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Discussion Starter #1
Even though this forum is practically moribund, perhaps this thread will resurrect some some of our more conservative friends hiding in the bushes.

We've come to the point, after two complete years of Trumpism, that it seems inevitable that this new House must convene, at the least, a committee on impeachment. The House Judiciary, chaired by Adam Schiff, a SoCal Democrat, is going to pull the sheet off the corpse of the Trump administration. This time no one will be working hand in glove with the White House, as Devin Nunes did. No one will be covering up facts or preventing any witnesses from testimony. No one will issue partial reports on Trump's misdeeds as president.

The evidence against Trump is so extensive and so outrageous that creating such a committee cannot be avoided. When Mueller's report is ultimately made public (Make no mistake. He cannot be stopped by Trump at this point) much but not nearly all of Trump's support will evaporate.

Trump will finally be on the horns of a dilemma. A man who reviles negative publicity will be brought under such public scrutiny, and the end game will be so obvious—formal impeachment and likely conviction in the Senate—that his choices will be two: resign and hope for closure on the three concurrent investigations of himself or stick it out, hoping that Senate Republicans will save his ass.

In the case of the first, his lifelong criminal activities will be made public: working with sworn enemies of the USA both as a private citizen and as the president, tax evasion, money laundering, conspiring to break the law....on and on over a lifetime. Mueller, the State of New York, and the US attorney for the Southern District of New York are all delving into Trump's (alleged) criminal life.

In the case of the second, all sorts of questions will be answered during the impeachment process: Can a sitting president be indicted for felonies; did he commit treason; was his constant lying constitute injury to the republic and its Constitution; was he derelict to his oath...And this will play out over months. Worse—or best, depending on your point of view—it will cripple his ability to act as the president.

It does not look good for Donald J. Trump. My bet is that we need to get ready for President Pence. (You know, the guy who is to the vice presidency what a potted plant is to interior decorating.)
 

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I don't expect Trump to be impeached. The GOP hasn't grown a spine yet, and the Democrats have the perfect foil. It's bad for the nation, but think about how the two parties benefit.

The GOP has got tax cuts for the wealthy and influential, tax cuts for corporate entities, and are dismantling regulations. Those are all things they want. The facts that Trump is irrational and incompetent, and maybe criminal, are all irrelevant to the GOP's aims. They want to party like it's 1899. Get rid of all possible regulations, get rid of environmental and worker protections, get rid of the New Deal, get rid of the Civil Rights Act, get rid of Medicare. That's been a long standing goal, and if you think about the whiplash switches between tax cuts and then moaning about deficits, it's the only logical explanation for the zigging and zagging. Trump's incompetence and soap opera routine just makes it that much easier to slide things through that would be otherwise non-starters.

Now look at it from the Democratic Party side. They have a President that more than half the nation loves to hate. He makes a complete buffoon out of himself on a daily basis, and his policies produce a genuine outrage on a near weekly basis. Dead children, shootings, bizarre foreign policy actions, reckless policy shifts, stupid tweets, you name it. Trump provides it all and more. Yes, it fires up Trump's base, but they are blisteringly unwilling to pay attention to reality. The edges are falling in, and all Trump has left is his base. Those people will never, ever vote for a Democrat, just because they are reality avoiding tribal hacks. The Democrats smell victory with the rest of the populace, assuming the rest of the populace is stirred up enough to vote. They could ride that to victory in 2020.

This is all with a good economy. The economy is chugging along at a good clip, and it's fundamental strength is such that if we have a downturn, it won't be anything like the late zeros. It will be a more normal slowdown that might not even be technically a recession. Even so, if the economy slows, the GOP may abandon Trump out of self preservation. Even the foamingly stupid Trump base is sensitive to economic issues. We are already seeing that with plant closures in Trump territory. He can stamp his feet and throw a tantrum, but businesses respond to economic condition and market demand. They don't base their decisions on what Trump wants or whatever tax cuts might come along. It's all about what can I make, how much can I sell it for, what does it cost to make it, and how can I make the most profit. When it is profitable to build facilities, hire people, and go into production, companies do that. When it isn't, they don't. Lots of factors enter into it, including things like local real estate giveaways and local government giveaways, but ultimately, demand for whatever they are selling is the driver. No profitable sales, no production. Trump is dumb as a stump when it comes to that kind of thing, as is proven by his trade policies. When the GOP gets bit by that, they will grow a spine. They will be the ones who will want Trump removed, if it comes to that.

