HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 August 2019 September 2019 October 2019 November 2019


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Friday, November 08, 2019

 
All the president's defenses

by digby



My Salon column today:

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about President Trump's defense strategy in the Ukraine scandal, noting that he's basically running the same play that he ran during the Mueller investigation. He finds a few catchphrases to use on Twitter and during interviews and just repeats them over and over again. It's a crude salesman's trick and not one you'd expect to be effective in dealing with a legal and political scandal, but Trump thinks he was able to survive the Russia probe by yelling "No collusion, no obstruction!" and denigrating the press and the investigators.

He will almost certainly go with his gut instinct again and there's probably nothing anyone can do about it. But that doesn't mean there isn't a very lively debate among Republicans about the right course of action.

Trump's allies have complained for weeks about his stubborn refusal to have an impeachment "war room," as Bill Clinton did back in 1998. The fact is that it wouldn't do much good. Its efficacy under Clinton depended on message discipline and a president who could at least pretend that the process wasn't interfering with his ability to do the job. Obviously Trump would be unable to do either of those things. But he has brought in a couple of spokespeople to deal with impeachment questions, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Treasury Department spokesman Tony Sayegh. (Bondi is uniquely qualified for this gig, since she herself was credibly accused of a quid pro quo with Trump during the 2016 campaign.)

The Trump supporter who seems most at sea with all this is Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, perhaps the president's most loyal minion. Graham started out denying the whole thing outright, just as Trump did. On Sept. 25, he told reporters:



It turned out that absolutely did exist. Yet Graham still seemed to think that was all there was to it. On Oct. 20, he told Axios on HBO:
If you could show that Trump was engaging in a quid pro quo outside the phone call that would be very disturbing.

More than half a dozen witnesses have now testified that the quid pro quo was discussed constantly and caused a full-blown uproar among the Foreign Service professionals. Graham remained the good soldier, parroting Trump's language but not sounding terribly convincing. On Oct. 25, he said: "He's telling me that the phone call was perfect. I'm saying the phone call was OK with me."

On Tuesday of this week, Graham finally threw up his hands, saying, "I've written the whole process off. I think this is a bunch of BS," telling reporters he won't even read any of the transcripts — the same ones he had previously clamored for Democrats to release. But by Wednesday, he was taking yet another tack:



This has become known as the "moron defense," which holds that the president is too dumb to commit all the crimes it appears he has committed. So far, Graham's the only one I've heard articulate that defense in this case and I would guess that's because it's bound to make Trump livid. You may have noticed that he sees himself as a "very stable genius" and he'd probably rather be impeached than hear Republicans say that he was too stupid to have committed a crime. Which really is stupid, but there we are.

The other defense that's apparently being discussed among the senators who will supposedly be the jurors in an impeachment trial is the one that says, "Yeah, he did it, but it doesn't rise to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor." Sens. John Kennedy, R-La., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told the Washington Post that Trump had no corrupt intent when he did what did. Kennedy said, “To me, it all turns on intent, motive. ... Did the president have a culpable state of mind? … Based on the evidence that I see, that I’ve been allowed to see, the president does not have a culpable state of mind.”

According to the testimony of former State Department official George Kent, the White House insisted that the president of Ukraine go on CNN and use three particular words: investigation, Biden and Clinton. What could possibly be the corrupt intent in that?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is pushing the idea that Trump's defense team in a Senate trial should call Joe and Hunter Biden to testify in public. So far, other Republican senators haven't seemed too keen on that idea, but seeing as they're all afraid to cross Trump it's possible that if he decides he wants this, they will follow his orders. He seems to like the idea:


Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that there is a brewing battle between White House counsel Pat Cipollone and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, with each demanding to be in charge of impeachment strategy. Mulvaney should probably be careful what he wishes for: Along with EU ambassador Gordon Sondland and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, he's on a House GOP list of possible scapegoats to take the fall for Trump's corrupt bargain with Ukraine.

Richard Nixon tried that by throwing his two most trusted aides, John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman, over the side. They did it gladly. They'd been with him for years and were his loyal Praetorian guards. Somehow, I doubt that these three amigos feel that way about Trump. Sondland and Mulvaney hardly know him, and it's hard to imagine Giuliani falling on his sword and winding up in federal prison, as Haldeman and Ehrlichman did. Anyway, we all know what happened to Nixon, don't we?

Finally, we have the working White House impeachment war room that will almost certainly handle Trump's defense on an official basis. Its two arms would be Fox News and the Twitter feed of Donald Trump Jr. The New York Times did a deep dive into the swift-boat campaign against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified in the impeachment inquiry last week. Trump Jr and Fox News host Pete Hegseth played a big part in spreading an easily rebutted smear that bubbled up through the right-wing fever swamp. Don Jr. has also tweeted out the name of the purported CIA whistleblower, whom Trump and his henchmen have been trashing nonstop. Whatever happens going forward, we can be sure that Trump family Twitter feeds will play a big part in defending the president throughout the impeachment process.

Lindsey Graham says Trump's Ukraine policy was incoherent. It wasn't. He knew what he wanted. But the strategy to defend the president in this impeachment proceeding is certainly incoherent at this point. He will probably survive a trial in the Senate, but none of his defenders are going to come out looking any better than he does. The central fact they can't accept is that his behavior was indefensible.