What Happens If …

There are a number of opinion writers I greatly respect, and Charles M. Blow is in the top ten.  Mr. Blow writes for the New York Times and his work is most always level-headed and thoughtful.  Amid the many calls for impeachment to remove Trump from office, cooler heads must sometimes prevail.  In Blow’s column from December 2nd he explains why removing Trump from office is not a likely scenario, but would be the beginning of a new nightmare.

What Happens If …

The possibilities ahead in the Russia investigation suggest we are not reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather entering one.

Charles BlowBy Charles M. Blow

I no longer think that anyone in America, including Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters, can afford to put off the consideration of the central question of this administration: What if Donald Trump or those closest to him were compromised by the Russians or colluded with them?

There have always been those of us on the left who viewed his presidency as compromised, asterisk-worthy if not wholly illegitimate, because of the Russian interference.

A crime had been committed by Russia and Trump cheered the crime and used the loot thereof to advance his candidacy. That is clear.

The Russians made repeated attempts to contact people in Trump’s orbit and in some cases were able to meet with members of the team, as evidenced by the Trump Tower meeting. That is clear.

Members of Trump’s team were extremely interested in and eager to accept any assistance that the Russians could provide. That is clear.

And since assuming office, Trump has openly attempted to obstruct justice and damage or impede the investigation into what the Russians did and whether anyone in his orbit was part of the crime. That too is clear.

But for the people who support and defend Trump, this has already been absorbed andabsolved. They may not like it, but they are willing to overlook it. Indeed, they are so attached to Trump that his fortunes and his fate have become synonymous with theirs. There is a spiritual linkage, a baleful bond, between the man and his minions.

But what happens if the evidence that the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, uncovers reveals a direct link between Trump and the Russians? How do Trump’s boosters respond?

Last week, when Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the timeline and the extent of Mr. Trump’s involvement in negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow, the political earth shifted.

If Trump was lying to or misleading the American people about his efforts to do business in Russia while running for president and the Russians knew — and presumably had evidence — that he wasn’t being completely honest and forthcoming, then he was compromised.

While it is by no means clear that the Russians ever used any information that they may have had to blackmail or otherwise pressure Trump, Cohen’s plea makes clear that they had the material to do just that.

This brings ever more clarity to Trump’s curious inclination to go soft on Russia condemnation, to take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of his own intelligence agencies, and to drag his feet in acknowledging that Russia attacked our election in 2016 and may continue to do so in the future.

How would Americans who support Trump now respond to evidence that Team Trump put their own personal and financial interests over the national interest? Would they break from their blind support and turn away from him and turn on him? How could they justify wearing the blinders for so long and countenancing so much? What language would they use to correct their complicity?

There is a precedent in the Nixon investigation. When the evidence of wrongdoing was clear and incontrovertible, people began to peel away, tails tucked and full of shame.

But that was a different time, one in which media wasn’t so fractured and partisan, before the advent of social media and our current dissociable mentalities.

Nixon had no propaganda arm. Trump has one. It’s called Fox News. There is little daylight between the network’s programming and the White House’s priorities. If Trump goes down, so too does Fox, in some measure. So the network has a vested interest in defending Trump until the bitter end, and that narrative-crafting could impede an otherwise natural and normal disaffection with Trump.

Furthermore, Trump does not strike me as a man amenable to contrition or one interested in the health and stability of the nation.

I expect Trump to admit nothing, even if faced with proof positive of his own misconduct. There is nothing in the record to convince me otherwise. He will call the truth a lie and vice versa.

I also don’t think that Trump would ever voluntarily leave office as Nixon did, even if he felt impeachment was imminent. I’m not even sure that he would willingly leave if he were impeached and the Senate moved to convict, a scenario that is hard to imagine at this point.

I don’t think any of this gets better, even as the evidence becomes clearer. I don’t believe that Trump’s supporters would reverse course in the same way that Nixon’s did. I don’t believe that the facts Mueller presents will be considered unassailable. I don’t believe Trump will go down without bringing the country down with him.

In short, I don’t believe we are reaching the end of a nightmare, but rather we are entering one. This will not get easier, but harder.

