Impeachment: Let the Record Develop

Having read most of the Mueller Report, the facts in Volume II are quite damning, and they point toward impeachment. But not right away. The proper course is for Congress to further develop their record of the events presented in the report (and to consider other matters not part of the report). Once the record is developed, it may confirm the need to impeach.

There’re political risks with impeachment for both sides. But there’s also a question of whether Trump might actually benefit from impeachment—if not politically, then at least in terms of criminal liability.

The Senate, a majority-Republican body, is unlikely to convict even though the facts be plain. That public airing of facts, along with a false dawn of a Republican jury acquittal, could protect him from prosecution once he is no longer president. Not directly, of course. Double jeopardy analyses would not apply to a Senate trial. But the publicity and opportunity to tune a legal defense might be in his favor.

What’s more, Trump’s personal liabilities aside, he probably doesn’t suffer a greater political cost from impeachment than he will already suffer from the report per se. It’s damning as is.

That’s not to say that anyone can expect Trump to welcome or to call for his own impeachment. There are reasons against. For one, the proposition of Trump testifying—given his fraught relationship with the truth. A Senate trial might just be another perjury trap for the man. Another being the precious Senate time taken up on the matter when they could be confirming more William Barr types.

The Republicans, not Trump, probably run the greater risk from a Senate trial. If the case is made and they acquit, that will not look good for a party that wants to claim the mantle of justice. Particularly, the firing of James Comey with the timeline from the report makes the case bad for Republicans. The fact that Trump was wrestling with his own appointed, party-confirmed Republicans to curtail the investigation only makes it a harder charge to dismiss. This is a historically weak position to defend—dead simple in terms of actually whipping the votes for acquittal, but with no ammunition to back it up on the stump.

The Democrats’ risk is merely looking like they are bringing a political action—a brush Trump has tarred them with for over two years now. They’d like a fig leaf of bipartisanship in voting to impeach. But if the record is strong enough, they don’t need it. The self-evincing weakness of no Republicans joining a motion to impeach on damning evidence will only play against the Republicans in the Senate all the more.

If there’s a bipartisan bone in a Republican representative’s body, they should join the call when the time comes.


To be clear, that evidence is in hand.

And as the Special Counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.

So sayeth Attorney General Barr, in an attempt to excuse the attempts at obstruction by Trump. As I read it, Barr makes the case of corrupt motive right there. Acting out of frustration and anger to try to lift the cloud of an investigation is exactly intentionally corrupt obstruction. Sincerity does not lessen the intent, but only sharpens it.

If Trump’s opponents were behind the investigation, that does not allow obstruction. If an investigation is undermining, the courts are there. To circumvent the courts and dispense with an investigation through firings is corrupt! If there are illegal leaks, they are to be investigated and dealt with appropriately. None of what Barr says lifts an ounce of guilt off the president’s head.

Trump had every opportunity to voice and tweet his concerns to the people and to Congress. He chose, instead, to seek the firing of the special counsel, only to be rebuffed. He could have been empathetic to the investigation’s founding, but he fired FBI Director Comey in a particularly—and intentionally—disruptive manner.

The report makes the case of intentionally corrupt attempts to obstruct. Barr himself betrayed an alternative, but equally damning, theory of Trump’s intent. There is no clean reason Trump could have to undertake the actions documented in the report.


Let the record develop. There is a case for impeachment, but there’s equally a case to push for real reforms now and let the next president’s attorney general make the call on an indictment. Real justice will always be about more than cells and shackles. It requires more than trials and investigations can give us. It demands we change the conditions that allow or promote crime.

In the case of obstruction, that might include reporting requirements in the Department of Justice and the White House. It might include changes to the Vacancy Reform Act. A new Special Prosecutor law.

But impeachment is always on the table. It’s in the Constitution for a reason.

The 2020 election will take place in 80 weeks.

Donny Filled Up the Swamp (or: For Lulz)

(To the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” (Wikipedia: “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”))

They all voted for Donald Trump
For lulz, for lulz
They all chanted out “Lock her up!”
For lulz, hurr durr
They all voted for Donald Trump
To give the lib-ruls a big ol’ thump
But they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

They said he gonna build the wall
For lulz, for lulz
They said he gonna stop ’em all
For lulz, for lulz
They said he gonna build the wall
It couldn’t stop a tennis ball
They all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

They thought when he got to Beijing
For lulz, for lulz
They heard trade wars are easy wins
For lulz, hurr durr
They thought when he got to Beijing
China would be their new plaything
And they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

The rich got tax cuts to the bone
For lulz, for lulz
The debt shoots up to the ozone
For lulz, for lulz
The rich got tax cuts to the bone
And now the country’s rent-to-own
See they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

They said Muslims ain’t welcome here
For lulz, for lulz
They said it with a racist sneer
For lulz, hurr durr
They said Muslims ain’t welcome here
But lied in court when they appeared
Well they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

The dictators are gaining ground
For lulz, for lulz
Killing reformers the whole world round
For lulz, for lulz
The dictators are gaining ground
While Donny’s spine, it cain’t be found
They all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

The hurricanes done gotten worse
For lulz, for lulz
The Koch Brothers sponsored this verse
For lulz, hurr durr
The hurricanes done gotten worse
The mercury’s fixin’ to burst
They all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

Donald Trump—the man’s a fraud
For lulz, for lulz
And money is his only god
For lulz, for lulz
Donald Trump—the man’s a fraud
Fred spoiled the child to spare the rod
How they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.


