Excuses And Possibilities

In America’s history there have been four episodes of presidential impeachment – Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. I have lived through three of them, one in progress. I’ve heard, and am currently hearing, a lot of lame (and often recycled) excuses but the possibilities are what really scare me. Let’s explore.

For a brief recap of history although the House actually impeached both Johnson and Clinton the Senate failed to remove either. (In Johnson’s case by a single vote which was profiled in John F. Kennedy’s book, Profiles in Courage – the first “grown up” book I read back in 1961.) Nixon resigned becoming the first and to date only president to do so, when his impeachment and removal was evident. Trump’s as we know all too well is a pending case. He is all but certain to be impeached but removal or resignation is far from certain.

The excuses/lies are unnerving and I’d like to address a few in today’s article. The latest “defense” – and the only one with any plausibility – is evolving to: Yes he did bad things but none rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

If violating the Emoluments Clause isn’t that big of a deal why did the Founders put it in the Constitution in the first place? Furthermore if in the opinion of the Republicans it is not a big deal why haven’t they passed legislation to remove it a long time ago?

The Mueller Report isn’t dead; it was just kneecapped by Bill Barr. Russia interfered in our 2016 election and if Trump didn’t conspire with them it is well established that he certainly attempted to. Part of that gambit (on the Trump end was at minimum to sow some doubt about Hillary Clinton).

In a similar vein Trump is actively spreading the Russian story that Ukraine, not Russia interfered in the 2016 election despite that bit of right wing mythology being long debunked. In the process he attempted to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into Joe Biden who he perceived as his most formidable 2020 Democratic opponent. (Note: He didn’t care if the investigation ever took place; all he wanted was a very high level, public announcement.)

One of the axioms to come out of this is what I call the Schumer Principle. Senator Schumer said of Team Trump, “They only do the right thing after they are caught doing the wrong thing.” Consistent with that principle the Ukrainians got their congressionally authorized aid on September 11, 2019. On September 9, 2019 news that the whistleblower report became known to Congress was made public. You connect those dots.

The most outrageous Republican talking point that thus far to come out of the House Intelligence Committee public impeachment hearings is the delay in vital and congressionally authorized military aid to Ukraine was a “Pause” not a delay – a 55 day pause? To “geniuses” like Stephen Castor: How about I punch you in the nose for 55 days?

It appears that the Ukrainian government of President Zelensky is much more courageous than the sycophants in the Republican Senate. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin (who has some interesting ties to Ukrainegate), Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina appear to be attempting to come to Trump’s rescue by investigating the matters Ukraine refused to.

Now let me get to the possibility that I fear most – that Trump is not removed from office and continues conspire with foreign entities to rig the 2020 election in his favor. Uncheck that is what history strongly suggests he will do.

If you tell a lie enough times it is still a lie but much of the masses begin to believe it. Trump is not an original; that strategy worked in 1930’s Europe. Trump doesn’t need a majority of voters in 2020. He lost the 2016 popular vote by about 3 million. He doesn’t need a landslide in the Electoral College. His Electoral College margin of victory was among the lowest since we have had 50 states. The possibilities of Trump reaming in office, running for and winning reelection are very real and they are frightening.

Two things for you to consider before I go: The above is an incomplete snapshot of Trump and his sycophants’ transgressions and a crime doesn’t have to be successful to be a crime.

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