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To Impeach or Not to Impeach: That is the Question

Following the public release of the Mueller Report, I spent some time writing the second post, in what I thought would be a series, on that topic. However, everything I was writing was written about elsewhere. It’s easy enough to find all the information if you look. The real question is what to do about it. Now that we know what President Trump and others did, what next? In the case of Trump himself, should the US Congress move to impeach him?

The assumption of whether someone is in the “Yes” or  “No” camp is largely down to their politics. If you’re a Republican, Libertarian, or Independent your answer is likely to be: “No”. (Independents, though, are less likely to be “No” than Republicans or Libertarians.) Green Party members are likely to say: “Yes”. Democrats are fairly evenly split.

As an outside observer, I’m in the “No” camp, and I’ll explain why. However, there is room for me to move to the “Yes” camp, and I’ll give the criteria that would lead me to change my mind, too.

Before I go any further, I should also state that any reasonable, decent person, on reading the Mueller Report, should be for impeachment. In principle, I am too. There is no doubt in my mind that Trump has met the criteria for impeachment in spades.

However, it’s not that simple.

 

Why Republicans Won’t Impeach

The main problem is that today’s Republican Party is no longer one of principles. (And we must admit it was once that, even if we didn’t agree with those principles.) It has a disease destroying it from within: Trumpism.

In the past, many, Republican politicians would be calling to impeach Trump on the evidence of the Mueller Report. Nowadays, they lack the ability to stand up to him.

Cartoon inferring GOP politicians are spineless

In addition, many of them are in the difficult position of having a majority of their electorates part of the Trump Cult. That Cult may only be a third of the population. But in red states, it’s frequently more than half. If they vote to impeach, they will likely no longer be the candidate for their party. The candidacy will go to someone who supports Trump no matter what. That may be even worse than what their state has now.

 

If Trump Were a Democrat

The fact that the Republicans are failing to keep the oath they took to the US Constitution is more obvious when you imagine if the situation was reversed. What if it was a Democratic president in a Mueller Report scenario?

Cartoon GOP hypocrisy re history of calls to impeach others

When that question comes up, Republicans tend to refer to Bill Clinton. But that was more than two decades ago. The times were different and the party was different. Further, I would argue that there weren’t genuine grounds for impeachment in any case. (I’ll get back to that below.)

You only have to look at the way Senator Al Franken was forced to resign in the wake of the #MeToo movement to see how the Democratic Party handles poor behaviour today. Franken’s indiscretions were mild in comparison to those of Trump, and we’re just talking about sexual misconduct here.

Trump is also guilty of appalling behaviour in multiple other areas. However, the same Republicans (e.g. Vice-President Mike Pence and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell) who thought Clinton should go because he was a poor example of moral behaviour continue to support Trump.

Take a look at this short video of things Fox News hosts and guests said about President Obama. Most of these people are now on the Trump Train.

 

Nancy Pelosi (D-California)

I think there’s a very good reason why House Leader Nancy Pelosi and the other Democratic Party leadership are not yet ready to move to impeach. Her decision is political, and I think she is right. That’s the case I make here.

However, in the face of a growing chorus of party members calling for impeachment, she has now said that if the investigation takes them there, that’s what they will do. I think that was the case all along, but she didn’t want to say it out loud. In the last few days though, senators as senior and thoughtful as Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) and Kamala Harris (California) are calling for impeachment.

It was following Warren’s statement that Pelosi gave her update. Unlike calls from people like Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Warren’s wasn’t one Pelosi could ignore.

 

Currently, A Majority Oppose A Move to Impeach

In an SSRS Research/CNN poll (link to PDF) conducted recently, 59% oppose impeachment, with only 36% approving. Those numbers are both the highest in opposition and the lowest in support of impeachment since CNN began asking the question. Remember too, that there will always be a percentage of the public that supports impeaching an opposition president. In July 2014, for example, 33% of the electorate thought President Obama should be impeached.

I suspect numbers may be higher now than they were at the time of the poll, but we have to remember that not everyone can see Trump’s faults. Fareed Zakaria put it perfectly in his Washington Post column:

Consider, for a moment, what the growing talk of impeachment among Democrats sounds like to the tens of millions of people who voted for President Trump. Many of them supported him because they felt ignored, mocked and condescended to by the country’s urban, educated and cosmopolitan elites — especially lawyers and journalists. So what happens when their guy gets elected? These same elites pursue a series of maneuvers to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election. It would massively increase the class resentment that feeds support for the president. It would turn the topic away from his misdeeds and toward the Democrats’ overreach and obsessions.

