Goodwin: Trickster Adam Schiff conjuring ‘guilt’ out of thin air

The dictionary defines a conjurer as someone who “practices magic arts” and “performs feats of sleight of hand and illusion.”

Someone like Adam Schiff.

The California Democrat takes his magic act public Wednesday as the impeachment hearings burst out of a Capitol Hill dungeon and onto television. Donald Trump’s presidency and the 2020 election likely hang on whether Schiff’s sleight of hand can survive the bright lights of public exposure and cross-examination.

Operating in darkness, where he controlled the witness list and leaked snippets of testimony that the Dems’ media echo chamber turned into proof of Trump’s guilt, Schiff has been a first-rate illusionist.

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Even his exterior calmness is deceptive; he burns with a zeal to kill the king.

Scorned by the president as “Liddle Adam Schiff,” and “pencil neck” and “shifty Schiff,” he can taste revenge. To impeach Trump, even if it goes nowhere in the Senate, will make him a man of history and a hero to the millions of 2016 deniers.

But on what grounds will this great deed be consummated? While Schiff and his fellow travelers loudly declare Trump guilty, they’ve yet to settle on a charge that makes sense to the many millions of Americans who live outside a political hot house.

Take the talking point that the president engaged in an improper quid pro quo by promising arms to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s $50,000-a-month cushy gig there. It has everything on its side except a clear set of facts.

Ukraine got the arms — arms Barack Obama refused to give — but Trump never got the Biden investigation or one into what role Ukraine played in 2016.

Either the master of the “Art of the Deal” got snookered or there was no deal in the first place. And if there was no deal, was the phone call with Ukraine’s president really improper? Was the temporary hold on the arms really a crime?

Indeed, the worst possible interpretation of the call still lacks the gravitas to bring down a president less than year before an election. If you don’t hate Trump beyond all measure, watching the left’s outrage over this is like watching a TV program in a foreign language you don’t understand. You can pick up an occasional word, but ultimately, the whole thing is baffling.

The one sure thing is that deplorables and bitter clingers understand that the death penalty is not a fair sentence for jaywalking. Democrats who defended Bill Clinton’s perjury and sex in the Oval Office with an intern certainly should be able to relate.

The process is a big part of the problem, as Schiff and his team blatantly mix the allegations of an anonymous “whistleblower” with the worries, concerns and fears of bureaucrats left out of the loop. These officials’ disagreement with Trump isn’t an ordinary event because they, too, apparently view him as an illegitimate president.

Once you cross that bridge in your mind, everything Trump does must be seen in the darkest possible light. If he removes an ambassador, it must be for nefarious reasons. If he changes policy or ignores certain protocols, it is your duty to bring him down.

The challenge of the public hearings, then, is tantamount to proving Trump was guilty of colluding with Russia after Robert Mueller said there was insufficient evidence even to level the charge.

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