Mueller, Plain and Tall

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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69 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    It seems to me that the Senate will be holding no hearings whatsoever. And I don’t recall any presidential candidates who are Members of the House of Representatives. So while grandstanding by presidential candidates is definitely a thing, I can’t see it being a thing in this instance.

    Meanwhile, I think that there is value in putting his face on TV and having him describe, in his own words, the material in the report. Even if he goes no further, except to perhaps expand and clarify those words for a less sophisticated audience.Report

  2. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    If they’re smart, Dems will pocket this until after the election in case Trump is re-elected (which will happen).

    If they’re not smart, Dems will try impeachment and then have it blow up on them at the voting booth. It will be a really tough sell to impeach him over being guilty of obstruction of justice when actual justice was that he was innocent of what he was obstructing.

    Trump didn’t try anything because he was guilty of stuff with Russia, he tried stuff because he has no clue what the limits of the office are… and maybe doesn’t care.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

      And the blowing smoke never stops.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mueller_Report#Conspiracy_or_coordination

        The bar for how much fiscal support the Trump Campaign would have needed to get from the Russians to make it a crime is $2,000. Mueller didn’t think he could prove the value was worth that.

        This is what Trump is talking about when he claims the report cleared him… and staring at that fully and admitting it would be a good thing if we’re going to impeach Trump as opposed to just virtue signal.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Dark Matter says:

          Oh, and Mueller also didn’t think he could prove that the clowns running the show knew what they were doing was illegal (same link).Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Dark Matter says:

            That is all fine and good and horse pucky. The report said and is quotes in the post that the Russians meddled in our election. The report said in clear black and white pixels that the Russians’ wanted trump to win, that many in T’s campaign had connections and were receptive to Russian offers and that T’s campaign successfully obstructed the investigation.

            All the above is in the report.

            Is quoting a money amount the new dodge. Okay, whatevs. Ignorance of the law is …..something …something…hmmm. Is that the Don Jr Rule now. They were to stupid to know obviously illegal things were illegal. Brilliant defense.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to greginak says:

              Various people on this forum have backed HRC’s various dancing up to the edge of “legal” but not (normally) going over it. They should be thrilled that Trump did the same thing.

              So yes, Trump wanted to win, the Russians wanted him to win, he and/or his crew had various meetings with the Russians (which btw is going to be part of his job as an international business empire), he received help which was less than $2k, and the amount of cooperation didn’t cross the line into illegal (which is a different problem than not knowing the law which is apparently also an issue here).

              And Mueller shifted through all that dreck and decided it wasn’t criminal.

              Efforts to use spin to describe all this as a crime are not going to play well with anyone whose reasoning isn’t “because Trump”.

              And then Trump continued to not know what he was doing and ordered the investigation shut down, which his people didn’t do. So we have obstruction of justice for something “that wasn’t criminal”.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter says:

                No, Mueller sifted through all the evidence and decided he couldn’t establish a mafia style conspiracy (which after all was his major work as an active prosecutor) and that he couldn’t charge the President with Obstruction because DoJ policy wouldn’t let him charge a sitting President. As has been repeatedly pointed out, Obstruction doesn’t require an underlying crime to be a crime itself.Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Dark Matter says:

      Let’s see. His campaign manager is in jail. His longtime chief political adviser is in jail. His first National Security Adviser (!!!) plead guilty to failing to disclose contacts with multiple foreign powers.

      That doesn’t make you go “Yikes!”?

      They clearly obstructed justice. Manafort got caught witness tampering. There is documented instances of pardon dangling and other acts of obstruction.

      How can you possibly conclude that we have clarity on this matter?

      Trump is a traitor. Pure and simple. He cares about nothing except himself. And he will make deals with whomever to advance his own agenda, regardless of the harm to the country. We’ve watched this in action from day 1. He could not be more friendly to Putin if he were a literal Russian national in the employ of the Russian Government.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Dark Matter says:

      So your reasoning, such as it is, is that Dems should hold off on impeachment until after Trump is re-elected which you deem assured of occurring. You also conclude that impeaching will result in Trump being… re-elected. So then what difference will it make if the Dems try to impeach before or after the election if you think Trump will be re-elected either way?Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

        That’s some catch, that Catch 22!Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to North says:

        So then what difference will it make if the Dems try to impeach before or after the election if you think Trump will be re-elected either way?

