"How Do You Impeach a President?"
September 16, 2019 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Last Friday, Donald Trump fired off a falsehood-filled tweetstorm defending his record against impeachment, but today House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler told WNYC that, although he personally thinks Trump ought to be impeached, the committee is "concentrating our resources on determining whether to impeach the president [...] for the next few months." With Congress back in session, it began by passing a resolution to set procedures and rules for future impeachment investigation hearings, is negotiating with Jeff Sessions over his testimony, and will be hearing from a scheming Corey Lewandowski on Tuesday.

Lawfare: What’s in the Judiciary Committee Resolution on Impeachment Procedures "This resolution adds formality to the investigation, puts in place additional powers for the committee to pursue that investigation and clarifies how information obtained will be treated. But it is not clear that the resolution marks a real inflection point on the question of impeachment."

Politico: Judiciary Panel Advances Impeachment Drive as Pelosi Changes the Subject "A visibly frustrated Pelosi refused to answer reporters’ questions about the impeachment probe, beyond saying that she supports “what is happening in the Judiciary Committee because that enables them to do their process of interrogation and investigation.” Pelosi — who has signed off on court filings and press statements that explicitly mention the panel’s impeachment investigation — avoided the word “impeachment,” later adding: “I’m not answering anymore questions on this subject.”"

In other impeachment news:

• New Republic: Schrödinger’s Impeachment—House Democrats have begun the process of impeaching Trump—whether they admit it or not.

• Politico: DOJ Cites Dems' Mixed-up Impeachment Messages to Undercut House Probe

• Politico: 'My Time Is Growing Near': John Lewis Dangles Impeachment Announcement—Support for ousting Trump from the civil rights icon could sway undecided Democrats to back the effort.

• Politico: Moderate Democrats Warn Pelosi of Impeachment Obsession

• Former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade writes in USA Today: Democrats Should Think Like Criminal Prosecutors as They Investigate Trump Impeachment

• Dahlia Lithwick writes in Slate: Forget What You Think “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” Means and Consider What We’ve Impeached Presidents For In the Past.

• Politico: Hillary Clinton’s Zombie Impeachment Memo That Could Help Fell Trump—A congressional report Clinton helped pen during Watergate was later used to justify impeaching her husband. Now it's guiding Democrats angling to oust Trump.

Previously.

Thanks to katra for helping to create this post.
posted by Doktor Zed (198 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think Pelosi would have a much easier time saying that she doesn’t want this but Trump is forcing the Democrats to declare formal impeachment proceedings because of his lack of cooperation with and stonewalling of normal congressional oversight.

But refusing to talk about it makes her look weak.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:58 PM on September 16 [37 favorites]




Schrodinger's Impeachment has all of the political downside and absolutely none of the potential upside that would only come from making a righteous, organized, sustained public case.

So exactly what you'd expect from the party that lost to Trump in the first place and is hellbent on nominating the same type of candidate as lost the last time.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:24 PM on September 16 [49 favorites]


Lewandowski never even worked for the White House. There is not even a remotely credible argument for the application of executive privilege...and the adminstration was already abusing the privilege unconscionably.
posted by Gadarene at 6:29 PM on September 16 [11 favorites]


They're not asserting executive privilege. They're asserting the right to not appear because they *might* assert executive privilege later.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:39 PM on September 16 [3 favorites]


Well, that's much more persuasive.
posted by Gadarene at 6:44 PM on September 16 [10 favorites]


8 Years of Trump Tax Returns Are Subpoenaed by Manhattan D.A. (NYT)
The subpoena was issued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office late last month, soon after it opened a criminal investigation into the role that the president and his family business played in hush-money payments made in the run-up to the election. [...]

While the federal prosecutors who charged Mr. Cohen stated in a court filing in July that they had “effectively concluded” their inquiry into possible crimes committed by the company or its executives, Mr. Vance’s office is exploring whether the reimbursements violated any New York state laws.

[...] Even if the Manhattan district attorney’s office is successful in obtaining the president’s tax returns, the documents would be covered by secrecy rules governing grand juries, meaning they would not become public unless they were used as evidence in a criminal case.

At the beginning of August, the state prosecutors also subpoenaed the Trump Organization, seeking documents related to the payment to Ms. Daniels and the reimbursement to Mr. Cohen. With few legal options, the Trump Organization has been complying with that subpoena.
posted by katra at 6:47 PM on September 16 [4 favorites]


We should not place any faith in Cyrus Vance, sadly. He of the sweetheart deals and lax prosecutions for Weinstein, Epstein, Kushner, Ivanka.

If only the Democratic House leadership would actually do its job and make its case to the American people.
posted by Gadarene at 6:58 PM on September 16 [18 favorites]


I just think it's great to see the Trump Organization complying with a subpoena. After spending so much time trying to convince courts that these records are somehow exempt from investigative processes, it's refreshing to see them undermine their own arguments by conceding to the rule of law.
posted by katra at 7:14 PM on September 16 [1 favorite]


"How Do You Impeach a President?"

Count the Votes.

That's it, got 290 and 67? Then easy peasy, not, then go home.
posted by sammyo at 8:34 PM on September 16 [6 favorites]


According to Politico as of September 12, 2019: Here’s the POLITICO count of House lawmakers hopping aboard the wagon.
146 Democrats support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

89 Democrats who don't support impeachment or impeachment inquiry — yet

0 Republicans support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

The only independent in Congress, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, supports impeachment.
Also: "The Constitution says that Congress may remove a sitting president with a majority, 218 members, of The House of Representatives to impeach and then two thirds, 67 members, of the United States Senate to convict."
posted by katra at 8:56 PM on September 16 [4 favorites]


White House asserts Executive Privilege for Lewandowski, Dearborn, and Porter.

These three no longer are employees of the White House. There is no law, there is no punishment that Trump can invoke to prevent them from testifying. They could walk into the Capitol and testify tomorrow and there is nothing Trump could do about it. They are refusing to do so of their own volition as private citizens in collusion with Trump.
posted by JackFlash at 9:09 PM on September 16 [18 favorites]


Given the GOP’s control of the Senate, this is all political theater.

Prolly makes sense to delay the show to closer to the general.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 9:15 PM on September 16 [5 favorites]


Ed Case is in a D+33 district in Hawaii. Tulsi Gabbard is in a D+34 district in Hawaii. Neither have come out supporting impeachment yet. Useless blue dog Case - in response to my letter urging that he support impeachment - wrote back that as soon as a majority of Democrats supported impeachment, he would too. He has not. Gabbard is a Manchurian candidate. I am totally appalled that my two reps from my bluest of blue states are so useless.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:20 PM on September 16 [19 favorites]


Hard to impeach the President if we’re in a shooting war with Iran.
posted by interogative mood at 10:09 PM on September 16 [3 favorites]


What's the strategy here? Say you are supporting impeachment inquiries, but sit on your hands on hope no one notices? I didn't think it could get worse than when they insisted on doing nothing, but indeed it can.

First, my eyes were opened to the reality that the Republican party is driven primarily by racism. Next, I discovered the Democratic party is made up mostly of enablers. I am voting for whoever runs against Trump, and then I am done with the status quo.
posted by xammerboy at 10:13 PM on September 16 [16 favorites]


Count the Votes.

That's it, got 290 and 67? Then easy peasy, not, then go home.


Going home without filling the airwaves with Impeachment Hearing News every day between now and Nov 2020 seems like a waste of a good opportunity to suck the air out of the GOP's news cycle and putting them on the defensive where their resources are consumed by reacting instead of other things they'd rather spend the time and money on.
posted by mikelieman at 3:50 AM on September 17 [14 favorites]


The senate will never impeach. But surely they need to go through the process anyway and force republican senators to be 100% on the record for why they won't.

Make sure that when the record is written they are firmly and irrevocably lumped in with Trump.
Make them go on the record.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:11 AM on September 17 [19 favorites]


I'm prefacing this by saying I personally think Trump should be impeached to hell and back twice.

But I understand why Pelosi is slow-rolling this.
90% or more of the people who will vote next November already know who they are voting for and it wouldn't matter if Trump cured cancer and AIDS by himself or Trump slapped Jesus, that vote isn't changing.
The only votes and voters who matter (as of today) are the ones in PA, MI, WI, MN (and to a lesser extent AZ and FL). The 4 former Trump is no better than -9 net approval and the latter are roughly at par. If a snap election were held this minute as a referendum on Trump against a generic democrat, Trump would probably be a 3-1 underdog at best.

The voters who may or may not be swung in one direction are not high-information voters. If they were, they'd have made up their mind already. They are the voters who watch Fox News but don't necessarily agree with everything but yeah, maybe Trump is getting a raw deal from the FAKE NEWS, or watch CNN as they try to be 'unbiased' and think the same. If the Mueller report didn't give you a preview of how the media would frame impeachment hearings, I can't help you. These are the people who can and are swayed by one or two soundbites or slogans. And if that's all the case, why would you rush to give Trump the opportunity to plaster "Trump Vindicated" everywhere for the next year?

Because it's the right thing to do? Pfft, those rules got thrown out the second Trump became a candidate and had a personal media rooting section spreading his propaganda to 1/3 of the electorate and nation-states in his back pocket targeting in those above states. Yes, doing the right thing in the long term is historically vindictive but with another four years of Trump there may not be a future to look back at this time to begin with.
posted by splen at 4:40 AM on September 17 [22 favorites]


The Republican party has fully leaned into being the party of corruption, incompetence, self-dealing, and disregard for the law.

A majority of Americans think Trump committed crimes before becoming president, a plurality think he committed crimes after becoming president.

The leadership of the Democratic party is currently saying, “We disapprove of that, but we won’t do anything that’s within our power to stop it.”

Not exactly an inspirational message to get people to vote for you.
posted by ejs at 5:27 AM on September 17 [26 favorites]


And if that's all the case, why would you rush to give Trump the opportunity to plaster "Trump Vindicated" everywhere for the next year?

Because it's the right thing to do?


That's a start, though I totally agree it's not where the calculation should end.

But also, because it's the posture that shows you believe really that Trump has committed crimes. Some people won't follow the arguments but they will note the posture, including some of those low information voters.

And because it forces Republicans to make an actual reckoning and go on record with it, which may make a difference in the Senate race, which matters as every bit as much to the future of this country as the Presidency.

And moreover, it's good practice for the real work that'll need to be done even if we win big in 2020. We'll still be in an existential fight for democracy and rule of law and maybe a viable ecology. Bold steps and bold messaging are going to be necessary if we don't want to be forever on a treadmill just trying to keep society in a place where lynching isn't OK and clean water is a good idea... let alone addressing climate change and health care.

I can understand wanting to dot i's and cross t's and maximize electoral outcomes, and that's fine. But if the Democrats are going to be a party that will govern effectively on taking power, they may well have to practice on something that *should* be more trivial, like making a constitutional case AND an electoral case for impeaching Donald Trump (and then putting him through fair criminal proceedings for every crime there's substantial evidence for).
posted by wildblueyonder at 6:07 AM on September 17 [8 favorites]


I'm so disgusted by the lack of Democratic party leadership.
posted by Manic Pixie Hollow at 6:08 AM on September 17 [13 favorites]


A majority of Americans think Trump committed crimes before becoming president, a plurality think he committed crimes after becoming president.


That's a Quinnipiac poll from March. Here's a more recent poll from the same people.

Trump Is Racist, Half Of U.S. Voters Say, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; But Voters Say Almost 2-1 Don't Impeach President


Here's another finding from that poll: Support for starting impeachment proceedings is 61 - 29 percent among Democrats and 66 - 23 percent among black voters, but every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group is opposed.

2019 America, OK with racists who obstruct justice.
posted by rdr at 6:13 AM on September 17 [6 favorites]


I think the Democratic party needs more anger, more cussing, more confrontation, more willing to call out individuals on their shit, and just generally more balls.
They are afraid to own their own damn guiding principles, whether you call it Liberal, Progressive, Democratic Socialist or whatever.
Good lord, people.
Y'all are going to fuck this up again, and get 4 more years of this nonsense.
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 6:14 AM on September 17 [9 favorites]


I'm pretty sure no one wants Trump removed from office more than Pelosi. That said, I'm also pretty sure she understands that any impeachment proceedings that don't result in the findings of crystal-clear, unmistakable, undeniable-in-the-eyes-of-average-citizens, serious, crimes are going to blow-up in Democrats' faces and very probably result in Republican gains.

And, no, being a racist isn't going to cut it. Sorry, but it just isn't. Batshit-crazy tweets and policy actions aren't impeachable crimes, either.

And, honestly, I don't think they yet have anything close to the slam-dunk they need. That's not to say they shouldn't keep investigating. But they aren't anywhere close to being able to confidently pull the trigger on impeachment.

It's a razor's edge the Dems are walking on here. They have to get it right. Anything less, anything that smells more like a case of “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is..." is going to be mercilessly punished by voters.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:19 AM on September 17 [9 favorites]


Guardian: Hello and welcome to our live blog politics coverage. The House judiciary committee will interview former Donald Trump aide Corey Lewandowski this afternoon in what the committee is calling the first hearing of an impeachment investigation of the president. [...]
A White House lawyer has asked Lewandowski to restrict his testimony to matters discussed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. That still could, theoretically, make for explosive testimony, since Lewandowski was a key figure in Mueller’s discussion of potential obstruction of justice by Trump, with Trump pressuring Lewandowski to pressure Jeff Sessions, attorney general at the time, to spin the Russia investigation in the public eye and to threaten Sessions with firing if Sessions declined to meet with Lewandowski.

