Two Factors that May Change the Impeachment Calculus, Part One: To Enforce a GOP Subpoena Covering a Trump Lie to Mueller

Since Justin Amash started laying out the necessity of impeachment and even more after yesterday’s Mueller press conference, the question of whether or not to start an impeachment proceeding against the President has picked up steam.

In my opinion, Democrats have to start that process, in part to have a ready response as Trump’s increasingly authoritarian approach to governing violates more and more foundational norms.

But I also wanted to point to two fairly recent developments that may change that calculus. This post will describe how Trump Organization did not comply with a GOP-issued Congressional subpoena that sustained a lie that Trump has since reiterated, under oath, to Mueller.

New evidence that Trump lied to Mueller and Trump Organization defied a (GOP-issued) subpoena

As I noted the other day, Michael Cohen’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed several things:

  • Trump replicated Cohen’s lies — that is, a cover story his defense attorney helped to write — in his sworn answers to Mueller
  • Trump Organization (probably Alan Garten) withheld emails from Cohen and HPSCI that would have made it clear Cohen was lying about the Trump Tower Moscow deal

Trump’s statement, submitted under oath, to Mueller included the following assertions:

  • Trump and Cohen only had a few (three) conversations about the deal rather than ten or more
  • Trump did not know of any travel plans to Russia
  • Trump didn’t discuss the project with anyone else at Trump Org, including Ivanka and Don Jr
  • Cohen’s attempt to contact Dmitry Peskov in January 2016 was via a public email address and proved unsuccessful

Compare those lies with the three main lies Cohen pled guilty to.

  • The Moscow Project ended in January 201 6 and was not discussed extensively with others in the Company.
  • COHEN never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project and “never considered” asking Individual 1 to travel for the project.
  • COHEN did not recall any Russian government response or contact about the Moscow Project.

That is, in spite of rumblings that Cohen was cooperating with Mueller, Trump still told the story his lawyer had helped Cohen write. And Mueller gave Trump an opportunity to fix his testimony, but he refused. In spite of the more-than-a-year long effort to avoid telling lies to the Special Counsel, Trump still managed to do so.

Perhaps that’s why the FBI (though possibly NY-based agents tied to the investigation into Bob Costello’s pardon dangle) interviewed Cohen again on March 19, 2019, which is the latest interview noted in the Mueller Report (this section must be one of the last things Mueller’s team finished as footnotes 1057-9 and 1071 all post-date the discussion of Trump’s non-responsive answers in Appendix C).  Along with more details about the various pardon dangles offered to Cohen, that interview elicited this testimony:

During the summer of 2016, Cohen recalled that candidate Trump publicly claimed that he had nothing to do with Russia and then shortly afterwards privately checked with Cohen about the status of the Trump Tower Moscow project, which Cohen found “interesting.”940 At some point that summer, Cohen recalled having a brief conversation with Trump in which Cohen said the Trump Tower Moscow project was going nowhere because the Russian development company had not secured a piece of property for the project.941 Trump said that was ” too bad,” and Cohen did not recall talking with Trump about the project after that.942 Cohen said that at no time during the campaign did Trump tell him not to pursue the project or that the project should be abandoned. 943


Cohen recalled explaining to the President’s personal counsel the “whole story” of the attempt to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin and Trump’s role in it.981 Cohen recalled that he and the President’s personal counsel talked about keeping Trump out of the narrative, and the President’s personal counsel told Cohen the story was not relevant and should not be included in his statement to Congress.982


941 Cohen could not recall the precise timing of this conversation, but said he thought it occurred in June or July 2016. Cohen recalled that the conversation happened at some point after candidate Trump was publicly stating that he had nothing to do with Russia.

That Trump adhered to this lie even after Cohen showed signs of flipping makes the apparent fact that Trump Organization withheld emails that would make it clear Cohen lied to the House Intelligence all that more damning. This is one of three emails that would have made it clear to HPSCI in real time that Cohen was lying that apparently did not get turned over.

Remember: Cohen was almost alone among Trump flunkies in having been subpoenaed by any committee in Congress. And the subpoena that Trump Organization defied was signed not by Adam Schiff, but by Devin Nunes [Update: this may have been Mike Conaway].

Even with all the efforts Republicans in Congress have made to help Trump avoid legal jeopardy, he — or rather, his eponymous company — still managed to break the law in complying with GOP requests!

Congress can obtain withheld Trump Organization emails more easily than thought

And while normally proving that Trump Organization violated the law to protect the President would be especially hard for Congress to prove (because they’ll fight subpoenas even more aggressively than Trump’s accountants or creditors), the opposite may be the case in this instance.

That’s because since June 21, 2017, Microsoft — which provides Trump Organization’s email service for the company — has been preserving Michael Cohen’s Trump Organization emails and since July 14, 2017, Microsoft has been preserving all Trump Organization emails.

54. On or about July 14,2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a request, pursuant to l8 U.S.C. $ 2703(f), to Microsoft, requesting that Microsoft preserve all content for all email accounts associated with the domain “,” which included the Target Account.


62. On or about June 21, 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a request, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. $ 2703(f), to Microsoft, requesting that Microsoft preserve all content associated with the Target Account.

So rather than going to Trump Organization to obtain proof that their Attorney Alan Garten withheld documents that were clearly responsive to a Congressional subpoena, HPSCI can go to Microsoft itself.