My take is this - we have two more years of turmoil, followed by the bizarre circus that Trump's reelection campaign will be. The damage to the nation will be survivable, although it will cause lasting diminishment of US power and prestige in the world. Russia and Putin will still cause problems, but Russia under Putin is so fucked up that it will be vandalism more than a threat to the US. China will continue to grow more powerful and continue to flex, although I'm not convinced their one party rule, especially with a strongman like Xi, is sustainable. If it lasts past Xi, it won't last long past Xi, just as I expect chaos in Russia, post Putin. We won't have that problem. Worst case, Trump will be gone in six years and we will have some other problem to deal with.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
First, Trump can be impeached with a simple majority vote in the House. That's doable, even likely, as I said. Whether or not a conviction in the Senate will happen is arguable. With 53 present GOP votes and 67 needed to convict, it'd take 20 defections on the GOP side (assuming the entire 47 Democrats vote "aye") that's not likely to happen at this point. But it could be another story when the full Mueller investigation becomes public and, one by one, Trump's lifelong shenanigans around tax evasion, perjuring, philandering, money laundering—even treason etc., become known.

Remember (if you're old enough) Nixon was safe as hell as the Watergate hearings began. But when the evidence (the tapes) became known, along with the complicit actions of his staff (Haldeman and Ehrlichman, et. al) The GOP votes on the Senate Watergate Committee shifted in favor of impeachment almost unanimously (one GOP holdout!). Once told that he faced conviction in the Senate, Nixon bailed out.

I do not expect Trump to win a 2nd term. He's toast. Even his GOP buddies in the Senate are backing away from him now. Graham and McConnell most notably. They're coming to the understanding that he's poison for the Republican Party. They're finally admitting there actually was a Blue Wave and they have a ton of Senate seats (22) to defend in 2020.

My perception/sense is that people are simply fed up with his antics (?). All my well-to-do conservative friends who voted for him as a "change agent," have had enough of him. All he's got is a decreasing "bola de nacos" [in Mexican, "stupid, uneducated asses") hanging on to him. He's dropping in the polls but by bit. (currently around 38% fav). No president has ever won reelection with that kind of favorables.

Good column in this am's NYT by Ross Douthat "Will Trump in 2019 be Tamed or Contained." Douthat is a conservative columnist for the Times.
 

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I don't count anything out. He could be re-elected if the Democrats don't field a decent candidate and don't make a good case for why the nation should get rid of him. Don't forget that the economy is still very good, in spite of Trump's efforts to screw it up. Plus, some people just want a vandal. They got what they wanted and from what I can tell, they like it.

Another issue is the facts we have so far. Nixon's support evaporated far faster than Trump's seems to be disappearing. I lived through Watergate, but it was a long time ago. My recollections may be colored a bit by time. Here it goes anyway. There's far more evidence now that Trump was up to all kinds of things than Nixon. Nixon got busted for a cover-up of an operation that he may or may not have pulled the tr***** on. Trump has already been credibly implicated in willful and serious campaign finance violations. The GOP is yet to notice.

Presidential Rag I hope Arlo is writing again.
 

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I think the Democrats will have to proceed with caution. There probably won't be any talk of impeachment until the Mueller conclusion comes in.

But until then in the House the various committees, especially Judiciary, Intelligence, and Oversight will investigate and circle around the entire Trump family and associates. Life will be very difficult for everyone in the President's circle as the investigations continue. Everyone will be looking out for themselves, and more of the inner circle will cooperate to save their own asses.

I bet it won't make much difference to Trump's base. They will continue to believe in their anointed leader regardless of what the "Fake" news of the day is.

This mess is exactly what Putin wanted all along. Russia can't match the US militarily or economically, but they can snipe away from the fringes. They can sow discord among the NATO allies (done!), expand their influence in Eastern Europe (done!), mess with multiple international elections (done!), expand their own influence (done!). etc.
 

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Putin has to be loving what he's got in Trump. But, that doesn't mean impeaching him is the best option. If the Democrats in Congress are smart, they will do what they can to neutralize the damage Trump will continue to do, but they will not try to remove him until the GOP has had enough of him.

Eventually, the GOP will get tired of the craziness and figure it out, or they will lose the Senate in spite of the structural advantage they have there. When they figure out that they have been making a losing trade to keep in power, they will make a different choice. The sooner the GOP figures out that the nation is more important than the party, the better. I won't hold my breath. If there's an economic downturn of any kind between now and 2020, it could be ugly for the GOP. They may regret their supine behavior. In the mean time, the Democrats would be extremely foolish to try to remove him.
 

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He brings up an interesting point about the GOP trying to sabotage the Mueller investigation. Which could be extended to thinking about how the entire Republican party might be guilty of obstruction of justice. It's a moot point, but it's an obvious thought.
 

