And In Other News — There’s A Pandemic!

In light of the storming of the Capitol by white supremacist terrorists one week ago today, much of the rest of the news has fallen by the wayside, not even seen by many.  For instance, on Saturday an Indonesian jetliner, a Boeing 737, crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff on Saturday with 62 people aboard, all presumed dead.  Typically, this would have been headline news for several days, but in the U.S., it was barely a blip. 

One of the things that has dominated the news for nearly a year now is the coronavirus pandemic, yet for the past week it has received far less attention than the Capitol attack and Donald Trump’s role in it. Yesterday the U.S. recorded 4,281 deaths for the 24-hour period, yet we barely batted an eye.  This morning’s email contained my usual daily briefing by David Leonhardt of the New York Times with an update on the pandemic that I thought well worth sharing.


‘A game changer’

david-leonhardtLast week’s attack on the Capitol has understandably dominated the news. But I want to take a few minutes this morning to focus on the other vital story right now — the pandemic.

Below is a three-point summary of where we are now, with help from my colleagues covering the story and from a couple of charts. I’ll warn you up front: The situation is not good.

  1. The new variants are scary. Scientists are still learning about new versions of the coronavirus, including variants that emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil. The evidence so far indicates that they “are much more infectious than the Italian strain, which has been circulating here since February,” my colleague Donald G. McNeil Jr. told me. “That’s a game changer.”

Behavior that may once have been only moderately risky — say, airplane travel — may now be more so. The variants seem to be one reason cases worldwide are spiking:

pandemic-chart-1

  1. The mass vaccination campaign in the U.S. is off to a terrible start. The Trump administration promised that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by Jan. 1. Instead, fewer than three million were — and only about nine million have now had their shots.

The Deep South has the country’s lowest vaccination rates. But this isn’t just a Republican failure: California, Virginia and some other Democratic-run states have also been slow. (Here’s data for every state.)

Vaccinations will probably accelerate in coming weeks, especially because President-elect Joe Biden and his team seem much more focused on the problem than President Trump. Goldman Sachs forecasts that about one quarter of Americans will have received their first shot by April 1, half by June 1 and three quarters by mid-autumn. The coming vaccination speedup is the one good piece of good news right now.

  1. Things are likely to get worse before they get better. The virus is spreading so rapidly that hospitals are struggling to keep up. About 130,000 Americans are hospitalized with Covid symptoms, more than double the number two months ago. The strain on hospitals raises the possibility that many patients will not receive the best available treatments.

Los Angeles has recently had to ration oxygen. And Esteban Trejo, an executive at a company in El Paso, Texas, that provides oxygen to temporary hospitals, told Kaiser Health News, “It’s been nuts, absolutely nuts.”

The recent data on cases and deaths is noisy, because diagnoses artificially slowed during the holidays, says Mitch Smith, a Times reporter who follows the numbers. Still, deaths have already hit a record this week — more than 3,000 a day, on average — and the recent explosion of cases suggests they may be heading to above 3,500 and perhaps to 4,000.

pandemic-chart-2

The bottom line: Biden will be taking office next week during the nadir of the coronavirus crisis. His administration will need to both accelerate vaccine distribution and persuade more people to change their behavior — and the second goal is even more urgent than the first.

Unless Americans start wearing masks more often and spending less time together in cramped spaces, many more people are going to die.

A Voice of Reason …

I receive a daily newsletter from David Leonhardt, an opinion columnist for the New York Times.  Given that on the average day I receive some 200+ emails, not counting those that are automatically diverted to my spam folder, I often delete newsletters without reading them.  Two of my favourites, though, are Nicholas Kristof and David Leonhardt, so I usually try to at least skim theirs.  Today’s stood out for the title alone, and I read it.  I want to share this today, for I think it is a worthy read, and I fully agree with Mr. Leonhardt.

