Impeachment and the Narcissist’s Off-Ramp

Welcome to the 116th Congress, where Democrats in the House will finally exert some check on the unmanageable man sitting the Oval Office.

There’s a lot I’m excited about in the new Congress: the unprecedented diversity, some rules and agreements that should give progressives more sway in the House, and a fierce, talented leader holding the Speaker’s gavel (even if I disagree with some of Nancy Pelosi’s moves, such as Pay-Go).

Pelosi is taking a really aggressive approach with Trump. In an interview on NBC this morning, Pelosi suggested he doesn’t know how to deal with women in power or women with strength. She dinged Trump because he “may not know this, but Hawaii is part of the United States,” and wondered whether Trump actually “observed the religious holiday of Christmas.” (Here’s the actual interview; I have yet to find a transcript.)

Remarkably, given the way Pelosi categorically ruled it out in 2006, she spoke at length about impeachment (partly, though not entirely, because Savannah Guthrie pushed her repeatedly on this point). After agreeing with her past comments that an impeachment would be “sad and divisive” to impeach the president, Pelosi suggested that the law does not prohibit indicting a sitting president.

Asked if Mueller could legally indict a sitting president, Pelosi said: “Let’s just see what Mueller does. Let’s spend our time on getting results for the American people.”

The Office of Legal Counsel’s guidance, issued in 2000, says, “The indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.”

“It’s not the law,” Pelosi told Guthrie. “Everything indicates that a president can be indicted after he is no longer president of the United States.”

Guthrie asked, “What about a sitting president?”

“Well, a sitting president when he is no longer president of the United States,” Pelosi answered.

Guthrie pressed again, asking, “A president who’s in office? Could Robert Mueller come back and say, ‘I am seeking an indictment?'”

“I think that is an open discussion,” Pelosi said. “I think that’s an open discussion in terms of the law.”

She also did not rule out impeachment proceedings against Trump.

“We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report,” Pelosi said. “We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason.”

I’m totally okay with Pelosi making comments that will emasculate Trump in front of his base, particularly when it highlights his failed campaign promises, starting with his idiotic promise that Mexico would pay for his wall. I think making him appear as the weak coward he is is a necessary step to begin to chip away at unquestioning support among his supporters.

But I keep thinking back to something I raised in this post, where I pointed out that the increasing likelihood Trump Organization might be targeted by prosecutors might change Trump’s calculus as he tries to retain power.

If I’m right, there are a whole slew of implications, starting with the fact that (as I laid out on a Twitter rant this morning), it utterly changes the calculation Nixon faced as the walls started crumbling. Nixon could (and had the historical wisdom to) trade a pardon to avoid an impeachment fight; he didn’t save his presidency, but he salvaged his natural person. With Trump, a pardon won’t go far enough: he may well be facing the criminal indictment and possible financial ruin of his corporate person, and that would take a far different legal arrangement (such as a settlement or Deferred Prosecution Agreement) to salvage. Now throw in Trump’s narcissism, in which his own identity is inextricably linked to that of his brand. And, even beyond any difference in temperament between Nixon and Trump,  there’s no telling what he’d do if his corporate self were also cornered.

In other words, Trump might not be able to take the Nixon — resign for a pardon — deal, because that may not be enough to save his corporate personhood.

For virtually every other legal situation, it seems to me, existing in both natural and corporate form offers protection that can save both. But if you’re the President of the United States, simultaneously existing — and criminally conspiring — in corporate form may create all sorts of additional exposure any normal President would normally be protected from.

I think this is true not just of the presidency, though. I think it was almost immediately true of the Russian investigation, as exhibited by the emails KT McFarland sent from Mar-a-Lago as the Trump Transition responded to Obama’s sanctions on Russia.

Obama is doing three things politically:

  • discrediting Trump’s victory by saying it was due to Russian interference
  • lure trump into trap of saying something today that casts doubt on report on Russia’s culpability and then next week release report that catches Russia red handed
  • box trump in diplomatically with Russia. If there is a tit-for-tat escalation trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia which has just thrown USA election to him.

There are many reasons that might explain why Trump responded to punishment of Russia the way he did: because he knew the Russians did have some role in his win, because he is a paranoid freak who always suspects an ulterior motive to hurt him.

Ultimately, though, it’s about his narcissism. Trump cannot admit any failures, any weakness. And admitting that he didn’t win the election fair and square would be like admitting that he had fewer inauguration visitors than Obama did.

I’m fairly confident that Trump thoroughly compromised himself with his eagerness to deal with the Russians for a Tower, for election help, for whatever else they demanded in response. I’m fairly confident that Putin has receipts from that compromise which creates a real dilemma for Trump on whether Mueller or Putin poses the biggest threat.

Trump and the Russians were engaged in a call-and-response, a call-and-response that appears in the Papadopoulos plea and (as Lawfare notes) the GRU indictment, one that ultimately did deal dirt and got at least efforts to undermine US sanctions (to say nothing of the Syria effort that Trump was implementing less than 14 hours after polls closed, an effort that has been a key part of both Jared Kushner and Mike Flynn’s claims about the Russian interactions).

At each stage of this romance with Russia, Russia got a Trump flunkie (first, Papadopoulos) or Trump himself to publicly engage in the call-and-response. All of that led up to the point where, on July 16, 2018, after Rod Rosenstein loaded Trump up with a carefully crafted indictment showing Putin that Mueller knew certain things that Trump wouldn’t fully understand, Trump came out of a meeting with Putin looking like he had been thoroughly owned and stood before the entire world and spoke from Putin’s script in defiance of what the US intelligence community has said.

People are looking in the entirely wrong place for the kompromat that Putin has on Trump, and missing all the evidence of it right in front of their faces.

Vladimir Putin obtained receipts at each stage of this romance of Trump’s willing engagement in a conspiracy with Russians for help getting elected. Putin knows what each of those receipts mean. Mueller has provided hints, most obviously in that GRU indictment, that he knows what some of them are.

For example, on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators  attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.

But Mueller’s not telling whether he has obtained the actual receipts.

And that’s the kompromat. Trump knows that if Mueller can present those receipts, he’s sunk, unless he so discredits the Mueller investigation before that time as to convince voters not to give Democrats a majority in Congress, and convince Congress not to oust him as the sell-out to the country those receipts show him to be. He also knows that, on the off-chance Mueller hasn’t figured this all out yet, Putin can at any time make those receipts plain. Therein lies Trump’s uncertainty: It’s not that he has any doubt what Putin has on him. It’s that he’s not sure which path before him — placating Putin, even if it provides more evidence he’s paying off his campaign debt, or trying to end the Mueller inquiry before repaying that campaign debt, at the risk of Putin losing patience with him — holds more risk.

Trump knows he’s screwed. He’s just not sure whether Putin or Mueller presents the bigger threat.

But ultimately there is one other factor that makes Trump more self-destructively defensive about this investigation than he otherwise would be: his narcissism.

And while I’d welcome his utter humiliation before the world stage, I also believe that any single-minded pursuit of that humiliation will only increase the likelihood he’ll dig in, regardless of the damage that doing so will do to the country.

Even if we do get to the point where indictment or impeachment became viable (and I’m not sure we will), it’s worth thinking about whether pursuing either one might just trigger a narcissistic response that will only lead Trump to do further damage to this country. If we provide Trump an off-ramp that allows him to preserve some of his destructive ego, it may do less damage to the country.

Update: Fixed Guthrie’s first name–apologies to her for the error. h/t jk

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

244 replies
  1. gedouttahear says:

    Yes, save the country, despite how this creep makes schadenfreude completely ok.
    But since there is no Goldwater/Scott/Rhodes among the repugs to tell t to leave, will Mueller offer that kind of plea deal to t?
    And if t has Putin to fear, isn’t he in a “better” position to defend against Putin if he still has the power of the US presidency.

  2. Trip says:

    I worry that the outreach and deals were all so decentralized, with enough distance (away from the Kremlin as one example) to assert plausible deniability, and that we may never get to the state actors-outreach-quid pro quo-direct connection proven beyond reasonable doubt.

    Trump’s personality disorders (I think there is comorbidity of a few), notwithstanding, the GOP is pushing the most damaging policy, legislation and the fix (against justice) with the judicial appointments. Trump is the idiot decoy for a lot of the worst that has happened already. He has very competently shielded the spotlight away from the Kochs, Mercers, Netanyahu, and oligarchs (international and national) among others who advocated and paid for the creeping fascism.

    Aside: Do you make anything significant out of the requested delay by Flynn’s ex-partner? Or do you think he really needs a good 7 months to look at evidence first?

    • bmaz says:

      No, such a request is absolutely standard fare. It does have to be formally done though because it impacts speedy trial time calculations.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      I worry that the outreach and deals were all so decentralized, with enough distance (away from the Kremlin as one example) to assert plausible deniability, and that we may never get to the state actors-outreach-quid pro quo-direct connection proven beyond reasonable doubt.

      Weirdly, I don’t. Given how deep the investigation has managed to go into the bowels of the IRA and the GRU, and given how Burn After Reading the American side seems to have been, I think there’s going to be plenty. We’re at the point now where the people who haven’t been called in for a quiet chat with Mueller’s team ought to have very twitchy bums.

      I’ve been listening to Rachel Maddow’s ‘Bag Man’ about Agnew, and while it’s very Rachel Maddow in that she makes a point five times when once would suffice, it taps into the idea of an off-ramp. But Agnew was a garden-variety grafter, a vice president whose corruption chafed Nixon, not a pathological narcissist who will take down the republic before he goes down.

      (Anyone want to crowdfund collecting the garbage from the National Mall and dumping it in front of the Old Post Office?)

      • Trip says:

        I hope you are right.

        On the other note: it should be shipped to Maralago (where the other garbage dump is).

        Also, lol. Yes, Rachel is a very smart woman, but her repetition is maddening. Why does she do it?

          • allison says:

            she repeats like that so that when you make your teenagers watch her they understand its import. two things were always mandatory at our house. freerice before dinner and racheal maddow before bed. its very practical for short attention spans.

            • bmaz says:

              Teenagers are not watching Maddow. And to those that actually do, Maddow has turned into a complete nuisance. She is so enamored of her own self important repetitive voice, blathering on, and on, and on, that she is impossible to watch. Maddow is smart and capable, but she ought to get her head out of her self important ass and wake up.

              • Laura says:

                This a thousand times.   Most pop journalists these days drive me up a goddamn wall.  I’m sticking with The Economist for general news and you guys for Mueller… and that’s it, TYVM.

          • oldoilfieldhand says:

            Wasting time? Rachel Maddow has dozens of stories to report on any given day, but chooses only a few for detailed dissection and analysis. She uses repetition in much the same way, just not as stupidly, irritatingly or as grammatically poorly as Donald Trump. She is expending extra effort to convince skeptics and wants to be certain that there is no room for subjective argument against the particular position she is explaining, in excruciating minutia.

            • Buford says:

              yes…I think that we are seeing Rachael’s inner teacher being outed…She is a teacher, and well, we are being educated in the field of Political Corruption,

              • r helder says:

                precisely.  it is standard classroom doctrine to “teach everything three times, in three different ways.”  most students need repetition to embed concepts in memory.

    • Jim says:

      This is also my biggest fear, unless you understand the situation it can look like a lot of massive coincidences. Muelller may make it as clear as possible but the Trump defenders will find enough wiggle room to make it seem like a witch hunt. I fear the worst!

  3. HRHTish says:

    Thank you for this important reminder: Our POTUS is not a normal human being who possesses shame or a conscience.

    I’ve been saying it all along: Impeachment is a bad idea because it will only feed his narcissism. All eyes of the world on him, playing the martyr. Utlimately to be vindicated after the Senate refuses to impeach. UGH. NO.

    • emptywheel says:

      Perhaps. I’m not really sure what it’d be, but yeah, that’s a point of leverage that it seems DOJ is prepping.

      • BobCon says:

        I see a bunch of challenges to that kind of deal. One is that I don’t see how the Trump Organization exists without ongoing fraud. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think it’s a viable operation according to standard tax and accounting law. And I suspect that before Trump can cut a deal, the size of the fraud will be out in the open after House investigations.

        This means that the feds and state authorities would have to sign off on an ongoing criminal enterprise. Potentially they could negotiate some kind of wind-down, but frankly that would take at least a couple of years to negotiate, and that’s time that doesn’t exist. And I don’t know that Trump would agree to the kind of firesale that would probably require.

        I also don’t think Trump would trust that kind of deal. He has good reason to fear that a new president in 2021, or a state AG, would find the political pressure too strong to avoid digging into his fraud and reopening new investigations.

        I also don’t see how he avoids the risk of civil suits that can cripple his businesses. If you’re a tenant of Trump and financial problems suddenly turn your property into a water damaged firetrap, what stops you and the other tenants from suing.?

        What kind of investors stick with Trump to provide the amount of capital he needs? Right now he has options because people think they can cash in, but if he looks like he’s in trouble in 2020, who wants to extend an eight or nine figure line of credit? And if he’s propped up by, say, Russian oligarch money in his condos or drug dealer money in overseas properties, does that money stay as the pressure grows?

        The sense I get is that the Trump Organization can’t stand on its own, and if pieces start getting pulled out, it all goes down. He may well be able to salvage some cobranded stuff here and there, and start things like Trump Steaks again, but that’s about it. I can’t see that being enough to salvage his ego.

        I may be wrong about the financial stability of his enterprises, or I may be overestimating the risks he faces. But I think there is a very good chance that even if Mueller and all of the state and local players sign off on a deal, the actions of private actors will be enough to bring the whole thing down.

        Added in to this, I think Trump’s fear that the government actors will negotiate in bad faith will lead him to refuse to negotiate. I also suspect that his fear of collapse will lead him to refuse to negotiate — he may rightly fear that if word gets out that he’s negotiating to dump a lot of his business to avoid charges, that profiteers will swoop in and ruin his selling position.