Michael Cohen is the a demonstrable example of someone who was willing to lie only so long as a pardon offer was on the table

One more detail about Cohen makes his case a particularly apt case to impeach the President.

The sworn evidence in the case makes it very clear Cohen was willing to — and did — lie to Congress so long as he believed he’d be pardoned for those lies.

But as soon as it became clear that he could not expect a pardon, Cohen decided to start telling the truth.

(I’ll revisit and reconfirm this, but the record shows that a pardon was withdrawn (and Trump stopped paying Cohen’s legal bills) around the same time 1) Trump got to see all the paperwork and recording that might back Cohen’s claims against him 2) He saw that Cohen had recorded him agreeing to the Karen McDougal hush payment).

He told the truth about something implicating “Individual-1” as a co-conspirator.

And he told the truth about lying to Congress.

In other words, with Cohen, it will be very easy to show that Trump’s pardon offers led to a witness providing false testimony in response to a Congressional subpoena (false testimony made possibly only through parallel obstruction on the part of Trump’s business).

In other words, Cohen is a fairly strong case proving Trump successfully suborned perjury.

So with Cohen, there is all new evidence of Trump-related crimes: Trump’s sworn lies about Trump Tower Moscow to Mueller mirrored by Trump Organization’s defiance of a Republican issued Congressional subpoena on precisely that topic.

And Congress should be able to get proof of it.

This provides an opportunity to pitch impeachment in terms of GOP equities. That will surely not make a difference for Republicans, at first, but for any that want to find an excuse to come around to supporting impeachment, it may be useful down the road.

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

71 replies
  1. Benjamin Feddersen says:

    Is Adam Schiff or any of his team aware of this? You can never trust Congress to put together the dots until it’s too late.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Quite a few Hill staffers have been reading EW since the Scooter Libby trial a dozen years ago. In the unlikely event that none of them work for Schiff, they will have colleagues who do.

  2. OldTulsaDude says:

    Well done, Dr. Wheeler. This is the kind of smooth move that President Obama understood well – a way to offer to the opposition an acceptable way forward to spin their narrative so that their base is not incensed.

  3. BobCon says:

    Related to the possibility of subpoenaing Microsoft for the Trump Org emails, does anyone know what the timeline is now for the Deutsche Bank subpoena?

    The Washington Post reported “A Manhattan federal judge who rejected a request by President Trump last week to block congressional subpoenas for his banking records has agreed to put the case on hold while Trump appeals the ruling.”

    Both sides agreed to a hold on enforcement “while an appeal is expedited through the courts” but the article didn’t say what “expedited” means. Is there a real possibility this is held up while the Supreme Court closes up shop for the summer, waits for it convene in October, and then beyond?

    • Avattoir says:

      I wonder if you’re aware that the appeal in question here – the one that’s to be expedited – is NOT one to the Supreme Court, but rather to a panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, or to the DCCA en banc (all full members of the DCCA sitting as a panel), or both?
      I ask because I’ve been out of sorts for a large chunk of this year back into February so haven’t been up to trying to keep track of the increasing legion of orcs & trolls this site is attracting.
      Neither a judge on the regular DC court nor a panel of the DCCA has the legal capacity to enforce anything to do with an appeal to the Supremes; rather, the Supreme Court largely controls its own docket and certainly whether an issue like the one involved here even gets certified for hearing before the SCOTUS.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, it is a designed strategy by the House Dems to, hopefully, accelerate the appeal process. BobCon has it right, and asks a good question. What is “expedite”. I assume that it will mean both parties also stipulate to faster briefing schedules and decision timelines. But courts have their own ideas, especially SCOTUS. Frankly, it is not maybe a bad strategy, but time will tell whether it works.

        • BobCon says:

          I’m most definitely ignorant of the processes in courts. It’s not clear to me, for instance, why Andrew Miller was able to stretch out his refusal to appear before the grand jury for so long, and why this wasn’t happening with other witnesses.

          I do wonder whether Trump’s universal stonewall approach is politically smart. The longer this drags on without a conclusion, the harder it will be for him to have a clear podium to scream about refugees in 2020. He may find legal fights to be a constant headwind that is a fair bit worse than what Clinton faced in 2016 with her relatively insignificant concerns.

  4. 200Toros says:

    He finally admitted that Russia helped him win the election! “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.” – DJT, May 30, 2019

    • Geoff says:

      I cannot believe he let this one out (granted it is mostly likely just a result of his lack of command of the English language that produced this admission, which he is now furiously trying to walk back.) But still, apparently no one is screening his tweets. Never a good idea in a professional setting. Oh wait…professional setting, The White House, hahaha, right. How could I be so obtuse?

    • Su Hall says:

      In his presser this morning, he said Russia didn’t help him get elected, HE got HIMSELF elected, while pointing to his head. I gathered he was indicating his superior intellect! LOL

      • Peacerme says:

        Perfect narcissistic moment. He “forgot” it was the voters that got him elected (supposed to be in a democracy)!!! Unless it wasn’t the voters? And instead it really was HIM making deals with the Russians!!!

    • Hops says:

      If the House impeaches, is the Senate compelled to have a trial? Or can McTurtle and the GOP ignore it? A trial might bring enough of the public along. Or not.

      I assume there’s no reason there cannot be a sequence of impeachments: obstruction, emoluments, tax evasion, money laundering…

      But can the House impeach on obstruction and maintain investigations into the others?

