21 People with the Power to Stop the Madness [UPDATE-2]

[NB: I should write a script to auto-embed a reminder to check the byline. Update is at the bottom. / ~Rayne]

Over the past couple of weeks a number of uninformed but angry people have gone off on social media about the Democrats not impeaching Trump already — the 116th Congress only took their oaths last week, one House race in North Carolina remains undecided, and yet impeachment is supposed to have been launched and Trump marched into the sunset surf at Mar-a-Lago.

The stream of problems emanating from the White House will not be resolved by impeachment. It is NOT the end-all-be-all solution.

Impeachment AND removal from office stems the biggest problem, and it’s not on the House Democrats alone.

Read the Constitution: the House impeaches, the Senate convicts and removes.

Article 1, Section 2
…The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Article 1, Section 3
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Impeachment alone is merely a political slap on the hands, just an upgraded form of censure to be borne out in public through House debate and vote. After hearings beginning in the lame duck session of 1998, former president Bill Clinton was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate in early 1999, remaining in office to serve out his term. By itself, impeachment will not stop a lifelong scofflaw like Trump and may fuel negative sentiment whipping the Trumpian base into a frenzy by the 2020 general election.

Which brings us to the key challenge know-nothings have ignored while they pule about the Democrats ‘failing’ to impeach Trump already: the Senate remains under GOP control. Try complaining about the GOP Senate caucus’ moral and ethical intransigence for a change; of the current 53 GOP senators there are 21 who are most vulnerable to this charge yet have the power to make constructive change happen.

This map tells you which senators are the linchpins to removal:

These are the 21 states Class II GOP senators represent; these are GOP seats that are up re-election in 2020 or will be open, as in the case of Kansas’ Pat Roberts who will retire at the end of his term. These senators are the ones who should be held accountable at the polls if they do not restrain an out-of-control White House. They represent the votes necessary to convict and remove Trump, let alone votes to approve bills reopening government and override a veto (assuming two-thirds of the House would likewise support a veto override). Here are their names to make it easier to identify your GOP Class II senator if you have one:

Dan Sullivan (AK)

Tom Cotton (AR)

Cory Gardner (CO)

David Perdue (GA)

Jim Risch (ID)

Joni Ernst (IA)

Pat Roberts (KS) retiring

Mitch McConnell (KY)

Bill Cassidy (LA)

Susan Collins (ME)

Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS)

Steve Daines (MT)

Ben Sasse (NE)

Thom Tillis (NC)

Jim Inhofe (OK)

Lindsay Graham (SC)

Mike Rounds (SD)

Lamar Alexander (TN) retiring

John Cornyn (TX)

Shelley Moore Capito (WV)

Mike Enzi (WY)

These folks should be squirming already — at least those who must fly home should be. Imagine them needing to fly to their respective states having failed to reopen and fund government services like TSA security staffers and air traffic controllers.

This may explain in part why three of the senators who are among those who must fly the farthest from Washington DC are leaning toward reopening the government — that’s Lisa Murkowski (AK), Cory Gardner (CO), and Susan Collins (ME). They’re vulnerable in an entirely different way because the government shutdown is a bigger threat personally and professionally than Trump’s possible impeachment and removal.

With 66 total senators required to make up the two-thirds necessary for conviction and removal, the 18 remaining Class II GOP senators combined with Democrats and Independents provide the number needed with a little extra in case of a late flip-flop.

You know what to do: Congressional switchboard (202) 224-3121

Need a script? Celeste P. has you covered.

Yes, press them first on the government shutdown; addressing the shutdown’s damage to Americans’ livelihoods, safety, and security is a far more immediate need. A senator who doesn’t think Trump’s self-created crisis and corresponding shutdown must be stopped should be identified as vulnerable in 2020.

If these senators are persuadable on the shutdown, they may be persuadable on the question of conviction and removal of the president. (If they aren’t they’re probably co-conspirators and in need of investigation.)

If you call your GOP senator, feel free to share feedback from the call here. Let’s keep track of the Class II folks who really need a primary or a strong opponent in 2020.

UPDATE — 4:45 PM —

There may be 21 Class II senators who need to be nudged but one of them is in particular need of a political boot in his slackness.

McConnell walked into his office after leaving the Senate floor, where he objected to the Democratic request to re-open the government.


“I think the way out has been apparent for several weeks,” he told reporters. “It requires an agreement between a Democratic House, the Democrats in the Senate and the President.”


After the meeting broke up, members were fairly tight-lipped about any details. Some described what they were working on as a “framework” or “skeleton” they were trying to fill in.


“We’ve got a skeleton we’re trying to flesh out. It’s going to take work,” Tillis told reporters. (source: CNN)

Mitch McConnell is the primary gatekeeper enforcing the president’s unnecessary and unpopular wall; he’s the key hurdle between a continuing government shutdown and a return to order.

Sadly, McConnell’s refusal hurts his constituents directly — he’s literally telling them to fuck off and in some cases, die already.