The country is about to enter the crucible. This test of our republic is without a true comparison. And we do not have a clear picture of how the test will resolve. But, I believe damage is certain.

De-bunking the 25th Amendment Myth

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past week, you are no doubt aware of the Anonymous OpEd piece published by the New York Times last Wednesday, September 5th.  Anonymous claims to be a ‘senior official in the Trump administration’ who is part of a group within the White House attempting to quell the worst of Trump’s inclinations.  One line in the letter stirred a great deal of conversation:

“Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.”

Early on in the Trump presidency, I mentioned the 25th Amendment a few times as a possible means for removing the madman, and at that time, I saw some hope.  But, just as I have cautioned you that impeachment is absolutely not going to fly, I must now do the same regarding the 25th Amendment.

A quick explanation of how the 25th Amendment is supposed to work:

Under Section IV of the 25th Amendment, the vice president and a majority of the cabinet can send a letter to the president pro-tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House notifying them that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” When that happens, the vice president will assume the role of “acting president” and the president is (temporarily) relieved of his duties. The president can notify congressional leadership that no incapacity exists and unless the vice president and the majority of the cabinet disagree, the president will reassume his duties. Otherwise, two-thirds of both houses of Congress would be required to vote to permanently bestow the title of “acting president” upon the vice president.

The 25th Amendment was intended to deal with a situation in which the president was incapacitated but still alive. Imagine a scenario in which the president has suffered a massive stroke. The stroke has put him in a persistent vegetative state. He is unable to discharge the office but, because he has not died, the vice president cannot assume the presidency in the normal manner. Prior to the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967, there was no constitutional remedy for such a situation. Such a scenario is real—such a medical crisis happens to Americans every day—and if it afflicted a president, the stakes would be profound.

The intent of the 25th Amendment was not to remove presidential powers because people disagreed with the president or because they questioned his judgment. It could be argued that Trump’s behaviors and actions in office suggest that he is suffering from some mental defect or other psychological disorder that renders him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” However, the president’s physicians have not declared that to be true, nor are they likely to. We may disagree with Trump, question his motives, or even question his competence in office, but short of a medical assessment saying otherwise, he would not be considered to be incapacitated.

Look at Mike Pence last Sunday, making the rounds of the morning talk shows and licking Trump’s boots at every stop.  Is this a man who is going to invoke the 25th?  Check out his cabinet members … find even two who would be willing to take the risk, let alone a majority.  And think about this … if they did grow a pair of cojones and take that first step … all Trump would have to do is fire the lot of them.  Ridiculous, you say?  Remember who we’re talking about here.

And then, even if all the above obstacles were overcome, we come back to the same argument I made to prove that an impeachment is not feasible:  it requires a 2/3 majority in both chambers of Congress.  The Senate, again, will be sort of a democratic majority even if every single seat that is open in November is filled by a democrat.  The republicans in Congress are not going to risk their necks, their ‘good standing’ with their voters to remove Trump from office.  Period.

So, no, Trump will not be impeached nor removed via the 25th Amendment in the foreseeable future.  My best guess is that, barring a true meltdown such as him removing all his clothing and running naked through the White House brandishing a flaming sword and screaming, “Burn, baby, burn!!!”, he will be in office until 20 January 2021.  The only way I can predict that changing is if the 36% or so who still support Trump can be convinced to listen to reason, to consider facts, to realize the dangers of him remaining in office.  As I have noted before, the republicans in Congress will move against Trump just as soon as their voters tell them to, and not one moment sooner.   It’s gonna be a long 783 days until election day 2020.

Bursting the Bubble …

I’ve talked and listened to a lot of people in the past few days who are convinced Donald Trump will be out of office before the 2020 presidential election.  Some are applauding, others are more concerned that the blatantly bigoted Michael Pence will prove to be more dangerous than Trump (highly unlikely).  A few nights ago, I said I would be writing more about the Manafort/Cohen situations after the dust settled and I had time to sit back and ponder the long and the short of it all.  Although the dust has not quite settled, I have pondered, and here is my take.