The election is two weeks away.
Remember, voting in elections where fewer people vote gives you more power. It’s the nitrous boost of voting.

The Cult Leader went to Helsinki

There was an immediate result of the summit last Monday in Finland: both sides of the aisle, for once, agreed that President Trump’s choice to side with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin was contrary to the interests of the United States of America.

The administration spent the rest of the week shuffling the Three-card Monte, hoping to trick the public into accepting the original statement.

But that was always going to be the result. It was the result the last time they met and on every other occasion that Mister Trump has spoken of the illegal Russian Federation’s interference in America’s elections.

The same week, we learned of the arrest and indictment of Mariia Butina, a Russian Federation national that is charged with using the National Rifle Association as a vehicle to illegally peddle Russian Federation interests and influence.

It was the perfect choice, a perfect vehicle. Take something that conservatives love (guns), add some fur trimmings and some random Cyrillic letters, and Vlad’s your uncle. Suddenly Republicans want to stand in line for bread. It also delineates the NRA as a particular vulnerability for the Republicans. There does not seem to be anything comparable for the Democrats.

But the main question of the day is whether the summit could have gone otherwise. Or could the NRA have decided not to accept infiltration. The question is whether the conservative movement cares so much about victory that they no longer care about anything (including victory).

Earlier examples of this phenomena include McConnell’s refusal to entertain the Garland nomination, the Republican refusal to work with Democrats in creating the Affordable Care Act, and the complete lack of congressional action by Republicans on cyber defenses following the 2016 attacks.

The modern Republican Party does not care about winning. They care about believing they won. The difference is real, and is another brick in the wall of rejecting reality. There are historical records of cult behaviors, and the bulk of Republican voters seem to suffer from the disease of cultism. The politicians, apparently and behind closed doors, acknowledge reality. But they feel powerless over their cultified constituents.

The only real answer to a cult is let the shock of reality wash over the members that don’t drink enough of the Flavor Aid, don’t catch a ride on Hale-Bopp, who are willing to feel the truth of the Great Disappointment. Many who will vote in November hope to deliver a cold splash of water to the cultists. But we must remain aware that we could as easily become enamored with a siren’s song of perpetual correctness and righteous delusions of infallibility. Cultism happened to strike these voters for reasons that psychologists will hopefully tease out before it happens again, but it will strike others from time to time.

How to Avoid the President

“I have a recollection of him just kind of looking at me,” Comey replied. “I kind of got—his body language gave me the sense like, ‘What am I going to do?’ … He didn’t say anything.”

That was former FBI Director James Comey’s response to Senator Kamala Harris’ prompt about what Attorney General Jeff Sessions did when Comey told him that he did not want to be left alone with President Trump.

It’s a difficult problem. How do you deal with a maniac (that happens to be president)?

First, try not being in the same room with him. If you are never in the room to begin with, you cannot be left alone with him. There are two basic strategies: be in a tiny place he can’t fit in (say, a phone booth), or be somewhere he can’t tell everybody to leave (outside, for example).

If that fails, and you are already in the same room as the president, you should bringing up topics of conversation that he finds either impossible or boring. Policy is a key defense against this president. Always have a briefing book ready to quote him facts and figures. Insist on quoting the most vapid details.

Still, the fool may persist, either asking others to leave, or sending for you directly. Tell him you are taking part in a step-a-thon to raise money for impoverished billionaires, and you can only meet him on stairs. This will also fail, but it will buy you time.

Your window of opportunity now open: dive out the window and run away.

Other tactics to consider:

  1. Get a service dog. The president apparently doesn’t like dogs.
  2. If the president gets you alone, change your voice and explain that it’s your real voice and you’re glad you don’t have to use the fake one in front of him.
  3. Play the copycat game, just repeating whatever he says.
  4. Laugh at everything he says, like he’s just joking.
  5. Perform a monologue. I recommend that of Christopher Walken’s character in Pulp Fiction.
  6. Pretend to hear a weird noise, and every time the president starts rambling, ask if he hears it. Move around like you’re trying to figure out where it’s coming from.

We’ll Always Have Paris

Err. Guess not.

President Bigly has announced the United States will withdraw from the landmark effort to keep earth habitable. This is a gift to Russia and China. Trump got no concessions. Pulling out is the worst possible deal.

The Paris climate agreement is symbolic from the US point of view. The economy will continue to transition away from carbon pollution, and while it may have done so quicker under Paris, the agreement was mostly about showing our commitment to cooperation on the world stage.

Thus, leaving Paris is all about showing we aren’t on the same page as the rest of the world, that we aren’t a dependable force for international action. And that’s a boon to regional actors that can use it to paint the United States as the decline that Trump himself represents.

At the rate Trump is making a mess, all the Democrats will need in 2020 is the slogan, “Make America as Good as 2016 Again.”

But, worse, as the reality of climate change continues, the Republicans will never divorce themselves from this strategic blunder of denying, stalling, and rescinding. They are cementing their place in history, under the rubric of fools at best and more likely under fiends.

Hedging risk is a natural move for politicians. The Republican Party is not hedging here. They are all-in on anti-earth and they do not seem to mind the future. That may be by design. For a party that yearns so strongly for the past, they may be seeking to become solely a member of it.