Sunday, July 01, 2018

We're Headed From Really Bad To Truly Awful If Mueller Doesn't Move On Trump

If you believe that timing is everything, which it so often is in politics and life, then wrap your mind around this: Robert Mueller has about two months to bring charges against Donald Trump before the last vestiges of the rule of law in the once greatest country on earth -- that former beacon of freedom -- are ground to dust under the president's tyrannical heel.  When that window closes, the special prosecutor's outsized role as the only person able to stop Trump will be seriously if not fatally compromised.  Yes, things are that bad. 
Before I explain why July and August are crucial to turning back the tsunami of unlawful awfulness, let's review where we've been and where we find ourselves: 
Trump was "elected" in 2016 by an anachronism known as the Electoral College although he fell almost three million popular votes short of Hillary Clinton.  This is because over 60 million Americans were so stupid that they preferred a reality TV star with a profound case of malignant narcissism, a long history of blatant racism, business failures, repeated sexual predations and inability to tell the truth over an eminently decent if flawed woman who had devoted her life to public service as opposed to Trump's ceaseless self aggrandizement.  And because Russia, with the help of the Trump campaign, undermined the bedrock of American democracy by sabotaging the campaign of that woman.  
(Just to give your blood pressure another jolt, note that the Republican Party has lost the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, but Electoral College models show it could plausibly continue to win the White House by controlling the judiciary even if the Democrats have substantial popular vote majorities.  It's called minority rule, sports fans.)
In the 17 months that Trump has been president, he has run true to form, only much worse than even the most pessimistic observers dared fear.   
Trump has undermined health care, further abridged womens' rights, started phony trade wars and negotiated empty treaties, repeatedly attacked the justice system when his cronies were indicted and retaliated against whistleblowers when they called him out, turned his back on our biggest allies, lip locked with white supremacists, paid off a porn star and repeatedly kissed Vladimir Putin's ass, all while babbling incoherently about draining the Washington swamp but appointing a billionaire Cabinet and making America great again but methodically destroying or tampering with every core value that made it great, declaring with autocratic certitude that he is above the law and lying with a mind-exploding incessance about anything and everything.   
And now is on the verge of nominating another Supreme Court justice who not only will assure that the top court becomes a right-wing safe house for making the president's myriad disasters "legal," but possibly protect him from Mueller since Congress, led by the Vichy Republicans in the House, has shirked its constitutional duty to be a check on a rogue president. 
Mueller's investigation of the Russia scandal, a direct consequence of Trump firing FBI Director James Comey under false pretenses, has been conducted with scrupulous care and in 13 months already has netted indictments of 18 individuals, including 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies that used social media to undermine Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.  Among the perps are Trump's former campaign chairman and national security adviser, while the long list of additional potential indictees include other campaign officials, White House insiders, Trump's longtime lawyer and fixer, and the president's own son, daughter and son-in-law, the latter two having been appointed by him to senior administration positions despite their utter lack of experience. 
The special counsel's investigation has been unusual in that it has been leakproof at a time when the outrages emanating from the West Wing are routinely whispered to reporters who then run with the "fake news" Trump rails and tweets against with numbing regularity.   
But we do know that the Mueller has made the case that there are grounds for several articles of impeachment against Trump, including multiple counts of obstruction of justice, lying and repeatedly violating the Constitution's emoluments provision to enrich his own businesses.  The public record speaks loudly and unambiguously of those violations of the presidential oath.   
Still, Mueller is mindful of the approaching mid-term election (and unlike Comey, who did great damage to Clinton because of his extralegal pronouncements in late October 2016 while remaining silent about Russian meddling) understands his ethical obligation to not overtly influence the election by waiting too long to move on Trump, most likely in the form of a letter to the Justice Department recommending an impeachment referral to Congress that must be submitted by the end of August at the latest to give him that necessary ethical distance.    
The timing is doubly important: Trump's conduct, specifically an impeachment recommendation, must be an election issue for the good of the Republic.  And that recommendation has to have gone forward before the Supreme Court is further locked down with another far-right justice who observes the Constitution in the breach, possibly giving Trump the majority he needs to neutralize Mueller or get away with firing him. 
Despite all the grim news, it is my sense that the power balance has begun to shift with Trump's Theater of Cruelty, that runaway hit show starring weeping toddlers clinging to chain-link fences at border detention camps.  With co-direction from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who helpfully cited a passage from the Scriptures in defending the separation of children from parents that had been used by his forebears to justify slavery.
A voter backlash -- that is, people newly exercising their will as the extent of the damage Trump and their silence have done dawns on them -- is long overdue.   
A recommendation of impeachment can be the nucleus of a Democratic takeback of the House and perhaps the Senate, as well, if the Dems are able to extinguish their intra-party dumpster fire and craft a compelling message that it is time to recommit to affordable education for all, to restore access to reasonable health care and to work toward universal health care, to resume the task of cleaning up the environment and protecting our public lands, to recommit to our allies and rejoin the world community, reject phony, ego-driven  alliances with our enemies and confront real global threats, to end fractious, ego-driven trade wars that destroy jobs, to provide decent wages and pay parity.  And restore civility to our national discourse. 
Only then can the process of taking back America begin.  And like those toddlers crying out for their parents, we can be reunited with our country.

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


DH said...

Good piece, Shaun. Glad you’re still weighing in periodically with shrewd, clarifying updates. I of course read the Post and Times etc. every day, but your periodic big-picture assessments are valuable beyond what the major outlets say.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just wow. Brilliant. You are truly extraordinary.

Dan Leo said...

Thanks for this wise and informed summary, Shaun.

Anonymous said...

It may be fitting in a way that America's original sin of racism should ultimately lead to America's unraveling, but I would really rather not have the opportunity to be a witness thereunto.

DdW said...

While none of us can predict the future, I have enough invested in America and too much faith in Americans, that I just cannot see "blood running down the streets," regardless of what happens to Trump.

That is not to say that there will be not be acts of violence by some, but not the end of our democracy.

We just will not let one bad actor and his cult followers destroy overnight what took us more than two centuries to achieve.