      I still come back to much of the public considering obstruction a sort of legalistic nicety. Hell he got elected in spite of admittedly groping…

      • P J Evans says:

        I suspect that a fair percentage of voters thought that the groping was fine (and are also misogynists).
        I can’t find anything in the Constitution about the Senate being required to hold impeachment trials, but there are laws and Senate rules that probably cover that. (I’ve heard that they’re required to take it up.)

  5. Ruthie says:

    If the Democratic Speaker of the House can’t be convinced to act on principle (although I would argue the conventional wisdom on the politics of impeachment could easily be wrong), there’s virtually no chance that Republicans in Congress will latch on to the flimsy distinction between defying a Republican versus a Democratic subpoena. If that alone would turn them around, we wouldn’t be in such a dire situation in the first place.

    The burning question: what, if anything, will force Nancy Pelosi to come out in favor of impeachment?

  6. Rayne says:

    Shit. I don’t know why it took reading this post to process this, I should have thought of it sooner. The preservation order did it, I guess, jogging the memory of Gonzalez issuing the freeze notice on the Bush White House emails and how those emails and the backups went missing.

    Entities going after emails in cloud services will have a much harder time attacking redundancies. I won’t spell it out further here.

    No wonder Russia tried to plant a spy in Microsoft years earlier during the Illegals Program — it wasn’t just about getting a jump on software vulnerabilities but on system architecture.

    • Bruce Olsen says:

      A plant in architecture is better than nothing.

      I’d rather have a “long game” plant in configuration control (aka DevOps) or possibly Support. It’s not all that hard to insert malicious code while building software.

      That’s where election systems are vulnerable, of course. Even though voting machines are air-gapped, that isn’t the case for the systems used to configure and maintain the software that operates the voting machines.

      • P J Evans says:

        And as long as state and local government can’t seem to manage actual physical security for those machines, we’re going to have problems.
        Hell, slot machines in Vegas have better security than most voting jurisdictions.

      • Rayne says:

        The 12th alleged spy was a “entry-level software tester” which meant he’d know what different outcomes MSFT would come to expect from software under different conditions. It’s not a bad place to start. The Illegals were long-term plants, too, so Number 12 would have expected to move to other portions of the business over time — and learn the corporation’s architecture in the process. It’s a damned good thing he was booted out; I worry he wasn’t the only one, though, especially when Russia subsequently sent more people here, at least one of which was close to Facebook.

        As for the election systems — bah, air gapping. Psssh.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      To add to the “Electronic Espionage” conversation:

      MIT scrubs all references to Vekselberg’s connections and large donations


      “Putin’s ‘American’ Oligarch Privately Boasted of Trump Ties. Then He Lost Billions:
      A chance New York encounter between onetime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and a relative of Viktor Vekselberg has cost the Russian dearly.”

      (Info about electronic espionage in paragraph 32 down)

  7. Jake says:

    I’ve become convinced (hope?) Pelosi has a grand strategy to hold on impeachment proceedings until we’re closer to election season so she can leverage it to take down a few more members of the Trumpganistan cover-up clan in Congress.

    • bmaz says:

      Jake, that is most certainly not what is going on. Pelosi’s grand strategy is to avoid impeachment discussion in any form, ever, even just a simple inquiry that would bulletproof the House arguments in legal cases.

        • Geoff says:

          Not to put words in bmaz’s mouth, but my own take on this is from Pelosi’s own words. She for some reason takes it seriously that the Trump really wants her to go for the impeachment so he can preen about when the Senate fails to convict, or doesnt take it up, or whatever path they choose not to convict and actually impeach and remove Trump. I doubt at this point there is enough evidence to sway the Senate to do so, as it seems it would literally take something like Trump shooting someone before Republicans reluctantly decided that was not OK. Apparently Pelosi doesn’t think that starting impeachment will make it easier to get the information we need to make a strong case (as Marcy laid out already) which I think is a silly way of looking at it. Her’s is basically an incorrect political calculus, and honestly, even if it was a correct political calculus, she still needs to do her constitutional duty and at least put up the appearance that some part of the government is still functioning, since we’ve lost executive and are rapidly losing judiciary. Everything she has said so far has been a dodge, and prior to this, she was able to corral the party leaders to keep the I – word off the front page and ignore it. But ignoring it now just starts to make her look out of touch. It will be some serious tarnish on her legacy if she fails to grasp this, but so far, that is what it appears she is about to do. This was really a critical point, IMHO, where she had a moment to step up, and she did not. So, Im REALLY not sure when there is going to be a better moment.

          That said, perhaps, if another indictment comes up after the Miller GJ testimony. But somehow, I dont see that as being any more persuasive, if all we have now isnt enough already. I just simply think that she does not want to go there, and wants to bank on a political process removing Trump. And frankly, if you dont attempt to impeach and the economy doesnt tilt into recession before 2020, there is actually a strong chance he ends up hanging around another four years, in large part because failing to act on impeachment made a lot of his major failings appear to go away. It’s basically a good way to make all his specious arguments somehow win the debate. It would be an epic fail, and for now, that is about where we are headed.