— As of June 2017, there were 36,719 Kentuckyians who were employed by the federal government (source: Governing.com [from cached copy]);

— As of June 2017, there were 33,219 Kentuckyians who were active duty military relying on government services;

— As of 2017, there were 4.4 million Kentuckyians who relied in some way on food inspections because safe food nourished them, their family, friends, co-workers, or people in their communities on whom they depended in some way;

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. As an example, every federal employee who also relies on childcare but can’t pay for childcare because they are now unpaid may also lose their childcare provider. Providers require their services to be paid in cash even if the child isn’t there or their slot is freed up. Providers are also small business owners; they can’t afford massive cuts to their income and must find other revenue sources if they aren’t paid. It’s a major nuisance to find alternative, affordable, safe childcare, not to mention the expense to families.

With nearly 50% of Americans unable to scrape up $400 cash for an emergency, you can bet many of Kentucky’s federal employees have already blown through their reserves. Their inability to pay for goods and services will have a ripple effect throughout their communities — just like childcare providers, other business owners can’t afford cuts to their income stream.

The “fucken wall” only protects those who need the public to be distracted from investigations. One much needed investigation is the possible effect of foreign influence on members of Congress and their campaigns — including Mitch McConnell. His refusal to reopen and fund government including DOJ and FBI functions could be a means to prevent any investigation which might look into his own campaign donations.

Think about it: after the Citizens United decision in 2010, the NRA changed its donation pattern substantially from 2010 to 2012 to help pro-gun rights candidates.

Guess who received the 14th highest amount of gun rights contributions ($135,350) and the 6th highest amount of contributions from outside support for gun rights ($771,175)? Yup, McConnell brought in that much between 1989-2018 that we know of.

How much Congressional campaign money, including donations to McConnell, might have been laundered Russian contributions? Has the active investigation into accused Russian spy Maria Butina uncovered this figure? Has this investigation been affected by the shutdown?

Is this a personal reason why McConnell is so doggedly protecting Trump’s “fucken wall” in spite of the damage the corresponding government shutdown is doing to his own constituents and to the nation?

Sure hope Kentuckyians know to use the Congressional switchboard number (202) 224-3121 — assuming that hasn’t been defunded yet.

UPDATE — 12:40 AM 11-JAN-2019 —

Give me a “fucken” break with this bullshit:

President Donald Trump gave an Oval Office address and headed to the border. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have been holding regular press conferences to rebut him.

But when the shutdown ends, it will likely be the handiwork of the leader who’s stayed offsides: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

On Thursday, McConnell summoned a handful of fellow Republicans to his ornate offices to brainstorm a solution. The group, which included Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Rob Portman, dispatched Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby to give Vice President Mike Pence what aides described as a “skeleton” of a plan to re-open government and return to paying 800,000 federal workers.

“We aren’t there yet,” cautioned a top Senate Republican aide. They didn’t get there, either.

Handiwork my eye. Show me where McConnell did a goddamn thing except for the summoning. This entire article was a piece of fluff designed to puff up the soft-handed, wattle-necked waste of Kentuckyians’ votes.

If you live and vote in Kentucky, please, PLEASE call this wretch and tell him to get off his duff — euphemistically called the “sidelines” — and get the government reopened. He needs to find his nuts and tell Trump the wall doesn’t have support; McConnell never had a problem telling the last president to piss up a rope and that president had a helluva lot more support than this one.

McConnell also needs to get on the right side of history. He can torch the rest of his legacy cozying up to a corrupt narcissist or he can try to salvage what history remembers of him by getting a spine and upholding his oath of office instead of sucking up to an un-indicted co-conspirator.

92 replies
    • Rayne says:

      I suspect these four are likely to vote with their party on the shutdown given each has federal government employees as constituents. I don’t picture Sinema feeling very comfortable flying to AZ while relying on unpaid air traffic controllers.

      Might not hurt constituents to call their Democratic senators to say thanks and to confirm where they stand on the shutdown.

      • P J Evans says:

        They voted with the Rs in one of yesterday’s rollcalls – cloture on S1: “A bill to make improvements to certain defense and security assistance provisions and to authorize the appropriation of funds to Israel, to reauthorize the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, and to halt the wholesale slaughter of the Syrian people, and for other purposes.” “For other purpose” includes punishing people and businesses that boycott Israel because of the way they treat Palestinians. (The bill is basically anything that Israel wants, they can get from the US.)

      • Hops says:

        Why not ping all the R senators, whether up in 2020 or not. I dropped Toomey of PA a note and have encouraged others to let him know we’re watching and not happy.

        • Rayne says:

          Should always be the case that we contact our own representatives and senators. But it’s particularly important that folks in states with Class II senators exercise the power they have right now. Class II senators are much more sensitive to their prospects than Class III, comparatively speaking. Hence Alexander’s and Roberts’ impending retirements.

  1. Cathy says:

    Good point about Class II v. Other senators. POLITICO provides a good example of that contrast in Texas.


    Of course Cornyn’s stance has more to do with donor expectations that the duly elected Republican senator would support Texans’ private property rights over the President’s latest reality TV script (ref. The Wall’s inevitable imminent domain requirements). But that’s part of the point, isn’t it? That state-wide office holders make the political calculation on when following the President further down his rabbit holes harms constituent interests & thus re-election prospects?

    Thank you for the constructive post, Rayne!