Lewandowski’s testimony is scheduled to begin at 1pm ET. The White House has blocked testimony by two other former Trump aides, Rick Dearborn and Rob Porter, who unlike Lewandowski worked in the White House.
Watch live on C-SPAN September 17 | 1pm ET | C-SPAN3
posted by katra at 7:25 AM on September 17 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure no one wants Trump removed from office more than Pelosi.

I'm not trying to be a dick but this is EXTREMELY not true. I'm not saying Pelosi doesn't want him gone but putting her in this exalted position of wanting him gone more than anyone else, e.g. the people most directly affected by his racism and other policies, seems pretty incorrect to me. Like I am a transgender anarchocommunist who believes they're coming for me only semi-jokingly and I don't even think I am close to the top of the list of people who want him gone.
posted by an octopus IRL at 7:28 AM on September 17 [21 favorites]


Batshit-crazy tweets and policy actions aren't impeachable crimes

Huh? Of course the are. We’ve impeached multiple presidents for less than what Trump has unquestionably done.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:32 AM on September 17 [19 favorites]


I think Pelosi wants Trump removed from office, but she wants it done on Election Day by voters, because she doesn’t want to risk any electoral blowback by taking action. The question is whether she risks electoral blowback by not taking action. She’s obviously done the math, but she’s not showing her work.
posted by ejs at 7:35 AM on September 17 [3 favorites]


EXTREMELY not true.

Arguing a figure of speech? But you're probably right for very different reasons, elevating the VP would make Pelosi's work much harder, he would advance the republican agenda much more effectively without the loud embarrassing craziness. Sure there are proTrumpers but large swaths of conservatives must be quietly very very embarrassed. So impeach, and get a republican in office for the next 10 years? And extreme faux-religious homophobe that looks super clean and righteous and would know how to set up the stage to make that fourteen plus years? No let Trump get voted out, normal transition.
posted by sammyo at 7:39 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


The question is whether she risks electoral blowback by not taking action.

Yeah, I think this is true too. I am very aware that I hear from a pretty non-representative sample of people, including on Twitter, but I think it's possible the Democratic party is underestimating the frustration and even rage people feel about what is perceived as continuing inaction. I'm probably (definitely) in a bubble but I don't think my whacko leftist friends are the only ones who feel this way, I think there is genuinely a lot of anger from Democratic voters who just want the fucking party to fucking do something already. I think a lot of people are asking what's even the point of voting Democrat if they aren't going to do anything?*

*Yes of course I vote for Democrats but I also believe very strongly that doing so is harm reduction; it's vitally important and worth doing but lol the fucking Democratic party is never going to achieve liberation.
posted by an octopus IRL at 7:41 AM on September 17 [9 favorites]


Corey Lewandowski’s Testimony Before Congress: What to Expect (NYT)
His appearance will be the first time the Judiciary Committee will hear publicly from a fact witness to the events that Mr. Mueller chronicles. [...]

Because he will be under oath, Mr. Lewandowski may have little choice but to publicly confirm again what he privately told Mr. Mueller. But that doesn’t mean he can’t turn himself into a firecracker of a witness, loudly distracting from presidential obstruction and showering Democrats in sparks and smoke.

In a Twitter post early Tuesday, Mr. Lewandowski offered a sample of what was to come.
Excited about the opportunity to remind the American people today there was no collusion no obstruction. There were lots of angry Democrats who tried to take down a duly elected President. Tune in. #Senate2020.
— Corey R. Lewandowski (@CLewandowski_) September 17, 2019
He may have also previewed his brawling approach in an interview last month with Fox News Radio when he called Democrats on the committee “such phonies,” accused Mr. Nadler of being captive to “the far left wing” and said the whole inquiry could be attributed to Democrats’ refusal to accept a simple fact: “Donald Trump destroyed Hillary Clinton by a massive electoral margin.”

“I’m happy to come, right, because I want to explain that there was no collusion, that there was no obstruction,” Mr. Lewandowski said. “I am an open book. I want to go and remind the American people that these guys are on a witch hunt.”

He can expect ample help from Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, who are lined up in opposition to the Democratic majority’s moves.
posted by katra at 7:48 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


I think Pelosi wants Trump removed from office, but she wants it done on Election Day by voters, because she doesn’t want to risk any electoral blowback by taking action.

I also am wary of impeachment in this situation for fear of the precedent it sets. Right now, opinion on the matter is way too polarized. We risk a cycle of "Impeach the president" something you do when the party not holding the White House takes control of the House of Representatives. The Dems have been pushed, by both circumstance and their constituents, into this "pre-Impeachment" investigations/hearings.

Had Hillary won (but control of Congress remained the same), I have no doubt the GOP would have started hearings of some start just 'cause. Once the impeachment genie is out of the bottle, who knows how that would played out. Even the Kavanaugh situation is worrisome in this regard.

I'm not saying investigations shouldn't continue. Everything Trump is accused of seems to be true, blatantly so, and sticks (as opposed to some of the Clinton investigations, which, at best, seemed to peter out into at worst "she kinda did something, but not really that bad or unprecedented"). It may chip away at him, and get his approval numbers into a state that is more receptive to impeachment.

But really, absent a smoking gun everyone agrees on, the ballot box is really the best way to get him out.
posted by MrGuilt at 7:50 AM on September 17 [3 favorites]


Just from this morning:
Dan Blue, the Democratic leader of the state Senate, is helping the GOP re-gerrymander North Carolina in exchange for some incumbency protection.

[Stephen Wolf ]did math on new NC Senate map, which many Democratic lawmakers voted for today: the map is drawn in such a way that the median seat is +10% Trump. (Trump won by 4% statewide.)

"The map is far," said another Dem
A battleground state, and the Dems didn't just let the GOP get away with tightening their grip, but actively helped them do it. The evidence that free and fair elections will be taking place any time in the near future, in areas that even centrists need to win, is completely absent.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:34 AM on September 17 [24 favorites]


It's a razor's edge the Dems are walking on here. They have to get it right. Anything less, anything that smells more like a case of “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is..." is going to be mercilessly punished by voters.

I don't disagree with Thorzdad here... but we all keep coming back to essentially this point. And how insane is it that Trump and his party can get away with ACTUAL CRIMES, in public, with only the flimsiest of deniability... but unless the Dems can walk this crazy tightrope and get their tone and message just right the voters are going to hand this next election to Trump!

How is this reality?
posted by cirhosis at 8:41 AM on September 17 [32 favorites]


I am totally appalled that my two reps from my bluest of blue states are so useless.
I think the dynamic at work here is that, when a State becomes so blue that there is no prospect for success for a Republican candidate, people who ought to be Republicans declare themselves Democrats in order to have a hope of reaching office. You see this also in other States where Democrats have overwhelming advantage: places where you'd think, at least naively, that an out-and-out Marxist ought to be electable instead routinely return some of the more conservative "Democrats" instead of the flaming liberals that a plurality of the electorate wants.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 8:41 AM on September 17 [9 favorites]


Lewandowski readies Trump defense at 'impeachment hearing' (Politico)
In 2017, Trump deputized Lewandowski to approach then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and order him to either restrict Mueller’s probe to future interference by Russia or be removed from his Cabinet post. Lewandowski, though, told Mueller he didn’t want to deliver that message to Sessions, so he asked Dearborn to pass it along instead. Dearborn never followed through, Mueller found.

In his analysis of the episode, Mueller found that Trump’s actions met all the criteria that would typically result in an obstruction of justice charge. But Mueller also indicated that this team had determined at the outset not to judge whether Trump had committed a crime, owing in large part to a longstanding Justice Department opinion that says a sitting president is immune from indictment. [...]

Lewandowski never held a formal role in the Trump administration, but has served as an outside adviser to the president — and the White House cited that relationship in ordering him not to disclose the contents of his private conversations with the president, other than what has already been publicly revealed in Mueller’s report. The White House has cited a longstanding Justice Department opinion that says even informal advisers can be shielded from testimony since the president should be able to rely on their confidential advice.
posted by katra at 8:45 AM on September 17 [2 favorites]


I'm probably (definitely) in a bubble but I don't think my whacko leftist friends are the only ones who feel this way, I think there is genuinely a lot of anger from Democratic voters who just want the fucking party to fucking do something already.

I have thought this was the case, but then most of the party's voters are on the Biden train at the moment, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I am having to continually remind myself that being in the big tent party means running the risk of getting into bubbles and making assumptions within the party itself, because as the parties increasingly get siloed into "the not crazy one" and "the batshit insane one", the former covers so much ideological ground.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:00 AM on September 17 [3 favorites]


The assertion of 'informal adviser' privilege seems problematic in the same way that asserting attorney-client privilege would be problematic if the attorney's services are used to further a crime, e.g. as noted in Michael Cohen, Attorney-Client Privilege and the Crime-Fraud Exception (Lawfare):
What then could be the basis for the Southern District of New York search and review of these materials? Materials that, at least facially, would be protected.

That question brings us to something known as the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege. It is, if you will, an exception to an exception that allows the government to read, review, compel production of and compel testimony of an attorney and his or her records. It arises if, and only if, the client uses the attorney’s services to commit a crime. (So, to be clear, it does not apply retrospectively, as when I tell you about a crime I have already committed.) An easy example of this would be if I use an attorney to help me draft an affidavit that I am going to submit to a court, and the affidavit is false. I have used the attorney’s help to commit a crime. The lawyer may not know that the crime is afoot (indeed usually does not—since, notwithstanding the public derision, most attorneys would not knowingly assist a client in committing a crime) and may be completely ignorant. But if the government can show a court that there is a basis for thinking that the crime has occurred (in my example, that the affidavit is a lie) then the attorney can and will be required to testify as to the nature of his interaction with the client. [...]

In other words, the crime-fraud exception applies when an attorney’s advice is used to further the crime. Or, as the Supreme Court put it in Clark v. United States (1933), “A client who consults an attorney for advice that will serve him in the commission of a fraud will have no help from the law. He must let the truth be told.”
posted by katra at 9:06 AM on September 17 [4 favorites]


It's awfully hard to try to teach my seven-year-old that bad actions have consequences when there's plenty of evidence that they don't.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:35 AM on September 17 [20 favorites]




Aggressively and openly pursuing impeachment is in alignment with the law and morality. Democratic leadership's current strategy is driven by guesses about current and future political expediency. I don't even have to think about which side of that equation I'm on. I wouldn't know how to evaluate anything if I cast aside the law and morality as my guide.
posted by diogenes at 10:04 AM on September 17 [17 favorites]


I'm pretty sure no one wants Trump removed from office more than Pelosi.

It is so incredibly tiring to see people continue to believe Pelosi has some kind of hidden progressive agenda and is secretly fighting against Trump. Just let a person's actions and words speak for them and believe them. If someone says they will defend against calls for impeachment and attack a progressive surge in Congress, maybe take them at their word. If someone has spent more speaking time defending Trump from impeachment than any Republican member of Congress, maybe they aren't secretly working toward impeachment.
posted by FakeFreyja at 10:19 AM on September 17 [23 favorites]


I don't think Pelosi has a hidden progressive agenda or an 11-dimensional chess plan to impeach but I do think she thinks that it's safer to get Trump out in 2020 by appealing to the Biden wing of the party and slow walking impeachment so as not to risk it backfiring, and if you're bone-deep convinced of that, you absolutely have a moral duty to do what you think gets Trump out the soonest rather than risking 4 more years.

I think she's wrong. I think she's part of an establishment that won its way into power playing by one set of rules but doesn't realize it's almost irrelevant in the current climate, much like how people who could pay for college with a summer job don't have anything worth saying about the modern reality of higher education, and it's limiting her perspective. But I don't think she's immoral or out to support Trump, she's just wrong. And making politically calculated moves doesn't make it immoral, political power is the only thing that gets us out of this and on the road to a better world, whether that's by following her convictions to get and keep that power or by following more progressive means, so we all need to make and support politically calculated moves to achieve our moral ends.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:41 AM on September 17 [7 favorites]


I disagree that starting impeachment proceedings is pointless without a slam dunk chance of actual conviction. The important part is the hearings, where the rocks are overturned and the facts are revealed in full view of the American people in televised hearings on major networks, like with Clinton and Nixon.
posted by ceejaytee at 10:43 AM on September 17 [14 favorites]


I'm sure the Republicans are enjoying the Democrats' dilemma over impeachment that's occurring primarily because everyone assumes, correctly, that Republicans won't vote to convict no matter what.

The question is, why aren't Democrats using that presumption against the Republicans? There's abundant evidence of Trump's misconduct and corruption in the public domain, but Republicans either don't care, or are afraid of the Republican base. Yes, the Democrats feet should be held to the fire over doing the right thing, but everyone just takes for granted the Republicans won't -- a good assumption -- and lets them get away with it with nary a peep of criticism or shame.

The so-called "liberal media pretended to be bamboozled, twice, by Barr's dishonest summarizing of the Mueller Report (or worse yet, was incompetent enough to take Barr's statements at face value). They seem to accept Republican refusal to impeach Trump as some kind of implication that Trump might be innocent, creating their favored, lazy "he-said, she said" narrative of "Democrats think Trump ought to be impeached and Republicans don't."

The real narrative is "Trump obviously ought to be impeached, and instead Republican politicians are helping him cover up his wrongdoing." Democratic fecklessness in pulling the trigger on impeachment is one thing, but their utter failure to shame the Republicans for being accessories after the fact is another.
posted by Gelatin at 10:44 AM on September 17 [45 favorites]


There's abundant evidence of Trump's misconduct and corruption in the public domain, but Republicans either don't care, or are afraid of the Republican base.

