Impeachment Thoughts

The front page of the Dayton Daily News today.

For the record, my thoughts on the president being impeached, because, oh, my, he certainly was:

* It was inevitable, not (just) because the Democrats were gunning for the president, but because Donald Trump is a crook and was one even before he came into office. Also he’s incompetent, and also he’s disdainful of any check to what he feels are his prerogatives as the president, whether or not they are legal or constitutional. When you have someone as president who treats the law as an inconvenient impediment to get around when it’s in the way of what he wants, and you have the House in the hands of the opposing political party, then yes, impeachment was never not going to happen.

* And yes, absolutely, the House Democrats were gunning for the president — because, let’s recap, he’s a crook, and an incompetent, and disdainful of the law. He’s a bad president, the worst since I’ve been alive, which takes some measure of doing, but more than that, he’s a malign president, and shitty human being, who never had any business in the White House in the first place. The question isn’t why the Democrats are gunning for him, but why removing a malign incompetent crook from the Presidency of the United States was not, in fact, a bipartisan effort.

* The answer to that, aside from mere partisanship, is that the GOP is in a dark place at the moment, politically and morally. It’s easy to say it’s in thrall to Trump and his shitty version of politics, but Trump is the symptom, not the disease. The disease is a heedless caucasian authoritarianism in thrall to the wealthy. Its initial vectors of the current infection were Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich and folks like them, the ones who, when confronted with the chance to make even simple moral and political decisions in a manner that suggested comity and a concern for the general commonweal, asked “what if we… didn’t do that?” and proceeded from there. Trump is the culmination of decades of GOP planning to… well, evidently, to see what would happen if one of the major political parties of the United States simply decided that everyone who was making less than $250,000 a year could just go fuck themselves (that the majority of GOP supporters make far less than that is an irony that I’m sure the GOP quite enjoys).

Trump arrived on the scene too early for the grand GOP experiment — it would have preferred someone smoother and more tractable — but they’ve worked with what they have and here we are. The chance the GOP would interrupt their plans at this point to have a moment of moral clarity or concern about the national welfare was always pretty slim. If those are the facts on the ground, then of course it fell to the Democrats to handle the problem. One may argue, if one wishes, that they are imperfect messengers for this issue. But it’s not the Democrats’ fault that the GOP doesn’t want to hear the message at all.

* There’s no possible way Trump is actually removed from office by the Senate — Senate leader Mitch McConnell has already let it be known the fix is in and that the Senate Republicans will essentially run a sham trial in their chamber once it gets to them. But even if McConnell hadn’t already been so openly disdainful of the impeachment process, the idea that there would be 67 votes to remove even a malign incompetent crook like Trump in a chamber where the majority is held by the modern GOP is a fantasy. The GOP is fine with Trump as he is, doing what he’s doing. They know he’s a crook, but he’s a useful crook, and anyway it’s more important for them to stuff the Democrats than it is to remove the manifestly worst person in living memory to hold the office of president. How this is a surprise to anyone at this point is beyond me.

Which is a shame. It would be nice to live in a world where there was, in fact, bipartisan support for ridding our country of an awful president, who is also a criminal and has done criminal things. But that’s not where we are at the moment, and it’s not where the GOP has any plans to be anytime soon, and like the GOP we have to work with what we have. This may be why, mind you, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is allegedly not in a rush to send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate; no point in getting stuffed early when there’s more work to do, and advantages to be gained.

* Nor do I expect anyone in the tank for Trump to be swayed by the impeachment process, because why would they? Once again, it’s not like Trump supporters didn’t know who their man was when they voted for him. They knew just fine, and were either willing to work with it or actually wanted those things about him. Moreover, there’s a certain tranche of people who are perfectly willing to accept, nay, celebrate, that their team lies and cheats as long as the wins pile up; it happens in sports and it happens in politics. There are a lot of Trump supporters who just like wins, and simply antagonizing people who dislike Trump counts as a “win.”

Likewise, Trump supporters (and GOP supporters generally) have been well-trained for years to distrust anyone, and any informational source, outside of particular approved sources, and the approved sources are — strangely enough! — spinning a very interesting alternate theory of the impeachment process. There is irony that those who rail the most about “fake news” are the ones who consume it the most frequently and uncritically. But, again, here we are in 2019 and we work with what we have.

As it happens, recent polls have seen an uptick in Trump’s approval ratings, and among other things, I suspect that has to do with some unengaged Trump supporters re-engaging because their boy is being attacked and their approved media sources are losing their minds about it. “Uptick” here is relative — in aggregate, the man is still nowhere near 50% approval, nor has he been at any point in his presidency — but it’s not ignorable either. Anyone who thought that the president being impeached would suddenly mean his approval rating dropping through the floor should think again. Trump supporters won’t be having any of that, and if you think they will, check in on your own biases and news sources.

* Of course, this is just going to make Trump more, well, Trump. The man has never understood why people wouldn’t just let him be king, and narcissists never react well to blows to the ego. If you think he’s lost his shit and been completely unreasonable before, just you wait. Things are going to get worse, much worse, especially if, in fact, Speaker Pelosi frustrates McConnell’s plan for a rubber-stamp acquittal in the Senate. And while there is some schadenfreude to be had with Trump spinning in tight, angry circles about this, at the end of the day he’s still president, he’s still a petty, vindictive little shit of a human, and he has enablers. Expect bad news from this dude. More than usual, I mean, and including directives and policies and proclamations that will energize his most bigoted and violent supporters.

* Now to dispose of some whining: “They’re trying to overturn the election!” = “I either don’t understand the Constitution of the United States, or I do and I’m hoping you don’t”; “The President did nothing wrong” = “I don’t understand the law, or I do and I’m hoping you don’t”; “Presidential harassment!” = “I don’t understand the concept of co-equal branches of government, or I do and I’m hoping you don’t”; “Biden and/or Clinton!” = “I want to distract you from the fact the sitting President of the United States is actively performing criminal acts.” There are more of these but you get the running thread: either the person saying them doesn’t understand how things work, or does, perfectly well, and hopes that you don’t and on the basis of that can be convinced of the lie they are actively telling you. Oh and also they want to distract you from the sitting president’s bad actions.

* President Trump has been impeached, deserved to be impeached, and if we lived in a world that was just, would be removed from office. With that said, I’m not happy we’re at this point. In a better world, Trump wouldn’t have been elected or even have been the GOP candidate, but he was and he was, so the next best thing would have been that Trump, who was never going to be a good president, could have at least respected the office and its particular set of powers. There was little in his policies that he couldn’t have achieved without stepping outside the confines of the law, and he wouldn’t be in the position he’s in today, being only the third president to be impeached.

He did this to himself, and he didn’t have to, and he didn’t have to inflict it on all the rest of us. We’re where we are because of him, and because he just couldn’t be bothered to know the law, and his job. And you know what should happen to people who can’t be bothered to know their job, or to do it well. They shouldn’t have it any more.

137 Comments on “Impeachment Thoughts”

  1. As always with political discussions, the Mallet is in its warming chamber, so be polite and kind to each other when commenting. I thank you in advance.

    Also, as a personal favor, when discussing the US political parties, please refrain from cutesy versions of their names (i.e., “Demoncrats,” “Rethuglicans,” etc). I find those… not indicative of giving issues much thought.

  2. I do wonder if public opinion swings towards removal during the Senate trial, if the Republicans will try to convince Trump to resign.

    As far as I can tell, though, it’s all going to be speculation until the events actually play out. I don’t think removal is in the cards (though resigning may be). Regardless, I like your summary that this is what Trump has essentially done to himself.

  3. The democrats were sloppy. They needed to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, and they did not. Perhaps they thought (wrongly) that their case was bulletproof. Perhaps they thought (rightly) that nothing they did would sway McConnell. Still, they should have let the court cases go to SCOTUS, as was the case for the Nixon and Clinton impeachments. Then they should have brought in all the witnesses that Trump blocked. THEN they would have had a case that was (to coin a phrase) unimpeachable.

    Instead, all we have the Republican and Democrats talking at and past each other. Daniel Moynihan (who coined the phrase, “everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They are not entitled to their own facts”) is spinning in his grave.

  4. It’s hard to imagine the impeachment going anywhere in the senate, but at least the largest group of U.S. representatives has made a historic decision, and will be shown to have done the right thing. That’s important.

    What I don’t understand is why nobody has raised the ugly concept of “treason”, which (according to Wikipedia) has the following criteria in the U.S.: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

    “Aid and comfort” seems an open and shut case. But I don’t know who decides whether actions are treasonous and who votes to confirm that decision. If it’s the Senate, we’re no further ahead than we were with impeachment.

  5. One thing that a lot of people are missing is that, when the GOP inevitably acquits President Sir Crimesalot, they’ll be directly telling everyone who isn’t in the hardened GOP base that they’re irreparably corrupt. This should lead to some very massively increased voter turnout in the 2020 election. There are 23 GOP Senators (vs 12 Dems) up for re-election next year, and even with the Red State advantages, a Left that has been infuriated and turbo-charged by the GOP’s collusion with this incompetent stooge stands to sweep a good number of them out of office. It’s realistic to expect Dems to obtain a 52-53 seat majority in the Senate, and not impossible that it hits 55 or so. This would have massive ramifications for the Democrat’s ability to actually achieve policy goals in 2021 onward.

    Every vote to acquit is an arrow aimed at the heart of a GOP Senator’s re-election campaign, and ultimately I think that’s a big part of why the Dems went through with it despite knowing that the GOP won’t convict. It puts the GOP into a cage of its own making, and I don’t think the GOP has a way out of it.

  6. The heck of it is, at least if you take the view that the GOP is all about Power Reactionary Governance, that if Trump is removed from office we get: President Pence. Who would in every way be more congenial to the GOP leadership, and more damaging to progressives.

