Thursday, May 23, 2019

It's About The Law, Stupid: Latest Court Rulings Reveal Trump's Abject Ignorance

We certainly can expect the two lower court rulings this week upholding House committee subpoenas involving Donald Trump's mysterioso financing to be appealed to Kingdom Come.   
The rulings lay bare Trump's ignorance of the law and a concomitant flaw in the reasoning of his lawyers that provide a glimmer of hope that he will be scuppered in the end: Attempts to block the subpoenas are being made on political grounds -- as in Democrats are beating up on and want impeach a beleaguered president just trying to do his job -- but to Trump's surprise, political grandstanding takes a back seat in federal courts.
On Monday in Washington, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta fast-tracked a decision on Trump's attempt to keep Mazars USA, his longtime accounting firm, from turning over his financial records, ruling that it is legally bound to honor a subpoena to do so.
On Wednesday in Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos blocked an attempt by the president and his elder children to prevent Deutsche Bank and Capitol One from honoring subpoenas seeking information about their loans.     
And in between, Trump went on a temper-tantrum rant that was notable even by his standards. 
He blew up a White House meeting with Democratic congressional leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, or "Crazy Nancy" as Trump calls the speaker of the House in one of his many insults, before it had even started and then stormed into the Rose Garden for a spittle-infused declaration that he wouldn't work with Democrats on a massive infrastructure bill unless they stop investigating him.   
The common denominator of the subpoenas that Mehta and Ramos refused to block, as well as others pertaining to Trump's taxes and his other financial shenanigans, is that he is desperate to keep everything secret pertaining to his "private affairs," as his lawyers term them, by running out the clock until the 2020 elections.  This is because these private affairs are certain to show the same pattern of lying, unethical conduct and outright criminality that pervade his more transparent endeavors. 
All, of course, are messes of Trump's own making and not Democratic overreach, which Ramos addressed in an hour-long reading of his ruling from the bench. 
In rejecting the entirety of Trump's lawyers argument, Ramos drew a distinction between the political ramifications of an investigation into a president's finances and what a judge must consider.   He said that "any delay in the proceedings may result in irreparable harm to the Committees. . . .  Courts have long recognized a clear public interest in maximizing Congress's power to investigate." 
"Propriety of legislative motives is not a question left to the courts,"  Ramos concluded.  It is a question "left to voters, not judges." 
Mehta's decision to fast-track the Mazars injunction pleading, which took only days between hearing and ruling and not weeks or months, and Ramos drawing attention to the timing of the Deutsche Bank-Capitol One injunction pleading point up a factor that should temper any excitement over the rulings. 
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said on Thursday that it will expedite its review of the Mazars case, and it is probable that courts at the next level will sustain the rulings on appeal because these courts are generally liberal in outlook.  Additionally, both Mehta and Ramos crafted rulings as appeal proof as possible, and Ramos in particular seemed to be looking beyond the District Court level.   But a judge or panel of judges might not buy into the timing argument and an appeal at the next level or higher could take weeks or months before there is a ruling, something that would help Trump and his lawyers. 
Then there is the ultimate question: When and if these or any other cases reach a Supreme Court with a decidedly conservative bent, including two far-right Trump-nominated justices, how will it rule? 
Trump acts like he is convinced that the high court will effectively serve as a rubber stamp, clearing the way for his agenda.  Most importantly, he believes the court can save him from impeachment. 
But I continue to believe that the court will not "save" Trump, to use a word that his senior advisers have bandied about since Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, for two interconnected reasons:
The tactic of Trump's lawyers blaming the Democrats and not arguing the law -- which would be futile -- is further evidence that Trump doesn't understand the basics of American governance and civics, including the reality that the Supreme Court has no authority to help or hinder impeachment proceedings.  
* Even with Trump nominees Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, a ruling by a high court led by John Roberts, a devout constitutionalist, will fail for the same reasons that Richard Nixon failed during Watergate -- the elemental reasons enshrined in that very Constitution that Trump loves to hate.  
Trump's blowup before the Democratic leadership and his Rose Garden theatrics quickly backfired as Democrats called his bluff for yet again making it all about him, not the good of the country.   
The Extremely Stable Genius was left to whine that what obviously was a stunt was not a stunt as he lined up several aides during a press conference to aver that he was not stark raving mad.  Besides which, everything is the Democrats' fault because of all those damned investigations, something he said repeatedly on Thursday.  For good measure, Trump on Thursday night tweeted out a fake video of Pelosi making the rounds on alt-right websites that makes her appear drunk.
All of this is leaving Republicans up for reelection in swing states next year with a queasy feeling because they have very little to show except for a lot of wheel spinning. 
Meanwhile, Pelosi has passed more than 250 pieces of legislation since January, including some major bills that are stuck in the Republican-controlled Senate, and all the while courts are siding with the opposition as threat of impeachment against their stark raving mad leader grows.   

Click HERE for a summary of ongoing Trump-related investigations.

Click HERE for a comprehensive timeline of the Russia scandal
and related developments.  


Dan Leo said...

Thanks for the continuing good work, Shaun.

Bscharlott said...

Despite his lawlessness, BetOnline now showing Trump at even money to win in 2020. I'd like to think the Dems have at least a slight advantage. There are so many variables, and we are in such new territory, that compelling arguments can be made for any outcome. The soul of our country is at stake.