This is essentially it: the behavior of the GOP over the last 30 years is such that they want to win as an ends to itself, and if it means they are pushing an extreme agenda on a majority of people who don't want it, so be it. So long as Trump has some fig leaf of "reasonable doubt" and appoints their judges, they don't care what else he does. Put a fig leaf of a "refueling stop" on it, and they can deposit checks directly into Trump, Inc.

The only hope to get them to move is if the part of the Republican base that does not intersect the Trump base gets disgusted enough to talk about staying home, putting up a primary challenger, or voting democratic just to clean house and try again in 2024. Maybe an impeachment hearing might produce the evidence that does this, but I doubt it. The only thing that seemed to impact his approval ratings more than a couple points was the government shut-down. Maybe his trade war or the hot war he's working on might move the needle.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:50 AM on September 17 [2 favorites]


Flagged as fantastic, Gelatin.

Make them defend their decision to insulate the most corrupt president in history from the rule of law. Hammer home the countless examples of personal enrichment that the Republicans are countenancing, much of which comes directly from taxpayers' coffers. Hang him around their neck like a millstone, and if the response is that the public doesn't know enough about the facts to see why it is bad that the Republicans are abandoning any pretense of their constitutional duties and threatening the very fabric of our republic, then EDUCATE THE FLIPPING VOTERS with hearing after hearing after hearing. The GOP got people to care about email security practices by yelling about it loud enough and long enough; they turned Solyndra and ACORN into shibboleths among even centrist voters. Yes, the Republicans have certain baked-in institutional advantages (Fox News and Sinclair most principally), but public opinion is fundamentally malleable, for good and for ill. House and Senate Democrats were elected to lead, not just to follow. If they don't think there's enough public support for impeaching over any of literally hundreds of offenses that are worse than Benghazi, worse than her emails, and arguably worse than Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Bill Clinton perjuring himself, then they should show that leadership and change some damn minds. It should not. Be. Hard. And yet, here we are.
posted by Gadarene at 11:00 AM on September 17 [15 favorites]


That Guardian liveblog is both crazy and infuriating.
Oversight! Republicans say Nadler’s time is up. They demand a roll call vote to declare time up, which as the minority they will lose but why not. Nadler calls on the clerk to call the vote. They can’t find the clerk.

How utterly miserable.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2019/sep/17/trump-news-today-latest-corey-lewandowski-greta-thunberg-democrats-2020
posted by wenestvedt at 11:09 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


I don't know how can you watch the Democrats get completely outmaneuvered again, and the absolute radio silence from Pelosi, and think Democrats are working a secret progressive agenda
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:11 AM on September 17 [14 favorites]


And let's not forget Schumer, whose idiotic waffling during the Kavanaugh nomination looks a thousand times worse in hindsight after this week's revelations.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:16 AM on September 17 [12 favorites]


Schumer's latest comments about Kavanaugh (essentially, that he has no comments about Kavanaugh) are pretty dispiriting as well.
posted by Gadarene at 11:18 AM on September 17 [4 favorites]


More from the Lewandowski hearing:
“You’re some kind of Forrest Gump relating to corruption,” Cohen says.
Apparently every time someone here quipped, "The writers aren't even trying any more"...well, I guess they're really giving it all they've got now. You happy??
posted by wenestvedt at 11:22 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


The Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee currently seem to be focused on the Dems generally, Committee rules, Obama, Russia, and 'all the other things' that could be accomplished instead of this hearing (like restricting the human rights of people claiming asylum), while Democrats like Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee are laser-focused on the facts, i.e. what did Trump know when he asked Lewandowski to obstruct justice, after being turned down by McGahn, warned by McGahn, and turned down by Sessions. Even though invocations of privilege aren't supposed to be commented on as indicators of guilt, Lewandowski's repeated invocations in response to factual questions aren't a good look for him.

The Republicans seem to be trying to turn this into broad, distracting political theater while the Democrats are much more focused on the theater of fact-finding. I keep getting reminded by Rep. Collins of what my ConCrimPro professor used to say, essentially that when you have the facts, argue the facts, and when you have the law, argue the law, but when you have neither, wave your arms around, pound the podium and yell as loud as you can.
posted by katra at 11:24 AM on September 17 [9 favorites]


The Republicans seem to be trying to turn this into broad, distracting political theater while the Democrats are much more focused on the theater of fact-finding.

Yes, and the Harlem Globetrotters seem to be trying to turn this game into a trampoline-rife basketball theater while the Washington Generals are much more focused on the theater of rule-following.

There is a reason "Her Emails" and "Benghazi" and "Swiftboat Veterans" have moved the course of the world despite having zero facts or even immediate success involved, and there is a reason Democrats hem and haw unless there is a guaranteed path to short-term victory.
posted by FakeFreyja at 11:47 AM on September 17 [3 favorites]


I don't understand why Congress is completely thwarted by imaginary executive privilege.
posted by diogenes at 11:48 AM on September 17 [8 favorites]


Their only option regarding these fake executive privilege claims is to hold Lewandowski in contempt and refer the charges to the DOJ, at which point nothing happens.
posted by mrgoat at 11:56 AM on September 17


I don't understand why Congress is completely thwarted by imaginary executive privilege.

Because ultimately, they need to go to court to resolve the dispute, and from Lawfare: What Is a ‘Protective’ Assertion of Executive Privilege?
courts embroiled in these interbranch information disputes have often advised the branches to work it out through compromise and negotiation, recognizing the validity of both branches’ interests.
posted by katra at 11:56 AM on September 17 [2 favorites]


Am I crazy, or has our system of government officially failed and we just haven't accepted it yet?
posted by diogenes at 12:00 PM on September 17 [20 favorites]


You haven’t accepted it yet??
posted by ejs at 12:00 PM on September 17 [12 favorites]


However, I would add that the assertion of executive privilege to cover up criminal activity outlined in the Mueller report seems like the kind of bad faith argument that won't work well in court, especially now that an impeachment investigation is underway.

Which probably helps explain why Rep. Gaetz was just trying to muddy the waters about whether this is an impeachment investigation, including a gratuitous reference to Biden's record player answer at the most recent debate.
posted by katra at 12:13 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]


Live Updates: Corey Lewandowski Confirms Trump Asked Him to Help Curtail Mueller Inquiry (NYT)
After initially stonewalling Democrats’ questions, Mr. Lewandowski appeared to abruptly change strategies, confirming the details of a key episode from the Mueller investigation — and even providing new information that wasn’t in the special counsel’s report. Under questioning by Representative Hank Johnson, Democrat of Georgia, Mr. Lewandowski said he never relayed the message because he went on vacation with his children.

The episode, which occurred in June 2017, is one of several instances of possible obstruction of justice documented by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

As Mr. Mueller recounts in Volume II of his report, Mr. Trump met with Mr. Lewandowski in the Oval Office two days after he directed Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel at the time, to fire the special counsel. This time, Mr. Trump criticized Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, and asked Mr. Lewandowski to deliver the attorney general a message that he dictated on the spot.

It said that Mr. Sessions should give a speech announcing that Mr. Trump had been treated unfairly and that he would limit the scope of the special counsel investigation.

“Didn’t you think is was a little strange the president would sit down with you one-on-one and ask you to do something that you knew was against the law?” asked Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee. “Did that strike you as strange?”

Mr. Lewandowski curtly disagreed: “I didn’t think the president asked me to do anything illegal.”
Just because he says he doesn't think the president asked him to do anything illegal, it doesn't mean it wasn't illegal.
posted by katra at 12:24 PM on September 17 [9 favorites]


This is all such a funny game to Republicans that Lewandowski just launched his election website during a break that he requested.
posted by diogenes at 12:27 PM on September 17 [10 favorites]


My take on what Pelosi's doing. The country is so desperate for someone resembling a normal president after the non stop Donald Trump Shitshow--the relief would redounds to the next person in office. If that's Pence, the country is completely fucked. Republicans would also love to have Mike Pence in office so that they could really make the country into Gilead of the Handmaid's tale. If you believe the rumors, there are plenty of Republicans in Congress who know exactly what a train wreck Trump is and would happily be rid of him in lieu of Pence. So if the House pulls together articles of impeachment--OF COURSE there's an ironclad case to be made that he's broken the law, six ways to Sunday--it'll be the opportunity for Republicans in the Senate to ditch Trump, get Pence in the Oval office, and then elect him back again in 2020 on that wave of relief.
posted by Sublimity at 12:46 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]


Their only option regarding these fake executive privilege claims is to hold Lewandowski in contempt and refer the charges to the DOJ, at which point nothing happens.

Congress is a coequal branch of government (which the Trump administration's rhetoric of "no legitimate legislative purpose" seeks to have us forget; it works on the so-called "elite political media" because they aren't smart enough to understand Civics 101, apparently). So their other option regarding these fake executive privilege claims is to hold Lewandowski in contempt and have the House Sergeant at Arms drag him into a cell where he can sit until he talks.
posted by Gelatin at 12:49 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]


I would add that the assertion of executive privilege to cover up criminal activity outlined in the Mueller report seems like the kind of bad faith argument that won't work well in court, especially now that an impeachment investigation is underway.

If the Republicans didn't have bad faith arguments, they wouldn't have any arguments at all.
posted by Gelatin at 12:53 PM on September 17 [13 favorites]


If the Republicans didn't have bad faith arguments, they wouldn't have any arguments at all.

Indeed - Rep. McClintock even tried to obscure the basics of criminal law, i.e. whether obstruction of justice can exist 'when there's no underlying crime.'

Martha Stewart to Donald Trump: Can there be obstruction of justice with no underlying crime? (Politifact)
We checked with 11 legal experts to nail down answers. Essentially all of these experts agreed that obstruction can indeed be prosecuted without an underlying crime — and has been in the past, notably in the case of Martha Stewart.
Trump claims he has presidential power ‘that nobody has ever seen before’ (Alternet)
First, you can obstruct justice even if there was no underlying crime to be discovered; the law is written to allow for that possibility. Second, there were many crimes that Trump may have been trying to cover up by obstructing justice, including the criminal lies of his subordinates and his own involvement in a criminal hush money scheme during the 2016 election.
Dear President Trump: ‘Obstruction of justice’ doesn’t mean what you think it means (ThinkProgress)
It’s not necessary for the underlying crime to have been committed by the person — or even to exist — for that person to commit obstruction of justice.
posted by katra at 1:02 PM on September 17 [4 favorites]


I was pretty irritated with Eric Holder's advice to not prosecute Trump after he leaves office:
Axelrod also asked Holder whether there would be a cost to prosecuting Trump post-presidency in the absence of impeachment proceedings, citing former President Gerald Ford opting to pardon his predecessor Richard Nixon.

"Yes, I think there is a potential cost to the nation by putting on trial a former president, and that ought to at least be a part of the calculus that goes into the determination that has to be made by the next attorney general," Holder said.

"I think we all should understand what a trial of a former president would do to the nation, he added, acknowledging that Ford's decision may have cost him the 1976 election.

Holder added, "But you know, I think looking back, I tend to think that that was probably the right thing to do."
Putting a former president on trial might be traumatic, but I think the remedy for that is for presidents to not commit fucking crimes in office.

Pardoning Nixon was the wrong thing to do because it established a precedent that (Republican) presidents can break the law without being punished for it.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:11 PM on September 17 [33 favorites]


So their other option regarding these fake executive privilege claims is to hold Lewandowski in contempt and have the House Sergeant at Arms drag him into a cell where he can sit until he talks.

They absolutely have the authority to do this. I don't want to completely derail, but it is not clear they have the physical ability to do this. I wish they would, and we'd all find out just what happens, but this is way deep into batshit constitutional crisis-ville. Would L. file suit for wrongful imprisonment? Petition for a writ of habeas corpus? What if he just just straight up resists the Sergeant at Arms? We might find out that the House truly has no functioning enforcement mechanism. I get why they don't try it. If they do and it fails, that's one more power they never have again.
posted by mrgoat at 1:54 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]


What's the use of having it if they're never going to use it when it most matters?
posted by Gadarene at 1:56 PM on September 17 [8 favorites]


Nadler just said that discussions of instructions for criminal activity aren't covered by privilege, because it can't be 'official White House business,' and now contempt is being discussed again. Also:
Democrats say the White House’s rationale isn’t legally sound and are challenging the idea of “absolute immunity” in court.
posted by katra at 2:00 PM on September 17 [3 favorites]


What's the use of having it if they're never going to use it when it most matters?

There isn't. I wish they would. But I get why it's a fantasy that they will.
posted by mrgoat at 2:04 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]


Having the House Sergeant at Arms drag Lewandowski into a cell would also likely backfire and turn him into a political hero, at least for some people. Getting jailed for contempt certainly worked well enough for the Chicago 8.
posted by katra at 2:10 PM on September 17


It is hard not to believe that the incompetence of the Democratic party is by design. Whether they are complicit or have just been so utterly outmaneuvered that they might as well be makes very little difference. People used to talk about how Trump could be the end of the Republican party, but the truth is, he is the end of the Democratic party. Effective opposition has to come from a third direction at this point. Even if the Democrats were to offer it, it would not be credible.
posted by Nothing at 2:59 PM on September 17 [8 favorites]


Democrats see Lewandowski's combativeness as Trump impeachment fuel (Politico)
Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Lewandowski tailored his remarks to the liking of his former boss, while Democrats tried with limited success to get the Trump loyalist to detail efforts by the president to effectively end former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But the hearing armed Democrats with what they see as key ammunition in their drive toward impeachment of the president.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) suggested that Lewandowski’s refusal to answer questions about his conversations with Trump — at the behest of the White House — bolsters Democrats’ case to impeach the president, even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains opposed to the idea.

