Cen-sure? Un-sure

Donald Trump’s lawyers have made their case. Sure, the President did things that might have been wrong or questionable. But what he did isn’t bad enough to deserve impeachment.

Here’s the question: After Trump is acquitted, do the Democrats introduce a motion in the Senate to censure Trump?

It might be a smart political move. Of course, it would have no chance of passing, but it would put Republican senators on record saying that Trump’s behavior is not even worthy of a censure.

Or the Democrats could go even farther and introduce a resolution endorsing Trump’s behavior and saying that it was “perfect”. Would Republicans vote for that one? Would Trump be angry if they didn’t?

Pay Attention, Justice Roberts

There are plenty of theories about the Democrats’ “real” end game in the impeachment proceedings: turning voters off on Trump, turning voters off on Republican senators; highlighting the swampiness of the President’s team. It could be all of these. But there is other objective that might be in play.

At the end of the day, Chief Justice Roberts could be their real target. Sometime soon the Supreme Court is going to have to decide on how big of a stone wall Donald Trump can erect. So far, Trump has gotten away with ignoring all requests for information from Congress and state prosecutors.

The Democrats may be trying to show Roberts what happens when the President is allowed to get away with stonewalling. He becomes untouchable. Roberts is a conservative, but he is a constitutional conservative, not a partisan conservative. Team Trump’s efforts to rise above the law might just rub him the wrong way and backfire on them.

Khashoggi→Bezos→bin Salman→Trump?

The plot is a bit complicated, but here goes. Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist writing critical stories about the Saudi government. The Washington Post published his stories. Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. Following so far?

The Saudi government hacked Jeff Bezos’ phone to blackmail him into killing Khashoggi’s stories (Bezos refused). So instead the Saudis hacked Jamal Khashoggi. Into little pieces. That killed him and his stories.

But then word got out that the Saudis murdered Khashoggi and everyone pointed to the head of the government, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He said he wasn’t involved, but it was just revealed that his personal What’s App account was indeed involved.

Most US politicians dismissed bin Salman’s denials outright. One major exception was Donald Trump. Trump just refused to push him on it. People figured Trump was trying not to piss off the Saudis, a major source of oil for the US and a major source of financing for Trump, Inc.

But maybe there was something else involved. Maybe the Saudis were providing Trump with information from Bezos’ phone. If they were, it will probably come out sooner rather than later and you can be sure the Washington Post will print the story.

Drain The Swamp II

When he was running for president in 2016 Donald Trump enjoyed using the phrase “drain the swamp.” He would yell it out it at rallies and the crowd would echo it back to him even louder.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Democrats’ strategy is to use the impeachment to demonstrate how much more swampy things have become since Trump took over. Their strategy is to smear swam ooze all over the the Republican senators.

The Democrats are trying to show that these senators are slimy by refusing to allow witnesses and evidence in his Senate trial. Complicit in his cover up, they are Trumps’ swamp creatures.

For the Democrats, it really doesn’t matter if trial is quick and acquits Trump. They just want their candidates on the campaign trail this summer to be able to point at the incumbent Republican senators and yell, “drain the swamp.”

Bernie + AOC = ?

Stuck in Washington at the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders has sent Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez off to Iowa to campaign for him. The results could be interesting.

While many Iowa voters have yet to make up their minds and the polling is fluid, Sanders is nonetheless on an upswing. Based on current polling, he is expected to do well at the caucuses that will be held in less than two weeks. The operative word here is ‘expected’. It is all about meeting or beating expectations.

If Sanders does not do well, AOC will take some of the blame. Conversely, if he does better than expected, she will be credited. Pretty much any way you look at it, she has tied her reputation to Sanders’ Iowa performance, even though she will have only spent a week there.


Who Was That Contractor, Anyway?

On Friday, December 27, 2019 rockets hit an Iraqi airbase and killed a US civilian. The chain of events that this set off continues to escalate almost daily.

  • Two days later the US retaliated by launching airstrikes in Iraq that killed 25 members of a Iran-backed militia.
  • Two more days later thousands of Iraqis protested the airstrikes by storming the US embassy in Baghdad.
  •  Another three days passed and the US retaliated further by killing one of Iran’s top generals when he arrived in Iraq, along with several others.

The Iranians have threatened their own retaliation, but then they scored an own goal by mistakenly shooting down a civilian airliner, so that won’t happen for a while, if ever.

All of this because one US civilian was killed. The news reports called him a ‘contractor’ but did not disclose what this person’s job was or who they worked for. Was the person a mercenary doing dirty work for the US military? Was the company they worked for a big contributor to Trump or the Republicans? Was Rudy Giuliani involved somehow?

This information will come out eventually. When it does, it will likely be very interesting.

Trump’s Lucky Iran Break

How lucky can you get? An Iranian backed militia kills a US citizen in Iraq. Donald Trump slaps them. The other side hits back.  The US gets serious and kills a top Iranian general. Everybody is waiting see what the Iranians do to retaliate. But before they can do anything, they shoot themselves in the foot.

Well, not exactly the foot. The Iranians shoot down a Ukrainian airliner with a bunch of their own citizens on board. Iranians that were angry at Trump for killing their general are now angry at their generals for killing Iranians. The generals can’t blame this on Trump – instead, they pretty much have to admit being criminally inept.

What a cruel own-goal for the Iranians. What a lucky break for Trump. He should go buy a lottery ticket. Oh, wait, nevermind, he’s a billionaire – he doesn’t need the money.

The Coverup Strategy

In political scandals, the actual deed never gets anyone in real trouble. It’s the coverup that matters. Donald Trump knows this, which is why he admits to everything. “Yes, I did try to pressure the Ukrainian president. So what? It was the right thing to do.”

Whether or not you agree that it was the right thing to do, a coverup is not part of the narrative. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are trying to change that. Their strategy is to insist that the White House is trying to hide something by not allowing any witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial.

So far, Trump and Mitch McConnell seem to be in full control. But if the conversation changes from whether Trump did anything wrong to whether Trump was trying to cover something up they could find themselves behind an eight ball.

Update: January 12, 2020: Pelosi works on changing the narrative on ABC News’ “This Week” today: “Dismissing is a coverup. Dismissing is a coverup.”