Sunday, May 21, 2017

Will We Witness a Presidential Impeachment in 2017?

When we elect a six-year-old President, a six-year-old runs our country.

Donald Trump is behaving just like the emotionally immature and barely literate clown he seemed to be last year. 

This week alone he's fired FBI Director James Comey and said things he shouldn't have to the Russians; and it appears that before firing Comey, Trump urged him to stop investigating Trump's and Michael Flynn's Russian connections – and asked Comey for personal loyalty.

These problems aren't staff's fault or a conspiracy by loathsome journalists. Trump is doing as he pleases, ignoring sensible advice, and desperately trying to gain everyone's love and admiration by acting tough and bragging a lot. 

Urging Comey to end investigations Trump fears, then firing him? Sounds a lot like criminal obstruction of justice. Trump's minions say Comey's lying; but although I disagree with Comey's judgment in dredging up the Clinton email problem on the eve of the election, he's an independent person (registered Republican most of his life) respected by Washington folks of all political views.
Babbling to the Russians? National security officials give Trump detailed written briefings. Since that's too much reading, he demands they reduce those to a page of talking points – and then he blithely ignores those. 

Statements defending him are carefully worded. Trump and his family formerly acknowledged that Russian investments were important to Trump's real estate deals in the U.S.; but now, as folks wonder if Trump's connections and obligations have given some unsavory folks power over him, Trump shouts, “I don't own anything in Russia. I have no loans in Russia.” Which, as he knows, ain't the point.

When he goes off-topic to show off to the Russians, revealing information that the Russians can easily discern the secret source of, his minions say he didn't discuss the mechanics of gathering the information or say where it came from – which, again, ain't the point. 

I don't think this can last. 

There's substantial evidence that Trump's committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Those could even include treason. At least publicly, the evidence isn't conclusive yet. There should be a full investigation, neither motivated nor hindered by politics. 

Will Republicans allow that?

I think so. As evidence mounts and Trump's lies grow sillier, it'll be hard for them not to. (Note: former FBI Director Robert Mueller just became a special prosecutor.)
Republicans like enacting laws from their political agenda; but Trump's inability to sit still or shut up for a moment is interfering with that too. Trump is a clear danger to our country, which has enough real problems without creating unnecessary ones every couple of hours. Having a loony president would likely be fine with Republicans if he'd follow directions; but Trump won't, or can't. Trump can't be trusted to talk discreetly to foreign leaders. He can't resist making his Russia-related problems worse by telling obvious lies and trying to intimidate the FBI. Even if Trump isn't beholden to some very bad people, any sensible observer has to wonder whether someone this immature and impatient will screw up something that can't be fixed. 

I'm not saying Trump can or should be impeached because he's dangerous.

I'm saying that Republicans who'd prefer to sweep all this under some massive rug might put their country first or feel political pressure to do the right thing. Trump's typical bullying response to legal problems may backfire. Republicans facing worse than the usual midterm election losses may calculate that facing town halls about Trump's misconduct is just too damaging.

I have no desire to see a President Pence; but folks might feel a lot safer.

[The column above appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News this morning, Sunday, 21 May 2017, as well as on the newspaper's website and KRWG's website.  A spoken version will air on KRWG Radio a couple of times on Wednesday.]

[For those wondering about Robert Mueller's likely conduct and level of integrity as Special Prosecutor: a friend of mine just shared his own small professional experience with Mueller, who impressed him greatly; and in Politico, a reporter (and biographer of Mueller) published a long, interesting and reassuring story, "What Donald Trump Should Know about Bob Mueller and Jim Comey"
In part, the story recites details of a famous episode in which Comey stood up to Vice-President Cheney, during the George Bush administration, to prevent officials from conning or bullying the Attorney-General into re-approving an illegal program that infringed folks' civil liberties.  Comey was the Deputy AG.  He knew AG John Ashcroft was ill in his hospital room.  Mueller played a key role in Comey's being able to forestall administration misconduct.  It's worth a read.  I particularly enjoyed this bit of description of a White House meeting concerning the illegal program:

Comey didn’t hesitate to force the issue of STELLAR WIND, standing up to the vice president. During one White House meeting, Comey said he couldn’t find a legal basis for the program.
“Others see it differently,” a scowling Cheney replied.
“The analysis is flawed—in fact, fatally flawed. No lawyer reading that could reasonably rely on it,” Comey said, his hand sweeping across the table dismissively.
Cheney’s counsel, the famously aggressive David Addington, standing in the back of the room, spoke up: “Well, I’m a lawyer,” he snapped, “and I did.”
Comey shot back, “No good lawyer.”
The room went silent. ]

[I wrote this earlier this week, before a lot of things happened.  Then in no special order I put some links or excerpts in here as I ran across them:]

[Tuesday evening, Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) flat-out said what most Republicans on Capitol Hill are thinking: This isn’t fun. This is the opposite of fun.  “It’s been frustrating, no question,” he told reporters of the recent revelations. “We want this to be moving forward,” referring to the GOP agenda.
This story on Wednesday afternoon reported the first Republicans beginning to mumble about impeachment.

Amber Phillips noted that instead of the great assistance Republican lawmakers hoped from a Republican president, "Instead, they have a president who almost daily besieges them with scandals to respond to — or not respond to."   She also notes that this is "the first time in Trump’s still-nascent administration that he has virtually no Republican supporters on Capitol Hill in his latest controversies. A sizable number of Republicans in Congress supported him on his travel bans and his decision to fire Comey (and not immediately fire Flynn). But on the latest revelations, they just can’t find a way to justify their president's actions."
She added that "many lawmakers’ nerves are frayed just having to respond to this. The unanswered question is: When will the frustration of having a controversy-ridden, unpredictable president start to outweigh the benefits of him being a Republican?"

Here is Brent Budowsky's prediction that appointing Robert Mueller as special prosecutor leads directly to Trump's resignation in lieu of impeachmentdministration/334033-why-trump-will-likely-resign-as-mueller-pursues
On the other side, in this piece by BBC writer on U.S. politics Mark Plotkin predicts no impeachment because of the gutlessness and political record of    Ryan and several Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.  That committee would initially consider the matter and potentially draft articles of impeachment, and Plotkin discusses the individuals on it and predicts they'll choose politics over their country.  I think they might; but, as noted, I'm not so clear that at some point political interests may line up with the country's best interest on this one.
Here's a good statement of why progressives should be careful what they wish for on impeachmentachment-trap-be-careful-what-you-wish-for.  I also saw a good statement on why we shouldn't fear Pence, and will have to find that again and post it here.  Oh, here it is -- from The New Republic: "Don't Fear President Pence - Liberals, Welcome Him" .

No comments:

Post a Comment