Huh, so that happened.

by John Holbo on May 19, 2017

It’s been a couple days since we had fresh Trump thread – mayfly life cycle of the news cycle, pegged to POTUS attention span! (Trump: the shallow state vs. the Deep State!)

So: there’s to be a special counsel. In partisan terms, this seems like far and away the least-bad option for every single Republican except Trump. It’s a short-term big win for all of them, insofar as they can stop dodging questions they don’t want to answer, lest Trump throw them under the bus tomorrow, undermining whatever dodgy talking points they try. Now they can be all ‘we don’t want to prejudge an ongoing investigation’. They can foot-drag when it comes to any parallel investigations, on the grounds that it should be left to Mueller. With luck, that will carry them through 2018. With really good luck, Mueller’s investigation will not include some things that then don’t get investigated, which can only be good for Republicans.

They can maybe get back to taking from the poor to give to the rich.

For Trump it seems like pretty much a disaster. But maybe the guy has had no non-disaster outcomes anywhere on the horizon, since about 72 hours ago? It’s hard to imagine Mueller isn’t going to find something that Trump really really doesn’t want him to find.

I guess we’ll find out eventually, not by next week. Maybe this daily bombshell schedule will subside for a while?

In the meantime, Trump can maybe get back to turning a profit on this whole Presidenting gig, while making his base feel better about him again? It’s not a bad bet that, in the end, the country won’t send a former President to jail, even if he is found to have done something really really horrible. Maybe he can walk away from the wreckage holding the bag, with a lot of stakeholders burned. Wouldn’t be the first time he’s been the guy who causes so much trouble that it’s less trouble, in the end, just to get him to leave. So maybe for him the best option is delay, even if it is followed by now-inevitable revelations of some awfulness?

A total Trump legal implosion would be bad for Republicans generally, but perhaps they can insulate from the worst of it, and maybe it will come after the mid-terms? It will help if they can tell their base the same thing they are going to be telling Democrats for the next two years: it’s all on this Mueller guy, we’re not responsible. (They’ll say it more in anger than sorrow to the Trump-loving base, more in sorrow than anger to Democrats. That’s within the thespian range of even amateur political actors.)

Democrats, by contrast, may be temporarily deprived of a few brick-bats. But that’s probably better for the party’s mental and moral health, long-term. They need to spend a bit more time not just pointing out the horror that is Trump, 24-7, real though that horror is. (Of course, Trump will probably just keep trumping fresh outrages, but it does not seem impossible that this past week will remain relatively bad, even by future standards.) Mueller being appointed special counsel is a pretty good result for the country and the rule of law. Had there been no such appointment – had Democrats just kept raking Republicans over the coals for the next two years – had Republicans persisted in ignoring the obvious need to investigate this stuff – that probably would have benefited Democrats. But the institutional damage from that would have  outweighed partisan upside.

It would be morally and politically satisfying if Mueller could conduct a totally transparent investigation but that’s not really something that could happen, realistically.

And so endeth my stream of consciousness, regarding the news. What’s on your mind?

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Faustusnotes 05.19.17 at 7:35 am

I think the FBI has it in for trump and his clique. If so the whole gang are going to be relying on the mercy of the next democratic president. Better hope it’s not “Pocahontas”!

2

MFB 05.19.17 at 8:05 am

In a sense, it’s probably good news for all of us. With any luck, Washington will be all but paralysed as the witch-hunters import kilotonnes of bullshit and block the roads with them.

One might be afraid that Trump would start a war to distract the public’s attention, as Clinton did, but he’s already done that so what else is new?

On the other hand, be afraid, be very afraid, once Pence becomes President.

3

magari 05.19.17 at 8:29 am

I don’t get this turn of events. Trump was Comey’s guy, right? Comey went out of his way to talk about Hillary’s emails while hiding the investigations into Trump’s team. His guy wins and now he’s writing damaging memos about his convo’s with Trump? This only makes sense if:

A: Comey is stupid, and didn’t understand the disaster that would be Trump.
B: Comey is stupid, and didn’t understand that a press conference about Hillary’s emails could swing the election.
C: Comey hated the Clintons more than he respected our electoral process. He wasn’t necessarily pro-Trump, rather, his animosity versus the Clintons outweighed any sense of propriety and respect for elections.

4

John Holbo 05.19.17 at 9:09 am

“Trump was Comey’s guy, right? Comey went out of his way to talk about Hillary’s emails while hiding the investigations into Trump’s team.”

I don’t think Comey did that because he wanted Trump elected. He did it, it seems, to preserve the reputation of the FBI. He was worried about leaks of the Hillary stuff, apparently, and wanted to get out ahead of that, to keep some control over it. Bad call. But his motive was not to tip it to Trump, although that was the effect. Trump could reasonably worry that Comey would feel that, to recover his reputation as even-handed, that he might now lean over backwards not to take Trump’s side again.