        Trump’s a screw up and on a short rope. Sooner or later he’ll make himself a liability to the GOP, and then impeachment can remove him from office.

        Until that happens it’s basically virtue signalling… and I think your odds of beating him (which are terrible) are better without it.Report

        • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter says:

          Here’s my theory – the economy is going to keep sliding toward a recession since the Trump tax cuts are paying for a whopping 5% of their value due to “growth” and his tariffs are starting to really hurt multiple sectors of the economy. Which means as we get closer to the election his favorability with his base declines since their wallets are getting hit again.

          Then the House votes to Impeach this fall, forcing the Senate to try over the winter or in the Spring. Because Trump HATES to be seen as a looser, and because no handler can force him to stick to the truth under oath he resigns to protect his inflated ego. Remember the man NEVER planned to win.

          That puts Pence in the hot seat to win, and regardless of whether Mayor Pete ends up on a ticket or not, Indiana is not the poster child of business success under Pence.

          Dems have a stronger hand then they are giving themselves credit for. They just need to grow a spine.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Philip H says:

            A random thought that occurred to me this morning… The Constitution grants the Senate the sole power to try impeachments, but doesn’t say that the Senate must try every impeachment the House makes. Hypothetically, McConnell could just say, “The Dems are grandstanding, the votes aren’t there, there’s no reason to waste time badgering the President,” and just refuse to hold the trial.

            If I were in his shoes I might take this approach, unless someone could show that it would likely cost the Republicans their Senate majority. Back of the envelope, the Dems need to flip three seats to tie, four if you assume Doug Jones will lose in Alabama, five if you don’t want to be dependent on winning the White House, six if you think Manchin is unreliable on some important issues.

            Given the map, I have trouble getting to six. In order of vulnerability, I’d say Gardner from CO, McSally from AZ, Collins from ME, and then things get much more difficult.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Michael Cain says:

              I’ve had that thought as well, Michael. Supposing that the House actually files articles and votes, McConnell would simply ignore the normal procedure and not bring a vote to the Senate floor. But as you say, it all depends on whether the electoral politics works in his favor at the time.

              He’s a cynical, cagey old bastard who does good for his side. I wouldn’t want him on my side tho.

              Add: do you think Gardner is vulnerable enough that Hickenlooper could beat him?Report

              • I expect any reasonable Democratic candidate will win in 2020 just by running on Gardner’s voting record. He voted to confirm Pruitt, Zinke, Sessions, Kavanaugh, and Barr. He voted for every environmental regulation roll-back, for opening more federal land to oil and gas drilling, for the tax cuts, for the border wall, and for eliminating Obamacare with no replacement. His promise that “I’m not that kind of Republican” disappeared as soon as he took office.

                Gardner won by a couple of percentage points in a Republican wave year against possibly the worst state-wide political campaign (Udall) I can remember. He eked it out in the northern suburbs: in my large suburban county, Gardner won by 0.1 percentage points while Hickenlooper won by 5.9. In 2016 in that county, Clinton won by 6.9 and Sen. Bennet by 5.7. Last year in that county, Polis won the governor’s race by >10. In the Denver suburban districts for US House, newcomer Crow beat long-time incumbent Coffman in the 6th District by >10 and Perlmutter won the 7th by 25. Gardner’s going to get killed in the northern suburbs this time.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Michael Cain says:

                So the good news is that a generic Dem has great shot at taking down Gardner. The bad news is that any particular candidate isn’t a generic Dem. 🙂

                Btw: are you as surprised as I am that Gardner went all-in on Trumpism? I might have had the wrong impression of the guy but I didn’t think he’d be such a Party-tool.Report

            • Avatar Philip H in reply to Michael Cain says:

              While McConnel has been the big architect of the Republican version of the Final Solution – i.e. packing the courts and rolling back taxes even further – his reelection chances and many other Republicans would be tanked by refusing to try. While our local legal scholars can probably robustly debate the point, most Americans believe the Senate has to try in the event of an impeachment, and Democrats will no doubt spin a refusal as further evidence that McConnell puts Party and personal power over country. It hurts him and it hurts the party.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Philip H says:

                I disagree Philip. In the olden times people thought McConnell refusing to allow Garland a hearing was going to be punished by the electorate. Modern times show that he and his party weren’t punished at all.

