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Impeachment inquiry not a search for the truth

What has occurred thus far in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump bears little resemblance to a criminal trial — and that is appropriate. The House of Representatives move against Trump involves politics, not allegations of criminal behavior.

Much of the inquiry was conducted behind closed doors, with only a few days of public testimony choreographed tightly by Democrats who control the House.

Now, however, the House intelligence committee controlled by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has concluded that phase of its work. Next, the committee will compile a report intended to outline whether Trump should be impeached by the House and tried by the U.S. Senate.

Presumably, the bulk of the document will be prepared by staffers who work for Schiff and other Democrat lawmakers. Minority Republicans on the intelligence committee will summarize their own views, also in writing.

Once completed — perhaps within a week — the document will be circulated to other House members, in preparation for debate and a vote on whether to impeach the president.

Think of the report as something like the closing arguments you see in fictional trials on television. It gives Schiff and company an opportunity to spin testimony in an attempt to prove their point, with Republicans given an opportunity to respond in kind.

For the report to do its job, it will have to lay out specific claims of misbehavior alleged to have been committed by Trump.

The Constitution provides for impeachment for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Democrats are expected to rest their case on a claim that Trump bribed Ukrainian officials by insisting they investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, as a condition of U.S. foreign aid to Ukraine being released.

Given the fact no such investigation was conducted and the aid was released, one wonders how Democrats will prove their case.

In any event, their opportunity to do so — or fail — is imminent. Do not expect it to make much different in how House members vote. Nearly every Democrat, if not all, will vote for impeachment. Nearly every Republican, if not all, will vote against.

That alone should tell fair-minded Americans the whole process has been a political vendetta, not a search for the truth.

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