          Also, I think Pelosi really doesn’t get how nasty he will play, bludgeoning Democrats for being wusses and using the non-impeachment to rally the marginal voters. Pelosi keeps worrying about the base…f-the base..they are lost to us. We need to get democratic turnout, and failing to start impeachment proceedings is going to be really demoralizing. I do hope Marcy is right that we can get some mileage out of the Stone trial, as it appears we are going to need it.

        • klynn says:

          Just a note on this Geoff, it is important to note not just how nasty Trump will get but how nasty Putin directed trolls will become.

        • Geoff says:

          Yup, it’s a really awful green light for more election interference, but that is mostly on Mitch’s head. It is really mindblowing that nothing is really being done about this. I mean, WTF? Talk about dereliction of duty. This beyond a dark stain on the Senate. It’s unconscionable.

        • Jake says:

          As for failing to deal with outside election interference, I’ve got another, much more cynical theory.

          It would be a trivial first step on campaign finance reform to ban anonymous and/or outside spending on political ads. But nobody on capital hill will touch this idea for, what I believe are obvious, reasons.

        • Ruthie says:

          Chris Hayes interviewed Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas last night. McConnell is refusing to bring up any bills that attempt to combat election interference – even one which would simply require campaigns to report all contacts with foreigners to the FBI within 72 hours! This refusal is all but an admission that the GOP will once again welcome any and all help they can get, whatever the source.

        • Ruthie says:

          Yeah, I’m having a hard time understanding Pelosi’s position on this. It’s intensely frustrating.

        • Rayne says:

          This: “Also, I think Pelosi really doesn’t get how nasty he will play, bludgeoning Democrats for being wusses and using the non-impeachment to rally the marginal voters.”

          You’re kidding me, yes? EVERYBODY knows how much of an unmitigated fat-headed mean-mouthed asshole Trump will be as well as his legion of bots and trolls. For crying out loud he’s so nasty even when he’s just doing Trump-business-as-usual there’s a Wikipedia page dedicated to the nicknames he uses (read: insults).

          I suspect this is the key reason House committees are operating in a rather low-key fashion and Pelosi isn’t going on the attack. As soon as she’d take the gloves off to go after Trump he would launch information warfare we haven’t seen before which would interfere with investigative work. In no small part his attack would work because the media in this country has yet to develop a conscious, effective response to his method of operation; they act like kindergartners on the soccer field, all chasing a ball in a cluster. Don the Obnoxious will throw out an insult and they will flock to it instead of staying on top of the impeachment inquiry.

          (I’m going to end up writing something about this, I can feel it brewing.)

        • Geoff says:

          Honestly, I wish I were kidding, but when you look at how she “prays” for him, and how she tries to be constructive and talk to him about infrastructure and stuff like that, it really looks to me that she just doesn’t get it sometimes. It could be that she is afraid of him, and that she has to treat him like a toddler or he’ll lash out. But so far I don’t see this as a strategy that is working. And this appears to be a moment that should be taken advantage of, the consensus is shifting, but she is still fighting it. So it’s looking like a long slog of non impeachment investigations that are not having a ton of success. I do hope that if this is the strategy we are stuck with, those investigations continue to make progress. But I fear they will just get dragged out. We need to get the public’s attention, this seems to me a moment to do so, to capitalize on yesterday’s speech, and if we dont, the public basically tunes out (at least until something new on Stone happens, or there is a breakthrough on the investigative slog.)

          And by Trump’s being nasty, I should add, it’s a matter of how effectively nasty he is. When he is on the offensive, and feeling un-threatened, it’s much worse for his opponents, which means, we have to keep him looking wounded and on his back foot. We’ve seen this Trump a few times so far, and it makes him look like the weak person he is. But right now, he thinks he is winning. I DO agree that anyone who is awake is aware that he is a nasty brutish boor. But if we just let him act the asshole, and more specifically, the innocent asshole, then we are screwed. And I think the impeachment word and TV will help crystallize the reality of how bad he is for a lot of people. Heck they are never going to read the Mueller report.

          As for the sad state of the media, I agree, they wont help our cause. But you are talking about an impeachment inquiry is you last sentence that so far isnt happening. I just feel like being afraid isnt a good enough reason to not conduct the inquiry. But maybe somehow the inquiry by any other name can be as effective as the impeachment inquiry. From what Ive read though, it seems that actually starting impeachment proceedings will make it easier to get the info we’ve been denied for two years. I guess perhaps I should be patient and wait for the tax returns, or Deutsche bank records, or something. But Im feeling impatient, and I feel the momentum slipping further and further away from us. Sorry for rambling.

        • Rayne says:

          I’m going to ask you to think very carefully what leadership by a woman — especially an older woman — might look like compared to men.

          She said, “I pray for the President of the United States. And I pray for the United States of America.” She didn’t say she was praying for Trump. I took it in part as a left coast version of what women in the south mean when they say, “Bless your heart.” She was actually praying for us, however, and praying for the office of the presidency.

          Your best response to your personal feelings of anxiety: make sure your state’s election infrastructure is secure by following closely what’s happening to protect it. Work with other groups to make sure that every eligible voter is registered, knows how to vote by absentee ballot if necessary, has a ride to the polls. Focus on the marginalized and the young, the latter especially because they know we are in a state of climate emergency and their future depends on this election. And if you don’t know who’s running as a Democrat in your municipality/state, find out and figure out how best to support them. No matter the outcome whether an impeachment inquiry begins or not, we still must change out the obstructive and corrupt GOP.

          p.s. Clearly we don’t have the same perspective here at emptywheel. Just make sure every vote gets out and is counted.

