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Issues & Insights

Here’s The Impeachment Speech Trump Should Give

The impeachment circus has begun – and President Trump must take advantage of a unique opportunity to seize the center ring.

Not another wave of off-the-wall tweets. Not another raucous, ranting rally.

Rather, the most powerful public relations tool of his office: the nationally televised presidential address.

No other platform packs the punch of a speech from behind the Resolute Desk. The Oval Office setting would underscore Trump’s role as chief executive, commander in chief and head of state, against whom a highly politicized impeachment should not be undertaken cavalierly. It separates the gravity of the office from personalized and polarized views of the man.

It’s a slam dunk to be aired at primetime, with far-greater ratings reach than daytime hearings. Or even tweets.

Most important, a formal address would give the president an unfiltered opportunity to gather and communicate a cohesive, reasoned narrative – instead of disjointed, emotional blasts – on the case against impeachment.

The speech should be free of Trump’s characteristic riffs and eschew divisive terms like “witch hunt” – and demonstrate that he can present a sober, rational and highly credible legal and constitutional case.

Such an apologia can provide the “message platform” for the communications campaign now being orchestrated from a White House “war room” for the chief executive and his surrogates.

So what themes might Trump offer that would prove workable for such a grown-up ”straight talk” with the American people? How about these?

  • Actions constitutionally within my foreign-policy authority as president can’t by definition be impeachable ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ Those include the right to ask foreign leaders for help in an inquiry and even engage in supposed quid pro quos to advance such an investigation. It’s exactly what former Vice President Joe Biden did with the very same country – and bragged about on camera.
  • What’s more, America has a compelling interest in signaling to the world that our leaders are not ‘for sale’ to foreign entities through ‘pay-to-play’ schemes – where officials or private individuals make some sort of payment for access to power. Burisma’s disbursement of hundreds of millions of dollars to Hunter Biden appears on its face to be a classic case of pay-to-play – its lobbyists brought up his name in discussions of an aid project with the State Department.
  • You’ve been hearing a lot about quid pro quos. Well, pay-to-play is practically the definition. The notion of massive payments to the son of a Vice President while his father is the ‘point person’ for America’s foreign relations with a country flunks the smell test at the very least, and could cross the line to illegality. The fact that the father is now a candidate for president makes it more, not less, important to ensure these payments were above-board.
  • Moreover, it’s appropriate for the president, as chief law enforcement officer, to follow all potential threads in the current Justice Department investigation as to whether intelligence and law enforcement assets were misused as part of an effort to bring down a legitimately elected government.
  • Although a quid pro quo would not be improper in either circumstance, none was insisted upon or enforced. Despite what you may have heard, my informal use of the word ‘favor’ doesn’t imply a quid pro quo – precisely the opposite. A favor is by definition done with nothing expected in return. Aid to Ukraine was temporarily withheld but was released after a relatively short delay, and a face-to-face meeting was granted with no quid pro quo of an investigation. President Zelensky says he didn’t feel pressured. And my administration has provided military aid the Obama/Biden White House denied.
  • Now let’s look at the actions of congressional Democrats. Using a hidden ‘whistleblower’ to launch an impeachment inquiry is highly irregular and completely inappropriate. This mystery official had no firsthand knowledge of the call he was supposedly blowing the whistle on, and the statute allowing his complaint applies only to the intelligence community, not the president. Relying on and protecting this ‘whistleblower’ is especially questionable given that the referral of the complaint admits he has partisan ties to my political opponents.
  • Finally, yes, ‘read the transcript.’ I’ve been open and above-board from the start. As soon as it was possible to do so, I took the unprecedented step of releasing a summary of the call with President Zelensky, which supports every element of my case. I did not engage in actions outside my executive authority. I did not insist on a quid pro quo of any kind. I did, properly, request assistance in investigations critical to the integrity of the law enforcement and intelligence resources of the United States and to ensuring corruption-free government in both nations.
  • In contrast, the Democrats have hidden this supposed whistleblower, lied about his meeting with Congressman Schiff and staff before his complaint was filed, engaged in secret depositions and leaked out-of-context portions harmful to me.
  • Those are the facts and the law. I leave it to you, the American people, to judge, and I’m confident you will do so fairly, and reject the biased, politicized and groundless charges being made.

Mr. President, you alone control the “bully pulpit.” Seize it – and make your case.


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Bob Maistros

Bob Maistros, a messaging and communications strategist and crisis specialist, is of counsel with Strategic Action Public Affairs, and was chief writer for the Reagan-Bush ’84 campaign, three U.S. Senators, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at bob@rpmexecutive.com.

8 comments

  • Awesome summary of the entire debacle. I hope the Orange Man and members of Congress read this article.

  • Hunter Biden was paid about $3 million by Burisma, not the “hundreds of millions” cited in the article. Hunter Biden’s investment company did receive loan guarantees of hundreds of millions from China

  • Excellent idea. Although the results of his policies have been extremely successful for our nation, Trump’s ability to articulate his positions in formal addresses has been horrible. His speech on Veteran’s Day hints he might be capable of such a thing.

    But the author neglects the primary reason for pushing for an investigation – – the Ukraine has already admitted that the previous regime meddled in the 2016 election on behalf of Killary, and we know the DNC’s Ms. Chalupa was actively engaged in trying to dig up foreign dirt on the Trump campaign. Trump mentioned Crowdstrike because it’s owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. That’s the outfit that told Comey everything was copacetic with Killary’s missing server. We now know what Comey and Brennan have been up to. None of this has been properly investigated because the MSM doesn’t want it investigated. We don’t know if this is part of Durham’s brief or not but it’s past time.

    • None of that post is true. Ukraine did not interfere with the election, it was Russia, and no amount of lying and twisting the truth will save Trump from prison.

  • 100% right my friend. But unfortunately, as much as I like so many of his policies, Trump has some serious issues with putting out a coherent, intelligent and presidential response. If only he could speak a little better than a 3rd grader. It would be a landslide victory for the us, On the other hand, a vote for the Dems is a suicide vote

  • Just curious, if Trump were to make such a speech, would the networks even carry it, or bow out after 3 minutes? just because he makes a prime time adrress from the oval office doesnt mean the press has to carry it, and as even more biased as they are now than they have been in the past (or perhaps the bias is more overt than covert) I would bet Trump doesn’t get the air time.

    my first indication that this is likely the case is that the press didnt try to shut down or even criticize adam schiff’s closed door impeachment hearings, and instead defended them. the national press is no longer pretending to be neutral, I wouldnt count on them to air the president’s defense at all.

  • The public address is perhaps a good idea politically. Importantly, he should continue to triangulate between the two major parties, calling out the corruption of all of Washington DC, inspiring more to join the process as well as abandon both camps.

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About Issues & Insights

Issues & Insights is a new site formed by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

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