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Putin has to be loving what he's got in Trump. But, that doesn't mean impeaching him is the best option. If the Democrats in Congress are smart, they will do what they can to neutralize the damage Trump will continue to do, but they will not try to remove him until the GOP has had enough of him.

Eventually, the GOP will get tired of the craziness and figure it out, or they will lose the Senate in spite of the structural advantage they have there. When they figure out that they have been making a losing trade to keep in power, they will make a different choice. The sooner the GOP figures out that the nation is more important than the party, the better. I won't hold my breath. If there's an economic downturn of any kind between now and 2020, it could be ugly for the GOP. They may regret their supine behavior. In the mean time, the Democrats would be extremely foolish to try to remove him.
I agree with you both. Impeachment, especially at the outset of this Congress, would be folly. It'd look like a coup d'etat to many. Revenge.

But there are other ways to tame Trump (and future presidents). The power of the purse, for one. It still resides in the House. Also, Congress can enact legislation which takes back much of the power it has relegated to the Executive over the years, not the least of which is the deploying of the military without authorization from Congress.

Then there is the sanctioning power of Congress. It issued sanctions against Russia, Iran, N. Korea, etc. Trump objected but the act was passed veto-proof, so it became law.

Third, there is the power to investigate. Congress has the power to investigate anything which has to do with its power to govern. Anything. And public investigations have the power to persuade—or not—voters.

So yes, there are alternatives to impeachment. I think what I was saying is that the Mueller investigation will uncover a level of criminality in this particular president which is unprecedented (even by Nixon, yes); that the decision to impeach—starting with the decision to hold hearings on the efficacy of it would become almost mandatory, and would need to be agreed to by both parties. IOW, to not do so would be akin to dereliction of duty.

But we'll see.... :smile2:

BTW, watch this....https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/02/us/politics/nancy-pelosi-house-speaker.html?comments#permid=29979611
 

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This is what I meant. From David Brooks

There are now over a dozen investigations into Trump’s various scandals. If we lived in a healthy society, the ensuing indictments would be handled in a serious way — somber congressional hearings, dispassionate court proceedings. Everybody would step back and be sobered by the fact that our very system of law is at stake.

But we don’t live in a healthy society and we don’t have a healthy president.

Trump doesn’t recognize, understand or respect institutional authority. He only understands personal power. He sees every conflict as a personal conflict in which he destroys or gets destroyed.

When the indictments come down, Trump won’t play by the rules. He’ll seek to delegitimize those rules. He’ll seek to delegitimize our legal institutions. He’ll personalize every indictment, slander every prosecutor. He’ll seek to destroy the edifice of law in order to save himself.

We know the language he’ll use. It will be the anti-establishment, anti-institutional language that has been coursing through the left and right for the past few decades: The establishment is corrupt, the game is rigged, the elites are out to get you.

At that point congressional leaders will face the defining choice of their careers: Where does their ultimate loyalty lie, to the Constitution or to their party?

If their loyalty is to the Constitution, they will step back and figure out, in a bipartisan way, how to hold the sort of hearings that Congress held during the Watergate scandal — hearings that inspired trust in the system. They will step back and find men and women of integrity — the modern versions of Archibald Cox, Elliot Richardson and Judge John Sirica — who would work to restore decency amid the moral rot.

On the other hand, if they put party above nation, they will see this crisis as just another episode in our long-running political circus. They’ll fall back in partisan lines. They’ll hurl abuse. Their primary concern will be: How can this help me in 2020?

If that happens, then the roughly 40 percent of Americans who support Trump will see serious evidence that he committed felonies, but they won’t care! They’ll conclude that this is not about law or integrity. It’s just a political show trial. They’ll see there is no higher authority that all Americans are accountable to. It’s just power and popularity straight through.
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If that happens, we’ll have to face the fact that our Constitution and system of law were not strong enough to withstand the partisan furies that now define our politics. We’ll have to face the fact that America has become another fragile state — a kakistocracy, where laws are passed and broken without consequence, where good people lay low and where wolves are left free to prey on the weak.
 

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Mueller is a perfect example of a man who puts country over party. He's been a registered Republican all his life. Let him do his job and see what shakes out. Trump may or may not have done anything impeachable. Sleazy? Yes. Unethical? Absolutely. Enough to be fired from just about any other job on the planet? Most likely. But, in our system, he has to be guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, which, in my opinion, do not include lying about a blow job. Now, if the proof that he made payoffs to get elected and was in a quid pro quo with a foreign power, then that's a high crime and misdemeanor. Impeachment discussions before that comes out is premature. What I also expect is that the cloud of criminality will follow him out of office, and once he's stripped of his presidential cloak of invulnerability, he will have to watch his step a bit more carefully.

