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In Tuesday morning’s impeachment inquiry hearing, in the questioning of Lt.-Col. Alexander Vindman of the White House National Security Council and Jennifer Williams of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff, Democrats are pressing three misleading themes.
First, Chairman Adam Schiff and the Democrats’ counsel, Daniel Goldman, have attempted to frame a dichotomy between President Trump and what they call “official” US foreign policy. It’s a false framework. Official policy is not, as they suggest, made by the so-called policy community (comprised mainly of the NSC, the State Department and government agents from the intelligence community and the armed services). The president makes American foreign policy.
Function - Policy - Community - President - Advice
The function of the policy community is to give the president its best advice and the benefit of its considerable knowledge and experience. But in our representative republic, policy is made by the only official who actually answers to the voters whose lives and interests are at stake — the president.
The Democrats’ theory is that it is misconduct for the president to depart from the policy priorities of unelected bureaucrats. That gets things backward. The president sets policy; the policy community is supposed to carry out the president’s policy. It is certainly possible that a president’s policy may be misguided or even improperly self-interested — and in that sense, it could be wrong. But cannot be regarded as wrong simply because the policy community disagrees.
Democrats - President - Reference - July - Phone
Second, Democrats highlight the president’s reference, in the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, to a conspiracy theory that Ukraine may have been complicit in the hacking of Democratic e-mail accounts. It is quite correct to contend, as they do, that there is no known support for this theory. It is also correct that US intelligence agencies and the Mueller investigation assessed that Russia was behind the hacking attacks.
From these correct premises,...
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