Zakaria goes on, making what I think is one of the most important points when deciding what to do:

And ultimately, of course, it would fail — two-thirds of this Republican-controlled Senate would not vote to convict him — allowing Trump to brandish his “acquittal” as though it were a gold medal.

 

Lessons from History

One of my favourite quotes is Churchill’s, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”* In the case of impeachment, they only need to go back as far as Nixon and Bill Clinton, and they don’t even need the in-depth knowledge of an historian. There are millions of us who can still remember both events, even if we weren’t taking a lot of notice of US politics at the time.

Lesson I: The Nixon Era

Anyone with an ounce of integrity is critical of the failure of Republicans to stand up to Trump. However, we must also remember that there was only one Republican politician that voted against Nixon in all three votes.

Others made the move to the side of impeachment as the case was laid out in publicly broadcast hearings. The general public saw those hearings and the mood of the country underwent a change.

Lesson II: The Clinton Era

Republicans attempt to impeach Clinton was a failure. They never had the votes. In the end, Clinton came out more popular than ever. For years afterwards, he was the most popular Democratic politician in the country, maybe the world.

It’s true that there are plenty of us who can see the man Trump is. He doesn’t have the natural charm and charisma of Clinton and therefore will never rise to same heights of popularity. However, there will still be tens of millions who see the failure to impeach Trump as a vindication of their man.

 

So What To Do?

I think the Democrats need to do just what Pelosi and the other party leaders are doing. According to Reuters, “At least half a dozen committees of the U.S. Congress are investigating President Donald Trump …”. Further, Trump is “… is refusing to cooperate with most of them …”. (See the Reuters article for the names of the committees and a summary of what they’re looking into.)

As many of the proceedings of those committees as possible need be televised. Most people won’t read the Mueller Report. Trump’s supporters in particular will just take his and Barr’s words that it exonerates him. Those same supporters also won’t listen to any objective analysis of the report’s contents. Anything that throws a bad light on Trump they will assume is biased against him.

What they will do though, is watch committee hearings on TV, expecting to see Republicans give Democrats their comeuppance. Assuming that doesn’t happen, the realization will begin to dawn on many of them that the emperor has no clothes.

Cartoon: The emperor with no clothes vs The enemy of the people

Once public opinion shifts, then Republican politicians will begin to support impeachment. That’s how the Democrats were able to succeed in the Nixon era. It was seeing the testimony of people like then White House counsel John Dean that led the general public to favour impeachment.

This, then is what needs to happen. Trump knows this too. That’s why he’s told people to ignore the subpoenas they’re receiving from congressional committees, and several are listening to him. Some committees are shortly to vote on whether to hold those ignoring subpoena’s so far in contempt of Congress.

Trump’s trying to slow walk the process until after the election. He knows that if the committees are able to make good progress before the election, he will lose enough votes that it could cost him that election.

On the other hand, as long as he’s in the White House, he cannot be indicted. The Mueller Report makes it clear, though I doubt there is a single member of the Trump cult who’s aware of it. Basically, Mueller says the main reason that he’s drawing a conclusion on whether Trump should face a charge of obstruction of justice is that a sitting president can’t be indicted. He further says it wouldn’t be fair to make that charge when Trump cannot have his day in court to answer it.

Mueller also made it clear that Trump could still face charges when he leaves office.

 

The Impeachment Process

I’ve rewritten much of my post after seeing Fareed Zakaria’s article today. He’s making the same case I am, but his words are better, so I’m using a lot of them. His article, linked to above, continues thus:

I know, I know, many argue passionately that this is not a political affair but rather a moral and legal one. After reading the Mueller report, they say, Congress has no option but to fulfill its obligation and impeach Trump. But this view misunderstands impeachment entirely. It is, by design, an inherently political process, not a legal one. That’s why the standard used — “high crimes and misdemeanors” — is not one used in criminal procedures. And that is why the decision is entrusted to a political body, Congress, not the courts.