                McConnell is a great Leader because he’s willing to engage in what looks like risky behavior to the Old Guard, but has a low cost to his own interests. Granting that drawing from the same well has risks of its own, McConnell’s cynicism appears to be perfectly aligned with the cynicism currently being expressed by the electorate. Nothing is out of bounds for this guy.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Philip H says:

            the economy is going to keep sliding toward a recession since the Trump tax cuts are paying for a whopping 5% of their value

            Unpaid Tax cuts goose the economy, they don’t cause recessions. They cause defaults which are much worse but that’s a different issue and we’re not defaulting in the short term.

            his tariffs are starting to really hurt multiple sectors of the economy

            That or just the already really long recovery gets old… but I suspect it’s too late for this. These things are “steering the iceberg” slow, and the way to bet is Trump enters the election with a strong tailwind from the economy.

            because no handler can force him to stick to the truth under oath he resigns to protect his inflated ego.

            He answers written questions off line or he takes the 5th.Report

            • They cause defaults which are much worse but that’s a different issue…

              The US federal government defaults only if Congress makes a conscious decision to do so. They can pass statute (and override a veto if necessary) and print unlimited amounts of money. Granted that there are consequences, but that’s a choice they get to make.Report

            • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter says:

              Unpaid Tax cuts goose the economy, they don’t cause recessions.

              Hardly. Those tax cuts have hugely goosed the deficit and national debt, and resulted in stock buybacks that boosted corporate bottom lines but didn’t increase corporate investment or capitol outlays, nor did they permanently boost salaries. with 3-ish percent inflation still a thing, flat wages and increasing costs of goods (exacerbated by the tariffs) means we are ripe for another recession.

              That or just the already really long recovery gets old… but I suspect it’s too late for this. These things are “steering the iceberg” slow, and the way to bet is Trump enters the election with a strong tailwind from the economy.

              I’m sure you and others would welcome that situation, but polling data so far don’t bear that out. Fox News, Marist, Quinnipiac, Pew and others have polling data out the last few weeks showing Trump’s net favorability on Trade crashing, and his net approval overall still stalled. If his trade and economic policies were going to boost him it would have happened already.

              He answers written questions off line or he takes the 5th.

              A President taking the fifth (which I’m sure his ego won’t allow him to do) will be reported and pundited and presumed by most Americans to be guilty. If it happens before the election it tanks him. And looking at the Constitution and Senate rules currently in play, he couldn’t answer questions off line – Clinton didn’t – and so he’d be trapped. Plus the vast cast of characters that would be paraded before he was questioned would likely clearly set him up as a hugely bigly looser to save their own skins.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Philip H says:

                looking at the Constitution and Senate rules currently in play, he couldn’t answer questions off line – Clinton didn’t – and so he’d be trapped. Plus the vast cast of characters that would be paraded before he was questioned would likely clearly set him up as a hugely bigly looser to save their own skins.

                So now all you need to do is convince the Senate’s leaders to have a fair trial.

                [McC’s] reelection chances and many other Republicans would be tanked by refusing to try. While our local legal scholars can probably robustly debate the point, most Americans believe the Senate has to try in the event of an impeachment,

                I heard something very similar on why they needed to have Garland’s hearings. The country will rise up and throw the GOP out of power unless they do what the Dems want. The issue is going to be what does the GOP (i.e. it’s base) want?

                I get that half the country thinks Trump is a vile criminal and should be removed with the charges not really mattering… but the other half needs to see this as something other than a witch hunt or it just won’t work. Laying groundwork before he took office to impeach him for renting hotel rooms suggests we’re starting pretty deep in that territory.

                I’ve got a link to a graph of Trump’s unfavorable ratings below. Trump took office with a 23.3 spread and he maxed out at 35.2 which I think was him ripping apart families at the south border. Right before Mueller he’s was at 12.