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, the Texas land grab is ridiculous. I don’t think the White House has a leg to stand on given Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer; the president was barred from taking private property even though the U.S. was in a declared war. But precedent hasn’t stopped Cheeto-brains, a la Muslim travel ban; Cornyn will have to fight Trump all the way to protect Texas border property owners.

      • Cathy says:

        That brings up an interesting point about a $5 billion appropriation v. national emergency. Might someone like Cornyn be spooked more by a national emergency declaration than by the $5 billion ask in the shutdown drama? Say, for instance, $5 billion wouldn’t be enough to advance the project to the point of executing land grabs, but funds available under a declaration would be enough to fund the whole project…is that even a fair comparison? My understanding of executive power under such a declaration is really fuzzy, but I’m sure congressional Democrats aren’t the only ones gaming out scenarios.

        • Rayne says:

          An emergency declaration will end up in court. I think wrt such a declaration it becomes more important to look at why Rear Adm. Kevin McSweeney resigned unexpectedly this past weekend. Why would a senior official exit if a declaration of emergency has been in the offing for a week?

          U.S. has declared emergencies a number of times; you can find them in presidential executive orders and presidential directives. Most only allowed the executive branch footing to ask for legislative support and funding. I don’t think Trump will get any.

          • Cathy says:

            I sometimes feel like an unwitting extra in an infomercial Trump is using to generate viewership numbers for a pitch to backers to finance his own media empire….like the production crew set up in the public space in front of America’s door step and now life is disrupted until they finish shooting (and the authorities who would normally be called out to address public disturbances are already well aware of this one because they’ve been invited on camera). *sigh*

    • JD12 says:

      That’s why this is so embarrassing. The GOP donor class doesn’t even want the border wall —the Kochs are strongly opposed to it — yet Congress GOPers are playing along with the PR stunt instead of being honest with their voters.

      The shutdown is so clearly contrived. I mean, Congress passed the bill that Trump told them to and he then refused to sign it. And it’s not like anything changed other than his mind. At least he had the caravan to talk about in his midterm campaign antics; now he’s just seeing ghosts.

      If there’s anything good it’s that Republicans are divided over it. As Rayne points out in this post, Congress can force the government open with two-thirds of the vote. If too many workers start missing mortgage payments they’ll have to rescue the hostages. (Although I doubt Trump will let it go that far.)

      Trump likes things yuuuge so maybe he’s going for the longest shutdown record before he backs down, because according to the NYT’s report he knows it’s a poor strategy. It’s hard to imagine what he’s thinking, but the fact that Dems folded quickly last time probably caused him to miscalculate, but they’re in a much stronger position now than they were then. He’s not used to losing yet.

  2. Alan says:

    Former Trump attorney Micheal Cohen reportedly will be testifying before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7

  3. Jenny says:

    Excellent, Rayne!  Thanks so much for the list.  I have been calling for days with my own narrative about the Trump shutdown to about 8 to 10 Senators.  Expanded list helps.

    The only office I cannot get through in DC is McConnell’s.  So, I called his Lexington, Kentucky office to leave a message.

    Rare to get a human to answer the phone; however when I do I say, “Value federal employees. Stop using them as pawns.  Trump’s cruel shutdown action hurts them and their families.  You were elected to improve people’s lives.  I have yet to see you take action to actually help the government employees.  Simple solution:  Congress passes a bill opening up the government and Senate overrides president’s veto.  Vote to open up the government to pay 800,000 federal employees and get them back to work.  You are being paid, they are not.  Inequality in my book.”

    Groper in Chief will declare an emergency, sign the Democrats bill, open government, let emergency declaration deteriorate in court, call it a win and his followers will believe it.

    Here is one of his latest quotes while defending the wall:  “Human trafficking is a horrible thing…They just make a left into the U.S. & they come in & they have women tied up. They have tape over their mouths. Electrical tape. Usually blue tape, as they call it. It is powerful stuff.”
    Buckle Up people!!!

    • Rayne says:

      The human trafficking bit is absolutely bat shit insane, not just because he made up a bunch of crap but because the U.S. is engaged in human trafficking when it takes children and infants forcibly removed from asylum-seeking family and sends them to concentration camps or to adoption. It’s projection of the worst sort with innocent children most damaged.

      Thanks for letting us know about your call, glad you were able to reach a local office.

  4. First Time Caller says:

    A minor correction to the map, both of Virginia’s senators are Democrats, although Warner is up in 2020.

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks — looks like WV’s southern border sprung a pixel-sized leak allowing refugee red pixels to flood into VA. I’ve built a pixel-wide wall and gently herded all the red pixels back across the border.


  5. Trip says:

    Julia E. Ainsley‏Verified account @JuliaEAinsley

    Exclusive w/ ⁦@ckubeNBC⁩ Trump weighing taking money from Puerto Rico and other disaster areas for wall


    Trump could take billions from disaster areas to fund wall

    President Donald Trump has been briefed on a plan that would use the Army Corps of Engineers and a portion of $13.9 billion of Army Corps funding to build 315 miles of barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the briefing.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/trump-could-take-billions-disaster-areas-fund-wall-n957281

    Whose plan is this? Seriously, it multiples crises. He was briefed on it, so it wasn’t his brainchild. What evil villain came up with this scheme? Do they think it will endear the public to him?