In 1970, when he was House minority leader, Gerald Ford provided the most honest definition of an impeachable offense: “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”

Zakaria goes on to write about the previous cases of impeachment in US history. He also writes about other major actions by presidents that were arguably illegal, but which didn’t lead to impeachment. e.g. the internment of Japanese USians during World War II.

 

My Conclusion

As Fareed Zakaria says:

The Democrats have a much better path in front of them. They should pursue legitimate investigations of Trump, bring in witnesses and release documentary proof of wrongdoing, providing a national education about the way Trump has operated as president. But they should, at the same time, show the public that they would be a refreshing contrast to Trump — substantive, policy-oriented, civil and focused on the country, not on their narrow base. America is tired of the circus of Trump. That doesn’t mean they want the circus of the House Democrats.

Those who are calling for the impeachment of Trump are doing so because it’s the right thing to do. But sometimes it’s better not to do what on the surface seems to be the right thing in order to try and ensure the best result long-term.

A move to impeach Trump will fail. The Senate will not support it. This will enable Trump to go on the hustings and tell his followers how everyone was out to get him, but he won. They tried before the 2016 election, he will say, with their illegal spying on his campaign. Then they tried with the Mueller Report. After that, they tried to impeach him. At every turn he thwarted them because he is a winner.

In this way, the attempt to impeach Trump will win him votes. It may even ensure he wins the 2020 election.

The US (and the rest of the world) may survive two more years of Trump. Will it survive six?

So investigate Trump in committee, and do it publicly so the public can get an education on the reality of his administration. If the mood of the general public moves towards impeachment, then do so. Otherwise, the Democratic Party must not move to impeachment. Instead, the focus should be on defeating him at the ballot box, and convincingly.

To do that, they must give people a reason to vote for them, not just against Trump. He is weak on policy, and not as popular as he appears at his rallies, so it can he done despite the odds (and Russian troll farms) being on his side. A Democratic Party win must not be vulnerable to controversy.

Because in the end, what the country needs is for the next president to be a Democrat.

Game of Thrones Meme/Muller Report quote

This quote is in the Mueller Report and is what Trump said when told of the appointment of a special counsel (Robert Mueller).

 

* Churchill paraphrased a quote from George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”


 

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30 Responses to “To Impeach or Not to Impeach: That is the Question”

  1. I agree that if the Democrats start an impeachment process they could finish up damaging their own credibility and help Trump to get re-elected. Don’t go there please.,

  2. nicky says:

    Thank you Heather, for a thoughtful analysis (well, of course I think it is thoughtful, because I think the same way. I’m biased)
    There is no doubt -reading the Mueller report- that Mr Trump and his campaign conspired with ‘the Russians’. The Russians did mount a campaign to get him elected, they offered help, the Trump campaign solicited help. There were several meetings with the Russians about help. Only in the ridiculously narrow sense of footnote 1, an ‘agreement’, there was no conspiracy.
    There were a few ‘threads’ that were not explored by the Mueller investigation before it was cut short by Mr Barr.
    – the motives of Mr Manafort giving voter data to the Russians, this was not explored properly.
    – the involvement of Wikileaks, Mr Stone and the Russians. That was not investigated properly either.
    – the Deutsche Bank and the Trump ’empire’ involvement with the Russians there.
    – related to the previous point, Mr Mueller did not go into Mr Trump’s tax returns, although there was (is) sufficient evidence for criminal activity, which would allow him to access them.
    And all that is just about ‘conspiracy’.
    When you read the second part of the Mueller report, you’d think he makes the perfect case for obstruction of justice, not once or twice, but close to a dozen times. and then the conclusion? I think that indictment would be inescapable there, but “the DoJ cannot indict a sitting President”. What the F..? It is clear a sitting president is above the law.

    I’m sure Mr Barr (a well known obstructionist and whitewasher -cf Iran/Contra) cut Mr Mueller short there. Mr Mueller had just obtained a six months extension. You don’t ask for a six month extension if you are going to conclude your investigation within a week or so.
    As far as impeachment goes, I agree 100%. As long as the Senate remains willfully blind to all the crimes committed, and will not condemn Mr Trump, it is a counterproductive exercise. And only public opinion in ‘Red’ states will do that (swing the Senate), but it doesn’t look like that will happen. In that sense Mr Barr did the perfect spinning job.