In recent days, protests have been widespread in a number of states.  These protests are being encouraged by a variety of conservative coalitions, and egged on by none other than Donald Trump himself.  People aren’t thinking, aren’t using that grey matter inside their heads.  This is a complex situation, uncharted territory, and I think we need to err on the side of caution.  So, too, does Mr. Leonhardt …

 

NYTimes.com/David-Leonhardt

david-leonhardt
By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

Seven Reasons We Can’t Yet Reopen America

1. Every day for the past two weeks, another 25,000 or so Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. It’s great news that number is no longer growing, but it’s barely started to fall.

2. Countries that have succeeded in containing the virus made much more progress in reducing the number of new cases before reopening. “China did not allow Wuhan, Nanjing or other cities to reopen until intensive surveillance found zero new cases for 14 straight days, the virus’s incubation period,” as The Times’s Donald McNeil writes.

3. The vast majority of the American population — perhaps about 90 percent — has not yet been exposed to the virus. So there is tremendous potential for outbreaks worse than any we have experienced so far.

4. The testing program in the United States remains terribly flawed. About a month ago, the Trump administration promised 27 million tests would be available by the end of March. Late April is now approaching, and yet only about 4 million tests have been conducted. The current pace of testing needs to triple before the country can safely reopen, Harvard researchers estimate.

5. We also haven’t fixed our shortages of protective equipment for health care workers. As a recent paper from the conservative-leaning Mercatus Center puts it: “Demand has rapidly outstripped supply as the urgent need for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks, respirators, gloves, and gowns, as well as for ventilators, continues to grow apace with the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

6. Most places in the United States don’t yet have a plan for aggressive contact tracing — the process of tracking people who may have been exposed to the virus. “Only a few states are recruiting and training the army of public health workers who will be needed to track, trace and isolate anyone exposed to the coronavirus,” Politico’s Joanne Kenen wrote. This kind of tracing has been vital to reducing the virus’s spread in South Korea and elsewhere.

7. The same goes for quarantining: We don’t yet have anything approaching a full plan. A recent Times Op-Ed, by the public health experts Harvey Fineberg, Jim Yong Kim and Jordan Shlain, explains.

The bottom line: If the country reopened now, we would probably end up in lockdown again soon, while also needlessly increasing the death toll from the virus.

We MUST Protect The Election!!!

David Leonhardt’s column this morning in the New York Times caught my eye because of the headline, but kept me reading because it is probably the most sensible thing I’ve heard in weeks now.  As you all know, I have grave concerns about how the government’s (and citizens’) reactions to the coronavirus pandemic will affect our election process this year.  Leonhardt proposes a truly sensible way to ensure that the election will go on and that people will vote.  Take a look …

Congress will almost certainly pass a very large stimulus bill soon — as it should, because the economy is in crisis. But there is another looming crisis, in addition to the recession and the public health crisis, and it’s one that Congress should be taking as seriously as the economy.

Our usual methods for conducting elections may not work in November.

Yesterday’s postponed primary in Ohio, which is the subject of a legal fight, highlights the problems. Come November, people may still not be able to gather safely at polling places, and election workers — many of them elderly — may not be able to interact safely with hundreds of people. That’s terribly worrisome. As Seth Masket of the University of Denver has pointed out, elections are an essential institution in a democracy, much as grocery stores are.

Fortunately, House Democrats have the political leverage to fix the problem, even if President Trump and congressional Republicans don’t feel the same urgency. (Republicans, alas, have spent more time restricting voting rights in recent years than protecting them.)

Here’s what Democrats can do: Refuse to pass any big stimulus bill unless it includes provisions to ensure that the country can hold a presidential election this fall. That may sound like bare-knuckle politics, but preserving democracy calls for toughness.

Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, put it well in a message to me on Tuesday:

Election bills are notoriously hard to get through Congress. And we don’t know when Congress will be able to meet again. The only way a congressionally mandated expansion of [voting access] for November’s elections is going to pass is if it is folded into one of the existing coronavirus bills needed to keep this country going during the crisis.