    For the Democrats impeaching Trump followed by a the GOP fixing the result in the Senate is a win. Every Republican running for re-election gets Trump hung around his (rarely her) neck. Every one.

  7. He didn’t have to.
    They didn’t have to allow it.

    I think it is weird that any support group of any president would find no fault with 100% of his actions. I mean it is possible to say, I agree with A but condemn B. It exhibits exactly as you say the GOP mindset.

  8. Ken I disagree.

    To illustrate, HOW long have the (various) suits to see Trump’s tax returns been sitting at various appellate levels? How long until a SCOTUS decision on even one? In the interim, everything (as it usually is) is on a stay.

    Had we done as you request, we’d be sitting here until well after the election. And given that the impeachment is, at its root, about whether we get to HAVE a fair election, we can’t wait until all the various legal niceties were observed.

    In the end, he’ll be acquitted, and the suits to enable oversight will continue on to the SCOTUS, and we may well see him try to pull these same stunts. But the salutary thing about this whole process is how close various “typical” news sources (not to include Sinclair or Fox) are getting to saying, “And this is Trump’s eighth unhinged rant this week,” rather than, “Trump send a ‘sharply worded tweet’.”

    Not to say he can’t win re-election (any candidate for one of the two major parties ALWAYS can…see 2016) just that he has to pull that same inside straight again. With greater scrutiny on his shenanigans and at least one part of the government actually watching him.

  9. If you consider that Trump was directly attempting to interfere in the Democratic primaries (and by extension, the general election), the Democrat’s rush to publicize this makes sense. There’s only so much time before the November election cycle, and if Trump is actively interfering, you can’t allow him the smokescreen that the court cases would provide him for additional attempts.

    So comments on how it was rushed, and how the Democrats didn’t spend enough time on it…. what would you have done to prevent this?

  10. While Trump is by far the worst person (using the term “person” loosely, to describe a walking orange pustule) to ever be president, GWB still has a worse record, two pointless endless wars, hundreds of thousands dead and trillions squandered.

    Trump’s policies are pretty much down the line Republican (“Fuck you, I’ve got mine”), he just says the quiet racist parts out loud. On tax cuts and stuffing the judiciary with unqualified partisan hacks, he’s mainstream Republican. The tariffs are the only real divergence from 50 years of trickledown bullshit.

    He richly deserved impeachment, even though it won’t make a difference – he’s still more likely than not going to be re-elected, despite losing the popular vote by the biggest margin for any president yet. “owning the libs” while sawing off your own leg seems to be par for the course in the red states.

  11. Well said. I have some quibbles with how the Dems handled the proceedings–for example, I think Trump’s conduct clearly falls within the federal statutory definition of bribery (which includes soliciting a bribe), and bribery is one of the crimes specifically enumerated in the impeachment clause. I would also like to have seen them push harder to compel the testimony of the various individuals that Trump has prevented from testifying. But all in all, barring some miracle, Trump is never going to be removed from office by the Senate, so perhaps the timing is the thing here. Who knows? If McConnell won’t agree to call witnesses, maybe Pelosi holds up the articles–or even adds more–and waits for the outcome of the next election. Trump would spend the last year (God, I hope it’s the last year) of his presidency with impeachment hanging over his head.

  12. I think the only question that touches an actual possibility that he would be removed or coerced to resign is, “Can Trump act crazy enough, or perform acts repugnant enough, to lose significant Republican support in the Senate?” This is different from asking about his “base;” in my estimation, about a quarter of US voters have always been right wing authoritarians, label them how you will. Sadly, I think the answer is no, as even if they lose because of their support they (and their family members, many of whom are already there) will go on to board seats, speaking tours, subsidized books, Fox and Sinclair sinecures, and other lucrative pastimes—benefits they would lose if they showed any real opposition to Trump.

    And many are just shitty people. We hear them spouting and shouting stupidity because it has worked so well for them, but many are not actually stupid, just bad, and in the present environment free to be openly so.

  13. The one strategy rumor I’ve heard is that there are additional articles of impeachment waiting in the hopper. “That wasn’t awful enough to convict? What about this one?” There’s no rule against impeaching twice.

  14. @joelfinkle there’s technically no rule against trying him twice, either, as the Double Jeopardy clause does not apply to impeachments, so in the unlikely event Trump wins AND the Dems take back the Senate they could retry him for the same counts. But it seems to me that additional counts and a retrial are both unlikely as they’d be seen as more nakedly political unless the Senate trial under McConnell is widely perceived to be a farce.

  15. I get that the senate actually doing its job is a fantasy but I hate the way that the current media narrative is that it means we should just give up and do nothing. It’s like we’re giving them a free pass to do that with impunity because we didn’t expect any better. Just like with Trump. So we’re seeing articles like the one in the Atlantic about how *not enough* people showed up for impeachment protests to matter instead of the fact that dude, we’re having national impeachment protests(!) again!

    All the groups I used to look to for leadership seem to have bought into this narrative too– it’s even hard to find calls about this stuff from 5calls or indivisible. It doesn’t help that celeste_pewter isn’t independently wealthy and has to work. Or that my sister has decided to focus locally (which is also incredibly important) instead of nationally.

    So we’ve stopped calling and protesting because we know it won’t work, but that’s not the point of calling and protesting– the more they only hear from people who watch Fox News, the more they think they can do.

    I really wish we’d pretended that the case for Senate removal was so strong that of course senate should impeach, and if that doesn’t happen then it must be that those republican senators are implicated. Then when it didn’t happen we could be surprised and angry and take to the streets. The idea that we have to wait until 2020 elections I think is terrible. I mean… I’m a teacher and I get a lot of good results because even if in my heart of hearts I don’t necessarily believe something good will happen if I act like the best case scenario will happen, sometimes it does, or if it doesn’t we get closer to a better thing. Fake it until you make it, pretend that everyone is their best self (but have back-up plans that are more realistic)… sometimes that works.

    Anyhow, I also have fatigue and am demoralized but the semester is over and I’m ready to fight again, but I need guidance besides just giving money. I do care, and I do want my voice heard. I want everyone’s voice heard, demoralized or not. And I want the media to stop pushing self-fulfilling prophecies that only benefit plutocrats… of course, plutocrats is who owns most of the media these days.

  16. The number that Republican Senators are really paying attention to is Trump’s approval rating among Republican voters, currently at 89%.

  17. I was in high school when Watergate occurred. Republicans then started out pretty much as intransigent as the ones today. The difference was that back then there were a few who, at the end when a final line was crossed, were willing to have consciences and say “he has gone too far”. Sadly, there no longer seems hope that any Republican Senator will have the spine and morality to do that.

    One columnist has suggested that the House should censure Trump instead of moving forward with sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Strategically, I think that would be a better move.

  18. I think the urgency of the impeachment was to try and get Trump to curb his ways a bit. It also gives the democratic candidate some ammo to use against what Trump is going to be using against them.

    There is also the need to act before Billy Barr and company try to change the Constitution, or at least the interpretation of it. I would have liked the focus to be a bit wider.

    I want to know a bit more about the Trump and turkey problem, actually I want it to be broadcast a lot more. Before trump became Prez, Erdogan learned how much power he has over Trump. All he had to do was threaten to remove that Trump name from those two towers in Istanbul. If that is why he started a pogrom of genocide for the Kurds, it needs to be out there. It is the only thing to make Repubs walk away.

  19. From my perspective, the Republicans have lost continuity with their own history, even as recent as Nixon, squandering a silent majority for a noisy minority. For example, boomers might find a Republican like Jerry Ford attractive, but they aren’t welcome in the party anymore, booted out of the big tent to make room for folks who would’ve been adequate villains in “The Blues Brothers”.

  20. The impeachment of President Donald J. Trump is the dumbest thing since the invention of chocolate-covered rocks.

  21. I am totally upset over this whole impeachment, and I am an American citizen, and I have voted for each President whether they were Democratic, or Republican, by their character at the time, and by what I thought was the best one for the job. I discredit the actions of the people in charge, in that the President of the United States has be demoted, humiliated, and then expects him to run again. I was surprised that he would run with all that he makes. He didn’t enter this job because of the pay. Disrespect is what I have seen, and frankly I am just plain aggravated that people don’t see this for what it is. We are taught in school to respect the leaders of our country, and there have been several who have had their problems. They were not booted out by the other party. Now the nation is either for or against him, and we have a Vice President in place until someone says, “Impeach this one also.” I have said my say, and I will not reply to comments. I stand alone, or maybe there are others who see what I see. I can’t believe this. I have supported every President who has been elected, and I supported this one. I hate words of disrespect, and thinking that we can impeach him twice etc. Now watch what happens to our divided country. Divided we fall. Say what you will, but I know what respect is, and I know what meanness, hatred, and lack of respect to our leaders does to our country. Pledge to the flag every day with a classroom of children, and try being disrespectful. Their parents would be in the class in minutes, and the teacher would be fired.

  22. @Ken, I’m not American, but I don’t think you’re right. No impeachable offenses went to the Supreme Court. This is the way it works, the House impeaches, and the Senate tries the case. In Clinton’s case, all that went to the Supreme Court was the question of whether a _civil_ case could be brought against the President of the US (Clinton vs. Jones). In Nixon’s case, it didn’t even get that far before he knew that his party wouldn’t back him, and he resigned rather than be impeached—because impeachment _and_ conviction in a Senate trial were guaranteed.

  23. rubiescorner:

    “I have supported every President who has been elected, and I supported this one.”

    Meh. There’s no great virtue in supporting a president who performs criminal acts in office. It’s an abdication of one’s own good judgment, unless one’s morality is rooted in simple unquestioning allegiance to power.

  24. Haven’t read the comments yet, but just let me say that – unusually for me – I agree with you totally and you’ve pretty much hit all the points that needed to be hit.

    1. For the “they want to overturn the election!” crowd, which is taking their talking point from Trump: You do get, right, that if Trump is removed from office we will not be getting President Hillary, right?

