Demons Tormenting St. Anthony

Niklaus_Manuel_Deutsch_001The Dems have finally plucked up courage to impeach the Mango Mussolini2. Some people have been longing for this for ages; here for example is CNN being rather hopeful. But... will it work? I'm dubious. "Work" in this context means remove him from office, rather than just provide PR and talking points. The Dems are charging him with betraying his oath of office and the nation’s security by seeking to enlist a foreign power to tarnish a rival for his own political gain. Which sounds bad, put like that. What appears to have happened is that in a phone call to the Ukraine, Trump rather strongly pushed them to pursue corruptions allegations against Biden(s). Many people will interpret this as CIP did. I do, too.

However, there are two obvious lines of defence: (1) Trump was merely expressing the opinion that the Ukraine should forcefully pursue corruption in the country1; and (2) that the connection to the national security of the US is rather weak. So while the Dems will be all for, I think any Repub that wants an excuse to be against will not find it hard to find one, unless something rather more damming comes out. At least, while opinion remains as it is. If in the course of the inquiry enough comes out to turn people against him, that would change things. But so much has already become public and not changed his base support, why would this?


1. Which is arguably entirely true - that they need to pursue corruption more strongly. What I don't think is true is that Trump gives a toss about that.

2. Per comments: not quite. This is an impeachment inquiry, not an actual impeachment, at the moment.


* Realignment, Not Upheaval, Defines Our Political Moment by Stephen Davies
* Politics is the problem---trade is the answer by Scott Sumner
* Defending Some of Stephen Moore’s Ideas (Sort of) by Thomas Firey


Victor Venema said...

Before the leadership of the Democratic party signalled that the crimes of Trump were not that bad as they did not try to impeach him. That is an important difference. If you anyway like Trump and even your opponent is not worried, why would you carefully inform yourself about what happened.

Trump should not only be impeached for asking a foreign government to help him with his campaign, nor only for using his office to pressure the Ukraine into helping him personally, nor only for blocking Congress from getting the information on these crimes which they are legally supposed to get, nor for now threatening witnesses with being shot like a spy.

Trump should also be impeached for helping with the genocide in Yemen in return for personal bribes from Saudi Arabia, who buy his apartments and overpay his hotels. This is a clear violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution and there are many other cases, also the president of the Ukraine stayed at Trump hotel and told Trump he did to gain favours. China invested in a Trump branded property in Indonesia, and so on.

Congress determines the budget, not Trump. He has stepped over him authority there many times.

Next to the obstruction of justice in the Ukraine case, there is obstruction of justice in the Muller case and because he was not impeached for this obstruction of justice he refused to provide a lot of information to Congress they are entitled to and instructed witnesses to stone wall. This is another reason the impeachment needs to start, each time you do not, you are telling Trump his lawless actions have no consequences and it gets worse. Republicans may care that it also set a terrible precedent for future cases.

Somehow the Democrats refuse to investigate Trump. They have the right to get his New York tax returns, but they refuse to request them. This would likely reveal tax fraud, accounting fraud and insurance fraud; Trump's fixer Cohen already admitted this in Congress. If the tax records go back some time there is likely also evidence of money laundering in there.

And Cohen is in jail for a campaign finance violation. The least we can do to be fairer is impeach his unindicted co-conspirator (Trump) as well.

Thon Taddeo said...

It is a mistake to narrowly focus on individual pieces of information. There is a pattern of behaviors and actions that, taken as a whole, cannot be easily dismissed or explained away:

1. Previously approved funding for Ukrainian defense requirements had been held up with no explanation on orders from the White House.
2. Trump's personal lawyer, Guiliani, had been busy pressuring Ukrainian officials for some time. This is completely irregular.
3. Trump was very specific about wanting attention focused on the Biden family. The timing is highly suggestive that the main objective was more to to derail the Biden presidential campaign than fight corruption (note that news of "investigations" would be damaging even if they led nowhere). One might also recall that Trump rolled back anti-corruption laws in the US.
4. Trump also wanted a follow-up on conspiracy theories concerning Crowdstrike and a supposedly missing DNC email server.
5. The transcript of the call, contrary to what should have been normal procedures, was treated as highly sensitive compartmented information. This action, severely limiting its availability, is indicative of a guilty conscience.
6. Suggestions that the whistle blower deserves to be harshly dealt with are a further indication of an awareness that this and other matters must never see the light of day.

While this list is likely to be far from complete, one can see the outlines of a really disturbing picture.

Everett F Sargent said...

Trumpkin suffers from, at least, the following DSM-5 personality disorders: Narcissistic, Paranoid and Antisocial.

In addition, Trumpkin is a Pathological Liar, Conspiracy Theorist and Projectionist of the highest orders.

Normatively, that would be enough to get one a straight jacket AND a rubber room.

The only reason that idiots love Trumpkin is that others see themselves behaving in a similar manner if given the same opportunities. Kind of like watching a pro-wrestling faux drama.