On Twitter, Stephen Wolf of Daily Kos Election made a historical analogy:

Fighting coronavirus will take war-like mobilization of govt resources. But even during the Civil War & WWII, we still held elections. It’s essential that Congress mandate & provide funding for every state to adopt universal vote-by-mail so we don’t have a political crisis too.

The basics of a bill to protect the 2020 election are straightforward. It should require every state to allow both early voting (with drop-off ballots) and voting by mail, and it should include federal funding for a rapid switch to those systems in the coming months. About 30 states already allow something known as “no-excuse absentee voting,” which is essentially early voting. Another five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — conduct elections largely or entirely by mail.

Both systems work well, removing many of the hassles, like long waits in line, that can keep Americans from voting. Mail voting has been especially successful at increasing turnout, as I explained in a 2018 column. During a pandemic, voting by mail and early voting have the crucial added benefit of allowing people to cast a ballot with minimal human contact.

It’s true that there is one downside to early voting: The possibility that new information will emerge in the final few days of a campaign, after some people have already voted. But this downside is quite modest during a general election in our highly polarized country. Not many people will be changing their mind in the final few days. And during a national crisis, there are not perfect solutions to every problem.

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden, both Democrats, have written a good starting-point bill. It would require all states to hold at least 20 days of early voting, as well as to allow anybody to request a mail-in ballot. The federal government would pay for the changeover, which would probably cost around $1 billion, relatively little compared with other emergency bills now being discussed.

There are still some technical details to address. I think that — for 2020 only — the bill should also mandate states to create drop-off boxes at polling places, where people could bring the ballot they requested by mail. This would reduce the number of completed ballots that might arrive after Election Day, because of postal delays. Hasen, the election law scholar, raises a couple of other issues, including steps to ensure ballot security, in a Slate column.

But all of these issues are manageable. The key is for Congress — ideally, Democrats and Republicans together — to act now to protect the country’s ability to hold a fair election this year.

The Scope Of Impeachment

The big question about Trump’s impeachment is whether the scope should be narrow or broad.  Initially, Nancy Pelosi seemed determined to keep the focus on Trump’s attempts to bribe/blackmail Ukrainian President Zelenskyy for personal gain.  That, in and of itself, is enough for impeachment, but there is so much more … should the House expand the horizon and include Trump’s other violations of his oath of office?  There are mixed feelings about it among the experts and journalists.  Today, I would like to share New York Times columnist David Leonhardt’s view, for it is one with which I largely agree.

The Eight Counts of Impeachment That Trump Deserves

The lessons from Nixon and Clinton.

david-leonhardtBy David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee considered five articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon — and voted down two of them. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the House voted on four articles — and rejected two.

That history serves as a reminder that impeachment is not a neat process. It’s a chance for Congress and voters to hear the evidence against a president and decide which rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

My own instincts have leaned toward a targeted, easily understandable case against President Trump, focused on Ukraine. And that may still be the right call. But the House shouldn’t default to it without considering a larger airing of Trump’s crimes against the Constitution. A longer process, with more attention on his misdeeds, seems unlikely to help Trump’s approval rating.

So last week I posed a question to legal experts: If the House were going to forget about political tactics and impeach Trump strictly on the merits, how many articles of impeachment would there be?

I think the answer is eight — eight thematic areas, most of which include more than one violation.

In making the list, I erred on the side of conservatism. I excluded gray areas from the Mueller report, like the Trump campaign’s flirtation with Russian operatives. I also excluded all areas of policy, even the forcible separation of children from their parents, and odious personal behavior, like Trump’s racism, that doesn’t violate the Constitution.

Yet the list is still extensive, which underscores Trump’s thorough unfitness for the presidency. He rejects the basic ideals of American government, and he is damaging the national interest, at home and abroad. Here’s the list:

  1. Obstruction of justice.

Both the Nixon and Clinton articles included the phrase “prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice,” and Trump’s impeachment should start with his pattern of obstructing investigations.

