Do the Right Thing: Break Some Eggs and Impeach

[NB: Check the byline. This piece may not reflect the opinions of other emptywheel contributors. /~Rayne]

There’ve been a lot of eggs cracked today. Not all of the eggs in need of cracking came in pretty dyed shells.

Like the oeuvre floating around out there claiming impeachment is bad for the country. (I’m looking at you, Tumulty.)

There’s really no question about what must be done. There’s only a fight against spin protecting an un-indicted co-conspirator, or worse. Sadly, some of the spin comes from the left and it needs to be smashed right now.

But why impeach? they ask.

Because it’s the right thing to do when a law enforcement investigation reveals a pattern of unlawful behavior.

Because it’s the right thing to do when the president systematically engages in abuse of power and unethical behavior, causing states and non-governmental groups alike to sue to protect human rights.

Because it’s the right thing to do when the president breaks his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Because it’s the right thing to do when the president fails to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

Because it’s the necessary thing to do when the president’s incompetence or bigotry results in the deaths of thousands of American citizens without so much as an apology.

Because it’s the right thing to do when the president permits and/or encourages dangerous deviations — some in secret — from national security policy without debate, advice, and consent by Congress.

Because it’s the right thing to do when the executive usurps co-equal branches’ power to check the executive.

Because failure to do so yields the co-equal power of Congress to the executive for the worst of reasons — because it’s too much trouble, timed inconveniently, unpopular.

Because failure to do assures future unethical presidents, they, too, need not worry they will be held to account by the branch of government charged with doing so; they’ll feel protected, insulated from rebuke and punishment.

Because failure to do so assures a certain class of person they are above the law while telling the average citizen they belong to a second and lower class.

Because failing to do so sends a message to foreign powers that tampering with our elections will go unchecked; a mere censure will only enrage a malignant narcissistic executive while doing nothing to deter hostile foreign actors.

Because we are a nation of laws, and the law provides for the rebuke and removal of an executive guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, including unlawful orders, bad faith execution, unethical behavior, and abuse of office.

Because we must lead the future by example, demonstrating the exercise of oversight powers which include impeachment of a failed executive even when a country is divided by popular opinion.

There are far too many constructive reasons why we should impeach the executive; the risk from failing to attempt impeachment is far greater, considering the hollowing out of government and undermining of long-term policy continuing apace. The common good demands it.

Do we proceed directly to impeachment? This is a matter of conjecture — I believe we need to investigate the gaps in the Special Counsel’s report, including counterintelligence, so that we address each item in full view of the public with the exception of classified matters. The executive must be fully accountable to the people; he governs only with their consent which is already thin based on his loss of the popular vote.

Will investigative and impeachment hearings get in the way of legislative business? No. Congress has investigative hearings all the time in addition to legislative business. The legislative work to date has been piling up at the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk because he is obstructing House Democrats by gatekeeping. Will any less legislation be passed by the Senate if the House dedicates any more time to investigative hearings? No, thanks to McConnell.

Read the Special Counsel’s report for yourself. Ask yourself if what you read represents the combined work of a candidate and president and his campaign and administration who are truly intent on serving the best interests of this entire country. Were these individuals willing to set their personal interests aside and work toward a more perfect union, establishing Justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty for all?

Or were they working for themselves and personal or familial enrichment, for their personal glory and entitlement, and for the benefit of some other non-U.S. entities to our likely detriment?

Begin the impeachment process. Let’s break some eggs.

~ ~ ~
A happy Easter to those of you who observe the holiday. Hope that those of you who observed Passover were able to do so with friends and loved ones.

This is an open thread.

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185 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Want to take action and break some eggs? See Celeste_pewter’s Twitter thread which includes scripts for phone calls. Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 — leave a voicemail if necessary. Find your closest congressional office and its phone number, put that number where you can find it for calls like these.

    • Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

      Unsurprisingly, both Rep. Meadows’ and Senator Burr’s voicemailboxes are full. Senator Tillis had a staffer answering the phone who was cordial and willing to take a message.

      Ugh.

      And thank you, Rayne.

  2. @pwrchip says:

    Well said Rayne, you pretty well covered everything I’ve been tweeting for the past 3 years but you just nailed it. Nicely done. Cheers

  3. P J Evans says:

    I know what mine thinks of impeachment – he introduced a resolution earlier this year, as he did in the last session.

    • Rayne says:

      Please thank him for me. I’m saddled with a GOP doofus who’s as dumb as a fencepost, capable of little more than rubberstamping along party lines.

    • Eureka says:

      Mine is using the appropriately measured* language for her position as an HJC rep: do the investigations; get the entire report and underlying docs; have Barr and Mueller testify; if merited by the evidence, impeachment would be their constitutional duty regardless of both what the Senate would do and the politics of dem reps getting re-elected (some of this is in response to dumb or baity questions, and I am highly disappointed in how even smart media people are repeatedly framing this).

      I’d actually developed some kind of constituent-responsibility-stress this weekend because of all the post-report media. I generally keep a list of finer-point topics I wish to communicate, but the pace of things accelerated this weekend (unexpectedly, as I thought the holidays would slow things down some). I was feeling like I had to carefully track every media appearance in near-real-time to ensure no course-correction inputs were needed before the next public statement.

      She is and generally has been doing quite well, especially with redirecting poor, politicized media framing with her answers, and I need to let go of the idea that the republic will fall if I don’t get to the phone/web in time with some detail or opinion. Hopefully, I have convinced myself of this by writing out this comment and changing my tense worries to ‘past.’

      *It may be fair to say that my rep, like Mueller, beg translation into “Impeach the MF.”

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Yep. I think that
        many reps are using great restraint to resist revealing what they really feel. I think the strategy is to keep DT as calm as possible, under the circumstances. Just like some of his advisors tried to do.

        • Eureka says:

          Plus we’re so over-used to loud language and opinion hacks these days that some may mistake a deliberative, professional register as weakness. Besides, there are many roles for different people to play in this evolving situation. As long as the ones who are talking investigations and hearings are also clearly saying they’ll do their constitutional duties regardless of politics when it comes to impeachment, I’m fine so long as they advance in a systematic, aggressive fashion. I don’t see how a rule of law approach, per evidence and fairness, could be castigated. We’ll see how they deal with the subpoena ‘refusals.’

          And I agree with what you said down-thread about Pelosi/ Nadler etc. and her having more awareness of what’s going on than may be readily apparent. Thus far, she’s been appropriately methodical in her dealings with Trump.

  4. MattyG says:

    Yep! Letting this go, not forcing a vote in the Senate, is condoning the plainly unacceptable. No doubt Dem big wigs think they can game this albatross to their advantage in 2020 more effectively than if they drop the I-bomb, but that would leave a compromised bribable fraud in office for another 2 years. Dems must act now…

  5. Rapier says:

    Sure, start the process but understand the Senate will almost surely never impeach and remove him. Well I suppose in a bizarro world scenario they could come to think Trump cannot possibly win reelection and decide going with Pence would be better. In which case imagine more bizarro world eventualities like XX thousand armed militia men defending Trump in an armed standoff at the White House.

    But sure, write up the articles and see what happens.

    • Rayne says:

      If all the dirt is laid out by hearings in full view of the public, it’s not going to help the 20 GOP senators who are up for re-election, including McConnell and Graham. Especially not after this Tax Day, especially not after they continue to damage health care. And especially not if they target Medicare and Social Security as McConnell indicated he wants to.

      Have the hearings. Write the articles. Impeach and then make bastard McConnell own this. We’re already going to piss on his grave when he kicks the bucket some day because ‘nevertheless, she persisted’.

      • Rugger9 says:

        The more hearings, the more dirt out there, the harder the votes will be for the GOP congresscritters stuck between the primary rocks and general election hard places. The vulnerable ones like Collins will be allowed to break ranks since 67 is needed (20 need to go over to the Ds) to convict in the Senate, but the NRA is likely to electorally punish everyone else.

        I think Nadler, Schiff, Waters, Cummings, Neal, etc., are well aware of the value of being thorough but being objective. The facts will speak for themselves, unlike the Benghazi investigation that lasted longer, Mueller achieved borderline profitability (from Manafort’s forfeiture; Benghazi = 0), had several guilty pleas and indictments (Benghazi = 0) and the MAGA tribespeople peeled off (even as abstentions) will finish off Kaiser Quisling. Recall how now-Minority Leader McCarthy said before being hushed by LyinRyan that Benghazi would be kept going all year to tie up HRC.

        So, the GOP already laid down that marker all by themselves in a case of Hillary Derangement Syndrome, and in addition have a helluva lot to hide in relation to help from the Russians. We expect the House investigations to reveal a lot of inconvenient truths.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Fundamentally, the analysis I see assumes that no further information would be revealed in the impeachment hearings to come. That assumption is not based in actual facts on the ground. For instance, we have the counterintelligence report from the Feebs in progress as EW pointed out, we have a new parade of witnesses including but not limited to Cohen, DJTJ, Jarvanka, Sessions, Priebus, Bannon, Spicer, Hicks, Parscale, Barr, some Russians to be named like Felix, Stone and Mueller all on CSPAN in various forms of obstruction (except for Mueller, probably) that Mueller wouldn’t interview for reasons he stated. That’s even before Maxine Waters goes over the Inaugural Committee (which Pence chaired) finances and missing cash. We have Stormy and Karen and 666 and Trump Hotels (especially DC) and Mar-a-Lago and the Chinese connections in addition to Vlad, etc., and I find it very hard to believe that those investigations would all come up with nothing. Since these are House committees Kaiser Quisling and his Palace can only fume and whine about how this is taking too long, it’s old news, it’s too expensive and no collusion.