                Next week we get to see if anyone other than the people who already despise him care about this.

                https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/trump_favorableunfavorable-5493.htmlReport

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                I like how complying with the Constitution becomes “something the Dems want”.

                I don’t disagree with that framing, I just think its a startling admission.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                If you’re talking about Garland then the Constitution doesn’t spell out how a Supreme Nomination can be rejected and it’s been rejected by lack of action 8+ times in the past.

                The Senate did fulfill its role, they just disagreed with the President on who should be on the Court and it took an election to straighten things out. And yes, absolutely McC gamed things so a Right Wing rather than Moderate Left Wing ended up on the Court.

                The counter move would have been to bring public pressure to bear… however the public didn’t back Obama so that was a problem.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

                but the other half needs to see this as something other than a witch hunt or it just won’t work.

                No, at least half of the other half also agrees that Trump has committed impeachable crimes and should be kicked out of office. So that’s 3/4 of the country. The problem is that way more than half of that 3/4 thinks the Democrats are either too chickenshit to act on Trump’s corruption or are too incompetent to make the political case for his impeachment, and they are probably right about that. IOW, the electorate is so pissed off about our politicians that they’re willing to let an obviously corrupt politician stay in office rather than back the also obviously corrupt opposing party in removing him from office. It’s a pick your poison sorta thing. And Pelosi’s incoherent jibberish about impeachment is making those folks case for them.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Dark,

                Anyone with functioning brain knows, at this point, that Trump has engaged in impeachable offenses. It’s just that more than half of those folks are OK with it, due to negative partisanship or etc.

                You’re a good example. You think Trump is a corrupt scum bag who has violated the norms governing the oath of office and so on but you *also* think that he shouldn’t be impeached. ……. ???Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                What would those offenses be? He didn’t collude with the Russians, and there’s no remotely reasonable case that he obstructed justice, at least one that wouldn’t be laughed out of any court the land. The emoluments clause doesn’t apply to the President, so exactly what are the impeachable offenses he committed? Are we going to start impeaching people because we don’t like their race because all I can come up with is that he’s orange.

                However, I fully support impeachment because it guarantees he’ll win a second term in a landslide, that the Republicans will take back the house, and Trump will get a couple more conservative justices on the Supreme Court and countless more on lower courts.

                But Democrats can’t control themselves anymore. They’re determined to stick a fork in a light socket because the light socket simply must have a fork stuck in it, otherwise there is no justice in the world, dogs will sleep with cats, and cows will stop producing milk.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

                Do I think he should be impeached? Yes for obstruction, No for anything/everything else (even combined). However see below.

                In the real world, do I think it would remove him from office? No.

                Do I think impeachment is worth leaving him stronger? Also No.

                Do I think he should be in office? No… but he was elected anyway.

                That last is a REALLY big deal. Most of the people who want him impeached wanted him impeached before he took office. There are various elements of all this which may put us into deep state territory (HRC supporters in the FBI investigating Trump and maybe manufacturing the reason to investigate him).

                Removing him from office because the Dems don’t like him and went looking for (manufacturing?) a crime would be stunningly poisonous to democracy. Being seen to do that, even if it’s not what is happening, would be darn close to that as well. And none of this shit is either-or, Trump can be guilty of obstruction, and the Dems can be doing a witch hunt, and elements of the Obama administration could have decided to put their thumb on the election.

                Trump was elected to be a scumbag and shake up the system. He’s a former-fox hired to evaluate security in the hen house. That’s a shockingly high risk move, but thus far he still has the support of his followers because thus far he’s mostly done a good job if we evaluate him by what he was supposed to do and make allowances for his inexperience.

                If we could get his followers to see he obstructed an investigation into something to which he was innocent, and if we could get them to see that as a serious abuse of power reaching “high crimes” then I’d be thrilled to have President Pence.

                However that’s expecting a lot out of his followers, and also a lot out of his detractors who don’t care about the facts of the case and are fine with “because Trump” and expect that kind of reasoning to work and don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                You keep coming back to this argument, that nothing is legitimate unless Trump’s supporters accept it as so.