“When you refuse to answer these questions, you are obstructing the work of our committee. You are also proving our point for the American people to see: the president is intent on obstructing our legitimate oversight. You are aiding him in that obstruction,” Nadler told Lewandowski.

“And I will remind you that Article 3 of the impeachment against President Nixon was based on obstruction of Congress,” Nadler added.
This is likely a more effective strategy, that incorporates the apparent lack of legal basis for the assertion of privilege, into a case for impeachment.
posted by katra at 3:04 PM on September 17 [13 favorites]


Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Lewandowski tailored his remarks to the liking of his former boss

The NYT's Maggie Haberman reports from Trumpworld: "Lewandowski is far from a beloved figure in the president’s orbit. But even his biggest detractors were giving him grudging praise for a very defiant and often non-responsive performance."

That presumably is in spite of this slip-up, per the Daily Beast: Corey Lewandowski Caught in Lie to MSNBC During House Testimony
Corey Lewandowski was caught in a lie during his House testimony when Democratic counsel Barry Berke played him a clip from an interview he gave to MSNBC’s Ari Melber in February of this year. In the clip, Lewandowski said he didn’t remember President Trump ever asking him to “get involved’ with Jeff Sessions or the Justice Department “in any way shape or form ever.” But in his earlier testimony on Tuesday Lewandowski confirmed, as the Mueller Report states, that the president did ask him to urge the attorney general to limit the Mueller investigation to exclude the 2016 campaign.

When Berke asked, “That wasn’t true, was it?” in reference to the MSNBC answer, Lewandowski, who is currently running for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, replied, “I have no obligation to be honest with the media because they are just as dishonest as anybody else.” Pressed further by the lawyer, Lewandowski ultimately admitted “perhaps I was inaccurate that time,” but insisted that he is a “truth-teller” when he’s under oath.
Emphasis added, because Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Doktor Zed at 4:07 PM on September 17 [12 favorites]


Why didn't they have counsel go first for fucks's sake
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:13 PM on September 17 [4 favorites]


Hell, why didn't they have counsel do the whole thing?
posted by Gadarene at 5:17 PM on September 17 [5 favorites]


Lewandowski said he didn’t remember President Trump ever asking him to “get involved’ with Jeff Sessions or the Justice Department “in any way shape or form ever.”

Lewandowski ultimately admitted “perhaps I was inaccurate that time,”

Jeez, that lie is kinda central to the obstruction issue.

“When you refuse to answer these questions, you are obstructing the work of our committee. You are also proving our point for the American people to see: the president is intent on obstructing our legitimate oversight. You are aiding him in that obstruction,” Nadler told Lewandowski.

I love these words. They have to come with consequences though.
posted by diogenes at 6:37 PM on September 17 [12 favorites]


The consequences are a strongly worded memo! The worst of all possible consequences!
posted by Justinian at 6:56 PM on September 17 [6 favorites]


This is likely a more effective strategy, that incorporates the apparent lack of legal basis for the assertion of privilege, into a case for impeachment.

The way I see it, which is in no way supported by law, though impeachment isn't a legal process anyway, is that each of Corky's refusals are obstructions by Trump. Corky doesn't mean shit here, he's just an illustration of the reach of Trump. He even recited word for word what is likely WH-written text, such that Trump's obstructions extend to people he has no executive privilege over. Just normal citizens, "don't talk...or else."

Hopefully Nance sees it this way, too.
posted by rhizome at 9:51 PM on September 17 [3 favorites]


Having the House Sergeant at Arms drag Lewandowski into a cell would also likely backfire and turn him into a political hero, at least for some people.

Republicans are a tribe, not a political party, so sure, Fox will present Lewandowski as a martyr. So what? These people are not a majority; if they were, Republicans wouldn't be so desperate. Loyal Americans just need to be aware that the so-called "liberal media" will be all to eager to apply phony "balance" between representative democracy and authoritarianism and not let Republicans pretend Lewandowski -- or Trump -- is innocent.

Getting jailed for contempt certainly worked well enough for the Chicago 8.

Getting jailed for various crimes, including conspiracy and obstruction of justice, didn't work out so well for the Watergate conspirators, because they were obviously participating of a cover-up of actual crimes. That's what's happening now. It isn't just that the White House is asserting some phony version of "privilege" that amounts to "we don't wanna tell you," it's that it's being done as a cover-up taking place in plain sight. Getting jailed for contempt won't work out so well if Democrats are consistent in the messaging -- ha, ha -- that Lewandowski was committing contempt, cover-up, and obstruction in full public view.
posted by Gelatin at 6:18 AM on September 18 [10 favorites]


Paul Kane: In whiplash moment, Democrats are now backing away from Kavanaugh allegations
After their respective policy lunches, McConnell devoted his entire opening remarks, more than three minutes, to the Kavanaugh issue, highlighting a clarification the New York Times added to a story about how an alleged victim did not recall an alleged incident of sexual misconduct during the justice’s college days.

“I think it is truly outrageous. We had this investigation a year ago; we had this vote a year ago,” McConnell told reporters.

That came after McConnell, opening the Senate floor Monday, devoted his entire remarks, more than five minutes, to the Kavanaugh issue with just as much indignation.

Schumer never mentioned the latest Kavanaugh imbroglio in Tuesday’s opening comments and appeared exhausted when the topic came up as the very first question.

“Look, I’ve said this before, very simply. I never thought Kavanaugh should be on the bench, and I still don’t today,” he told reporters.

In Senate floor speeches Monday and Tuesday, Schumer covered the waterfront of pending issues: President Trump’s ongoing demands for more money to build a barrier at the border, the overall government funding deadline of Sept. 30, potential gun-control legislation and even a federal regulatory review of Chinese telecom firms.

No Kavanaugh.
Brian Beutler:
It's good to know that in the year of our lord 2019, Republicans must still only bare fangs and pretend to be outraged to make Democrats dissolve into recriminations about something they are on the right side of. Like they have never tried this before. Democratic leaders fret so much about impeaching Trump, largely because Republicans scare them by uniting against it, then it turns out Trump's former campaign manager couldn't last 30 minutes with a Democratic staff counsel without completely melting down. Imagine if Kavanaugh had to answer Barry Berke's questions for 30 minutes. I promise you Kavanaugh, Trump, and the GOP would go to any length to prevent that from happening. Fortunately for them the only length they have to go to is to be fake mad online and on TV for 72 hours.
This is the "opposition" party?
posted by zombieflanders at 7:36 AM on September 18 [21 favorites]


Republicans are a tribe, not a political party, so sure, Fox will present Lewandowski as a martyr. So what?

Yeah, I was very off-the-cuff in my comment, and struck by the image of Lewandowski being hauled off, and how it immediately brought to mind the iconic imagery of Bobby Seale and YOU CAN'T DENY ME MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS (YouTube) during the trial of the Chicago 8. In his own way, Lewandowski was obviously trying to score political points during the hearing, including by launching a proto-campaign website (Guardian) during a break, so my general thought was that it would be playing into his campaign to try to jail him for refusing to answer questions, despite asserting privilege in accordance with procedures that allow him to do that until a court says otherwise (e.g. US v. Nixon).

However, it's likely much more effective to focus on the lies he told during the hearing, like ‘I went on vacation’: Lewandowski’s laughable explanation for not relaying Trump’s message to Sessions (WaPo), including the indisputable ones (NYT):
At the same time, Mr. Lewandowski and Republicans on the committee made misleading statements suggesting that the F.B.I. had deliberately refused to brief Mr. Trump and his aides about what it knew about Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election.

Mr. Lewandowski said it was “unfathomable to me that they didn’t contact a major political nominee for president of the United States and inform them of potential threats against election process in 2016.” Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, piled on, saying that the F.B.I. was “trying to trap the president.”

But their assertions misrepresented the facts. Mr. Lewandowski was fired as campaign chairman in June 2016, a month before Mr. Trump officially became the Republican presidential nominee. The F.B.I. gave a “defensive briefing” to Mr. Trump in August 2016, after Mr. Lewandowski had been fired. A Justice Department letter in 2017 said the briefings were meant to raise “awareness of the indicators and warnings of foreign intelligence threats” so individuals were “better postured to defend themselves and their organizations from foreign intelligence collection.”
It seems clear that Lewandowski knew that what he was asked to do on June 19, 2017, and on July 19, 2017 (WaPo again) by Trump was wrong and illegal, especially because that is what he told the Mueller investigation, and it was startling to see him either lie to Congress yesterday or claim to be lying previously. These hearings are valuable in the sense that they animate the Mueller report, but it looks like there may be the extra bonus of potential perjury or false statement charges for witnesses like Lewandowski.

I think the House Dems need the courts to back them up - the Executive branch is extraordinarily strong, both in popular perception and actual power, and the messaging that the impeachment investigation is now exposing the ongoing contempt, cover-up, obstruction, and lies under oath needs to be strengthened by the Judicial branch taking action as well.
posted by katra at 7:48 AM on September 18 [7 favorites]


It seems clear that Lewandowski knew that what he was asked to do on June 19, 2017, and on July 19, 2017 (WaPo again) by Trump was wrong and illegal

In other words, Lewandowski was aware that Trump was ordering him to commit a crime.
posted by Gelatin at 8:21 AM on September 18 [3 favorites]


I think the House Dems need the courts to back them up - the Executive branch is extraordinarily strong, both in popular perception and actual power, and the messaging that the impeachment investigation is now exposing the ongoing contempt, cover-up, obstruction, and lies under oath needs to be strengthened by the Judicial branch taking action as well.

Which is why McConnell's proudest achievement has been his tilting the balance of federal courts early, often and effectively.

“Look, I’ve said this before, very simply. I never thought Kavanaugh should be on the bench, and I still don’t today,” he told reporters.

In Senate floor speeches Monday and Tuesday, Schumer covered the waterfront of pending issues: President Trump’s ongoing demands for more money to build a barrier at the border, the overall government funding deadline of Sept. 30, potential gun-control legislation and even a federal regulatory review of Chinese telecom firms.

No Kavanaugh.


It's not often that I agree with Schumer, but I can't blame him one bit for wanting to evade all things Kavanaugh right now.

While there are plenty of valid reasons why a person might say that they do not recall the party-assault anecdote -- intoxication being one, a distinct reluctance to become a national punchline and receive death threats from CHUDs being another -- this is at best a he-said-she-said situation, concerning a man for whom he-said-she-said situations didn't impede his confirmation. Except this time it isn't even he-said-she-said; it's he-said, someone-ELSE-said.

It's a similar principle to trying to evict Trump; without hard, tangible, smoking-gun, easy-to-explain evidence, nothing will happen. (One can argue that even WITH that, nothing will happen because of the balance of the Senate, but in the eyes of the general public, "this happened but we cannot prove that it happened" is pretty useless, and the both-sides media is happy enough to paint both Dems' "we can't prove it" and Reps' "that means that they're lying about it" as valid.)

That's why Team Trump has been so defiant; they figure that they have things obfuscated enough that they can hide enough of the truth and talk their way out of any difficulty. Their grins say it all: Of course we did it. But good luck proving that.

So Schumer's statement had an implied end clause: “Look, I’ve said this before, very simply. I never thought Kavanaugh should be on the bench, and I still don’t today, and there's nothing I can do about it.
posted by delfin at 8:37 AM on September 18 [2 favorites]


the both-sides media is happy enough to paint both Dems' "we can't prove it" and Reps' "that means that they're lying about it" as valid.

At least the media uses the same standard when the party affiliations are reversed. Oh, wait...

(Seriously, NPR's model of reporting objective, verifiable facts that debunk Republican claims as "critics say..." has got to go. But given NPR's breathless excitement about escalating hostilities with Iran, having obviously learned nothing from their failures in coverage of the selling of the second Iraq War, they clearly see no need for improvement.)
posted by Gelatin at 9:32 AM on September 18 [5 favorites]


That's why Team Trump has been so defiant; they figure that they have things obfuscated enough that they can hide enough of the truth and talk their way out of any difficulty. Their grins say it all: Of course we did it. But good luck proving that.

On the other hand, Trump's being so obviously anxious to hide his tax returns tells a completely different story. (Which, again, should set any competent reporter baying on the trail like a bloodhound instead of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
posted by Gelatin at 9:36 AM on September 18 [11 favorites]


Lewandowski replied, “I have no obligation to be honest with the media because they are just as dishonest as anybody else.”

The government and the media is crooked, so elect a bunch of crooks. This was Trump's platform. Was he wrong? So far, he's been able to run roughshod over the law repeatedly without consequence. Trump's method for doing so has been flimsy arguments, transparent excuses, and obvious lies. Democrats have responded by doing nothing. They will not challenge, investigate, or even try to hold him to account for his crimes.

Democrats argument against impeachment is that while Trump is clearly guilty of impeachable crimes, they are incapable of informing and educating the public of it. Their argument against legitimately investigating him appears to be that even taking that minimal step will open them up to false accusations and smears they are incapable of rebutting. They will do nothing, deprive Trump of any meaningful targets, avoid contentious proposals, and cross their fingers and hope for the best.

This is not triangulation, which requires compromise based on empathy for the other position or at least some kind of quid quo pro. This is capitulation. This is sticking one's head in the sand and hoping the bad man goes away. Historically, this strategy doesn't work out so well.
posted by xammerboy at 10:12 AM on September 18 [14 favorites]


Imagine if Kavanaugh had to answer Barry Berke's questions for 30 minutes. I promise you Kavanaugh, Trump, and the GOP would go to any length to prevent that from happening. Fortunately for them the only length they have to go to is to be fake mad online and on TV for 72 hours.