Oh and Trumpkin and Giuliani are both born and raised in NYC the national home of corruption, The Mafia (how do you think Trumpkin and Giuliani learned their Mafia-like behaviors) and the illegal construction industries.

Oh and Trumpkin believes that those that are religious are also idiots. If only the typical religious country Bumpkin could figure that one out, oh wait, they did, they just want activist judges nominated to overturn the prevailing rule of law.

In other words, just another typical day in the new normal of USAniacistan.

Everett F Sargent said...

Oh and I left out all the normal Trumpkinisms (e. g. racist, misogynist, xenophobe, mysophobia, salirophilia, ruthless authoritarian, etceteras). Only because I already thought that most all people knew that.

Oh and someone please wake me up when this shitstorm is over in our shithole of a nation. Thanks.

Ken Fabian said...

Would impeachment proceedings allow testimony - such as Mueller's - that is otherwise outside the scope of House of Reps committees or the like?

izen said...

Suppose the claims made by Parnes and Furmen (*) are true ?
That Biden protected his son's financial gain from membership of a corrupt Ukrainian energy company by getting the State prosecutor fired when he was VP; and the US Democratic party arranged a false accusation against Paul Manafort (Trump's personal lawyer) of corruption in Ukraine and then used a Ukrainian company to hide the emails when their servers were hacked.

Would this exonerate Trump from using diplomatic pressure, with-holding of aid, and 'back channels' like his new legal gopher, Giuliani, for trying to expose this corruption ?

(*)Parnes and Furman are two Russian born US citizens, one has a history of working for fraudulent financial businesses and multiple court judgement for debts of over half a million dollars. The other has no obvious source of income, but close ties with a Russian 'oligarch' who is widely thought to be the head of organised crime and deeply involved in corruption in the Ukraine.
They have donated well over a third of a million dollars (from obscure sources via a front company that purportedly is trying to sell US natural gas to the Ukraine) to Trump and Republican groups which brought them access and enabled them to get the US ambassador to the Ukraine fired and triggered this push by Trump and the Republicans to investigate their stories.

William M. Connolley said...

If this were a criminal trial, and you've charged him with thing A, I don't think you can adduce evidence for thing B in the prosecution. But impeachment may have whatever rules they choose to make. As for emoluments, I'm doubtful: https://wmconnolley.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/swept-with-confused-alarms-of-struggle-and-flight-where-ignorant-armies-clash-by-night/

> Congress determines the budget, not Trump

Only Congress has the power to declare war. Would you impeach Obama?

> Somehow the Democrats refuse to investigate Trump

I think that's because they too are doubtful of success. And also for the first few years because they were doubtful that success would be good: they didn't want Prez Pence, and thought Trump would be easier to beat in 2020. What may have changed is the realisation that Trump won't be easy to beat.

Pattern of behaviour: has a poor reputation in crim trials, where is can be used to tar innocents.

> behaving in a similar manner if given the same opportunities

I think this is true; Trump says and does things they'd like to get away with themselves; "them" being an important subset of his base.

> exonerate

I don't think that's at issue. The Prez is allowed to do a few bad things; he isn't allowed to do Very Bad things. The question is how bad this thing is.

Victor Venema said...

> If this were a criminal trial, and you've charged him with thing A, I don't think you can adduce evidence for thing B in the prosecution.

You can indict/impeach someone for multiple (high) crimes. Each gets a vote in the trail in the Senate. The pattern of criminality is important for the punishment.

> But impeachment may have whatever rules they choose to make. As for emoluments, I'm doubtful

The bribes Trump is taking from foreign governments are not business transactions. If they were the president of the Ukraine would not mention it and would not be coincidence have chosen a Trump hotel from all the hotel there are in New York. The Saudi's overpaid for their stays at Trump's DC hotel enormously.

That it is not so easy you make out, you can see in past presidents selling their businesses and having their money managed by blind trust.

> Only Congress has the power to declare war. Would you impeach Obama?

I have no problem with that. But someone previously getting away with murder is no reason not to convict someone for genocide.

Congress has willingly transferred its power to wage war to the executive for decades; so I do not think it is comparable. What is the last time the USA has officially declared war? WWII or Vietnam? But yes, it is insane that the US-Saudi war on Yemen is sold as part of the war on the terrorists that attacked America on 9/11, while in Yemen America is fighting on the side of Saudi Arabia and Al Queda.

> > Somehow the Democrats refuse to investigate Trump
> I think that's because they too are doubtful of success.

I think the corporations and oligarchs selected the weakest Democrats who will not stand up to Republicans. The leadership of the Democrats gets there by buying votes from their colleagues aka helping them with their campaings. So the most corrupt people get into leadership positions.

You also see this in Pelosi's wish to keep the impeachment focussed on the Ukraine. She seems to be trying to loose and may fear that if all Trump's corruption is investigated, the leadership or some of their donors will also be implicated. I would not be surprised if Trump made "campaign contributions" aka bribes to Pelosi and that they are in his tax returns.

Victor Venema said...