                And conversely, no matter how corrupt and abusive Trump is, so long as he retains the support of his base, the majority of American citizens must respect and abide by this.

                That’s not how democracy works. Its not how the Constitution works, Its not how any of this works.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                You keep coming back to this argument, that nothing is legitimate unless Trump’s supporters accept it as so.

                Math time. You need 67 Senate votes to remove Trump from office and there are 47 Dem(ish) Senators. Ergo you need 20 GOP votes (out of 53) to make this happen.

                The 37% of the population that thinks he should be impeached are all Dems, making this a Party line vote.

                Without Trump’s supporters backing you I don’t see how, mathematically, you can remove him from office. Worse, since this is purely a partisan issue and since you’re trying to overturn an election, not only can’t you do it but you probably shouldn’t.

                And conversely, no matter how corrupt and abusive Trump is…

                I’m not sure what “abusive” means in this context other than Trump running his mouth and being a general ass, and that’s probably not a good reason to overturn an election since it was obvious before the election.

                “Corrupt” means “monetizing gov resources and access” and/or “fixing elections” and/or “misusing gov resources”. At the moment we got him responding inappropriately to what may have been a Dem effort to railroad him and/or smear effort. A normal person could have been jailed so I’m good with him being impeached on this… but politically this seems thin.

                Other than that we’ve got what? Campaign funds paying Stormy was already found to be legal. Russia was already found to be not criminal. Renting hotel space? Is that seriously the hill to die on? Having sleazy people around him? General ignorance of politics and how gov works?

                It’s very hard to treat Dem efforts or complaints on this topic seriously when your actual alternative to Trump was HRC, who has her own extremely serious issues with monetizing gov resources/access and fixing elections. I’ve been pointing this out, for years, long before Trump, and people have been doing ethical and logical backflips to avoid dealing with the issue. If corruption is the concern then the good news is Trump is probably an improvement over where I’d expect us to be if HRC had won.

                From my point of view I’d like him out of there because of his various trainwrecks with trade and immigration… although (at election time) I’d be willing to forgive him that if his playing “chicken” with trade wars actually gets China to behave like a normal country and he gets immigration reform. However being stupidly ignorant about economics probably doesn’t rise to a “high crime”.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Dark is in the uncomfortable position of being a conservative who thinks Dems shouldn’t impeach because it’d be a partisan move even tho he – a conservative – thinks Trump should be impeached. He’s still trying to walk that razor’s edge without getting his feet bloody. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think if it’s seen as a partisan move it won’t work.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                If the continued success of the republican Party proves anything, it is that extreme and unprincipled partisanship is the winning move in American politics today.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                the Dems, if they wish to play hardball and can inveigle or strongarm 20 Republicans, would be entirely with their Constitutional limits to impeach and remove Trump, simply “because Trump”.

                I agree. So if you think that is the winning play then absolutely go for it.

                Is breaking norms just good ol hardball politics, or is it poisonous to democracy?

                Which norms are we talking about now?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Dark Matter says:

                Let me rephrase that: What is the purpose of all this? Impeachment would be a huge investment in political capital, time, and other resources.

                If the only purpose is virtue signalling, then sure, knock yourself out. At the end we will all know you really, really, REALLY dislike Trump. Now if you do the job poorly and spend a year making him look like the sane guy in the room (by impeaching him over hotel rooms for example), you’ll probably lose the House but maybe that’s a price you’re willing to pay.

                If the purpose is removing him from office, then you need a better way to convince 20 GOP Senators to vote for you than “because Trump”.

                Showcasing that he’s betrayed this country by fixing the election with Russia is probably a way to make that happen. Showcasing that he mishandled a trumped up “gotcha” move from Obama is probably not.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Philip H says:

                Removing him from office because the Dems don’t like him and went looking for (manufacturing?) a crime would be stunningly poisonous to democracy.

                The Dems can’t remove him from office. They can investigate, file articles of imeachment and vote on whether his crimes are worthy of a trial, but only because they control the House. The Senate is GOP. They may, or may not, vote him out.