        As I noted before, Benghazi was kept alive with zero indictments and no recovery of assets as a vehicle to hammer HRC (as admitted by McCarthy), but let’s also remember that the reason the security was lacking had to do with the GOP Congresscritters cutting the State Department’s security budget and outsourcing the work as well.

        If the Ds behave like the adults in the room, looking for answers then the facts will point to impeachment. It also does not preclude action on the rest of the agenda such as Medicare for All (we are the only G50 country without guaranteed basic care), election protection, environment, tax reform and other key D concepts. Let the GOP vote against those as well and lose general election votes. Get them on the record.

        • Rugger9 says:

          This conventional wisdom also assumes that the members of the cabal don’t turn on each other like Corsi and Stone did, or Cohen v. Kaiser Quisling.

          There are a lot of people well-paid to be centrists and pundits that do not know what they are talking about outside of their bubbles (and frequently inside them as well), but they make the network execs feel good.

          It also assumes that the Palace won’t do stupid things to highlight their guilty consciences, as the WashPo reports today (article counter) that Cummings is getting sued for conducting oversight:

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-sues-in-bid-to-block-congressional-subpoena-of-financial-records/2019/04/22/a98de3d0-6500-11e9-82ba-fcfeff232e8f_story.html

          [FYI – link edited to remove tracking. /~Rayne]

        • Rayne says:

          The states have filed north of 90 lawsuits against Trump; IIRC 46 of them are from California. Each of those suits represents an opportunity to scrutinize Trump’s bad faith execution of the law.

          Every suit by CREW and ACLU offer the same. They’ve constructed a roadmap for investigations in addition to SCO’s report. We have plenty of material already laid out. It’s time to get cracking.

          • Rugger9 says:

            I’ll agree these will get things into the court record, I’m not so sure Faux News will cover them. That’s why the hearings are so important since almost everyone will pay attention to CSPAN on these topic. Courts typically aren’t in open session on TV (OJ being an exception).

            Otherwise we will get more of what Joni Ernst was peddling, the “brash demeanor” Trump being Trump line.

            Thanks for fixing the WashPo link.

        • CitizenCrone says:

          “It also does not preclude action on the rest of the agenda…”

          Like, say, a little campaign finance reform? At least to patch up the foreign contributions holes. I don’t trust the SCOTUS on those issues, but we need to try.

    • FB1848 says:

      Yes. I have been posting much the same of late. The alternative to pre-impeachment hearings dominating the news cycle is Senate witch-hunt investigations of Obama’s DOJ dominating the news cycles. You have to play offense against these people.

    • AMG says:

      i’ve read volume 2, there’s no “implicit” about it. heck, the SC even did the work of rebutting the president’s counsel on the statutory and constitutional defenses they raised.

  6. Charles says:

    Rosalind Helderman has an important article at the WaPo (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/inside-the-special-counsels-long-hunt-to-uncover-whether-the-trump-campaign-conspired-with-russia/2019/04/21/57e67ac4-563c-11e9-814f-e2f46684196e_story.html)

    There’s some that’s too vague to be of much use, but what was of use was how people in the Trump orbit frustrated Mueller’s best investigators by being such compulsive liars. Example, Jerome Corsi: “The deeply fact-based prosecutors struggled to make sense of the conspiracy theorist and his evolving testimony. ‘It’s their biggest nightmare,’ [Corsi attorney] Gray said.’The supposed best of the best were just frankly dumbfounded by the whole situation.'”

    I think this could explain some of the obvious gaps in the Mueller report. Pile the bulls–t high enough and, as a black hole does to space-time, it warps reality.

    • P J Evans says:

      First Barr. Then Bart K (and they ought to look at Gorsuch, too). Because Barr will block stuff.

      • Vern says:

        I agree with this PJ, but as a friendly amendment, we need to start thinking about how to impeach (even if they’re not convicted) most of the judges Trump has appointed: establish that Trump is an illegitimate president, the Senate Rs were compromised by Russian money/influence (plenty to dig into from the public record, tip of the iceberg), therefore his judicial appointments are as well.

      • AitchD says:

        I was recalling Chuck (“Do you mean Amy”) Schumer’s speech just before the Senate confirmation vote (confirmed by a mere two RCH’s), when he said words to the effect that if you don’t like what just happened, make sure you vote in November (so the House can impeach the accused serial perjurer and rapist).

  7. Stacey says:

    Rayne,
    I 1000% agree!!!
    Here’s an observation from working in domestic violence prevention years ago. Most often when the children assess the whole hot mess that was their childhood with a drunken abusive father and a mother who, doing the best she could, was never the less gaslighted into tolerating the situation to the degree that the children were harmed, they don’t look back and hold mom innocent. They usually blame mom for failure to protect even more than they blame dad for the actual abuse! It’s sort of messed up, but that’s what so often happens.

    I’ve often thought of our modern GOP as the drunken abusive dad, and the Dems as the typically helpless, out-maneuvered, gaslighted, hang-wringing, shit-out-of-luck and isolated-from-genuine-resources mom, who at the end of the day is not powerful enough to protect the children through whatever needs to be done. And the country’s population is the children who will not look upon the Dem’s failure to rise to this occasion with anything but more hatefulness and distrust than they will ever look at the GOP for all that they’ve done!

    At the end of the day, when the vulnerable assess blame whoever was supposed to protect them from harm is seen as the thing that ALMOST prevented them from being harmed but DIDN’T, thus the thing that COULD have been the slightest bit different is the lynchpin. The mind latches onto the closest factor that could have prevented a tragedy, not the thing that WAS the tragedy.

    It’s like when the traffic accident happens and you think ‘IF ONLY I had not stopped at that last yellow light, I would not have been here when the truck blew through this intersection.’ From a logic standpoint, that’s ridiculous, but the mind sees it as the closest thing that could have been different, which you could have done differently, that would have made the difference, as one imagines it. In the abuse case, Mom’s failure to protect becomes the children’s “if only” statement and eventually more to blame for the abuse than the abuser–or the truck that blew through the intersection–because the truck was there no matter what. What the mind thinks could have been different is where YOU were when it happened, therefore that’s what the mind tries to change or wishes to undo, and that which it thinks it SHOULD be able to undo by virtue of it’s proximity to the tragedy, but is not undone, is blamed.

    The Dems will get blamed for failure to hold this administration accountable for more years than the Republicans will be remembered for having done all that they’ve done! And to some degree that blame will not be wrong if the Dems fail to act at this point. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” means exactly this! Evil is sort of baked in at this point, the factor that is or is not different is good wo/men and the choices they make in the moments they are faced with that evil.

    • Lydian says:

      I agree, Stacey. I know democrats who, to this day, and regardless of the facts, damn the Dems (specifically, Obama) for ignoring what Bush, et al, did because the Dems ‘should have known better’ whereas the GOP will ‘always be evil.’ (Not my words, but theirs). As someone who understands some of the complexity of how our minds (conscious and unconscious) work, I believe your analysis is correct. It certainly fits with my experience.

    • rip says:

      Your post was a very fine analogy that most of us can relate to. Sometimes the world of politics and power-brokering is murky and intentionally so. However all of the participants have counterparts in family and social dynamics. For better, and definitely for worse.

  8. Bri2k says:

    Thank you for a fantastic post that gave words to many thoughts I’ve been having about the “I” word, Rayne. I’ve been a loyal Democrat for over 30 years but if they abrogate their clear duty here I’m done with them. What good is a party if it can’t uphold its primary constitutional responsibility?

    The good news is I don’t see how they get around not having impeachment investigations and hearings at this point. The facts are damning and I think there’s a growing public demand for the whole truth to come out and for justice to be served.

  9. Eureka says:

    re Tumulty linked: I cannot fathom that a sentient human put their byline on that provocateur-ism. Must be looking for hate-clicks. Facially, it makes no sense. So why are some/many trying to manufacture this weird discourse space?

    • Rayne says:

      As if a lifelong scofflaw would ever respond constructively to censure — especially if they’re a malignant narcissist. Tumulty’s piece was so shallow in thought it wasn’t worth its pixels.

  10. cat herder says:

    If anybody is whining about another Impeachment making this ‘the new normal’ or somesuch shit, maybe they should be working a little harder to make sure the Republicans don’t keep nominating amoral criminal psychopaths.

  11. SuzyQ says:

    Hi, everyone! Been here reading for a while, but haven’t commented until now. Just want to thank Rayne for these open threads – you always read our need to vent very well. Also, I very much appreciate your rage and how you express it.

    I enjoy this passage from the Communist Manifesto:

    “The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with the aristocracy; later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself, whose interests have become antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all time with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In all these battles, it sees itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for help, and thus, to drag it into the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie.”