        I think he’s going to be increasingly paralyzed by the complexity of the situation, the uncertainty of the future, and his complete inability to process any of it. There may have been parallel situations in the past where a strong successor was able to salvage a disasterous situation — think Henry Ford II taking over in 1945 — but I don’t for the life of me see Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka having one tenth of Henry II’s skill between them.

        • P J Evans says:

          Trump’s fear that the government actors will negotiate in bad faith

          That says a lot about his own business practices, going way, way back: that he thinks that’s usual.

        • General Sternwood says:

          BobCon’s points are very relevant. Who could construct an offramp giving the Trump Org immunity? As he notes, Special Counsel and the DOJ could construct an agreement covering crimes having to do with the areas of the Mueller probe, but there is now so much more out there, much of it under the states’ jurisdiction. I would add that, as a citizen, I would be angry if Trump got immunity for both himself and for his corporate self — what sort of world is it where corporate misdeeds can be wiped away by bargains regarding the legally separable misdeeds of their owners?

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          I think that analysis is on the mark: if you assume (with good cause) that the Family Business is a fundamentally criminal operation, any steps towards an off-ramp deal are likely to expose its non-viability. We’re going to see tax returns and perhaps even some low-level accounts from the various corporate entities. (It was probably on borrowed time in 2015 absent a Russia deal, a post-election TV network or a cash injection at Emoluments LLC.)

          He’s not going to settle for some kind of Fisher Price toy business after the government and his creditors have finished with him.

          • bmaz says:

            Not to mention, the second he leaves office in disgrace, his fear would only increase. This is a deal that, historically, Trump would never agree to. Not that he shouldn’t, but his mental defects prevent him from even considering it.

        • R. Stanton Scott says:

          Shorter BobCon: Republican destruction of political norms, trust, and credible commitments among political actors, combined with Donald Trump’s paranoid narcissism, means he’ll go nowhere unless nuked from orbit.

          Sounds about right to me.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        As you suggest, the only carrot big enough for Trump would involve personal immunity for himself and his principal family members, and non-prosecution of his businesses.  That would require coordination with state authorities and a virtually unprecedented political deal by the leaders of both parties.  It would ordinarily involve full cooperation and disclosure and promises as to future conduct.

        A Trump deal would be more complicated than the one Ford appears to have made with Nixon.  Leopards do not change their spots and Trump is incapable of learning new behavior, which means that he and his businesses are liable to run foul of the law through their post-resignation behavior.

        Inevitably, Trump would claim that immunity for past crimes immunizes him from liability for future crimes.  No politician would survive making that deal.  And we know what Trump’s promises have been worth in the past.

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        Can’t happen! Foregoing the prosecution of the Trump Organization and its officers for criminal activities as part of any deal, regardless if Trump resigns or is impeached, will be the final nail in the coffin of the rule of law. It will provide unequivocal proof that there are two sets of laws, one for the rich and powerful, and one for everyone else. It will prove, beyond any doubt and to a moral certainty, that money can purchase and redefine justice, legally. It will expose the seedy underbelly of Capitalistic Democracy. Accountability is the only impediment to lawless rule by fiat and Trump walking intact, or even partially intact, will prove once and for all that the vaunted rule of law is a facade.

        • Geoff says:

          This helps me focus. In a way, I don’t care how he leaves office, just that he leaves, and then after, he is shown to be the criminal he is and is jailed. All the Iraq war and financial crisis criminals that got off with cost of doing business fines and still live large…no, nope, not ok, not OK. It’s accountability time. Time to look both forward AND back.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Concur emphatically.

          Looking back over 40 years, failure to publicly expose and reveal the machinations in Vietnam, then Iran-Contra, then WMD then Iraq War, then the Financial Meltdown track with lowering economic indicators, which roughly sync with measures of government becoming delegitimized.

          Arguably, if the ‘body politic’ is ailing, one would want a correct diagnosis.  And time after time after time, we’ve heard, “It would be too divisive, it would be too difficult...” or some other dodgy excuse for avoiding publicly revealing criminal conduct that subverts the Constitution.

          We are at a point where, if a thorough, public report is not clearly presented, and then the implications acted upon, the ‘body politic’ as defined by the Constitution is going to collapse and perish.  We’re close, and Trump is a symptom (on steroids).

          His narcissism complicates all efforts to deal with him.

          @AnotherKevin (below) has pointed out that a narcissist may not be able to tolerate an ‘off ramp’, in the sense that any threat to the ego is experienced as obliteration.  Watching him become ‘loopier’, more repetitive, more unstable makes this an ominous possibility.

          Removing Trump, or at least corralling him, is Job #1.  However, there are other related issues that will need attention: campaign  financing is a mess, K-Street writing laws is a problem, analytics being manipulated – whether by Facebook or Cambridge Analytica – pose new problems, and polling technologies appear to be a mess.  I would hope that Trump would be seen within the larger context of trying to restore health to the ‘body politic’ by implementing very practical, transparent measures aimed at increasing accountability — and consequently, legitimacy.

  4. Alan says:

    Not impeaching and/or indicting Trump if the evidence warrants it would do even greater damage to our country than to appease him in fear of a volatile response. In fact, that fear is being deliberately cultivated by Trump as one of the strategies he has used in his life to get his way–giving into it is tantamount to giving in to a bully or a terrorist.

    • Geoff says:

      Yup. This is why I am hoping for a middle road – where it is clear that impeachment should happen, but that the investigation can be drawn out long enough that we don’t get around to actually impeaching him, just getting to the doorstep instead, before the 2020 election, where the people get rid of him, and then the various arms of the law take a whack at him.

      • BobCon says:

        I think there is a fairly small but real chance that the crimes are big enough and the evidence is compelling enough that Trump takes a chance on the resign and pardon scenario, taking a chance on surviving court fights on state charges and civil suits.

        I think your scenario is the most likely, but it will be really ugly – Trump will embrace the McConnell/Federalist Society court packing, as will supposedly concerned GOP senators like Romney and Collins. His appointees will quicken the pace of nutjob administrative and regulatory actions. And heavens help us if his enablers are able to effectively coordinate the actions of the Executive Branch and his flunkies on the courts, because I suspect they’ll create a legacy his successor will struggle to undo.

    • Willis Warren says:

      Not only this, but we have to show the Russkies that we’re better than they are.  If we let him continue to fuck us because “it would cause too much damage…” then they’ll keep doing it.

      • Trip says:

        To me, it’s less about other countries, but more about our country’s habit of “Let’s just move forward” without consequences, which allows a redux of corruption and criminality over and over.

        • Sharon says:

          That was Obama’s mantra, and it drove me nuts. The only way to move forward is for justice to be served. Didn’t Ford’s pardon of Nixon teach anything?

    • Tech Support says:

      Not impeaching and/or indicting Trump if the evidence warrants it would do even greater damage to our country than to appease him in fear of a volatile response.

      The dems are being very circumspect with all talk about impeachment, with great deference to the Mueller investigation, but I’m very confident that it is 100% part of their agenda. Pelosi’s recent comment drives that point home:

      “We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report,” Pelosi said. “We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason.”

      Even if the administration succeeds in quashing the investigation, avoiding indictments, etc. etc. I think a recent suggestion from a commenter here is spot on: Mueller will ultimately testify in front of the House in open hearings where all the breadcrumbs can be strung together into a cohesive narrative, and that will be the engine that drives impeachment proceedings forward.

      Will impeachment in the House result in the Senate removing Trump from office? I think that it is still highly unlikely, but every time Trump does something to further erode his own base (like, oh I dunno, pissing all over a revered military leader) it makes it one click of the dial easier for the establishment GOP to turn on him.

      If they don’t do it though? If they circle the wagons and protect his presidency through 2020 in spite of an array of damning evidence presented against him? Then the dems will attack them relentlessly on that point for the entire election cycle.

      • bmaz says:

        Eh, not sure that Mueller testifying to Congress really accomplishes all you think it will. There is a serious question of how effective that could be in light of the necessity of honoring Rule 6 Grand Jury secrecy.

    • hester says:

      we are captives.  The rules apply only to the unconnected… not the powers that be or their ilk.

  5. Drew says:

    OK. But what sort of off-ramp makes sense? The Mitt Romney approach seems to be to move toward keeping virtually all the awful policy aspects of Trumpism in a less boorish political package and basically un-elect him, somehow (e.g. setting up a deal where he keeps everything & resigns early enough for Pence to consolidate things). THAT is not good for the country.

    Nothing will particularly help the country without the bulk of the truth about all this being established in a coherent, and more or less agreed upon fashion. I’m not so naive to think that the Republican Senate will endorse impeachment. Yet Mueller speaks almost exclusively in indictments and NYAG Tish James seems to be heading that way as well.

    Perhaps the saving grace will be in the narrowness of Trump’s narcissism. If faced with inescapable certainties (William Barr & Mitch McConnell telling him that the facts point to prison time for him immediately after the 2021 inauguration, for instance), he would likely respond by taking a deal to save his skin–at least if it contained a fig-leaf of face saving for him. Kellyanne Conway may be the best advisor for crafting that fig-leaf.

    It is problematic, if, as I strongly suspect, the Trump organization is largely built upon criminal conduct that is interwoven with Russian money laundering & political shenanigans. New York is unlikely to relinquish its pound of flesh in this, for the sake of making letting him skate for the sake of getting him out of office. However there might be a way to let Trump live out his days on a couple of his properties, making grandiose pronouncements about how they are the greatest, and never having to return to New York, or the new state office building, formerly known as Trump Tower.

    And perhaps, occasionally they might even take off his ankle bracelet.

    • Sharon says:

      “William Barr & Mitch McConnell telling him that the facts point to prison time…” Trump seems incapable of hearing that. Wasn’t that the conclusion his lawyer Dowd reluctantly formed?

      • puniase says:

        Trump is the coyote who has run headlong off the cliff but has just begun to realize his detachment from terra firma. That, plus the anvil thing, and the falling piano.


        • Eureka says:

          (OT @ punaise- can’t reply on other thread.  Carlos Santana _was_ the name that came to me, which is why I thought it made no sense in my initial comment.  I don’t know the branching relationships/collabs- so you gave me a lead on my game of Name That Tune for one, lol.)

    • Drew says:

      As long as he thinks he has absolute power, he will act with impunity and rage at anything that in any way interferes with that. That is the way of a true malignant narcissist.  However, President of the United States is not an office with absolute power, just with great power. Narcissists who are trapped, rage and lash out as long as they can. But if they are really trapped and their lashing out gets them nothing, they tend to collapse and/or look for an escape. The escape has to have a way for the narcissist to tell their story where they are the hero, albeit the persecuted hero, who was always always right, etc. Survival of that story is the key. That means that the off-ramp has to be something other than the rational alternatives that are usually offered and that Nixon took.

      • P J Evans says:

        He’s demonstrated from the first that he doesn’t understand that there are limits on his power: look at his rants during the 2016 campaign, and during the transition period, when he thought he had the power to order things done before the inauguration and expected them to be done, or since then, when he demonstrates that he thinks his power is absolute and wants oaths of loyalty from everyone below him.

        • Drew says:

          It’s not a matter of persuading him. It’s more like when his bankers put him on an allowance in the early 90s when his casinos, etc. blew up. When faced with hard, unavoidable facts (seeing the handcuffs, as it were) he looks for a way to save face and save his skin (oddly, in that order).

          It takes some finesse to provide that kind of offramp-the offramp doesn’t really have to be good for him, it just has to feel good for him until he takes it. (He wasn’t bothered at all by Mattis’ resignation letter for over a week until he started hearing about it)

          • P J Evans says:

            My understanding is that narcissists like Himself put saving face first: they can’t take being shamed in any way, so they have to reframe everything as “I really wanted this” or they pretend that they won, somehow, when they’re forced to back down.

    • eh says:

      “Diplomacy is the art of letting other people have your way.”

      I imagine the Mueller team is well-practiced in that.

  6. P J Evans says:

    More damage to the country: removing drugs and useful treatment options from people with Medicare part  D coverage,. Among those removed are antidepressants and HIV treatments.

    And Himself (and McConnell) are still trying to blame the shutdown on the Democrats.

  7. BillT says:

    I have to wonder how the appointment of Laura Birger to head the SDNY Criminal Division will impact the prosecution of crimes by the Trump Org. and the Donald himself.
    Who will Trump nominate next – Jerome Corsi????

  8. Geoff says:

    I’m a fan of dragging this out to the point of having Trump leave via the 2020 election process. We can probably at this rate make it very clear that he is impeachable, but if we get to the point where the clock runs out, we have the best of both worlds perhaps.

    I mean, whether we impeach or not, it looks like the shadow power in the background of the Mercers, Koch duo, etc, will do their damage. I don’t see how that is avoidable, unless Pence were to go down with the ship too, which so far appears unlikely. I don’t need to humiliate Trump via the impeachment process – it would be nice in a way, but maybe cause more damage than it is worth.

    What I want to see is that once he is removed from office by the vote of the people, that the wheels of justice turn on him and grind him to dust, taking away everything he owns, including his false pride. He needs to die impoverished, in jail, living out each day in the agony of what he has brought upon himself. And his spawn really need to be dealt with too.

    One day we can perhaps recover from the damage he has inflicted upon us, but we must remember, a lot of that damage is the result of McConnell’s and others machinations. That cancer also needs to be eradicated, and that will be an even harder task. But I think we need to show we are up to it. Somehow…

    — A quick follow up. A year and a half plus seems like a long time, but it’s not terribly long. I think the problem will be that we are running out of peple to roll up in indictments. Mueller has to show that he is making continuing progress, and he cannot be forced to wrap things up prematurely. The one other benefit we will have by mid 2020 is that we will likely be in or near recession. Of course, Trump will try to blame that on Democrats, but it will be his helping hand that gets us there. So, Im not SURE we can run the clock out, and of course, this brings up the real possibility that he wins re-election (yeah, it’s that crazy out there) but I think that if the economy has started to crater, that is going to make re-election even harder.

    • hester says:

      lot of that damage is the result of McConnell’s and others machinations.

