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The Threat from Trump Makes the Threat from Nixon Look Like Small Potatoes

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Trump’s conduct makes the threat we faced from Nixon look like small potatoes.

Bugging one’s opponent and then covering it up in the one case. (Yes, there was more to it.)

And in the case of Trump? The long list of infringements already visible from Trump includes:

  • on the emoluments clause, case almost makes itself;
  • the ever more apparent collusion of the Trump people with a hostile and still-powerful adversary in attacking a core part of our constitutional process (a presidential election),
  • and now the obstruction of justice,
  • (not to mention his verbal assaults on the independent judiciary and the free press

Amounts to a threat to our democracy of a wholly different order of magnitude than Nixon posed.

If there’s Russian collusion, that will be huge. The story of such doings would be major stink in American history, stand as a moment of national shame, and damage the system if it turns out that the man we now call president is either a traitor or something close to it. And got to the presidency by that almost-treason.

And even more so if he is allowed to get away with it.

We have a bouquet of impeachable offenses that show a consistent pattern of conduct, demonstrating contempt for our constitutional order. But the offense that would play most dramatically with a broad swath of the public would be the betrayal of the nation that collusion would represent.

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What would it do to America if he could do all those things and escape unscathed. His getting away with it would strike a wound in the American political organism.

The urgency of the need to impeach Trump is much greater than was the case with Nixon. And that was pretty intense, too, in an era when our norms were more tightly defended than now.

Witness the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party, with their protection of Trump. The Republican Party of the early 1970s had a degree of real conscience. (That’s why Watergate could be conducted in as bi-partisan a way as it was.)

Today’s Republican Party virtually has no conscience.

The Republicans are clearly hoping that they can ride this through with Trump. They fear what Trump’s downfall would mean to them. We should make them fear even more what the refusal to make sure that we learn what’s true will do to them politically.

“Find the truth.” A winning position to take.

The Republicans must either go along with an honest investigation or take a pounding.

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Here’s a place where some important truth might be readily disclosed.

If it can be proved that Trump demanded loyalty of Comey, his goose should be cooked. It is an assault on “the rule of law.” It goes against the commitment to be “a nation of laws, not of men.”

And go after the Republicans to at least find the truth.

And a way that might work:

A subpoena be issued by Congress all records of any kind — written, taped, or notes, or memos — regarding the conversation that took place between Trump and Comey.

Was such a demand made? (Major obstruction)

Did Trump ask for reassurance about his not being under investigation? (Less Major Obstruction)

Even Trump’s self-serving account convicts him of inappropriate conduct which, in the context of the situation in which Comey sat. As head of the FBI, and in particular as head of an investigation, he should never have been asked such a question.

And then Trump bizarrely puts him into the investigation business in his firing letter: three times you have given me a free pass.

But I expect the real coup de grace could come from Comey’s files, where there may well be proof of Trump’s demand for loyalty. (Comey is said to be excellent at creating the a record  of sticky things that might some day come up. He has done it once before and could play the right memorandum when the occasion required it.)

And if that record is there, it will be there to show the American people how Trump showed no regard for the vital independence of the FBI, and thus the integrity of our constitutional order, choosing instead to act like a gangster, demanding fealty from a less powerful figure in his “territory.”

It will show him obstructing justice. And this is something that the American people can be enabled to understand.

Why doubt the report about the demand. That report seems to be from FBI allies of Comey. How likely is it that these FBI straight arrows would make their move in their battle with Trump by lying about something so important as whether the President of the United States committed an impeachable offense? Does that match what we know about the FBI profile: more like boy scouts. Would a group fighting for truth, justice, and the American way, have made their play to the press with a lie?

But lying about something like this fits everything we know about the Trump side. They will say anything. They — especially Trump –have lied to a degree like nothing we’ve ever seen. Lying is at the heart of the Trump presidency. (Indeed, of the whole Republican Party, whose dishonesty on issue after issue — voter fraud, climate change — is stunning.)

Their testimony is worthless, and as for the alleged conduct, we should have learned by now to put nothing past this man. His dishonesty is matched only by his insistence on dominating, and refusal to acknowledge other sources of power he must respect. Like the independence of the FBI.

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We need to separate this man from the powers of the presidency. The memo I’m imagining in that file may be a good point of the wedge to try and that important office apart.

Good investigation today. Impeachment tomorrow.

 

  • Jim B

    Too bad we can’t impeach the 62 or so million that voted for the crook. I am afraid we could very well get the same results today if the election were held now.