  6. P J Evans says:

    A second union is suing over working without pay. This one includes CBP – Customs and Border Patrol. Many government employees aren’t supporting the lockout.

  7. Trip says:

    The secret service should call in sick after abandoning Trump at the border.

    ETA: Trump’s behavior of this punishment v. another punishment (nothing good in between) explains why his spawn are soulless creatures, IMO.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Re Trip, I’d like to hear from some engineers reading this site, but that arithmetic works out at about $44 million a mile. That seems low for working over unimproved land along the contours of a flood plain, with few existing access roads, work depots, drainage systems, etc.

    That figure does not include costs of purchasing the land and rights of way to it, the cost of environmental studies and workarounds for endangered species and habitat (Trump would move mountains to avoid all that), the administrative and legal as well as acquisition costs for using eminent domain to acquire land from unwilling landowners, or the cost of structures and access ways necessary to join disjointed parcels of land. To say nothing of the process needed to do all that.

    This would not be a clean, straight Roman road. It would be a jigsaw puzzle with large gaps and a Rube Goldberg arrangement to plug them “for the duration.” The numbers Trump and his people are throwing around about the cost of this wall-slats-picket fence-border barrier are garbage.

    If it goes forward, it would be because the GOP-controlled Senate was too afraid of the Toddler in Chief to not give him his candy. Hopefully, a new Democratic administration would put a stop to this Trumpian monument to ego, nonsense, waste, and needless destruction. If not, people will start going over the wall in the other direction.

    • Alan says:

      AFAIK, the current phase for this wall is only in urban areas.  But also AFAIK, there’s no real plan or spec for what will be done with the money–Trump just wants the $$ so he can declare a win and make a few miles of imposing wall for photo ops.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        So the 315 miles are not contiguous, but chosen for their theatrical effect and camera value, and because they bracket designated ports of entry.  (Assuming any stretch of this wall is built.)

        One would think a few seminars at Disney World and a lot more staff would enable the US border staff to manage the flow.

        Rather than invest in rational solutions to an enduring condition, Trump is playing to his fantasies.  And leaving the majority of the US-Mexican border unfenced, protected by cruel nature and crueler policies.  So much for the fence solving anything but a few problems inside Donald’s horrible, no good, very bad brain.

    • Jockobadger says:

      Earl and Trip, Prof Eng Geol here. Working on the stuff you mentioned in your post EOH.  As you rightly point out, this is extraordinarily complicated and expensive. I have a good deal of exp with large Fed jobs like this – esp the USACOE env/NEPA stuff.  Will follow up.  Short vers: no f-ing way.  

      This is all a distraction. Maybe it’ll work for his base (God help me that they’re citizens of my country)


    • posaune says:

      Great comment, Earl.   Yes, it’s complex.  I can’t imagine the cost of the soils studies alone, not only for the eventual wall, but for the roads:  grading, drainage, load standards, section design, etc.  Forget NEPA, impervious surface standards, eminent domain–those are hopelessly entangled.   Comparison project:  the Maryland Purple Line (16.2 miles) has taken more than 20 years of planning, approvals and permits to get to ground-breaking.

    • P J Evans says:

      There’s a post at Kos, relaying one on FB from a civil/structural engineer who’s an expert on walls. It’s basically not doable, given that it has to allow for drainage and other environmental problems (which Himself wouldn’t recognize if they jumped up and bit him), and is defeatable. (The engineer is seeing man-carrying drones in the not-very-distant future.)

      • jockobadger says:

        EarlOH, Trip, et al.,
        I read the thread by the Civil/Structural Eng., Amy Patrick, @randyresist, and fwiw, my licensing qualifications/exp. is very similar though our specialty certs are different.  I’ve also worked on many large USACOE projects like dams, locks, tunnels, and yes, walls.  She estimates that the wall would go to $50B.  I think that’s low.  She properly lays out all the myriad problems with this wall “proposal” starting with the fact that there is no actual design, only a series of prototypes constructed by contractors.  The whole thing would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.

        My only quibble is her belief that a wall cannot be built.  Technically it could be – it would just take many years and it would literally run roughshod over numerous environmentally sensitive areas and cultural sites, not to mention all that private property.  Under current federal and state rules/regs a wall such as trump envisions could NOT be built, at least not unless all those regs are suspended (as they might be in a true emergency – which this ain’t.)  The main problem of course is that it simply won’t work.  Besides, give me a good crew, readily available gear/materiel, and I could have those protos down in an evening.  This is just a monumental and inhumane f-ckup.  He needs to go and soon.

    • harpie says:


      The Army Corps of Engineers has zeroed in on major California and Puerto Rico water projects as a way to pay for Trump’s border wall 


      A senior admin official questioned the legality of Trump using Army Corps funding set for disaster relief to build the wall. // The official said the process was “as much a political exercise intended to threaten projects Democrats valued.”

      • Rayne says:

        Interesting how LAT’s framing places responsibility on Army Corps of Engineers instead of saying the ACE was ordered by Trump to identify projects.

      • Jockobadger says:

        Dicking around with Cali’s water will really endear trump to all those Valley folk that voted for him.  Stable genius move right there.