As a matter of fact Mr. Beutler, they did, and they didn't even have to be fake mad (for very long). They just pulled her right when she was pinning Kav down on the dates that the assault could have happened, when she was narrowing down his calendar entries, and then Lindsey Graham threw his shitfit when Durbin started talking about the thoroughness of FBI investigations (which have suddenly become germane again).
posted by rhizome at 10:48 AM on September 18 [3 favorites]


[Friendly reminder, this thread isn't a catch-all, it's about impeachment stuff, so unless the Kavanaugh stuff is impeachment related, better to put that in a different thread if it's big enough to need discussing.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:03 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


A common narrative about the GOP over the last several decades is that they embraced the notion that "winning is everything" and the obvious endpoint of that philosophy is that ethics and principles only matter insofar as they further that goal. (Which is to say, they don't matter, because contingent principles are not only not real principles, they weaken and undermine the principles they are dressing themselves up as.)

What's depressing about the current situation is that the Democrats seem to be embracing exactly the same philosophy: principles are only valuable when they lead to political wins.

That the Democrats are objectively terrible at putting this philosophy into action -- if the Republicans "play to win" then the Democrats "play to not lose" which is a foolish strategy in any realm -- might cause less immediate damage, but it's just as corrosive to the idea that principles matter.
posted by bjrubble at 11:44 AM on September 18 [6 favorites]


Politico/Morning Consult has new polling results (Sept. 13-15): Voters Largely Unswayed by House Dems’ Push for Impeachment
Even as nearly two-thirds of Democratic members favor impeaching President Donald Trump or at least opening an impeachment inquiry, a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows they haven’t made the sale to voters. Only 37 percent support beginning impeachment proceedings, while half oppose it. Just 12 percent of voters are undecided.

Since the release of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in the spring, overall support for impeachment has fluctuated between 35 percent and 38 percent, while opposition has ranged from 46 percent to 53 percent.

Among Democrats, however, 7 in 10 support beginning impeachment proceedings. Only 18 percent of Democratic voters oppose impeachment. Among registered voters who said they intend to participate in a Democratic presidential primary or caucus in their states, 68 percent want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, while 20 percent do not.

Republicans are in near-lockstep in opposition to impeachment: Only 6 percent want to begin proceedings. But independents tilt heavily against impeaching Trump. Only 31 percent want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings, compared with 50 percent who think Congress should not begin impeachment proceedings.
And yesterday's hearings are unlikely to have convinced independent voters that Trump must be impeached...
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:35 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]


WaPo, House Democrats eager to impeach Trump struggle to galvanize public support
Trump and White House officials, meanwhile, are reveling in Democrats’ difficulties. In fact, the president — who watched Lewandowski’s testimony from Air Force One on Tuesday — was laughing and joking about the hearing, arguing that Democrats have no idea what they’re doing and that no one cared about the Mueller report anymore, according to one person who spoke with him.

The individual spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely describe what transpired.

Two White House officials suggested that the administration could defy congressional requests because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has made it clear she is reluctant about impeachment. They also have calculated that there won’t be a public price to pay for stonewalling Congress, in part because the clock is running out. “When I’m looking at the legislative calendar, you’re seeing there is not much left there. How much can they really do between now and when everyone is trying to run for their seats?” asked a senior White House official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.
This is a blatant coverup by refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas, and they're openly laughing at it, because it appears to be working.

They do eventually make the point that it's time to shut up and let staff counsel do the job:
Huffman said the hearing amounted to “a food fight,” although he blamed the combative former Trump official, not his colleagues, for the result. He, along with other Democrats, wondered whether the panel would be better served to have its staff do more of the questioning: After hours of partisan bickering, Judiciary staff lawyer Barry Berke had some success pinning Lewandowski down at the end of the hearing Tuesday.
posted by zachlipton at 4:50 PM on September 18 [7 favorites]




Pelosi says Corey Lewandowski deserves to be held in contempt (Politico)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that Corey Lewandowski deserved to be held in contempt of Congress for his combative performance before the House Judiciary Committee, where the former Trump campaign manager repeatedly refused to answer questions about his testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller.

Pelosi told Democrats during a private meeting on Wednesday that Democrats should have held Lewandowski in contempt “then and there,” according to multiple sources in the room.
This Picture Tells You Everything You Need to Know About Impeachment (NYT)
Mr. Berke’s rapid-fire cross-examination of Mr. Lewandowski, when it finally commenced, drew widespread praise and highlighted just how choppy and unproductive the typical questioning by lawmakers in hearings like these can be. Most notably, Mr. Berke was able to force the hearing’s sharp-tongued witness to admit he had been less than truthful about his involvement with the special counsel in national television interviews.

“I have no obligation not to be dishonest to the media because they are as dishonest as anybody else,” Mr. Lewandowski said.
Let the Lewandowski Circus Change Congressional Hearings Forever (Michelle Cottle, NYT Opinion)
It is not a coincidence that the illuminating part of Mr. Lewandowski’s burlesque came once Democratic committee members turned things over to their majority counsel, Barry Berke. In his allotted 30 minutes, Mr. Berke sliced through Mr. Lewandowski’s baloney, getting him to admit some lies and answer some concrete questions about Mr. Trump’s directing him to have former Attorney General Jeff Sessions interfere in the Mueller investigation.

Admittedly, convincing lawmakers to relinquish such prime image-burnishing opportunities seems as likely as Jared Kushner bringing peace to the Middle East. And there’s an argument to be made that the people’s elected representatives should have some role in such proceedings. Happily, there are options for adjusting the size and shape of that role.

For starters, lawmakers could increase the amount of time allowed for questioning by staffers, who tend to have more expertise, more time to prepare and less incentive to showboat. Under the current rules, House committees have the option of allotting a single hour for questioning by the staff, to be divided equally between the minority and the majority. Why not bump that time up to two hours — or three?

Hearings could also be flipped to bring the staff into the process earlier, when viewers are more likely to still be paying attention, rather than after everyone has endured multiple hours of lawmakers’ playing to the galleries.
posted by katra at 7:41 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


“I have no obligation not to be dishonest to the media because they are as dishonest as anybody else,” Mr. Lewandowski said.

Any news organization who ever interviews this creep again is guilty of gross incompetence.

Or complicity.
posted by Gelatin at 8:09 AM on September 19 [8 favorites]


The reason that the House Democrats' efforts have failed to galvanize the public is because the Speaker of the House very clearly does not WANT the public galvanized on impeachment.

Pelosi's strategy is for the Democratic party is to not make waves, not make big scary proposals, and thereby win the swing voters. Whatever you think of the strategy, it's pretty gutless and uninspiring. Moreover, it's seriously impeded Democrats ability to investigate and therefore hold Trump accountable. An official impeachment inquiry would have expedited all investigations into Trump. We would have his taxes, etc. There is no longer enough runway to investigate Trump without those investigations eating into the campaign season. The Blue Wave failed to attempt to hod Trump accountable. Some Democrats are now publicly saying it would be too divisive to investigate him even after his presidency.
posted by xammerboy at 8:14 AM on September 19 [7 favorites]


Being unwilling to be "divisive" is literally being unwilling to draw the line, anywhere. Drawing the line between what is acceptable and what is not is inherently divisive, and the idea is to make it so no one wants to be on the wrong side of that line.
posted by Gelatin at 8:32 AM on September 19 [16 favorites]


Guardian: There are so many “initial steps” in this delicate dance around impeachment. CNN is reporting that the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to possibly hold Corey Lewandowski in contempt of Congress after refusing to answer questions in a theatrical performance before the panel earlier this week.
posted by katra at 8:40 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


preparing to take initial steps to potentially hold Corey Lewandowski in contempt

I know Barr and Ross were held in contempt for the census issue (to no effect), but maybe this would be more significant since it would be the first tied to the impeachmentish process?
posted by diogenes at 9:27 AM on September 19


So...someone somewhere might have kinda-sorta said that there's a chance that Pelosi possibly thinks that maybe Lewandowski could be held in contempt? And the exclusive source for this is the same news org that hired him to lie to their faces, including bringing him on yesterday to talk about how he lied to their faces?

Might as well just announce they'll still be talking about whether or not to do it for at least the next nine months.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:32 AM on September 19 [5 favorites]




Brian Beutler encapsulates the mess we're in:
Democratic leaders: impeachment is too divisive, we will confront Trump in the election

DOJ, DNI, and the White House: Trump can offer Putin policy spoils in exchange for election interference and nobody outside the executive branch can know it.
(We're discussing whistleblower-gate in its own thread.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:25 PM on September 19 [8 favorites]


Impeachment calls escalate (Guardian)
Impeachment calls are ramping up again amid the widening scandal surrounding Trump’s alleged effort to pressure Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden’s son. A sample: [...]

The Washington Post (@washingtonpost)

Opinion: If Trump extorted a foreign leader for political gain, it’s impeachment time https://t.co/mSFJEDUzog
September 20, 2019
Which leads to... If Trump extorted a foreign leader for political gain, it’s impeachment time (Max Boot, WaPo Opinion)
Until now, I have been willing to accede to the judgment of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to go slow on impeachment proceedings that are unpopular with voters and could imperil the Democratic majority. But if the new scandal involving President Trump and Ukraine is as bad as it seems — and that is, of course, a very big if at this early stage — the House will have no choice but to impeach, consequences be damned.
posted by katra at 5:07 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


Pelosi Not Budging on Impeachment and Her Colleagues Are Privately Screaming (Sam Brodey & Sam Stein, Daily Beast)
“She’s still holding back,” one pro-impeachment lawmaker said of the Speaker. “If impeachment isn’t for this, why is impeachment in the constitution?”
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:20 PM on September 20 [5 favorites]


I am willing to entertain any theory about what the hell Pelosi is doing
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:55 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]


I am willing to entertain any theory about what the hell Pelosi is doing

Unsourced rumors are not grounds for impeachment?
posted by JackFlash at 5:15 PM on September 21


Unsourced rumors are not grounds for impeachment?

There is nothing unsourced about the thousands of time Donald J. Trump violated US Law, specifically 18 USC 1001, in that lying to the Congress denies Congress their lawful role of oversight.
posted by mikelieman at 5:44 PM on September 21 [6 favorites]


When Rudy Giuliani goes on national television and says outright that he asked Ukraine to investigate Biden’s son for Trump’s electoral benefit, it’s not an unsourced rumor, it’s an explosive admission. If true, it’s literally a crime.

And it’s a crime that strikes at the heart of our democracy by corruptly attempting to undermine our national elections. Not to mention perverting our foreign policy.
posted by darkstar at 1:36 AM on September 22 [9 favorites]


Just imagine -- imagine! -- what House Republicans would be doing if this were a Democratic president and the congressional majorities were flipped.

It would make the Benghazi hysteria and concomitant endless hearings look like a bipartisan Kumbaya over a campfire.
posted by Gadarene at 6:16 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]




We’re passing the tipping point on impeachment (Jennifer Rubin, WaPo Opinion)
Unlike the Mueller investigation, the collusion at issue is discrete, simple and, in all likelihood, easy to prove. Witnesses in addition to the whistleblower may include former officials who have no reason to abide by Trump’s bogus executive-immunity claims. Subpoenaed to testify, I suspect people like former director of national intelligence Daniel Coats and his deputy Sue Gordon, as well as former national security adviser John Bolton, would testify honestly. From factually specific news reports (e.g., confirming Trump asked the Ukrainian president eight times to find dirt on Biden), we know the proof and the witnesses are out there. Moreover, his henchman Rudolph W. Giuliani, acting in the capacity of Trump’s fixer, is protected by no privilege. (For one thing, he’s already talked openly about his conduct.)

Trump doesn’t seem to dispute the facts. Rather, he is trying to prevent concrete, glaring evidence from emerging. He apparently thinks it’s perfectly fine to lean on a foreign power to help him win an election.

Given all that, impeachment may look very different. A single article of impeachment based on an incontrovertible abuse of power would make Democrats’ job much easier. The difficultly that at-risk Republicans face in explaining to voters why they countenance such conduct begins to outweigh any downside for Democrats in pursuing impeachment, even if the eventual outcome is acquittal in the Senate.

Imagine Senate races in 2020 for Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and others outside of deep-red America. So, Sen. Collins, you think it is perfectly fine to go to a foreign power to help sway our election outcome? Sen. Tillis, if your opponent goes to, say, China to dig up dirt on you, is that fair game?
posted by katra at 11:21 AM on September 22 [11 favorites]


I'd love to see someone primary Susan Collins just on impeachment. Mirror every other policy of hers, but commit to impeachment and make it the only campaign topic you will talk about. Say, "frankly I don't know why you aren't asking about impeachment," to any reporters.
posted by rhizome at 12:24 PM on September 22 [4 favorites]


via the all-caps red headline at the top of the Drudge Report: Pelosi hints at impeachment over Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint (Axios)
In a letter to lawmakers Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a warning about the Trump administration's continued efforts to block acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire from turning over a whistleblower complaint that reportedly involves the president.

"If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation."

Between the lines: It's likely that the "new stage of investigation" that Pelosi is referring to is impeachment. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) — who along with Pelosi has refrained from endorsing impeachment until there's enough public support — said Sunday that the whistleblower controversy could leave Democrats with no other choice.
posted by katra at 12:36 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]


WaPo: ‘We’ve Been Very Weak’: House Democrats Decry Their Oversight of Trump, Push Pelosi on Impeachment
An increasingly vocal group of House Democrats are starting to dismiss their own oversight of Trump as feckless, even accusing their colleagues of emboldening the president by refusing to stand up to what they see as lawless behavior.