    We know what we must do – the path is before us. We have their weapons. It’s time.

    Impeach the motherfucker.

  12. oslojim says:

    Its taken a year and a half of lurking around before this, my first comment… so here goes; Yes! Start the process. Viewed from my expat distance it seems pretty obvious that another Trump campaign would be much more damaging than the impeachment hearings. The hearings would be in support of the Constitution, the rallies will be despite it. Also, just want to say thanks to all the people in here. It is enlightening reading, even if the subject matter can be darker than I am comfortable with.

    • rip says:

      That’s a point that needs to be emphasized.

      Impeachment while it will be a difficult process is still part of our normal government covenants – our constitution.

      A rogue pResident using the office that he stole in order to incite violence and hatred is outside of normal governance, at least still in the US.

      We will suffer if we allow him to carry on as if he’s still king of Atlantic City.

  13. Ruthie says:

    Yes, yes, yes!

    I understand that impeachment is ultimately a political question, but it *is* a legitimate constitutional remedy after all. Surely the bar of “high crimes and misdemeanors” has been met. And if not now, what will ever rise to that level? The cynical (probably correct) answer to that is one only has to wait for the next Democratic administration that isn’t staffed by uniformly exemplary people.

    I’ve been a lifelong Democratic voter, but couldn’t bring myself to register with the Democratic Party until 2018. The party’s failure to stand up to Republicans, to be an unashamed voice for liberal values and policies, has been frustrating and demoralizing. You’d think the rise of Trump and the distortion of conservative principles beyond recognition would be a wake up call, but apparently the jury is still out. For some who feel like me, continued failure by the Democratic Party to STAND FOR SOMETHING might push them past the point of tolerance. I refuse to give up, but a non trivial number of people might do just that, and we can’t afford that. That seems equally if not more important than the low information voters who might be turned off because it’s all just partisan shouting.

    OT to Rayne – If I’m “speaking out of turn” ignore this, but I’d like to point out that you’re the only other contributor to offer a disclaimer to check the byline. Every time I read it I feel a little dart of pain. I can’t imagine EW’s readership would ask that of you or any of the other regular contributors. Not that my opinion is definitive (to anyone other than myself), but your contributions are valuable enough to warrant inclusion without it. Forgive me if my comment oversteps.

    • Rayne says:

      With regard to byline check — for some reason my posts are more frequently mistaken for Marcy’s. Because her work tends to be analytical and expository while much of mine tends to be narrative and hortatory, the mistaken identity can be problematic. Especially on issues where Marcy and I don’t agree, an infrequent reader might come away very confused if they thought pieces with different perspectives came from the same person.

      Thanks for the feedback. :-)

  14. Hops says:

    Forcing a trial in the Senate would at least get people’s attention focussed on the malfeasance, which goes beyond the gaps in the Mueller report to stuff not in Mueller’s remit, like emoluments and tax evasion. Probably ought to get that queued up as well.

  15. Jenny says:

    Thank you Rayne. Great post.
    Yes, let’s break some eggs to make soft boiled, sunny side up or scrambled, even all three. Impeachment is a process. Time to hold people accountable and stop rewarding bad behavior. Senate will stall; however injustice and negative material will be exposed hidden in the shadows for too long.
    Exposure, exposure and more exposure.

  16. Badger Robert says:

    The broadest statement in the report was that the interference was substantial and systematic. It was not proved to be co-ordinated, but there many Russians involved. The basis for undermining the current President would be a forensic examination of the odds that he did not win legitimately. That makes all the known misconduct a High Crime.
    He invited Russian help and the press slept on it.

    • Jockobadger says:

      There’s a nice added plus to conducting a forensic exam of “the odds that he did not win legitimately.” It would drive tr*mp well and truly around the bend! The tweetstorms would be epic (and possibly have legal ramifications.) As has been pointed out elsewhere, this guy has been a monumental failure at virtually every “legitimate” business he has tried his (tiny) hand at e.g. tr*mp U, streaks, wine, Atlantic City, various tr*mp towers, etc. He is clearly managing to do the same with his presidency. I keep waiting/hoping for him to blow completely – flip out – right off the deep end. Even an implication that his electoral election was fixed might just do the trick. Do the forensic exam as kick-off for the Impeachment. Wooo boy! Can’t wait to get started.

      • Tom says:

        Now, now; you know how sensitive the President can be. We wouldn’t want to get him frustrated now, would we, the poor baby.

        • Jockobadger says:

          Shucks. You’re right Tom. After all, the AG did point that out in his pre-report presser.

          F*ck him and all of his sleazy, crooked, hateful, racist, misogynist crew. Rayne is right (as usual.) We have to stay on-point and organize to the maximum extent possible. While the Impeachment proceedings roll along, we cannot get complacent. 2020 is right around the corner and we need to do a clean sweep. Great work EW – keep the faith, but pass the ammunition (thanks Norskie.)

  17. Badger Robert says:

    And there will be spillovers, because the misogyny directed at candidate Clinton was sparked in Russia and echoed by Russian trolls.

    • Rayne says:

      Other way around: decades of anti-HRC animus generated by Fox, combined with the rising anti-feminist sentiment launched by Gamergate, were identified as useful, heightened, and interleaved in messaging designed to increase dislike of HRC.

      They use our weaknesses against us.

      • Badger Robert says:

        Measured, refined, amplified, and reverberated apply equally.
        Agreed. People who utilized that will have to answer for it.

  18. Tom says:

    Just re-read David Frum’s article, “How to Build an Autocracy”, in the March 2017 issue of The Atlantic. His closing paragraph reads as follows: “We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour [notice the Churchill reference] as a citizen and an American.”

    So even two years ago, conservative Mr. Frum viewed Donald Trump and his corrupt style of governing as a graver threat to the U.S. than Nazism and Japanese militarism during WW II or Soviet imperialism during the Cold War. Impeachment: use it or lose it.

    • bmaz says:

      “Use it or lose it” is one of my significant issues. If you cannot impeach Trump now, for what he has done (and there is a LOT in addition to the Mueller Report issues), then you are basically obviating and rendering null a major provision of power and check and balance the Constitution is based on. If not now, then it simply cannot ever be used, and that is not right.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        A useful analogy is the decision by Obama not to prosecute the banksters after the Great Recession. He saved the banking system only in the sense that he helped it avoid consequences for its high-risk predatory neoliberal policies.

        He saved it from being forced to change its leadership, staffing, and business practices. He ensured the continuation of its risky resource extraction ways. Congress helped him considerably. As Chris Dodd said, the bankers own it.

        But Congress not responding to Trump’s documented wrongful conduct would be worse. It would give him control of the law and – through McConnell – the judiciary, leaving a self-gelded Congress to look longingly at the fillies in the field, shorn of the will and the means to pursue them.

        This is one of those rare crossing the Rubicon moments. Will we be a republic or not?

        • Pat Neomi says:

          That’s a great point, earl. What I’m concerned about is that the same neo-liberals that sanctioned Obama’s “saving” the banks are at the helm with regard to the impeachment question, too. Pelosi is the perfect manifestation of this mentality.

        • CitizenCrone says:

          EOH
          Yes, Obama let Wall St “avoid consequences for its high-risk predatory neoliberal policies.”

          And before that, he let the GWBush admin avoid any consequences for their torture policy and their prosecution of the Iraq war.

          And Reagan batted his cow eyes and said he was sorry, and his cohorts were pardoned

          Some people, if not actually above the law, still seem to have a get-out-of-jail-free card.

          Not good, especially considering the increasing inequities in our society.

          Do the right thing…while you still can.

      • Ruthie says:

        Well, it cannot be used against a *Republican* president. Somehow I feel certain that if anything more than the slightest blemish is ever attributed to a Democratic president the resolve to undertake this awesome responsibility will magically reappear…

      • 200Toros says:

        YES, this is exactly how I feel! As others have said, the Mueller report, if not acted upon by Congress, becomes not a roadmap to impeachment, but a roadmap for future politicians to game the system, a roadmap to corruption. The refrain of some that “we need to focus on winning in 2020” misses this point almost entirely – that we need to focus not on 2020, but on the entire future of our country and its democracy. Our children deserve more than just 2020.

  19. Scott says:

    The framers realized impeachment would be a political decision. Not sure why so many seem upset that political calculus is driving Dem leadership on this issue. Like it or not your constitution does seem to place a “sitting President” more or less above the law.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. This is your second username to date. Please use the same username each time you comment so community members get to know you. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      The framers weren’t dealing with this many states, this many citizens, this much partisanship. Cripes, they were still dealing with loyalist monarchists as neighbors and the issue of slavery; women didn’t have sufferage. Law enforcement was thin to nonexistent. To say they fully understood what they were creating was a political decision ignores the fact their politics were pretty simplistic and there wasn’t much backstop apart from Congress to check the executive.

      One might say we’ve regressed back to a point in time where there’s little law enforcement — at least when it comes to the wealthy who can afford to buy lawyers, accountants, and legislators. Bill Barr is clearly enforcement avoidant when it comes to Trump. Congress must therefore be the backstop; they will be enforcing law.