He has admitted that he fired the F.B.I. director to influence the investigation of his own campaign. He has harassed Justice Department officials who are Russia experts, including Andrew McCabe and Bruce Ohr. Trump also directed his White House counsel to lie about their conversations over whether to fire Robert Mueller. Most recently, the White House tried to hide evidence about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president, by improperly classifying material about it.

  1. Contempt of Congress.

Another article of impeachment against Nixon said that he had “failed without lawful cause” to cooperate with a congressional investigation. Trump has gone much further than Nixon, outright refusing to participate in the constitutionally prescribed impeachment process. As a result, the country still doesn’t know the full truth of the Ukraine scandal.

  1. Abuse of power.

The House will almost certainly adopt a version of this article, impeaching Trump for turning American foreign policy into a grubby opposition-research division of his campaign.

The most haunting part is that if a courageous whistle-blower hadn’t come forward, Trump most likely would have gotten away with it. He would have pressured the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation of the Bidens, and we in the media would have played along, producing the headlines that Trump wanted to see.

  1. Impairing the administration of justice.

That phrase appears in the second impeachment article against Nixon, which detailed his efforts to use the I.R.S., F.B.I. and others to hound his opponents. It’s a version of abuse of power — but distinct from the previous item because it involves using the direct investigatory powers of the federal government.

Trump has repeatedly called for investigations against his political opponents, both in public and in private with aides. For example, as the Mueller report documented, he pressured Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, to investigate Hillary Clinton: “You’d be a hero,” Trump said. This behavior has violated the constitutional rights of American citizens and undermined the credibility of the judicial system.

  1. Acceptance of emoluments.

The Constitution forbids the president from profiting off the office by accepting “emoluments.” Yet Trump continues to own his hotels, allowing politicians, lobbyists and foreigners to enrich him and curry favor with him by staying there. On Sunday, William Barr, the attorney general, personally paid for a 200-person holiday party at Trump’s hotel in downtown Washington.

The Democratic-controlled House has done an especially poor job of calling attention to this corruption. It hasn’t even conducted good oversight hearings — a failure that, as Bob Bauer, an N.Y.U. law professor and former White House counsel, told me, “is just astonishing.”

  1. Corruption of elections.

Very few campaign-finance violations are impeachable. But $280,000 in undisclosed hush-money payments during a campaign’s final weeks isn’t a normal campaign-finance violation. The 2016 election was close enough — decided by fewer than 80,000 votes across three swing states — that the silence those payments bought may well have flipped the outcome.

  1. Abuse of pardons.

The president has wide latitude to issue pardons. But Trump has done something different: He has encouraged people to break the law (or impede investigations) with a promise of future pardons.

And he didn’t do it only during the Russia investigation. He also reportedly told federal officials to ignore the law and seize private land for his border wall, waving away their worries with pardon promises.

  1. Conduct grossly incompatible with the presidency.

This is the broadest item on the list, and I understand if some people are more comfortable with the narrower ones. But the “grossly incompatible” phrase comes from a 1974 House Judiciary Committee report justifying impeachment. It also captures Trump’s subversion of the presidency.

He lies constantly, eroding the credibility of the office. He tries to undermine any independent information that he does not like, which weakens our system of checks and balances. He once went so far as to say that federal law-enforcement agents and prosecutors regularly fabricated evidence — a claim that damages the credibility of every criminal investigation.

You may have forgotten about that particular violation of his oath of office, because Trump commits so many of them. Which is all the more reason to make an effort to hold him accountable.

The Big Picture

We all know the many atrocities Trump has committed in his 32+ months in office and they are never far from our minds, but there are so many that sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture.  David Leonhardt’s column in the New York Times today simply lists, line by line, 40 of the worst atrocities committed by the man who calls himself ‘president’.  Note that there are many not even on this list, such as his rollback of environmental regulations and his 12,000+ lies.