      Actually I  think McConnell is most responsible for the damage done to the country so far.  Those mofos in congress used drump to do what they’ve been itching to do for ages… with taxes, judges, the environment, etc…

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      A year and a half plus seems like a long time, but it’s not terribly long.

      It takes two minutes to launch a nuclear strike.

      As many commentators have noted, there has not been a major external political crisis over the past two years. There have been natural disasters that he fucked up. There have been self-inflicted crises. There have been the weekly “White House in even greater turmoil” stories from the access press. But there has not been a 3am phone call.

    • NorskieFlamethrower says:

      “Would you trade a full pardon for Trump if he agreed not to run in 2020?”  Answer: HELL NO!! If we can’t beat him and the entire Republican Party at the polls in2020 we’re f***ed anyway.

  9. John says:

    I hate to say this, but I no longer care about how much collateral damage he will do, he needs to be held accountable in the most public way. As with anyone, a stern warning paired with no consequences stops nothing. This has been the preferred strategy for dealing with Presidential criminality for decades and it has only gotten us deeper in the hole.

    Since Nixon, each Republican president has been pushing the line. Lets take a quick tour of the escalating nature of completely unacceptable behavior of Republican presidents for the last 60 years.

    Nixon took steps to prolong the Vietnam war so he could use it as a campaign issue against Johnson in ’68. He tried to have protestors assassinated. He had henchmen break into the doctors offices of his political enemies to get dirt to use against them. He bugged his rival for office to get dirt on him. He tried to sheild his criminal vice president from being held to account until it became clear that Agnew would take them both down. And there was more! Yet for all of this, the only consequence he suffered was to be forced to leave office!

    Reagan got the message. He repeated the Nixon play of undermining the sitting president’s foreign policy to get elected and ran an illegal war to boot! For that he was lionized as the greatest president of our modern era.

    Poppy Bush tried to cover up Spiro Agnew’s criminality back in the Nixon years, and succeeded in covering up whatever shenanigans went on with Iran contra. He was lionized as a great American Statesman.

    Dubya lied us into a war, ran a torture regime, and ran an illegal spying ring and suffered zero consequences for any of it.

    And now, we have Trump who is actively collaborating with hostile foreign dictator to win elections!

    The behavior keeps getting worse and at each stage there are fewer consequences! The more we allow this to happen the worse it is going to get and over the long term the damage will be far worse than whatever Trump will do when he’s cornered.

    Looking forward and not back is no longer an option. We need to draw a line in the sand to show future criminals that they cannot act with impunity as long as they lead powerful political apparatuses. At some point we all need to stand up and say damn the side effects, this kind of behavior must stop. This far and no further!

    • Sharon says:

      I agree. The image of a former president in disgrace is a powerful one, but it pales in comparison to the image of a former president in prison. That’s a real deterrent.

    • Linda says:

      I agree John.  Nine months ago an off ramp ala Nixon seemed a good solution.  IF the narcissist could have been compelled to take it, which didn’t seem likely.  But resignation was only an option when, as a nation, we believed he and his ilk were simply stupid and greedy and being played by the Russians.  As the indictments unfold and the depth and breadth of his betrayal to the US becomes clearer the options become more limited.  He is far more likely to create a national emergency and  declare martial law than relinquish the Presidency.  As long as he has a voice he will be a corrosive and malignant influence on America.  That voice must be silenced through imprisonment (Guantanamo Bay would be nice) or his flight to avoid prosecution to a non extradition country.  Or perhaps the stress of it all will lead to divine intervention and the ultimate solution.  Frankly, that seems the only solution that won’t leave this country reeling for the rest of his loud mouthed days.  

      • greenwarrior says:

        He’s already threatening to call a national emergency so he can send the army to build the wall.  The sooner he’s gone (and Pence), the better this country will fare.

  10. Geoff says:

    @Willis – I want to see him gone as much as anyone, and I want to see him have his comeuppance. His criminal racket must be taken down, because that criminality is but a symptom of bigger US problems. I agree with his incompetence, ignorance and volatility, he is a clear and present danger, but that danger might actually become more acute if he is backed into a corner. I want to be rid of him as soon as possible, but with that, we have to get something in return that helps this country. And we need a lot of help.

    • Willis Warren says:

      I disagree, strongly.  He’s way more dangerous now than if he’s removed.  Anything he does under impeachment will be obvious.

      • Geoff says:

        We can agree to disagree perhaps, but I have a question. First off, it looks quite clear that while Pelosi is considering impeachment proceedings, she is by no means prepared to start them, and we need a lot more evidence to pile up to the point where they feel they can push something through to the Senate that they will agree with and finish the job. They sure as shit aren’t going to go there and have the Senate decide to take a pass. So we have a good deal of time, I expect at least until mid-year, to even get started in the house.

        Now, if that is the case, how long does it take for this process to play out? Is it reasonable to think we can get this done if we wait too long? Remember, more elections in November, so if we wait too long this year, next thing you know we cant start until early 2020, and at that point is it feasible? I just feel like we wont ever get around to it. Im not completely against impeachment, and I know it’s risky not to try, it’s just also risky to try and fail, or try it and whilst succeeding, create more of an orange menace.

  11. Rugger9 says:

    Impeachment should be there and Pelosi is taking the right line on it. Recall that she made a point about not impeaching for political reasons before also making the point about avoiding impeachment also for political reasons. She’s waiting on Mueller’s report and I would suspect that it will have enough “high crimes and misdemeanors” to impeach even before Cummings, Nadler, Schiff,Waters, et al get digging.

    Conviction on the other hand in a 53-47 GOP Senate is not likely, especially given how the Palace and Kaiser Quisling has purged the GOP of critics. Even RMoney walked back on the wall. However, I would argue that is precisely why if Mueller finds smoking guns (with thoughts and prayers), so to speak Pelosi needs to move on impeachment like Alan said. Obama “looked forward, not backward” and we see the same crooks doing the same kinds of damage. Likewise the banksters like Wells Fargo demonstrate the risks of letting bad behavior go unpunished since the miscreants get emboldened and can also assign a dollar value to bad actions making it a business proposition.

    If the House impeaches based on the Mueller report findings, it will not be the political fluff witch hunt the Clinton impeachment was (we have convictions and guilty pleas already unlike Whitewater), and it will be hung around the necks of every GOP Senator up for re-election in 2020 (and as bad as the D Senate defense map was in 2018, the GOP defense map is equally bad for 2020) if they do not convict. All of GOP will know that primaries with the MAGA deplorables await if they do convict and they’re finished. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys and Collins (who apparently is running again). I don’t think even Vlad or Parscale could save them here.

    Doing the right thing will pay off here.

    • Legonaut says:

      Pelosi is equally adept at “looking forward, not backward”.  See Dubya.

      She needs to demonstrate that she deserves the level of hope & trust currently being placed in her.

      • P J Evans says:

        The situation in 2009 was not the same as the situation now. W’s presidency, while bad, wasn’t damaging to the extent that we’re seeing now, and he didn’t view himself as a monarch/autocrat.

        • hester says:

          Well, the families of hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and thousands of dead Americans might disagree.

          • P J Evans says:

            The hundreds of thousand who will die because of Himself’s greed and stupidity matter more to me now. His lockout is shutting down food stamps and housing programs, IRS refunds, paychecks for nearly a million federal employees….

  12. Legonaut says:

    So we “provide Trump an off-ramp” (read: let him get away with sh*t) to get rid of him? This is the same hostage-taker who turned down a fully-funded $25B appropriation deal for his wall because it wasn’t obsequious & cruel enough for him — and has now shutdown government agencies for 20% of that.

    “That’s why we’re worried, gentlemen. This clown’s impotent, suicidal and incredibly stupid.” – Hallick, Airplane 2: The Sequel

    No one has figured out how to negotiate with him, because you can’t negotiate with terrorists & blackmailers — they just keep moving the goalposts to get more:

    Trump: “What’ll you give me to leave?”
    Pence: “I’ll pardon you.”
    Trump: “I’ll also need the states to drop their prosecutions.”
    SDNY: ” Okay, Donnie.”
    Trump: “Oh, and all of the above for Uday, Orsay, and Javanka.”
    : “Uhh… OK.”
    Trump: “Oh, and all of the above for my companies.”
    : “umm…”
    Trump: “Oh — remember that $5B you wouldn’t spend on a wall? You need to pay that to me now so I can finally be a real billionaire.”

  13. CaliLawyer says:

    There is a third possibility: Putin has already gotten much of what he wanted out of Trump on the world stage, and at some point Putin might just cut him loose to inject even more chaos into our politics, maybe as a cover for a serious move into Ukraine. Sanctions are the one area where Trump has basically been emasculated, but if Putin invades the Ukraine are we really going to have a strong response once Putin kneecaps the Commander-in-Chief? There’s always been a strong counterintelligence dimension to this that Mueller has been very conservative about keeping in the dark, so we’re kind of seeing the tip of the iceberg of TrumpCo corruption, but Mueller has outed a bunch of Russians and Putin has cashiered some others, so I don’t see much downside for Putin to just throw Trump away like a used tissue. That could well be Putin’s endgame in all of this.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      You see what I see.  And I don’t think that we have any concept how strange the fluid nexus is when you add in Turkey, Saudi’s, and Netanyahu.  One or more of these may collectively join with Putin to dime Trump out.

      • CaliLawyer says:

        Agreed. Trump is way, way, way out of his depth here. This isn’t just stiffing a contractor or bribing local pols for tax favors.

      • Madiba says:

        Congress could immediately facilitate the demise of Trump and Trumpism by agreeing to slowly and systematically lift all sanctions against Russia in exchange for full and verifiable transperancy by Russia of all that transpired between Russia and (a) candidate Trump, (b) our elections and (c) this Administration.

        Let’s be clear, maintaing financial sanctions against Russia is the least of our concerns.

        Without Trump and Trumpsim we can then move forward on the pressing issues our nation and world face.

  14. Mulder says:

    Since you brought it up, Marcy.

    (to say nothing of the Syria effort that Trump was implementing less than 14 hours after polls closed, an effort that has been a key part of both Jared Kushner and Mike Flynn’s claims about the Russian interactions).

    I will ask something I’ve long wondered about. Why did your “source” send the text to you in the first place?

    You’ve shared any number of times about your concerns that he was doing damage and was engaged in destructive actions towards our country. He was spreading misinformation to you and other journalists etc.

    Was he playing both sides? Was it strictly for profit? Part of a disinformation campaign?

    Anyway, I don’t expect an answer. Just wanted to put it out there.

    This is a deeply unsettling post. When the orange stuff hits the fan I think we will all be more shaken than stirred.

  15. Rusharuse says:

    I want the public meltdown, the tears of rage, the screaming, the cursing. I want total complete humiliation – then prison. FUCK HIM!!

  16. BroD says:

    “What I want to see is that … he is removed from office by the vote of the people.”

    That would probably be best for the country my children & grandchildren will inhabit–if he doesn’t fubar in the interim.

    • HRHTish says:

      Getting voted out would be more humiliating than impeachment, IMHO.

      Nothing to “negotiate,” he just pays whatever price he has to pay upon entering the private sector.

  17. Bobby Gladd says:

    I recently posted “My 2018 in 3 words: grief, gratitude, and anger.” Guess what was the principal source of my anger? A no-brainer.

    Actually, the anger extends back to 2016. I had a ongoing queasy feeling that Trump would be “elected.” Now, it’s “how low will he go? All the way?” We like to think not (that institutional sanity will finally prevail), but I’m not so sure.

    Props to Marcy et al for all the hard work.

  18. CaliLawyer says:

    As a side note, I’m not convinced he’ll take losing an election any better than impeachment. He was certainly laying the groundwork in 2016 to delegitimize the entire process. Just Security had an interesting, albeit speculative, take on what Trump’s media empire ambitions were should he have lost the election. There was other reporting on Trump TV, but their argument fit well with Trump and Putin.

  19. What Constitution? says:

    Fretting over whether Trump might act irresponsibly should impeachment be pursued is hardly a useful exercise, when the current reality is that Trump has been acting, is acting and will reliably continue to act irresponsibly for as long as he is allowed to be the President of the United States. And rewarding obsequious bootlicking by spineless congressional enablers of Trump — legislators who hope to prolong their paychecks by cowering in fear of a possible adverse Twitter nickname and for no principled reason beyond further enriching their 1% backers by feigning respect for the trash micro-minority that buys Trump’s divisive and paranoiac demagoguery — because Trump might act irresponsibly is not a worthy consideration.

    There is no reason to surmise that Trump’s narcissism “might” drive him to try to do things detrimental to the country — of course it will. When has it not? The question is what will it take for his sycophants to actually recognize how far off the rails this menace is willing to go in service of his own delusional ego — and the speculation in this post about what Trump might do in response to being actually impeached or indicted may well be the best, if not even the only, “message” that would finally sink in. Even Barry “nuke ’em” Goldwater discovered he had a line that couldn’t be crossed in the course of Watergate.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump does not know how to deal with any women.  Or men.  Children?  Bah, humbug.  He abuses sycophants and those willing to give him physical pleasure.  He kowtows to the truly powerful.

    Combined with his stunning ignorance and narcissism, that would ordinarily make Trump an easy mark for those with sufficient stomach and ambition, except that he doesn’t know his own mind from minute to minute, which makes everyone a target and everything disposable.

  21. Fran of the North says:

    I think ew’s point about threats to the T Org are likely to create the most angst for Trump are spot on.

    The thoughts of joining the plebes on commercial airlines and having to give the TPrincess back for some other magnate to bob around in the ocean has got to be driving him bonkers. It’s no wonder his communications  ramblings have become a diarrhea of half formed thoughts and unintelligible connections.

    And yes, there are a good number of ‘pubs who are culpable in this whole matter, and they should suffer for their betrayal of the ideals of this great country. Not to mention the cabal of financial enablers that Trip hit upon above.