Ideally, he will just become mute, his kids will disappear off somewhere to be rich and irrelevant, and the rest of us can get on with being Americans in a couple years. He was a known grifter and buffoon in New York for decades. Nothing has changed.
 

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From today's NY Times:

Opinion
The People vs. Donald J. Trump

He is demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for?
David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

Jan. 5, 2019

The presidential oath of office contains 35 words and one core promise: to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Since virtually the moment Donald J. Trump took that oath two years ago, he has been violating it.

He has repeatedly put his own interests above those of the country. He has used the presidency to promote his businesses. He has accepted financial gifts from foreign countries. He has lied to the American people about his relationship with a hostile foreign government. He has tolerated cabinet officials who use their position to enrich themselves.

To shield himself from accountability for all of this — and for his unscrupulous presidential campaign — he has set out to undermine the American system of checks and balances. He has called for the prosecution of his political enemies and the protection of his allies. He has attempted to obstruct justice. He has tried to shake the public’s confidence in one democratic institution after another, including the press, federal law enforcement and the federal judiciary.

The unrelenting chaos that Trump creates can sometimes obscure the big picture. But the big picture is simple: The United States has never had a president as demonstrably unfit for the office as Trump. And it’s becoming clear that 2019 is likely to be dominated by a single question: What are we going to do about it?

The easy answer is to wait — to allow the various investigations of Trump to run their course and ask voters to deliver a verdict in 2020. That answer has one great advantage. It would avoid the national trauma of overturning an election result. Ultimately, however, waiting is too dangerous. The cost of removing a president from office is smaller than the cost of allowing this president to remain.

He has already shown, repeatedly, that he will hurt the country in order to help himself. He will damage American interests around the world and damage vital parts of our constitutional system at home. The risks that he will cause much more harm are growing.

Some of the biggest moderating influences have recently left the administration. The defense secretary who defended our alliances with NATO and South Korea is gone. So is the attorney general who refused to let Trump subvert a federal investigation into himself. The administration is increasingly filled with lackeys and enablers. Trump has become freer to turn his whims into policy — like, say, shutting down the government on the advice of Fox News hosts or pulling troops from Syria on the advice of a Turkish autocrat.

The biggest risk may be that an external emergency — a war, a terrorist attack, a financial crisis, an immense natural disaster — will arise. By then, it will be too late to pretend that he is anything other than manifestly unfit to lead.

For the country’s sake, there is only one acceptable outcome, just as there was after Americans realized in 1974 that a criminal was occupying the Oval Office. The president must go.

Achieving this outcome won’t be easy. It will require honorable people who have served in the Trump administration to share, publicly, what they have seen and what they believe. (At this point, anonymous leaks are not sufficient.) It will require congressional Republicans to acknowledge that they let a con man take over their party and then defended that con man. It will require Democrats and progressive activists to understand that a rushed impeachment may actually help Trump remain in office.

But if removing him will not be easy, it’s not as unlikely as it may sometimes seem. From the beginning, Trump has been an unusually weak president, as political scientists have pointed out. Although members of Congress have not done nearly enough to constrain him, no other recent president has faced nearly so much public criticism or private disdain from his own party.

Since the midterm election showed the political costs that Trump inflicts on Republicans, this criticism seems to be growing. They have broken with him on foreign policy (in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syria) and are anxious about the government shutdown. Trump is vulnerable to any erosion in his already weak approval rating, be it from an economic downturn, more Russia revelations or simply the defection of a few key allies. When support for an unpopular leader starts to crack, it can crumble.

Before we get to the how of Trump’s removal, though, I want to spend a little more time on the why — because even talking about the ouster of an elected president should happen only under extreme circumstances. Unfortunately, the country is now so polarized that such talk instead occurs with every president. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama were subjected to reckless calls for their impeachment, from members of Congress no less.

So let’s be clear. Trump’s ideology is not an impeachable offense. However much you may disagree with Trump’s tax policy — and I disagree vehemently — it is not a reason to remove him from office. Nor are his efforts to cut government health insurance or to deport undocumented immigrants. Such issues, among others, are legitimate matters of democratic struggle, to be decided by elections, legislative debates, protests and the other normal tools of democracy. These issues are not the “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” that the founders intended impeachment to address.