  9. Marinela says:

    I understand why Trump loves the wall discussions, useful to distract from the investigation news, also he needs his die hard base more than ever.

    But I cannot understand why his base is so “motivated” to get this wall build?
    So we have about 30% of the population, if not lower, that want the wall built.
    Could it be that Ann C. and Rush L. are just artificially overstating the base will?

    So the majority of the American people are basically forced to deal with a minority will.

  10. P J Evans says:

    @earl, I understand that a lot of the Texas landowners are not in favor of it. When they built that 18-foot border fence a few hundred feet inside the US, a lot of them didn’t get paid what the land was worth, many didn’t have the money to fight the eminent-domain proceedings, and the lawsuits from some of them are still going on – because the agencies responsible rushed it through without finding out who had title or any reasonable proceedings.

  11. Jenny says:

    Rayne, thanks for the update.  Just went to McConnell’s website for local telephone numbers and noticed a Press Release entitled:  Partial Government Shutdown Prolonged by Democrats’ Refusal to Negotiate.  Can read it here if interested:


    McConnell is a blamer just like Trump.  No wonder they are buddies.

    Link for McConnell’s office locations: 

  12. P J Evans says:

    Hasn’t he noticed that he’s still the senate MAJORITY Leader? (I’d like to stop his pay, as long as he’s not going to do his official job. Or else he needs to be censured and tossed.)

    “I think the way out has been apparent for several weeks,” he told reporters. “It requires an agreement between a Democratic House, the Democrats in the Senate and the President.”

  13. Jockobadger says:

    He seems to think that the crisis at the border is a clever head-fake that’ll distract folks and maybe even deprive the OSC of funds. I’m very hopeful that our legal Legion of Boom is going unload on this SOB and soon. The Cohen show should be helpful. Damn the man.

  14. Eureka says:

    This film clip is making the rounds; the comments are also worth scrolling:

    Alex Hirsch: “What the fresh hell. This is REAL. Filmed in 1958- about a conman who grifts a small town of suckers into building a wall. History not subtle enough for you? GUESS THE GRIFTER’S NAME (And watch until the end)…

    Also in the comments- a link to the New Yorker re Woody Guthrie’s Old Man Trump song about Fred:

    I suppose
    Old Man Trump knows
    Just how much
    Racial Hate
    He stirred up
    In the bloodpot of human hearts
    When he drawed
    That color line

  15. Wm. Boyce says:

    The News Hour interviewed the mayor of Brownsville, TX today – he doesn’t want a wall, and correctly identifies any “drug/terrorist” problem as coming through ports of entry. Yet 30-35% of the American public is so stupid that they’ve bought the big lie, despite people who actually LIVE there refuting the creature’s claims.

    I think its only a matter of time before the stupid become the majority.

    • Jenny says:

      Agree, Cathy.  Graham is an enabler to McConnell and Trump.  Cruel party, hateful and harmful actions.  Party over People is the GOP agenda.

      I have called Graham’s officer everyday.  His DC office number is:  202-224-5972

      Here are past and present quotes from Graham below.

      Feb 17, 2016 “Donald Trump is not a conservative Republican.  He’s an opportunist.  He’s not fit to be President of the United States.”

      May 3, 2016 “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed ……..and we will deserve it.”

      Jan 8, 2019 “If we undercut the President, that’s the end of his Presidency – and end of our party.”

      Jan 10, 2019 “I have never been more depressed about moving forward than right now.  I just don’t see a pathway forward.”

      Jan 11, 2019 “Mr. President the Democrats are not working in good faith with you.  Declare emergency, build wall now.”

      Called earlier stating Mr. Graham you and the GOP are not working in good faith with We the People.  Do your job.  Vote to open the government.  

      I am taking action because I have family/friends who are government employees.  I was one.  The lack of value for government employees (currently and past years) is appalling in this game of politics with agent orange.  I am ready to put on my pussy hat and carry a pitch fork to protest at this point.  Ugh!

      • Cathy says:

        IANAPolitician but … the R Senate do seem to be mindful of the pressure. Despite the POLITICO speculation that polling gives the congressional Republicans cover for now, Graham’s Jan 10 – 11 sound bites seem to show they are turning the volume up on the it’s-not-us-it’s-them rhetoric. His noise dovetails with McConnell’s deflection techniques – a sign that the “powerless Senate majority” narrative is crumbling? Begging the President to bail them out by throwing the matter to the courts (expected House response to a nat’l emergency declaration)?

      • Cathy says:

        I used to appreciate what seemed like his attempt to cajole Trump away from the Steves World View (Bannon, Miller), but I finally lost faith after his theatrics at the Kavanaugh confirmation. At some point a supposed deep cover operative actively participating in shit to maintain position is just another shit shoveler.

        Perhaps more significantly, none of them (Republicans) appear to command Trump’s respect, not like Nancy Pelosi.

        • Jenny says:

          Yep, shit shoveler is perfect.  Shit shovelers besides Graham:  Pence, McConnell, Cruz and so many more.

          GOP agenda – Party over People.  Cruel, hurtful and harmful actions.  The “I really don’t care, do you” party.