        • Geoff says:

          That is one interpretation, different than mine, and by no means am I saying mine is right, and no other one is. When I hear those words, I hear at best ” the president is mentally unwell, I pray for him to become sane.” But mostly when put together with her other statements, I feel it seems too soft. I’ve read before your thoughts on the differences between leadership styles of men and women, and with respect to age. I am not sure where I stand on all of that yet. I will definitely admit that because of sexism, Pelosi cannot act in the same manner as a man and get away with it. It’s the same thing with women in business, trying to get ahead, getting called out as too aggressive of a b*&%h, etc, unfairly, and having to operate in a narrowly constrained way. Which sucks, and unfortunately, isn’t changing anytime soon. I can see how that translates to the political sphere as well. But I am not sure given that reality, what the right path for her is, and somehow, I still feel this is the wrong one, without necessarily knowing what the right one is.

          I like to go back and forth here with people because I can learn from the disagreements, and I am always appreciative of constructive criticism. Although many of us here have the same goals, we do have different ideas about how to achieve them. Hopefully we can all learn from each other, and I know I am definitely not one of the more informed people here, so I don’t ever want anyone to get the idea that I think I know better than they do, especially Marcy and the moderators.

          Without a doubt I concur completely with your points about election integrity at the local level, and I can certainly be better informed on this topic. I try to push my donation dollars out to where I think they will be most useful, however, and where I live, there is almost no support for Trump, and little for Republicans, so I dont have to worry as much at the local level. But take a ride a few miles down the road, and it is quite different. FYI, this is NJ I’m talking about, and I think we fared pretty well in 2018, but there are some pockets of idiotic Republicans that need to be rooted out. And most certainly, the marginal voter and the young need to be kept or brought into the fold; I suspect they will help with congressional seats in 2020. I just hope whatever we decide on at the national level doesnt end up backfiring with respect to the young and marginals. I can’t fathom living under this presidency for 6 more years.

        • e.a.f. says:

          Every vote counts. Our last provincial election, in British Columbia, Canada, one riding was won by 9 votes! Every vote counts. Every riding counts.
          In the British Columbia election in 1975, the winner won by one vote. he became known as Landslide Al. the other candidate, who lost, had not voted nor did his wife.

        • Eureka says:

          Also, how can you not see in a clear cause-and-effect sequence of events that Pelosi’s well-placed words at certain times shake the fuck out of Trump and put him in exactly that place of weakness which I believe you cited upthread (if not you perhaps it was someone else). Besides the whole govt. shutdown meeting and aftermath, look at Trump post _Pelosi_ speaking both “cover-up” and “impeachment.” Her words sent him off the rails (and he is not back on yet, see more today, tho the Mueller presser is riding and lifting that “I”-word coattail).

          Also note that if Pelosi were on blast all the time, her words would become just as meaningless as everyone else’s. In dealing with Trump, I think she knows exactly what she is doing; Pelosi is not coming from a place of cluelessness or weakness.

          There is plenty of room to disagree with her strategy of tamping down impeachment talk until XYZ is met, but in the meantime of everyone bitching about Pelosi taking this tack, it is actually working. Amash and others (and too long a list to iterate through) are coming forward in ever-growing numbers to publicly declare and argue for the proper constitutional remedy, with more following suit by the day.

          So it will work out (and I do not believe with irony) that folks will continue to question and measure their values in contradistinction to what (they think) Pelosi is saying, and fight for what they want. Pelosi has created an essential tension; She is getting everybody’s dander up as to what to fight _for_ and _why_– as opposed to merely fighting _against_ Trump– which is a proper stance for all of us to have as we save our country.

        • Callender says:

          Nancy Pelosi has forgotten more political theory than most of us here remember. Never second guess Tommy D’Alesandro’s only daughter.

          And to say she prefers to remove Trump through a “political process” (meaning in 2020) ignores the fact that impeachment is iteself political.

          Riddle me this: Why doesn’t everyone consider the ongoing fights in committee, in courts, and in the press, the beginnings of an impeachment inquiry? That’s the nature of congress’s role in conducting inquiries.

          And one final thought. There is no “constitutional requirement” for impeachment. Impeachment is inherently a political process, and Pelosi is not required to cut off her nose to spite her face by leaping into impeachment now, if she considers it untimely.

          Her theory I think is to continue the process, allow Trump plenty more rope in the on-going court battles, and wait for him to wrap that rope around his neck and hang himself.

          The plot thickens, the walls close in, the clock ticks, and he becomes more and more likely to do something really stupid like defying the Supreme Court.

          Let’s see how many republicans support him after that.

        • bmaz says:

          What in the hell? I seriously do not give a shit who her father was. And this is not just “politics” as usual, it is about defending the very basis of the Constitution, i.e. the checks and balances and separation of powers.

          So, to use your language: Riddle me this, why would Pelosi and the House not use the strongest path they have to aid your described “ongoing fights”? You think the House Dems should blithely and unilaterally disarm their best power for investigation and oversight out of cowardice of hurting the feelings of the GOP who would do it to the Dems in a heartbeat? Are you that silly??

          And, sure, “Callendar”, impeachment is a “political process”. But defending the Constitution itself is the core oath of office. And, yet you are here, blithely advocating that the core duty to the Constitution is subservient to common political expediency and public opinion polls. What the hell is wrong with you?

