1

Enough with Susan Collins

From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:

Responding to remarks by House Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy, which had addressed everything but the matter at hand, Pelosi referred to the evidence released on Tuesday regarding Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani’s old running buddy, who, Pelosi noted, “was recently photographed with the Republican leader.”

“The president considered [congressional funds] his private ATM machine I guess and said he could say to the president he could make, “do me a favor.” Do me a favor? Do you paint houses, too? What is this, do me a favor?”

And yes, in case you were wondering, and as proof of her current pop culture bona fides, the Speaker of the House just inferred that the President* of the United States might just be the equivalent of a mob boss.

However delightful those moments might have been, along came Susan Collins later Wednesday afternoon to burnish her reputation as the wettest wet blanket in the Senate.

“I wonder why the House did not put that into the record and it’s only now being revealed. Well, doesn’t that suggest that the House did an incomplete job then?”

It is not possible that the senator is this dumb. The House didn’t add the Parnas evidence into the record until this week because a court hadnt allowed its release until this week.

What I think is that Collins thought she had a good thing going with her do-si-do about leading a group of Republicans who might just vote to allow witnesses, which would have given her some good-government cover in a trial she felt would end in acquittal anyway. This is consonant with her entire political career, which has been demonstrated to be utterly useless in the face of a lawless president*. Now, though, a flood of evidence demonstrating the president*’s guilt is inundating the Congress and the news, and it threatens to sweep away Collins’s careful middling of her obvious constitutional duties, and she doesn’t like it very much. Enough with Susan Collins. I mean, god almighty, enough.

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1

Have You Ever Listened to Yourself?

And the witness intimidation continues….

From the Washington Post:

Shortly before Holmes was recognized for his opening statement, Trump took to Twitter to try to undermine his testimony.

Holmes is expected to testify about an overheard cellphone call between Trump and Sondland in which Trump asked about “investigations.”

“I have been watching people making phone calls my entire life,” Trump tweeted. “My hearing is, and has been, great. Never have I been watching a person making a call, which was not on speakerphone, and been able to hear or understand a conversation. I’ve even tried, but to no avail. Try it live!”

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3

Trey Gowdy Joins the Parade of Trump Lackeys Eager to Debase Themselves Until They’re Backstabbed

From Esquire, by Jack Holmes:

Various toads and lackeys are lining up now to sacrifice what’s left of their integrity in service to the mad king. It is an incredible spectacle to watch grown men—almost entirely white male Boomers with long careers in public life—debase themselves to defend a man in obvious cognitive decline with an extensive track record of backstabbing the toads and lackeys who came before them. Apparently, Republican loyalists in Congress and beyond are under the impression that Donald Trump will be president forever, or at least, that there will be no consequences for having been a collaborator if and when this disgraceful assault on the American republic comes to an end. Unfortunately, they’re probably right. Just ask Star Who Was Danced With Sean Spicer.

The newest clown in the circus is Trey Gowdy, the Benghazi supersleuth who has run through a truly incredible selection of abominable hairdos. According to the AP, he’s joining a Trumpian legal squad that is now engaged in an apocalyptic battle against the United States Constitution. The crack team released a letter Tuesday night that, in between spewing bits of MAGA brainspittle about Schifty Schiff and The Whistleblower, essentially argued that there is no valid mechanism for holding the president accountable. He cannot be indicted because the Department of Justice says a sitting president cannot be indicted. He cannot be impeached, a mechanism expressly laid out in the Constitution as a remedy for presidential misconduct, because durr, it would overturn the results of an election. Never mind that Mike Pence would become president if Trump were removed. None of this is relevant. There is incredibly strong evidence that he broke the law. He must be held accountable or he will continue breaking the law.

So Mr. Gowdy is joining a legal team whose expressed position is that the Executive Branch will not cooperate in any way with an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. The king has decided he’s not interested in being impeached, so he’ll just pretend it isn’t happening. They will ignore subpoenas. They will block witnesses from testifying before Congress. They will argue in court that Congress has no oversight powers (!) over the Executive Branch. They will carry out this campaign of open-and-shut obstruction of justice under the renowned legal principle of, Fuck You, That’s Why. And how does Gowdy feel about all this?

“The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong.”

Ah, wait—that’s Gowdy in 2012, when he was investigating Obammer and Hillary for doing Benghazi. In the time since, as he’s aged gracefully and continued to cut his own hair, Gowdy has apparently decided that actually, the White House has no need to comply with congressional subpoenas or the law. What on earth could have changed? I suppose we could ask the same thing of Lindsey Graham.

All of this becomes a bit less confusing when you take into account that the Republican Party is the vehicle for an authoritarian movement whose defining principle is that anything is acceptable if it means holding onto power. You can say the exact opposite of what you used to say because this is now what benefits Dear Leader. You can allow your bathrobed king to run roughshod over the Constitution’s separation of powers because it helps him get a Win on his Big, Beautiful Wall. You can say nothing when he weaponizes the Departments of Justice and State to pursue his personal interests. You can excuse it away when he openly solicits foreign interference in an American presidential campaign, because it could help your party retain control of the White House. You can try to stop Certain People from voting, or make their votes count for less, because it could help you retain control of Congress or state legislatures.