It will be interesting if Comey deciding who doesn’t get to be President turns into a kind of tradition. Or at least a two-fer.

5

J-D 05.19.17 at 9:19 am

What’s on your mind?

What’s on my mind is that you write about the rule of law as if you’re for the concept and institutional damage as if you’re against the concept, whereas I hold to the converse positions.

6

John Holbo 05.19.17 at 9:23 am

You’re against the rule of law and in favor of institutional damage, ceretis paribus. Or just in this situation?

7

Anonymous Troll 05.19.17 at 10:22 am

I thought that since Ken Starr all special investigations were totally transparent, because both sides do it. I therefore expect daily reports of salacious details.

8

Hidari 05.19.17 at 10:50 am

@3
Why are you ignoring the idea that Trump is stupid and genuinely didn’t understand the impact sacking Comey would have on his reputation, such as it is?

From OP

‘A total Trump legal implosion would be bad for Republicans generally.’

Well short term, but can Trump’s demise really be worse than Nixon’s? (Perhaps it can, but seems unlikely at the moment). And Nixon’s political demise seemed to be a bad thing for the Republicans, and for a short time, it was. But Nixon was ‘the last liberal’, a Keynesian who founded the EPA. Removing him enabled the Republicans to purge their party of the last ‘moderate Republicans’ and move hard to the right, and with the Reagan counter-revolution they shifted American politics to the extreme right, where it has remained ever since.

‘It’s hard to imagine Mueller isn’t going to find something that Trump really really doesn’t want him to find’.

Mueller will find out that, like all wealthy American capitalists, without exception, Trump is a sleazebag and a scumbag who played fast and loose with the law (crony capitalism is the only kind of capitalism there is, or has ever been). Trump probably has links with unpleasant Russian oligarchs, not because they are Russian, but because they are oligarchs. Will that be enough to hang Trump? Depends on how much the Republicans want President Pence. A lot, would be my guess. So yes Trump is probably doomed, but maybe in his second term (if he has one) not his first. Will he go peacefully or accept defeat like Nixon? Not a chance. Remember Trump has the army and the armed police force on his side. When states fracture that counts for a lot more than the Democrats’ de facto control of the media.

‘One might be afraid that Trump would start a war to distract the public’s attention, as Clinton did, but he’s already done that so what else is new?’

The one way Trump can stop all this Russian nonsense, right now, is to start a war (preferably nuclear) with Russia. It’s really the only way to ‘clear his name’ if you think about it. Interesting to note that the Americans have just bombed the Syrian army, who, as everyone knows, is supported/backed by the Russians. You can forget any ideas you might have about Trump being ‘reigned in’ in this respect by his ‘allies’. Prime Minister May will defend him whatever happens, she has made that perfectly clear. And the Europeans hate Putin much more than they hate Trump (which is a lot). So the more the investigation starts to menace Trump (and that would seem to be a more or less unstoppable process now) the more appealing the idea of an attack of Russia will become. And of course the ironically named ‘Democrats’, by the logical of their own position, will feel duty bound to back him.

So those are your options: creeping fascism, a coup/civil war, or nuclear Armageddon.

9

MFB 05.19.17 at 11:00 am

I suspect, he means in this situation. The rule of law, for the United States government, generally translates as something rather different from what it means for the rest of us. And institutional damage to the United States government is probably a good thing for the rest of the world, and arguably a good thing for U.S. citizens in general.

10

magari 05.19.17 at 11:30 am

@Hidari

Yes, Trump is stupid. But Trump’s situation is now directly tied to Comey’s goals, which is why it makes sense to inquire further into Comey’s politics.

11

Catchling 05.19.17 at 11:34 am

And of course the ironically named ‘Democrats’, by the logical of their own position, will feel duty bound to back him.

What? No they wouldn’t. Conservatives could insist they do, along the same lines as insisting Democrats had to support the Comey firing. But they’d be wrong and they’d know perfectly well why.

12

BenK 05.19.17 at 11:39 am

Overall, I disagree with most everything being said here; so I don’t expect this to be well received –

Trump is being tripped up by circles of people who despise anyone who supports him; which is part of the ‘drain the swamp’ – the alligators are bad, but the mosquitoes are killer.

He was doing the natural and right thing in dismissing Comey, even though Comey had tripped up Clinton, because [ironically] the Justice Department National Capital Region crew had not forgiven Comey for the election – which was rendering him relatively ineffective – and Comey was lashing out this way and that trying to get ahead of the organization itself and avoid all the impediments thrown his way.

Anything Trump does is used as a point of attack, both by the Democrats and by most Republican politicians – with the occasional exception that half the Republicans will side with him when he is on their side against the other Republicans (which half depends on the issue). Meanwhile, the media will latch onto any opposition _by Republicans_ as somehow especially damning.