    The only positive that I can see is that cracks are starting to appear in the facade of Republican unity. Romney’s op-ed in Wapo was utterly damning. The (retired) military leadership’s rebukes are starting to mount. Active personnel are supposed to be apolitical, so I doubt we’ll hear much from them. And finally, there are rumblings that some of the less evil money is starting to figure out that Trump’s continuing instability is only going to damage their interests in the long run.

    This country has a long run of stability, and the foresight of the founders created a pretty stable ship of state. I hope and pray that we weather the storm.

    • Rugger9 says:

      R’s have been “signaling” like this for a very long time.  Until it translates into actual votes against the Palace and Kaiser Quisling it is mere posturing.  Even Mittens walked back on his criticism about the wall.  Don’t fall for it.

      Lego noted above about how Pelosi also followed the “look forward” playbook in 2006, but somehow misses the point about her learning from mistakes like that.  Also, she’s had to put up with the maniacs in the House Freedom Caucus and the unrelenting Palace screw-ups while keeping her caucus together.  I think she’s really not amused by the wreck she’s been left by Ryan (of the 12% approval rating, worse than Hastert who had “other issues”) which was significantly worse than Shrub’s situation in 2006.

      To be sporting, however, we will see whether she reins in Cummings, Nadler, Schiff, Waters, et al on their topics for review.  I don’t see where she has demanded anything to be off the table for oversight.

  22. jayedcoins says:

    It’s a really good point, Marcy.

    I know sports analogies are almost always stupid and/or totally exhausted, but we hear this all the time when we learn about how big trades or even occasional free agent signings go down. Ultimately, it benefits each party in the negotiation to provide that proverbial off-ramp, or a means to ensure each party leaves with something they can hang their hat on. If your Wolverines don’t get their act together, I’d imagine such an off-ramp for both Harbaugh and the school will be in order, since both parties will look pretty bad in any divorce.

    As others are discussing here, the question is, what does an off-ramp for Trump look like?

    Marcy, you again pointed this out a long time ago… I’m paraphrasing, but you’ve written repeatedly here and on Twitter since the 2016 election that people should not underestimate the painful challenges the nation will face to unwind a Trump presidency, especially via impeachment. To that end, I continue to fall back on the idea of running out the clock, especially now that Dems have control of the House. Do the needful investigations, prevent the White House from spearheading any abhorrent legislation… but otherwise forget the political trappings of impeachment, and focus on getting the right progressive message ready for 2020.

    That said, this goes to show the point about how difficult this is, because each day this presidency continues, it has real, profound, negative impact on marginalized people and communities throughout the *world*, not just here at home… so the idea of running out the clock is admittedly a privileged one for me to subscribe to.

    • Sharon says:

      I get the wisdom of “running out the clock”, but that would mean a Trump Library, Trump a tenured former president present at every high state occasion, and finally a solemn funeral complete with smarmy eulogies. Who has the stomach for that?

    • Rugger9 says:

      OT, but this comment reminded me: did we ever give back any of those beachfront properties Obama seized for activity inconsistent with diplomatic status?  I don’t remember if the Palace was able to undo the sanctions.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I don’t think that Trump could recognize a gilded off-ramp or conceive of how he might use it.  It would require an ability to take in new and unwelcome information, to rationally assess the best, worst and most likely outcomes of his situation, and to choose the path that led to the best possible outcome for him.

    Trump is a man of lies built on fantasies, with reality kept at bay by money.  In reality, he knows nothing about negotiating, hence, his bluster that he’s the best in the world at it.  He repeats the dynamic with sex, adulation of the crowd, you name it.  He knows he can win only when he has overwhelming power over his opponent.

    Trump has just lost that power.  He faces the prospect of political and financial castration: political castration by an angry mother (Nancy) or father (Putin), financial castration via the bankruptcy of his business empire (Mueller & Co.).

    I think that means that Trump is past the point where he could conceive of any process going forward that does not involve the destruction of who and what threatens him. Mike Pence, Trump’s Cabinet, and leaders of both parties should reread the 25th Amendment as they contemplate how to avoid what is probably the only endgame Trump understands.

  24. Trip says:

    @pseudonymous in nc

    I think all of the rich in Russia have gained via kleptocracy, I don’t believe any of the wealth is legitimate. For a very long time, it seems, the US didn’t give a shit as long as the money flowed in.

  25. sand says:

    I can imagine some potential off-ramps somewhere “between” the Nixon example and the Marcos example:ñan-last-day.html

    Or I can imagine worse. Trump has made several comments that attack the very concept of a peaceful transition of power:

    For that reason and others, I think we need to face our demons. Trump should not be allowed to exit in protest and retain significant wealth that would have likely been forfeited if an investigation had continued. His election shout-out to “Second Amendment People” and subsequent failures to condemn civic violence create a need for him to publicly acknowledge any crimes or suffer the consequences.

    He has primed his craziest followers for violence in the event that he has been unjustly removed. If he takes an “off-ramp,” his acknowledgement that removal is proper would help to reduce the probability of violence (at least a bit; it can’t be reduced to zero.) His narcissism may prevent him from acknowledging defeat. If so, then the investigations will need to continue until we have some semblance of justice.

    We’ve been watching some of the Scientologists come back to reality after following LRH for more than 20 years. If they can do it, so can the Trumpapologists with DJT, but it may not happen if no one exposes the sham for what it is.

  26. P J Evans says:

    @BobCon January 3, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    I have yet to see any sign that Collins will actually vote against whatever Himself and McConnell want. I doubt that Romney will, either. There are no “moderate Republicans” left in the Senate, and few, if any, in the House. It’s the Party of Trump now.

  27. Setlistthief says:

    Might this “off-ramp” come equipped with tar and feathers…and maybe a rail thrown in, as well?

  28. AnotherKevin says:

    I’m glad to see you baldly emphasize Trump’s narcissistic personality disorder and the way it complicates the situation (this is coming from a psychiatrist). The media has largely been taken to task any time this n-word has been used, and it’s the elephant in the room. People say he’s erratic, he’s unpredictable, he’s a loose cannon, and so on, but his behavior is actually predictable if you understand pathological narcissism.

    As for an off-ramp, one thing that gives me hope is that his narcissism precludes him from thinking three steps ahead. He reacts to the choice in front of him, and is confident that he can turn any mistake he makes to his advantage. He is colossally easy to trick. If he thinks he has a choice that has him leave office and preserve his corporate self, he’ll take it, even if the foundation has been laid for that corporate structure of collapse in short order. By the time he realizes that the Trump Organization is on the rapid path to destruction, and that his clout in the world is utterly gone, it’ll be too late.

    One thing that gives me hope about him lashing out is that the military has shown a willingness to ignore his orders, or at least play for time. There are still a lot of ways he can damage the country, but I don’t think he can successfully start a war. The way his trash talked all the generals he initially praised has also likely used up any credibility he had with the military.

    One thing that worries me, though, relates to this: “If we provide Trump an off-ramp that allows him to preserve some of his destructive ego, it may do less damage to the country.” There is no preserving “some of” a narcissist’s ego. It’s all or nothing. Any damage to his ego is unacceptable to him, or rather, it’s intolerable to him. This makes me think there is no smooth off ramp. As soon as things start to go bad for him, the sh*t will hit the fan. Hopefully when that happens there will be enough adults in the room to trigger the 25th Amendment, or lock him down in some way that his staff has shown no inclination so far to do.

    • Drew says:

      Excellent analysis. I concur. “there will be no smooth offramp for him” – This is true. However, having crossed Wyoming on the Interstate, there are offramps there which go off at a 90 degree angle and quickly end in a dirt road, often with a gate less than 200 yards away. My idea of a Trump offramping would be like when a double trailer semi comes up beside & pushes you off the road surface on to the exit.

      As you say, he only looks a step ahead, maybe two. He truculently takes his best exit & talks up how great and under appreciated he is. It’s not smooth, maybe he has a Federal pardon from Pence, and he thinks it gets him out of things it doesn’t.

  29. Jenny says:

    Trump will resign, move to Siberia to be “up close and personal” with his comrade Putin to continue their Bromance.

  30. Drew says:

    @Geoff @Willis The timelines on impeachment vs election look to me like they will collide, in a very substantial mess. There will be various House investigations, not formally part of impeachment, through the spring before a decision to form an impeachment committee is made/announced. Not too far off the Nixon 1974 timeline–maybe July. This would also allow for more indictments etc to drop from Mueller.

    If this is proceeding like it appears it will, the Republicans will be getting pretty antsy, because the last thing they want is the actual impeachment proceedings, trotting out evidence, etc. during the 2020 presidential primary season. Imagine a Senate trial occurring in that summer, concluding with a partisan acquittal the week before the Republican Convention!!

    So this is where I think the negotiations about an off-ramp begin in earnest. The Republicans will want to ditch Trump quietly & the Democrats want him out in disgrace. I want him to be convicted of crimes, but getting him to leave office without fomenting even more violent & destructive things than he has so far is important (also out of our hands).

    I can’t see the entire Trump Org being left intact & immune from prosecution-but I can see Trump in his own Elba.

  31. NJrun says:

    I don’t think Trump has any leverage. He’s in the process of being busted by federal and multiple state jurisdictions for crimes on his business, campaign, transition and administration. He can’t bargain away it all, and his history suggests that even if he could he would bluff his way into a worse deal.

    He had at one time or another chances to own/control iconic NYC assets such as the GM Building, the Empire State Building and the land where Hudson Yards is today. Because he was unable or unwilling to participate in normal real estate transactions — his deals almost always involved convoluted ownership interests, non-traditional financing and lots of lawsuits with partners — he lost control of these prize assets. He didn’t even lose money on them all, but if he hadn’t been a jackass and criminal he really could have owned a lot of trophy real estate and really been a billionaire.

    Another problem with letting him get away is that there are too many other co-defendants involved, from the Manaforts to his kids and all the flinkies who have been or will be charged. Generally, you let the lower fish go to capture the big fish. If the head of the operation skates, what was the point?

    Lastly, there is too much geopolitical interests at stake. Trump’s administration has provided a window to large-scale influence peddling, global criminal political activity, the Russian mob, etc. He’s not going to walk away one day and have everybody say, “never mind.”

  32. gmoke says:

    Trmp has enough legal problems in various states that a Federal pardon is going to remove only the Federal crimes he “may” have committed. The possible crimes in various states will still keep him in legal jeopardy and, perhaps, may land him in jail.

    My perspective has always been that the USA missed its chance when it allowed Nixon to be pardoned and leave office without facing indictment, a trial, and a verdict. We should have face ourselves honestly in that mirror but we refused to.

    If we let Trmp skate, if we don’t look in that mirror now, it will compound that previous disaster even more disastrously.

  33. Jockobadger says:

    Great writing EW. Thank you very much.

    In the comments above, there are several references to a final “Mueller Report.” According to bmaz and several others here that I trust, there isn’t going to be a final “Mueller Report” (I hope I have that right, bmaz?) How can there be any kind offramp if there is no final grand showing of criminality by Trump, et al? To me, at lease, Mueller’s activities to-date comprise a high quality, but slow erosion of the underpinnings – I’m prob wrong about that – hope so. Don’t we need that big reveal in order to defeat him in 2020, or impeach, or esp to pull the 25th A. trigger? Apologies if this is a dumb question and thanks to all (except the trolls.)

  34. Alan says:


    IMO, there’s no risk in “trying” impeachment and failing, because everyone expects it to fail. If the evidence warrants it, it has to be done anyway to bring to light all the wrongdoing, even if it is in the election year.

  35. Wajim says:

    Let us not forget that Donald can start a war, and a big one, anytime he wants, conventional or nuclear. That’s his trump card (forgive me) and who has any doubt, if he, the kids, and the Trump Org. face financial and personal disaster, he won’t try to take many of us with him? That “Big Button” will start to look very tempting in a Wrath of Khan sort of way. While Mattis could (and likely would) have done it, we expect Jared, Pat Shanahan, or the “nuclear football” officer to tackle him?

    • Eureka says:

      I agree, Rapier- I hadn’t seen your comment before posting mine (I suggested a sick family member or some other BS).  This is his best ‘out.’

    • Cicero101 says:

      It can’t be mental as he’s a very stable genius.


      Re the need for a report or a comprehensive indictment drawing all the threads together and laying out the crimes, a very astute friend of mine said to me yesterday she’s concerned Mueller’s progressive revelations are in fact normalising the crimes to the public, assisted by the continuing support of Trump by all the GOP. Something more is needed.


      I agree with those who say failing to face the prosecution of Nixon simply put off the day of having to face ourselves. Now, failing to prosecute Trump will provide an unconditional licence to the GOP (which is the real problem here) to carry on as before.

  36. SuperNova says:

    Greetings all.

    I have read some of the most cogent, thoughtful analysis on so many issues on this site for quite some time.   The comments/analysis here are some of the best on the web! Thank you!

    I’ve decided that my have two cents may be worth donating so here goes.

    My take is also what has been alluded to in previous posts and conversations.  It seems that there is a multi dimensional aspect to Russia’s intent as evidenced by the multidimensional hints/evidence the investigation has revealed so far.  It seems as though Putin’s stated goal is to destabilize western democracies through things like Brexit and election interference in not only our country but as has been shown in Germany, France,Ukraine etc.

    Russia was successful at inserting trump as “President” like a trojan horse malware program. Putin has succeeded in leveraging trump and presumably many leading Republicans to do as much damage to our democratic structures as possible. Putin(through trump and co.) has damaged our perception of the CIA, FBI,NSA, Nato, Sate Dept. WTO, EPA, missile treaties ad infinitum…. not to mention out most cherished institution the election process.  Russia seems to have achieved many of these goals intentionally with this being a trump branded espionage campaign/covert war on democracy.  Trump is just the name on the building.  The real damage is being inflicted within our towers of democracy and in many cases in plain sight and we are helpless to defend against it.

    The divisiveness that has been cultivated within our country over these issues(though a disinformation war) is akin the the acrimony over slavery. Putin is having Americans fight the war for him.  There is no middle ground just one side or the other fighting each other and bombing institutions that make us U.S.   That is the sad part.  That our country is being manipulated to destroy itself in the name of Nationalism and Patriotism.