Anything is acceptable if it hurts your political enemies and keeps you in power. Anything. If that means excusing the president’s virulent public racism, that’s fine. If it means pretending he didn’t just have one of his twice-weekly meltdowns on the White House lawn, that’s what you gotta do. If it means letting kids die in the system of concentration camps we’re running at the border, so be it. They will show the world just how far that goes if they are not met with the full force of the law and routed at the ballot box.

 

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Dinner Theater Christopher Walken

2

Remember “Benghaaaazzzi?”

From Esquire, by Jack Holmes:

Trump’s tweet: “I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public……..to see.”

“Needless to say, this is a giant pile of manure. Republicans’ rights have not been taken away, it’s not a kangaroo court, but anyway, none of that shit is relevant! Congress has the power to subpoena witnesses in the course of exercising its oversight powers. That’s it. That’s why Hillary Clinton testified for 11 hours before the Benghazi committee, an actual kangaroo court. If Congress wants to talk to you, you go talk—particularly if you are named in a possible criminal conspiracy within the Executive Branch, like Sondland is.”

 

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4

It’s Finally Clear Enough to See the Monsters in the Fog

By Charles P. Pierce, in Esquire:

WASHINGTON — The overriding emotion in the capital this week was, oddly enough, a kind of deep relief. There was relief in that, with the revelations of whoever it was that blew the whistle on this president*’s attempt to bull-rush the president of Ukraine into helping him ratfck the 2020 election, there was one clear lens through which the vast and nearly unlimited corruption of this administration could be seen clearly, and in its entirety. The ramifications of what was in the whistleblower’s complaint, validated as it was by the Intelligence Community’s inspector general, extend to almost every corner of what increasingly looks like an utterly criminal presidency*. (In a gesture of Christian charity, I’m willing to entertain the possibility that Tiffany is clean in all of this.) The president* himself pulled Vice President Mike Pence into the poisonous murk. Rudy Giuliani, now completely out of control and raving all over television, managed to implicate the State Department in whatever incoherent “missions” he was on in West Asia. And, because of the whistleblower’s complaint, the swirls of scandal are finally clear enough to see the monsters in the poisonous fog.

But there was another level of relief at play, too, and it was based in the feeling that had been general around Washington that something like what had happened with the whistleblower was bound to happen eventually. The administration* had been playing fast and loose with too much for too long. (And, it must be said, the same could be said of the president* for his entire life.) The entire American political universe had been waiting for almost three years for the one thing that actually would do it. This administration*—and, before that, its 2016 campaign—had weathered more fatal wounds than Rasputin at Yusupov Palace. But, because there had been so many false starts, when a scandal hit that actually drew blood, the American political universe was ready to jump on it. And the people who knew the president* best, the people from New York and New Jersey, knew it was coming because they’d seen it time and time again. The Trump presidency* was now as bankrupt as the Trump Taj Mahal.

“I predicted that on February 1 of 2017, when I sent a letter to Kevin Brady and he laughed at it. Now, I said, you didn’t know he was going to bury himself, did you?” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat who has been dogging the president* financial chicanery ever since Inauguration Day. Pascrell has constituents who were previously stiffed by the president*, and there have not been many congressmen in history who could say that about many presidents.  “People whose contracts weren’t fulfilled and implemented. Contractors. Painters. Masons. Those guys who did work and were never paid. There are a lot of those guys out there in my district.”

So all of this clarity was enough to get Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership off the dime and engage the processes of impeachment for the third time in 45 years. Consider: people my age will now have lived through the engagement of the process of impeachment three times in their lives. Five generations of Americans passed through between the first congressional impeachment process directed at a president and the second one. So much time passed between Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon that impeachment was considered to be a vestigial, useless appendage of the Constitution, that it was the “scarecrow,” as Thomas Jefferson once scornfully described it. Now, it appears that the fourth one is upon us again. The mistake is to believe that this is somehow a problem.

0

Trump’s Self-Impeachment

From LawFare:

Everyone who claimed the Mueller report vindicated the president because Mueller did not prove “collusion” with Russia needs to reckon seriously with what Trump asked of Zelensky. In L’Affaire Russe, the Russian state—at the direction of the Russian president himself—intervened in the American presidential election by a number of different means. The defense of Trump’s conduct, and that of his campaign, was that they were not involved in the Russian intervention. Even to the extent that people associated with the Trump campaign had contact with the Russians, it is not clear that Trump himself knew about the contacts. Here, by contrast, the request to a foreign government to involve itself in American electoral politics is as direct as can be. The president in this document is asking his counterpart to deliver the goods on a possible electoral opponent. And he is doing it himself. There is no plausible deniability. If this is not collusion in precisely the sense that collusion’s absence was purportedly so exculpatory in the Russia context, it’s hard to imagine what collusion would look like. And unlike the conduct described in Volume I of the Mueller report, the president is no longer a private citizen. Now, he is actually corruptly wielding the powers of his office in order to achieve this abusive end. This represents a dramatic escalation in severity.