                Impeachment isn’t about removing him from office. It’s a public trial of his behavior and a process by which his guilt or innocence is publicly determined.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Ooops. That’s a reply to Dark Matter and not Philip.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Or, to make the point, Bill Clinton was imeached because he lied to Congress about getting a blow job in the WH. Was that “poisonous to democracy”?

                Absolutely yes. 100% yes.

                Would impeaching Trump because he obstructed multiple investigations into his potential collusion with the Russians be poisonous to democracy?

                Absolutely not. 100% No.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Stillwater says:

                Hrm….

                Perhaps you should read an article in The Nation, giving a progressive view of the Barr investigation.

                What it doesn’t mention is that the targeted surveillance, leaks, and prosecutions of Trump and associates by Obama officials doesn’t seem remotely related to Russia, but to Israel. Anyone who made calls to Israel, whether about settlements or Iran policy, became a target. That’s what led to Michael Flynn getting indicted, and another indicted Trump associate was told by Mueller himself that he was investigated because of tied to Israel.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to George Turner says:

                I’ll stick with the Mueller report.

                Thanks though., George. You’re always so helpful with info about these things.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Dark Matter says:

          “Trump’s a screw up and on a short rope.”

          And yet, here we all still are, some 4 years after people were making that observation when he rode down that escalator.

          Godot’s going to show up before the main body of Republicans turn on Trump.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe says:

            Exactly this. I recall Jaybird jokingly saying that Trump surely can’t recover from *THIS* scandal! during the primary and general election cycles last time, yet here we are. And after all this time (four years, as you said) folks have failed to realize that the allure of Trump isn’t his positives (since only a handful of idiots believe he has any) but his negatives, that he’s either anti- or not- on a collectively shared set of interests that tip the electoral balance in his favor. His election in the primary signaled that (enough) conservatives hated the institutional GOP; that he won the general signaled that (enough of) the electorate hated institutional Dem politics.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

              It only became a joke around the fourth time I said it.

              I meant it the first three times.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                Oh, I remember it well. 🙂 I was right there with ya.* The reason I singled you out (and by extension me, I guess) is that everyone else’s belief that *this scandal will be his undoing* persisted. They didn’t learn that Trump was scandal proof.

                * The one difference between our views of Trump’s chances is that, if I recall, you were more bullish on Hillary’s chances than I was, so I wasn’t as focused on Trump’s missteps.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

                You need to use the “Trump Scale” for scandals. If it doesn’t threaten his arrest, then we’re in “Trump is vile” territory and we already know that. Similarly “rules which only apply to Trump” also don’t apply because it’s witch hunt territory, that’s emoluments and not making tax returns public.

                Filter all of those out and we’re left with obstruction of justice. Maybe that’s enough… but that’s a small percentage of the “Trump is vile” package and it’d be real easy for the Dems to misplay it.

                At the moment, what I think happens is the Dems go for impeachment in the House and blow it. He’s better at throwing shit than they are. We end up with Nazi allegations, Trump’s sex life, emoluments, i.e. a reality show witch hunt environment rather than a court environment with an impartial judge. It is seen (correctly) as a partisan brawl.

                Trump is impeached on a party line.

                The Senate holds it’s own party line vote and does nothing. They’re not close to 2/3rds, everyone knows it, the election is soon, they give it to the voters.

                Trump is re-elected.

                His scandals become more serious in the 2nd term, mostly as better information comes out about them.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

      If they’re smart, Dems will pocket this until after the election in case Trump is re-elected (which will happen).<

      If they’re not smart, Dems will try impeachment and then have it blow up on them at the voting booth.

      The one sure fire way for the Democratic party to be relegated to the ash bin for at least a generation if not two is to wait to impeach unless and until Trump is re-elected. They will not be forgiven, and the laughter will echo for decades.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Thinking about this some more Dark, your premise is that if Dems impeach this term they lose in 2020 because the politics of the inquiry aren’t compelling. Why would you think that the same case becomes *more* compelling right after he has won a national election according him four more years of Presidential power? The Dems would look like fools and Trump could say the whole thing is political (which you’ve conceded it is).