Donald Trump has undoubtedly broken the law, as confirmed by former lawyer Michael Cohen, and he is a sleazeball, to boot.  He has robbed this nation of many things, not the least of which is a fair and honest election. But folks … put away the party hats and put the champagne back in the fridge, because it doesn’t look as if Donald Trump is leaving the Oval Office any time soon.  Please … stop throwing the tomatoes at me … I know I am bursting your bubbles and raining on your parade, but that is no reason to throw rotten fruits at me.  Don’t shoot the messenger. Let me explain …

First of all:  impeachment.  As I told you in my post from July titled No Dancing in the Streets … Sorry! Donald Trump is very unlikely to be impeached as long as Congress remains divided almost completely along party lines.  Impeachment proceedings could be introduced in the House, and might even pass, depending on the demographics of the House after the November mid-terms.  But that does not remove him from office, does not even tie his hands.  Remember Bill Clinton’s impeachment?  It had no effect on his presidency, except to cast a dark cloud.

The Senate, even if every one of the 35 seats up for grabs in November goes to a democrat, still will not be able to garner the 2/3 majority required to remove the impeached president from office.  It would require a minimum of nine republican senators to find their cojones and vote to remove him, and at this point, I do not see it happening.

Next:  resignation.  I’ve heard a few say, “Well, he has to be feeling the pressure … perhaps he’ll just resign to save face”.  Sigh.  Think about it, friends.  Save face?  He lost that a long time ago, and his ego, his megalomania, keeps him convinced that he is Donald The Invincible, The Terminator, and The Incredible Hulk all rolled into one.  No, he is many things, but a quitter is not one.  He will not be like Richard Nixon and say “Good-bye” and ride off into the sunset.  He will stay until he is physically removed, dead or alive.

Third:  criminal indictment.  The Justice Department has taken the position twice that the president is not subject to indictment while in office and that no criminal charges can proceed against him unless he’s either removed from office by impeachment or has served out his term.  As a constitutional issue, it remains to be seen, but the precedent set by the Justice Department is clearly against indicting a sitting president.

The question then becomes:  Why are the republicans in Congress still supporting Trump, unwilling to even talk about removing him from office?  And the answer to that is simple … Trump’s base is as supportive as ever.  They have decided that he is their man, and thus far they haven’t heard anything that has changed their mind. Trump’s approval rating from Wednesday, when Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 of the 18 charges against him, and Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 charges, until early this morning, dropped by … one-tenth of one percent … no more than the normal fluctuations of any average day.  And 80+% of all republican voters are supporters of Trump.Red state Blue stateNow, if you’re a republican senator from Iowa, a red state, and you’re up for re-election this year, the only way you stand a snowball’s chance in hell is if you are seen by the republican voters in your state as being a Trump supporter, for they definitely are.  And if the republicans won’t vote for you, who will?  Damn sure not the democrats or the independents, for you have been screwing them over for nearly two years now!  And thus, do not hold your breath waiting for any republican in Congress to do the right thing where Trump is concerned.

But why is he still popular?  His popularity with the republicans hinges on some of the very things we find most repugnant about him.  A Pew Research poll* released this month summarizes what Trump supporters most like about him:PEW pollAll of which goes to prove that the most ardent among Trump’s supporters are more interested in his personality than his policy positions.  Okay, frankly I don’t get it, for I find his personality thoroughly disgusting, but … different strokes for different folks.  But seriously … “he’s draining the swamp”?  NO … he has made it worse than it has ever been in the history of this nation!!!  And they’re still hung up on that old “he tells it like it is”.  NO … he has no clue how it is!!!  But anyway, all of this is irrelevant, for the bottom line is that his supporters still love him.

Jean Sickler of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was asked last week how she would rate Trump’s presidency. She gave him a 9 out of 10, and when asked why he lost a point, her reply was, “A little bit of the things in his tweeting.”  This, folks, is what we are up against.

Then what will it take … ??? 

The only thing that is going to see Trump leaving office before January 20th 2021 is if his base finally turns the tide against him.  Once his base, his loyal supporters realize that maybe, just maybe he isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, then the dominoes can begin to fall, the republicans in Congress will play to the masses and step back away from Trump, and we can begin to have serious discussions about impeachment.  I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking these past few days, and I have concluded that there is only one thing that is going to sway his base:  jobs and the economy.