Yet the founders also did not intend for the removal of a president to be impossible. They insisted on including an impeachment clause in the Constitution because they understood that an incompetent or corrupt person was nonetheless likely to attain high office every so often. And they understood how much harm such a person could do. The country needed a way to address what Alexander Hamilton called “the abuse or violation of some public trust” and James Madison called the “incapacity, negligence or perfidy” of a president.


The negligence and perfidy of President Trump — his high crimes and misdemeanors — can be separated into four categories. This list is conservative. It does not include the possibility that his campaign coordinated strategy with Russia, which remains uncertain. It also does not include his lazy approach to the job, like his refusal to read briefing books or the many empty hours on his schedule. It instead focuses on demonstrable ways that he has broken the law or violated his constitutional oath.
Trump has used the presidency for personal enrichment.

Regardless of party, Trump’s predecessors took elaborate steps to separate their personal financial interests from their governing responsibilities. They released their tax returns, so that any potential conflicts would be public. They placed their assets in a blind trust, to avoid knowing how their policies might affect their own investments.

Trump has instead treated the presidency as a branding opportunity. He has continued to own and promote the Trump Organization. He has spent more than 200 days at one of his properties and billed taxpayers for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If this pattern were merely petty corruption, without damage to the national interest, it might not warrant removal from office. But Trump’s focus on personal profit certainly appears to be affecting policy. Most worrisome, foreign officials and others have realized they can curry favor with the president by spending money at one of his properties.

Saudi Arabia has showered the Trump Organization with business, and Trump has stood by the Saudis despite their brutal war in Yemen and their assassination of a prominent critic. A Chinese government-owned company reportedly gave a $500 million loan to a Trump-backed project in Indonesia; two days later, Trump announced that he was lifting sanctions on another well-connected Chinese company.

These examples, and many more, flout Article 1 of the Constitution, which bans federal officeholders from accepting “emoluments” from any foreign country unless Congress approves the arrangement. Madison, when making the case for an impeachment clause, spoke of a president who “might betray his trust to foreign powers.”

Then, of course, there is Russia. Even before Robert Mueller, the special counsel, completes his investigation, the known facts are damning enough in at least one way. Trump lied to the American people during the 2016 campaign about business negotiations between his company and Vladimir Putin’s government. As president, Trump has taken steps — in Europe and Syria — that benefit Putin. To put it succinctly: The president of the United States lied to the country about his commercial relationship with a hostile foreign government toward which he has a strangely accommodating policy.

Combine Trump’s actions with his tolerance for unethical cabinet officials — including ones who have made shady stock trades, accepted lavish perks or used government to promote their own companies or those of their friends — and the Trump administration is almost certainly the most corrupt in American history. It makes Warren G. Harding’s Teapot Dome scandal look like, well, a tempest in a teapot.
Trump has violated campaign finance law.

A Watergate grand jury famously described Richard Nixon as “an unindicted co-conspirator.” Trump now has his own indictment tag: “Individual-1.”

Federal prosecutors in New York filed papers last month alleging that Trump — identified as Individual-1 — directed a criminal plan to evade campaign finance laws. It happened during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, when he instructed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay a combined $280,000 in hush money to two women with whom Trump evidently had affairs. Trump and his campaign did not disclose these payments, as required by law. In the two years since, Trump has lied publicly about them — initially saying he did not know about the payments, only to change his story later.

It’s worth acknowledging that most campaign finance violations do not warrant removal from office. But these payments were not most campaign finance violations. They involved large, secret payoffs in the final weeks of a presidential campaign that, prosecutors said, “deceived the voting public.” The seriousness of the deception is presumably the reason that the prosecutors filed criminal charges against Cohen, rather than the more common penalty of civil fines for campaign finance violations.

What should happen to a president who won office with help from criminal behavior? The founders specifically considered this possibility during their debates at the Constitutional Convention. The most direct answer came from George Mason: A president who “practiced corruption and by that means procured his appointment in the first instance” should be subject to impeachment.
Trump has obstructed justice.

Whatever Mueller ultimately reveals about the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump has obstructed justice to keep Mueller — and others — from getting to the truth.

Again and again, Trump has interfered with the investigation in ways that may violate the law and clearly do violate decades-old standards of presidential conduct. He pressured James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, to let up on the Russia investigation, as a political favor. When Comey refused, Trump fired him. Trump also repeatedly pressured Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, to halt the investigation and ultimately forced Sessions to resign for not doing so. Trump has also publicly hounded several of the government’s top experts on Russian organized crime, including Andrew McCabe and Bruce Ohr.

And Trump has repeatedly lied to the American people. He has claimed, outrageously, that the Justice Department tells witnesses to lie in exchange for leniency. He has rejected, with no factual basis, the findings of multiple intelligence agencies about Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign. He reportedly helped his son Donald Trump Jr. draft a false statement about a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer.