Take a look at the list … some you may have even forgotten, in light of newer, more vitriolic ones.  And after you look at all 40 of these, ask yourself a question:  How can anybody in their right mind possibly support this ‘man’?  And yet, in the past week, his approval rating has actually gone up!  If you still have any Trump-supporting friends left, show them this list, and ask them the question.  It has become one of life’s greatest mysteries to me … even greater than how many stars are in the sky!

Donald Trump vs. the United States of America

Just the facts, in 40 sentences.

david-leonhardt-thumbLarge

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

Sometimes it’s worth stepping back to look at the full picture.

He has pressured a foreign leader to interfere in the 2020 American presidential election.

He urged a foreign country to intervene in the 2016 presidential election.

He divulged classified information to foreign officials.

He publicly undermined American intelligence agents while standing next to a hostile foreign autocrat.

He hired a national security adviser who he knew had secretly worked as a foreign lobbyist.

He encourages foreign leaders to enrich him and his family by staying at his hotels.

He genuflects to murderous dictators.

He has alienated America’s closest allies.

He lied to the American people about his company’s business dealings in Russia.

He tells new lies virtually every week — about the economy, voter fraud, even the weather.

He spends hours on end watching television and days on end staying at resorts.

He often declines to read briefing books or perform other basic functions of a president’s job.

He has aides, as well as members of his own party in Congress, who mock him behind his back as unfit for office.

He has repeatedly denigrated a deceased United States senator who was a war hero.

He insulted a Gold Star family — the survivors of American troops killed in action.

He described a former first lady, not long after she died, as “nasty.”

He described white supremacists as “some very fine people.”

He told four women of color, all citizens and members of Congress, to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”

He made a joke about Pocahontas during a ceremony honoring Native American World War II veterans.

He launched his political career by falsely claiming that the first black president was not really American.

He launched his presidential campaign by describing Mexicans as “rapists.”

He has described women, variously, as “a dog,” “a pig” and “horseface,” as well as “bleeding badly from a facelift” and having “blood coming out of her wherever.”

He has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by multiple women.

He enthusiastically campaigned for a Senate candidate who was accused of molesting multiple teenage girls.

He waved around his arms, while giving a speech, to ridicule a physically disabled person.

He has encouraged his supporters to commit violence against his political opponents.

He has called for his opponents and critics to be investigated and jailed.

He uses a phrase popular with dictators — “the enemy of the people” — to describe journalists.

He attempts to undermine any independent source of information that he does not like, including judges, scientists, journalists, election officials, the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Congressional Budget Office and the National Weather Service.

He has tried to harass the chairman of the Federal Reserve into lowering interest rates.

He said that a judge could not be objective because of his Mexican heritage.

He obstructed justice by trying to influence an investigation into his presidential campaign.

He violated federal law by directing his lawyer to pay $280,000 in hush money to cover up two apparent extramarital affairs.

He made his fortune partly through wide-scale financial fraud.

He has refused to release his tax returns.

He falsely accused his predecessor of wiretapping him.

He claimed that federal law-enforcement agents and prosecutors regularly fabricated evidence, thereby damaging the credibility of criminal investigations across the country.

He has ordered children to be physically separated from their parents.

He has suggested that America is no different from or better than Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

He has called America a “hellhole.”

He is the president of the United States, and he is a threat to virtually everything that the United States should stand for.

Sound Advice?

If we are to correct the situation in Congress, if we seek either a democratic majority in one or both houses, or at least a better balance, if we seek to throw out the members of Congress who are in the pockets of big business and lobbyists such as the NRA, then democrats are going to need to get busy now.  It is easy, and I have engaged in it myself, to denigrate Trump based on his outrageous behaviours, but is that the most effective way to ensure our success in the November mid-term elections?  Perhaps not.  Can we learn from the lessons of a similar situation in another country?