    2. I was looking for any, I mean any, sign from the Republicans (I guess we need to rename the party after it’s Fearless Leader) in the House that we saw 21 years ago when Bill Clinton was impeached, namely that yes, what the President did was wrong, but there are other solutions (censure?) short of impeachment. But no. If there is one thing I hate above almost all others in this world it is hypocrisy (hello, Lickspittle Lindsay) and it was on glorious display. How a man who could say that Presidents need to be held to A HIGHER STANDARD than the rest of us in justifying why Bill Clinton should be removed from office, can now stand there was his fingers in his ears saying, “Not gonna listen and you can’t make me” is beyond understanding, especially when Trump would clearly throw him under a bus today if it suited his purposes. Yet, interestingly, there was ZERO defense of Trump’s actions, just attacks on the Democrats, the process, etc.

    I never thought I would live through a worse President than Nixon, but Trump is worse, much much worse. The thing is, he was elected by people who wanted him because he wasn’t a politician, but because he isn’t, he has no understanding of the history, the Constitution, the traditions, etc. nor does he care. He cares about one thing only (no, not even Ivanka), himself. Period.

  25. The impeachment hearings were a clown show. The Democrats have got nothing meaningful, other than questionable opinions and hurt feelings. If Nancy Pelosi withholds the articles of impeachment from the Senate, then she will delegitimize an already questionable process. Granted, barring some miraculous revelation, the outcome of the Senate trial is a forgone conclusion. But then again, the outcome of the House vote was also a forgone conclusion. This has been nothing but political theater of the worst kind.

  26. No democrat seems to be interested if Clinton or Biden did actually something wrong but boil it all down to foreign interference with US politics. I would just say, that form my point of view, the US gets served a cookie of its own dug. The State department is doing nothing else then meddling in internal affairs of other countries. Especially in Central and South America, but also in Russia and the Ukraine. On a personal note; Trump is indeed a symptom that illustrates how parliamentary representation has degenerated into clans centered around a couple of self-serving dynasties. The Bushes, Clintons, Kennedy’s, Bidens, … What US needs the most is a third political party that breaks the vicious polarization in US politics and society where an equally polarized judiciary is more and more called upon to solve political disputes.

  27. SMC:

    “This has been nothing but political theater of the worst kind.”

    Well, except the part where the president was doing criminal things, for which he was impeached.

    cryptomathecian:

    “No democrat seems to be interested if Clinton or Biden did actually something wrong”

    Well, except the part where they were investigated and nothing of substance was found to the various allegations. And also, neither of them is the sitting President of the United States, whose actions, as a consequence, are both substantially more relevant and also fall under the purview of the House, with regard to impeachment.

    As a general note, let’s try not to run with the cue card talking points, please. They’re not great and don’t add much to the conversation, thanks.

    rubiescorner:

    I was under the impression that you would not deign to add further comment. Also, your additional comment is not relevant with regard to my comment. Lots of people who perhaps have unquestioning allegiance to power might be upset. But it doesn’t mean their unquestioning allegiance to power is a good thing.

  28. I’ve been pretty cynical for a pretty long time. Yet, the past few years, I keep running into my own areas of naivete within that cynicism. When I first heard Trumpers chanting “lock her up”, I naively thought that meant they mistakenly believed Hillary Clinton had committed crimes.

    Now they’re chanting it about Speaker Pilosi, who obviously has not done anything criminal — and I finally see that they don’t care whether she’s actually done anything that would normally be considered a crime. No, they’re chanting because they want a Fascist president who can lock up his political opponents just for opposing him. (And for being uppity women, since it’s women in particular he hates and fears.) Apparently that’s 40% of our fellow citizens, who are just fine with having a dictator.

    I believe in the rule of law, which at least half of one branch of our government is trying to uphold. I still have hope our country can get through this and grow healthier. Maybe that’s more naivete.

  29. The rulers are playing the long game. Packing the courts with conservatives requires a Republican President to nominate them, and a majority Republican senate to confirm them. It does not require competent experienced human beings available to be nominated; it requires “right” thinking people who, ya know, think in the American Way when they decide court cases.

    Have you been counting?
    https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-12-18/donald-trump-judges-federal-courts-conservatives
    _____________________excerpt follows_______________
    “While the media and Washington focused on impeachment, it was business as usual for Senate Republicans, who have made it their mission to reshape America’s courts with young, conservative judges they hope will push the courts to the right for years to come.

    “The numbers show they are succeeding. Since Trump took office, the Senate has confirmed 175 judges with lifetime appointments — that’s one-fifth of all federal judges. Last week’s confirmations bring the total number of appellate judges confirmed to 50, making more than a quarter of all current appellate judges Trump appointees.”

  30. I’m interested in how Roberts will handle “presiding” over the impeachment.

    Impeachment is about the balance of power between the Legislative and Executive branches; too easy, and the President is beholden to Congress. Too easy, and the President has unlimited ability for corruption.

    But that ignores the third branch. Roberts could take charge of the proceedings, declare whether or not the tax returns are admissible, and hold anyone in contempt who he believes has violates their oaths. That’d be a strong reach for the power of the Judiciary.

    I don’t think that’s particularly likely, but he has spoken up a few times — primarily to defend Judicial power and authority, against President’s of both parties. Acting on behalf of judicial authority would be in line with his track record.

  31. 1) I’m not sure why the impeachment was unbacked by evidence; when his own record of his words and actions pretty much concurred with the charges against him (Trump’s transcript of the Ukraine conversation), and those charges are that the President tried to blackmail an ally into investigating his political enemies (and given the implication, that the “ally” obtain the “correct” answer), then there would seem to have been a whole lot more than hearsay and hurt feelings up for debate.

    2) If this is not an impeachable offense, what is? If you decide that “well, it’s the President, we can let it ride”, then you seem to be saying that there should be no limits on the President while he’s in office which seems like a bad idea and possibly as far from Constitutional as it is possible to be (which, for a party that claims to be true supporters of the Constitution, is rather telling). If it’s bad to attempt to limit the President’s power, or that any such attempt (even well-supported by evidence and law) is likely to end badly, then it seems like the United States has written and signed its own suicide note. If it’s a cry for help, I’m not sure what counselor can help us. If we mean to die, a lot of humanity will go with us. For people who prided themselves as being “the last best hope of earth”, this seems more than a little ironic.

  32. We’re here because of Trump’s actions, but we’re also here because the Democrats ran an overconfident and incompetent campaign in 2016. Trump should never had been elected, but America can survive another year of Trump. But looking at the current potential Democratic nominees, I worry that the same overconfidence in the 2020 election will give Trump another 4 years, something that may well be fatal for America.

  33. Here, here! Once again a thoughtful op ed written in an eminently readable manner! You should think about entering politics, sir; the ability to explain things concisely, thoughtfully and feelingly are incredibly valuable there (I say this as someone who’s been a locally-elected official in California for almost two decades). Plus it’d be way cool to have a California boy on the dais in Ohio :).

  34. My takeaway from this piece is that even if Trump goes away, the GOP will find another similar creature and continue doing what they do.

  35. I think over the next few months we’re going to have the “trial“ of the Republicans of the Senate. This won’t be a trail in the legal sense of the word but it will be a trial of public opinion as well as legacy.

    When the Republicans stand up and say I support lying cheating immoral unethical criminal behavior history will remember them. This goes far beyond normal politics as usual and people from different sides of the aisle having different opinions on the best way to help the country.

    So when Mitch McConnell says that he is going to shit on the constitution, the idealism, the history of this great country, and the hundreds of years of senators doing right by their office and “fix“ the outcome before it even gets to the trail he and his buddies are going to be remembered.

  36. What US needs the most is a third political party that breaks the vicious polarization in US politics

    Yeah, because third parties have done so well to reduce polarization in other countries, like the UK and Israel.

    (Narrator: They haven’t.)

  37. I never understood why Republicans are against impeaching Trump. It’s a win-win: Democrats are happy to get that guy out of office, and Republicans get a much more stable(-lookin’) politician with Pence. And if Democrats ever complained about Pence, Republicans can say “Well at least he’s not Trump, am I right?! You’re welcome.”

  38. And remember, all those federal judges being confirmed get lifetime — lifetime — appointments. And they know to whom they owe their lifetime paychecks.

    A snippet from Rick Perlstein’s “The Long Con” — which explains much.
    ____________
    “… Then, as the question-and-answer period approached, I trembled, anticipating the conservative elite’s chastened response. Yes, reader: I was once just that naive.

    M. Stanton Evans, a legendary movement godfather, stood up. He said my invocation of Richard Nixon was inappropriate because Richard Nixon had never been a conservative. He proceeded, though, to make a striking admission: “I didn’t like Nixon until Watergate”—at which point, apparently, Nixon finally convinced conservatives he could be one of them.

    And that, at last, may be the explanation ….”
    __________________
    https://thebaffler.com/salvos/the-long-con

  39. Speaking of rule of law, today the Canadian newspapers, and the local editorial page, report that the law regarding SNC-Lavalin has been upheld, despite the prime minister firing two ministers (one of them the attorney general) who wanted to proceed to trial against his wishes. The trial still happened.

    So I can tell all my fellow North Americans: No need give up and turn communist just yet.

  40. Of course Trump is a horrible man lacking morals and making his way through life as a grifter. And yes, politics is downstream of culture, which does not say good things about the present culture. The problem extends well beyond the GOP. You are seeing a cultural reaction by the right to the left. The GOP is willing to live down to the culture of the left and sadly, doing exceedingly well. Democrats are littered with Congressional members who became very rich while in office. The Clintons being a prime example. It saddened me to see the GOP lower themselves to the level of the progressives. As someone who is conservative and does not have the stomach to tolerate the GOP, I have the perspective to see that neither of the large parties has a high horse to sit on.

  41. Democrats are littered with Congressional members who became very rich while in office. The Clintons being a prime example

    You know that’s not remotely true, right? Bill Clinton left the Presidency in debt.