    • There are still at least a dozen investigations going on by the FBI, DoJ, and various State Attorneys-General. I think Mueller had a pretty good idea what would happen as far as Barr is concerned, and palmed off as much as he could that wasn’t directly related to the question of Russian interference in the election, which is what his investigation was about. I heard a few days ago that multiple financial records relating to Trump have been subpoenaed from Deutsche Bank, so it will be interesting to see where that goes.

      I think re Manafort that there’s still more we’re going to hear on that. I personally think he was inserted into the Trump campaign by the Russians, and that they have some kind of control over him. Probably financial. I think the reason he lied so much is that he’s scared of them killing him. The lying was happening at the same time as the ex-Russian spy and his daughter were murdered in Britain. At around the same time another investigation in Britain about the Russians killing another of their ex-spies was winding up too. There’s no doubt Manafort could easily be got at in prison given the plethora of Russian organised crime prisoners. The Russians are a lot scarier than Trump, though I wouldn’t put it past him to threaten either. Michael Cohen said he threatened more than 500 people on Trump’s behalf over the years.

  3. Steve Ruis says:

    Actually, an impeachment process is too quick. What is needed is keeping Trump’s perfidy in the news long enough to result in him getting trounced in the next election (Nov 2020). The strategy is similar to the GOP’s regarding Mr. Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee. Just keep obstructing. Drag out the things. Only investigate to the point of releasing damaging information and move on. The flaw in this argument is trusting the Democrats to put up a viable candidate. The election of Mr. Trump has been misinterpreted as being supported by racist, Islamophobic, etc. Americans. It was not. It was effected by people voting against the status quo. If the Dems put up a status quo candidate (Joe Biden, etc.) Trump may well get re-elected. If they put up a progressive, non-traditional Democrat, they will win.

  4. Paul Topping says:

    Fareed’s take is thoughtful and I agree with it totally. The Dems can get most of the benefit of impeachment by seeking the testimony of major players and making sure it is shown on TV as much as possible. This greatly swayed public opinion during the Watergate era and there’s no reason it wouldn’t be effective now. The Dems should be seeking good material for 2020 campaign ads.

    I view the calls for impeachment by Dem presidential candidates as attempts to garner attention more than anything else. Elizabeth Warren is going down in my estimation because of this. I’m fine with Biden’s campaign focus to the election being a referendum on Trump but impeachment will not give the results Dems seek.

  5. Paul Topping says:

    Steve Ruis: I agree entirely with your strategy of keeping Trump’s misdeeds in the public eye. However, I suspect that almost any candidate the Dems go with will win against Trump UNLESS it is one that is seen as too progressive and/or too wrapped up in identity politics. Mainstream voters hate political correctness and would likely not want a candidate that runs on their sex or their minority status. The Dem candidate will also be vulnerable to a “Dems want to increase taxes” attack. While “tax the rich” is popular, it can backfire if it is shown that it will generate insufficient revenue to pay for universal health care, college tuition, infrastructure, etc.

  6. Lee Knuth says:

    Thank you again for a thoughtful and concise article. Although I would like to see Trump impeached, Congressional hearings would be a better way to go first. It was successful in bringing down Nixon and also Senator J. McCarthy. Airing all the terrible things Trump and his administration has done may be the only way to erode his base.

  7. Mark R. says:

    Very good analysis Heather. I’m not as convinced as you that if properly done, the Senate still wouldn’t move to impeach. Thinking it’s a foregone conclusion that the Senate won’t impeach, (so don’t even try) is a losing strategy. At this point, it is our moral and constitutional obligation to investigate; if the investigations are done thoroughly (if allowed) then a move to impeachment will be inevitable imo. But yes, first we need to finish with all the investigations, open hearings and testimonies. I also don’t think it’s a good strategy for the Trump administration to ignore subpoenas and continue breaking and flaunting the law. This will look bad to those on the fence like Independents and even Libertarians. When somebody insists “I didn’t do anything wrong” but doesn’t allow anyone to actually investigate their wrongdoings just doesn’t fly with the average person. The Cult buys it, but that’s just 30-something %.

