November 16th 2019
OK, I’ll grant you that when you are being impeached by the House, good days are kind of few and far between. After all, the hearings are the most public performance review of all time, and it wouldn’t be happening if enough people weren’t seriously questioning your fitness for the job.
Andrew Johnson was pretty much screwed from the get-go. A Southern Democrat who opposed succession, he was Lincoln’s idea of an olive branch to the South, and Lincoln’s assassination made sure the new President, at odds with both parties at a time when partisan fury was at its highest, didn’t have a chance in hell. It’s kind of amazing—and a credit to Johnson’s political skills—that it took nearly three years for the Republicans in Congress to fabricate a case against him He was accused of firing a member of his cabinet, an action recently outlawed by the blatantly unconstitutional Tenure of Office act. Oh, the act itself wasn’t a bad idea, but Congress tried to say it meant a president could not fire members of his own cabinet. Hello, separation of powers?
Nixon was pretty much self-screwing, but until the release of the smoking gun tapes, enjoyed fairly broad popular support. Nonetheless, the laborious and painstaking process inflicted a death by a thousand paper cuts against Nixon, who slowly unraveled as the almost two-year process finally reached a point where Congress was going to vote to impeach, at which point he resigned.
Clinton probably had the worst of it, since the Republicans were intent on humiliating him and his wife for an act that many of the Republicans—including the leaders of the impeachment movement in the House—had committed themselves. One was banging his secretary and future wife #4 at the time. Another was a kiddy diddler. Another quit one day after…something…came out of his closet. Republicans were vicious and cruel, and hypocrites.
But Trump seems intent on having the worst impeachment process of all. His worst enemies aren’t the Democrats in the House, who learned from watching Republicans disgrace themselves in their damp lust to smear Clinton, but his own allies and his own mouth—or at least, his fumbling fingers when combined with a smartphone.
Take yesterday, for example. Marie Yovanovitch, former ambassador to the Ukraine and victim of a vicious smear campaign to drive her out by the Trumplings, testified in open session. The smear campaign hadn’t worked, and in fact made her a more sympathetic witness. Even the Republicans in Congress realized that they would need to treat her with deference and at least the sort of respect a junkyard dog shows when someone has just kicked its ass.
Part of the testimony focused on the smear campaign (even Republicans couldn’t try to pretend it was anything other than that), and the topics of witness intimidation and witness tampering came up.
Her testimony was damaging to Trump, and half-way through, Trump, who swore he wasn’t watching the proceedings, blew up and launched a twitter attack against her. Even tried to imply that she was somehow responsible for Somalia being the mess that it is. Tactically, it was pretty much the worst move he could have possibly made. Aside from the sheer stupid boorishness of the move, there is the awkward fact that publically denigrating a witness AS SHE IS TESTIFYING, particularly when done by the defendant, is a prima facie case of witness tampering. He may as well have typed, “OK, you’re being a stoolie. A rat. You gotta dog? Your dog dies tonight.”
Speaking of which, Roger Stone was found guilty of six counts of lying to Congress and one count of witness tampering. He told the guy that if he testified, he, Roger Stone, would kill his dog.
If you want to know where Republicans get their class and dignity from, Roger Stone is a good place to start looking. He won’t be hard to find after his sentencing: federal prison, for up to twenty years.
Unless Donald Trump pardons him. That would be a catastrophically bad move politically for Trump, so I’m offering 4-1 odds that he’ll do exactly that.
Finally, Nancy Pelosi weighed in. Trump desperately needed someone in Congress who could slow the process down, and Pelosi, who was less than anxious to impeach, would have fitted the bill. All Trump had to do was treat her with a modicum of respect, and convince McConnell to take up at least some of the smaller 250 bills the House passed that the Senate will never hear, and she might have been willing to stop the impeachment process from really getting off the ground. For a while, it seems that no matter how stupid and egregious Trump got, the House wasn’t going to slap him down on it. He could have even turned Pelosi’s civility and willingness to try to find less draconian solutions against the Democrats, especially as impatience amongst non-Republicans mounted.
Pelosi used the b-word. “Bribery.” It’s what ‘quid pro quo” is the polite Latin for, and more to the point, it’s a crime explicitly mentioned in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. Expect it to be in the articles of impeachment, and more than once. Trump lived by bribery and extortion, and he will die by bribery and extortion.
Pelosi, who has basically owned Trump for the past eighteen months or so, added this: “He [Trump] should not frivolously throw out insults, but that’s what he does. I think part of it is his own insecurity as an imposter. I think he knows full well that he’s in that office way over his head. And so he has to diminish everyone else.”
He diminishes himself pretty good. Today’s testimony came from someone named Mark Sandy who happened to be sitting at the same table as Gordon Sondland got his marching orders on how to use the Ukraine to fuck over Joe Biden. Despite knowing that Sondland was at a table surrounded by people, Trump elected to scream his demands, so loudly Sondland pulled the phone back from his ear, making Trump that much more audible to everyone else at the table. He was the first of something Republicans had been demanding: a first-hand witness, someone who could say he saw or heard this first-hand.
It’s a tribute to the impenetrable stupidity of Trump supporters that none of them asked why Trump had blocked first-hand witnesses from testifying. If they were capable of thinking…well, if they were. Trump would never have been president in the first place.
In the meantime, hope the days just keep getting worse for Trump, and not for the rest of us.