      • Badger Robert says:

        The original federal government was very weak. Most government occurred at the state level and state were explicitly bargaining for the right to resist. The threat was not too great, because the two year election cycle was fast, for the time involved.
        The impeachment power is now something different.
        The most successful impeachment was the trial of Andrew Johnson. It stopped Johnson’s attempt to end Reconstruction and kept the window open for a few more years. Civil Rights in the northern states took several steps forward.
        The downside was that there was no discipline on the enormous railroad building subsidies, which people like Charles Francis Adams, II knew were being squandered.
        Forcing some paralysis on Trump, if justified by the evidence, is desirable.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You can get a more complete picture of Reconstruction from Eric Foner. 1988. Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. A shorter version is his and Olivia Mahoney’s, America’s Reconstruction: People and Politics after the Civil War.

          The 1876 deal worked out to install Hayes as president, following the scandal-ridden Grant administration, ended Reconstruction, began the era of the Jim Crow South, and wiped out many of the gains to African Americans. The white supremacist Washington political establishment reasserted itself. Eric Foner:

          Reconstruction failed…for blacks its failure was a disaster whose magnitude cannot be obscured by the genuine accomplishments that did endure.

          • Badger Robert says:

            Regarding Reconstruction, there was probably a five year window ending in 1870. Anything not accomplished by then was set aside for 80 years.
            Foner is too depressing to read. Its all too visceral. And O’Rourke did attend Columbia. As a lecturer though, he is quite humorous.

      • Tom says:

        The Founding Fathers also came from a limited, property owning social group. Whatever personal faults they may have had in the way of gambling debts, illegitimate children, or drunkenness, they were all able to present themselves as gentlemen with a stake in the independence and success of their new nation. Someone like Donald Trump, being such an obvious cheat, liar, charlatan, and empty braggart, with absolutely no redeeming civic virtues, would have been shunned and deemed unfit for polite society. The idea that such a man might even be considered for the Presidency would, I think, have been inconceivable to Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and company.

      • Scott says:

        All those issues of the day doesn’t change the fact that the Framers intended from the beginning that removal of the POTUS would be a political decision. They understood from the beginning that the Executive would never be in a position to investigate and prosecute itself.

  20. fpo says:

    As Dem leadership creeps along toward a unified decision on impeachment, it will be interesting to watch how GOP Senators, particularly those up for reelection in 2020, respond to Congressional Democrats doing their job – as in exercising oversight via investigation – and hereafter to be spun as “presidential harassment.”

    A corollary for me is the issue of tRump’s refusal to release his tax returns. For two years, every R with an inclination to get in front of a camera has repeated the mantra “That was litigated in the election. People don’t care about his taxes. Let’s move on.”

    Well, two years on, national polls indicate that they do care. They do want to see his tax return(s) and, we can presume, for all the right reasons. Predictably, it’s not a key issue for Rs – but 47% of independents consider it a priority, as do 77% of Dems. If there was a vote today on the issue of tRump’s tax returns, he would be an unqualified LOSER. [ https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/27/trump-tax-returns-poll-1239036 ]

    The roll-up to impeachment will be protracted, revealing additional evidence of corrupt activity and, most importantly, proof that the fundamental concerns of the majority average Americans, for themselves and their children, is not – and has never been – a priority of this President. That reality will be impossible to ignore.

    Will GOP Senators, particularly the at-risk, 2020 bunch, capitulate to reality and/or common sense and begin to acknowledge key facts as put forward in the Mueller Report – and the chaos of the last two years? Even Guiltiani, on the subject of accepting Oppo research from a foreign adversary, has said he “wouldn’t do it…in an abundance of caution.” (recent MSNBC, MTP interview – Sunday, I believe.)

    Even if the path to impeachment falls short of a Senate vote, pursuit of that goal is not optional for Democrats and, as facts and evidence continue to accumulate, likewise for Republicans – or at least those with any sense of public sentiment and an eye on 2020.

    A bit OT, but MSNBC has reported that the tRump org is suing the House Oversight committee re a request for documents – documents which may provide irrefutable proof of tRump having violated the law. Imagine that.

    • Scott says:

      Most remaining GOP Senators are as dependent on Trump’s base as he is. How they will respond is completely predictable.

  21. Badger Robert says:

    While the public is interested in the testimony, the Democrats critically need the interference information.

  22. Kurtyboy says:

    In December of 2000, the USSC stopped the State of Florida from a complete recount of votes and, in essence, installed G.W. Bush to the Presidency on a 5-4 vote. Had they allowed the recount to continue, I am certain that the Florida Legislature, fully under Republican control and holding an ally in the Governor, would have invalidated the recount and seated a separate slate of electors. Next, I imagine, those electors’ legitimacy would have been questioned, and the election would have gone to the House for a final Constitutional resolution. I believe–again–that GWB would have prevailed.

    So either way, the GOP would have gotten their president. But in my alternative scenario, representatives accountable to the people would have had to put their names onto the action. They would have had to face the people in 2002–and who knows how that might have gone?

    To me, this is the greatest injustice of Bush v. Gore–the USSC decided what should have been decided by direct representatives. Nobody in the USSC majority could be held accountable for their egregious decision. The people were robbed of their power to review the decision.

    I make the same argument today. Impeachment must occur, regardless of the prospect of success.

    The House and the Senate must perform their respective Constitutional duties and face the voters for their actions. Anything less than electoral accountability for Congress via a public impeachment and trial of the President is weak. I’m talking to you, cable commentators and presidential hopefuls who say that the voters should just vote Trump out in 2020 and be done with it. (And the same process should occur for ALL OTHER Federal officers who have committed crimes).

    The Founders got a lot of things wrong when the Union was formed. But placing significant power in the hands of the representatives closest to the people–the House–was not one of them. That power is near extinction, will live only if exercised in this instance.

    • bmaz says:

      Agree, but still think the actual count, already sanctioned by FL Courts, was trending toward Gore. So, not sure about that part.

      • Kurtyboy says:

        True–and in my scenario, the Legislature would have invalidated the results of that recount by installing their own slate of electors–which is their privilege under Florida law.

        Any reluctance to do so on their part (which I did not perceive at the time, BTW) would certainly have only arisen from the kind of accountability the Framers insisted upon, and the Florida constitution subsequently adopted.

    • harpie says:

      I was reminded of Bush v. Gore while reading Marcy’s tweeting about the Mueller Report the other day. She later put this tweet in the Thread two: First half of Russian intervention:
      https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1118967191498645505

      Mueller was just chasing down this outreach in October of last year. It’s actually fairly interesting, and hadn’t been exposed in this level of detail.

      There is a screenshot of this paragraph:

      “At approximately the same time that the letter was being prepared, Robert Foresman – a New York-based investment banker – began reaching out to Graff to secure an in-person meeting with candidate Trump. According to Foresman, he had been asked by Anton Kobyakov, a Russian presidential aide involved with the Roscongress Foundation, to see if Trump could speak at the forum. Foresman first emailed Graff on March 31, 2016, following a phone introduction brokered through Mark Burnett (who produced the television show The Apprentice). In his email, Foresman referenced his long-standing personal and professional expertise in Russia and Ukraine, his work setting up an early “private channel” between Vladimir Putin and former U.S. President George W. Bush, and an approach” he had received from “senior Kremlin officials” about the candidate.”

      That made me think of W’s weird “I got a sense of Putin’s soul” [approximate quote] comment in summer 2001.

  23. Tom Poe says:

    Mr. Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, in England, has roundly sent our self-confessed sexual predator on his way. He will not be invited to address their legislative bodies when he travels to England. Reality has already captured the rest of the world. I look forward to continued oversight hearings that have been delayed for the last two plus years. By the time election is held, we, too, will join the rest of the world and send this scumbag straight to jail. I like the sound of felonious president. He truly deserves it.

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump maneuvered himself into a $400 million inheritance, to the detriment of his siblings. Otherwise, he has failed at every business he has ever run. Six-time bankrupt, a “super wealthy” bidnessman whom no bank would touch except for the corrupt Deutsche Bank.

    He is a guy who needed so much help winning his one run for elected office that he sought it from a country that has been regarded as America’s greatest enemy for a century. A guy who tells his shill of a lawyer to claim publicly that there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Why would anyone expect Trump to succeed as president when he has not succeeded at anything else?

    The House needs to set up its impeachment inquiry promptly. There is more than enough probable cause to do so. Use it to establish the case for impeachment. Use it to craft the reforms needed to avoid allowing another scofflaw president to remain in office, untouched by the law or political pressure. It’s not about partisan politics. It’s about running a democracy.

  25. Badger Robert says:

    The Republican Senators probably fall into three groups. Those up for election in 2020 face a direct threat from a surviving Trump. Those up for election in 2022 have party loyalty issues, but Trump is not a direct threat. Trump will be irrelevant by 2024. A designated heir might try to run, though.
    If the investigation undermines Trump’s health, and decreases his poll numbers, he may become a lame duck much sooner than is now anticipated.
    Mueller stayed away from mentioning Trump’s children. Which creates a much more tolerable exit path for Trump, real or apparent.

