Everyone is saying, IMPEACHMENT! If everyone is saying it, what’s taking so long?This Is Count After Count on a Bill of Impeachment
The running of the rats is becoming a bit frenzied around Camp Runamuck these days. Roger Stone has put in a bid to overtake Paul Manafort in the in-house competition for Dumbest Thing Done While Under Indictment, something I didn’t think was humanly possible. (Lying while under a plea agreement or appearing to threaten the federal judge overseeing your case while under indictment? You make the call.) And The New York Times was out on Tuesday with a massive report about the White House efforts to submarine Robert Mueller’s investigation, a feat of reporting that is impossible to imagine without sources within the administration* who are desperate to have careers after the plague passes.
Whatever the sources for the Times report, it’s a series of explosive revelations that illustrate nothing more than a criminal presidency* knowing that all its alibis and cover stories are disintegrating.
An examination by The New York Times reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by Mr. Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement. Interviews with dozens of current and former government officials and others close to Mr. Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a two-year drama.
White House lawyers wrote a confidential memo expressing concern about the president’s staff peddling misleading information in public about the firing of Michael T. Flynn, the Trump administration’s first national security adviser. Mr. Trump had private conversations with Republican lawmakers about a campaign to attack the Mueller investigation. And, there was the episode when he asked his attorney general about putting Mr. Berman in charge of the Manhattan investigation.
Mr. Whitaker, who earlier this month told a congressional committee that Mr. Trump had never pressured him over the various investigations, is now under scrutiny by House Democrats for possible perjury.
The effort as described by the Times makes the Watergate coverup look like a kindergarten game of hide-and-seek.
Remember how charming it was? Tony Ulasciewicz and his motorman’s changemaker? Bags of cash in paperbags? Modified limited hangouts. Ah, as Mr. Dooley said, thim was the days. This is not criminality arising from government service. This is corruption imported into the institutions of a democratic republic from the more malignant precincts of the private sector. And a remarkable number of people found themselves willing to take part in it.
The president’s defenders counter that most of Mr. Trump’s actions under scrutiny fall under his authority as the head of the executive branch. They argue that the Constitution gives the president sweeping powers to hire and fire, to start and stop law enforcement proceedings, and to grant presidential pardons to friends and allies. A sitting American president cannot be indicted, according to current Justice Department policy.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers add this novel response: the president has been public about his disdain for the Mueller investigation and other federal inquiries, so he is hardly engaged in a conspiracy. He fired one F.B.I. director and considered firing his replacement. He humiliated his first attorney general for being unable to “control” the Russia investigation and installed a replacement, Mr. Whitaker, who has told people he believed his job was to protect the president. But that, they say, is Donald Trump being Donald Trump.
“Hey, you saps elected this king grifter. What did you expect? You knew he was a snake when you let him in.”
Sitting in the Delta Sky Lounge during a layover in Atlanta’s airport in July 2017, Representative Matt Gaetz, a first-term Republican from the Florida Panhandle, decided it was time to attack. Mr. Gaetz, then 35, believed that the president’s allies in Congress needed a coordinated strategy to fight back against an investigation they viewed as deeply unfair and politically biased.
He called Representative Jim Jordan, a conservative Republican from Ohio, and told him the party needed “to go play offense,” Mr. Gaetz recalled in an interview. The two men believed that Republican leaders, who publicly praised the appointment of Mr. Mueller, had been beaten into a defensive crouch by the unending chaos and were leaving Democrats unchecked to “pistol whip” the president with constant accusations about his campaign and Russia.
So they began to investigate the investigators. Mr. Trump and his lawyers enthusiastically encouraged the strategy, which, according to some polls, convinced many Americans that the country’s law enforcement apparatus was determined to bring down the president. Within days of their conversation, Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Jordan drafted a letter to Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein, the first call for the appointment of a second special counsel to essentially reinvestigate Hillary Clinton for her handling of her emails while secretary of state — the case had ended in the summer of 2016 — as well as the origins of the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mr. Flynn and other Trump associates.
Gaetz already has made his reputation as a uniquely brainless automaton in the service of the administration*. But then there’s this.
The president became an active participant in the campaign. He repeatedly leaned on administration officials on behalf of the lawmakers — urging Mr. Rosenstein and other law enforcement leaders to flout procedure and share sensitive materials about the ongoing case with Congress. As president, Mr. Trump has ultimate authority over information that passes through the government, but his interventions were unusual.
Almost every action in this story is an abuse of power on the part of someone, the president* most of all. Count after count on a bill of impeachment, almost one in every paragraph. There hasn’t been an excuse for any of this for an awfully long time.
Let us know what you think before the clock runs out.