Thursday Reads: Trump ImpeachedPosted: December 19, 2019
I have a sense this morning of living in an insane, out-of-control world. I’m sure I’m not alone. Last night, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives. While he was being impeached, Trump ranted for more than two hours at one of his Hitler-style rallies. Even the audience couldn’t handle it–people were streaming out of the rally as he incoherently shouted out inane, childish insults.
The New York Times Editorial Board: Trump Has Been Impeached. Republicans Are Following Him Down.
On Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives impeached the president of the United States. A magnificent and terrible machine engineered by the founders, still and silent through almost all of American history, has for only the third time in 231 years shifted into motion, to consider whether Congress must call a president to account for abuse of power.
So why does it all seem so banal? The outcome so foreordained?
Most people say they know what’s going to happen, and who are we to say they’re wrong? The House voted to impeach Donald Trump by a party-line vote, with the exception of three Democrats representing Trump-friendly districts who voted against at least one article of impeachment. In the next month or two, the Senate will almost surely acquit him, also on a party-line vote.
It isn’t supposed to be this way. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the intense — really, infantilizing — degree of polarization that has overwhelmed American politics across the past 40 years. But the nihilism of this moment — the trashing of constitutional safeguards, the scorn for facts, the embrace of corruption, the indifference to historical precedent and to foreign interference in American politics — is due principally to cowardice and opportunism on the part of Republican leaders who have chosen to reject their party’s past standards and positions and instead follow Donald Trump, all the way down.
It’s a lot to ask of Republicans to insist on holding their own leader accountable, just as that was a lot to expect of Democrats during the Clinton impeachment inquiry. But while many Democrats then criticized President Bill Clinton and some voted to impeach him, Republican lawmakers would not breathe a word against Mr. Trump on Wednesday.
It looks like Nancy Pelosi has more tricks up her sleeve: The Washington Post: Pelosi says House may withhold impeachment articles, delaying Senate trial.
Moments after a historic vote to impeach President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House could at least temporarily withhold the articles from the Senate — a decision, she suggested, that could depend on how the other chamber chooses to conduct its trial on Trump’s removal.
“We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side,” she said, referring to the House “managers” who present the case for removal to the Senate. “So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us. So hopefully it will be fair. And when we see what that is, we’ll send our managers.”
The comments came as a group of House Democrats pushed Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other leaders to withhold the articles — a notion that has gained traction among some on the political left as a way of potentially forcing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to conduct a trial on more favorable terms for Democrats. And if no agreement is reached, some have argued, the trial could be delayed indefinitely, denying Trump an expected acquittal.
Pelosi would not answer questions about whether she was entertaining an indefinite hold on the articles — one that could prevent a trial from taking place before the next presidential election.
“We’re not having that discussion,” she said, adding that it “would have been our intention” to send the articles forthwith, “but we’ll see what happens over there.”
President Donald Trump’s response to the House of Representatives’ approval of two articles of impeachment against him was, in some respects, even uglier than could’ve reasonably been anticipated. And given Trump’s track record, that’s saying something.
At the exact moment the House approved the first article of impeachment, Trump was 600 miles away at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, telling a relatively innocuous, absurd tale he’s repeatedly told about how the military’s stealth planes are literally invisible.
Things took a darker turn from there, however. Instead of backing away from the conspiracy theories about the Bidens that are at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, Trump leaned into them, at one point claiming that if he did what the Bidens have done, “they’d bring the electric chair back.” Though that said more about his sense of victimization by House Democrats, its underlying assumption is that former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter did something criminal. But the bad optics of Hunter Biden serving in a lucrative position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time as his father was involved in Ukraine policy aside, there’s not a shred of evidence supporting Trump’s claims.
At other points during the rally, Trump basked in “lock her up!” chants directed at Hillary Clinton, and suggested she might end up behind bars. (The crowd also directed “lock her up” chants at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in the night, when Vice President Mike Pence was on stage.) He heaped scorn on the Democrat who oversaw the House Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings, chair Adam Schiff, calling him “not the best looking guy I’ve ever seen,” and on former FBI Director James Comey, saying “Did I do a great job when I fired his ass?”
Olivia Nuzzi at New York Magazine: Rep. Debbie Dingell Responds to Trump Suggesting Her Late Husband Is in Hell.
As Donald Trump told a crowd in Battle Creek that the deceased Michigan Representative John Dingell might be in hell, his widow Debbie Dingell, who occupies his former seat, was back in Washington on the House floor as Democrats voted to impeach him.
“Debbie Dingell, that’s a real beauty,” Trump said, “So, she calls me up, like, eight months ago — her husband was here a long time.” It was actually Trump who called Dingell after her husband’s death in February.
In a series of unfinished sentences and odd impersonations, Trump went on to claim that Debbie had asked for special treatment to honor John, requesting that flags be lowered and that he lie in state in the Capitol rotunda, which never happened.