        • Callender says:

          You may know law, but you damn sure don’t know politics, BMAZ.
          I am not advocating the house disaarm at all, but rather use the power they have wisely. Pelosi’s father was the best politician to come out of MD in a long time and she studied under him. Where did you learn your politics, Matlock? I learned mine in the UAW, in a 5000 member dues paying local, and ran and was elected several times. I learned from my father, who was a UAW local president for years. And he learned from Reuther.

          One thing he taught me was never get in a pissing contest with a skunk. I might be disobeying him now. Another was timing is everything. The timing isn’t right.

          You sure seem like a bully here, when anyone dares to share an opinion different from yours. You jump pissed in a minute. You couldn’t politic your way out of a wet paper sack.

          Your scenario would result in Pelosi losing the house, Trump winning re-election, and BMAZ, the Matlock of Emptywheel, would say, “damn, we sure showed him!”

          I say again, there is NO constitutional requirement to impeach a president. There are multiple reasons why it might not be a good decision. Here it isn’t a good one because the timing isn’t right.

          Let Trump be Trump, continue to march, let the committees do their work and let Trump continue to paint himself into a corner.

          The timing isn’t right. Let me see, who should I listen to, the best speaker of the house in modern times, or a jumped up lawyer on a blog?

          Yeah, right.

          Let her do her work, and she’ll beat him and get rid of him. I’m hopeful it will be sooner than later.

        • bmaz says:

          What I know is that this position is craven bullshit. It is NOT the “law versus politics”. It is about defending the fucking Constitution. If you cannot understand that, and think a few votes from dupes in “Trump country” are more important than the actual vitality and coherence of the Constitution and Separation of Powers, then I have nothing for you and that kind of craven position.

          Also, it is her damn oath of office. Can you even understand that? Or are you just too caught up in some pissant votes in the next proverbial election?

        • errant aesthete says:

          I’d like to inject a public relations point of view beginning with this maxim: Know your Audience.

          In an Op/Ed in the WaPo today, Jennifer Rubin had this to say following Mueller’s announcement:

          If Americans Won’t Read Mueller’s Report, Spoon-feed it to Them []

          And whether you call it an “Impeachment” hearing or an “Oversight” hearing, it would appear that what is required in a crisis of this magnitude is getting a clear undiluted message to the public, or as close a version to the truth as is possible against an opposition that is ruthless, relentless and loud. In short, reaching that segment of the country where they live and learn – TV.

          What matters as Jennifer Rubin wisely noted is a deliberate and carefully calculated “spoon-feeding” to the ill-informed citizenry who will never read Mueller’s report. Which is just about everybody:

          “In an email, constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe told me, “Expressed in plain English, Mueller said: ‘READ MY REPORT. It says I COULDN’T indict a sitting president. If my office could’ve concluded he was innocent of criminal conduct, we would’ve said so. We couldn’t so we didn’t. Only Congress can hold this sitting president accountable. The ball is in Congress’s court now.”

          “Given the necessity for verbally communicating the results to the public, this wouldn’t be a waste of time.”

          “Tribe argued “even if Mueller says no more to the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees under oath than he said on TV today, the impact would be huge. More than 50 million pairs of eyes and ears will tune in.”

          Rubin goes on to lay out a carefully detailed blueprint for the Democrats to follow that will offset the lies, distortions, and manipulations coming from the administration, the GOP and the 24/7 propaganda machine: Fox and company.

          It’s a start and in my view, a pretty solid one.

          If the Dems can turn their eyes to the mission at hand, remaining unified, conscientious, consistent and painstakingly committed to informing the public of what they need to know versus what they think they know, we might get a result like the following (this is a reader’s analysis of Gallup Polls following Nixon’s approval rating via the Watergate hearing; excerpted from Rubin Op/Ed -Thanx to Poo-American)

          History Shows Presidential Job Approval Ratings Can Plummet []

          The impact of Watergate on Richard Nixon was not immediate. The actual break-in at the Watergate complex occurred in June 1972. Nixon nevertheless went on to a sweeping re-election victory over Democrat George McGovern in November, and to a robust presidential approval rating of 62% immediately thereafter.

          By January of 1973, however, the criminal trial of the first set of Watergate defendants and the formation of a special Senate committee to investigate Republican campaign espionage began to have an impact. Nixon’s job approval dropped to 51% in a mid-January Gallup survey.

          The announcement of a historic Vietnam peace settlement on January 23rd resulted in a leap in Nixon’s approval rating to 67% — but also demonstrated how short-lived the effects of such international events on public opinion can be. Nixon’s surge in approval evaporated almost as quickly as it appeared.

          The relentless uncovering of damaging information about the Watergate scandal through the spring and summer of 1973 led to a steady deterioration in public approval of Nixon month by month. By May, Nixon’s rating had dropped to 44%, and by August, it was at 31% — representing a 36% drop in about six months. (A year later, in August 1974 when he resigned from office, Nixon’s rating was 24%).

        • Rayne says:

          Yepper. That. Which is one key reason why slack-jawed McConnell is processing federal judicial appointments as fast as possible. He’s stacking the courts to affect the future for decades to come no matter whether Trump’s approval rating may remain stable, climb, or plummet.