  26. BobCon says:

    One of the things that aggravates me about current talk about impeachment is that it ignores the timeline of how things played out with Watergate.

    The 93rd Session of Congress convened in January 1973, just as the current Session of Congress convened in January of this year.

    It is now April. The Senate Watergate Committee didn’t begin hearings until May 17 1973.

    The Senate Committee didn’t issue its report until June 1974, over a year later.

    The House did not begin its impeachment investigation until February 1974, 13 months after the 93rd Session of Congress began.

    The House Judiciary Committee did not hold its final vote until July 30 1974, 18 months after the 93rd Session of Congress began. We are now only in the fourth month of the current Session. The House did not move to hold an impeachment vote until late August 1974. This was 15 months after the Senate Watergate Committee began its work.

    This is not a lightning process, assuming it’s not a bogus sham like the GOP launched against Clinton. There is a lot of work for the House to conduct, and there is every reason for them to hold comprehensive hearings and move agressively but comprehensively.

    There are a lot of people who stupidly want to equate impeachment with a two week carnival. It should be considered a much more serious effort, and on a timeline that would take, at a minimum, six months. It will invevitably be longer as Trump tries to stonewall. It makes sense to start now.

    • Rayne says:

      EXACTLY. I think Nadler’s subpoena Friday was the first salvo.

      It’s up to us, though, as citizens to put the pressure on the House Dems to act. Make the calls, people. (202) 224-3121

      • Jockobadger says:

        Agree COMPLETELY BobCon and Rayne. This process needs to be deliberate, comprehensive, and gin-clear transparent. Nadler fired the first salvo and tr*mp has responded with a lawsuit to block release of his business tax info to Elijah C. Here we go…

        • bmaz says:

          I disagree completely, and in every regard. The critical point is NOT when a Senate committee held some hearings, the critical point is the House opening a formal impeachment investigation. That does NOT mean voting on articles, it means accessing the formal powers, especially in evidence gathering and subpoena enforcement.

          This is not the day of Watergate. Time, people and media move quantumly faster now than they did then. This Administration is openly disdainful of Congressional oversight and subpoena power. Having an open impeachment investigation centralizes many disparate threads in one place and truly maximizes the House ability to enforce subpoenas because then it is Constitutionally founded at the deepest root level. It infuriates me that people do not understand the nuances and relative powers involved, and why.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Agreed. Emotionally and legally, and for good reason, Trump considers oversight an existential threat. He will defend himself and attack his accusers without restraint. He will litigate to the Supreme Court time and again. And he has found his Roy Cohn to do it.

            Much of the toing and froing will be out of public sight. The exceptions will be a few blogs, the hyperbole from Faux Noise, and the “only the horse race stuff, please,” coming from the MSM.

            Congress will win this in the courts. It needs to have the strongest possible foundation for conducting oversight. That comes from an impeachment inquiry, which Mueller’s report gives it ample reason to conduct. That’s one reason Barr is working so hard to lie about what it says.

            Even when Congress wins in the courts, Trump will refuse to yield. But others can be made to give up the information Congress needs. It can continue to do that after Trump leaves office, if need be, in order to understand what reforms are most essential for it to legislate.

            Trump, his family and aides will continue to be exposed to potential prosecution until the statutes of limitation run. But this is less about punishment for its own sake than about prevention. The Republic can stand only so many Trumps (and the Republican Party he rode in on).

            Trump’s response will be to stoke greater fear and encourage violence, tactics drawn from the standard banana republic playbook. Congress needs to be ready for that, too.

          • RWood says:

            Thank you, bmaz!

            I’m seeing a real failure of the press to inform the public of the difference. Most seem to think that an investigation is an investigation.

            How they expect to tackle the mountain of evidence in so little time without a formal impeachment investigation is something I can’t understand.

            If anyone has seen such an article explaining this I’d love to both read it and have it available to pass on to others.

          • Jockobadger says:

            Thanks bmaz. I really do appreciate your elucidation of where the substantive power lies and how it can/should be maximized. I just want the House to move forward soon i.e. get the subpoenas issued and hearings started and do so in an open, transparent manner consistent with the MR in substance and tone (not exactly the right word.)

            I believe that once people start to testify in hearings, under oath, in response to deliberate and probative questions, some of the less pwned R’s are going to roll. It’s hackneyed, but right now time really is “of the essence.” Strike while the iron’s hot, etc. We need to get this info on the record and in public (as much as possible) while “memories are fresh.’ I sure hope this doesn’t p-ss you off any further bmaz. Apologies for the platitudes.

            • bmaz says:

              You have not pissed me off at all. Don’t worry about that in the least. My point is that there is just a lot of nonsense in the media, video and print, that “investigation” equals “voting actual articles of impeachment”. It does not, and this is a bad and idiotic framing. Use the power to investigate THEN decide what to do with the work product. They are separate things.

              • RWood says:

                Possibly premature but somewhat related:

                Who should do the questioning?

                I read recently, (cannot remember where) a view that the current House members tend to wander about when they have someone in the hot seat and that it results in questions that fail to get things moving in the direction they should.

                Should the House pick someone to handle the questioning for them, and if so, who?

                • bmaz says:

                  Yes, they can let a unified staff attorney(s) ask the questions, and there is immense precedent for this. But the GOP in the House will never give up their grandstand.

                  • Rayne says:

                    I think letting them have their grandstand might work in our favor. If Dems agreed to a staff attorney for their side, no amount of grandstanding will fix the pyroclastic shitflow released by effective, aggressive questioning. It might even make it clear to the public how steeped in bad faith the GOP has become.

                    • Rayne says:

                      The Dems agree to a group presser after every hearing so they get their grandstanding. If we’re smart we find a PAC willing to do the production work on videos along with distribution. But this would require unity and smarts. ;-/

          • BobCon says:

            I think any House action needs to be thought of as a parallel effort to Mueller’s work, not a simple hand off from one party to the next, in the same way that congressional action in ’73 and ’74 was parallel to what prosecutors were doing.

            What DOJ has done will be useful, but not complete and not always relevant. Congress needs to expand the scope beyond what it gets from DOJ, and also view evidence from the perspective of impeachment, not criminal prosecution.

            The investigation should be handled by a House Judiciary impeachment committee, no question, although of course other committees may well contribute information. Realistically, the House Judiciary’s work will combine functions of the Senate Watergate Committee and the House Watergate impeachment procedings. But if you are trying to scope out the timeline of a 2019 effort, it is worth looking to how long events took during Watergate.

            The House will want to interview key players, and that will take time. They will need to hold hearings, and that will take time There will be significant court fights and that will take time.

            I don’t see any other way. If they try the rubber stamp process of the ’98 House GOP, it will backfire.

            That is not to say they need to follow the path of Congress during Watergate with Senate action preceding an impeachment move, That is ibviously a nonstarter. But many of the steps taken will need to happen, and looking to Watergate should make it clear that this not a two month rush job, like ’98.

          • Oldguy says:

            One question I have relative to an impeachment investigation is whether McConnell and President Obama could be called to answer questions about Mitch’s threat to politicize the concerns about Russian interference now that the Mueller report documents that interference, and how it did or did not affect briefings to the campaigns. I think that independent of criminal conspiracy, the possibly coordinated effort of McConnell and the Trump campaign to thwart the Obama administration’s effort to respond to a foreign threat is spectacular, and McConnell needs to be held publicly to account for his causal contribution to the events documented in the Mueller report.

            • bmaz says:

              Hmmmm, good question. I don’t know. Would be a fascinating inquiry. Can see a lot of arguments against that could be made though. No way will ever happen.

              • P J Evans says:

                Make sure he’s in the room while Obama is answering that question, because I think Obama would be giving fairly full (and honest) answers, and McTurtle would be looking really bad.

                • Oldguy says:

                  If an impeachment inquiry is opened, and the Mueller report is the basis, why do you think Obama could not be summoned to comment considering the straightforward conclusion of the Mueller report. I could see where he was summoned and he would decline to answer because of the privilege argument, but if he did, it would put the spotlight squarely on Mitch, where it belongs.

  27. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Anyone who still thinks that there is enough meat and marrow on the bones of America to suck dry via offshoring and tax dodging would find endless excuses to delay or avoid impeachment.

  28. Vern says:

    Digby speaks for me: If Democrats won’t act against Trump, the destruction of our democracy is on them

  29. Bri2k says:

    I wish I could upvote just about every post on this great thread!

    I’ve already contacted my congresscritter and requested they push for impeachment investigations and hearings. I’m pleased leaders Pelosi & Hoyer have been quiet so far today.

    Many thanks to Rayne for a great post and Marcy for her amazing work (I cheer every time she gets interviewed) and the rest of the EW crew for thoughtful, reasoned analysis & discussion.

  30. Fran of the North says:

    To some degree, current Democratic leadership is taking too much from the results of the Clinton impeachment efforts. Clinton reached his highest approval ratings after the unsuccessful impeachment trail. Clearly the Dems don’t want to to improve Trump’s existing (dis)favorability index.

    No rational party should.

    However, a key difference exists, and that is the substance and number of different issues which can and should be brought to bear. The House voted to impeach Clinton on 2 of 4 articles.