Obstruction of justice is certainly grounds for the removal of a president. It was the subject of the first Nixon article of impeachment passed by the House Judiciary Committee. Among other things, that article accused him of making “false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.”
Trump has subverted democracy.

The Constitution that Trump swore to uphold revolves around checks and balances. It depends on the idea that the president is not a monarch. He is a citizen to whom, like all other citizens, the country’s laws apply. Trump rejects this principle. He has instead tried to undermine the credibility of any independent source of power or information that does not serve his interests.

It’s much more than just the Russia investigation. He has tried to delegitimize federal judges based on their ethnicity or on the president who appointed them, drawing a rare rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts. Trump has criticized the Justice Department for indicting Republican politicians during an election year. He has called for Comey, Hillary Clinton and other political opponents of his to be jailed.

Trump has described journalists as “the enemy of the people” — an insult usually leveled by autocrats. He has rejected basic factual findings from the C.I.A., the Congressional Budget Office, research scientists and others. He has told bald lies about election fraud.

Individually, these sins may not seem to deserve removal from office. Collectively, though, they exact a terrible toll on American society. They cause people to lose the faith on which a democracy depends — faith in elections, in the justice system, in the basic notion of truth.

No other president since Nixon has engaged in behavior remotely like Trump’s. To accept it without sanction is ultimately to endorse it. Unpleasant though it is to remove a president, the costs and the risks of a continued Trump presidency are worse.

What now?

The most relevant precedent for the removal of Trump is Nixon, the only American president to be forced from office because of his conduct. And two aspects of Nixon’s departure tend to get overlooked today. One, he was never impeached. Two, most Republicans — both voters and elites — stuck by him until almost the very end. His approval rating among Republicans was still about 50 percent when, realizing in the summer of 1974 that he was doomed, he resigned.

The current political dynamics have some similarities. Whether the House of Representatives, under Democratic control, impeaches Trump is not the big question. The question is whether he loses the support of a meaningful slice of Republicans.

I know that many of Trump’s critics have given up hoping that he ever will. They assume that Republican senators will go on occasionally criticizing him without confronting him. But it is a mistake to give up. The stakes are too large — and the chances of success are too real.

Consider the following descriptions of Trump: “terribly unfit;” “erratic;” “reckless;” “impetuous;” “unstable;” “a pathological liar;” “dangerous to a democracy;” a concern to “anyone who cares about our nation.” Every one of these descriptions comes from a Republican member of Congress or of Trump’s own administration.

They know. They know he is unfit for office. They do not need to be persuaded of the truth. They need to be persuaded to act on it.

Democrats won’t persuade them by impeaching Trump. Doing so would probably rally the president’s supporters. It would shift the focus from Trump’s behavior toward a group of Democratic leaders whom Republicans are never going to like. A smarter approach is a series of sober-minded hearings to highlight Trump’s misconduct. Democrats should focus on easily understandable issues most likely to bother Trump’s supporters, like corruption.

If this approach works at all — or if Mueller’s findings shift opinion, or if a separate problem arises, like the economy — Trump’s Republican allies will find themselves in a very difficult spot. At his current approval rating of about 40 percent, Republicans were thumped in the midterms. Were his rating to fall further, a significant number of congressional Republicans would be facing long re-election odds in 2020.


Two examples are Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine, senators who, not coincidentally, have shown tentative signs of breaking with Trump on the government shutdown. The recent criticism from Mitt Romney — who alternates between critical and sycophantic, depending on his own political interests — is another sign of Trump’s weakness.

For now, most Republicans worry that a full break with Trump will cause them to lose a primary, and it might. But sticking by him is no free lunch. Just ask the 27 Republican incumbents who were defeated last year and are now former members of Congress. By wide margins, suburban voters and younger voters find Trump abhorrent. The Republican Party needs to hold its own among these voters, starting in 2020.

It’s not only that Trump is unfit to be president and that Republicans know it. It also may be the case that they will soon have a political self-interest in abandoning him. If they did, the end could come swiftly. The House could then impeach Trump, knowing the Senate might act to convict. Or negotiations could begin over whether Trump deserves to trade resignation for some version of immunity.

Finally, there is the hope — naïve though it may seem — that some Republicans will choose to act on principle. There now exists a small club of former Trump administration officials who were widely respected before joining the administration and whom Trump has sullied, to greater or lesser degrees. It includes Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster and Jim Mattis. Imagine if one of them gave a television interview and told the truth about Trump. Doing so would be a service to their country at a time of national need. It would be an illustration of duty.

