Impeach the Motherfucker III

According to The Times, the U.S. is taking “more aggressive digital action” in Russia’s power grid “in a warning to Moscow and in a demonstration of its abilities,” explicitly to brush Putin back from further election interference. Yesterday afternoon, Ryan Goodman, professor and former special counsel to the DoD, highlighted this excerpt from The Times article (source):

So, Pentagon and intelligence officials are taking action independently because everyone’s afraid if they clue Trump in, he’ll blurt out details to a hostile foreign power’s officials or quash the effort altogether. My gratitude that at least someone is taking the threat of Russian interference seriously is tempered by the knowledge that, under normal circumstances, unelected officials shouldn’t freelance U.S. foreign policy. There’s a norm that will be difficult to reestablish.

Anyhoo, yesterday evening, Trump confirmed that efforts to counter Russian interference in U.S. elections either have to take place behind his back or not at all:

Recall former DHS Sec Kirstjen Nielsen’s failed attempt to put plans in place to deal with Russian interference in the upcoming election. One of the primary duties of the DHS secretary is to ensure election security. But in a bid to save her job, Nielsen focused on caging kids instead when she was told that bringing up Russian interference wounds Trump’s ego. [Mother Jones]

When former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen began to prepare a plan to address potential Russian interference in the 2020 election, she was told by President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to refrain from discussing the issue in front of the president, according to a report from the New York Times.

A senior Trump administration official recalled to the Times that Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level,” because Trump considers any discussion of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to be a challenge to the legitimacy of his presidency.

The DHS is the federal agency primarily responsible for election security, but despite Nielsen’s growing concerns about Russia’s continued involvement in the 2018 midterms, she abandoned her effort to organize a meeting with the White House in the hopes of creating a cohesive strategy for 2020 after pushback from Mulvaney. The issue therefore did not gain traction within the White House and has resulted in a lack of public awareness regarding the latest potential attempts of Russian election interference.

These are two instances we know about where Trump’s ego and unwillingness to address urgent threats compromised national security.* Mitch McConnell was complicit before and after the 2016 election, refusing to join a bipartisan effort to counter foreign interlopers prior to the last presidential election and refusing to bring a bipartisan election security bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote now.

We know what’s going on here. Trump always abandons his responsibilities as president when they conflict with his personal interests and is keen to avoid any suggestion that someone other than his magnificent self was responsible for his glorious victory. McConnell and the Republicans have known for some time that they can’t harness white grievance to secure power to enact plutocrat-friendly policies forever, which is why they started laying the groundwork for minority rule long before Trump came along, rigging elections and cheating in every conceivable way.

The House is the last line of defense. The situation demands an impeachment inquiry focused on Trump’s attempts to thwart an investigation of previous election interference and failure to protect the country from foreign interlopers going forward. Hearings would expose Republican complicity and, if House leadership follows Laurence Tribe’s recommendation, deny McConnell the opportunity to “exonerate” Trump via acquittal in the Senate — all while underscoring the corruption of the Republican Party.

I have a ton of respect for Nancy Pelosi, who knows a lot more about congressional procedures and political strategy than I can ever hope to learn. My hope is she’s being deliberate about impeachment because she has a strategy to not only expose Trump but also his corrupt enablers in Congress. I sincerely hope so, because lawlessness will continue until lawbreakers are held accountable, and past a certain point, it will be too late.

*Thanks, it must be said, to The Times. Their garbage Beltway reportage notwithstanding, the paper still breaks some incredibly important stories.








Tribe’s Impeachment Compromise

Constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe wrote an op-ed for The Post suggesting a compromise that would allow the Impeach the Motherfucker NOW! crowd and Team Proceed Cautiously Because 2020 Is Everything to meet in the middle. The compromise is predicated on the notion that a House impeachment needn’t function explicitly as a prosecutor or grand jury that refers its findings to the Senate for trial — Tribe says the House can conduct an inquiry “in which the target is afforded an opportunity to participate and mount a full defense” and skip the referral.