“But I didn’t give him the B treatment,” Trump said. “I didn’t give him the C or the D — I could’ve. I gave the A-plus treatment.” As if to impersonate Debbie, he said, “Take down the flags.” Then, in a voice that suggested someone else asked him the question, he said, “Why you taking them down?” He answered the question in his own voice, “For ex-Congressman Dingell.” Then he assumed the other character, “Oh, okay.” Then he was Debbie again, “Do this, do that, do that. Rotunda.”
“Everything,” he said, “I gave him everything. That’s okay. I don’t want anything for it. I don’t need anything for anything. She calls me up, ‘It’s the nicest thing that’s ever happened, thank you so much, John would be so thrilled, he’s looking down, he’d be so thrilled. Thank you so much, sir.’ I said that’s okay, don’t worry about it. Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe.”
Trump is a deranged monster and he’s in the most powerful job in the world.
Here’s a piece by Jonathan Chait that could only have appeared in the Onion three years ago: Vladimir Putin, Director of Influential Pro-Trump Super-PAC, Endorses Reelection.
President Trump has worked hard to hold key elements of his electoral coalition, and today his campaign received a major though expected boost when Russian president Vladimir Putin announced his support. “I don’t think Trump will be voted out of power on made-up charges,” the Russian strongman told reporters in Moscow Thursday. “Democrats lost the last election, and now they want to win by other means.”
Putin effectively runs a pro-Trump super-PAC. In 2016, his government developed a strong preference for Trump’s election, which it supported through targeted social media, a spattering of rallies and, most effectively, an email-hacking operation against his opposition. A close ally of Putin’s has reportedly financed efforts by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, Trump’s leading opponent at the moment.
Putin obviously stands to lose a great deal if Trump fails to win a second term. While Trump was only able to delay but not stop a package of military aid to Ukraine that passed by veto-proof margins, he has taken a number of pro-Russian positions out of character with other U.S. politicians. Betsy Swan reports that Trump is currently opposing a bill sanctioning Russia for its attacks on Ukraine and interference in the U.S. election. He has also withheld diplomatic support for Ukraine, which would give that country leverage in its peace negotiations with Russia, and pleaded the case for readmitting Russia at G7 summits. Trump has previously repeated strange Russian talking points, such as that NATO is a bad idea because Montenegro is aggressive and might attack Russia, and that the USSR had to invade Afghanistan to repel terrorist attacks.
Read the rest at New York Magazine.
This is interesting. Mark Meadows, one of Trump’s most loyal supporters is not running for reelection. The Washington Post:
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of President Trump’s closest allies and staunchest defenders in Congress, announced Thursday that he would not seek reelection next year but would instead stay “in the fight” with Trump in an unspecified role.
“For everything there is a season,” Meadows said in a statement. “After prayerful consideration and discussion with family, today I’m announcing that my time serving Western North Carolina in Congress will come to a close at the end of this term.”
Meadows, a former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who has served in Congress since 2013, is the 25th House Republican to announce he will not seek reelection next year, according to a tally by the House Press Gallery.
Meadows, 60, was considered for the position of Trump’s chief of staff last year, but Trump ultimately told him that he would like him to remain on Capitol Hill.
Maybe Trump is planning to dump Mulvaney for Meadows?
Tonight seven white candidates will appear in a <a href=”https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/19/us/politics/when-december-democratic-debate.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Democratic presidential debate</a>. Not one of of those candidates is someone I can vote for in the primary. I don’t know if I’ll even watch the infernal thing. It feels like a nightmare to me.
But hope springs eternal. Kamala Harris, who has left the race will now be able to focus her attention on the Senate trial. She fired opening shots in an op-ed at The New York Times this morning: Kamala Harris: Will McConnell Let the Senate Hold a Fair Impeachment Trial?
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump. That means that sometime early in the new year, I will take an oath on the Senate floor to uphold the Constitution, review evidence and follow the facts wherever they lead, regardless of party or ideology. Every one of my colleagues will be required to do the same.
As a former prosecutor, I understand the importance of holding powerful people accountable. I know that every trial requires fairness and truth. Having worked my whole life serving the people, I know that any trial that abandons the pursuit of truth cannot be considered fair or just.
But the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, appears more interested in covering up the president’s misconduct than in pursuing truth and fairness. He is already trying to limit the impeachment trial by preventing witnesses from testifying, and he has all but announced a verdict. In doing so, he showed the American people that he has no intention of honoring his oath.
Let’s be clear: Mr. McConnell doesn’t want a Senate trial. He wants a Senate cover-up.
Fortunately, Mr. McConnell does not have the power to unilaterally undermine this trial. Every single senator will be empowered with an equal vote on how the trial will proceed. Though in just the past year, Mr. McConnell has used his position to unilaterally block legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act, lower the prices of prescription drugs and address the gun violence epidemic, he cannot wield the same authority in a Senate impeachment trial.
Read the rest at the NYT.
That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?