The Democrats failed in their attempt to call witnesses at Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. But was it really a loss for them?
Trump was never going to be impeached no matter what witnesses or documents revealed. Everyone knew that. So how could the Democrats win?
One way is to turn it from an impeachment into a cover up. Republican senators might get some cover voting for acquittal – Trump’s actions were wrong but not wrong enough to kick him out of office. But they won’t get off so easily for squashing witnesses. That vote left them wide open to accusations of being part of Trump’s cover up.
Maneuvering Republican senators up for reelection into wading into the Trump swamp with Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas would not be the worst outcome for the Democrats. In fact, it could be considered a win.
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.
As the impeachment inquiry heats up, Donald Trump continues to urge people to ‘read the transcript’ of his call with the Ukrainian president. His assumption is that if they did they would see that he did nothing impeachable.
What the White House issued last month is not actually a verbatim transcript of the call. Instead, as the White House fully admitted, it is a summary of the call. As the White House would like to present it.
The summary was still bad enough that the Democrats started an impeachment inquiry. But based on the summary, Trump is unlikely to be convicted by the Senate.
The problem for Trump is that the verbatim transcript will eventually come out. People are going to read it. Trump’s summary is going to look like a coverup. And coverups are what sink politicians.
The whole impeachment drama is starting to shape up less as an investigation of what Donald Trump might have done wrong and more of a constitutional battle. Trump’s position seems to be that a sitting president is immune from criminal prosecution, and Congress cannot investigate him for impeachment if its motive is ‘political’.
There is support for the first point. Many constitutional experts feel that presidents can only be criminally indited after they leave office. The reason? The Constitution provides a special way way to take a president down: impeachment.
Ttump is wrong on his second point. The Constitution does not give the president a pass if he feels that the impeachment is politically motivated. In fact, it almost always is. The president has to turn over the information that Congress requests. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld that principle back in the Nixon Watergate days.
Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are wasting an opportunity, They should print up little copies of the Constitution in booklet form. Blue covers with an American flag. Hand them out at every rally, debate and voter registration event.
Claim the Constitution as their issue.
Before the Republicans do.
At some point over the next few months, President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller will have a conversation. Each will be accompanied by a phalanx of lawyers. Mueller and his team will ask questions. Trump, guided by his team, will answer. And then Trump will throw in a few lies.
It is certain that Trump will lie? No, but the odds are pretty good, and here’s why.
- He has done it before. Trump has been in court many times. He is familiar with testifying and has told many lies and misleading statements in the past
- He doesn’t believe he is lying. Trump is a narcissistic pathological liar, in other words he believes his lies because they are part of his self image.
- Even if he knows he is lying, he feels that as president he can do whatever he wants. Trump probably believes it is his right and duty to lie in the right circumstances, and a vindictive witch hunt by Mueller is one of those circumstances.
- He doesn’t see any downside to getting caught lying. The president can always pardon himself from committing perjury, right? Even if that doesn’t work, what’s the worst that can happen? He’s the guy that could get away with shooting someone in Times Square. They certainly aren’t going to impeach him for a lie or two. If they try, there will literally be blood in the streets – his people will never take an impeachment attempt lying down.
Mueller probably knows that he will never take Trump down. But he can take his company and business associates down. When he uncovers the full nature of the money laundering and side deals that Trump, Inc. has been involved in with the Russians and firms like Deutsche Bank it is going to get mighty uncomfortable to be in business with or as a Trump.
As the Special Counsel’s investigation heats up and Donald Trump’s relationship with Congress continues to cool down, some are speculating about impeachment.
In the history of the United States, only two presidents have been impeached, i.e., charged by the House Of Representatives with serious offenses. Both presidents went to trial in the Senate, and both won their trials when the Senate declined to convict either of them of the crimes the House charged them with.
The presidents were Andrew Jackson, nicknamed “Old Hickory” for his fortitude, and Bill “Big Dog” Clinton. There is no way that Donald Trump is going to let himself be bested by either of these presidents by getting convicted. Especially Clinton.
Trump’s pattern in legal matters is fight, fight, fight, settle. It is more likely that Trump will follow Richard Nixon’s path and resign before it gets to impeachment, although there is a chance there resignation will happen after the House votes to impeach.
Assuming the potential charges against Trump include conflicts of interest, bribery or worse related to the financing of his businesses, the resignation will probably be part of a ‘settlement’ deal that lets Trump and his family stay out of jail and keep most of their assets.
The threat of impeachment may work, but it is unlikely that it will actually happen.
There are some managers that come into a new job and believe that one of the first things they should do is fire someone. It gets people’s attention, puts them on their toes and shows them that it is not going to be business as usual.
Apparently, Donald Trump is one of those managers. A main topic at his first formal meeting with the Europeans was the Paris climate change agreement. They wanted the US to stay on track and worked hard to convince him to do so.
But to Trump, the issue was not about climate change but about letting the Europeans know that it will not be business as usual. And “firing” the climate change deal despite their pleas was a good way to do this.
In the short term, it won’t make much difference to climate change. Business is largely in favor of it and is going to act as if it were in effect for commercial reasons. Environmentally sympathetic state and local governments will do the same.
Meanwhile, Trump scores huge points with his base, sticking up for them against all of the usual suspects: the wishy washy UN, the socialist Europeans, the cheating Chinese, the elite liberals back home, etc. All without having to get Congress’ involved.
Starting his relationship with the Europeans by pissing them off may backfire on Trump. But not as much as pissing off his base by appeasing the Europeans and reversing his campaign promises on the Paris Accords. If impeachment talk ever becomes mainstream, he is going to
want need his base solidly behind him.