    It saddened me to see the GOP lower themselves to the level of the progressives.

    If the GOP lowered itself to the progressive level of, you know, treating *all* people like human beings, I’d be celebrating.

  42. Trump is an absurdity and a permanent stain on American history, as is Mitch McConnell. There is literally no one in the senate who thinks he is anything but an incompetent buffoon, but they will defend his presidency, because this is war. A war over healthcare, a war over the future of politics, a war over the way our economic system works.

    Why are we feigning surprise about this? It was decided over four years ago.

  43. Geoffrey says: “What I don’t understand is why nobody has raised the ugly concept of “treason”…”

    Because the word “enemies” in the Consitutitional definition of “treason” doesn’t simply mean a country that we’re not getting along with; it means a country we’re at war with. Note, for instance, that at the height of the Cold War, when US-Soviet relations were at their worst, that after allegedly slipping nuclear secrets to the Russians, the Rosenbergs were not charged with treason, but with espionage.

    Nothing Trump does on behalf of Putin and Russia can be treason, because we aren’t at war with Russia. They may be an adversary, but they are not, legally speaking, an enemy.

  44. SMC, it’s not a transcript of the Ukraine call, it’s a summary memo, and even that is unassailable evidence of Trump’s extortion/bribery. Two things from this:

    1) What idiot thought releasing a transcript detailing the crime was a good idea? Presumably Trump?
    2) The transcript itself must be a doozy.

    Also, Mondongo is correct – the next Republican president will pursue exactly the same policies (maybe with less China trade war, but a better way of trying to curb China’s IP theft) but with a thicker veneer of deniability/civility.

  45. If nothing else, this is a humiliation for the Cheeto-in-Chief, so I’m celebrating. Anything that makes that man feel bad is a positive in my book. I’m also hoping for a fury-induced brain aneurysm, although, well, then Pence happens.

  46. Mr. Scalzi:

    “ Well, except the part where the president was doing criminal things, for which he was impeached.”

    Obstruction of Congress and Abuse of Power.

    When it comes to Obstruction of Congress, every President, going back decades, if not for the last couple of centuries, could be credibly accused of this. What makes it different this time?

    Abuse of Power. This is so vague as to be meaningless. What is the abuse of power?

  47. Thank you, John for your excellent and succinct summary of the impeachment as well as your honest points regarding Trump. One statement you made, “the GOP is in a dark place both politically and morally” has been the most frightening aspect of this administration . As representation of our nation, I feel as if they have been dragging our entire country down with them. Even though I didn’t vote for any of them, I feel shame at how the U.S. is viewed by the world. But, there is hope even if it feels like it’s hanging by a thread. It has also given me the incentive to get out next year and fight for our democracy.
    On a lighter note, because if not for these, we would not get through such difficult times, I very much look forward to completing the journey of “The Last Emporox” and hopefully seeing you this spring to thank you in person.

  48. When it comes to Obstruction of Congress, every President, going back decades, if not for the last couple of centuries, could be credibly accused of this. What makes it different this time?

    Abuse of Power. This is so vague as to be meaningless. What is the abuse of power?

    The articles of impeachment detailed both of the accusations quite thoroughly. What was insufficient for you? You have *read* the articles, right, given how authoritatively you’re talking about them?

    Right?

  49. Not feeling anything for Trump, but the dems have been gunning for him since day 1 because, well, he’s not Hillary. Instead of waiting for him to do something stupid [Ukraine, Russia, etc.] they started to pound on him right out of the gate over some quite nonsensical stuff [emoluments, his tweets, orange hair, etc.].

    As Ken says December 19, 2019 at 9:39 am : by looking for any old excuses to hit Trump hard, the dems got sloppy all around.

    They also stayed partisan the whole time, and, I think, will come out much worse for wear when this is all done. Not that the elephants will be seen as any better. Maybe we can vote them all out in November and just start over?

  50. SMC:

    Inasmuch as you don’t appear to have actually read the articles of impeachment before your latest comment, perhaps you will find this link edifying:

    Beyond that, I’m going to give your “everybody does it, so what’s the problem that Trump got caught” line of argument the attention it deserves:

    There, I’m done.

  51. “They know he’s a crook, but he’s a useful crook” reminds me of Randy Newman’s portrait of a Lester Maddox supporter in “Rednecks” (1974):

    Well, he may be a fool but he’s our fool,
    if they think they’re better than him they’re wrong.

    The cultural/political roots of our current situation go deep, and one of the possible fruits of that tree is fascism. (See also: It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis, 1935.)

  52. rubiescorner: “Divided we fall”

    Yes, sweetie. But its the folks breaking the law that are doing the dividing, not the people calling out the law breakers.

    The reason you cant see that is because when you say “We are taught in school to respect the leaders of our country” you’re actually talking about blindly following someone.

    Real respect means respecting boundaries. You’ve put loyalty over law.

    But then, the entire republican party has too.

  53. The Democrats in their haste to do the right thing have screwed up the most important thing, which is to remove Trump. Knowing that the Senate was never going to do it, it then fell to the upcoming election, and the only thing this does is hand Trump another talking point about how totally vindicated he is (assuming a trial actually happens) or how the Democrats won’t forward the articles because they are afraid of the truth (assuming Pelosi doesn’t forward the articles.) Expect to hear that 24/7 for the next 11 months.

    What they should have done is stretched the hearings out until next September. They should have gone line by line over the Mueller report. They should have thrown their ignored subpoenas to the courts to stew for months.

    Anyone that thinks the GOP Senators that acquit him, or the GOP house members that voted no on impeachment being “exposed” or “on record” or any such happy nonsense are going to do anything other than actually campaign on their defense of Trump is living in a fantasy.

    When you have one bullet in your gun, you take careful aim, and the Democrats didn’t do that. All this does is hand Trump a win.

  54. i told a friend who insists he’s not for Trump (yet rails against Pelosi in vile terms and won’t admit that anything Trump does is vile or wrong or even not quite nice) that I didn’t think Trump was treasonous because you needed a moral center to actually violate. Deep silence.
    I’m hoping that Nancy Pelosi will hold off on sending to the Senate until Moscow Mitch recuses himself.
    I don’t trust the Supreme Court to decide anything against him because of Kavanaugh–we still haven’t heard who paid off all that money he owed.
    Would I have done some things differently? Like arrest those who refused to testify? Probably. But I’m not the procedural expert here–that’s why I supported Nancy when she refused to act for the eager-beavers and that’s why I’m content to let her roll this out.

  55. What they should have done is stretched the hearings out until next September.

    Which just would have energized the GOP base to turn out in the election, and quite likely obscured Trump’s misdeeds in a cloud of ‘well, why hasn’t she sent the articles up.’ It’s not a simple political situation.

    A good general rule of current politics is that Nancy Pelosi is better at it than anyone else around.

  56. Thank you, John Scalzi, for laying part of the blame for the current state of the GOP at Newt Gingrich’s feet. The American political media may paint Gingrich as some sort of sage. But this is the man who infamously described bipartisanship as political “date rape.” And American government’s paying the price for what Gingrich has wrought as a result.

  57. I’m old enough to remember the summer of 1974. When Nixon resigned I had just graduated high school and was in my first quarter at college. There are two huge differences between now and then, one that a lot of people notice but maybe don’t really understand and one that I think is also important but I haven’t see anyone mention (here or elsewhere).

    First, Fox news. In 1974, there was no Fox (or Brietbart or Drudge, etc.) Everyone, even conservatives, watched Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley every night. Everyone had the same basic version of events. Now, someone who gets their information almost exclusively from Fox has been told that the facts are completely different than what someone reading the New York Times has seen. I’ve said for several years that the problem with most of my conservative friends is that they watch Fox News and think that that’s actually what happens in the world.

    The second issue is that Republicans in 1974 could afford to be optimistic about the future. As Pat Buchanan put it they broke the country in two and wound up with the bigger piece. They lost big in 1974 and narrowly in 1976 but then they started winning and setting the terms of the debate even when they didn’t. Today, Republicans are trying desperately to cling to power as the demographics shift away from them. They depend on voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the undemocratic features of the Constitution because they don’t see a majority of voters for their policies now or in the future. And the problem with those tactics is that in a lot of cases you have to win every time or the rules change and then you are left in the minority with no way back. So now the Republicans are pessimistic and fighting a rear guard action against the future. They can’t afford to concede anything. In 1974, they could and did and still went on to dominate the next 30 years.

    Finally, I have at least a little sympathy for Republican office holders. They really are in an impossible bind. The Republican base has a large contingent which would see turning on Trump as an unforgivable sin. It wouldn’t matter that Pence would do most of the same things without all the controversy, This group would vote against you in the primary and sit out the general if you survived. And they are a large enough segment that very few Republicans could survive (even the ones who are popular back home). And Trump wouldn’t disappear if he were removed. He’d be out there tweeting and lashing out at anyone who had crossed him. Politicians (almost all of them) are in the game to win elections and be important. A Republican who crosses Trump is finished as a politician and very few of them can face that. I doubt most Democrats in a mirror image situation could either.

  58. What remains now is a trial, but not a trial of Donald Trump. His guilt has been all but admitted by his “defenders”, who stuck to criticising the process (usually and most often with false claims about it). The facts on the ground are uncontested, admitted to by Trump himself and evidenced by the call memo he released. That he was using the powers of presidency to advance his personal interests was admitted to by his personal envoy, Rudy Giuliani, who very pointedly acts as Trump’s “personal attorney”. That is, he represents Trump’s *personal* interests, and has said that he did, and continues to do, what he is doing in Ukraine to advance his client’s *personal* interests. That is the very definition of abuse of power: to take the power entrusted to you to advance your personal interests instead of the nation’s.

    No: Trump is not on trial, because there remains nothing left to try.