    Putin could toss trump to the hippopotamuses but why? The longer he is in office the more damage he does to our democratic institutions that he fervently is trying to destroy via compromised republicans and a wholly owned presidency.  trump also gives cover for even more damage done under McConnell’s fascist agenda.  The only reason I would see him outing trump is if he had to save his own neck. I don’t see who will hold Putin accountable for him to consider this. Perhaps a glimmer of hope with a Democratic controlled house. But he only wins at this point.  Checkmate.

    This is why I feel that it is imperative to provide sunshine for all this dirty laundry and hope that we, as a country, can see past our divisions and realize that our fate depends justice being served and learning how to repair the pillars of democracy together again.  I know that is pie in the sky talk when you consider where the country is right now.  But if we sweep this under the rug and give Donald’s ego a free pass then we really have lost what our country stands for in the eyes of the world and for Democracy as an idea.  Then Putin wins.  Justice must be served!

    trump’s ego reminds me of a super nova.  The only way this will end is when the weight of his ego collapses upon itself and creates a light so bright it will be visible forever. We can only hope that  shockwaves for the explosion are enough to shake us from our paralysis of division.  There is no off ramp that his ego will allow him to take.  He’s driving this off the cliff just to show us he’s in control.  Full gas live tweeting I hope.

    Thanks again for the thoughtful forum.

  37. Trip says:

    Meanwhile, the Flynn plot lives…

    U.S. officials in Turkey to discuss extradition of exiled cleric, state media says

    A U.S. delegation met with Turkish officials Thursday to discuss requests to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who Turkey says plotted a coup attempt in 2016, state media reported.
    U.S. officials did not immediately confirm the talks, which the state-run Anadolu news agency said included FBI agents.

    • Eureka says:

      This totally explains why more Khashoggi-investigation video was just released.  I was reading about it a couple nights ago wondering, yet again, why Turkey was returning to noisiness.

      So they are still in ‘negotiations.’  Ugh.

  38. Tom says:

    Re: Drew above at 2:51 pm – I think a St. Helena for Trump would be better than an Elba. Napoleon returned from Elba only nine months after he arrived. He returned from St. Helena, too, but only in a casket. Perhaps an off-ramp for Trump could include his own politics and public affairs program on Fox News. He’s likely to continue with his bombast & blathering no matter where he ends up. Another thing to remember is that I doubt he really wanted to be President in the first place. He may even welcome a way out of his current predicament if it’s attractively packaged.

  39. Tommy D Cosmology says:

    EW Community, this is the hardest thing to write because I think it is the most important thing facing our species and I am not the best writer.  But I am looking for answers, not an audience to vent to, so I will just throw it out there:  conservatism, as a set of worldviews and values, has a strong hold on our friends and family, and sometimes grabs hold of us, by the same forces:  fear, greed, and prejudice.  We all look out for number one when the shit hits the fan, and we all have prejudices, and it requires effort to exercise empathy in all cases.
    And what does this have to do with impeaching Trump?  Everything.  We need about a dozen and a half Republican senator to develop a conscious or to feel pressure from their constituents and then true justice can be served.
    I said the real problem is our conservative friends and family.  The selfish, backward-assed, TEA-banging bigots can go to hell in a basket, and I am not attempting to change them.  They will not go away.  They need a political party and now have one.  No, the problem is our conservative family and friends, who are otherwise decent human beings, except for their membership in this cult-like fraternity of bigots and people so greedy that they knowingly hurt others for their own financial or political gain.  What do we say to or ask them?  Would they excuse treason so that they keep their excuses for greed and prejudice that conservatism provides?
    Here is my theory.  The marginally bigoted and greedy people are, by definition, weak in character and values, and have strong needs for in-group identity that we should exploit.  By calling Republicans bigots, all the time, it will harden the true bigots, solidify them in the Republican Party, and make it unacceptable to the few remaining decent conservatives.  Then, the Democratic Party must listen to conservatives, ask them to try to give a shit about other people occasionally, but still make them feel at home in the Democratic Party somehow.  If they go third party we’re screwed. We only need about 5% of the remaining voting population, the other 35%-40% can have the Republican Party.
    The risk is that we (liberals/moderates) come off as sanctimonious pricks on a high horse.  But how high is the horse if all we are looking down on is bigotry and abject greed?
    It’s not going great, I will admit, but I have been shutting down my conservative friends and family with the following points:  The Republican Party is so white they are see-through and what you see are a bunch of bigots and greedy people who don’t seem to notice or mind the bigots so much so long as they get their tax breaks.  The President is a bigot.  The Vice President is a bigot.  The outgoing Attorney General is a bigot so noteworthy that the family of Dr. King wrote a letter to congress pointing out this specimen of backward-assed bigotry and hate—and his policies to match.  The Secretaries of Education, Homeland Security, Energy (his hunting camp was called what??), and Commerce:  all verifiable bigots and people so greedy that they knowingly hurt other for their own gain.  The Democratic Party?  Looks like Americans trying to solve real-world problems through democratic processes to better the lives of everyone.
    It has never been more obvious.  We are at a tipping point that requires a simultaneous nudging of the bigots over a cliff, while providing a welcome for the very few (5%) who are left that are salvageable.
    I have lost friends in this process, but it is worth it.  A couple have switched, and that’s all we need (a couple of my Jewish friends noticed the anti-Semites in the White House and that was finally too much for them).

    • joulie says:

       Well said. Reminds me of Ed Walker’s DEMOCRACY AGAINST CAPITOLSM  a bit. You are right about “The marginally bigoted and greedy people are, by definition, weak in character and values, and have strong needs for in-group identity that we should exploit.  By calling Republicans bigots, all the time, it will harden the true bigots, solidify them in the Republican Party,” and “We only need about 5% of the remaining voting population, the other 35%-40% can have the Republican Party.” I think it is all about gaining people’s respect on some level and speaking logically and calmly but passionately
      to them. Go out of your way to at least pretend you are trying to understand their point of view. Humor and good naturedness can disarm almost anyone. The ability to explain Hate Radio, Fox and all the other shit to these people is a tool worth learning how to use. Yeah, preparing for the day(s) after, every day.

  40. Mark says:

    Refusing to act to remove a corrupt and incompetent “president” for fear that he will then do more damage to the nation is a pretty telling example of a very good reason to get rid of him/her.

    If we do not do the right thing regarding the orange spy then let’s face it, the nation is already done for and the only LOGICAL response is a hedonistic enjoyment of what little time we have left, preferably outside the Fourth Reich.

  41. P J Evans says:

    Fran of the North says: January 3, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    I think the “Trump Princess” got repo’d and sold years ago, along with the planes from the “Trump Shuttle”. (He’s really that bad at business.)

  42. Tommy D Cosmology says:

    “sand” from 2:08PM: your Marcos example is fascinating. It makes me wonder how fast an impeachment could happen. We only need sufficient reason, not all the reasons to remove him from office (assuming Pence would never go along with the 25th Amendment). Smoking gun—>article(s)—>vote—>buh-bye.
    48 hours? This is unprecedented. And I am just (wishing) speculating.

  43. cfost says:

    Narcissism, indeed. It would not surprise me to learn that Trump is frantically searching for ways to start a war or declare Marshall law.
    But I am convinced that he is a symptom of wider corruption and amorality. The Russians (and other state and non-state actors) will not stop when Trump is gone. There are other compromised politicians. Things didn’t break overnight, and they’re not going to be fixed overnight.

  44. Tech Support says:

    @bmaz I know Rule 6 has been mentioned previously here and in other areas, and I also recall that some people have discussed the possibility that the Grand Jury itself, as part of the judiciary and not subject to executive control, could also choose to take direct action if the situation became dire enough. This is way above my head but I would imagine (dangerous I know) that if public testimony becomes the only viable route to disclosure that the GJ would exercise it’s discretion to allow enough disclosure to drive the point home with the public.

  45. Eureka says:

    The only off-ramp for a narcissist is the road to another hero story.  That’s why I have long felt that the cleanest exit would be some event ostensibly unrelated to the legal woes.  Say, for example, a sick family member (yes, I know it’s inconsistent with his history to be a carer- doesn’t matter).  Say he has to go save Trump Org because Ivanka/spawn can’t do it anymore.  Whatever.  He’d have to leave to some less-visible place/situation for retreat and (so he ‘thinks’) reemergence.  Plausibility and long-term likelihoods are of no matter here.  And I suspect at times that he would like this kind of ‘out.’

    That said, I agree with Alan and Willis re not wilting on justice out of fear, and with BobCon on the ~ Potemkin Village of his (let’s say ‘unsound’) companies collapsing anyway.

    I had been hoping that the dovetailing investigations were building an off-ramp for our country, moving towards a nearly simultaneous consilience of unfit criminality.  In other words, I’d hoped all would come together so rapidly that Trump’s departure would become a punctuated event as well.

    I suppose that’s not yet ruled out.

  46. Tech Support says:

    @Trip My read on the Romney op-ed is that it is 100% about paving the way for a presidential run in 2020.

    Without trying to make any conclusions about whatever his deeply held political beliefs actually are, I think it’s worth drawing a distinction between Romney the Governor and Romney the 2012 nominee. At a high level, Gov. Romney was effective in being the kind of moderate GOP executive that can survive in a strongly democratic state like Mass.

    OTOH, Romney the 2012 nominee fell into the kind of trap that I’ve seen repeated over and over in state-level governors races in the Pacific Northwest: A hard tack to the right in order to secure the nomination, and then a desperate move back to the center to win in the general… which ultimately fails. Among other things, Obama clubbed him over the head with his own words to help secure his re-election.

    When I read the op-ed it struck me as opening salvo in a campaign to establish himself as the titular “Voice of Reason” for the demoralized old-school conservatives and center-to-right leaning independents to rally around. In a certain sense Trump provides Romney with a fantastic opportunity to play to his own strengths in the 2020 GOP primaries, assuming Trump survives to run for re-election. There’s no way in hell that Romney could or should bother to try to beat Trump at his own game. That means he can abandon any need to tack hard-right. He can run the scripts he ran in Massachusetts.

    I don’t know that it will actually work, but if Romney were to secure the GOP nomination in 2020 he’d be in a far stronger position to win with a consistent center-right image vs. a non-incumbent democratic opponent, than the situation he was stuck with in 2012.

    • P J Evans says:

      I think he’d be a fool to run two years into a 6-year Senate term.

      Yes, he has experience – and he also has major questions about past behavior, like the Utah/Massachusetts residence thing and the taxes and voting involved. And it makes people like me wonder WTF he ran for the Senate if he just wanted to run for president – again – so soon after. Opportunism gets really obvious when it’s done that way.

    • Tommy D Cosmology says:

      and he could pick a Palin-like running mate to throw the red meat. Wall Street and Walmart covered.

    • Trip says:

      You’re probably right. And he’ll show up with his folder full of women and boxes of destroyed companies.

  47. cd54 says:

    I’ve always imagined Trump in state prison looking like a fat version of the prison shots of Phil Spector without his hair.

  48. the games afoot says:

    I think with new Congressional oversight a lot will be revealed in the coming months, new paths will be explored in the more public forum.  What’s curious to me is how Trump, with corrupt busines practices abounding, managed to escape serious review in NY pre-Presidency.

  49. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A big part of the Dems’ strategy should be to minimize the stab-in-the-back explanation that Trump would seek to foment and benefit from after he was forced from office.

    As in post-WWI Germany, the dolchstosslegende would be used to lie about the reasons for any Trump resignation, to lie about the motivations and the people who forced him from office. 

    The goal is to foment distrust of government and distrust in Trump’s successor as president.  The claim is that any successor is, by definition, illegitimate and can be resisted, violently if need be, out of patriotic duty.  The National Socialists in 1930s Germany used it to great effect.

    • Jim195 says:

      Earl, this is spot on.  The problem with an off-ramp strategy is that it gives him a secure place from which to peddle lies about the circumstances of his ouster.  What I would add to the comments so far is that this resembles a coup d’etat situation, in which nothing moves until suddenly everything moves, because in this game each key actor (not wanting to be caught in an exposed position) waits for others to commit first.  Bottom line:  it might now seem like it would be a long painful process, but it could change really fast.

  50. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Agree on Ms Maddow. Love her and very grateful for her views and choice of guests. But the repetitions are annoying and she’s close to getting renamed, Rehash Maddow.

  51. Watson says:

    ‘indictment or impeachment … might just trigger a narcissistic response that will only lead Trump to do further damage to this country’

    For me the worst case scenario is that Trump might declare a national emergency and impose martial law in response to what he claims to be a coup attempt by the ‘deep state’. I’m not confident about how the US military and state and local police would react in that situation.

  52. MattyG says:

    With any luck Putin will take him off our hands. Do any of Trump’s golf resorts have waterways that lead directly to open sea? Putin could detail a Russian Seal Team specialist as DT’s caddy for the day and all it would take is a shank into the brush alongside the estuary and DT is packed away in the mini sub to rendezvous with a waiting Russian spy ship disguised as a shrimp boat out in the open water. That’s the kind of exit ramp I think we’re looking at here.

  53. di says:

    2 reasons i am against impeachment.

    1) it would bring in a koch administration under pence

    2) keeping the current administration under the control and a measured dissolution process might be more beneficial in the short and long term.

    he has said the exposure of his finances would be the red line. do it. piece by piece disassemble and expose this. include family members. bring down that internal system and the external system that helped make it happen. banks, the military industrial complex, corrupt politicians and ceos, etc.

    every administration builds its corruption on the unchecked and unchallenged corruption of previous administrations. we have many past non-prosecuted war criminal profiteers prospering in this empire project. if this administration and metastatic military industrial complex can be given a “come to jesus moment”, then it’ll be worth keeping him in impotent and handcuffed while in office, so as to signify civilian authority and to thwart escalated or new wars on the environment, people and animals. keep him impotent in office. keep further corptocracy out. send a message to the next administration.