Throughout his career, Trump has worked hard to invent his own reality, and largely succeeded. It has made him very rich and, against all odds, elected him president. But whatever happens in 2019, his false version of reality will not survive history, just as Nixon’s did not. Which side of that history do today’s Republicans want to be on?
 

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Yes, it's a political act, and it would be both an ineffective and counterproductive political act. Suffering through another two years of Little Lord Trumpleroy in his velvet suit, throwing tantrums and pouting isn't satisfactory or satisfying. But, unfortunately it is the most reasonable choice we have. There is not a chance in hell that the GOP dominated Senate would convict, and any impeachment would be read as partisan hackery. The best option is to keep Trump in check as much as possible, bring as many of his conflicts of interest as possible to light, and do whatever is possible to contain the damage. Trying to remove him would likely cause more damage, and might result in a second Trump term. He will lash out when threatened, but then he lashes out all the time anyway. He does stupid things when his ego gets involved, and his ego is always involved. He couldn't negotiate his way out of a paper bag if he had a pair of scissors, and that's a long known fact as far as anybody who spent any time in NYC in the 1980s is concerned. He's a fraud. Keep exposing his fraudulence and eventually, the fraud will no longer fool enough people to work. That's the only avenue for getting out of this mess in one piece, especially since the spineless GOP, including Collins, continue to enable the fraud because of tribal loyalty.
 

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So after nearly 2 years of Mueller, and nothing but procedural crimes unrelated to Trump and no hard evidence of collusion, you still think Trump is in legal jeopardy? lol, keep the faith man.
 

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So after nearly 2 years of Mueller, and nothing but procedural crimes unrelated to Trump and no hard evidence of collusion, you still think Trump is in legal jeopardy? lol, keep the faith man.
Faith? There are none so blind as those who will not see. Trump has been a known fake and idiot in NYC for more than 30 years. He could fuck up an iron ball with a rubber hammer, but always skated away from the consequences because of wealth and connections. So, we shall see how the nation makes out as those who choose not to see continue to avoid noticing that he really doesn't know what he's doing.

Actually there is hard evidence of felony crimes. Involving Trump's direct participation in those crimes. And, with the recent revelation that Manafort was sharing polling data with Russian agents, there's a pretty obvious line between the Trump campaign and the Russian spies. Mueller is not trying Trump in public, so neither you nor I know for sure what he knows or doesn't know. Trump doesn't either. The usual behavior in Washington is to make innuendo, build a case out of tissue paper, and make a lot of noise. That's not Mueller's way, since he's a long-term law enforcement pro, not a politician. We only know what we know because of faulty redactions by various lawyers, not by any leaks from Mueller.

So, enjoy thinking Little Lord Trumpleroy will hide the pile of shit forever for as long as it lasts. Trump being in legal jeopardy is another issue, but it's pretty clear that something ain't right. Nixon went down on obstruction of justice without a whole lot of hard evidence that he ordered the Watergate break in. The level of malfeasance by Trump that's already known is way beyond anything Nixon did. What's different is the slavish devotion to tribal politics that exists now. The GOP sees no evil no matter what when the bad actor is a Republican. That's just how it is now, and until that changes, Trump has enablers.

When it becomes clear that continuing to support Trump will get them ousted, then Trump will lose Senate support. It's got nothing to do with any reality or what's good for the nation. As long as the number of Trump fanbois is sufficient in a state to keep the state's Senator from being ousted, it doesn't matter what Trump does as far as that Senator is concerned. You can see that beginning to change as the Senate starts to squirm over the shutdown. McConnell knows that he's got plenty of numb-nut voters who won't punish him for being an intestinal blockage. The rest of the Senate may not ultimately be as beholden to the stupid wing of the electorate. When they figure it out, things will start to move. Then Trump will have some problems.

Another thing to watch is the economy. If the economic recovery from the Great Recession falters, then Trump will hemorrhage support quickly. He's already a polarizing and generally unpopular and unliked person. If the economy starts to fail, he will blame others, of course, because that's what he always does. But, his support will go down quickly. There will always be the fanbois who want a strongman and want to be brownshirts who like being told what to do and telling others what to do. But, most of the country prefers being left alone to work on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When the economy steps on that, political opinions change fast. We are seeing the kind of market volatility and interest rate conversions that are shots across the bow that a small shock somewhere could cause much b***** problems in the next 12 to 24 months. Timing is everything. If it falls apart in 2021, the Trump probably gets reelected. If it falls apart before the 2020 election cycle, he probably gets ousted and a whole lot of GOPers with him.
 

