Joe Friday was a fictional character created (and portrayed)
by Jack Webb as the lead for the hit television series Dragnet. Friday was
portrayed as a detective in the Los Angeles Police Department. The character first
appeared on June 3, 1949 in the premiere of the NBC radio drama that launched the series.
Webb played the character on radio and later on television from 1949–1959 and again
Detective Friday narrated every story, providing details in
voiceover of what happened and where. The opening narration in the original 1951–59
TV series remained brief and straightforward: "This is the city, Los Angeles,
California... I work here... I'm a cop."
What followed was the introduction of the story's plot:
"It was [day of the week and date], it
was [weather conditions] in Los Angeles; we were working
the [day|night] watch out of [police division].
My partner is [name]. The boss is [name].
My name's Friday."
"Just the facts, ma'am" is a common catchphrase
often attributed to Friday, but this was not the exact phrase. Friday typically used the
phrase "All we want are the facts, ma'am" when questioning women in the course of
This week, the week of 10 November 2019, the House of
Representatives opens hearings on the impeachment of President Donald Trump. As the L.A.
detective, Joe Friday frequently stated, all we want are the facts - "Just the
facts, ma'am!" What we don’t need are the blustering irrelevant twitters from
the president. What we don’t want are unfounded charges against the president’s accusers
or the innocent bystanders.
Let’s see what the facts are.
A government whistleblower came forward to accuse President
Donald Trump of “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign
country in the 2020 U.S. election.” (Ref. 2)
“The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8)-(9),
Pub.L. 101-12 as amended, is a United States federal law that protects federal whistleblowers
who work for the government and report the possible existence of an activity constituting
a violation of law, rules, or regulations, or mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of
authority or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.”
The whistleblower did his job. In spite of Trump’s demands to
know who the whistleblower is, there is no valid reason to do so. It matters not if the
whistleblower is a Trump hater or supporter. It matters not if he/she is a Democrat or
Republican. All that matters is that a whistleblower filed a charge against the president.
The charge has been investigated and there appears to be incontrovertible evidence that
the charge is valid. The whistleblower’s job is done. Now it’s up to House of Representatives.
Donald Trump can rant and rave and demand to know the whistleblower’s name but the
Whistleblower Protection Act was made into law to avoid just such an unwarranted demand
and to prevent vindictive people from unfairly abusing the whistleblower. Donald
Trump has no right to know the name of the whistleblower!
Neither Hunter Biden nor his father, potential Democratic
presidential nominee, Joseph Biden, are the subjects of these hearings and are not
witnesses to the accusations against the President. In spite of Trump’s attempts
to sidetrack the hearings by having the Bidens called as witnesses, there is simply no
legitimate reason for them to appear in the hearings.
Trump and some of his Republican lackeys have objected to the
initial hearings being held behind closed doors. But, that’s typically how our
judicial system works! In criminal cases, grand juries are empaneled to gather
evidence behind closed doors. This is done to protect witnesses and to prevent the testimony
of one witness influencing another. Only after the grand jury determines that further
legal action is warranted do the proceedings move to indictment and then trial. The House
has held its closed hearings – with both Democrats and Republicans sitting in; with both
Trump supporters and Trump opponents participating. The closed-door House hearings have determined
that further action is appropriate. We are now proceeding to the open impeachment hearing
which is equivalent to the criminal indictment. Donald Trump and his backers can yell
foul all they want and argue on Twitter that he was not guilty of misconduct and that the
probe is politically driven, but this is how the formal impeachment process is
supposed to work. It is how it has worked in the past!
House Republicans have released their witness list and the
list includes, Hunter Biden and the yet-unnamed whistleblower. These Republican lawmakers
have no right to the name of the whistleblower and Hunter Biden was not a witness to the
supposed “high crime and misdemeanor” of which Trump is accused – calling Biden would only
be a smokescreen and an attempt on the part of Trump and his supporters to smear the
younger Biden and his father in advance of the 2020 election campaign.
Democrats consider the open hearings to be crucial to building
public support for a formal impeachment vote against Trump. If that occurs, the
Republican-controlled Senate would hold a trial on the charges. Republicans have so far
shown little support for removing Trump from office, which would require a two-thirds
vote in the Senate. Whether or not that happens is yet to be seen. Right now, we are
only at the indictment stage. Conviction is another matter. To date, no American president
has never been convicted and removed from office.
Hopefully, the coming House impeachment hearings will give the
American people an opportunity to judge for themselves the guilt of innocence of Donald
Trump. Hopefully, the hearings will be limited to the facts. Based upon prior evidence,
such is not likely to be the case. Donald Trump does not let facts or the truth stand in
his way. His approach is to deny, accuse, rant, and bully. The same can be said of many
of his supporters. On the other side, it is incumbent upon the Democratic majority to
conduct the hearings in as fair and equitable a manner as possible. Railroading an
impeachment through the House will not serve the Democrats well. Above all, the American
people are entitled to "Just the facts, ma'am (and sir)!"
- Dragnet, Wikipedia, last edited on
7 November 2019.
- The Whistleblower Complaint Timeline, Eugene Kiely, Lori Robertson and
D'Angelo Gore, factcheck.org, 6 November 2019.
- 3Whistleblower Protection Act, Wikipedia, last edited
on 6 November 2019.