Monday, January 20, 2020

What the Impeachment of donald trump Means

Tuesday - tomorrow - the Senate trial of donald j (aka The Shitgibbon) trump begins regarding two articles of Impeachment:

trump, of course, wants it all to go away and pretend he's vindicated (via Jessica Hullinger at The Week):

President Trump's lawyers filed a brief on Monday urging the Senate to dismiss the impeachment charges against him and calling the House's impeachment process a "perversion" of the Constitution, The Associated Press reports.
The 110-page brief calls the House's impeachment case "flimsy," insists Trump did "absolutely nothing wrong," and says he has "been the victim of an illegitimate partisan effort to take him down," The New York Times reports. The House filed two impeachment articles against Trump — abuse of power for withholding aid to Ukraine in order to pressure that country to investigate his political rivals, and obstruction of Congress for blocking the House's impeachment inquiry.
The brief "does not deny that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine to open investigations into Democrats," the Times writes. Instead it argues that this was within Trump's rights as president. As to the obstruction of Congress article, the lawyers say the president has a right to confidential deliberations.

The "President Can Do What He Wants" defense is pretty much the only one trump and his lackeys have. Problem is, legal precedent says FCK all to that. Let's refer to Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine for more:

The first problem with this argument is that it rests on incorrect facts. At the time President Trump was withholding military aid to Ukraine, officials inside his administration worried that he was breaking the law by refusing to allocate spending that had been passed by Congress. But the legality had not been officially settled at the time, which is what allowed Trump’s supporters to insist that he had not broken any laws. But last Thursday, the Government Accountability Office formally ruled that withholding the aid did violate the law.
This ruling doesn’t mean Trump is a criminal who needs to be impeached. But given the weight his supporters have placed on the lack of a formal legal violation, it is quite significant. When you rest your defense upon a technicality, you’re in trouble when the technicality turns out to be technically wrong.
Second, as a historical matter, there is no evidence that impeachment was designed to deal solely with violations of federal law. The framers debated impeachment and the record suggests a broad range of concern, ultimately leaving the definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” to Congress to decide. Alexander Hamilton defined it as “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” Historically, less than one-third of impeachments of federal officials have charged a criminal violation.
Finally, as a constitutional principle, the notion that a president cannot be removed for abusing his power, but can be removed for a criminal violation, however small, would turn impeachment into a ludicrously ill-fitting solution for the problem it was designed to solve. It implies Trump could not be impeached for promising to pardon anybody who murdered his political rivals, but could be impeached if he resold a mattress that was missing its tags...

Simply put: trump and his legal puppies are trying to set up an environment where abuse of power isn't real unless a President commits a by-the-book crime except for the fact they're also arguing that no President can be charged with a crime so why even bother.


The thing is, Impeachment is now set to go in the Senate, and it's looking like Senate leader Mitch McConnell will try to do everything to block the proceedings from public view. Considering how the cable news channels - Fox and CNN - of the day covered Clinton's trial, this is hypocrisy of the highest order. Republicans are hoping to God that "Out of Sight" means "Out of Mind."

This is all part of McConnell's hopes to quickly kill the whole proceeding before enough damning testimony is allowed to air in the first place. There is a genuine fear that if enough critical information about trump's actions blocking Ukrainian aid and then covering up those attempts got out, it would make it harder for the Republican Senators to blithely vote Not Guilty and walk away.

Even with the slight majority the GOP has in the Senate, this IS an election year and a third of the Senate is under voter review: There's at least three Senators in the crosshairs of angry voters back home - Collins in Maine, Ernst in Iowa, Gardner in Colorado - that they could refuse to play Mitch's game. And there's a few more Senators - maybe Murkowski, maybe even Mitt Romney now in a Utah with his own base of support - who may be safe enough from any trumpian retaliation to deny McConnell an easy ride. Mitch can't afford to lose two of his coalition: three or more and the Democrats can vote to have every last document tracing trump's misdeeds and a column of witnesses testifying submitted as evidence.

Granted, there's a lot of hope riding on that last paragraph. We're still looking at the most obvious end of the Impeachment process: trump gets acquitted because there's not a two-thirds supermajority to find him guilty of even one charge for removal.

But accountability still matters: Voters are going to remember how the Republicans behaved during all this. The GOP brushes this off, gives trump an easy acquittal, and enough angry voters back home supporting Impeachment will blame the Senate for ignoring their duty. The Republicans are going to have to play this just right: Show enough concern and handle the process as serious as required, pretend to listen to enough evidence to convince the media they're not faking, and then acquit trump and have a huge party at his Doral resort.

But I doubt it. These Republicans have shown little care of how they're viewed by the American majority. They'll be sloppy and reckless with the rules like they've been for decades.

And the only way this ends well for the United States is that each Republican bastard failing in their oath of duty gets kicked out of power for good.

In the meantime, here's hoping for a big show of witnesses backstabbing each other in ways to make the surviving afternoon soaps look like Disney Junior cartoons.


1 comment:

dinthebeast said...

So it seems that McConnell's rules proposal was his opening bid and he has fallen back to the position he wanted in the first place.
The day he loses his majority will be a fine day indeed.

"...could be impeached if he resold a mattress that was missing its tags..."

So I wonder if those Trump Hotel mattresses Scott Pruitt tried to buy had their tags?

-Doug in Oakland