  16. Tom Poe says:

    Punditry: An emergency declaration over the “fucken Wall” should prompt an immediate response, legally, but also an immediate response, constitutionally. The act of declaring an emergency over the “fucken Wall” amounts to rendering Congress moot. An act of an autocrat. We are not an autocracy, are we?

  17. Mike Sax says:

    Very important topic Rayne and appreciate you looking at it. There are a few different things to disentangle. It’s certainly too early for impeachment-the Democrats absolutely should wait for Mueller while doing their own investigations into Russia as well as investigating many other matters in the meantime-including the FBI leaks by the anti Clinton pro Trump agents that forced Comey’s hand into releasing that indefensible letter that flipped the election.

    What worries me is the idea I’ve heard that the Democrats shouldn’t impeach Trump because somehow that would be bad politics-they should instead just settle for beating him in 2020. Trouble with that is it implicitly presumes Trump’s basic legitimacy when that’s very much open to debate-if he and his campaign colluded with Russia then his ‘Presidency’ is illegitimate PERIOD.

    Indeed, you can argue that the fact of Russian interference-as well as Comey’s indefensible intervention; Nate Silver has shown pretty conclusively that no Comey letter Clinton would have won Russian interference notwithstanding-wether or not there was collusion makes Trump’s ‘win’ illegitimate. Either way the refs were paid off, wether the team itself was involved or not it benefitted.

    This is also why I tend not to like even debating Trump’s awful ‘policies’ though they are more just impulses-as by debating policy it almost implicitly accepts him as legitimate.

    Just from the standpoint of symmetry it’s appalling if the standard is that Clinton was impeached for lying about sex but a GOP President basically can’t be impeached for any reason up to and including treason with a hostile foreign power to rig an American Presidential election.

    I do have to disagree with your one argument-that the Democrats should just forget impeachment unless the GOP Senate convicts. This essentially gives Mitch McConnell veto power. Mitch McConnell who won’t even contradict ‘President Trump’ to reopen the government. HE should get the last word on impeachment?

    Just because the GOP puts party above country and refuses to do its job doesn’t mean therefore the Democrats just punt as well. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for putting pressure on the GOP Senate and I do think it’s POSSIBLE that in time the GOP Senate could turn-Angry WH Staffer makes a compelling case here that in time they will.


    As Angry points out presuming all 48 Dems vote for conviction you only need 20 GOPers to flip. My belief is that once we have a year or so of public hearings-which start Feb 7 with Michael Cohen’s PUBLIC testimony you will begin to see a sea change and Trump will lose his soft support-I estimate that of his roughly 42% support, about 20% of that is not his real base but soft support.

    So we may well get conviction. But I disagree very strenuously with the notion that you only impeach if you know McConnell and friends will do the right thing. There is still value in impeachment even without conviction as it puts an asterisk for all time next to Trump’s illegitimate ‘Presidency’-and it would quite plausibly hurt him in the 2020 election.

    Just like in all trials, there’s indictment and then there’s conviction. Think of the analogy of a prosecutor who had strong evidence of guilt of a powerful criminal but that the judge who would hear the case was corrupt-like McConnell and his fellow co-conspirators. Would the prosecutor therefore forget the whole thing or still push forward to convict and then do everything s/he could to fight back against the corrupt judge-perhaps turning public opinion-when it gets to that point?

    If Trump is guilty of High Crimes & Misdemeanors he MUST IMPEACHED full stop. If McConnell and Lindsay and friends give him a pass that’s on them-take that to the voters in 2020 and blow them out when the map favors the Dems anyway.

  18. Trip says:

    @ Mike Sax says:
    January 11, 2019 at 7:37 am

    I’m so sick of the narrative that McConnell is some brilliant political tactician. The same as I was dumbfounded when everyone was calling the younger Paul Ryan a prodigy policy wonk. They are both corrupt and manipulative selfish dirtbags. Their cons are/were right out in the open with no push back. They twisted and changed rules for the benefit of no one but themselves. At least one of them is now gone.

    What the Democrats will be embarking on is the right way to go: public hearings with witnesses. The press will never give McConnell the “business” that he deserves for whatever reason, that they have too much respect (or fear) of his diabolical machinations. Nor the cowardly and equally corrupt GOP. They aren’t called out. It’s “both sides”. But I digress…

    Exposure is the only way. Call all of the witnesses to set a coherent narrative. A complete story that isn’t little bits and pieces (like releases of indictments from Mueller camp) that the cult and lackeys can dismiss individually because they either don’t have the intellect, patience and will to put the jigsaw puzzle together themselves, or they otherwise have bad faith reasons to defend.

    Line ’em all up, one after another. Start scheduling others right away, not just Michael Cohen.

    The GOP excuses for non-action will melt away, if the public has a watershed moment of realization about the level of corruption and conspiracy, and opinion turns from the deflections.

    THEN and only then will the point of impeachment be practical, when “the people” demand it. The GOP won’t then have the cover of MSM both sides strategy.

    • Trip says:

      Look at the R kelly coverage, for a similar situation. He has a cult of personality too (although he also has talent, where Trump doesn’t, but that’s another tangent). His case went to trial, with little fanfare and less notice by the public. Witnesses were scared, allegedly paid off or threatened. Some wouldn’t show and he was acquitted. He continued after with the same fuckery. Then a series was done, with interviews of MANY witnesses (over the course of years). NOW people are paying attention.