Yesterday, I read New York Times writer David Leonhardt’s January 30th column titled, How Trump’s Critics Should Respond  in which he posits that the best way to counteract Trumpmania is to treat him like a normal politician who’s failing to deliver. Rather than focus on the circus aspect of this presidency, Leonhardt opines, we need to address facts to counter his many failures. If you think about it, it makes sense.  Trump’s many odious qualities are, after all, what won him the election (along with some help from the Russians, voter apathy, gerrymandering, and James Comey’s ‘October surprise’).

“The trouble with constantly disparaging him — as a person and as the Worst President Ever — is that it doesn’t win over very many Americans.”

There seems to be truth in this, though those of us who have engaged in such disparaging are hard-pressed to understand why his supporters are not appalled at his many, many blunders.

Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi

In his column, Leonhardt references an essay written shortly after Trump’s election by Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago.  Leonhardt refers to Zingales’ essay as ‘the smartest essay’ written on the topic, and while I cannot claim to know whether it is the smartest, I would certainly say it provides food for thought.  Zingales is from Italy, where a wealthy, businessman demagogue, Silvio Berlusconi, served as Prime Minister during 1994–1995; 2001–2006; and 2008–2011. Berlusconi is famous for his populist political style and brash, overbearing personality. In his long-time tenure he was often accused of being an authoritarian leader and a strongman. Sound familiar?

Here are a few excerpts from Zingales’ essay, though I encourage you to read it in its entirety.

“Now that Mr. Trump has been elected president, the Berlusconi parallel could offer an important lesson in how to avoid transforming a razor-thin victory into a two-decade affair. If you think presidential term limits and Mr. Trump’s age could save the country from that fate, think again. His tenure could easily turn into a Trump dynasty.

Mr. Berlusconi was able to govern Italy for as long as he did mostly thanks to the incompetence of his opposition. It was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks, the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi’s popularity. His secret was an ability to set off a Pavlovian reaction among his leftist opponents, which engendered instantaneous sympathy in most moderate voters. Mr. Trump is no different.

We saw this dynamic during the presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton was so focused on explaining how bad Mr. Trump was that she too often didn’t promote her own ideas, to make the positive case for voting for her. The news media was so intent on ridiculing Mr. Trump’s behavior that it ended up providing him with free advertising.

The Italian experience provides a blueprint for how to defeat Mr. Trump. Only two men in Italy have won an electoral competition against Mr. Berlusconi … Both of them treated Mr. Berlusconi as an ordinary opponent. They focused on the issues, not on his character.

And an opposition focused on personality would crown Mr. Trump as the people’s leader of the fight against the Washington caste. It would also weaken the opposition voice on the issues, where it is important to conduct a battle of principles.

Finally, the Democratic Party should also find a credible candidate among young leaders, one outside the party’s Brahmins.”

This is likely the soundest advice we could get, yet it may be the most difficult to heed.  The temptation is strong to focus on Trump’s affairs, his belligerence, his name-calling morning tweets, where his policy failures fade into the background.

Leonhardt, in his column, points out one such failure that we have largely ignored:  the loss of jobs at the Carrier plant in Indianapolis a few weeks ago.  The same Carrier plant that became an icon in Trump’s campaign after he visited it and announced that he had worked a deal to save jobs at the plant.  Two other plants in the area are also laying off employees.  But did we hear about this?  No, instead we heard about Trump paying a porn star to remain silent about an affair.

It makes sense, when you think about it, that the only way the democrats are going to see victory in November is to find good candidates who are above scandal, and who run based on facts and issues, with a solid platform that serves the nation and its people.  While I am a realist, and I know that the temptation is too great to resist calling out Trump’s clownish actions and speech, we need to also remember that this only plays into his hands, as it mobilizes his base to come to his defense.  Every single race in November is going to take hard work, patience, common sense, and restraint.  But this we must do, for the stakes are too high not to.

An Article of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump

This afternoon I read an article by New York Times writer David Leonhardt, dateline January 28th.  In this article, he enumerates what an article of impeachment against Donald Trump would look like, though he also warns that there is no chance such a process would be successful as long as republicans maintain control of both chambers of Congress.  He has done such a concise and thorough job with his piece that I am taking the liberty of sharing it here today.  The very last line is chilling.