    The people on trial are Senate republicans. To see just how much they are willing to allow. Just how much they are willing to look the other way for. Just how much they are willing to let him get away with. Just how much they are willing to lie and obfuscate.

    The only people on trial right now are Senate republicans. Because House republicans already failed that trial.

  59. I would add another article of impeachment, Trump violating the Emoluments Clause. Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, prohibits federal officeholders from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title” from “any King, Prince, or foreign State” without first obtaining congressional approval. Article II, Section 1 states that the president may receive only a salary during their White House tenure, and “shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States,” or from any individual state.

    Here are some examples –

    Politico reported: US Air Force stopovers at Prestwick Airport outside Ayr, Scotland and US Air Force crews having long layovers at Trump Turnberry Resort 40 minutes away. It appears that the US Defense Department spent $11 million for jet fuel at Prestwick Airport, instead of fueling at a US military base that would have been cheaper. Trump Turnberry Resort lost $4.5 million in 2017, then miraculously went up $3 million in 2018.

    WP reported: Four trips to Mar-a-Lago in 2017, according to a Government Accountability Office report found that the government paid $60,000 to the president’s private club on rooms for his Secret Service detail. WP also reported that attorney general William Barr announced plans to throw a 200-person holiday party in the building’s Presidential Ballroom; the event is expected to earn more than $30,000 in revenue for his boss.

    GQ reported: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit government watchdog group and one of several organizations currently suing Trump for alleged violations of these prohibitions, says it has catalogued more than 2,500 of his conflicts of interest.

  60. Excellent post. Thanks for putting some real perspective on this mess. The House did what it needed to do to maintain a minimum respect for the Constitution, which is all it could do, given that the Senate is in hands of a GOP who won’t do the right thing. The GOP is not merely in a dark place– I submit the Republican Party as it existed in the days of Eisenhower and Reagan is gone. We now have the party of Trump. If that doesn’t give you the shivers you’re either made of steel or you’re not paying attention.

  61. When things are as charged and emotional as this subject is, I find it useful to get pedantic, narrow my focus and look at the thing itself while trying to avoid any larger context.

    The question I would ask is if the Democrats did a good job in presenting the case against Trump. That is, if I was an outsider and impartial and I read these articles of impeachment and examined the diligence and completeness in drawing them up, do I think they would constitute a strong case for the removal of Trump?

    I do not.

    I find the “abuse of power” to be a pretty vague accusation, in this case depending upon the intent of Trump while making his inquiry. Was Trump trying to influence the 2020 election and soliciting help of a foreign power to do so? Or, was he investigating the 2016? If the latter, has this not been an issue of legitimate concern.

    Intent is a very difficult thing to prove, and as the abuse of power allegation is phrased it appears to depend on Trump’s intent.

    I think that Trump can make the argument that requesting that investigation is in the country’s interest. Because it is also in his interest does not disqualify it.

    The second charge, Obstruction of Congress, is very very weak. We do have a system of checks and balances with opposing branches. They are supposed to fight and argue with each other. A subpoena can be challenged and adjudicated in the courts. That is the way it is supposed to work. If I am subpoenaed and I challenge it in the courts and my challenge is upheld, I have not obstructed justice. I have only done so if the court rules against me, and the I fail to testify.

    It is my understanding (and please correct me if I am wrong) that all subpoenas have been answered. Resolution would occur in the courts.

    The articles of impeachment have been written up and voted on before the courts have ruled. Congress does not have the power to bypass the courts in this matter. Therefore there is no obstruction.

    I think the Democrats have done a very sloppy job here. They have made a weak case. The way they have gone about is going to make it very easy for Trump et al to dismiss it as politically motivated hackitude.

    Taking my impartial hat off, I will say that I think that Trump is an odious individual of rare bad character.

    The Democrats still need to make a complete and diligent case. They haven’t.

  62. @Dale Allen: There is plenty more; but I think they were smart to stick to these two specific points, because the facts surrounding those acts are uncontested: there is no question Trump withheld the aid; there is no question Trump asked Zelenskyy to announce investigations; there is no question he conditioned the aid and personal meeting on those announcements; there is no question he only released the aid and met Zelenskyy after the actions he had taken were revealed; and there is no question that Rudy Giuliani is acting in his personal interests. Likewise, there is no question that he ordered people in the Executive branch to defy Congressional subpoenas.

    While I agree with you on the domestic and foreign emolouments, that one is (i) a harder lift to make people understand it; and (ii) somewhat contestable in terms of just what it means, at least in so far as being able to argue about the facts and whether they meet some technical definition. Likewise, the obstruction acts Mueller reported are contested: some claim they never happened.

    Here we have two articles based on completely uncontested and uncontestable facts, simply because there is a public record of Trump doing them or admitting to doing them. So there is absolutely no factual discussion, and it’s a clean question.

  63. “Malign” is the adjective I was looking for, thanks.
    Treason is the right charge, but about 6 bridges too far for the country.
    Pelosi is one of our Great Speakers.
    I associate myself with your comments, Mr Scalzi.

  64. Dont:”Trump can make the argument that requesting that investigation is in the country’s interest. Because it is also in his interest does not disqualify it.”

    Except Trump didnt ask for an investigation. He asked for Ukraine to ANNOUNCE an investigation. If one were to actually investigate a corrupt corporation, one would likely want to investigate and collect evidence and probe people without the corporation knowing. Trump wanted an ANNOUNCEMENT which means he wanted guilt by association against Biden. He wasnt expecting Ukraine to find any actual dirt, because there isnt any.

  65. Dont: ” It is my understanding (and please correct me if I am wrong) that all subpoenas have been answered. ”

    You are phenomenally wrong.

  66. JohnCarter:

    If I ask Scalzi to announce a new book that crossovers the Android’s Dream with The God Engines, and he does, than he pretty much is screwed (call me John, I have great ideas for this,).

    Saying that someone wants someone to announce something is different from saying they want them to do that thing is technically true, but splitting things a little fine. Doubly so within the context of a phone call where people may not always speak with precision. I think the argument can be credibly made that following through on the announcement is implied.

    As long as I make phenomenal about it, right or wrong is secondary. ;)

  67. I mean to say that he is “screwed” in the sense that after he announced it, he would be obligated to write it.

  68. Just for balance: No, we aren’t at war with Russia. But, in fact, we are at war with North Korea. A peace treaty has never been signed. What we have is an armistice.

    It seems to me that Trump has unilaterally granted status to the DPRK that Congress specifically rejected, and has refused to apply sanctions that are more than justified, without any remotely plausible rationale. That’s “aid and comfort”.

    Treason? A case could be made

  69. The only thing I have to add is the way the Republican party seems to have caved to Trump, and the way Trump seems to almost always choose the most evil way to address a problem:

    1) the whole thing of separating families at the border, families who are seeking asylum;

    2) “addressing” the very real and obvious threat of climate change by encouraging more use of coal, natural gas and other greenhouse gas emitters, including lowering the environmental requirements imposed on coal-fired power plants (also c.f. withdrawing from the Paris climate accords);

    3) reducing environmental regulations designed to reduce the emission of toxins into our shared environment (coal ash changes, Clean Water Act changes, etc.)

    4) promoting divisive racist/nationalist ideas and policies (“good people on both sides,” the Muslim ban, “shithole countries”);

    5) the repeated apparently ad-hoc promotion of authoritarian ideas, from “I’ll pay his legal bills’, through pardoning men credibly accused of war crimes, and in the last several days, suggesting a political opponent should be treated the way opponents are treated in Guatemala (just google ‘Guatemala death squads’ for an example of how Guatemala has handled things “much tougher” than the U.S.).

    6) And finally, his general assholeishness. Mocking a disabled reporter; taunting a 16 year old girl; mocking a recent widow. Jesus! Just google the phrase “Trump mocks” and see what turns up. It’s chilling.

    I’m from Ohio like John, and the fact that Republicans like Jim Jordan and Rob Portman haven’t done anything to discourage this behavior is enough to make me ashamed.

  70. @Don’tyellat me: There are plenty of ways for the President to legitimately request a legitimate investigation through normal channels. The fact that these requests were being routed through (i) his *personal* lawyer, who is duty bound to represent his *personal* interests, and how has stated explicitly and publicly that he was pursuing his client’s *personal* interests; (ii) the Ambassador to the EU which, notably, does *not* include Ukraine, and who is, also notably, not a diplomat but rather someone who bought his ambassadorship and who had no business dealing with Ukraine in the first place; and that (iii) the person who would be in charge of a legitimate request, Bill Barr, though mentioned a few times in the call, very studiously stayed far away from this and has officially and formally stated that he was *not* involved in any of this…. is pretty strong evidence that this was done for personal, private advantage, not for valid reasons. None of this has been contested, except ex post facto claims that “us” means “the United States” (from someone who routinely speaks about himself and his personal interests using both third person and “us”; e.g., “doesn’t feel like we are being impeached”).

    Moreover, the fact that a formal public announcement was required (and that specific wording was pushed) argues pretty conclusively that this was not about pursuing an investigation: you don’t announce investigations into corruption before they begin, because that just invites destruction of evidence or flight.

  71. David asked: “How much rent do you charge HC for living in your head?”

    Nothing. But now that you mention it, how much do you charge Trump? Because this fugitive from digital justice is not going to pay her more than you pay him.

  72. @Pedro: If impeaching the President is such a dumb idea, what do you think should happen, given the uncontested (except by people with a vested interest in having it otherwise) laundry list of his rather egregious crimes? Right now, Trump has the ghost of Al Capone looking on and saying “Damn! And I thought I was untouchable!”

  73. Nothing

    Wow. You’re very kind to let her live in your head rent-free. I wonder if that constitutes a campaign contribution?

    how much do you charge Trump?

    Come up with your own joke.