      • Jenny says:

        Exposure, exposure, exposure!  The gunk is surfacing.  People are finally becoming conscious.  Collective consciousness creates change.

    • Mike Sax says:

      I agree that the key is public hearings with the real emphasis being PUBLIC. I’ve felt all along that the only reason Trump is still in the low 40s is the GOP beyond having a fake investigation did it behind closed doors. I do believe PUBLIC hearings will likely drop him in to the low 20s and at that level you will plausibly get GOP Senators ready to vote to convict-much like what happened with Nixon.

      • harpie says:

        From Darren Samuelsohn’s The Only Impeachment Guide You’ll Ever Need

        Once any impeachment charges are before the Senate, there’s no guarantee here but one: It will be a hell of a show. […] If there is a trial, all 100 senators would be serving as Trump’s jury, meeting in a solemn courtroom-like atmosphere where they’d be asked to sift through reams of evidence and, potentially, live witnesses. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts would preside, while House Democrats would serve as the president’s prosecutors, and Trump’s attorneys as his defense counsel. 

        This is the show I want to see on my TV for many days sometime soon before the 2020 election.

    • harpie says:

      Darren Samuelsohn: 4:04 AM – 11 Jan 2019 My story on what dominoes would have to fall if House impeachment articles really moved forward, how a Trump trial in the Senate would go down & what—if anything—might break the GOP majority apart enough to vote to remove their own president. >>>

      The Only Impeachment Guide You’ll Ever Need
      As talk of the I-word heats up, here’s POLITICO Magazine’s soup-to-nuts answers to all your questions about the politics—and the practical realities—of removing a president.

      • harpie says:

        I agree with presidential historian Douglass Brinkley [quoted in article]:

        “That’s the problem with an impeachment strategy,” Brinkley added. “The Democratic Party is better off running against a deeply damaged President Trump that seems to have a lot of terrible legal woes and ethical damage. It’s better off to run against a wounded Trump than to drive Trump out of office.”

        • Trip says:

          Not if the GOP or courts allow him a autocratic coup in the meanwhile. Or a war with Iran, or some other horrible manufactured “emergency” where he consolidates more power and damages the people and country to oblivion.

          They need to begin hearings NOW. A public airing without constraints. He might then look for the off-ramp himself.

          • harpie says:

            I agree emphatically.

            Continuous hearings and investigations and news coverage is the means of his/his administration’s wounding…the slower the better as far as I’m concerned.

            Death by a thousand million cuts.

            They’ve earned it.

          • beaucon says:

            Your point is spot on. The fact that nobody in government is willing to discuss strategies for holding this president in check is proof of just how decisively we have been defeated by Putin. I wish the press would start investigating Senator Turkeyneck’s connections to Russia. The government would already be open except for him. What more can Putin hope for without the risk of massive military retaliation.

            • Rayne says:

              I think there have been discussions but they aren’t open or widespread. Consider the target: could it damage the process to get too far ahead without also having a solid majority of public support? He’s been threatening to declare a state of emergency — do we want to give him impetus to do so before key people have their ducks in a row?

              p.s. welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same log in information each time you comment, including username, so that community members get to know you. Thanks.

      • Cathy says:

        What I find interesting in this article is what appears to be Republican signaling. For instance Sen. Cornyn toes party line by saying, according to Samuelsohn,

        the Senate was far from likely to support removing a sitting president and called the act of impeachment “basically a futile gesture.”

        but then goes on record with

        If the president is actually indicted for a crime, that obviously changes everything. But right now all I see is speculation and people who have no knowledge of what Director Mueller actually has speculating on what could happen. I don’t think that’s particularly productive. It may be interesting, but it’s not based on facts.” [my emphasis]

        Is this simply a reflection of certainty that Mueller will decline to indict a sitting president regardless of underlying crime? Or is the full statement an uncanny echo of Pelosi’s deflection

        that the public has yet to hear the conclusions of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

        per a Jan 6 CBS News “Sunday Morning” interview indirectly quoted by WAPO?


        Is it odd to witness, if not solidarity, then overlapping talking points? Maybe it’s a sign Congress is united in its deflection, but maybe it’s an acknowledgement neither party considers impeachment out of bounds, despite the potentially high cost to both.

        • Rayne says:

          The real impediment to *removing* Trump from office is political will on the part of the GOP. One thing shifts their will and it’s polling, which will only change when it is crystal clear the president has committed a crime/s. It won’t have to budge too much, just enough to show a negative trend among the Republican base. Between the downtick and indictments close to if not the president himself, it would give GOP senators cover so that they could claim “law and order” and “country before party” in spite of their years’ long support for a scofflaw.

          (I was told by a former political staffer the reason Bush wasn’t impeached was public sentiment — polling did not support impeachment or removal. Didn’t matter he’d lied us into an illegal war.)

          Some of the public sentiment is also captured by phone call metrics, like thousands of angry calls regarding Trump’s extortive shutdown for the wall’s funding. *hint-hint*

          • harpie says:

            How about law suits–Air Traffic Controllers this morning have filed the fifth one against the shut down.