There are good reasons to be wary of impeachment talk. Congressional Republicans show zero interest, and they’re the ones in charge. Democrats, for their part, need to focus on retaking Congress, and railing about impeachment probably won’t help them win votes.

But let’s set aside realpolitik for a few minutes and ask a different question: Is serious consideration of impeachment fair? I think the answer is yes. The evidence is now quite strong that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. Many legal scholars believe a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime. So the proper remedy for a president credibly accused of obstructing justice is impeachment.

The first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon argued that he had “prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice.” One of the two impeachment articles that the House passed against Bill Clinton used that identical phrase. In both cases, the article then laid out the evidence with a numbered list. Nixon’s version had nine items. Clinton’s had seven. Each list was meant to show that the president had intentionally tried to subvert a federal investigation.

Given last week’s news — that Trump has already tried to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign — it’s time to put together the same sort of list for Trump. Of course, this list is based only on publicly available information. Mueller, no doubt, knows more.

  1. During a dinner at the White House on Jan. 27, 2017, Trump asked for a pledge of “loyalty” from James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, who was overseeing the investigation of the Trump campaign.
  2. On Feb. 14, Trump directed several other officials to leave the Oval Office so he could speak privately with Comey. He then told Comey to “let this go,” referring to the investigation of Michael Flynn, who had resigned the previous day as Trump’s national security adviser.
  3. On March 22, Trump directed several other officials to leave a White House briefing so he could speak privately with Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director. Trump asked them to persuade Comey to back off investigating Flynn.
  4. In March and April, Trump told Comey in phone calls that he wanted Comey to lift the ”cloud” of the investigation.
  5. On May 9, Trump fired Comey as F.B.I. director. On May 10, Trump told Russian officials that the firing had “taken off” the “great pressure” of the Russia investigation. On May 11, he told NBC News that the firing was because of “this Russia thing.”
  6. On May 17, shortly after hearing that the Justice Department had appointed Mueller to take over the Russia investigation, Trump berated Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. The appointment had caused the administration again to lose control over the investigation, and Trump accused Sessions of “disloyalty.”
  7. In June, Trump explored several options to retake control. At one point, he ordered the firing of Mueller, before the White House counsel resisted.
  8. On July 8, aboard Air Force One, Trump helped draft a false public statement for his son, Donald Trump Jr. The statement claimed that a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was about adoption policy. Trump Jr. later acknowledged that the meeting was to discuss damaging information the Russian government had about Hillary Clinton.
  9. On July 26, in a tweet, Trump called for the firing of Andrew McCabe, the F.B.I.’s deputy director, a potential corroborating witness for Comey’s conversations with Trump. The tweet was part of Trump’s efforts, discussed with White House aides, to discredit F.B.I. officials.
  10. Throughout, Trump (and this quotation comes from the Nixon article of impeachment) “made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.” Among other things, Trump repeatedly made untruthful statements about American intelligence agencies’ conclusions regarding Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

Obstruction of justice depends on a person’s intent — what legal experts often call “corrupt intent.” This list is so damning because it reveals Trump’s intent.

He has inserted himself into the details of a criminal investigation in ways that previous presidents rarely if ever did. (They left individual investigations to the attorney general.) And he has done so in ways that show he understands he’s doing something wrong. He has cleared the room before trying to influence the investigation. He directed his son to lie, and he himself has lied.

When the framers were debating impeachment at the Constitutional Convention, George Mason asked: “Shall any man be above justice?”

The same question faces us now: Can a president use the power of his office to hold himself above the law? Trump is unlikely to face impeachment anytime soon, or perhaps anytime at all. But it’s time for all of us — voters, members of Congress, Trump’s own staff — to be honest about what he’s done. He has obstructed justice.

He may not be finished doing so, either.