Izen: "That Biden protected his son's financial gain from membership of a corrupt Ukrainian energy company by getting the State prosecutor fired when he was VP;"

That Hunter Biden was on the board of that Ukrainian gas company is fishy. He had no prior experience in the Ukraine, nor in gas and was paid an exorbitant salary. The company very likely did this to gain favours with Joe Biden.

However, the prosecutor who was fired was fired because he did NOT investigate corruption and did NOT investigate the gas company. So Joe Biden did not deliver for his son, on the contrary. It was also not just Biden who wanted the prosecutor gone, but most of the West and anti-corruption fighters in the Ukraine. A good article on this in The Intercept.

izen said...


I know the real story of Shokin and the Bursima business, but as always in politics its the optics that matter. To say Hunter Biden was unqualified is probably unfair. He has a reasonable legal qualification and background in dealing with company financial matters.
But of course that is not why he got the position.

There has long been a cosy tradition of corrupt business paying a large fee to respectable(?) people, often politicians, to be directors or board members to gain a gloss of propriety.
Or to put it another way, politicians and their family/friend often see their position as a means to gain wealth from exploiting their perceived status.
It is part of the amoral symbiosis inherent in liberal capitalism.

William M. Connolley said...

The other thing I forgot to mention is opportunity cost. The NYT doesn't by name but does by nature in Opinion: Yes, Trump Is Guilty, but Impeachment Is a Mistake / This political brawl will leave Trump victorious by David Brooks: There is a big difference between the conversation Twitter wants to have and the conversation the broader populace wants to have. Also Democrats are playing Trump’s game. Trump has no policy agenda. He’s incompetent at improving the lives of American citizens, even his own voters. But he’s good at one thing: waging reality TV personality wars against coastal elites.

Of course, all that will be walked back if this succeeds. But as I say, I doubt it will. It all looks like either self-indulgence, or an unwise response to ardent wishful-thinkers.

Victor Venema said...

It distracts Trump from transferring power to the elite and bring suffering over humanity. It is not as if Congress would pass anything in this time except more tax cuts for the donors.

Andy Mitchell said...

I'm hoping Biden's most significant role in the Democratic nomination is to act as a lightning conductor. The impeachment might have less effect on the Presidential race and more on the composition of the Senate, where any Senator not in a deep red state can be hurt by supporting Trump.

Everett F Sargent said...

David Brooks is not my go to person by any means. Not really interested in conservative op-eds. Go figure

Congress only has to push forwards with what they already have. Trumpkin get's impeached before the end of this year, of course, it fails in the Senate.

Actually, I don't care either way, just don't let Trumpkin continue to stonewall/delay/deflect. Just go forwards with what they have today. End of this one impeachment.

Schiff just said as much, just now, on MSNBC. Obstruction (and/or Contempt) of Congress, each time add one new line to the impeachment. Ten days max, eleventeen items of impeachment, in total (I just made up the ten day part, but that is about all the rope, err time, I'd ever give Trumpkin)

That sekrit server is the bomb though, if Trumpjin isn't reelected, expect to see him behind bars until he dies of natural causes (about a week's worth of tossed salad, if you know what I mean). That would also shut him up afterwards (no 247 streaming Trumpkin Internet BS)

Everyone already knows Trumpkin is guilty 696 ways to Sunday. Time is not on Trumplin's side.

Unknown said...

He has not yet been impeached. This is an impeachment inquiry. If impeached, it will be the 3rd time in US history. The first two were acquitted by the US Senate, as will this one. Bill Clinton and the Democrats won big after the attempt to convict Clinton. That does not mean that will happen again. Clinton lied under oath about extramarital sex to protect himself and his family. This happens every day in every divorce court in America, and a huge number of Americans have been there. A huge number of Americans have similarly lied in that circumstance. The percentage of them who have been prosecuted for perjury is right around zero. So the stupid Republicans were justifiably punished.

This is not the same situation. Not even close.

David B. Benson said...

4th time.

Paul Kelly said...

This is mostly an exercise in political theater. The Senate is exceedingly unlikely to vote for removal. The Dems have thoroughly begged the question on impeachment to the possible detriment of their electoral chances in 2020.

Paul Kelly said...

Tom, life is good. Hope you are well, too. Speaker Pelosi is a very savvy politician who understands the Dem base's lust for impeachment. Trump is not in any way a skilled politician, but he is quite adept at fighting dirty. This is going to be a very dirty fight.

Victor Venema said...

Paul Kelly: "This is mostly an exercise in political theater. The Senate is exceedingly unlikely to vote for removal."

If you are that confident, there is a lot of money on floor of the betting market for you to pick up. According to PredictIt, the chance that Trump is the Republican nominee is 73%. That includes the scenario that Trump is convicted in the Senate, but participates in the primary and wins. At least here locally markets are holy.

Paul Kelly said...

Victor Venema; Eschewing the betting market aside, There's no scenario that would surprise me - good, bad or indifferent for the House, Trump or the country. I was very surprised by Trump's victory in 2016. I don't think it is repeatable in 2020 unless the Democrats find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.