    We also don’t know what is in the unredacted Mueller report and Trump’s tax returns. Maybe we’ll see them, maybe we won’t. In the end, it might be the stacked Supreme Court that vindicates Trump from showing his tax returns. Even though by doing so, they’ll be resisting a law that has already been settled and thus the court will lose immense integrity. Roberts knows this, so will he risk his court being perceived as Trump’s personal court? I guess it depends whether or not he cares about what the history books will say about him and his court. So far, he doesn’t seem to mind being Trump’s judicial branch. Taking up the 2020 census case is an ominous sign that indeed, the Judicial branch, like the Senate, are simply arms of the Executive. This democracy is gravely ill.

  8. Randall Schenck says:

    It always amazes me how much you know of what goes on thousands of miles away. Much more than most who live here just down the street. I suspect education has something to do with it and a much more open mind about things political. I am really glad to see your little asteric at the end of your post. Churchill gets a lot of credit for things but as you show, not that one.

    I have to admit to getting a little tired of the Trump impeachment discussion, maybe because I am getting too much of it but also because so much that we do get is bad information. A person could spend full time just correcting the bad or wrong info coming out every 5 minutes.

    The idea of instant impeachment, kind of like instant oatmeal was never a reality. The best way to look at it is to review the Nixon example. This is especially true because a lot of this goes right along with the Nixon example and history does often repeat itself. It was only after the long summer of 1973 and the hearings that took place on TV that summer that made impeachment the way to go. The same is true here as Heather said. Most people just repeat what their cult says and they read almost nothing. To educate the American audience you have to do it like you would an 8 year old child. Put them in front of the TV and spend a lot of time going over it. It is kind of like a children’s show for adults. If we could impeach someone by Facebook and Twitter, that might also work.

    If we thought 5 percent of the population would read the Muller report in full and understand what they read, we would be wrong. So taking a poll of how people think about it and conclude from it, is mostly a big waste of time. The herd just does what the herd does and thinks what the herd thinks.

    However, I would be very careful about thinking that impeachment is totally off the table and will not happen because, unless you are a good fortune teller, you have no idea what 5 or 6 months of television can do to a large group of children. So just stand by.

    Were it up to me I would have impeached him already. Actually I would have demanded that Mueller indict the bastard and go directly to the courts. After all, there is nothing in the constitution that says you cannot. If you think there is, please show me. They are simply going by that GOJ garbage rule that says they won’t indict a sitting president. Mueller is simply living by their own stupid govt. rules because he is a very conservative guy. He is a republican you know. A more progressive prosecuter might have done otherwise.

    • Don’t tell Trump that Mueller is a Republican! He insists that he, and all the other investigators to boot, are Democrats!. He also goes on and on about Peter Strozk and Lisa Page as if they were running some great conspiracy within the investigation, and that’s what his cult believes. As soon as Mueller found out about the tweets, Strozk was sacked from the team and had nothing to do with it. It also turned out that in context, the tweets were not the way they sounded (surprise, surprise!).

      I have this pop-psychology theory, which is probably wrong but I’m sticking with it, about why Trump’s cult believe in him so much. It’s a bit complicated, but basically it’s because they’re a group that’s already primed to believe unbelievable things from a charismatic figure due to their background as Evangelical Christians. Also, the Christianity they’re taught is that God works through people and favours people. Your often hear Evangelicals who can be brought to admit that Trump has done bad stuff that God is working through him to get things like anti-abortion laws. Also, they have a really hard time seeing anyone financially successful/apparently healthy/good looking etc as not having got that way because of God. These things are all “blessings” of God.

  9. Randall Schenck says:

    I have a theory as well, that those who are easily swayed by religions are the same who are influenced by crackpots. Most have no mind or opinion of their own so they attach to whatever the latest flavor might be no matter how strange. They have fear of everything that does not look like them and just like Trump they seldom read anything.

    I saw a really interesting video last night on the tube. Senator Grassley, you know, the one from Iowa, was having a town hall meeting of some kind and a women asked him about health care and pre-existing conditions and why he voted against the ACA so many times. Instead of trying to answer her question because he had no answer, he got mad and told her not to worry about it because the congress was no longer trying to kill health care. It was the most ridiculous thing to see – this stupid old man, trapped in the Trump/republican bubble with nothing.