          Your argument makes the case for the House Dems to do more about unified, effective messaging. I think if they are trying to play impeachment-in-all-but-name close to the vest, they are hurting themselves by not doing more to prepare the ground with a better messaging program. Put something out there in a way that Team Trump can attack but damage themselves in the process.

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          Thanks, Everyone, for responding to my question to bmaz! Interestingly, there was a very recent piece (Politico?) that Nancy actually knows how to push Trump’s buttons (the “cover-up” comment being one example) quite well, and he has a grudging respect for her–hence no nickname for Nancy!
          At the same time, if the Gaslit Nation’s gals are right and Trump is just another ruthless international mob boss, it’s his shtick to yell, attack, bully & torment his opposition, then to brag about having conned the stupid swamp-dwellers and beaten them at their own game.
          My take on Robert Mueller’s presser is that he is less concerned about impeaching Trump than shoring up our voting system, something he emphasized in his opening and closing statements. As I have said here a couple of times, I’m convinced that there was direct interference and vote alteration in our electronic systems in 2016 (why I’ve never voted electronically), and the election was irrevocably corrupted.

        • Eureka says:

          Speaking of his reactivity to Pelosi, I noticed that the one thing she said that Trump did NOT react to was when she said something about him refusing to leave office peacefully unless beat in a landslide. Maybe I missed it, but I also don’t recall Trump/camp making any statement of denial when Cohen said that about Trump in his testimony, either.

        • BobCon says:

          My feeling is she is hearing from a minority of her caucus that is worried about the effects on their seats. She is probably taking the view that she won’t pull the lever until there is a stronger consensus in the caucus.

          My big complaint is that I don’t think she is setting the table well for impeachment. She needs to be much clearer about what factors she is considering, and she needs to be tying Trump’s disregard for the law into the larger issue of the GOP stacking the deck in favor of the few.

        • paulpfixion says:

          “like kindergartners on the soccer field, all chasing the ball in a cluster” is the the best characterization of the current US media that I’ve ever heard.

        • bmaz says:

          I am sorry. And I know you meant this comment in good faith. But, jesus christ, if you think this question is about anything other than maximizing the House power to gather information, and do oversight, in the face of a complete denial by the Article II branch, you just are not paying attention.

          You are being intellectually rolled bu Nancy Pelosi and her cohort. The ONLY question at this point is whether the House can actually use the strongest investigatory power it has, that based in, and specifically put in place by the Founders, the Impeachment inquiry.

          NOT about articles of impeachment, and NOT about trial in the Senate. Any reference at this point to those things are total duplicitous bullshit by cravenly timid House leadership that are more worried about their political control than they are their actual oath and duty of office.

        • Geoff says:

          This is my point in my last comment. We need the impeachment process so we can do a real investigation. We’ve gotten screwed by the obstruction, the pardon dangles, etc and now we are about to slow walk an investigation to the judiciary, so that it can screw us one last time before the 2020 election. We just cannot get any traction on this investigation with all the attempts to block it from all directions (senate, executive, judiciary, etc.)

        • errant aesthete says:

          Felt this should be included as an example of how the medium of Television can be used against the individual who exploits it most:

          Teaching Americans About Trump’s Impeachable Conduct []

          Two videos, one by Protect Democracy (a nonpartisan group active in litigating against President Trump’s unconstitutional overreach) and one by Republicans for the Rule of Law (in conjunction with Protect Democracy) aim to explain Trump’s misconduct and the findings of the Mueller report.

          Project Democracy’s Effort []

          Republican’s for the Rule of Law

          “The videos are must-watch, not just because they present the essential findings of the Mueller report in clear, non-lawyerly language but also because they feature apolitical prosecutors. The notion that this is a “witch hunt” depends on the legal consensus that there is no there, there. To the contrary, about a thousand former prosecutors believe there is more than enough evidence for an obstruction charge.”

        • Rayne says:

          If those videos don’t get air time on broadcast television where the oldsters are, they won’t do the job. They need to bypass Fox.

          For the life of me I don’t understand why groups don’t buy ad time on The Weather Channel or Weather Nation, and/or figure out a grassroots approach to buying time in public access TV.

        • Rayne says:

          Can’t say I like this tactic, pointedly airing when and where Trump watches, because it’s intended to provoke the malignant narcissist as much as it is to reach the narcissist’s base.

          We need a better messaging program but not one that will cause the world to blow up before popular opinion has reached critical mass.

          Weather Channel. Whatever sports programs he enjoys the least. Run as a trailer before tent pole summer movie. Insert in streaming video games. So many other, better, less volatile approaches. At least the YouTube ads are an inexpensive and effective approach.

        • Eureka says:

          ***THE WEATHER CHANNEL*** for sure, that would be huge. While I haven’t heard of Weather Nation, if it and its viewership are anything like TWC, yes to that, too.

          Plus the over-the-air retro-show channels– lots of folks in Trump country without cable. They somehow hear all the FN/RWNJ crap in town, but not the contrary.

          Adding: of course they hear the rwnj crap because it’s folded into conspiratorial yarns; if only they knew the actual conspiracy.

        • P J Evans says:

          I remember that in 1996, the local channels in west Texas were obviously biased toward the GOP. (I remember a news story about political ads that showed like three GOP clips and one Dem – I think it was the ABC affiliate.) When you get that kind of coverage, and the local papers are backing the GOP as well, it’s no surprise that they’re red areas. (Newspapers also cover church-school sports – and they’re all run by conservative Protestant sects – the same way they cover the public schools, and there are *more* of them than of public schools.)