When Trump’s policies start to hit his base in an up-close-and-personal way, they will open their eyes, stretch, yawn, and enlightenment will begin.  I say it will begin, because even at that point – and make no mistake, that day will come – if Trump can blame it on someone or something else in such a way that his followers buy his excuses, they may still support him.  It’s hard to say, for my crystal ball is in the shop this week, but I truly believe that when, due mostly to the tariffs he has imposed on friends and antagonists alike, jobs are lost, prices of food and other goods rise, the cost of health insurance goes up, and they suddenly find they are struggling just to provide the basics for their families, their eyes will begin to open.  I do not see anything else that will have that effect, for they frankly don’t care about his morals, they don’t care about his honesty or lack thereof, and they don’t care that he is a crass, vulgar cheater.

So, no my friends, much as I wish I could claim otherwise, Trump will not be leaving the White House soon.  I leave you with two parting thoughts:

  • Trump registered on the day after his January 2017 inauguration to run in 2020. He could very well actually win that election.
  • I’ve been wrong before … remember that I was the one who swore there was no way he was going to win in 2016. Let’s hope I’m wrong this time too!

* The article from which I took the Pew data has a number of other graphs and some interesting information about Trump supporters, so here is a link in case you’re interested.

No Dancing in the Streets … Sorry.

I’ve noticed the almost exponential spread of a misconception being bandied about on social media the past few days and thought it would be a good idea to clarify before there is premature dancing in the streets.  The misconception is that if Trump were to be impeached and removed from office, Pence and the rest of his appointees would also be automatically removed from office.  Sounds like a truly wonderful idea, doesn’t it?  Much as I hate to have to take those happy smiles off your face, I have to tell you folks … it just ain’t so.

I understand where the confusion comes in.  Remember that when the Constitution was drafted, the framers were trying to keep it short and simple, for they wanted every man (women didn’t count back then) to be able to read and understand it.  If we were writing the document today, lawyers would be involved and it would no doubt turn into a few million words, rather than the mere 7,591 words it is now, including the amendments.  So, in keeping the document short and readable, there are some segments that, on the surface, may seem to mean something that they do not.  Article II, section 4 is one such:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

First of all, it should be noted that while the House of Representatives may formally ‘impeach’ a president, this alone does not call for a removal from office.  Remember President Clinton?  The Senate basically acts as the jury once the House has voted to impeach, and if the Senate finds the president or other officer guilty with a 2/3 majority, in other words a vote of 67 senators, then and only then is that person removed from office.  And only the person convicted of treason or another impeachable crime is removed, not the entire bunch of ‘em.

The tricky word that has given people hope we might do a thorough cleaning of the White House is that word ‘and’.  “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers …”  Replace ‘and’ with ‘or’, and you get a better picture of what the framers were trying to say.

If you think about it, it wouldn’t make sense to remove the vice president and the rest of the crew from office if the president were convicted and removed from office.  In the case of Trump & Co, yes, it might make perfect sense, but in most cases it is highly unlikely that the entire crew was guilty just because the president was.  And, can you imagine what chaos it would cause?  Just the removal of the president would likely set the nation reeling for years.  So no, there is no clean and legal way to “throw da bums out” all at once.

Something else to think about, as we call for impeachment.  If the House impeached Trump today, we would still have him as president a year from now, because with the current makeup of the Senate, 51 republicans, 47 democrats, and 2 independents (who generally vote with the democrats), and given the fact that they are not only split along party lines but rent along party lines, there is no way in heck they would garner a 2/3 majority to remove him from office.  It’s one of those situations where “Be careful what you wish for …” applies, for in all likelihood there will be only one chance to impeach Trump.  Let us not waste it at a time when he will not be judged guilty by the senate and nothing will change except that the process will have wasted a ton of time and money.  And frankly, while I really hate to burst everyone’s bubble – including my own – I don’t think that even with the best possible outcome in November, Trump will be removed from office by impeachment.  The numbers just don’t add up.

