House Democrats have done a lot of talking about bribery, after finally realizing that quid pro quo wasn’t having an impact. And yet in their impeachment inquiry hearing, and the depositions before that, barely any mention of bribery has been made. Rep. John Ratcliffe blasted Democrats this afternoon during his five-minute question period, choosing instead to raise questions about the honesty and integrity of House majority leadership. “Why do the crimes which the president is being accused of keep changing?” Ratliff asked, and then answered, “Polling”:
“This is important because as early as next week, my Democratic colleagues are going to say, ‘We need to vote on the evidence from this impeachment inquiry on the impeachment of the president for bribery,’ and they’re going to send a report to the Judiciary Committee. Because there’s more Democrats than Republicans, it’s likely going to pass. When that happens, the American people need to be clear that when the Democrats, what they are describing as bribery, not a single witness is describing as bribery,” Ratcliffe continued.
Actually, one witness did describe bribery, at least in passing, Ratcliffe noted. Unfortunately for Democrats, that testimony wasn’t about Donald Trump:
“In fact, in these 3,500 pages of sworn testimony in just these ten transcripts released thus far, the word ‘bribery’ appears in these 3,500 pages exactly one time. And ironically, it appears not in a description of President Trump’s alleged conduct. It appears in the description of Vice President [Joe] Biden’s alleged conduct,” he said.
Ratcliffe isn’t the only person to notice that no testimony of bribery has been offered, let alone any evidence of it. Liberal law professor and CBS legal analyst Jonathan Turley made the same point earlier in the day. There may be “no emerging narrative coming from the Republican side,” but they won’t need one if Democrats can’t establish an impeachable act. The bribery charge has a “very sketchy basis,” and Turley doesn’t think they’ve come close to it:
CBS News legal analyst @JonathanTurley: "I have to tell you — I don't believe [Democrats] have made out a case for bribery either under the modern definition or the framers understood it." https://t.co/lmTBBmoYVV pic.twitter.com/UGSGTE1QVE
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) November 19, 2019
Turley wrote at more length about the historical ignorance underpinning Adam Schiff’s claim of bribery last week. As Turley notes briefly here, Schiff isn’t even meeting the burden of his own mistaken definition, let alone the actual meaning. At some point, shouldn’t Democrats put up actual testimony on the point — or withdraw their inquiry?