    I could say those people in Iowa got what they deserve because they voted for this evil. They were sucked in because they were, I don’t know, easy, or stupid or what? The farmers there are in bad shape because of weather but mostly because of Trump and his policies on China. Crop prices are killing the farmers but they voted for the guy. Maybe their minds are so corrupted they will vote for him again.

  10. Paul Topping says:

    I believe one of the main reasons Trump’s followers are so dedicated to him is that they know he will support their gut-felt ideas without acceding to reason or political expediency. He has no agenda of his own, no braintrust behind him working on real-life solutions. He portrays himself as a bought politician where the price is simply supporting him and voting for him. He has made similar bargains with white supremacists, Jews, Evangelicals, immigrant-haters.

  11. nicky says:

    I only saw the video about things Fox News hosts and guests said about President Obama now. It is unbelievable how well these comments fit Mr Trump (and how ill much of it fits Mr Obama). Eerie. (golfing, tweeting, watching Fox and cable TV, Putin not being impressed, smooching with authoritarian dictators and thugs, increasing deficits, the records he doesn’t want us to know about, insecure and vain, thin-skinned, everyone laughing at the US, blaming and not admitting he might be wrong , etc, etc., not to mention the lying.)
    They must be time travelers misreading the name or so. It is difficult to see that and think they are not talking about Mr Trump. Are they mediums that can look into the future? Or are they comments that could be made about just anybody? But they appear so spot on..
    Did Mr Trump see it and tried to flesh it out ? Or what?

  12. Randall Schenck says:

    Latest report just out from real journalism at the Post and or NYTs says Mueller is very unhappy about the summary of his work given by AG BARR. This release sets up very nicely for Barr’s testimony on Thursday before the house committee. They will chew him up pretty good. And can’t wait for Mueller’s testimony.

  13. Randall Schenck says:

    Just additional info on what I said above. It is clear now that Barr lied to Congress when he testified the last time on this matter. He had received a letter and telephone call from Mueller explaining his displeasure with Barr and what he had done. Yet, when asked in testimony – Did Mueller agree with your review he simply said he did not know. He sure as hell did know and now we all do. There are already demands that Barr resign.

  14. Jenny Haniver says:

    Now I’m glad that I didn’t respond to this when you first posted it, because the situation changes not just by the day but by the hour. Even though I agree with you that in principle, Trump should be impeached, at least at this time, I, too, don’t think it’s a good idea, and I agree with your reasons. [However, now that I’ve written this and tried to post it, I cannot]

    As I write, tonight in the States, a number of relevant stories broke. I hear news that a federal judge has rejected Trump’s bid to dismiss the Dems suit for violating the emoluments clause. But the Justice Dept. alleges that his hotels are exempt from the clause (talk about parsing words). Also, it was revealed late today that Muller has challenged Barr’s 4-page precis of his investigation. He says that it does not accurately reflect the substance and import of the report. If Trump and Jared and Ivanka lose in their refusal to disclose their taxes and the records from Deutchbank, and as stated, will fight it to the Supreme Court, what will happen? And what other crimes and malfeasence might yet be uncovered remains to be seen. One expert I heard who cautioned against impeaching made a good case, I thought. After making his case he said, we just don’t know what will happen if he is impeached, but whatever happens will be drastic. And Barr is scheduled to go before the House tomorrow — will he show? If so, What will happen? Hold on to your hats , it’ll be the equivalent of cage fighting. Robert Reich says arrest him if he doesn’t show. Somebody needs to write an opera!

    As much as I don’t like it, I think it would be best if he weren’t impeached. We really don’t need a crisis like that. Here’s the pertinent segment from NPR’s “On the Media,” wherein the man I mentioned above (can’t think of his name at the moment) speaks of the dire consequences of impeachment https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/politics-impeachment-against-virtues-on-the-media. Perhaps he waxes a bit apocalyptic, but perhaps we need that. It fits well with Zakaria’s, I think. I may have forgotten his name but he makes a cogent case for not impeaching.