There are 35 Senate seats up for election in November.  Of those, 26 are already held by democrats, leaving only 9 seats currently held by republicans that could be switched to democrats.  If every seat were filled with a democrat, the makeup of the Senate would be: 58 democrats and 42 republicans.  Enough for a simple majority, but not enough for a 2/3 majority.

The only hope, and it is one I still think could happen, is if the evidence that Trump committed treason is so overwhelming that even the republicans in the Senate are ready to shove his patootie out the door.  This, of course, would require that they dig deep and find both a pair of cojones and a conscience.

I apologize for bursting everybody’s bubble today, and I still believe that Trump needs to be removed from office and soon, before he does more damage to our system of government and our nation as a whole.  But we need to be realistic, too.  Sorry …sad-2

Treason

This post by Erik Hare of Barataria speaks for itself. PLEASE READ! Thank you, Erik.

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

The United States is under attack.

It is not an attack with bombs or airplanes. No one has been killed and property has not been damaged. It is, however, an attack on the most valuable thing that we have, something over a million people have gladly given their lives in the past to protect – our democracy.

This is a highly coordinated and sustained attack by a foreign power. It is still ongoing, and appears to have gradually grown more sophisticated over a period of years. There is reason to believe that will continue unless it is stopped.

Denial of this attack and the perpetrators who we certainly know are carrying it out, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, is hindering our response to this attack and making our democracy more vulnerable. That this effort to thwart our defenses and distract the public’s attention away from the threat comes from the very top…

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The Rats Know

Blogger-friend Erik Hare of Barataria has some interesting thoughts about the November mid-term elections. Some I had already considered, but one point he makes that I hadn’t thought about is valid, I think: the election “won’t be about policy or anything substantial, it will be about getting rid of Trump. ” I think he is spot on! As is the title of his work … every time another member of Congress announces that he/she won’t seek re-election, the very thought comes to my mind, “rats deserting a sinking ship”. Please take a minute to read Erik’s post … it is food for thought. Thanks, Erik, for implied permission to re-blog!

Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

Like all mariner tales, the story slips in like a schooner on a foggy, becalmed day. Rats, the story goes, might leap off the lines that held a boat fast to the dock if they knew the next voyage was doomed. And rats, as creatures of the bilge, always knew. When you see them on the lines do not sign on to that ship for she is bound for Davy Jones’ locker.

People today are rarely as superstitious as ancient sailors. But when you have far too many hours adrift at sea with no winds, like this Congress, the mind does wander. A change of leadership isn’t always up to the voters, as it were, but up to the crew and their desire to not miss the message of the rats.

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“I Did Not Commit A Crime”

GreitensEric Greitens is the governor of Missouri, having won his election bid in 2016 by a narrow margin. At age 43, he is the second youngest governor in the U.S. Until his bid for governor, he was a democrat, but changed his party affiliation in 2015 when he tossed his hat into the gubernatorial ring, running on a platform of ‘ethics reform’ (remember this one, folks) as a republican. Greitens has been married to his present wife, Sheena, for over six years and they have two sons.  Now, why am I wasting my Saturday morning writing about this seemingly innocuous person?  Read on …

In 2015, he invited his hair stylist to his apartment for an evening of fun and games.  At some point during the evening, he tied the nude hair stylist to the bed, blindfolded her, and proceeded to take photographs.  He then told her, “You’re never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of [you] everywhere.” There is no doubt that this is all true, for Mr. Greitens himself admitted to it publicly, just hours before the investigative story broke on a St. Louis television station.

On February 22, 2018, Greitens was indicted by a St. Louis grand jury on felony invasion of privacy charges. Shortly afterward he was taken into custody by St. Louis sheriff’s deputies. He was released on bond and will appear in St. Louis City Circuit Court on March 16, 2018.