            Between the downtick and indictments close to if not the president himself, it would give GOP senators cover so that they could claim “law and order” and “country before party” in spite of their years’ long support for a scofflaw.

            Just read this from Andrea Mitchell:

            9:21 AM – 11 Jan 2019  .@matthewamiller on Cohen: some of the bigger questions we may get the answers to relate to the southern district of NY — for example, who is exec 2 named in some of the court docs? Seems like one of Trump children. We will get the answer to that #AMR

  19. Trip says:

    I worked in the Justice Department. I hope its lawyers won’t give Trump an alibi.

    I decided that the responsibilities entailed in my oath were incompatible with the expectations of my job. If my former colleagues at OLC, and throughout the Justice Department, are now working on the possible declaration of a national emergency, I dearly hope they are as meticulous in their review of the president’s justifications as they are in their review of the actions he plans to take. And I hope, more than anything else, that they are asking themselves whether they, too, are just fashioning a pretext, building an alibi.


    • harpie says:

      Newland identifies the [a] problem at OLC as their deference to the President:

      But when it comes to the president’s findings about the state of the world, OLC generally defers to the president.

      This deference, which is baked into OLC’s culture, proceeds from the assumption that the president is acting consistent with Article II of the Constitution and with his oath of office, both of which require that he “faithfully” execute the laws […] But when I was at OLC, I saw again and again how the decision to trust the president failed the office’s attorneys, the Justice Department and the American people. The failure took different forms. Sometimes, we just wouldn’t look that closely at the claims the president was making about the state of the world. When we did look closely, we could give only nudges. For example, if I identified a claim by the president that was provably false, I would ask the White House to supply a fig leaf of supporting evidence. Or if the White House’s justification for taking an action reeked of unconstitutional animus, I would suggest a less pungent framing or better tailoring of the actions described in the order.

      I’m thinking of John Yoo right now.

      • bmaz says:

        Sure. But you understand that OLC actually does owe some deference to the President, right?? The line where that is crossed is not necessarily definitive. Yoo was on the wrong side of it. That is easy. But this is a hard line to track, even for those that kind or know. You might check in with the conflicted, and inconsistent, thoughts of Marty Lederman and David Barron.

        • Trip says:

          But we are talking about this president, in the here and now. It’s obvious that the “emergency” is a manufactured product, born out of propaganda TV, to build some face saving and a ‘win’ against the now divided government.

          Building legal support behind Trump’s argument is creating a pretext and cover for blatant bad faith execution of powers left for actual bona fide emergencies, not ego assuages and power grabs.

        • harpie says:

          Sure. And I’m grateful Newland wrote that piece. It very definitely needed to be said, and I also hope it is heard by people that matter. I think it might be. I don’t want people to leave OLC…I hope they evaluate this situation and adjust accordingly.

  20. Trip says:

    Last one:
    b-boy bouiebaisse‏Verified account @jbouie

    amazing to me that we had a week long controversy over a congresswoman saying “motherf***er” when steve king is just hanging out in congress as an open white supremacist

    Josh Billinson‏Verified account @jbillinson

    Sitting congressman wants to know how “white supremacist” became an offensive term


  21. MAG says:

    Shouldn’t Martha McSally be added to that list as she is up for election in 2020 as well.

    Thanks for the post.

    • Rayne says:

      She hasn’t announced that she’s running in the special election to the best of my knowledge.

      When she does, I’ll add her. McSally could too easily be told the GOP won’t get her back in 2020 or 2022 and possibly screw with her committee roles, if she bucks Trump and McConnell. Alexander (TN) and Roberts (KS) are better bets for pressure because they owe the GOP, McConnell, and Trump nothing at this point. They should focus on their legacies.

      Maybe bmaz has some AZ scoop on her.

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, she will be running. That is exactly why she was anointed. Ducey would have appointed his friend and former chief of staff Kirk Adams otherwise. Mitch McConnell leaned very hard on Ducey to pick McSally because he thought her the most likely to be able to hold in 2020.

        • Jenny says:

          McConnell also picked McSally because the GOP lack women in their party on the hill.  Trying to obtain binders full of women.

  22. Herringbone says:

    But would impeachment even come to a vote? Is there anything compelling McConnell to even take up the articles of impeachment if the house passes them?

    • Alan says:

      I believe the Constitution mandates it, and the trial in the Senate would be presided over by Chief Justice Roberts, who I believe would help ensure the charges received a fair trial instead of being swept under the rug.

      • Herringbone says:

        I think a fair reading of the Constitution is that if the House votes to impeach, a trial in the Senate follows as a matter of course. But I vaguely recall some Democrats arguing that Trent Lott had no obligation to take up the Clinton articles of impeachment. And I’m not sure what the recourse would be if McConnell decided to treat impeachment the same way he treated the Garland nomination.

    • Rayne says:

      Excellent question. Have to wonder at what point the rest of the Senate goes after McConnell because of his obstruction of hearings.

  23. Russ S says:

    Shouldn’t McSally from AZ be on this list? She has to be elected in 2020 to complete McCain’s term. And then the seat comes up again in 2022.

    • Rayne says:

      If you read the comments you can see what the position is on McSally. Don’t worry — she’s on the target list for a re-up come Monday.

Comments are closed.