  74. What’s the *solution* to the problem, how can we at least have both parties realizing they are just two differing viewpoints with the same duty: to help their fellow Americans? No, I can’t think of one either which makes me think we’re slowly heading to a new civil war at some point. :(

  75. Arturo:

    I was referring to the phone call, but since you bring up Rudy, I largely agree. The whole issue with him and his role in this is extremely suspect and fishy.

    As I said in my initial post, I was being very narrow in that I was evaluating the case the Democrats had made against Trump in the articles of impeachment, not the case they should have made.

    IMO, they should have waited and fought it in the courts. I think there would have been a very good chance that Rudy would have been compelled to testify. That would have been interesting. Rudy is an interesting interview. He can’t seem to help but spill the beans.

    I think there is a very good chance they would have gotten the goods on Trump if Rudy was put on the stand and asked to explain what the F he was doing.

    They didn’t do that, though. They essentially let him off the hook by voting on the articles when they did. This is what I mean when I say the Democrats did a shoddy and in diligent job.

    I read an interesting piece that made the argument that the articles of impeachment are so empirically bad and shoddy that it only requires the thinnest of tinfoil hats to conclude that it is deliberate.

  76. @Don’t yell: there was an argument for waiting for the Courts, that I’ll grant. On the other hand, there is no way a final answer would have been gotten without the Supreme Court weighing in… and there is a very good chance that would have come down to Roberts’ vote. Now it will simply be up to him in the Senate trial, so that you end up with the same practical effect.

    Now, the real reason not to wait is that the courts would not resolve this until June at the earliest (witness the appeals on the subpoenas for the tax records). In the meantime, the pressure campaign against Ukraine *continues*; even with impeachment, they are still pushing Ukraine, they are still pushing disinformation and conspiracy theories, and they are still hoping for official announcements. As much as I would prefer to have the Courts come down clearly and squarely behind the Nixon and Clinton precedents, the timing sucks.

    Had the people who were subpoenaed showed up and simply refused to answer any and all questions by invoking Executive Privilege, I think your point would have been stronger: that is a matter for courts to decide, exactly what is and what is not covered by Executive Prilege. But what we have is simply an order to ignore the subpoenas. I have a 5th Amendment right to refuse to answer questions that might incriminate me, but I can’t just refuse to show up for a deposition because I claim I will be able to refuse to answer by invoking the 5th Amendment.

    As for Giuliani… Giuliani can assert attorney-client privilege; that’s the whole point of continually calling him the president’s “personal lawyer”. It’s the whole point of *not* appointing him “Special Envoy”. McGahn doesn’t have attorney-client privilege with Trump because McGahn did not work for Trump, he worked for the office of the presidency (but McGahn probably has a fair amount of executive privilege that would foreclose testifying about discussions, though probably not about orders). You could call Giuliani, but I doubt you would get anything beyond “I cannot answer because of attorney-client privilege.”

  77. Amen! I was pretty sure, back when Trump began to run for the office, that the result of electing him would be disastrous (just based on his past behavior). Turned out to be much, much worse than I anticipated.

    I feel a sad loss of conservative philosophy in the structure and behavior of the current Republican party. Such cowards!

    LINDA

  78. Dont: “Saying that someone wants someone to announce something is different from saying they want them to do that thing is technically true, but splitting things a little fine. ”

    Unless the thing being announced needs to be done in secrecy. Then it is clear its about the announcement, not actually doing the thing.

    If a government wants to investigate a corrupt large corporation, announcing it up front just gives the corporation time to throw all the evidence in the shredder.

    And besides, if you want to rid ukraine of corruption, burisma is small fish.

    No. This was clearly about making Biden look guilty by association, not about rooting out actual corruption.

  79. Arturo:

    As I mentioned, I tried to be narrow in my analysis. The question I tried to answer is if the articles of impeachment presented by the Democrats represent a strong case for the removal of the President?

    My attempt at an impartial analysis says no. In fact, I think they are particularly poor.

    It appears to me that your response is arguing why the Democrats haven’t presented a stronger case. Without getting into the weeds of it, I think you’ve provided a good picture of the Challenges faced by the Democrats in building their case.

    However, saying that it might take a long time and the Democrats don’t think the Supreme Court is going to give Them the answer they want is not an excuse for presenting shoddy work. (I think Rudy would have ended up testifying,)

    If the courts are a dead end and you don’t have a case…. then you don’t impeach. Right?

    Ultimately they are going to trial with the case they produce, not the case they wished they’d produced.

  80. Bill, I hope that this brazen display of corruption would increase voter turnout, but I wonder if it might be the opposite. As in that part of their strategy _is_ to appear corrupt: say that which will excite their unblinking supporters while at the same time sew enough revulsion in the non-supporters as they can so that the entire institution feels tarnished to the point where many choose to not participate at all. I see it as a part of their ongoing “government is the problem” vilification campaign. Voter turnout (more precisely, the lack thereof) was a major deciding factor in the Trump year election. It is always easier to control a small group of people (one reason local elections are prone to manipulation, as turnout is often low) and so decreasing voter participation is a viable strategy. It’s a win-win for them; they know the base won’t abandon them for outlandish, disingenuous, hypocritical, and destructive behavior, and by that same behavior they deepen disgust towards politicians as a whole and reduce participation by those that are not their base. (Which is why most of my advocacy these days is focused on encouraging and stressing the need to vote, and how “it makes no difference” is both being pushed by people with very measured interests and deep pockets, and only becomes or remains true if there is no participation to hold those without integrity accountable.)

  81. @Dont: My read is rather that you are saying that they could have brought a stronger case by doing X, Y, and Z. That’s different from saying that the case is weak. I think the case is pretty clear and strong. Could it have been made stronger by also getting a defiance of a court order, not “merely” a Congressional subpoena? Yes. But my evaluation of the evidence and the case is that it is solid and strong. I think you are letting the notion that they could have been stronger color your evaluation of the case as weak, and there I do not agree. Just because by doing a bunch of other stuff it could have been made stronger does not mean it is isn’t plenty strong already.

    I will note for example that you say “A subpoena can be challenged and adjudicated in the courts. That is the way it is supposed to work.” However, that is not how the Administration handled it. In fact, the only people who went to Court to challenge were Bolton (in a rather weird way, given that he was not in fact subpoenaed but seems to be looking for an advisory opinion) and Kupperman. None of the other individuals went to Court. Trump simply ordered them to defy the subpoena and to withhold documents. They have not challenged the requests in Court, they have simply refused to acknowledge they exist.

    Also, I did not say that the Courts would be a dead end, but rather that there is a continuing threat that needs to be addressed; in my opinion, the House should continue to push the case of the subpoenas in Court (as they are doing, if I understand correctly) in the meantime. What I said was also not that the Supreme Court would rule against them, but that there is a good chance that if it comes down to a divided vote, it will be up to Roberts to cast that vote. And as presiding officer in the trial, he would be casting that vote.

  82. Dont: “Democrats don’t think the Supreme Court is going to give Them the answer they want”

    No. Taking it to court would take too long and would likely go beyond the 2020 election. And dems want to get the word out BEFORE the election that Trump is extorting Ukraine to throw.

    Also, the only reason it would go to court is because Trump is obstructing congress. If he would give the documents and witnesses and prove his innocence, it would have all blown over.

  83. I agree with Chris S. above in that George W. Bush was worse to date in terms of overall impact, what with the wars, tanked economy, and all. Whether that holds remains to be seen, of course.

  84. Always with the negative waves! This has all been great, it took too long but evil has finally been impeached! Like a light bulb that shines brightest before burning out, the GOP is on its last legs. The Democrats will sweep into power and change is coming, we will have open borders and our new citizens will change this country. There are three entities that will die, the GOP, christianity, and the white male power structure. When our country is cleansed of these diseases, the world will be a better place!

  85. @Theophylact Sorry but we were never at war with North Korea. It was not declared by Congress and as President Truman stated, it was not a war but a police action.

  86. @Tim:
    Not so certain about that. Once you count as part of your impact the corrosive effect Trump has had on any attempts at ‘common goals’, his active destruction of any expertise in many government agencies, and the emboldening of the more blatantly fascist elements caused by him showing what somebody can actually get away with, I think Trump’s worse. George W. Bush at least pretended to care. Post-Trump, presidents will know they don’t have to pretend.

  87. I think what we’ve learned is that the baby boomer generation did not make good presidents. Two impeached, and three of them war criminals. Yes that includes Obama who was no saint and droned innocent civilians. Please elect someone younger than 50 this time.

  88. Trump’s lasting legacy will be on the courts. He has been packing the Federal Court system with YOUNG, highly conservative (and in some instances questionably qualified) judges who are appointed FOR LIFE. His legacy will last another 30 or 40 years.

  89. While we’re going through the bracing experience of living in interesting times, let’s stop to consider the probable near-term effect on our misogynistic, predatory Toddler-in-Chief’s already uncertain sanity of an older woman (Pelosi) continuing to calmly control the narrative and the agenda, and doing so no matter how many rallies he holds, and how much crazed distraction material he hurls out onto Twitter. Pelosi’s latest move, of saying she won’t be forwarding the impeachment charges to the Senate until she’s satisfied that the Senate is prepared to conduct an impartial trial, is a case in point: This is the sort of thing that is not only smart tactics on Pelosi’s part, but also tailor-made to propel the Toddler straight towards Bedlam.

    I predict he’s going to keep getting more wound-up and self-destructive, in front of the whole world, though that may scarce seem possible.

  90. Well, Candice, then we haven’t had any wars since, and neither Vietnam nor Iraq nor Afghanistan count, because Congress never declared war. And yet we’ve been fighting for the last 18 years, and we’ve got “enemy combatants” galore in Guantanamo.

  91. Arturo:

    I’ve articulated why i believe each of the two articles are weak. To summarize;

    1. Abuse of power is vague and requires assigning or discerning intent to an action that could.

    2. Obstruction: again the executive and legislative branches are inherently antagonistic within the system of checks and balances. One challenging the other is not obstruction until and unless the courts have ruled on the issue and that ruling has been defied. That is what would constitute obstruction. This has not yet happened.

