Wednesday, March 1, 2017

How Impeach Trump? With Russians' Help!

>>>>>UPDATE:  NY TIMES BOMBSHELL just fell on Trump! This NYT story substantiates my main point in the blog posting below.  Obama Aides Left a Trail of Intelligence on Russian Efforts, top story, page one, published at 7:52 p.m. this evening.<<<<<<

As the Oscars were being awarded Sunday night, I suddenly thought of a famous line from the classic "All About Eve":

"Fasten your seat belts, folks. It's going to be a bumpy ride."

And I wasn't thinking about the Oscar awards that were cruising across my TV screen, although they certainly got bumpy at the end. I was thinking about a much bigger drama that's now getting under way.

I mean the impeachment of Donald Trump. Next year marks the 150th anniversary of our first presidential impeachment trial. Will we be marking it by conducting another one?

Isn't it clear that Donald Trump is unfit to continue as president? The record after thirty-plus days is staggering. So forgive me if I run through it in just one paragraph, saving the worst for last.

He is abysmally ignorant and refuses to learn from anything or anybody except TV far-right talk shows. He's obviously mentally and emotionally unstable. He is wildly irresponsible, continually lying and mouthing ugly policies and positions, including racist ones. He is failing to defend the Constitution as he swore to do but attacks it with cheap facist rants against the judiciary and the media. He picks fights with our allies, cuddles with Russia's Putin, and is destablizing a world made orderly for 70 years by American-backed institutions.  He has been labeled "cruel" by the Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles for his attacks on immigrants and for inflicting extreme hardship on them.  The Latest: Speakers blast Trump's immigration orders - The . Unlike any other president since polling began, Trump has a disapproval rate higher than his approval rate even in the "honeymoon period" of this term. In two of the most respected polls he is down to less than 40% approval!

Further, we are all aware now that Trump may have gained the White House illegally. Our intelligence agencies concur that the Russians tried to tip the election in his favor. FBI, James Clapper back CIA, say Russia interfered in U.S ... Since Trump won the Electoral College by only 77,000 votes in three states, with one of them at only a 7,000 vote lead, it wouldn't have taken much interference to make the difference. If he was in cahoots with the Russians in betraying our election process, that is a serious crime and a treasonous betrayal of the foundation of our democracy.  Certainly "free elections" must be free of the interference of foreign powers!

We already know that the Trump ccampaign was talking to Russian intellience during the campaign. Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian ... (Also see footnote at the end about how we "know" what's true in the news.) But can we expect a GOP Congress to conduct a thorough enough investigation to turn up compelling evidence that the purpose of these talks was to rig the election?

After all, Trump and his supporters have taken control of the GOP and apparently terrify the rest of the Republican party. Like the Tea Party before them, the Trump forces could dump out present office holders in GOP primaries if the incumbents were perceived as disloyal to Trump. His supporters showed their muscle in the presidential primaries in 2016, beating every opponent the rest of the GOP threw at him. No wonder the GOP Congressmen are scared silent by Trump. For GOP Congressmen an effort to impeach Trump must look suicidal.

Also, while several impeachment grounds look possible, none yet compels impeachment enough to break the 86 percent approval rate among still-deluded Republicans. That is, however, beginning to change.

The strongest reason for impeachment is edging closer. It could be called "The Russian Connection", and it may offer all the excitement of that wild ride in "The French Connection".  It's the growing likelihood Trump actually conspired with the Russians to steal the election. Since that would be both a betrayal of our democracy and a criminal offense, what lovely karma if Trump, having last year threatened Hillary Clinton with jail, were to be marched out of the White House in handcuffs!

Ironically this Russian Connection is not only a strong reason for impeachment but also has strong potential for pulling Republicans out of the Trump camp. For 50 years the GOP made its center theme a witch hunt for Russian sympathizers.  Back then it was always "those Commies". And those Commies were Russians. Therefore today's GOP rank and file may still harbor great unease about "Ruskies", as they were also called by GOP leaders.  Trump supporters may harbor enough old hate against the Russians so as to want Trump impeached if it can be shown he conspired with them.

At least one leading GOP Congressman is working toward that end. He's Darrell Issa, one of the highest ranking and most conservative GOP members of the House. As reported in the Washington Post last week, Issa said on a TV talk show, “[We're] going to need to use the special prosecutor's statute and office."  Top Republican says special prosecutor should investigate Russian meddling in Trump’s electionRep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who narrowly won reelection in November, made his comments on “Real Time with Bill Maher."

This seems very brave of Issa, but his courage is the product of his fears. As the Post notes, "Issa is serving his ninth term in Congress but is likely to face a grueling midterm election in 2018. After a lengthy reelection campaign last year, Issa narrowly defeated Democrat Doug Applegate in November to hold onto his seat in California's 49th Congressional District."