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I really hope they don't spend any time on impeachment. Every committee/sub-committee should hold public hearings on the departments they hold oversight on & see exactly how much damage has been done to their bailiwicks. Call it a mid-term government wide performance review. And then publish & run on those reviews. Impeaching Trump won't stop another shithead that's actual smart from lining up the same wingnuts to vote for them. Only an complete shellacking in an election is going to re-establish our norms.
 

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They won't need to spend much time on removing Trump at this point. The economy was strong, but it was getting into that volatile period toward the end of a recovery. The recovery was pushed along a bit by the tax cuts, but not in the way it was sold to happen. Corporate profits cannot continue to increase, but they are about to get hammered by the problems Trump created with the shutdown. And, it's clear that the nation mostly recognizes that this is a Trump shutdown, so he's a badly wounded duck now. I won't call him a lame duck just yet, nor will I count him out. But, he's clearly losing support, and the solid grip he had on the GOP will start to slip once the rank and file leave the Trump cult. When that happens and he turns into a millstone instead of a hot air balloon, GOP elected officials won't want to be tied to tightly to him.

No need for impeachment. Just contain the damage for two years.
 

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I pretty much agree with you guys, but I'm just worried that Trump will do some disastrous thing - like pulling the US out of NATO, starting a war with Iran, etc. We could not easily weather such stupidity.
 

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We also cannot do much to prevent it. The Senate will not do anything except kowtow to Trump so long as the average GOP voter still supports him. The fact that he's doing things that are destructive to the country and harm those same voters doesn't matter, so long as they vote to keep Republicans in power. As long as that remains true, then Trump is safe.

This country is becoming less and less representative as the population becomes more concentrated. Trump is a symptom of that issue. It's a long term issue that will eventually have to be dealt with, but for now, we have what we have - rural, less educated, older, and more homogeneous states have disproportionate power and urban, educated, younger, and more diverse states have less power per capita. It has always been so. It is more extreme now, with bad results.

Another issue we aren't discussing is military preparedness. The Pentagon knows what's coming no faster than anybody else. They are the people who have to deal with whatever Trump tweets out of his ass in the most direct sense. When Trump suddenly announces that we are going to do some unexpected thing, they don't have plans for it and have to scramble. Then his ass blows out another tweet and we are off on another joyride in another direction. The Pentagon then has to turn on a dime and figure out what THAT is all about. I doubt that the military would be disobedient, but they probably wouldn't drop a bomb on Iran out of the blue if Trump woke up one morning and decided that blowing up Tehran would get him kudos from Fox and Friends. They would start planning, start figuring out the consequences, start figuring out the supply chains and logistics for whatever comes next, etc. Then that would be presented to Trump, who probably would have forgotten about it by then.

Where we stand now with the shutdown is a loser for Trump. He stamps his feet and pouts until he gets his wall, and the economy tanks. He reopens the government without specific wall funding and backs down from the stupid corner he put himself into, and his base and Fox and Friends will be unhappy with him. That's about all he has left, and when the economy tanks, he's going to lose a decent chunk of his remaining support. If he cannot wriggle out of the corner he put himself into and reopens the government without billions for the Walls of Jericho, then he loses a decent chunk of his support. He checkmated himself. This is no surprise to people who lived in NYC in the 1980s. He was an idiot then, he's an idiot now. He has handed Nancy Pelosi his own head on a platter.

Add to the mix the latest from Giulianni. The Trump campaign may have been colluding with Russia, but Trump didn't know and it wasn't a crime anyway. Um. Gosh. Working with a foreign power to throw an election is legal? Really, Rudy? And, Trump didn't know? Was that a defense for Nixon?

Presidential Rag
 

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So after nearly 2 years of Mueller, and nothing but procedural crimes unrelated to Trump and no hard evidence of collusion, you still think Trump is in legal jeopardy? lol, keep the faith man.
Roger Stone. Who is keeping the faith?

Plus, cave in on the wall. Not that anybody should be surprised. Anybody who lived in NYC in the 1980s could have told you that Trump was incompetent and almost never actually accomplished anything without getting bailed out by somebody. He doesn't have that kind of crutch to lean on in dealing with people like Pelosi and McConnell.

Trump's polling is going down, which will give Republican officials pause. They are beginning to leave the Trump cult now. The number who stay out of the cult and the number who leave in three weeks when the next Trump shutdown is likely to occur will be the next set of tea leaves to read.

Nothing in any of this says he won't wriggle out, survive, and get reelected. What it says without a doubt is that Trump is the same incompetent blow-hard that he's always been.
 
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