    The idea that this takes a while is true, and inconvenient. That fact does not just mean that one can skip the process and jump straight to obstruction.

    That is the substance of my arguments. You have said you think the case is strong, but you really haven’t really shown me why you think i am wrong and you are right.

    ***

    Just for fun, these are all the possible reasons that Trump could have for an investigation into Biden. Afterwards, i will put my very subjective opinion as to how much they played into Trump’s actual request. This is just what I think, not what I can prove.

    1. Desire to uncover corruption (10%. I think Trump sincerely gives credence to the Rudy conspiracy that Hillary’s servers are hiding in Ukraine and this is somehow connected to Biden corruption/DNC conspiracy blah blah blah)

    2. Desire to uncover corruption in the Ukraine, and clean it up to protect our investment in the form of aid (10%. Hey, why not give the benefit of the doubt)

    3. Biden is Trump’s enemy. Trump always takes the opportunity to attack his enemy (50%. I assign this high percentage because of his twitter vendettas against Rosie et al. He attacks on general principle even when it does him no good)

    4. Get dirt on Biden to knock him out of the race (30%. This is probably lower than you rate it. I’m low here because you would think the timing would be better if he waited till after Biden got the nomination.)

    That’s what I think. I’m sure pretty much everybody thinks the preponderance of motivation is 3, and 4. The problem is that to show abuse, you need to show that it’s not 1 and 2 that are motivating home. There is no way of discerning the intent here, and even if you did you would need to shownthat investigating the Biden thing is unjustified. Unfortunately it is unseemly enough that that will be tough to do. The hunter Biden board member, and Joe waving off the prosecutor going after that company thing has really bad optics.

    ***

    Did you read Trump’s letter to Pelosi? I loved it. It was classic. When i was 16 a girl I was in love with did me wrong, and i wrote her a long angry rambling letter where i poured out all my pain and righteous anger, and all my longing hurt to be loved and respected…. and then i tore it up and through it away, because even at 16 i had enough maturity to realize that it was not a good idea to send such (at some point in time i believe we have all written such a letter. We just don’t send it.

    Well…. Trump recreated the exact tone of that letter, and damn he if he didn’t send it.

    So, at age 16 I had more emotional intelligence than our President. I guess this goes to prove that EQ is overrated.

    Anyway, thank you for the great discussion.

  92. John, I agree with the totality of your comments.

    I am disappointed to see the fallacy in posts that the constitutional definition of treason requires a declared war. It does not. The wording is two clauses separated by “or”, which means only one clause has to be true for the definition to hold. The second clause is therefore independent of the first. Adhering to the nation’s enemy and giving it aid and comfort is sufficient for treason. Declaration of war is not necessary.

  93. Wow. Both sides of the Atlantic have gone mad. Over here we’re having a fire-sale on Britain. I don’t get all nuances of American politics, but Pence becoming President would be bad too.

    I can only hope that Trump isn’t re-elected, but I suspect he will be. See Britain and Boris.

  94. Dont: “Abuse of power is vague”

    Either you’re an EverTrumper who will never admit the emporer’s new clothes are actually no clothes at all, you’re a Sheldon Cooper/ISTJ type who doesnt understand that just because -you- cant see something doesnt mean it isnt there.

    Put another way, “abuse of power” is completely straightforward and not vague at all for someone like Missy.

  95. Dont: “There is no way of discerning the intent here, ”

    Well, that’s what Sheldon would say.

  96. No one wants to face this, but the simple fact is that in 2019, Conservatism is very little more than Confederate ideology.

    Did you know that in the antebellum South approximately 1000 families owned fully half of the wealth of the region?

    Beyond their unwillingness to pay for labor, beyond their obvious contempt and even hatred of non-white people; it is this desire to concentrate the wealth of the nation into a very few hands that solidifies who the Republican Party is today.

    “Conservatism” now has a lot more in common with Jefferson Davis than it does with Edmund Burke.

  97. John Carter:

    You will have to be nice if you’d like to continue with me.

    In your example Mindy thinks it’s obvious that the monkey grandma went bowling, which is actually my point.

  98. Well well … I only had to read a few paragraphs of your lengthy comments to confirm that you are true blue Trump hater. Very articulate, but just 2 paragraphs was all that I needed or could read. Like many of the far left, your hate drives you to such a position .. in my opinion. I understand that many here on your blog are of similar thoughts. That’s all fine. Best wishes to you all. I like to stop by here to get a read on where the liberal progressives / socialists are these days.

  99. Gary, did you see today where a ‘Christian’ newspaper condemned Trump? No doubt they too are now part of the ‘far left’…

    PS anyone who lumps together “liberal progressives / socialists” is hard to take seriously.

  100. Gary:

    Dude, you should have known I dislike Trump at the site subhead: “This Machine Mocks Fascists.”

    Also, if you think I’m far left, the actual far left has a surprise for you.

  101. I am 64 (well amost) and I remember the Watergate hearings. I feel that what is happening now is much worse.

    I think Trump and his complicit republicans are destroying all our institutions and what this country is supposed to stand for. I worry that even if he is defeated at the ballot box that he will spur his base to commit violence. I can’t tell you how many times his followers have hinted or outright advocated a second civil war. THOSE are the people I worry about.

    I live in New England where we used to have financially conservative but moderates on social issues Republicans I gladly voted for Claudine Schneider who was a pro choice Republican. Those Republicans are now gone. The republican party is dead here in New England for all intent and purposes. I have been a Democrat all my life but I would vote for Republicans especially in local races at times. In the past 20 years I have voted a straight Democratic ticket as I watched the Republicans become more extreme starting with the Moral Majority in the 80’s.

  102. Teh Gerg,

    “Adhering to the nation’s enemy and giving it aid and comfort is sufficient for treason.”

    This is true, but it misses the fact that under the laws about treason, an enemy is defined as a nation the USA declared war on.

  103. John .. I agree far left is relative. Its interesting to see the full political spectrum .. left to right and how it tends to wrap around itself on the extremes. The existance of moderates in both parties seems to have fallen out of favor. Too bad for our country and the healing that we badly need. I believe that it will take something truly catastrophic happening to the US for all sides to wake up and to do what is best for our country and put political idealogies asside.

  104. Dont: “In your example Mindy thinks it’s obvious that the monkey grandma went bowling”

    When the guy tells Sheldon there are other types of intelligence, Sheldon says “poppycock”, which appears to be your level of reaction right now.

    You said “There is no way of discerning the intent here”. But that isnt true. There is no way for someone like Sheldon to discern intent here. And Sheldon was unwilling to admit anyone else could discern intent either.

  105. Hello, John. Do you think the GOP, as we see it today, is the result of a plan concocted in decades past (1968 and The Southern Strategy) or the result of the corrosive effects of Limbaugh and Co., or some mix of the two, and perhaps other dynamics? (I’ll take my answer off the air.)

  106. John:

    I feel that you may be missing the point of your example. Sheldon had no imagination, and could not discern anything that was not explicitly evident.

    Mindy has an imagination. This allowed her to infer things that were obvious but not explicit. It also allowed her to make things up that had little or no relation to anything in the picture (grandma monkey going bowling.)

    Impeachment is a weird hybrid between a legal and political process. In terms of it’s standards of evidence it does and should lean heavily to the Sheldon standard (what is explicitly there and can be demonstrated). And far from the Mindy standard (what I can infer and interpret and creatively imagine)

    I hope you will concede that it is important that it be this way.

    Anybody on the right can (and does) apply their imaginative interpretation of events to show that Trump is the persecuted hero trying to drain the swamp.

    Those weaker minds on the left will go with the whole Trump is the worst thing to happen in history and the world will end, white supremacy, Nazi, Nazi dictatorship ship thing.

    If you are looking at this from the Mindy perspective than the idea that Trump is persecuted more than Jesus is as valid a viewpoint as the one where he is worse than Hitler.

    This is why we get persnickety and legal and it becomes not about what we think or imply but about what we can prove.

    As I’ve said, impeachment is a legal/political hybrid.

    The political part is very much a Mindy interpretive thing. The legal part is more empirical/sheldonesque.

    I think the Democrats have done an empirically poor job on the latter part. In fact, I think they have done such a bad job, that it is suspicious enough to wonder if it’s not deliberate. (This is credible if you are wearing the very thinnest of tin foil hats.)

    It’s interesting to speculate what deal might have been done or why this might be, but I would need another roll of tinfoil to block the mind control waves before I could channel it for you.

    In

  107. TheMadLibrarian asked, “If impeaching the President is such a dumb idea, what do you think should happen . . .”

    Democrats should never have impeached Trump in the first place.

    Because impeachment is an obvious and desperate political ploy.

    Because the two articles of impeachment are weak and weaker.

    Because impeachment has united the Republican Party in a way that an unimpeached President Trump never could.

    Because impeachment will derail the presidential campaigns of Senators Sanders and Warren, who can expect to be stranded in Washington 6 days a week for a trial of 4-6 weeks duration, with the Iowa Caucus looming on February 3. (As dumb goes, this one wins the chef’s kiss.)

    Because impeachment will fail to remove Trump from office. (And we all know it.)

    Because impeachment risks the seats of 31 “Trump District” freshmen Democrat representatives in November 2020, thereby jeopardizing Democrat control of the House. (Or is it now 30 following Jeff van Drew’s defection?)

    Because it will help the Republicans to retain control of the Senate.

    Because rage is not a strategy.

    Because dumb.

  108. @ Arturo Magidin: GOP lawmakers certainly knew it was a bad idea when Trump announced he wanted to hold the next G-7 summit at his Trump National Doral Miami Hotel and told him not to hold the summit there. The Republicans knew that global leaders spending money at the resort was an obvious violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause and that the federal government would incur expenses at Doral would also likely violate the Domestic Emoluments Clause. Yet the GOP ignored Trumps Emoluments Clause violations (and much more) when they had complete control of both the congress and the senate during 2017 and 2018.