        The cynical beauty of Trump is that he forces his opponents to make tough decisions. Democrats, as a party but also as individuals, have to make that choice *right now*, with incomplete information and great risk. That’s his game. The longer they play politics the greater the chance he consolidates his power in ways the Founders never imagined. 🙂Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

          I don’t think Trump is viewed as guilty enough, I think his guilt (of something) will become more apparent the longer he’s in office. Emoluments, Russia, him refusing to hand over his taxes, & his sex life are simply not enough and obstruction of an investigation into his innocence is going to be a real reach.

          I also don’t think the Dems can impeach right now without it degenerating into a witch hunt. Having them misplay a weak hand means he’ll be stronger and they may even lose the House.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

            Dark, nothing Trump is going to do is worse than what he’s already done, either objectively or subjectively (since we’re increasingly desensitized to the massive extent of his corruption at this point). So you’re wrong on both counts, seems to me.

            You’re also wrong about the poltics, I think. Everyone (including lots of Trump supporters) know that he’s engaged in impeachable crimes. If Democrats fail to open an impeachment inquiry right now, that act loses Dem supporters and proves the point of the Trump supporters, which is effectively that Dems and other politicians all corrupt anyway. Pelosi feeds that fire, of course, so shame on her.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater says:

              nothing Trump is going to do is worse than what he’s already done,

              Nonsense. Trump has no bottom.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter says:

                We’re already at the bottom.

                Some day you’ll say “that’s the last straw” and everyone will point at you and say “what about all those straws you excused by criticizing his opponents for saying the same thing?”

                This is how it works Dark. Authoritarians don’t show up and re-write all the norms and laws in an instant. It’s an accretion over time until inertia is in their favor. And it begins with the politics being in their favor, just as you’ve advised – that the politics are in Trump’s favor – in this conversation.

                Dude, you’re a cynical man whose cynicism about the hated opposition has blinkered your views of the guy you should really fear.

                Unless you fear Democrats more than a racist authoritarian imbecile who is currently the most powerful person in the world.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    This from Ken White:
    “Mueller is a man out of time. This is the age of alternatively factual tweets and sound bites; he’s a by-the-book throwback who expects Americans to read and absorb carefully worded 400-page reports. Has he met us?”
    seems to cover Mueller well.

    He did an honorable upright job that was clearly going to be twisted away from what his report clearly points at.

    Balko “Almost everything Mueller said today fits with him being fair, charitable, and by the book, possibly to a fault. ”
    Yup. But does that mean he is getting played. We’ll see if the D’s and Amash can avoid that fate in the short term.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to greginak says:

      Sadly I agree with both assessments. It is no doubt clear to Mr. Mueller that Mr. Barr was never going to give accurate much less nuanced reporting of the report his team produced, and Mueller ultimately doesn’t have the emotional constitution to fight back in any meaningful way. lobbing to the Democrats in the House is his last trick, and its a dubious one at best. He is likely on the road to bitterness.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I grew with the Ken White quote that greginak placed here. Robert Mueller is an old-fashioned WASP with old-fashioned virtues. It might feel great and honorable that someone like this exists in this day and age of negative partisanship and creeping fascism but there is something about defending Institutionalism at all costs that feels like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.Report

  5. The Robert Muellers of the world do good, honest work, and the William Barr’s betray the public trust by lying about it. One of them is going back into privater life and the other holds a position of great power.

    I’ve given up expecting the good guys ever to win.Report

  6. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    It’s interesting to see people latch onto Mueller hoping that he’ll fill the cultural role that Comey was supposed to fill (and did, in fact, for about six months in 2016 between July and October.)Report

  7. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Good post. The political problem Mueller finds himself loathe to admit and meet head-on is the bare fact that everything in the US is political right now. So while he appears to want to let the report speak for itself even while partisans’ squabble over what it *actually* says, he doesn’t have that luxury. We’re living in an Orwellian world where speaking the truth is a heroic act. He seems to lack the courage to do so.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Stillwater says:

      I don’t think he lacks the courage – hes a Marine, a G man and a mob prosecutor. He lacks the emotional understanding of the moment – and specifically the understanding that the systems he has worked in his entire life, which he supports unabashedly with that body of work – those systems are so broken that the rules he lives by can’t respond. He may come around, but he is not yet there.Report

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