While Greitens’ behaviour is crude and disgusting, and yet another example of a male who feels empowered simply because he happens to possess a certain anatomical appendage, it would not normally give me reason to be pounding the keyboard on a Saturday morning.  What added fuel to the fire was Greitens’ response, as well as the reaction of the Missouri Republican Party, who wasted no time coming to Greitens’ defense with an offensive tactic of their own.  They claim, according to spokesman Sam Cooper, that it is a ‘political hit job’ and should be disregarded.

kim gardnerThe investigation was launched by St. Louis circuit attorney Kim Gardner, newly elected in 2016, whose campaign funding included monies from a Super PAC connected to George Soros — the Safety & Justice Commission – that helped fund advertising.  First, Greitens; response …

“As I have said before, I made a personal mistake before I was Governor. With today’s disappointing and misguided political decision, my confidence in our prosecutorial system is shaken, but not broken. I did not commit a crime. I know this will be righted soon. The people of Missouri deserve better than a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points. I look forward to the legal remedies to reverse this action. This will not for a moment deter me from doing the important work of the great people of Missouri.”

A “personal mistake”? He “did not commit a crime”?  Excuse me, but I thought invasion of privacy and threats of blackmail were crimes?  And, don’t the people of Missouri deserve better than a governor who has no morals, no values? Perhaps Missouri is a world apart from the rest of the U.S.  Oh wait … it is 2018, the brave new world of “anything goes” as long as you either, a) have money, b) have power, or c) are a male.  And then the Missouri GOP got on the band wagon …

GOP statementOnce again, the GOP takes a firm stand, as they did with Roy Moore in Alabama last year, on the side of injustice and immorality, another sign that women are, in the eyes of the GOP, a substandard segment of humanity.  But … there is some good news.  Individual republican leaders are appalled and are not playing along with the party line.

greitens-toon.png

“I am disgusted to learn that a grand jury has found sufficient evidence to indict Governor Greitens on a felony charge. The conservative values that put us in office are far bigger than any single person. For the sake of our state, I am calling on Governor Greitens to put an end to this distraction and resign immediately. Should he refuse to step aside, I will call on my colleagues in the house to take all necessary actions to remove the governor from office.” – Republican State Senator Caleb Rowden

“Missouri’s name is being tarnished across the nation. If he doesn’t resign, the state House…should move swiftly to bring this to a resolution.” – Republican State Senator Rob Schaaf

I am thoroughly disgusted, but not surprised, by the actions and subsequent words of Governor Greitens as well as the Missouri GOP.  I am, however, encouraged to see at least a few individual republican lawmakers who are as appalled as I at Greitens’ behaviour.  This is a case that I will be keeping an eye on.  Meanwhile, let us hope that the calls for Greitens’ resignation are successful.  We do not need ‘men’ like him in positions of power.  He should be put out to pasture.

bull in pasture

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.

Back on the Radar — Roger Stone

You guys remember a little over a year ago, July 21, 2016, to be exact, when I awarded my Idiot of the Week award to Roger Stone and his ex-wife, Ann?  Believe it or not, that simple little piece has been my most wide-read ever and is still garnering views even today, more than a year later!  To date it has had 2,579 views, the majority of which have occurred this year, rather than last.  Why?  Because he keeps doing idiotic things, keeps his name in the news, and when I Googled ‘Roger Stone’ yesterday, mine was the 6th entry after the usual ‘top news’ and ‘Twitter’ entries.  But, I am not here today to talk about the popularity of that single post, but rather to expound on the continual idiocy of the subject of said post.

Knowing full well what an idiot the man is, I typically just ‘walk on by’ when I see his name in the news.  But today, I saw this headline, or variations thereof, no less than three times, so with a decidedly put-upon sigh, I clicked.

Trump adviser Roger Stone warns any politician who votes to impeach him would ‘endanger their own life’

“Try to impeach him. Just try it,” Stone said. “You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen. Both sides are heavily armed, my friend, This is not 1974. People will not stand for impeachment. A politician that votes for it would be endangering their own life.”

You will remember that just before the Republican National Convention last year, when some feared that establishment party officials might seek to steer delegates away from Trump, Stone threatened to reveal where delegates who flipped on Trump were staying during the convention. Just the sort we need in these already troubled times, eh? Never mind that two recent polls show some 40%-43% of Americans are now in favour of impeachment.