        • Rayne says:

          WeatherNation is a competitor of The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. We have both offered in my county; the former is partnered with a local TV station so that its national coverage wraps around local coverage making it a lot more useful than the focus on national coverage and infotainment Weather Channel offers. It’s the local coverage that makes it more likely oldsters will switch to this channel. I just don’t know if it reaches the best markets for such an effort.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          In this area, showing them in churches would be very effective. Another idea, ask the American Librarary Association if they would promote the idea of showing videos at libraries across the nation. Or contact local libraries to show them.

          Maybe ALA (in Chicago) can choose the Mueller Report as its Big Read this year. Maybe some Congress members can persuade them to do so.

        • koolmoe says:

          That all may well be true.
          But I’m not completely opposed to the current Dem/Pelosi ‘strategy’ either. The longer the delay, perhaps the deeper a hole Trump digs for himself. Can we wait for more favorable court judgements…then have the white house not-comply with those orders just as they have with House subpoenas? Would that not create an even larger executive/constitutional ‘crisis’? Plus all the things he just continues to mad-tweet about.
          I don’t know…maybe invoking the impeachment process would have the same effect…but I do think there’s a case to be made for getting more of the American People on-board, and hopefully at least a few more Republicans…
          OTOH, a slow roll also sows doubt…so I’m not real sure, but I’m not virulently against the Dem strategy yet.

    • Bruce Olsen says:

      Frum has a piece today where he makes some good points against impeachment. Until the last few days, I think Pelosi’s plan to portray herself as the last person in the room to want impeachment was exactly right, but she’s getting dangerously close to being on the wrong side of history.

      Clip 1:
      “Right now Trump is fighting on many fronts to suppress many investigations of many different forms of alleged wrongdoing. He must plug more holes in the dike than he has fingers. But submerge all those many stories into one big question—“remove or don’t”—and the impeachers will have to focus their energy on the most salient allegations. The battlefront will narrow, and as it narrows, the unity of the executive branch will confer a tactical advantage on even a weak presidential defense over the fissiparous offense in the House of Representatives.”

      “By focusing on many different issues at once rather than the singular issue of impeachment, Democrats have the chance to do three things:
      1. They focus on the discovery of facts rather than arguments over consequences: “What wrongs did Trump do?” rather than “Is removal the right remedy for these wrongs?”
      2. They liberate their presidential candidates to campaign on the bread-and-butter issues that will mobilize and motivate less-committed voters, rather than obliging them to opine on the big existential question of impeachment and removal.
      3. They reserve the impeachment remedy for the very genuine possibility of a Trump second term, by which time the Senate will likely have shifted more in the Democrats’ direction.”

      I bet that last one weighs heavily in Pelosi’s thinking (whether it should is another matter).

      • bmaz says:

        Frum burrows down the same rabbit hole of stupidity that many people are doing relentlessly; i.e. that opening an inquiry, in order to consolidate and enhance evidence gathering and oversight, is the equivalent of voting articles of impeachment and sending them to the Senate for trial. This is simply an outright lie that misleads the public.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          bmaz, you have the advantage of considering all of this from a position of superior knowledge. And it is superior knowledge of a complicated subject that requires experience and analytical thinking skills. I think that the people who are not condemning Pelosi in step with you are considering the reality of the…lack of knowledge/understanding of the vast majority of the electorate.

          I share your outrage at the lack of respect for the constitution to the point of feeling physically ill on a far too regular basis. But I also have anxiety attacks about the political reality. The voters we need to win the fight, by and large, could not be bothered with 90% of what is discussed here, if they could even recognize the importance of it.

          Given the lack of testicular fortitude in journalism, it is a harder fight this time than it was in Watergate. We weren’t spoon fed ‘infotainment’ in the 70’s, there were a few actual news outlets that were willing to stick their necks out. There was also no White House network like Fox spewing lies and twisting the truth into a Orwellian reality like we have now.

  8. The Old Redneck says:

    Trump will no doubt file a declaratory judgment action to prevent Microsoft from releasing its cache of emails too. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort. He will lose that case just like the one with the banksters.

  9. Mulder says:

    On the preservation order: how long is it in place for? Now that the Special Prosecutor’s office is closed is there a danger that it ends?

  10. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    In other words, with Cohen, it will be very easy to show that Trump’s pardon offers led to a witness providing false testimony in response to a Congressional subpoena (false testimony made possibly only through parallel obstruction on the part of Trump’s business).


  11. Dave Karson says:

    Thanks again Marcy for a great blog. Here is a dumb question but I just haven’t had time to keep up. Why hasn’t the mainstream news been reporting about Trump lying to Mueller and the e-mails that Microsoft has? (Or have they and I have just been missing it?) TIA, Dave Karson

  12. CD54 says:

    Maybe a better headline/Post name going forward:

    “Trump Perjured Himself and Then Double-Dog-Dare Obstructed Justice with a Cherry on Top.”

  13. CD54 says:

    P.S. [apologies]:

    Reporter: Mr. Trump, If you did nothing wrong, why won’t you waive, with an Executive Order, DOJ rule re: Prosecution of a sitting President?

    Reporter: Will you waive DOJ Presidential prosecution protections for a new special counsel appointed by a committee of random former Federal AUSA’s?

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