At the very least, these Democrats say, the House should be taking more aggressive action to break the unprecedented White House stonewalling, possibly even fining defiant Trump officials, an idea Pelosi dismissed this year.

“At this point, the bigger national scandal isn’t the president’s lawbreaking behavior — it is the Democratic Party’s refusal to impeach him for it,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a longtime impeachment backer, tweeted late Saturday night. “It is one thing for a sitting president to break the law. It’s another to let him. . . . The GOP’s silence & refusal to act shouldn’t be a surprise. Ours is.”

Even House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), an impeachment skeptic and Pelosi ally, suggested impeachment might be inevitable and called reports of Trump requesting that a Ukrainian leader investigate a business connected to former vice president Joe Biden’s son “the most profound violation of the presidential oath of office.[…]

“I have been very reluctant to go down the path of impeachment . . . this would be an extraordinary remedy of last resort, not first resort,” Schiff said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But if the president is essentially withholding military aid at the same time that he is trying to browbeat a foreign leader into doing something illicit that is providing dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that may be the only remedy that is coequal to the evil that that conduct represents.”

Pelosi clearly is feeling the pressure. In a rare Sunday afternoon “Dear Colleague” letter — sent to Republicans and Democrats — the speaker called for the director of national intelligence to turn over the whistleblower complaint detailing Trump’s interactions with Ukraine. Pelosi threatened an unspecified escalation in House action if they refuse — but notably stopped short of impeachment.

“If the administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the president, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,” she wrote.
And Dems on the House Judiciary Committee are beginning to leak on Nadler.
Several Democrats on the panel privately pressed House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to hold Lewandowski in contempt on the spot, an idea Pelosi later endorsed — spurring their sense of urgency. But Nadler’s staff, which wanted to keep the focus on Trump, said the logistics of doing so immediately were too complicated, if not impossible — a decision that upset members so much that the committee held an “emergency meeting” to allow members to vent on Friday, according to multiple lawmakers.

“To clear up a technical point: House rules do not permit us to hold anyone in contempt on the spot,” wrote one Judiciary staffer in an email to placate committee aides. “Which is not to say we do not understand the strong impulse to punch this guy in the mouth.”

The Washington Post obtained a copy of the email.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:38 PM on September 22 [5 favorites]


“To clear up a technical point: House rules do not permit us to hold anyone in contempt on the spot,” wrote one Judiciary staffer in an email to placate committee aides.

And who makes the House rules? As we have seen in the Senate, the majority party can change them on their whim as they did for Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
posted by JackFlash at 2:04 PM on September 22 [4 favorites]


Begin impeachment hearings now (James Downie, WaPo Opinion)
The president himself has admitted he discussed investigating former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter with Zelensky. We know that Ukraine’s former top prosecutor was in fact fired because of his well-documented corruption, not — as Trump would have us believe — because of any investigation into Hunter Biden. We know that starting in August, the Trump administration engaged in an “unprecedented struggle” with Congress, as The Post’s Karoun Demirjian put it, to withhold $250 million in military aid to Ukraine, before mysteriously releasing the hold in mid-September. We know that the White House is refusing to release a whistleblower complaint about the call, in direct violation of the law. Add this to the pile of evidence that the president’s associates colluded with Russia and that the president obstructed justice to hide that, with only Justice Department precedent shielding him from charges. [...]

There are no GOP votes for it, goes one excuse. By that standard, Democrats might as well never do anything at all. House Democrats have passed dozens of bills that will never make it through the GOP Senate — bills such as the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Pelosi and allies backed those bills expecting that Republicans would not vote for them; there’s no reason the same can’t be true of impeachment. Hearings will get those “no” votes on the record for posterity.

“Voters don’t support impeachment,” goes another excuse. But that was true during Watergate as well, especially before the hearings. As I wrote earlier this year, less than a third of Americans thought the break-in a serious scandal before the televised Watergate hearings began in 1973. Democrats held hearings before a majority of Americans wanted them, and pushed for impeachment before a majority of Americans supported it. They were vindicated both by the public soon after and by history since.

Even if voters remain skeptical of impeachment, Democrats should proceed, not because it would be popular, but because it’s right. Inaction only emboldens the president’s assault on the American democratic system.
posted by katra at 3:16 PM on September 22 [8 favorites]


Sarah Christopherson: A thread on impeachment (edited for formatting and clarity)
I staffed a Blue Dog for 3 yrs & a moderate House D for 7 more—including 5 yrs as her Washington Director. Technically, I've covered every issue before the federal govt but really, my only true area of expertise is Member of Congress psychology. People say: impeachment isn't popular. But that's backwards. Dem leadership has enormous power to shape public opinion and national politics (inside and outside of the Caucus), not simply follow them. Impeaching Nixon wasn't popular at the outset either, but showcasing his crimes in well-coordinated hearings played on the nightly news led to a dramatic shift in public opinion. Or at least that's what the historians say. It's also not at all clear that impeaching Clinton actually hurt Republicans as much as pundits would have us believe. And, of course, the crimes Trump has committed are much, much worse and he's far more personally unpopular. Like, *historically unpopular.*

Meanwhile, members truly are influenced by pressure from their constituents, their peers, and their leaders. I've seen it. Dem leadership making the case for impeachment w/a clear, unambiguous, unified voice would make a huge difference, both outside and inside the caucus. Instead, trying to avoid impeachment when Trump's actions are so blatant, so egregious takes a psychological toll on the caucus (seriously). It's like staying quiet when you see abuse. Moral negligence is also harder to maintain, which is why Dems have bungled it so badly. Pelosi hasn't *only* been prioritizing the concerns of her nervous frontline members, she's *also* been lobbying the rest of the caucus against impeachment. Not impeaching term-limited GWB despite activist calls was probably the right call in '07. But it's dead wrong now.

Democrats putting all of their hopes on winning the election (a la 2016) aren’t being upfront that they're playing a rigged game—one rigged 'legally' via the electoral college & voter suppression *and* illegally via foreign interference. Real, coherent, well-managed impeachment proceedings protect against some of that illegal rigging, making it much harder for Trump to undertake (as much) corrupt election tampering. Like the kind he's already engaging in! It's hardly a coincidence that his Ukraine call happened the day after he thought the Mueller report was truly dead. People say: it'll hurt the Democratic majority.

Look, I ❤ good policy, I've devoted my career to it, but this election's not going to be about Dems' new Rx pricing bill or even (for most) about guns. It's going to be a referendum on Trump. Period. I repeat, this election will be a referendum on Trump... and as a corollary, on Democrats' seriousness as defenders of the Constitution. Dems can use that reality to their advantage or not. But forcing GOP senators to take an affirmative vote to protect Trump after the country has watched a forceful prosecution of his crimes arguably helps Ds reclaim the Senate as much as it jeopardizes control of the House. GOP senators are *loathe* to vote on impeachment for good reason. Susan Collins doesn't want to take that vote. Cory Gardner, Martha McSally, Thom Tillis... they don't want to take that vote. Let's make them.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:18 AM on September 23 [9 favorites]


Trump's Team is Trying to Stop Impeachment Before it Starts (Politico)
Donald Trump’s lawyers insist they don’t need to form an impeachment defense team.

Yet here’s what they have: At least 30 White House and Justice Department attorneys who have worked on related issues. Several personal lawyers for the president dealing with the subject. A lurking presence at Capitol Hill impeachment-focused hearings. Aggressive legal briefs and countersuits foiling efforts to gather fuel for potential proceedings. Near-daily media appearances discussing the topic.
posted by box at 8:13 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]


I don't know. To me it looks like Trump is doing everything he can to trigger an impeachment. Who knows? Maybe having the house launch an impeachment that is squashed in the Senate might be a net positive for him. He thrives on chaos and his supporters seem immune to facts.
posted by rdr at 8:21 AM on September 23


GOP senators are *loathe* to vote on impeachment for good reason. Susan Collins doesn't want to take that vote. Cory Gardner, Martha McSally, Thom Tillis... they don't want to take that vote. Let's make them.

I fully believe in Christopherson's case, but also think Democrats have to be all-battlestations-manned prepared for two possibilities, one of which is practically inevitable:

* McConnell just deposits articles of impeachment in his throat pouch with a fatcat grin, just like he did with a perfectly legitimate Supreme Court nomination

* The Republican Senate holds an impeachment trial in the same way they actually held a hearing on Kavenaugh's nomination, which is to say, a total sham

In either case, the right wing propaganda outlets produce heretofore unknown volumes of bullshit and mainstream journalists, even those who should know by now that a state led by the likes of the Trump administration (which will be repeated but more competently if not checked now) will inevitably execute some of them (or have brownshirts do it for them), will be tempted to waffle in both-sides-ism and a good chunk of them will fail.

Is it too much to hope for that Pelosi is saying "hold" right now because she's putting in place all the pieces that'd be necessary to fight that battle?

Impeachment needs to happen, both from an institution-preserving and from a public-leading / electoral perspective. It'll be a fight. It's possible the country will fail the associated test in the same way it utterly failed the test presented by putting Donald Trump up for office in the first place. But every possible course of action has failure modes at this point, no-impeachment included.
posted by wildblueyonder at 8:31 AM on September 23 [4 favorites]


House Democrats Are Ignoring This Key Lesson of Watergate (Jonathan C. Rose, Atlantic)
On the Hill, Senator Mike Mansfield and his Democratic colleagues were not prepared to let the Watergate burglary and the “dirty tricks” of the 1972 campaign slide, despite Nixon’s formidable popularity. Mansfield obtained unanimous agreement to impanel a small investigative committee chaired by the respected Senator Sam Ervin. [...]

As evidence implicating the White House mounted, the administration displayed no inclination toward negotiation or accommodation with the Senate Watergate Committee. On March 15, 1973, Nixon issued an edict asserting executive privilege, declaring that White House aides and papers were entirely off limits to the committee. If the committee desired to press the issue, the president said, it could pursue a contempt prosecution through the courts.

Pressed for his reaction, Ervin said Nixon’s position was “executive poppycock, akin to the divine right of kings.” Ervin declared that his committee had no intention of submitting to the suggested judicial delays, but would instead utilize the Senate’s sergeant at arms to arrest any recalcitrant White House aide, bring him to the bar of the Senate for trial, and ultimately compel him to testify.

As damaging revelations continued to mount and the stigma of cover-up gathered strength, the White House floated trial balloons, offering the Watergate Committee possible closed-door interviews with White House aides. Ervin continued to insist on public testimony, saying that “White House aides are not royalty or nobility who can be excused from testifying under oath and in public.”

By mid-April 1973, Nixon’s resistance to testimony by White House aides had collapsed, and a number of them testified. This testimony disclosed the White House taping system and confirmed the existence of tapes. Those disclosures ultimately led to Nixon’s departure from office. [...]

At present, the House is letting the White House set unprecedented limits on its oversight and letting it contest access to witnesses and documents in the courts without any time limit. Congressional oversight has never before operated in this way. As long as the House continues to allow its oversight process to be so manipulated, prospective witnesses, the media, and the public will not treat the process with the respect and dignity it deserves. The mocking performance of Corey Lewandowski on Monday may be just a curtain-raiser for what is to come.

The Supreme Court has, in several decisions, affirmed the power of Congress to enforce its own subpoenas via its sergeant at arms. Ervin’s credible threat to do just that produced a complete retreat by the Nixon White House. To command the attention of the Trump White House, the actual arrest of an appropriate witness or two might well be required.
posted by katra at 8:57 AM on September 23 [9 favorites]


The Whole Team is In on It (Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo)
We know the President wants to do all manner of bad acts and sees nothing wrong with them. This new development suggests he probably has, that his top advisors know about those bad acts and decided it was okay.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:02 AM on September 23 [5 favorites]


Is it too much to hope for that Pelosi is saying "hold" right now because she's putting in place all the pieces that'd be necessary to fight that battle?

She dragged her feet in even trying to get those pieces while simultaneously unleashing her fury on anyone who pushed for doing it, so...
posted by zombieflanders at 9:05 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]


Unleashed her fury ...?
posted by JackFlash at 9:09 AM on September 23




Is it too much to hope for that Pelosi is saying "hold" right now because she's putting in place all the pieces that'd be necessary to fight that battle?

Pelosi has said several things that undermine impeachment whether it happens now or in the future. You don't undermine a strategy you are building towards.
posted by diogenes at 9:38 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]


To me it looks like Trump is doing everything he can to trigger an impeachment. Who knows? Maybe having the house launch an impeachment that is squashed in the Senate might be a net positive for him.

On the other hand:

Trump has more than 30 White House, Justice Department and personal lawyers filing court papers, blocking witnesses, writing letters to Congress, doing media interviews, and working on Capitol Hill to stop Congress from impeaching him.
posted by diogenes at 9:49 AM on September 23




Impeachment talk intensifies over Trump's call with Ukraine president (Guardian)
On Monday Jim Himes of Connecticut, a member of the House [intelligence committee], told CNN: “Extorting a foreign leader for the purposes of getting that leader to do your political work, to try to find dirt on your opponent, is extortion. It is using the assets of the United States of America and the public trust for your own corrupt … ends, certainly political ends.

“I can’t tell you that the House will move into impeachment mode right away, but this really ups the ante.” Of Pelosi’s letter, Himes said: “It’s sort of hard not to read between the lines there about what she means.” [...]

The Republican Utah senator Mitt Romney, a longtime Trump critic, said it was “critical for the facts to come out”. “If the president asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney [former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has admitted pressuring Ukraine], it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out,” Romney said.