But that isn’t all our ol’ idiot has been up to in the past week.

In response to Arizona Senator John McCain’s criticism of Trump for pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Friday, Stone tweeted …

“Karma about to get you, @SenJohnMcCain and you will burn in hell for all eternity”

Out of curiosity, I visited Stone’s website, The Stone Zone, and was somewhat surprised to see that a large number of the headlines on his front page were in favour of legalizing marijuana. Now, I am neither for nor against that issue … I simply don’t care, as I don’t use the stuff and see much more important issues to argue for.  I just thought it was interesting that this seems to be his pet peeve, and he even claims that he believes he almost has Trump talked into it.  Such maturity, yes?  And in the same vein, during a recent interview, he was asked what he thought Trump’s dumbest move since taking office has been … his response?  “Letting Sessions and Kelly and Chris Christie prattle on and on about gearing up a new war on drugs. Stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.”  I begin to wonder if there may be a reason for his idiocy?  Perhaps a bit too much of the wacky weed in his younger days?

And finally, Stone forwarded an email from former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli that called for the ouster of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  Now, I am no fan of McConnell and have my own bones to pick with him, but for reasons that are 180° from the reasons Cuccinelli & Stone state:

“Senator Mitch McConnell’s failed leadership is killing President Trump’s conservative agenda and there is no sign this will change. It’s time for Senate Republicans to elect a new leader who will fight to save our country! The president is right to question Mitch McConnell’s leadership because he is responsible for electing all of the liberal Republicans who are how blocking the president’s agenda.” 

Huh??? Liberal Republicans?  Where … where … ???

Stone’s role in Trump’s campaign and potential contacts with Russia have come under scrutiny. The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Stone to preserve all documents related to any Russian contacts. The Committee Vice Chair, Senator Mark Warner, called on Stone to testify before the committee, saying he “hit the trifecta” of shady dealings with Russia. Paul Manafort and Stone were business partners throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and in a June interview with CNN Money, Stone said that Trump should fire both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

stone-mannafort-1985

Paul Manafort & Roger Stone – 1985  

If it were possible, I would award Mr. Roger Stone a 2nd Idiot of the Week award, but it is against the rules. Joking aside, though, the danger in this man’s brazen trash talk is that he is, though not on the White House payroll, a close advisor and confidant of Trump’s.  And he is a public figure with a venue to reach large groups of people who listen to him and to what I consider his calls for violence, his incitement to take up arms against those who would like to see Trump removed from office.

Updated Version Of Motive For June 9, 2016 Meeting Between Trump Team And Russian Lawyer

If it were not such a violation of our democratic election process, if it had not led to the abomination that now resides in the White House, if it were not such a threat to our very form of government and our freedoms, I would find this whole situation ridiculous and laughable. But I cannot laugh. I refer, of course, to the latest chapter in the Russia-Trump saga that I have long been referring to as a tangled web. Now more spiders have joined in the web-spinning, and still I believe there is more to come. Trump, his minions, and his children conspired to steal the 2016 presidential election, and now we are left to try to clean up the mess and pick up the pieces. As I knew she would be, blogger-friend Gronda is on top of the latest … please take a few minutes to read her latest post about the collusion that led to the defilement and destruction of the office of president. Many thanks, Gronda, for all your hard work and for permission to share!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of donald trump jr jared kushner and paul manafort MANAFORT/ KUSHNER/ tRUMP jR.

Jonathan Lemire of the AP published a report on June 9, 2016 which included information that a Manhattan meeting at Trump Tower had kicked off the Trump Victory Fund, the joint cash-raising operation with the RNC that was planned to gather money both for his candidacy and for House and Senate GOP candidates. This means that while his son Donald Jr. was holding a meeting at Trump Towers with the Russian lawyer / Kremlin operative, President Trump was nearby. Both events occurred on a Thursday, June 9, 2016 and a few days after he had cinched the republican nomination. 

Based on the AP report, it appears that Paul  Manafort was heavily involved with setting up the fund raising meeting. But he was also present at he 6/9/16 meeting that was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared kushner and that Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Updated Major News Item…

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