    • P J Evans says:

      You’re assuming that Pence isn’t involved with the Russia stuff. Don’t bet on that. Remember that it was Manafort who got him that spot as the VP candidate.

  54. Randy says:

    I know this is kind of out there, but there may be a reason to impeach even if the Senate won’t convict. The Constitution says (Article 2 Section 2) “he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” The way I read it is that if he is impeached, then he can’t be pardoned.

  55. Jonathan says:

    I don’t know why an off ramp would be so hard to negotiate, at least in theory. Just get all the parties on board — SCO, SDNY, States’ Attorneys General. As to the ongoing criminality of the Trump Organization — my thought would be, have a receiver sell it off, let Trump have the proceeds, and forbid Trump from going into real estate again. So he gets to stay rich and not commit crimes. (Although the lawyers on this site almost certainly have more informed opinions than I on this point.) Of course Trump’s ego might not accept the need to give up his businesses — or to give up at least the criminal/ money laundering/ fraudulent pieces.

    The other sticking point might be — as some financial analysts have alleged — that Trump indeed does have far less money than he pretends. He might not be able to stand an orderly liquidation if it turns out that there would be no proceeds for him after debts are repaid, especially without Russia/Saudi Arabia/Azerbaijan/Kazakhstan bailing him out.

    • BobCon says:

      I don’t see any way to have these negotiations without leaks, and once the news leaks blood is in the water. Potential buyers of properties will drop their bids and creditors will pound on the doors to extract whatever money they can before someone else gets there first. You may well see his businesses in an accelerated death spiral.

      Likewise on the political front, once news leaks that Trump is acknowledging that he’s screwed, you will see the opportunists looking to get out before Trump leaves them holding the bag denying evidence that he will end up copping to.

      So in addition to the ego issues you mention, I think there is a very real possibility that any serious sign of surrender leads to collapse. And while I think Trump is in a very addled state right now, I also think his instincts recognize this likelihood. I think that’s a big reason why he’s so stubborn and also so frustrated — this isn’t like dumping a bankrupt casino or shutting down Trump University.

      • Geoff says:

        My thoughts exactly! Was about to ask how you would get any kind of stable market price once word came out that it was a firesale. No one would trust the books on valuations either.

  56. John Dal says:

    The US Presidency is a bloated monster that must be shrunk for the good of the Republic. An impeachment, disgrace, financial ruin and imprisonment would do us a world of good. Pour encourager les autres, no? We made great progress last time [1974-78] in so many areas. In fact, you can argue that the Vietnam withdrawal was only consummated, and funds cut off from further intervention, solely because of the Watergate babies elected to Congress.  We now know that Nixon wanted to keep the navy off shore, ready to intervene if the Saigon regime was threatened. We’d still be there, as in Korea,  but for Watergate.  The system needs an enema.  A powerful one.  We may not get another chance.

  57. J Barker says:

    Here’s my main concern about an indictment-free off-ramp.

    Trump has now spent two years with access to the country’s most important classified information, at least some of which we would prefer (a) not to be made public and (b), more importantly, not to fall into the hands of hostile foreign leaders.

    All of his past behavior indicates that he would gladly sell any and every bit of information he manages to remember, however garbled and dumbed down that information would be after spending months in his dying goldfish brain. And he’d do it in a heartbeat. He’d sell it for a couple million from the Russians, the Saudis, the Chinese, or whoever, without batting an eye. Or he would just leak stuff to the National Inquirer in exchange for… who knows.

    A non-incarcerated Donald Trump, probably wandering around New York City in his bathrobe, is a huge national security threat. (I feel like someone else has already made a point along these lines, perhaps even Marcy. If so, my apologies for the lack of proper citation).

    • bmaz says:

      Think there is quite a lot of merit to that thought. Trump is not Nixon, he will not just go away. Even for the sake of the country. He does not have even that minimally basic DNA.

    • dimmsdale says:

      Yes, and we don’t know that his insufferable spawn haven’t already been doing just that, even if they lack the highest-grade security clearances; particularly Jared (who is involved in personal-survival-level negotiations with a number of bad actors and presumably has much to tell them about our country’s Crown Jewels–and no, I don’t have a lot of confidence he hasn’t had access to any of it, though I’ll be happy to be disabused by the more knowledgeable. The prospect of Trump spawn hauled before the appropriate House committees, questioned vigorously, and held (at last!) to standards of accountability, is one of the shining moments I hope for in the next couple of years.

  58. BobCon says:

    @tech support @ the games afoot

    I agree that Trump dodged prosecution in the past in large part because NYC and NY State are corrupt places and it takes a lot to bring down a developer. This is well known case where Ivanka and Don Jr. were about to have charges filed against them for fraud, only to have the head Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr. force his office to drop charges after meeting with Trump Lawyer Marc Kasowitz and pocketing a hefty donation.

    Trump and numerous other developers have long depended on Robert Von Ancken for favorable appraisals of real estate which allow tax bills to magically shrink. Von Ancken was notorious, but managed to stay in business for 45 years, in large part because shutting him down would risk the ire of many very wealthy people.

    Further down the rabbit hole is the strong possibility that Trump was blackmailing NY State AG Eric Schneiderman — Michael Cohen was told of abuse allegations in 2013 by an attorney representing women with strong accusations against Schneiderman. There are further questions about what Trump may have known about potential enemies from his association with the NY Post and David Pecker.

    You can add into that mix the fact that the IRS has been defanged and DOJ has only fitfully enforced white collar crime laws, and it’s really no surprise that Trump escaped serious inquiry until now.

    • Arj says:

      The irony of Trump blackmailing someone over allegations of sexual abuse is rich indeed – though sadly not implausible.

  59. Vern says:

    Amazing post and comments.  Marcy, thank you for addressing these issues.  It’s exactly the discussion we all should be having now.

    My $.o2 is we (the country) desperately need an accountability moment.  We have Trump because of accountability decisions by Pelosi, Reid and Obama.  I hope these will not be repeated.

    And I think that accountability must include all the MAGAts who think this horror is OK.  Not sure what that means yet, but I’m keeping careful track of the MAGAts around me.  They are a danger to themselves and others.  There will come a time …

  60. HighDesertWizard says:

    … and now for a completely different take on a Trump motivation.

    He says he’s the greatest at everything he’s done and probably would be the greatest at anything he might have tried.

    We scoff.

    But hasn’t he been The Greatest at being something that 1) many of us believe he actually was/is, 2) fits with his entire way of having been in the world, and 3)  he actually would be if he was what we believe?

    Is there a better explanation for the entire breadth of inexplicable behavior we’ve seen than that he’s a Russian Agent and The Greatest Double Agent of all time?

    What does it mean, after all, to be a Russian Agent? That they are all formally trained?

    That’s what makes him The Greatest. He was never trained (he says to himself).

    His explicit claims to greatness are nonsense on their face. He’s smart enough to know that. But his life experience is that this kind of bluster leads to success.

    He has few if any, other patterns of fundamental belief and behavior to fall back on other than bluster and manipulation.

    As we think about what motivates him, what his “off-ramp” is, seems to me that we should consider the pleasure he must experience at imagining himself to actually be The Greatest at what many of us believe he is.

    You can’t imagine him savoring the fact of his having deceived and betrayed millions of us?

  61. di says:

    @P J Evans says:
    You’re assuming that Pence isn’t involved with the Russia stuff. Don’t bet on that. Remember that it was Manafort who got him that spot as the VP candidate.

    who cares if pence or anyone gets wrapped up into the russiagate stuff. it will never happen. there are way too many elite powerful corrupt profiteered people on both sides of the military industrial complex who would cover their own behinds. neither side would sacrifice themselves or their riches for justice and truth. they are all in the same boat. it is not a partisan issue. they are all complicit partners. we are just foolish enslaved taxpayers thinking voting solves everything.

  62. the games afoot says:

    My guess is that when the charges do come out, it will be uncomfortable to see how much serious fraud there has been in the Trump model all along. The big difference between his pre-Presidency behavior and his outrageous behavior as President is that he didn’t have the same opportunities to betray his country before he was President.
    My point to Marcy’s insightful commentary is that I see this unfolding in ways that will be more public now with Congressional oversight. Trump’s behavior is a serious problem and will not be easily contained.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      You point out one reason it will be politically difficult to prosecute Trump and make public his many likely crimes.  His financial improprieties are likely to be different from those used by many of his wealth peers only in scale and in their poor execution.

      He is not the only one to ignore corporate formalities or to abuse a family business or charity for personal gain.  He is not the only one to serially abuse women, to launder money, or to use aggressive tax accounting to hide wealth from spouses, families, partners, creditors, or the tax man.

      He’s not the only one to attempt to use charitable giving on a lavish scale as a promotional and networking device, in order to hide or legitimate his financial crimes and acquire immunity for them.  Like lobbying, those costs (tax deductible) are a fraction of illegal profits.

      The Dems are fast approaching a put up or shut up moment.  Credibly investigate the president’s probable crimes and impose commensurate penalties for them – or join him in his criminality by looking only forward, not back, with the prospect of Trump, grinning like a Cheshire Cat in his tower, as he gloats over his crimes until he joins Roy Cohn.

      I join the chorus which thinks that investigating and prosecuting Donald Trump would be worth the cost.  However difficult, it would represent the cost of changing the oil.  It would avoid the higher cost and more dangerous process of changing the engine or replacing the car.

  63. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I do think that it’s an “if not now, then when?” for the impeachment and removal process. Is it as vestigial as the independence of the electoral college? This will prove it.

  64. Anon says:

    Thank you Marcy, excellent analysis as always. However I have one angle that I think should also be considered, his spawn.

    As I have watched the drip drip of substantive evidence come out it has become increasingly apparent that Trump’s willingness, even obsession with trusting his children (and children in laws) first and foremost has also created other exposure. He put his unprepared sons in a position to deal on his behalf and they apparently did, all too eagerly. Similarly he let Jared run amok on so many levels that it created opportunities for graft and/or basic incompetence that I suspect, but cannot prove, he took.

    Trump can pardon his children of course but they can do, and have done, things that expose his corporate personhood, and theirs, to yet more problems that he may be as yet unaware of and which they may even be actively concealing from him. As a consequence he may not only be more exposed but more exposed than anyone really knows.

  65. Eureka says:

    OT good news interstitial from EW’s twitter:  congrats to June Bug’s family.  On her new stair climbing feats, RIP to miscellaneous crap on the 2nd floor that you’ll never anticipate.  In our case, the first item to go was a small tub of ferreted green paint.  Guess how we found out.

    Cheers and good luck ;)

  66. Jonathan says:

    @BobCon For sure word re a multi-party off ramp negotiation can be expected to leak. The question is, why would that be so important from a business standpoint?

    You seem to be comparing the Trump Organization to something like, say, Long-Term Capital Management. A highly leveraged organization (200 dollars of assets for each dollar of equity) well known to be in trouble. LTCM’s assets consisted of tradeable securities and by the end everyone who mattered, knew what they were. Therefore Wall Street firms and hedge fund competitors were able to take advantage and have fun doing so. The brokers and hedge funds sold short LTCM’s long positions (driving their prices down) and bid up LTCM’s short positions too (pressuring LTCM to cover). These attacks reduced LTCM’s equity and made it more vulnerable to its lenders, by the hour, in a manner fully visible both to financial markets and to the firm’s lenders in real time. Aside from the fact that LTCM owned yes, $1 trillion in assets (no misprint, TRILLION) — far too much to unload quickly. No surprise, then, that LTCM ran to the Federal Reserve for a bailout.

    Trump Organization is almost certainly different. They own real estate, which is not as easy to drive down, even if bidders might initially shy away. An orderly liquidation could take years — as it often does in restructurings and bankruptcies. Plenty of time to find buyers for the good assets. Trump Organization probably has more leverage than Trump says it has, but again, one would assume that rents on many Trump properties suffice to cover the debt service on their respective mortgages, reducing pressure to sell them.

    And a dissolution of the Trump brand could actually benefit any authority charged with selling it off in some important ways. The value of the Trump name is certainly tarnished; at least some apartment/ condo owners might be happy to trade Trump for a conventional real estate manager. Such owners would have no reason to bail if Trump was restructured. And some new apartment buyers might be attracted to high end properties no longer associated with Trump. Moreover, buyers of major pieces of Trump real estate would be able to tap US banks for financing, something that Trump can no longer do. That would be a plus for any restructuring. Both of these factors could increase demand for the properties. On the other hand, in support of your argument, conventional property managers would likely shun dark money in this situation, and that would reduce one key source of demand for apartments now managed by Trump. (Same analysis applies to golf courses, etc.)

    As to people “pounding on the door to get value out” of the properties. The main lender is Deutsche Bank, which would have to be included in a negotiation no matter what. But its hand would be weakened after its role in money laundering gets even more publicity. That goes double for any Russian bank creditors. Who else would be in position to hurt them?

    But again, to your point: just because I think there is reason to believe the proposal could work, does not mean that anything like it would be seriously proposed, much less implemented. It would represent the kind of deal making Trump claims to be good at, but isn’t.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Your assumptions about the amount of debt owed by the Trump Organization and that its rental income is probably sufficient to pay it seem rosy.  They assume a competence and financial prudence Trump has not previously demonstrated.

      When Trump assesses his worth, for example, it’s not a standard “net worth” calculation.  He uses the above-market valuations that he uses to push properties for sale.  And it would be unwise to assume that his financial statements include all debt or that they properly identify the creditor.

      For decades, Trump has had limited access to bank debt; it’s largely Deutsche Bank, itself in considerable hot water with regulators.  Trump’s true debt picture would likely take considerable time to piece together, as will unraveling his aggressive tax positions.  The Trump Organization is Donald Trump’s alter ego; it’s true organization and financial position will be as chaotic as Trump’s.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Maxine Waters was very good with Chris Hayes last night. She was talking about how her assignment on the then-Banking Committee was a job nobody wanted after the S&L scandals, and she’s got 28 years of experience on the subject. Now that she’s chair, she wants Deutsche Bank to reply to her letters.