    I also give this other link from the show to the origins of the impeachment process, which I know you and most other readers of your blog know, but it’s nice to have this verbal recap which goes back before Andrew Johnson. https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/origins-impeachment-process-on-the-media

    And in addition to the other domestic matters you raised, what’s going to go down re Venezuela? And everywhere else? Iran, Saudi Arabia…? None of this is separate from anything else, and always the Russkies are stirring up trouble (not that the US govt. doesn’t do enough on its own, though this time it seems that things are reversed as to who’s the bad guy (but are they?). Meantime, Trump is spiraling down into the black hole of his solipsism and becoming evermore divorced from any reality but that of his own making. I just can’t believe any of this is happening. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again this man is destroying things on a global scale and he’ll take the entire world (and beyond with his “Space Force”) down with him — at least he will if he can; so please don’t say you don’t have a dog in this fight. You do and so does everyone on the planet.

    Dr. Bandy Lee, who co-edited the collection of psychiatrists’ essays on Trump’s mental state, is coming out with an updated edition soon, maybe it’s already out. Couldn’t come at a better time, but in about a week, yet another edition will be needed because his crackpot statements and tweets are rolling out at breakneck speed.

    I’m sorry the reply button still doesn’t work. Not chiding you because I know that you’d fix it if you could. Just grousing.

    BTW, you may already know that hedgehog cafes are hot these days, at least in Japan. Sounds cute, but they aren’t cats or pigs they have to be picked up and held, they can’t wander away if they don’t like it. and they’re nocturnal, and all round, it ain’t a good idea.

    • Sorry this took so long to release from moderation – I didn’t realize it was there. The reason it didn’t make it was the number of links – more than one even from an approved commenter causes a problem. They think I may have been fooled into approving a commentor the first time by an innocuous response, then the commentor turned out to be a spammer. If you want to avoid this in future, you could divide comments so only one link appears in each.

  15. nicky says:

    I an earlier post I said that I thought Mr Barr’s four page ‘conclusion’ could not be too far off. I already apologised for that mistaken idea, but in order to make up for it, I’ll give you the citizen’s indictment of Mr Barr by the Contentious Otter.
    It is only 17 short pages, and well worth the read. In summary (that has not escaped our attention….) Mr Barr is accused of:
    – Offer to procure appointive public office
    – Conspiracy to defraud the United States
    – False statements to Congress (Perjury)
    – Obstruction of Justice
    https://www.scribd.com/document/405212932/Indictment-of-William-Barr

  16. Randall Schenck says:

    That is quite a lot to take in through one reading so I just went through it briefly because I have been watching the hearings today when I could. I will also get the blow by blow this evening on MSNBC. And guess what – tomorrow he is suppose to face the house so we will see the act again. I heard one thing on the news discussion today that sums up Barr and all the toadies that work for Trump. They have sold their soul when they work for this guy. Now I am not religious in any way, and do not believe in souls but they have certainly lost something and their dignity for sure. It is a sad thing to see.

    • The latest thing I’ve heard is that Barr is now “refusing the invitation” of Congress to testify tomorrow. It seems they’re not going to push it either, though that may not last given the political climate.

  17. Randall Schenck says:

    Yes, he will probably be a no show. They should move on to having Mueller and others testify although they will likely go after Barr as well.

  18. nicky says:

    There is talk now about impeaching Mr Barr. Although I think he should be indicted or impeached, it would hardly touch Mr Trump, the ultimate Teflon President.
    Impeaching Mr Barr might be an effort that deviates energy and time from more important issues (as, in a sense the impeachment of Mr Trump would be)
    The thing is that, sadly, Mr Barr succeeded, his four page ‘exoneration summary’ has become a trope. It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get the cultists and Russian trolls, and hence the larger public, off that.
    It is clear that Mr Trump has committed a truckload of impeachable offenses. 300 or so prosecutors -from different parts of the aisle- say that if he had not been president he would have been indicted. The US media did not really spread that message, for unfathomable reasons.
    I still somehow hope that when the enormity of Mr Trumps offenses becomes clearer, and clearer to the voters in rural ‘red’ states that is, that the Senate will drop it’s support. Then, and only then, impeachment should follow. It is not impossible, Mr Nixon’s support in the Senate evaporated nearly overnight.
    As a distraction, I note that 50 coal plants closed during Mr Trump’s term, and 51 more announced they would close.

    • More and more are signing onto that letter. Last I heard (2 days ago), the number was up to 800. CNN is talking about it, and they’re my main TV source. (The English speaking international news channels I can get are CNN International, Fox News, Sky News, BBC World, and Al Jazeera.) Many of the shows are the same ones as CNN US, and they’ve been talking about that letter a lot.