    There is a reason Devin Nunes is no longer the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee and the rest of his Republican colleagues no longer chair committees, the Democrats took control of congress after winning big in the 2018 elections.

    @Don’t yell: It is obvious that Joe Biden was Trump’s target in this Ukraine debacle. Biden scares Trump. If we were to game this out and say Joe Biden decided not to run for president, there probably would have been no whistle blower and no self-incriminating Trump-Ukraine Call Notes, and therefore no impeachment. Trump would have instead sent his dingbat lawyer pal Rudy Giuliani out to dig up debunked conspiracy theories (with the cliché Soros invoked) on Bernie Saunders or Elizabeth Warren or whoever became the frontrunner for the Democrats.

  109. I’m convinced that we live in the shitty universe where everything goes wrong so we invent time-travel, go back and stop the shitty stuff thus forking off all the happier universes.

  110. @Dale Allen: I confess I am not sure what you are trying to tell me. Small correction in the meantime: unfortunately, Democrats did not take control of Congress; they only took control of the House.

  111. @Don’tYellAtMe: I think that you are evaluating the evidence of intent without taking into account a long pattern of actions and comments. I also think you are missing another big possible motivation in the whole Ukraine thing: to shift the blame of the interference in the 2016 election away from “Russia helping Trump” to “Ukraine helping Hillary”, and along the way to whitewash Manafort and provide grounds for giving him a pardon.

    To me this is actually the most likely guiding motivation, even beyond hurting Biden. In Trump’s mind, the fact that his “great win” is suspect is extremely problematic. Anything he can do to get rid of that shadow is worth anything and everything. The ability to claim that not only did he win with no outside help, but in fact won *against* help provided to his opponent, is priceless. And rehabilitating Manafort is just icing on the cake. This all started through Giuliani and Putin.

    You say there is no way to discern intent; but intent is almost always inferred from the totality of circumstances and actions. I am looking at the totality of circumstances and actions, dating back months, through both statements of Trump and Giuliani, and the conduits of the conspiracy theory in Politico (John Solomon) and others.

    My reason for thinking the evidence of intent in abuse of power is strong is looking at the whole pattern of action that has taken place over months, and in particular the frantic reaction when he was told about the whistleblower report by DoJ (who should never have been in the loop in the first place). There is simply no credible evidence of an interest in generalized “corruption”, given the totality of circumstances.

    But I will grant that at this point, this is a question of subjective evaluation of the available evidence. I think you are undervaluing the existing evidence in part because you would like it to be stronger in specific ways. You think I am overvaluing it. Fair enough. Thank you for keeping this civil and interesting.

  112. @Professor Bigfoot:
    I’ve commented before that the reason the American South joined in with the American Revolution wasn’t that they actually wanted any of that freedom junk, it was because the plantation owners wanted to be Barons and the King wasn’t letting them.

    @Pedro:
    And you’re missing the other half of the equation. It may be firing up the Republican base, but it’s ALSO firing up the Democratic base. One of the biggest complaints about Pelosi was that she was playing Obama’s ‘get along’ politics while the city was burning around her, and it was contributing to the general attitude of ‘both parties are just the same, so why bother voting’, an attitude which is a LOT more prevalent on the Democratic side. Pelosi started this at least in part because she was dealing with an internal revolt from the Democrats who were being told by their constituents that there wasn’t any point in voting for them if they were just going to cover for the Republicans.

    Anybody who’s in the tank for Trump is probably already voting for him anyway and won’t be convinced otherwise. This is more about trying to convince the Democratic base to come out and vote for them. These days, higher vote turnout tends to favour Democrats.

  113. @Arturo Magidin: Just ranting on about the Emoluments Clause, you had remarked on my previous comment about Trump violating the Emoluments Clause. That and pointing out that the Republicans let Trump get away with a lot obvious wrong doing when they controlled both the House and the Senate in 2017 and 2018.

    Yes, the Democrats control the House not Congress (both chambers), thanks for correcting me.

  114. Jenora said, “it’s ALSO firing up the Democratic base.”

    Perhaps. But is impeachment attracting independent voters or alienating them?

    That is the question upon which the fate of the Democratic Party rests in 2020.

  115. Commenter says (and I agree):

    So when Mitch McConnell says that he is going to shit on the constitution, the idealism, the history of this great country, and the hundreds of years of senators doing right by their office and “fix“ the outcome before it even gets to the trail he and his buddies are going to be remembered.

    I would also point out that when President Andrew Johnson was Impeached, and then acquitted by 1 vote in the Senate, none of those Senators voting to acquit, NOT ONE, was ever elected to any elective office again, ever.

    It may be too much to hope for that these Republicans who support illegal behavior by Trump will all lose reelection in their next race, but I’m a typical optimist, hoping as hard as I can hope, and willing to support those running against these Republicans who in my book are pushing up against Treason as hard as they can… Especially Moscow Mitch McConnell~!!~

  116. I am baffled by charges that the Democrats are rage-filled. Did you watch the hearings and debates? Sober, serious, and methodical the Democrats largely were. Meanwhile, some of the Republicans were spitting with anger, while Trump’s tweets are unhinged with fury.

    Also puzzling is the notion that the Democrats have been eager all along to impeach Trump. If so, why didn’t they do it earlier? And Pelosi tamped down any attempt. The Mueller report, though actually clear in its evidence of crimes, was so murkily written and hedging about its conclusions, that the Dems decided it was not a good ball to run with. That shows a sense of discrimination. Meanwhile, the Republicans were talking before the 2016 election of their intent to impeach Clinton, it didn’t matter what for.

  117. One more time…

    Commenter Rodney Rubert says

    …Democrats are littered with Congressional members who became very rich while in office. The Clintons being a prime example.

    This is a falsehood. When Bill Clinton left the White House, the Clintons borrowed money to set up housekeeping because they were penniless and in debt to their lawyers. Then they wrote books about their political career, and sold millions of them, and EARNED a lot of money. They also gave a lot of paid speeches, and EARNED a lot of money.

    I suspect you also erroneously believe that the Clinton Foundation was as corrupt as the Trump Foundation, in spite of the fact that the books of the Clinton Foundation are open for public review, and have been since it was set up. Transparency makes criminal behavior pretty hard, which is why people expect that Trump’s financial records conceal a ton of illegality… why else struggle so hard to keep them secret?

    If all those witnesses Trump forbade from testifying would have helped exonerate Trump — why on Earth would Trump forbid their testimony? Obviously, there is nothing they could honestly say that would help Trump avoid his now certain fate, to become the first President in modern times to be Impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors!

    John, I must say this is one of the best pieces I have read on Trump’s political character and behavior. But I am surprised at how many raging un-American right wing nut jobs have commented. Totally unexpected here. I guess that word of the original commentary you wrote was passed around in right-wing circles, and they have flocked to attack your truth. Keep up the good work~!!~

  118. But is impeachment attracting independent voters or alienating them?That is the question upon which the fate of the Democratic Party rests in 2020

    It depends on who calls themselves an ‘independent.’ Mitt Romney won independents in 2012 but lost the election. Turns out that disaffected Republicans were calling themselves independents to pollsters because they were pissed off by the GOP. The ‘independent’ vote actually skewed right because of this and was a sign of Republican weakness rather than strength.

    tl;dr: No.

    none of those Senators voting to acquit, NOT ONE, was ever elected to any elective office again, ever.

    Hmm. That’s not true, actually. I count three Senators (out of 19) who were elected to further office. Two more Senators died while in office, which counts, but not really in the way you mean it.

  119. @Tom B.: “This is true, but it misses the fact that under the laws about treason, an enemy is defined as a nation the USA declared war on.”

    I have not seen that in the laws I have read. Can you provide a reference?

  120. Dont: ” It also allowed her to make things up that had little or no relation to anything in the picture”

    Or as Sheldon put it: poppycock

    If you’re not even going to try considering the limitations you’re bringing to this, then having you channel your inner sheldon every post is going to get old.

    But it’s up to you.

  121. I am on the other side of the pond, watching our own Trump wannabe Prime Minister who lies repeatedly about any subject which may have some role in his gaining and retaining power. The difference is that our Constitution has no provision remotely similar to impeachment, and thus we are unable to counter such behaviour beyond the hope of throwing him out in five years time.

    Your impeachment process is not perfect but it is a check on the abuse of power; I wish we had it…

  122. Re: Independents. No, it’s really about turnout, not swing voters. Because pollsters were using previous turnout to predict 2016, they slightly overestimated Black turnout in the Midwest and wildly underestimated pissed-off white guy turnout. Trump is figuring he can do it again, but he’s neglecting the other side of the equation.

  123. Arturo:

    I thin you’ve provided a pretty fair summary of our relative positions.

    I would note though with humor that if we took the primary motivation you ascribe to Trump:

    “ I also think you are missing another big possible motivation in the whole Ukraine thing: to shift the blame of the interference in the 2016 election away from “Russia helping Trump” to “Ukraine helping Hillary”, and along the way to whitewash Manafort and provide grounds for giving him a pardon.”

    And translated this into Republican speak, it would read

    “Legitimate concern into foreign interference into a US election which requires further investigation for the good of the country. After all, isn’t that what the Democrats say they’ve been doing?”

    If I squint at what you wrote through my Republican glasses that’s how your motivation. For his action reads.

    I think it’s about revenge and 2020 primarily.

    Interesting yes? but the problem is that intelligent minds can interpret this multiple ways and such subjectivity makes for poor grounds for to hang an impeachment charge on.

    I’ve very much enjoyed the discussion with you, as well. It’s nice to be able to disagree without rancor, though I don’t Think we really disagree that much.

  124. John:

    I agree we are not getting anywhere. Thanks for trying though (read that sincerely not wiseassy)