        I’m a stuck record on this, but given what we know about the businesses that are required to file public accounts — the UK golf properties — the Family Business works by piping liquidity between entities where needed. Expose the workings of the system and there’s not going to be much there.

      • P J Evans says:

        I suspect that those property values would only start to go up after he and his offspring are out of the corporations entirely. (They haven’t demonstrated any talent at actual management, either, and are likely to be charged with crimes.)

    • bmaz says:

      The similarity is in the fraud. And I am completely unsure how an analogy, even as strained as yours is, to a bogus hedge fund like LCTM improves the Trump situation.

    • Eureka says:

      In a lovely historical* footnote, #ImpeachTheMF is trending on twitter, with the top proffered news items being _about the MF’s MFery_:

      “First on CNN:  Hundreds of TSA Screeners Calling out Sick”


      “Texas GOP rep blasts wall as expensive, ineffective” (re Will Hurd; link goes to The Hill)

      *I mean, time moves _fast_ round here

  67. John K says:

    I’m afraid of violence by Trump’s minions after the Mueller report. We know that they bear the most arms and that they have always believed everything that comes from his mouth. He’s been grooming them to erupt if the establishment (a.k.a. “the deep state”) effectively turns against him. Mueller could lay out the most carefully damning evidence imaginable and they will still refuse to believe it. Understanding is not their strength.
    37% of the voting public is a lot of people. If 10% of that group starts shooting, rioting or whatever, that’s a lot of social unrest. What then? Martial law and the suspension of elections?
    Impeachment is a big stick and the Democrats would be wise to proceed very slowly and very carefully. Ideally, in my opinion, the best result would be a very slow process that results in Trump’s eventual removal from office close to the 2020 elections. A critical aspect of the entire show should lay bare the bald-faced complicity of Republican senators and House members. They should not be allowed to disavow Trump once Mueller et al. prove his criminality. They know now that he is a criminal and still they support him. This whole shit show should condemn the current Republican party to the ash can of history. I doubt it, but it should.
    On the other hand, the Democrats have to learn from the Republicans how to establish a consistent message, and that message has to be a unifying message. That means it has to include repentant Republicans who up to this point have willingly abandoned the rule of law-in much the same way that Lincoln pardoned the South after the Civil War.
    None of this bodes well for the immediate future of America. We allowed this uncouth, soulless imbecile to become president and undoing that mistake will be painful for everyone.

    • allison holland says:

      trumps followers will get violent if he is forced out but these brownshirts and thugs will be operating at the end of a cycle not the beginning of one knowing that once caught most of them will have to rely on public defenders.  i do believe that if he is removed they will try to burn everything in sight. they will target those whom they hate and blame. but what civilization can bow to such a power of evil and give it preconcessions ?  i would rather be shot than let this thing off the hook. i only want to die once. not a thousand times. i think we are all stronger than we think. we shouldnt fear him. fascist judges are a different matter of course.

  68. Alan says:


    interesting that MoveOn, a group founded to oppose the impeachment of Clinton, is now hosting a speaker that vows to impeach Trump…

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Irony and inconsistency are two separate things, or what’s an AP English test for.

      Clinton abused an employee for sexual favors, the rest was make believe.  His centrist neoliberal policies were politically fine with his opponents, except that they were not neoliberal enough and he was the one advocating them, so he had to be politically shut down.

      Trump is unlike any other president, including Harding, Nixon, Andrew Johnson, the lot.  The evidence that he has engaged in serial criminal activity is substantial.  It fully justifies a thorough criminal investigation.  His wrongful, non-criminal conduct alone would justify his impeachment and removal from office.

      Trump’s likely criminal conduct, if proven in open court, would justify lengthy imprisonment.  In fact, he and his criminal associates, including his top campaign advisers, might populate their own wing in a federal prison – a government run institution, not a private one that would allow him a hairdresser, a jumbo-sized tailored jump suit, and free McDonald’s.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, I think that is exactly right. And was what was so wrong about the impeachment attempt on Clinton. It was purely political and was the trumpet for the age we live in now. It was not the crime and times of Nixon, and it was not the teeming time of Trump. And that was then, and is now so dangerous…it regularized impeachment as a political weapon and removed it as an appropriate remedy. Even when impeachment is now maybe relevant, the process is lessened and emasculated because of the mostly naked attempt on Clinton.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        To deligitimate government and make it ineffective seems to be the preferred path of the GOP and its wealthy patrons, and their analogs across the world, such as Britain’s Tory party.

        It promotes immunity and allows more readily the concentration of wealth.  So, too, do tax havens, which Google, one example among many, has recently taken advantage of.

        The “double Irish Dutch sandwich” is often on the menu in Bermuda.  Google used it in 2017 to shelter nearly 20 billion euros, a 25% increases over 2016.  Bermuda being such a small place, the money itself, as opposed to accounting entries for it, is usually recycled quickly offshore.  Banks in the City in London, on whose boards sit many Tory peers, are favorite destinations.  NYC is second only to London as the go-to place to reinvest tax deferred billions.

      • P J Evans says:

        I recall that said employee encouraged the sexual activities, being a consenting adult, and I’m not sure who was abusing whom, if abuse is even the term for that.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It is definitionally abusive for an employer in Clinton’s position, just as the consent is not legally voluntary.

  69. Yette says:

    Creating an off road for Trump, while thoughtful, is completely unfathomable.  He has demonstrated repeatedly that he is unpredictable and does not care about the consequences of his actions.  To think after two years of experience, that this person can be depended on to do the right thing and leave the world stage is naïve at best.
    Incidentally, for those that are only fairly confident that Trump is compromised by the Russians and other countries, I’m not certain what other proof, short of actual videos, will convince you.  Today there is more evidence regarding Trump’s complicity than there is empirical evidence of other galaxies.

  70. Mitch Neher says:

    A suitable off-ramp for Trump sounds to my ears like Trump entering into a plea agreement with Mueller and his crew to testify against The Russians for the remainder of Trumps days on Earth (however many those should be) in exchange for lifetime Secret Service protection for Trump’s immediate family members even after Trump dies of natural causes–whenever.

    Also, there must be full public disclosure of Trump’s crimes so that the people whom BMAZ calls Trumpalos will have a much more difficult time denying who and what Trump is.

    Rub the Trumpalos’ noses in the stinky mess they made on our national carpet.

  71. Trip says:

    The drama queens are at it again and Simona says she is being investigated by Feds.

    Scott Stedman‏ @ScottMStedman

    There’s a lot going on here. I don’t care about their relationship drama but Simona Papadopoulos just admitted to being under federal investigation…And she just deleted her account after openly talking about doing a runner to Europe while under federal investigation…

  72. Trip says:

    New details emerge about Novi resident accused of spying in Russia

    Federal court records portray Paul Whelan, the Novi resident detained in Russia, as a computer and security expert whose work brought him into close contact with members of the U.S. intelligence community, federal agents and foreign embassies…According to what to appears to be Paul Whelan’s profile on the Russian social media platform VKontakte, he posted “God save President Trump” — flanked by flag emojis — on Inauguration Day in 2017. A 2010 post referred to then-President Barack Obama as a “moron.”
    Another photo showed Whelan wearing a T-shirt of the Moscow soccer club Spartak. In March 2014, around the time of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Whelan suggested that “Putin can have Alaska, as long as he takes Sarah Palin, too!” And a photo posted in August shows Whelan attending a security conference organized by the U.S. State Department.

    Some people on twitter speculate that he is actually a Russian asset vs being A US spy. He does seem braggadocio enough, with debts etc, that he’d look like a perfect mark. He’s probably neither. But he does seem to have a grifting past.

    • Willis Warren says:

      He’s a British citizen and his lawyer is already talking prisoner swap.  There’s something really off about this whole thing.  There may be some incompetence by the Russians afoot, too.

    • Trip says:

      Curiouser and curiouser

      Scott Rose‏Verified account @rprose
      Paul Whelan, the U.S. ex-Marine held in Russia on espionage charges, is also a citizen of Ireland. He has sought consular assistance from the four (!) countries where he holds passports. May help explain why the State Dept. response has been muted so far…What are the odds Whelan does an interview with RT before this is all over?

      Christopher Miller‏Verified account @ChristopherJM
      FWIW: Just chatted with several VK “friends” of Paul Whelan. They said his Russian is awful & he used Google Translate to communicate. None met him in person; only chatted over social media – not only VK. One said first contact came over Instagram, where Whelan has private acct.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Needless to say, having four passports is unusual, but I’ll bet Erik Prince has more.  Publicly admitted language competence is not always the same as actual competence.

  73. Erin McJ says:

    I’ve been worried about this, though less informedly, since he got elected.

    but really I mostly came here to say congrats on the dog :). I hope you have many happy years together.

  74. Trip says:

    Jenny says:
    January 4, 2019 at 9:13 am

    It’s Friday!

    The Trump machine hasn’t been making enough insane diversionary spectacles for me to think something big is going down today, but who knows?

    • Jenny says:

      Still early.  Anything is possible from Mr. Unpredictable who enjoys attack, blame and fighting. His morning breakfast.

  75. Alan says:

    Welcome to Felony Friday!  May the road rise to meet you, the wind be ever at your back, and you be blessed with news of many indictments!

  76. Trip says:

    emptywheel‏ @emptywheel

    Given Leonid Teif’s ties to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, perhaps he’s actually the Russian soul Putin has in mind to swap for Paul Whelan?

    Marcy, there’s also socialite Janna Bullock:

    Socialite reportedly gets 11 years in Russian prison

    Wealthy New York socialite Janna Bullock has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a Moscow court after she was found guilty of embezzling nearly $200 million, according to Russian reports.
    On Jan. 23, Russian-born Bullock was sentenced by the Moscow Basmanny Court in her absence to 11 years at a prison and hard-labor camp.

    Her ex, Alexey Kuznetsov, was extradited to Russia from France yesterday. I’m guessing the Kremlin never got their cut of the laundered money.

  77. Stephen says:

    Marcy, I am consistently impressed by your depth of knowledge and analytic powers. As usual, just about every point you make is well documented and cogently reasoned. I will, however, venture just a couple of criticisms this time around.

    First, a point of detail. Even if Congress and the DOJ agreed to a no-indictment guarantee in exchange for a Trump resignation, would that really protect him (or his corporate self)? After all, state AG offices (including New York’s!) are independent of the federal system, aren’t they? And some of them are already investigating, suing, etc.; how much fiercer would those attacks become if the power of the presidency no longer shielded the man?

    Second, a more philosophical issue. If clear evidence of election law violations, corruption, and obstruction of justice (not to mention possible treason) is obtained and made known to Congress, then wouldn’t their failure to act be more damaging to the state of American democracy than anything an embattled, narcissistically enraged president could do? It would mean that Congress could be held hostage by threats issued by an autocratically inclined president: that the entire nation (well, 60% of us) would be a-tremble lest this Axis II of Evil Lord call upon his minions to trample us underfoot.

    As for those worried about a Pence presidency: I join in your concerns. But they are no reason not to rid ourselves of a blight. And after all, the impeachment/prosecution business would keep the White House paralyzed until nearly 2020, leaving “president” Pence a doubly lamed duck.

    I stand ready to be corrected on point #1 and to take seriously any discussion of point #2.

    • NorthJersey John says:

      For me, exposure via investigation and impeachment is crucial to demolish Trumpism, and not just remove Trump.  If the evidence emerges that all the corrupt favor-trading (Russian realignment, Syrian withdrawal, Turkish concessions, and much more) was driven by personal enrichment, that also invalidates all the toadies who reversed decades of Republican orthodoxy.  The worst parts of Trumpism are the attacks on the liberal international order.  I hope for exposure that these Trumpian moves were only transactions for personal interest.  Trumpism without Trump remains a threat to our country.

  78. Alan says:

    Klayman and Corsi’s judge shopping was denied.  The funniest line in the news report:

    Klayman, … the conservative gadfly and Judicial Watch founder seemed equally intent on flattering Leon for his wisdom and fairness. “I admire you and what you did in the past because you did stand up to the government and hold them accountable,” Klayman said. “You are the judge who understands the issues the best, having dealt with these issues previously.”

    Before concluding the hearing, [Judge] Leon made clear he’d picked up on Klayman’s effusive praise. However, the judge made note of it solely to observe that the attorney was sounding a lot more friendly than he did in a March court filing in the NSA litigation when he accused the judge of being “harvested” by federal intelligence agencies and “co-opted by the deep state.”

    • Jenny says:

      Perfect example of a set of laws for the haves who can pick a judge and a differing set of laws for those who have not.

      • Alan says:

        not that I see–this request to choose a judge was correctly rejected. You have examples of similar situations where the request was improperly allowed because the person who asked was a “have” instead of a “have not”?

      • bmaz says:

        Jenny – WHAT?? This was an absolutely perfect response by the court. And only a blithering idiot like Klayman would have attempted this. Saying this is an an example of “haves versus have nots” is somewhere beyond ridiculous. And trying this shit on Richard Leon is beyond that.

        • Jenny says:

          So, let me restate in a Question instead:

          Is this a perfect example of a set of laws for the haves who can pick a judge and a differing set of laws for those who have not?

          Thanks for the responses, Alan and bmaz I now understand.

          • Alan says:

            Due to the random assignment of judges, it’s not possible to pick your judge in Federal Court.  (The individual state courts may differ depending on the local rules, I don’t know.)  There is however such as thing as forum shopping, where a litigant tries to steer their case into a friendly court system and circuit.  It is much easier for the “haves” to forum shop, because it requires considerable resources, and to some extent because many courts are more amenable to hearing cases filed on behalf of deep-pocketed clients represented by high-powered, expensive lawyers.