      Coal prices are set internationally, and they’ve been really low for some time. Despite what Trump believes, no one wants to buy coal anymore. The rest of the world accepts the reality of global warming and is trying to do something about it. That means they’re moving to other forms of energy, and coal is one of the easiest to remove as there are plenty of viable substitutes. (I’m sure you know all this, but there are people this reading who don’t.) My usual comment is coal miners are going the way of farriers, though we do still need at least a small number of farriers, so I probably should find a different job for a comparison. Perhaps matchstick girls, which would have the additional value of being a job that slowly killed, just like coal mining.

  19. Randall Schenck says:

    Crazy, I didn’t know there were that many coal plants. Sometimes I think we think behind instead of the future. Worrying about a failed impeachment because the Senate won’t change or wasting time with Barr. He is just another Trump whore if I am allowed to say that. Once they get Mueller and McGahn in front of the congress I suspect that is all they will need. These two will provide just about everything needed to remove this low life living in the white house.

    • I agree that getting Mueller to testify would be huge in getting the country on board. As we’ve all discussed, most people won’t read the Mueller report. However, just like with Watergate, they will watch TV coverage of the testimony, and Mueller talking about what’s in his report would be huge. Trump knows this of course, and that’s why he’s doing all he can to stop it. Same with Don McGhan, whose name is mentioned literally hundreds of times in the Mueller Report. Hearing him testify about Trump trying to get him to fire Mueller would sway a lot of people.

  20. nicky says:

    Yes, you are probably right there. However, there is no hurry, the closer to November 2020 the better, I’d think. People’s memories tend to be short.

    When will be your next post? I’m always looking and then: still no new post. And occasionally: ah! a New Post! I don’t want to put pressure on you (well, let us be honest, maybe I do a bit), but I’m always looking forward to a new one (and please take that as a compliment to the quality of your posts).

    • Sorry Nicky. I’ve got several on the go. The trouble is I get all worked up about an issue, and start a post on that, then get sidetracked by another issue, then I get back to the first one etc. I also can’t write for very long each day, and on days where I have to do something else (like Mother’s Day), I don’t do anything at all, and often the following day is out too. I’m trying to write about issues that will stay current for a while, because often I start writing about something, then before I get done, it becomes too old. I’m getting pretty close to finishing one on abortion, but I’m not making any promises. Normally I’d say it would be done by tomorrow, but tomorrow is my mother’s birthday, so that’s going to put a spanner in the works.

      I do feel bad about not posting, because I’m finally back to where I was before my chair broke down. I have no more excuses on that front! I’m getting back into the habit of writing again too, All I can really say is things will get better over the coming months.

  21. Randall Schenck says:

    Don’t worry about getting back to this. The Democrats are sitting in neutral and doing nothing. Kind of sad really. More inspiring story out there somewhere.

  22. Randall Schenck says:

    Please do not take my comment as anything other than my own lack of patients on this story. Several good things are happening to get this thing rolling again. The fight to get documents from Trump’s financial advisers was positive by a judge today. More of the same should follow from the attempt to get bank documents so things are looking up more today. Much of the stonewalling by Trump’s lawyers will not work and the constitution is on the side of Congress on all of this. In the end, you can run but you cannot hide should be what is facing this corrupt president.

  23. nicky says:

    @ Randall (the reply does not get to the right place) . There are many coal fired plants in the US.
    289 coal fired plants in the US closed since 2010, 50 of which during Mr Trump’s short reign. 241 remain open, 51 of which are planned to close. Only one plant opened (in Alaska) during Mr Trump’s tenure. Also more than half of all coal mines closed since 2008, and there appears to be no change there since Mr Trump won usurped the presidency either. Mr Trump is making false promises (surprise, surprise!).
    Coal is down from 35% to 25% of the US energy mix since 2015, and falling. Natural gas makes up 40+ % now. Much of it obtained by fracking, which also has it’s down sides.
    I cannot understand why going solar is not a kind of emergency in the West (or the rest of the world for that matter).
    The sun delivers 23000 terawatts of energy annually>, while the total of the fossil reserves (oil, gas and coal) plus Uranium, is about 1700 terawatt. The annual solar energy reaching our planet is nearly 14 times all those reserves combined. At present we use about 16 terawatt per year.

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