Monday, December 17, 2018

The "Train Wreck" Nears in DC

I saw for George H. W. Bush's state funeral more crowd turn-out and "to-do" than I have seen for any other state funeral,  since the JFK assassination.  It would appear that many regular Americans,  regardless of their politics,  really do know somewhere in their hearts what kind of a person makes a fine President.  

Mr. Bush's kindness and humility,  his knowledge of how to govern,  and his prioritization of good-of-the-country over party (or personal) advantage,  seem quite well known.  The contrast between Bush 41 and Trump 45 could not be more stark!  

Those three contrasting points are three very good reasons not to have elected Mr. Trump to the Presidency in the first place.  However,  egged-on by Russian propaganda spread mostly by social media,  a big chunk of the US electorate became disenchanted with both parties,  and voted for him instead. 

They voted massively in the primaries so that Trump clinched the Republican nomination.  His supporters hoped to send him to Washington to disrupt the “establishment”.  Enough of these disenchanted Trump supporters voted for him in rural America,  to send him to the White House.  And they got their wish:  he has disrupted everything he comes in contact with. 

They have also begun to pay the price for his trade wars and tariffs.  So,  there has to be a limit to how far their support for him,  which is still rabid,  will go.  The rest of us are appalled by the encouragement he provides to racist groups in their demonstrations-gone-violent in the streets (evocative of early 1930’s Germany),  and the obviously racist nature of his southern border policies. 

“Truth” for Mr. Trump quite demonstrably has nothing to do with the factualness of anything,  it only has to do with what benefits his image among his supporters.  It has only taken not-quite-two-years for his own words and statements to reveal publicly that he is an egregiously-chronic liar,  and that essentially 100% of what he claims is false.

Now,  the various ongoing federal and state investigations have revealed certain patterns.  More is to come,  as all of these are not done,  yet.  There seem to be some serious campaign finance violations related to the hush money paid to his mistresses.  There may be obstruction of justice associated with his firing of James Comey,  and more obstruction of justice related to the way he has since repeatedly threatened the Mueller investigation.  We’ll soon see,  in that case.

There may,  or may not,  have been collusion between his campaign and the Russians,  since Mueller has yet to report.  But things do not look good on that score for Mr. Trump,  as it would appear that (among many things) the infamous Steele Dossier has slowly been proven true,  point by point.  If there was provable collusion,  that is indeed a very,  very serious crime.  So is a US President being vulnerable to Putin’s control,  by extortion. 

In my opinion,  no one of these is grounds,  all by itself,  for impeachment.  Taken together,  they are indeed very good grounds.  Plus,  there is also one other thing no one talks about anymore:  treason of the “aid and comfort to the enemy” type.  Mr. Trump has very publicly damaged our relations with our allies,  and thus weakened our alliances,  very particularly NATO. 

One former high security official indeed termed his behavior at Helsinki “treasonous”,  and lost his clearance for it,  simple retaliation by Mr. Trump.  No one since has used that word in public.  It is my opinion they should have,  and should still.  Loudly.

Damaging or weakening the NATO alliance is something the Russians (under one or the other government) have tried and failed to accomplish for about 7 decades.  Mr. Trump did it for them in about a year and a half,  while cozying up to Russia’s Putin,  among other evil dictators. 

There is no doubt that Putin’s Russia is a foe (synonym for “enemy”).  Millions (if not billions) have witnessed on television Mr. Trump’s words and deeds that weakened the NATO alliance.  This seems to meet the Constitutional definition of treason (as “aid and comfort to the enemy”) and far exceeds its witness requirements (only two).

Treason is,  all by itself,  a very serious impeachable offense;  that no one can deny.  Even if Mr. Trump has not quite actually committed treason,  he has skirted close enough to it,  for that close approach to be an impeachable offense.  So,  I strongly recommend we add treason,  or at least near-treason,  to the impeachment grounds list.

Returning to Mueller’s investigation,  it is my unsupported belief that his probe is very nearly completed (and his report likely mostly written,  at least in draft form),  as evidenced by the recent flurry of indictments and convictions of Trump underlings.  This probe has been quite professional,  as evidenced by the utter lack of leaks from Mueller’s team,  unlike most activities in Washington,  DC. 

A professional effort like that will produce a whole lot (that we have yet to see) that is provable to courtroom standards,  and a lot more still to consider,  that is perhaps not so provable at the courtroom standard,  but still relevant to an impeachment process.  All of this will be in Mueller’s report to Congress.  Nothing short of this would be of professional quality.

Now,  both the House and Senate are currently controlled by the Republican Party,  in turn demonstrably dominated by its extreme right wing of rabid Trump supporters.  Mr. Mueller would be foolish to present his report to that Congress,  as the Republicans in control would just bury it (most likely by security classification) to protect Mr. Trump “at all costs”.  And so,  the public would never learn its real contents. 

Later in January,  control of the House will switch to the Democrats.  I believe Mr. Mueller is waiting until after that happens,  so that his report actually cannot be buried and kept from the public.  (That is what I would do,  if it were my investigation,  so as to make sure the public learns the real truth.)  That report-to-Congress event and subsequent public revelations is when the storm will break!

It is a majority of the House that passes Articles of Impeachment,  more or less equivalent to a grand jury indictment in the courts.  The case is tried in the Senate,  with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding,  not the Vice President,  who usually presides over Senate activities.  It takes a two-thirds majority of Senators to convict. 

After the Mueller report storm breaks,  Senate conviction will be far more likely,  due to the inevitable public outcry.  This is quite distinct from most Senate actions now,  as controlled by Mitch McConnell (who demonstrably values party advantage above the good of the Republic,  but that’s another subject for some other time and place *** see update 12-20-18 below). 

It has been recently reported that Mr. Trump is privately concerned about being impeached,  despite his public statements to the contrary.  I just gave you multiple very good reasons for his concern. 

Once the Mueller storm breaks,  somewhere around the end of January or early February (if I am right),  I urge you to contact your Representatives,  and especially your Senators,  about following-through on this urgent matter (my own have been pointedly silent in reply so far,  and I will not forget that silence).  Our country has suffered more than enough damage at the hands of Mr. Trump.

Update 12-20-18 Senator and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell chronically prioritizes party advantage over the public good.  While his Senate majority leadership post demands some of this behavior,  it is a danger to the Republic at the level he manifests most of the time.  I wish his constituency would un-elect him soonest.

The most egregious example was his refusal to allow the Senate to consider the nomination by Barack Obama of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.  It was his (and the Senate's) Constitutional duty to consider this nomination. 

What the Constitution says about "advise and consent" says nothing about party political considerations.  But McConnell chose party advantage over his Constitutional duty,  thus violating his oath of office as a Senator.