Even the South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, a fierce defender of Trump, said he was “hoping the president can share, in an appropriate way, information to deal with the drama around the phone call. I think it would be good for the country if we could deal with it.”
posted by katra at 9:54 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]


Food for thought: Doomed, delusional, divided and corrupt: How the Democratic Party became a haunted house
Conflicted about ideology and identity and deeply compromised by history, the Democratic Party is built to lose
The whole party has evolved over the decades to reinforce the short term status quo over taking risks over any length of time, and to encourage the desire for one person to save us all. Pelosi is a product of that.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:00 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]


The Ukraine whistleblower complaint makes impeachment more likely (Amber Phillips, WaPo)
If the Trump administration won’t give them the complaint at the heart of this scandal, Congress’s options are pretty limited, as I wrote Friday. This is such an unprecedented situation that there just aren’t rules for how Congress can deal with this. [...]

As impeachment skeptics within the House Democratic caucus are starting to reconsider their stance, the Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry (or even outright impeachment of Trump) are getting louder. This group has been putting pressure on Pelosi since Democrats won back the House majority last year. Judging by their comments over the weekend, expect this caucus to get even more urgent. [...]

And Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) declined to directly criticize Trump, but he did talk about it in the abstract this way: “It is not appropriate for any candidate for federal office, certainly, including a sitting president, to ask for assistance from a foreign country. That’s not appropriate. But I don’t know that that’s what happened here.”

What Republicans aren’t publicly acknowledging is that an inspector general, who is an independent watchdog for a government agency and has no known reason to be partisan, found the allegation about a sitting president both credible and “urgent” and told Congress his conclusion did not come from just one conversation.

And, perhaps most damaging of all for Republicans is that Trump acknowledged this weekend he may have spoken about Biden with the president of Ukraine, though he maintains he did nothing wrong in his conversation.

We are not saying we expect the Republican-controlled Senate to hold a trial and kick Trump out of office. But one missing piece of impeachment is that a majority of Americans, including a majority of independents, don’t support it. If more Republicans were open about their concerns about what Trump is alleged to have done, the House will feel it has a much stronger case for impeachment.
posted by katra at 10:02 AM on September 23


Dems moving to formally condemn Trump as impeachment fever grows (Politico)
Democratic leaders now view a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday featuring Trump's top intelligence official — as well as a deadline that day for the State Department to turn over related documents potentially implicating the president and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani — as the deciding factor over whether to move forward with impeachment proceedings.

If the White House doesn't comply with Democrats' demands for further information — sparked initially by a secret whistleblower complaint that the administration is still blocking from Congress — the House may move full bore into impeaching the president. [...]

Freshman Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota became the first centrist lawmaker to announce support for Trump’s ouster if the president did indeed encourage the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rival. "If the reports are corroborated, we must pursue articles of impeachment and report them to the full House of Representatives for immediate consideration," Phillips said in a statement that quickly went viral.

Phillips was followed quickly by another swing-district Democrat — Rep. Angie Craig, also of Minnesota — delivering a shot of momentum to the caucus' increasingly vocal pro-impeachment wing. And several swing-district freshmen with backgrounds in national security are considering putting out a joint op-ed this week backing impeachment after the latest revelations, according to Democratic lawmakers and aides.

Two long-time Pelosi allies, Reps. John Larson and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, also said Monday night that they would back impeachment proceedings if Trump does not comply with congressional oversight demands.
Murphy reconsidering past reluctance to support impeachment (AP)
Connecticut U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy says he’s reconsidering his past reluctance to support impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

[...] Murphy says he doesn’t know how he can live in a country that allows its president “to openly admit to this kind of corruption and get away with it.” Trump has said his call with the Ukrainian president was “congratulatory” and focused on corruption.

Murphy met this month with the Ukrainian president, who voiced concern about possibly losing American security aid.
posted by katra at 5:55 PM on September 23 [4 favorites]


Two long-time Pelosi allies, Reps. John Larson and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, also said Monday night that they would back impeachment proceedings if Trump does not comply with congressional oversight demands.


Former chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Rep. John Larson (D-CT): Comply With the Law or Begin Impeachment Proceedings “This is a defining moment. If the Director refuses to comply at Thursday’s hearing, the Trump Administration has left Congress with no alternative but for the House to begin impeachment proceedings, which I will support.”

Things are moving fast if Thursday is a real deadline.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:08 PM on September 23 [7 favorites]


Trump denies pressuring Ukraine, will not commit to transcript release (Reuters)
Congressional Democrats on Monday demanded documents from the White House about the Trump team’s contacts with Ukraine.

Three House committees - Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight - called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to produce documents related to contacts between Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian officials.

The Democratic-led committees said in a letter that they “jointly request documents related to reported efforts by President Trump and his associates to improperly pressure the Ukrainian government to assist the president’s bid for reelection.” [...]

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate Intelligence Committee was working to get the intelligence community’s inspector general to speak to the panel to discuss the whistleblower’s allegations.

A Senate aide said a briefing with the panel’s chairman and vice chairman was expected to occur this week.
posted by katra at 6:44 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


Politico's Kyle Cheney has an updated impeachment head-count
IMPEACHMENT COUNT: Our latest list has 147 Democrats in support of launching proceedings but at least 5 more are likely to be there by Thursday, given statements today:

-DeLauro (D-CT)
-Larson (D-CT)
-Phillips (D-MN)
-Gonzalez (D-TX)
-Lynch (D-MA)

There are many more likely to be out by then too -- Thursday is shaping up as a breaking point for much of the caucus. These five are just the early indicators.

(Crow is the 7th name here but he came out for impeachment inquiry a while back)

Interestingly, the also endorse "inherent contempt" -- the process by which Congress can fine and even jail witnesses who refuse to cooperate.

BY MY COUNT:

-18 of the 44 Democrats considered vulnerable frontliners now favor impeachment proceedings

-26 are not for it yet, but still a lot in motion this week.

Dems (+Amash) can afford to lose about 18 votes on any floor vote.
Also, There are quite a few safe Democrats who have been holding the line because of Pelosi but may feel liberated after she wades further this week:

UPDATE: My last count was short lived. 153 out of 235 House Dems now back impeachment proceedings, according to our latest whip count.
And Politico's Heather Caygle recaps the above "impeachment fever" article:
There have been A LOT of developments in last few hours

Read full story but main point is leaders from Pelosi on down recognize a seismic shift in the caucus on this and are trying to figure out next steps

Pelosi spent the weekend and today working the phones to get a feel for where the caucus is -- including chatting today with Judiciary Chairman Nadler and others committee leaders investigating Trump

Now Dems are weighing several options:

- A resolution condemning Trump's actions related to Ukraine scandal

-Pelosi issuing a "forceful" statement embracing impeachment probe like she hasn't before

-Both of the above plus more
mentions Also there's been four members to come out for impeachment in past few hours

-- Two freshman mods: Phillips and Craig

-- Two Pelosi allies: Larson and DeLauro

Other members are discussing how and when to jump off the fence (don't want to be seen as last to support)

Tomorrow:
-- Pelosi meeting with six committee chairs handling Trump investigations
-- Then there's a special members-only caucus meeting at 4 p.m.
-- Possible op-ed by national security freshman members backing impeachment

Finally, I can't overstate what a shift there's been

Some members have been wanting to back impeachment for a while and wanted cover. For others, this really was the last straw.

The most important thing is that leadership recognizes this and is shifting strategies as a result

And here’s the op-ed from the seven frontliner freshman Dems calling allegations, if true, “an impeachable offense.”

They originally were aiming for Thursday but decided to move up publishing op-ed given how fast things seem to be moving.
Emphases added, because there are decades when weeks happen, and weeks when decades happen.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:51 PM on September 23 [12 favorites]


Just How Outrageous Was the Lewandowski Hearing? (Margaret Taylor, Lawfare)
It remains to be seen whether Congress will utilize untested tools, like its inherent contempt power, to impose fines or detain those who defy congressional subpoenas. Congress’s inherent contempt power is derived from the legislative branch’s own constitutional authority to detain and jail a contemnor until the individual complies with congressional demands. There is precedent for detailing individuals pursuant to the inherent contempt power, but it has not been done since 1935 when a former Herbert Hoover administration official was held briefly in the Willard Hotel. (While there is no “Capitol Jail,” the Capitol Police do maintain a holding cell a few blocks away at the Capitol Police Department.) It is hard to see the administration not intervening to contest such an action.

Both Nadler and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff have expressed interest in imposing fines on contemnors—rather than jailing them—pursuant to the inherent contempt power. As Kia Rahnama wrote in Lawfare in June, the law in this area remains underdeveloped but it might well be possible. Depending on how it is done, levying such a fine for contempt would likely require the House to adopt new rules for the imposition of fines and to adopt sufficient procedures to satisfy constitutional due process.

****

It remains to be seen which tools will work in the current political environment, and whether the erosion of Congress’s role as a check on the presidency can be checked by the courts. The ultimate recourse would be to impeach the president for impeding Congress’s valid assertion of its constitutional roles of investigation and impeachment. But that won’t happen if Congress is unable or unwilling, on a bipartisan basis, to position itself as the proper repository for the American public’s trust on these matters.
posted by katra at 8:03 PM on September 23 [2 favorites]


Richard Wolffe in a Guardian opinion notes:
Would Trump let Rudy Giuliani testify to Congress about his own efforts?

“Oh I would have no problem with it,” he told reporters on Sunday. “Rudy is a very straight shooter. And Rudy wants to see the same thing as a lot of other people with respect to your Ukraine. Ukraine has had a tremendous corruption problem. Somehow they were involved in a lot of different things that took place in our country, and hopefully it can be straightened out.”
posted by katra at 8:41 PM on September 23


The WaPo confirms Politico's Pelosi reporting: Pelosi Quietly Sounding Out House Democrats About Whether to Impeach Trump, Officials Say "The speaker, a longtime skeptic of impeachment, is gauging whether to pursue proceedings after a whistleblower’s complaint raises new allegations against the president."
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:51 PM on September 23 [2 favorites]


Senate Republicans sidestep Trump's Ukraine mess (Politico)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's request to conduct hearings and issue a subpoena to the Trump administration in response to the whistleblower complaint about the president’s conversation with Zelensky. The GOP leader deemed it an attempt to "politicize" the matter.

The Senate majority leader said the Senate Intelligence Committee is trying to bring the inspector general of the intelligence community before the panel this week.

"It's extremely important that their work be handled in a secure setting with adequate protections in a bipartisan fashion, and based on facts rather than leaks to the press," McConnell said on Monday afternoon. "It is regrettable that House Intelligence Chairman [Adam] Schiff and Sen. Schumer have chosen to politicize the issue, circumventing the established procedures." [...]

Schumer requested that McConnell lean on the White House to identify any administration officials who delayed $250 million in aid to Ukraine earlier this year and release a transcript of conversation with Zelensky "during which President Trump reportedly pressured the government of Ukraine to investigate Vice President Biden and his family," as Schumer put it.

McConnell said that he had personally spoken to Trump administration officials about releasing the aid, including the secretaries of State and Defense.
posted by katra at 11:04 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


[Folks, please dial back the very lengthy cut and paste of article content here. You can include reasonably brief pull quotes and / or your summaries and let people follow the link to read the full article. I understand that some things are paywalled, but the function of the site is not to be a back door to reading paywalled articles. If you are pasting lengthy copied text because you don't trust people will click through, please don't do that; interested readers can follow the links.]
posted by taz (staff) at 12:26 AM on September 24 [6 favorites]


Now Dems are weighing several options:

- A resolution condemning Trump's actions related to Ukraine scandal


I think I can guess the proponent of that plan.
posted by diogenes at 6:05 AM on September 24 [3 favorites]


The Onion basically telling it like it is:

House Democrats Issue Condemnation Of Ukraine For Making It Harder To Avoid Impeaching Trump

This is 100% satire but it hits too close to home right now.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:14 AM on September 24 [10 favorites]


Trump denies pressuring Ukraine, will not commit to transcript release (Reuters)

It's an evergreen headline: Trump Refuses to Release Evidence He Insists Will Exonerate Him.

Feh.
posted by Gelatin at 7:20 AM on September 24 [4 favorites]


Politico: Who supports impeachment? (Last updated 9/24/19)
158 Democrats support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

77 Democrats who don't support impeachment or impeachment inquiry — yet

0 Republicans support impeachment or impeachment inquiry
posted by katra at 7:31 AM on September 24


Comply With the Law or Begin Impeachment Proceedings

Maybe I'm missing something, but this framing seems dumb to me. It implies that *once again,* the Democrats are waiting for Republicans to act in good faith, or that they're so afraid of looking like bullies that they're being nice and offering them a choice (*once again*). At the very least, it looks like the House is very reluctant to do its job, even as normally-impeachable offenses pile up month after month. Can we get a "Fuck you, that's why" even once from our side, over anything obviously illegal and corrupt? God, these people are horrible at optics and messaging.

