to impeach the president from the time the president took office. In actuality, based on President Clinton’s impeachment, the risks of political backlash make any impeachment trial very hazardous. Pelosi would much rather not have had an impeachment investigation, but the blatant attempt by Trump to influence the 2020 election forced her hand. He had crossed a red line and it needed to be addressed. Precedence about the power of Congress to investigate a sitting president is at stake.
The third observation comes from by background and experience in history and politics. This background allows me to see how voters are being manipulated by the Republicans. I’m a trained mediator. I see the intent behind the Republican representatives words. I know from personal experience that there are many voters who just don’t understand what is really happening. They just don’t have the experience and training.
It is frustrating, but I’m an educator. My job is to point out what is hidden in plain sight. Hopefully, you are now better educated to discern the game playing that is going on before your eyes. Some Trump supporters are probably saying right now, “Yeah, but what about the Democrats?” While not faultless in this whole process, Trump and the Republicans are the ones who are lying to the American public. This is serious business. The future of our republic hangs in the balance.