    With thorough investigationS, with how many articles could DJT legitimately be charged?

    As the number of real transgressions grow, and the drip, drip, drip of new information comes out, the risk of his favorability index improving is negligible.

    • BobCon says:

      Dave Weigel of the Washington Post has been saying over and over that Clinton’s approval ratings are the wrong thing to look at.

      Weigel says people should look at what Clinton fatigue did to Gore. Gore lost millions of votes because many weren’t so excited about Clinton that they would vote for essentially a third term for him in 2000.

      And I also agree that Trump’s crimes are serious, while most people didn’t see Clinton’s case as worth impeachment. I think a lot of pundits and politicos are greatly underestimating the ability of voters to tell the difference between Clinton’s sliminess and Trump’s crimes.

      • P J Evans says:

        I suspect a lot of 2000’s “lost” votes for Gore were the result of media coverage painting him as “boring” and “stiff” and full of pie-in-the-sky ideas, while they pushed Shrub as a regular guy, someone that guys would like to have a beer with (after a bowling match, maybe).

  31. W. Maki says:

    Charles Blow advocated for impeachment in https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/21/opinion/impeach-donald-trump.html. Below is my comment in the NY Times.

    There is an alternative that might accomplish the same things as impeachment and that is censure. Either chamber can vote censure with a simple majority, so the likelihood of the Republican Senate failing to convict is irrelevant. Censure is a serious matter, tainting the political futures of those who receive it, with consequences having been resignation or failed re-election. In each chamber there have just a handful of censures in the last 100 years. For more about censure see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censure_in_the_United_States and https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/impeachment-would-be-a-terrible-thing-for-our-country-we-have-another-option/2019/04/19/b75c1e24-62c0-11e9-9ff2-abc984dc9eec_story.html.

    • Rayne says:

      I pointedly called out Karen Tumulty’s op-ed in the Washington Post in which she calls for censure instead of impeachment.

      Nope.

      As I said in thread here already, a lifelong scofflaw and malignant narcissist will not respond constructively to censure.

      • RWood says:

        You may as well file censure in the the same burn envelope as “norm”. With trump they mean nothing.

    • CitizenCrone says:

      I’m really tired of being told impeachment (or other actions of consequence) would be bad for our country. Criminality and corruption are bad for our country; lawlessness and lack of accountability are bad for our country; inequities and extra-judicial killings are bad for our country.

      Diligently carrying out your constitutional mandate to oversee the executive is a good thing.

  32. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As you say, Tumulty’s piece was a shallow plea to let’s not rock the boat or hold the powerful to account. In that, she transmits Beltway wisdom (one of the great oxymorons). One mistake she makes is to confuse impeachment – the process of checking presidential overreach and holding him to account – with removal from office, which is only one of its possible outcomes.

    Tumulty writes as if she were channeling David Brooks. My response is a sneeze that segues into, “bullshit.” Tumulty pleads that Washington should be left alone to fix itself. Self-regulation, Karen, is a neoliberal dodge. It is non-regulation, doing nothing, and accepting whatever the powers that be give us. The House should just say no thanks, Karen, we’ve got this.

    But Tumulty soldiers on. She lists the reasons, many drawn from Mueller’s report, that Congress should impeach Trump. She concedes that Mueller’s report gives Congress a detailed road map for how to do it. But she argues against it. We should, instead, all but ignore Trump’s wrongdoing and have the debate voters really want, about jobs, healthcare and education. How will we do that, Karen, in the face of a reprieved president telling his Base that Democrats are the socialist anti-Christ, and scrambling to do more damage and to hide the damage he’s already done, knowing that Congress will do SFA to stop him?

    Tumulty argues that impeachment would further divide an already hopelessly divided country. Anyone “sentient” should remember that from the GOP’s impeachment of Bill Clinton. What the sentient remember, Karen, is that the GOP took this country through impeachment hell over a blowjob. The GOP sought to immobilize a president because it disagreed with his politics, and to prevent impeachment from being used for more substantial purposes.

    Democrats here have abundant reason to believe that Donald Trump sold out his country to help Russian oligarchs who helped him, and to feather his own nest. Along the way, he and his aides committed crimes, and Trump is actively corrupting the DoJ, the law, and due process. He is harming the entire country and the very idea of government.

    Tumulty would rather the House “formally censure” the president, in what would amount to “a historic rebuke.” She must be joking. To quote Frost, confronting aliens inside the reactor, when told not to use his weapon: “Hey, what the hell are we supposed to use man? Harsh language?”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Indirectly, Polly Higgins has the perfect response to Karen Tumulty’s focus on the good arguments we should be having, on the don’t rock the boat Beltway wisdom that it would be unreasonable and divisive to hold the president to account:

      “To be unreasonable is to stand up and say, ‘No, I refuse to accept this norm.’ Just because it’s the norm doesn’t make it right. And sometimes standing up for justice means standing up when nobody else will.”

      Polly was a Scottish lawyer who spent her career campaigning for the earth. She died recently, at 50, but her campaign to combat the crime she calls “ecoside” continues.

      [https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/22/polly-higgins-environmentalist-eradicating-ecocide-dies]

      Higgins defended her work by comparing it to the campaigns against slavery and for civil rights in a way that supports the argument for holding a criminally errant president to account, even if it requires risk, political will, and sustained public argument:

      “When William Wilberforce first started fighting for the abolition of slavery he always argued not from the economic argument but the moral argument. The moral imperative, he said, trumps the economic [or legal] imperative. His argument was that, morally, this is wrong and it has to stop; we can work out what to do next.

      “It’s the same with the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King was very adamant not to argue that blacks should have equality with whites on the basis of what they get paid. Morally, it [blacks not having civil rights equal to whites] was wrong.

    • Fran of the North says:

      eoh: Look at you with the deep quote. :o) TBH, it was Frost’s fellow Marine whose quote a few minutes later is the one that applies (IMHO) in this instance.

      When a shadow, deep in shadow, moves, Pvt. Vazquez takes a leadership role. She yells “Lets ROCK!” and cuts loose with everything she has. The rest of her platoon joins post haste.

      Who will be the Dem’s Vazquez, and will the rest of congressional delegation join?

      • William Bennett says:

        Another apt quote from the film:
        Ripley: I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

        • P J Evans says:

          That one kept coming to my mind last fall, when I was getting nuked for medical reasons (just to be sure)…and the way the machine works, the source is going around you as if it were orbiting you.

  33. Stephen says:

    Extremely well put, Rayne. Sometimes you have to fight the good fight even against the odds or never call yourself free or proud again.

    Of course we know we are saddled with an unfit president, one who has repeatedly flouted conventions and even laws. We also know that he enjoys the support of roughly 4 in 10 of our peers as well as a narrow majority in the Senate. Their number includes many who are deluded, many who are motivated solely by self-interest, and yes, a “basket of deplorables” of unknown size. So the challenge is to wear away that support.

    First, the fundamentally honest ones who keep trying to convince themselves that things aren’t all that bad, that the gang of grifters and neo-fascists can be made to serve their standard conservative agenda. Many of them can be won over by evidence and argument, though it will take a lot. There aren’t many GOP Senators left who fall into this category, as several have left government by now, but there are a few. And there are still, I think, many Republicans who genuinely believe in a rule of law.

    Second, the purely self-interested ones. That’s probably the largest group. They will barely be swayed by any evidence or reason. But the Senators among them WILL be swayed if/when public opinion swings sharply against the troll-in-chief. If they see approval ratings drop into the low 30s or 20s, they will fear for their own seats and follow the herd they claim to be leading.

    Nothing will sway the remaining ones, but maybe some of them can be voted out of office in a tidal wave, later to be replaced by more moderate voices…

    • RWood says:

      From Salon:

      “A survey conducted by Reuters/Ipsos from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning found that President Donald Trump’s numbers are the lowest that they’ve been this year. Trump’s approval rating was at 37 percent, down from 40 percent on April 15 and 43 percent following the release of Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary of the Mueller report. This indicates that whatever initial benefits Trump received from Barr’s spin on the Mueller report have worn off, if not worse.

      Only 15 percent of the individuals surveyed said that the Mueller report had changed their opinion on the Trump-Russia investigation, with 40 percent saying Trump should be impeached and 42 percent saying that he should not be impeached. Perhaps most damning, 58 percent of Americans believe that Trump attempted to instruct the Mueller investigation.”

      When Nixon left office he still had 25% of the people supporting him. If the same applies to trump, who this poll now puts at 37%, that leaves another 12% that we could label “persuadables”. If the next year is spent showing that group what trump really is…

  34. gmoke says:

    Two prongs for the investigations please. One for impeachment and the other, just as steady and careful, on protecting our electoral system from hacking by Russians or others. Election protection and the ways in which Russians and others have hacked our systems, from voter registration to vote counting, possibly.

    By focusing only on impeachment, as necessary as impeachment is, we run the risk of leaving our election system open to more subversion in 2020.

    • Rayne says:

      I hear you but the House has already passed HR1 intended to improve election security and safeguard voters’ rights
      https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1
      but the bill has been languishing in the Senate because that corrupt motherfucker McConnell refuses to submit the bill for a vote.