He cites precedent during the Watergate impeachment proceedings, when Nixon’s attorney appeared to defend Nixon against charges leveled by the House. Since Nixon subsequently resigned, there was no need to refer the articles of impeachment to the Senate, but Tribe says the House Judiciary Committee in that era drafted findings that included “determinations of fact and law and verdicts of guilt to be delivered by the House itself, expressly stating that the president was indeed guilty as charged.” On that basis, Tribe surmises that “an impeachment inquiry conducted with ample opportunity for the accused to defend himself before a vote by the full House would be at least substantially protected, even if not entirely bullet-proofed, against a Senate whitewash.”

Here’s Tribe’s conclusion:

The point would not be to take old-school House impeachment leading to possible Senate removal off the table at the outset. Instead, the idea would be to build into the very design of this particular inquiry an offramp that would make bypassing the Senate an option while also nourishing the hope that a public fully educated about what this president did would make even a Senate beholden to this president and manifestly lacking in political courage willing to bite the bullet and remove him.

By resolving now to pursue such a path, always keeping open the possibility that its inquiry would unexpectedly lead to the president’s exoneration, the House would be doing the right thing as a constitutional matter. It would be acting consistent with its overriding obligation to establish that no president is above the law, all the while keeping an eye on the balance of political considerations without setting the dangerous precedent that there are no limits to what a corrupt president can get away with as long as he has a compliant Senate to back him. And pursuing this course would preserve for all time the tale of this uniquely troubled presidency.

Go read the whole thing — I almost certainly bollixed up some key points by summarizing. But if I’m understanding Tribe correctly, he offers an intriguing alternative here.

Since the Senate won’t do its job, the House will need to get creative, and televised hearings that fully explore Trump’s corruption and abuse of power while not subjecting the process to a Republican cover-up sounds like a good option to me. What say you?








ITMFA

This is the best piece I’ve read about impeachment lately – read the whole thing.

For a long time, I was on the fence about impeachment. A couple of things that swayed me are mentioned in the article linked above. First, left to his own devices, Trump will drive the media narrative and suck up all of the media oxygen in the next 15 months. A set of impeachment hearings by one House committee meeting on a regular schedule with good counsel driving hard questions–not a bunch of different committees meeting on occasion with grandstanding preening questioners–will put Trump’s crimes on the front page of newspapers and lead the nightly news. Trump will have to respond, and he’ll look guilty and weak. Second, even when the Senate votes against conviction, vulnerable Senators like McSally, Collins and Gardner will have to take an actual vote. They would rather tsk-tsk about Trump and do nothing – a vote puts them in a tough position a few months before the election.

Third, it’s the right thing to do, and Congress needs to do its duty. Pelosi’s reticence is probably driven in part by pushback from members who would rather do nothing and hope that Trump just won’t be re-elected. That might happen, but a lot of Democrats went out of their way to vote for candidates who promised to do something about Trump, and Congress doing nothing is going to suppress Democratic turnout. There are also some “independent” low information voters who might learn something from the Mueller report being read into the record, one day at a time. (And, btw, fuck yes this committee must get Mueller to testify, if only to read his report into the record. Look at the effect of his press conference, which essentially just repeated some facts from his report, yet still enraged Trump and led the newscasts.)

Finally, the House also needs to pass all the legislation that Democrats promised, and Presidential candidates need to talk about how they would sign those bills if they were elected. Maybe Democrats’ policy messages will be drowned out by the impeachment hearings, but we already run the risk of Trump’s inane tweeting drowning them out.








Friday Morning Open Thread: Everybody’s Talkin’ Bout It…

(Marshall Ramsey via GoComics.com)
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Thursday Morning Open Thread: Mueller Drops the Mic

(The Washington Post: 40 House Democrats want to open an impeachment inquiry into Trump”. Plus Republican, for now, Justin Amash.)


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