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Tuesday, November 19, 2019


No exit

by Tom Sullivan

The House impeachment inquiry continues this morning with additional witnesses to the Fall of the House of Trump. "Fall" here may not mean Trump's removal from office, nor "House of Trump" his family, but the party he has put under his boot heel. History will be kind to neither.

NBCNews foreign correspondent Richard Engel suggests President Donald Trump will not stop the behaviors that sparked the Mueller investigation and subsequent congressional inquiry. Nor will his coterie of enabler/defenders get off the Trump train. Public opinion may be turning against Trump, but his American unfaithful remain behind him to the end, it seems. An ABC News/Ipsos poll finds 70% of Americans think President Donald Trump’s attempt to leverage military assistance to Ukraine to obtain an investigation of a political rival is wrong. Furthermore:
... 51% of Americans say that “President Trump’s actions were wrong and he should be impeached by the House and removed from office by the Senate.” Nineteen percent of Americans say President Trump’s actions were wrong but he should not be removed from office and 25% say President Trump did nothing wrong.
None of that will move Trump defenders on Capitol Hill from supporting him. As Attorney General William Barr's Friday speech to the Federalist Society demonstrates, they too are on the “dictator’s treadmill” with their amoral tower of insecurities.

Dahlia Lithwick concurs. Fantasies of Senate Republicans rediscovering their consciences, rededicating themselves to upholding the Constitution, and removing Trump from office "in a blaze of bipartisan glory" are the stuff of Hallmark holiday movies:
Don’t believe it for a minute. Senate Republicans may be fussing internally about how best to play out the impeachment trial, but not one of them, with the possible exception of Mitt Romney, is casting around for any kind of off-ramp here. As Renae Reints notes in Fortune, this isn’t even a close call. Republicans in the Senate are not looking for a principled reason, or even a pretext, that might allow them to follow their heart’s true desire and break with this president. “On the whole, however, Republicans side with party leadership,” Reints writes. “The latest Gallup poll on Trump’s job approval—conducted after the House launched their impeachment inquiry—show 87% of GOP voters are behind the president. This means Republican members of Congress are likely to stick behind Trump, regardless of what the independents or the other 13% of Republicans believe.”
Senate Republicans were never going to help Democrats "save constitutional norms, values, or institutions, and they won’t do so now." As recent Republican electoral losses sink in, only the prospect of losing everything might move a few to realize the Ghost of Election Future's shroud is only the bed curtains and there is time yet to redeem their supreme self-interest.

“President outsources his foreign policy to gangsters” ought to draw more attention than it has, writes Jonathan Chait. So far, the impeachment inquiry has focused less attention on "a pair of sleazeballs with ties to the Russian mafia" — meaning indicted Trump associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — than on Trump's lawyer, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. Is it possible Trump also sought to enrich himself through their actions?
It’s possible Trump sent Parnas, Giuliani, and Fruman to Ukraine solely for his political mission, and while there, they decided to shake down the Ukrainians for some energy money. But Trump is famous for his intense, almost fanatical hatred of hangers-on who make money for themselves off his name. Trump was so enraged in 2016 by the very thought that transition planners were making money that belonged to him — “You’re stealing my money! You’re stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this?” he screamed at Chris Christie ...
Given that, Chait speculates plans by Parnas, Fruman, Giuliani and Energy Secretary Rick Perry to turn their Trump connections into natural-gas contracts might even have involved Trump eyeing a piece of the action. Who knows?

The quote Chait references above is from a 2018 column by Michael Lewis ("Moneyball" and "The Big Short") that paints a portrait of how Trump sees his government job. Reacting to Trump's fury about hirelings stealing his money, Steve Bannon and Christie tried to explain the nuances of federal law. His response (per Lewis)?
Fuck the law. I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my fucking money. Bannon and Christie tried to explain that Trump couldn’t have both his money and a transition.

Shut it down, said Trump. Shut down the transition.
Three years later, he faces impeachment if not removal from office. His denialist defenders may stick with them to the end, even to their own removal from office.