      We can have all the investigations we want about election security but the REAL problem is right there in front of our noses: the Republican Party doesn’t want secure elections. They do NOT want democracy because they will lose.

      I suggest each citizen check to see what can be done at state level to secure the election because conditions, state laws, and state legislatures vary widely.

      • P J Evans says:

        L.A. County has been using the “InkADot” system in a lot of precincts for years, and it’s a good reliable method of voting. I understand they’re in the process of switching to machines, where we may or may not get a hard copy and a paper trail, and they may or may not be secure. I do not understand why it’s necessary to go from a reasonably secure system to one that’s probably less secure and can’t easily be audited.

    • harpie says:

      emptywheel Retweeted https://twitter.com/LEBassett/status/1120512536091271168
      7:19 PM – 22 Apr 2019

      NEW: Showdown brewing. White House instructs Carl Kline, who greenlit Kushner’s security clearance, not to comply with Congress’ subpoena. Kline’s attorney says he’s listening to the WH over Congress and will not testify.

      https://twitter.com/KFaulders/status/1120514421237911552

      NEW — here’s the letter from the White House to @RepCummings informing him that acting CoS Mulvaney has directed former WH official Carl Kline not to testify before the committee on security clearance practices

      • harpie says:

        Good Thread:
        https://twitter.com/andrewsweiss/status/1120439752820436997
        2:30 PM – 22 Apr 2019

        THREAD: The Mueller Report is conspicuously silent on the harm to US national security from the Trump team’s dalliances w Russian emissaries during 2015-2017, but a little-noticed DoJ filing last Friday sheds light on Mueller’s ongoing counter-intelligence (CI) investigation. 1/
        On April 19 the DC US Attorney’s Office and DOJ’s National Security Division submitted a sentencing memorandum in the Maria Butina case. [link]
        It spells out in stark terms why Butina posed a threat to US national security with a heavy focus on three types of intelligence activities: “access agents,” “spot-and-assess” operations, and “back channel lines of communication.” 3/
        Curiously, very few people have picked up on an addendum to the filing written by the fmr head of FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, Robert Anderson.
        It’s easy enough to extrapolate from Anderson some elements of the CI assessment that is a central part to Mueller’s inquiry 4/ […]

        • harpie says:

          More:

          […] Anderson is scathing about the impact of back channel amateur hour, which can create “commensurate harm to the US, incl harm to the integrity of the US’ political processes and internal government dealings, as well as to US foreign policy interests and national security” 16/
          Seen against this backdrop, it’s clear that the conduct outlined in Volume I of the Mueller Report created enormous damage to US national security.
          Recall that none of what Mueller covers in the CI investigation requires mustering proof of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. 17/ […]

          • Rayne says:

            Yep. America’s nuclear nonproliferation policy was completely bypassed by way of backchannels before Congress had any chance to debate changes to the policy.

            This is the most dangerous aspect about the Trump campaign and administration, apart from their threat to American lives by gross neglect (ex Puerto Rico) and to asylum seekers. This is the single most important reason why we can’t go slow, why Congress must act urgently to curtail Trump’s abuses.

  35. Scone says:

    Inquiry hearings into the impeachment of AGBillyBarr are still not being seriously entertained, though JoyReid did broach that subject on AMJoy this Saturday. Barr’s impeachment would not only expose his flagrant obstruction; it would lay down a potent marker comprising a fitting opening act for the main event to come. Left unchecked in his role as chief Trump apologist, Barr will be free to unleash further depredations on the the Nation and act as shield for his criminal client in the pursuit of further injustices. Does anyone here really doubt the necessity for such proceedings?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I have been called to jury duty in my local city this next while. In American society, this is expected of a citizen, and in the past I would have experienced a sense of civic pride in fulfilling that duty, and attempted to do it as impartially and fairly as possible. As near as I can tell, people in Banana Republics don’t have the privilege of being asked to serve on juries; it’s an American privilege.

      However, as I watch the national news, I find myself absolutely fuming at the sheer hypocrisy of being expected to sit through legal proceedings in my local city’s courts, while at the federal level the law is exposed as a fraudulent charade.

      How do I raise my unease about the destruction of justice in America in a respectful, responsible manner that doesn’t land me in legal hot water for smarmy snottiness…? (“Judge, isn’t it hypocritical and contemptible to ask me to spend numerous days judging evidence, while you give the entire Congress and legal system a pass from having to delve into facts surrounding the Mueller report?! I’d like your judicious opinion, sir/madam… Because I have a backlog of work far more pressing (and, I hope) important than spending entire days perpetuating an illusion called ‘upholding the law’ that – conveniently for you – pays for your nice mortgage and perks, while the larger system is corroded and delegitimized…”)

      How am I supposed to help mete out justice to a shoplifter? to an embezzler? to a thief? when on the news at night, KellyAnne Conway is shilling about ‘exoneration’ and Trump is howling about ‘witch hunts’?

      As a juror, will I say to a defendant, “Sorry, the evidence persuaded me that you are guilty, but — too bad for you! — since your name is neither Trump, nor Manafort, you’re pretty much f*cked. You don’t have the power to appoint judges, so you’ll have to pay a penalty.”

      If Congress is serious about ‘upholding the law’, then they ought to go through the same process that every city, county, and state court in the nation does: hear evidence, develop an understanding of the facts, and decide the best course of action.

      The Congress — **and the press** need to give the whole ‘political’ angle a rest. That’s not what this is about.

      If I have to spend days of my life reporting for jury duty in my local city, those blowhards in Congress can bloody well show up and hold a few hearings to clarify some gaps in the Mueller report.

      This is not complicated.
      This is about whether we are citizens. Or not.
      And that’s pretty much all it’s really about. The rest is hype.

  36. Vern says:

    This is from today’s (original to) Rawstory interview, in a series, with Brandy X. Lee, one of the Psych community that wrote Duty to Warn:

    “… While his followers seem recalcitrant, they can also suddenly flip when they complete their idealization-devaluation cycle. In other words, once they are disappointed in their leader, they could turn on him drastically. Much of this depends on removing Donald Trump from power—what will matter is not the evidence or reasons for, say, impeachment, but the fact that he is impeached or removed from power, regardless of the reasons. Once the removal takes place, the worshipping will likely stop.

    This is why we continue to press on the situation of medical need that we see, regardless of politics, since mental health professionals base their assessment on facts, evidence, clinical observations, and science. The whole nation needs better grounding in reality, which is where further investigations or impeachment proceedings could be helpful for the sake of the nation’s mental health, regardless of political consequences. Of course, we need to be mindful of the greater dangers that would accompany this process, especially if the president’s powers continue unchecked.”

    She also says to expect a “mental health analysis” of the Mueller Report from the same group of folks. I bet that’d make pretty interesting congressional testimony.

    https://www.rawstory.com/2019/04/shared-psychosis-trump-followers-yale-psychiatrist/

      • punaise says:

        Unfortunately Google tells me that Eggs Benedict is not the namesake for Benedict Arnold. Otherwise we could have an updated recipe for our current traitor:

        Two halves of a Russian muffin topped with a mooched egg, spam, and hollow gaze sauce.

        (Urban Dictionary defines “Russian muffin from hell” thusly: An insult to someone with a terrible hairdo, commonly utilised to offend the protagonist of indoor living.)

        • Eureka says:

          Ha! ReadyMade* would have a guide for that muffin top to be so-flayed!

          *does anyone even remember ReadyMade magazine?

  37. Litigator_X says:

    First time poster, long time lurker/info sponge. I’ll try to remember my screen name.

    This is important and should be amplified. Wholeheartedly agree. Kudos.

  38. Rob says:

    So has Pelosi and Schiff and other centrist Dem’s followed in suit with AOC’s and Omar’s direct call for impeachment? I see Pelosi and Schiff doing a lot of barking about what the Mueller Report reveals but haven’t heard them actually say they are looking to impeach. Correct me if I’m wrong, but just wanting to make sure they’re bite is as bad as their bark.

    • fpo says:

      No, not yet. The Hill reporting on Monday evening conference call:

      …Pelosi stressed to Democrats that they should focus on their investigations before considering impeachment.

      “We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts,” Pelosi said, according to a person on the call.

      “If it is what we need to do to honor our responsibility to the Constitution – if that’s the place the facts take us, that’s the place we have to go,” Pelosi said on the call, which lasted about 90 minutes.

      Shortly before the call, Pelosi issued a letter to her troops, acknowledging the internal divisions over how to respond to Mueller’s findings while gently suggesting the appropriate avenue is vigilant oversight, not a rush to impeachment.

      [ https://thehill.com/homenews/house/440103-dems-seek-to-rein-in-calls-for-impeachment ]

      • bmaz says:

        This is just maddening, and obtuse, by Pelosi. The problem is that Trump is blatantly refusing to respond to subpoenas. The House’s subpoena power needs to be buttressed by having an impeachment investigation issue the subpoenas. That is the Constitutionally strongest path. Ignoring that is idiotic. Pelosi cravenly acts like simply opening a formal investigation is the same as voting out actual articles of impeachment. It is not. This is just stupid.