            • Herringbone says:

              Case in point: the latest anti-Obamacare ruling, which was tried in a venue in Texas that has only a single active judge currently on the bench—

              For some years, O’Connor was the only district judge hearing cases in the state’s tiny Wichita Falls division. Texas filed five challenges to the federal government there in 2015 and 2016; O’Connor heard all five. Then the Northern District of Texas’ chief judge, Barbara Lynn, announced that starting in December 2016 she would hear 15 percent of cases filed at the courthouse near the Oklahoma border. After that, the Texas Attorney General’s Office filed two federal challenges in Fort Worth, where O’Connor is one of three judges who hears cases and is currently the only active judge — meaning cases filed there are likely to fall to him as well. Both cases were heard in his courtroom.


  79. Trip says:

    All in all it’s justa nother brick in the wall…

    A reminder that the border is a profit center like everything else in capitalism:
    In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) started the Secure Border Initiative (SBI), aiming to expand the use of fencing and virtual detection to block undocumented immigration.
    A multi-billion contract with Boeing called for a system called SBINet to control a network of cameras and sensors intended to identify unauthorized entry and alert authorities. During initial tests, the system was repeatedly triggered in error by things like rain. A 2010 Government Accountability Office report noted that “since March 2008, the number of new SBInet defects has increased faster than the number of defects that have been fixed, which is not a trend that is indicative of a maturing system.” Finally, in 2011, after a billion dollars had already been spent, DHS axed the program altogether.

    and….Israeli Company That Fenced in Gaza Angles to Help Build Trump’s Mexico Wall
    January 29, 2017

    Shares of Yehud, Israel-based Magal Security Systems Ltd. jumped 5.6 percent on Jan. 27, the day after Trump told Fox News a security barrier could almost completely stop border breaches. The company’s shares have risen nearly 50 percent since Trump’s election…“President Trump is right,” Netanyahu said on Twitter. “I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”~ Bloomberg

    Report: Netanyahu Says 9/11 Terror Attacks Good for Israel
    According to Ma’ariv, Netanyahu said Israel is ‘benefiting from attack’ as it ‘swung American public opinion.’ Apr 16, 2008~Haaretz

    The business of security is big for Israel, search “Homeland Security Made in Israel
    by Philip Giraldi Posted on August 22, 2013”

    Defense contractor Elbit Systems is providing spy towers on the Arizona border with Mexico. Magal Security Systems, which has four subsidiary companies in the U.S., has a contract for security at American nuclear power plants. Rozin Security Consulting provides security at Mall of America, using its trademarked Suspicion Indicators Recognition and Assessment System, which is basically profiling. Global Security International, with offices in New York City, offers consulting services relating to counter-terrorism operations….

    It also includes billions of tax dollars in travel and training grants for homeland security to travel to Israel.

  80. Trip says:

    Further, the MIC:

    June 6, 2013~NYT
    As Wars End, a Rush to Grab Dollars Spent on the Border

    Half a dozen major military contractors, including Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, are preparing for an unusual desert showdown here this summer, demonstrating their military-grade radar and long-range camera systems in an effort to secure a Homeland Security Department contract worth as much as $1 billion.

    Northrop Grumman, meanwhile, is pitching to Homeland Security officials an automated tracking device — first built for the Pentagon to find roadside bombs in Afghanistan — that could be mounted on aerial drones to find illegal border crossers. And General Atomics, which manufactures the reconnaissance drones, wants to double the size of the fleet under a recently awarded contract worth up to $443 million.

    Just like every product sold on TV, marketing here is no different: Manufacture a problem, create anxiety and pain, offer solution with product.

    • P J Evans says:

      If the drones work even a little bit, you know someone will want to arm them.

      I wonder how they’re going to do in the mountainous parts, or the Big Bend area of Texas.

      • Trip says:

        It’s about guaranteeing wealth and income for a segment of industry. How well it works doesn’t really matter.

        We know, and have known, that the vast majority of immigrants who remain in the US illegally have entered via planes and overstay.

  81. Trip says:



    Pence and top Trump appointees to get $10,000 raises as hundreds of thousands of federal workers go without pay in shutdown…The raises would cost taxpayers $300 million over 10 years, according to the Senior Executives Association, which represents the government’s approximately 7,000 highest-paid career officials.

  82. Trip says:

    Philip Rucker‏Verified account @PhilipRucker

    Trump says he is considering calling a “national emergency” to construct the border wall without congressional approval. “I am allowed to do that,” president says.

    Okay, so where is Jenny? I’m shifting toward there being an indictment today. We are at peak mental breakdown with hysterics.

    • Jenny says:

      Present!!!  Yep, it is Friday.  News conference was NUTS!!!  Trump claims people want a border wall rather than a check.  Plus his maniacal administration is poised to possibly get a  $10,000 raise while government employees are on furlough.  Can’t make this poop up.

      I need a glass of wine.

      • Trip says:

        I can’t watch him or listen to him, especially live. For my own sanity, I have to read it instead. Who was the jackass that fed him that question, do you know? Was it Faux News?

        • Jenny says:

          No, do not know.  My head is spinning from all the bullshit he spewed.  Unfortunately, it really has become an art form and has to be dissected.  UGH! 

          I need another glass of wine.

          P.S. It is a hazard to one’s health to watch him live.

          • Trip says:

            It’s kinda hilarious that he’s threatening to just take steal land from his own supporters. That’s whatcha call freedom right thar! That little tiny small GOP gubmint!

            Moronic, all of it.

            Mitch McConnell OWNS THIS.

            • Trip says:

              So for the brief amount of time that I could tolerate it, I watched Kornacki hosting for someone on vacation, and he says to his panel, “Put yourself in McConnell’s shoes politically, what would you do?”. This came across as highly defensive, IMO.

              Seriously…the problem in the US right now is not having enough empathy for McConnell and his political fuckery. Some guest offers that “McConnell is doing nothing because he got burned”. How about he does his fucking job and opens up the gov’t? Let’s stop it with giving passes to political calculations which harm the public. Is it that difficult to stop with the horserace bullshit? The man is not doing his job, he never has, he works ONLY for the party machinery which has seriously fucked the people. He is a terrible human being. He owns every last bit of indecency and pain thrust upon the public and he is the biggest enabler of Trump.

              Cry me a river.

              • Jenny says:

                McConnell said in 2013,  “There will not be another government shutdown.  You can count on that.  Shutting down the government, in my view, is not conservative policy.  I don’t think a two-week paid vacation for federal employees is conservative policy.”

                I called his office to remind him of that exact quote. Hypocrite heartless human.

  83. Kick the darkness says:

    In terms of an off ramp for Trump, his narcissism is combined with a certain indecisiveness and a seeming inability to formulate and/or stick to coherent plans. He just sort of pushes ahead. So a worry would be that even with a well constructed off ramp with signs and arrows he might still just go off the rails instead.

    As others have posted, I think the most critical thing for us as a country is to get the best and most complete assessment of what happened in the 2016 election and subsequently in the Trump presidency fully available to the public. And then events will unfold and politics will happen.

    For the Republicans I’m reminded of the Federalist papers quote I’ve seen crop up in a number of places. (from #68) “…cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches…chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” And then a couple of paragraphs later Hamilton argues that this will never happen because “The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union.” The Republicans own the shame of this mess. How they respond as a party will be crucial.

    As for the Democrats, they remind me somewhat of the elephant’s child (mixing symbols I know) with a nose that still hurts, having a discussion with a bi-colored python rock snake about spanking.

  84. TLT canadian says:

    Self admitting…Being a Canadian that has never taken any interest in American Poltics, ever, as an average Jane, but I have now because I am so concerned about the bullshit craziness going on in the Trump Administration.

    My take from what I gleaned from various websites is that Trump’s wall is about a Russian kompromat, to commence the imprisonment of American Citizens behind “His Wall” as opposed to keeping Mexicans and other SOUTH Americans out of the USA, you know, all those undesirables, druggies, “sluts”Popular theory of keeping the “less desirable” out. America, do you really be fenced in under Trump’s temper tantram? Please, wake up and speak American Citizens, you are totally on the verge of losing your Democracy, and will, within two years, be under Russia’s rules…
    ., or “Hey AMERICA”. It very well be Russia, Saudis Arabia, I SIS, Syria,, Afghanistan Turkey, Iran, Iraq have absolutely no ties to America. (Snip). I just hope all of the moral majority in “North America” can somehow unite, and have common Democratic Values

  85. chromiumbook0000 says:

    As someone who has been a fangirl/boy of your deep-dive research on complicated aspects of the investigation, I actually think that this may be your most important and salient post to date.
    It highlights some keys questions:

    1) What defines an effective case to impeach – not in the legal sense, but in the “court of public opinion” sense, and the corresponding need to be able to convince not just Democrats, but also Independents and Republicans of the merit of impeachment in order to achieve an effective outcome?
    > One of my few knocks of this site is its recurring reference to the Stormy Daniel’s payment and the corresponding potential Campaign finance violation charges as being something BIG. While the law may say that it is an impeachable offense, my strong inclination is that the court of public opinion (in the Trump age) will ultimately view it, unto itself, as an insignificant transgression that falls outside the scope of what the Mueller investigation was purposed to do. Ultimately, i just dont view it as a needle-mover in terms of convincing Independents and Republicans of the merits of impeachment.

    2) If there is an effective case to impeach, is it in the best interest of the country to do so or is it better to find a grand compromise that effectively removes Trump via the 2020 election and, in doing so, minimizes Russia’s ultimate objective of destabilizing our democracy?

    3. How much collateral damage are we willing to assume in the process of achieving a “truth” objective? If taking down Trump/Trump Org opens up a Pandora’s Box that ultimately implicates numerous politicians, philanthropists, financial organizations, etc in having knowingly engaged in corruption, illegal money laundering, etc, are we willing to pursue justice with fervency even if it risks having a near-term destabilizing effect on our financial markets and political systems, as we begin the process of cleansing and starting anew?

    4. Do we red flag possible conflicts of interest that our intelligence community (Mueller, FBI, etc) may have with respect to certain aspects of this case (intelligence assets, ROC, etc)? Or is the risk of undermining such an important pillar of trust best left untouched?

    If you ask almost any eastern European scholar about post-Soviet history, they will likely speak about the close, intertwined, and dependent relationship that exists between i) politicians, ii) oligarchs, and iii) ROC, in the territories that comprise the former Soviet Union (e.g. Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, etc). I find it fascinating that the non-redacted portions of the Mueller case documents have focused almost exclusively on i) + ii) despite the extensive connections that Trump, S*ter, C0hen and Manaf0rt have to iii). Singularly, what I am most fascinated to see is whether Mueller chooses to address/include ROC and it’s almost undoubted role/involvement in DJT’s business career from 2005-2015 and his subsequent 2016 presidential campaign and early presidency in his final report. For me, the extent to which Mueller delves into this aspect of the investigation will be a big “tell’ as to where he falls on questions 1-4 above.

    • Trip says:

      How much collateral damage are we willing to assume in the process of achieving a “truth” objective? If taking down Trump/Trump Org opens up a Pandora’s Box that ultimately implicates numerous politicians, philanthropists, financial organizations, etc in having knowingly engaged in corruption, illegal money laundering, etc, are we willing to pursue justice with fervency even if it risks having a near-term destabilizing effect on our financial markets and political systems, as we begin the process of cleansing and starting anew?

      YES. Because Trump is a symptom of all of it, not the cause.

  86. Thomas says:

    The more erratic Trump becomes as impeachment and removal get closer, the more convinced Senators will be that they need to get rid of him.
    Republican Senators will vote to remove him. By the time we get there, donors will not be financing primary challengers to appease Trump’s base, which is going to get smaller. Republican Senators will vote to remove him in a bid to hold onto their seats in the general election.
    Beginning this week, the center of gravity in the Senate will shift. On Friday, the Judicial Branch runs out of money. Romney has a golden opportunity if he can put together 20 votes in the Senate to override Trump’s veto power and re-open the government.
    In the House, they need 50 Republicans to override. The power to persuade is in the purse, and it will be helped by the desire by Republicans to avoid a constitutional crisis over the defunding of the Judicial Branch over a fake national emergency.
    This new alignment will sideline McConnell (he might resign as Leader) and pave the way for other legislation, and ultimately, Trump’s conviction in the Senate.
    The new alignment has another possible outcome. I’ve said before: Pence’s story about the Flynn debacle does not hold up under scrutiny. He is the senior official Flynn consulted about the bribery payoff: sanctions relief.
    We will need a new Vice president before Trump is impeached, and this new alignment will win Romney confirmation in both the House and Senate.
    He isn’t positioning to run against Trump. He’s positioning to run as the incumbent.
    There has been a lot of noise about the danger of violence by Trump supporters if he is removed.
    There may be violence. Scattered acts of rage by the disorganized delusional crackpots who believe that the white nationalist revolution is coming. Some of them may be dangerous enough to require the services of the FBI, but most will be dispatched to jail or the grave by the local police.
    Most of these wackos are cowards who will never fight, and loners who will never organize.
    No off ramp for Trump based on fear of his supporters, fear that removal is impossible, or fear of his erratic behavior.
    Trump will be increasingly contained, and the more effort required to contain him, the more haste will be made to remove him.
    He thinks he can snap his fingers and declare a national emergency. I would point out that he thought he could do the same thing and order the assassination of the president of Syria.
    No government workers or military personnel are obligated to indulge his delusions of being an emperor. He will lose power day by day until he is gone.

  87. Trip says:

    Romney is a fucking nightmare. He’s smooth enough to get the conservative following, but he made a living killing companies and jobs, and he was compromised by the neocon movement in foreign policy back in 2011. He also agrees with all of the horrid policies of Trump and the GOP, he simply wants a less obvious piggish front.

    This has been the danger of the MSM pile-on of Trump. The progressive media’s constant takes from the Bush era people, or never-Trump conservatives is a slight of hand trick to make that ideology and/or administration and policies look more pristine. They are not. It’s the same rancid shit repackaged.

  88. chromiumbook0000 says:

    @Trip Personally, am in 100% agreement with you on both (the “symptom, not cause” AND willingness to accept pain to address the cancer).

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