Yes, no chance of conviction in the Senate, President Pence, etc. etc.
posted by Rykey at 8:07 AM on September 24 [1 favorite]


So as not to abuse edit:

Forgot to add: Also, what's the implication here? If the White House / DOJ does comply with Congress's demands, there won't be an impeachment inquiry? So bad.
posted by Rykey at 8:10 AM on September 24


Frank Thorp V: NEW: @SenatorDurbin, the number 2 Senate dem, says he now supports an impeachment inquiry in the House, says, “I think now we need to move forward.”
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:22 AM on September 24 [5 favorites]


I will be very happy if they move forward. I can't help but feel that now a man's chance vs. a woman's chance, to take the White House is being meddled with, suddenly people care.
posted by agregoli at 8:32 AM on September 24


Jonathan Martin: "As one Dem operative notes, this is the opposite of how Hill votes usually pile up: there is NO whipping from leadership, it’s rank and file members coordinating w one another, swallowing and stepping out there."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:33 AM on September 24 [8 favorites]


The President Needs To Be Impeached (Josh Marshall, TPM)
Based on what we know the only proper response is to demand the President’s immediate resignation. Since he certainly won’t agree, an immediate investigation framed around the question of impeachment must be undertaken and if the facts are what they appear the President must be impeached.
Even though an impeachment doesn't depend on demanding his resignation, I would still like to see that done, if only to get Trump's response on the record.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:34 AM on September 24 [7 favorites]


Republican lawmakers scramble to contain Ukraine whistleblower fallout (The Hill)
Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) told reporters Monday that Congress needs to be briefed on the whistleblower complaint. [...] Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican Conference who faces a potentially competitive election next year, said the appropriate path is to task the Intelligence Committee with getting to the bottom of the controversy. [...]

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said it’s “important and appropriate” that the intelligence community’s inspector general brief the Senate and House committees. [...] GOP senators including Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) are warning that Trump would have acted improperly if he in fact pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden, who is leading the Democratic field of presidential contenders. [...] Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), a Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Monday that it would be “highly inappropriate” if Trump directed a foreign leader to investigate a rival politician.
posted by katra at 8:46 AM on September 24 [2 favorites]


Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), a Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Monday that it would be “highly inappropriate” if Trump directed a foreign leader to investigate a rival politician.

...as Trump had already bragged about doing.
posted by Gelatin at 8:51 AM on September 24 [8 favorites]


Rep. John Lewis on the House floor: “There comes a time when you have to be moved by the spirit of history to take action to protect and preserve the integrity of our nation. I believe, I truly believe, the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come."
posted by sallybrown at 9:22 AM on September 24 [21 favorites]


House Barrels Toward Impeachment Decisions as Democratic Resistance Crumbles (NYT)
Representative Lizzie Fletcher of Texas, who defeated a Republican last year to win her Houston-area district, said just the facts that Mr. Trump has already confirmed represent “a gross abuse of power.”
posted by katra at 9:23 AM on September 24 [5 favorites]


Rep. John Lewis on the House floor:

Lewis had previously said that he had an opinion on impeachment but was not making it public out of respect for Speaker Pelosi. So this is perhaps the biggest tell yet that she is coming around to it.
posted by Etrigan at 9:48 AM on September 24 [10 favorites]


At this point, I strongly suspect there will be an impeachment inquiry. So, the questions I want to know are:
  • Are there any timelines that are in play? If I look at the Congressional Calendar, they go through December 12, with every forth week a “District Work Period.” I assume it could run into 2020, but would that create burn-out.
  • Is there any conceivable standard by which House Republicans say “this guy has to go?” Would it be driven by evidence, or Trump’s numbers?
  • Does Congress have recourse if the Trump administration chooses not to cooperate? Will the courts, including the Supreme Court, have their back, if only out of respect for the institutaion?
  • Is there any conceivable standard by which the Senate convicts (again, based on evidence or numbers)?
The big thing I’ve been wondering, throughout the Trump administration, is what’s the risk to the GOP of pushing him out, one way or another. Trump’s failure to conform to normal seems like it’s been a risk since he was inaugurated. It’s hard to imagine where it wouldn’t bite them in the ass one day. Up to this point, a private conversation to suggest that he resign “out of concerns for his health” (physical or mental) seemed to be an easy out. At worst, they could pull out the Twenty-Fifth amendment, and take care of the matter in the family.
In that scenario, they get Pence. As a progressive, I really don’t want him in office, but he seems less authoritarian, more conventional, and more stable that what we got now. The risk, I suppose, is it may basically give the Democrats the White House in 2020.
With impeachment, the game has changed. The argument for impeachment would be to avoid the Next Big Trump Scandal (at best), or a significant life-or-death blunder (recession, war, etc.). This might save them with moderates in their districts/states, but voting to impeach risks pissing off Trump s base). They could still get Pence, but be a lot bloodier.
posted by MrGuilt at 10:27 AM on September 24 [3 favorites]


...is she still trying to have it both ways?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:22 AM on September 24


I assume it could run into 2020, but would that create burn-out.

The Senate Watergate Committee started hearings in May 1973 and issued its report, entitled Report on Presidential Campaign Activities, on June 27, 1974. Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:26 AM on September 24 [4 favorites]


The House of Representatives should immediately launch formal and comprehensive impeachment investigations based on everything we know so far: violations of the emoluments clause, multiple acts of obstruction of justice per the Mueller Report, and pressuring the Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election. Telling people he would pardon them if they broke the law to build the Wall is a violation of his Article II obligation to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."

Each area of inquiry should be kicked off with testimony from recognized experts to define the misdeeds in question and explain why they are impeachable. The evidence should be presented as fairly and neutrally as possible.

And it should all be on TV.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:35 AM on September 24 [11 favorites]


The big thing I’ve been wondering, throughout the Trump administration, is what’s the risk to the GOP of pushing him out, one way or another. Trump’s failure to conform to normal seems like it’s been a risk since he was inaugurated.

It seems clear that the Republicans don't see much of a risk of the Democrats using such authoritarian tactics against them, or feel they can count on the so-called "liberal media" to uphold their usual false equivalences (witness Mitch McConnell chortling that Democrats were "politicizing" the matter).

(Noted in passing: Democrats absolutely should play political hardball, up to and including expanding the courts, increasing the number of Representatives, and admitting more states.)

It's also possible that Republican strategists know that the party's decision this century to focus on the angry white male base to the exclusion of all else dooms the party demographically, so they have no choice but to ride the tiger as long as they can.

Either way, it seems clear that Republicans perceive more risk in not backing Trump to the hilt. Whether it makes them knaves, cowards, or both doesn't really matter. What does matter is that Democrats tar them all with the same treasonous brush, because they deserve it.
posted by Gelatin at 11:36 AM on September 24 [1 favorite]


Is there any conceivable standard by which House Republicans say “this guy has to go?” Would it be driven by evidence, or Trump’s numbers? Is there any conceivable standard by which the Senate convicts (again, based on evidence or numbers)?

Nobody loves Trump, they fear him. They fear losing their jobs. If the public ever moves to support impeachment it will shock you how many Republicans felt that way all along.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:45 AM on September 24 [7 favorites]




I'm still afraid to have any hope, but still: bout goddamn time.
posted by emjaybee at 11:54 AM on September 24 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I'm feeling a little bit of optimism and don't know what to do with it.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:57 AM on September 24 [7 favorites]


Politico: Who supports impeachment? (Last updated 9/24/19)
174 Democrats support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

61 Democrats who don't support impeachment or impeachment inquiry — yet

0 Republicans support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

The only independent in Congress, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, supports impeachment.
posted by katra at 12:00 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming a timeline will be accelerated compared to Watergate, once people start actually reading and paying attention to Meuller's report.

Oh, and watching the tapes where the Toddler bragged about how he got rid of his meddlesome priests.

The evidence is there, we just need a few people in power to have a spine, and remember their oaths of office.
posted by Dashy at 12:02 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


174 Democrats support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

61 Democrats who don't support impeachment or impeachment inquiry — yet

0 Republicans support impeachment or impeachment inquiry

The only independent in Congress, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, supports impeachment.


And Amash left the Republican Party over his support for impeachment. In the process he had harsher words for his former colleagues than many Democrats have had.

It's long past time Democrats quit pretending that Trump's unfitness for office is an issue on which reasonable people can disagree. 2016 was past time for that. Democrats need to beat Republicans over the head for carrying water for this unpopular president at every possible opportunity and hang the treasonous Trump around their necks like an anchor -- of for no other reason that if Republicans only get pressure to support Trump but not drop him, why should they do the latter?

If the public ever moves to support impeachment it will shock you how many Republicans felt that way all along.

And Democrats need to make clear that the sell-by date for flipping on Trump is fast approaching with these impeachment hearing. They need to make clear that just as voting for Trump's agenda tore the mask off Susan Collins' phony "moderate" pose, Johnny-come-latelies will be sneered at and scorned once Democrats have to do the heavy lifting -- again -- of saving this nation.
posted by Gelatin at 12:11 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


They need to make absolutely clear that this is about all of it: the attacks on election infrastructure, the bribery, the self enrichment...all of it. If they make the Biden/Ukraine bit the focus or centerpiece, rather than just the latest in a long string of actions, they'll be shooting themselves in the foot right out of the gate.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:22 PM on September 24 [8 favorites]


The Daily 202: A dozen House Democrats just pivoted toward impeaching Trump. Here’s why each is a big deal. (WaPo)
THE BIG IDEA: Several House Democrats facing tough reelection fights next year in districts that Donald Trump carried in 2016 are expressing openness to impeachment for the first time, a major tipping point that reflects their palpable outrage over the president’s purported conduct toward Ukraine and will intensify pressure on their colleagues who hold safer seats to follow suit.

The latest is freshman Rep. Haley Stevens of Michigan. She picked up an open seat in the Detroit suburbs last fall that Republicans had held for decades. Trump won the district three years ago by 4.4 percentage points. In a statement sent after 7 a.m., Stevens said she did not get to this point lightly – “but rather out of a sober obligation to stand up for the rule of law and our national security.”
posted by katra at 12:28 PM on September 24 [5 favorites]


5 pm Eastern on Pelosi.
posted by agregoli at 1:11 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


They need to make absolutely clear that this is about all of it: the attacks on election infrastructure, the bribery, the self enrichment...all of it.

Lawfare advocates for including more articles of impeachment than just the Ukraine affair, but against a full kitchen-sink approach.
posted by Jpfed at 1:41 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


WATCH LIVE: Pelosi plans announcement amid impeachment calls (PBS)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected at 5 p.m. ET.
posted by katra at 1:42 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


This is why I've been keeping the faith. She would not have been able to start the process this strongly when people first started clamoring for her to hurry up and casting aspersions on her abilities and motivations.
posted by rhizome at 2:06 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


Impeachment inquiry is on.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:09 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


Small hopes but they are hopes. Maybe just maybe they can become big hopes.

POTUS has not tweeted in 2 hrs let’s see how that goes.
posted by affectionateborg at 2:13 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]




Yeah, maybe y'all can stop with the "Pelosi is a traitorous goon" talk now. Turns out keeping your powder dry really is a thing. A good speaker leads, but only after she counts her votes.
posted by rikschell at 2:17 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


POTUS has not tweeted in 2 hrs let’s see how that goes.

Welp
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:17 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


[I'm holding a press conference right now on the front steps of the Metafilter building, to say: please don't jump right into "see Pelosi is good" vs "no she's still bad". Thank you.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:22 PM on September 24 [40 favorites]


It's a perfectly reasonable interpretation of this situation to say that her hand was forced rather than this being a culmination of a grand plan. But either way it's happening so let's get it fucking done.

Also, I wasn't able to watch -- did she say anything about the structure? An pre-announcement report said she would be directing each investigatory committee to compile its best case for impeachment, and Judiciary would review each of them in turn and decide what to include in formal articles for a vote on the floor. This strikes me as an excellent format as it allows for a series of hearings led by Judiciary but broken down by topic -- one week on Trump's profiteering off the presidency, one on soliciting interference in an election, one on obstruction of justice etc.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:22 PM on September 24 [2 favorites]


Reminder to all that the trolls and bots will be on full blast from here on out.

If we thought social media was stuffed with misinformation and garbage before it's only gonna get worse.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:29 PM on September 24 [13 favorites]




Asking anyone who is deep into political twitter - What's the story being disseminated by the Russian astroturfers?

Protip: Be the fun one at the office who correctly predicts the Fox News talking points a day early with this one simple trick!
posted by FakeFreyja at 2:39 PM on September 24 [3 favorites]






Asking anyone who is deep into political twitter - What's the story being disseminated by the Russian astroturfers?

"Why was it ok for Biden?"
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:49 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


Much ado, but nothing new. There are already multiple (dozens?) of investigations and inquiries and gentle polite requests for information ... and even some reports.

I want hearings. I want proceedings. I want a vote.
posted by Dashy at 3:05 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


@realDonaldTrump: PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!

Is that a confession?
posted by JackFlash at 3:06 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


We were doing a whole disgraced prime minister storyline in the UK with court proceedings and illegality and stuff. We didn't finish it yet.
But no, you had to swoop in and do the same storyline with a much bigger budget and fancier graphics!
ridiculous
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:08 PM on September 24 [52 favorites]


Is there a reaction and feelings processing Meta?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:14 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


New thread
posted by mbrubeck at 3:18 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


We were doing a whole disgraced prime minister storyline in the UK with court proceedings and illegality and stuff. We didn't finish it yet.
But no, you had to swoop in and do the same storyline with a much bigger budget and fancier graphics!
ridiculous


And we're gonna put Tom Sawyer in it, too
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:15 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


Are there going to be cookies?
posted by Reverend John at 4:22 PM on September 24 [4 favorites]


🥛 🍪 🥛 🍪
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:38 PM on September 24 [10 favorites]


I just hope there’s cake.
posted by nickmark at 6:18 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


Trump acts like he’s above the law because Mitch McConnell lets him (Ezra Klein, Vox)
The political system has an answer for a threat like Donald Trump, but none for a threat like Mitch McConnell. […]

At the core of this is McConnell’s peculiar form of political shamelessness. This is the way McConnell and Trump are more similar than is often appreciated: they have both proven that the range of political action is disciplined less by external constraint than by a politician’s sense of shame — the degree to which they turn back in the face of public criticism, media opprobrium, elite backlash.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:59 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


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