        • Rayne says:

          I think Rep. Al Green ought to take his bill with the articles of impeachment around right now and solicit co-signers. By the time the hearings Pelosi wants — and both Schiff and Nadler are chomping at the bit to launch — are into their second or third week, the number of co-signers might exceed critical mass among Democrats and we’d be ready to light the candle.

          • Badger Robert says:

            The investigation was uncovering substantial evidence that undermined Trump’s legitimacy. On both sexual misbehavior and Russian assistance issues, he was committing fraud.
            That is why the obstruction was so enormous. There were too many Republicans who had the Watergate history to hold together the obstruction conspiracy.
            The key witnesses to explain all of this are ardent Republicans.
            Giving them room, and time, to come up with a way to explain all of it, is a key priority.
            While that is happening, as foreshadowed by Barr, Trump is disintegrating.

        • fpo says:

          Agree. I have to believe Pelosi’s calculus on this includes not wanting to run the risk of it appearing that the freshmen class is calling the shots on impeachment, notwithstanding the fact that many others have already come out in favor of proceeding. I also think the old guard was rattled by the “Socialist Party!!” cries that came quickly on the heels of preliminary GND discussions – and wants to avoid the Party being similarly branded early on in this process.

  39. Fran of the North says:

    A law professor from George Mason University has an interesting take on TheAtlantic this morning. J.W. Verret is a staunch republican who initially supported the Trump candidacy and presidency read the Mueller Report and it has convinced him that it is time to start impeachment.

    I wanted to share my experience transitioning from Trump team member to pragmatist about Trump to advocate for his impeachment, because I think many other Republicans are starting a similar transition.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/gop-staffer-advocates-trumps-impeachment/587785/

    • Rayne says:

      I noticed an editor for a magazine covering government IT has also come out as a Republican and said he supports impeachment. I’ll have to hunt down a link to that one. Might be worth keeping track of these ‘defections’ so as to help create a new conventional wisdom while providing cover for other GOP who want off the crazy train.

      • Fran of the North says:

        Keeping Track: Agreed.

        Perhaps a dedicated post that is ‘semi-open’ that collates all of the converts in a single, easily referenced format. Other MSM and blogosphere writers might use it as background research to formulate a new narrative.

      • Jockobadger says:

        The ante is getting enormous for the (few? some?) repubs who might want off the crazy train and it’s increasing each day, with every twitterstorm. Some of the less compromised R’s have got to be considering the notion that elections are right around the corner and if they hope to have a shred of integrity left, or hope to leave with some sort of legacy intact, they have to find an exit ramp. A simple announcement from a Lindsey or a Grassley that they’re abandoning ship would have immense shock value and would be a great lead.

        The idea of keeping track of the defections/defectors is an excellent one, Rayne/Fran. Now how to publicize it? Fran’s idea is a good one, but I’d like to see broader distribution somehow. Thanks all.

        • Rayne says:

          Lindsey Graham won’t throw in the towel if he’s been blackmailed by something really ugly, even if his polling numbers drop. Chuck Grassley isn’t up for re-election so it’s hard to say what his trigger would be to throw Trump under the bus.

          I wish I knew what tack to take on Pence. He’s dirty but I can’t tell if he’s part of the reason too few GOP are caving on Trump.

    • harpie says:

      Here’s the twitter thread Verret links to near the beginning of his piece:
      https://twitter.com/JWVerret/status/1119690984173056001
      12:55 PM – 20 Apr 2019
      This is the third tweet in that thread:

      I have a lot of admiration for Vice President Pence, I think he’d make a great President, and I think he can see the country and the Republican Party through this trying time.

      uhhh… Sorry!

      “the Republican Party” is a major CAUSE of this “trying time” for “the country”!
      ROT IN HELL! GOP

      • harpie says:

        PS: Verret does NOT mention Pence in the article, saying only that in his interview, while not being able to say he admired Trump, he said:

        I gave the only honest answer I could: “I admire the advisers he’s chosen, like Larry Kudlow and David Malpass, and I admire his choice of VP.” That did the trick. I got the impression they’d heard that one before.

      • Fran of the North says:

        Thanks for the link harpie. Verret clearly hasn’t changed his spots, he’s just seen the true nature of the Current Occupant.

        PJ: I saw your comments about nuclear medicine upthread. I hope that was successful and you are on the mend. Your comments here are on point and a great read.

        Best, Fran

      • harpie says:

        THIS IS THE GOP
        https://twitter.com/AriBerman/status/1120714625895600129
        8:42 AM – 23 Apr 2019
        [quote] My quick takeaway from oral arguments in census case:
        *
        same conservative justices who gutted the Voting Rights Act now claim citizenship question needed to better enforce Voting Rights Act.
        What a farce. 5-4 decision upholding citizenship q would have devastating impact on democracy […]
        Trump DOJ hasn’t filed single lawsuit to enforce VRA & has strongly supported GOP efforts to make it harder to vote
        Census citizenship question would most harm communities of color that Voting Rights Act supposed to protect, by leading to undercount of Latinos, other minorities & shifting economic/political power to whiter & more Republican areas [end quote]

    • Fran of the North says:

      Although not a Republican suggesting that s/he will recommend impeachment, Randy McKean, Iowa’s longest serving Republican state house representative is switching parties.

      “Unacceptable behavior should be called out for what it is,”  during the news conference at the Iowa Statehouse in Des Moines, “and Americans of all parties should insist on something far better in the leader of their country and the free world.”

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/04/24/if-this-is-new-normal-i-want-no-part-it-citing-trump-iowas-longest-serving-republican-leaves-party/

  40. harpie says:

    Adding to the “Kline Saga” at House Oversight:
    White House Orders Former Security Director to Defy Oversight Committee Subpoena
    Apr 23, 2019 Press Release
    https://oversight.house.gov/news/press-releases/white-house-orders-former-security-director-to-defy-oversight-committee-subpoena

    […] Mr. Kline has a direct and personal legal obligation to comply with this subpoena, and he failed to do so. […] “I intend to consult with House Counsel and Committee Members about scheduling a vote on contempt. I hope that Mr. Kline, in close consultation with his personal attorney, will carefully review his legal obligations, reconsider his refusal to appear, and begin cooperating with the Committee’s investigation.” […]

    Here’s the Contempt of Congress statute, 2 U.S.C.A. § 192:
    https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/contempt_of_congress

    Definition Congress has the authority to hold a person in contempt if the person’s conduct or action obstructs the proceedings of Congress or, more usually, an inquiry by a committee of Congress. […]

    • RWood says:

      Will Kline be a sufficient example?

      Given his job history, I would think that he would have sufficient situation awareness to understand what he’s committing to here?

      Does he not see that he’s become a test dummy? If he can’t see that, or is dumb enough to believe that Trump will protect him, he has no business doing anything security related.

    • Jockobadger says:

      A misdemeanor that comes with max $1k fine and imprisonment for up to 1 year. I wonder if he’ll take one for the prez? I’m betting (hoping) he rolls over.

      This is astonishing. Stonewalling like this by the occupant of the WH has got to be unprecedented. Institutional stonewalling. Wow. I was 12-13 during the Watergate affair so wasn’t paying much attention. I know Nixon refused to hand over the tapes – or to have Rosemary do it – but once a subpoena was issued he handed them over (minus the 18 min.) In other words, he responded properly to a subpoena. This POS is telling his folks to ignore them, which implies to me that he’s dangling pardons again. Is this obstruction? I wonder if he’s tried to communicate with McGahn yet? I have hopes for Don M. Does anyone else or am I just hopelessly optimistic? JHFC

      • P J Evans says:

        IIRC, he handed them over only after SCOTUS told him that the subpoena applied to him (US v Nixon).

        Wikipedia:

        In April 1974, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the tapes of 42 White House conversations. At the end of that month, Nixon released edited transcripts of the White House tapes, again citing executive privilege and national security; the Judiciary Committee, however, rejected Nixon’s edited transcripts, saying that they did not comply with the subpoena.

        Sirica, acting on a request from Jaworski, issued a subpoena for the tapes of 64 presidential conversations to use as evidence in the criminal cases against indicted former Nixon administration officials. Nixon refused, and Jaworski appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to force Nixon to turn over the tapes. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to release the tapes.[34] The 8–0 ruling (Justice William Rehnquist disqualified himself owing to having worked for Attorney General John Mitchell)[34] in United States v. Nixon found that President Nixon was wrong in arguing that courts are compelled to honor, without question, any presidential claim of executive privilege.[34]

        [34] cites a WaPo story

          • P J Evans says:

            I’d say about a month, maybe two. But with the conservatives on this court, I wouldn’t bet on them doing the right thing.

            • Hika says:

              I suspect John Roberts has a higher regard for history’s judgment of him than to put his name to a judgment freeing the Executive of Congressional oversight. If the Executive is freed to ignore laws it views as Congressional meddling, how long before they ignore laws they see as judicial meddling? I suspect that the big egos on the Supreme Court would see the folly of giving Trump too much encouragement. Unlike Republican senators, the Republican Supremes don’t have re-election to worry about. Of course, some may be honest and stay bought, but as things stand, it only takes one to swing the SC to a more conventional understanding of “checks and balances”.

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