Caught in an unusually competitive district (California's districts are not drawn by the parties), Issa is apparently reassuring moderate voters that he will do his duty to get an effective investigation of Trump and the Russian Connection. At the same time he has carefully taken steps here to lessen any offense to Trump supporters. 

To do the latter he explains in comically simplistic terms what compels his position. The Russians, he says, are "bad people".  He goes on: "And we need to investigate their activities and we need to do it because they are bad people.” 

As for possible Trump involvement, Issa zig-zags with an awkward "[there]" may or may not be fault", then immediately shifts back to how very bad these Russians are. "[T]he American people are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies — sometimes right in front of the Kremlin, and then suddenly the cameras don't work there — he's murdered people and taken down [sic] using cyberwarfare in Georgia and Ukraine. This is a bad guy who murders people, who runs a gas station with an economy the size of Italy but is screwing up things all over the world that we've been doing — 'working with.' Now, we have to work with them. We don't have to trust them. And we need to investigate their activities and we need to do it because they are bad people.”  He's talking to Trump supporters the way a parent explains "don't talk to strangers" to a five-year-old.

It's a bit disjointed but the poor guy is trying to persuade edgy Trump folks that somehow the Russians are so wicked that the people have to get Gary Cooper to save the town, i.e.  a special prosecutor. Issa makes clear that his "friend" Jeff Sessions, Trump's appointee as  Attorney General, might not be the one to prosecute a case against Trump because Sessions helped Trump in his campaign. Notably Issa says nothing about the GOP dominance of the two Congressional committees supposedly investigating Trump.  Under the old boy's club rules, Issa's can't talk about fellow Congressmen of his party in an accusing fashion. Thus he must make the Russians into Super Bad Guys who require a fearsome Special Prosecutor. He's selling snake oil to Trump supporters, who have already demonstrated remarkable gullibility. 

In the meantime the rest of us can lean on the hope that a special prosecutor will indeed be lots tougher on Trump than a GOP-dominated Congressional investigation or the Justice Department under Trump's new appointee as Attorney General. Maybe we'll get really lucky and fate will bring forward a special prosecutor like the one who went after Bill Clinton. That would be real fun!

How likely is any of this? The key is Trump's popularity with his base. Issa is one of the few GOP Congressmen who is as afraid of Democrats whipping him in a general election as he is of a Trump supporter beating him in a primary. Thus he is willing to talk special prosecutor.  Few other GOP Congressmen are in Issa's predicament. Only when Trump's hold on his base begins to slip significantly, will these other GOP Congressmen break their silence and support seeking the truth.

As of Monday, NBC's new poll shows Republican voters still give Trump an 86 percent approval rating. So it doesn't look like Congress will move yet.

Still, it's only 39 days since Trump was sworn in. If we think of "The Russian Connection" as being a film like "The French Connection", this latest movie hasn't quite started. We're just watching the credits roll by, folks. So settle down in your seats and don't gobble all the popcorn before the action starts.

Be patient and not discouraged. Because we know one thing for sure: there is indeed a smoking gun to be found. 

We know this because of what Trump has been doing. His vicious attacks on the press have been fired off in absolute rhythm with the emergence of incriminating news about the Russian Connection.  He is clearly afraid of what is yet to come out and is therefore trying to discredit the messenger preemptively. And what could be more terrible for him than the Russian Connection news that has already emerged? What could he possibly be dreading even more? The news that he and his campaign conspired with the Russians to rig an American election!

Congressman Issa knows this. He knows what's coming. And in his own bumbling way he has tried to prepare his constituents for the inevitable shootout  at High Noon. 

Now go get some JuJubes and let's enjoy the film!

How can we know a news story is true when it relies on "anonymous sources"? Primarily we rely on the stature of the news organization publishing it. The high stature of the New York Times and the Washington Post have been painstakingly earned by hiring the best reporters and enforcing a strict journalism ethic. Those of us who have some training in journalism know what these journalism rules are. Everybody got a useful glimpse of some of them in the film "All the President's Men", in which Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, as two Post reporters, are repeatedly hounded by their editor, played by Jason Robards, to produce multiple corroborating sources on every point, even those points coming from named sources. And, of course, "All the President's Men" introduced us to the most famous of all anonymous sources: "Deep Throat", who was revealed over 30 years later to have been the Number Two man at the FBI.

The bottom line?  No, Donald Trump, the press that is driving you nuts does not "make up" their anonymous sources. They've got 'em for real. And like Deep Throat they are not only real but reputable. And they are all out to get you because they serve this country, love their work, and you love only yourself and are a danger to this country and to their work.

Hasta la vista, baby!
{ANOTHER NOTE: I choose to ignore Trump's speech to Congress last night because he usually says something and then changes his position, often in the same day. That in fact happened yesterday when he said during the day he would not deport anyone who was not a serious criminal. His speech last night failed to include the prior change from his prior hard-line position, and it was back to the fear and anxiety for eleven million of our fellow residents.}

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