Meanwhile, a victory by Trump was always low probability, and yet, he continues to have them. So I’d wait and see…

13

Layman 05.19.17 at 11:53 am

I suspect Trump will in a matter of months pardon Flynn for any and all crimes he may have committed. If as it seems the most obvious and egregious wrongdoing can be attributed to Flynn, and much of the ensuing cover-up activity has centered around that, it is the simplest way to end the investigation without any negative legal result for Trump. Trump’s people can claim they didn’t know what Flynn was up to, and even though there’s plenty of evidence they did know, we’ve learned that lying to the public (as e.g. Pence has clearly done) isn’t actually a crime, so they will survive relatively unscathed.

14

Layman 05.19.17 at 11:57 am

Hidari: “The one way Trump can stop all this Russian nonsense, right now, is to start a war (preferably nuclear) with Russia [etc…]”

I’m amazed that people can write this sort of nonsense as if they really believe it; in particular the notion that European leaders will seize on it as the way to save Trump.

15

Doug T 05.19.17 at 12:02 pm

I think there are two other plausible interpretations of Comey’s pre-election leaks, which are not mutually exclusive. The first is that it was a CYA, for himself and/or the FBI. He figured Hillary was almost certainly going to win the election and didn’t want to open up himself or the FBI to 4 years worth of Congressional hearings about how they helped cover up her misdeeds to aid her election.

And that definitely would have happened if she had won without carrying both houses of Congress (which was unlikely) if he hadn’t said anything about it. In the event he did, he might get some heat from Democrats but not too much. Because they aren’t as good at this sort of thing as Republicans and, hey, they won anyway so why eat up oxygen chasing after old scandals? If he even thought about the possibility of Trump winning, well in that case he’d still come out well, since he had been tough on Hillary.

The second explanation is that he’s a publicity hound, and enjoyed performing for Congress and being the star. I haven’t followed his career closely but have a friend who is a strong proponent of this thesis, going back to his prosecution of Martha Stewart, on through his dramatic stories of the heroic role he played (according to him) in the Ashcroft hospital drama (an account disputed by others involved), up to the present day when he made sure to get as much TV time as possible out of the Hillary investigation, with several highly unusual public pronouncements.

16

J-D 05.19.17 at 12:05 pm

You’re against the rule of law and in favor of institutional damage, ceretis paribus. Or just in this situation?

I was thinking of general principles, not particularly this situation.

17

Faustusnotes 05.19.17 at 12:26 pm

Layman I think presidents can only pardon criminal cases, and Flynn will go down under civil law I think.

I agree that trump can avoid all this trouble with a war but why go for Russia when he can trigger North Korea and fight to the last Korean?

18

Raven Onthill 05.19.17 at 12:35 pm

I am struck by the way conservatives forget their conservative values when it comes to Trump. The man is probably a traitor, as well as many around him, yet conservatives rally around him.

19

JimV 05.19.17 at 12:50 pm

“… the Democrats’ de facto control of the media.”

Well, aside from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Morning Joe, the NY Times Editorial Page, etc., etc., and so forth. But I get it: reality’s liberal bias is very strong in this instance. The phrasing seems to imply some Democrat agency though.

One minor consideration missing from the OP is that Trump may actually have a degenerative mental condition of some kind. Duncan Black (Atrios) seems convinced of this. It would explain a lot. Not enough to make me feel sorry for Trump, though.

20

Katsue 05.19.17 at 1:03 pm

@Layman 15

Frankly, I’m not sure even a nuclear war with Russia would sway people on the alt-centre from their conclusion that Trump was somehow Putin’s puppet. The conclusion would be drawn that nuking Moscow was the whole purpose of Trump’s Manchurian Candidacy.

21

James Wimberley 05.19.17 at 1:39 pm

Idi Amin was guaranteed a comfortable exile in Saudi Arabia to get him to quit peacefully, wasn’t he? A whip-round to assemble a retirement payoff for Trump could be a good investment. A billion ought to do it.

22

Patrick 05.19.17 at 2:40 pm

My best guess with Trump is that Trump has no personal and direct and legally improper connections with Putin. I suspect he’s just an easily manipulated guy and Putin felt like putting a dumb clown in the White House was a good idea. Then Putin and Putins many friends went ahead and convinced the dumb idiot to hire a bunch of people he knew would be friendly to Russian interests for a wide variety of reasons.

So I suspect that the independent counsel will find more of the same thing we already know about. People with tons of Russian ties, all exactly as slimy as Russian politics always are, hired by Trump because they’re really smarmy and Trump loves smarm. There won’t ever be a good smoking gun, but there will be tons of smoke that allows the investigation will run for as long as the investigator wants it to run, and a bunch of mid level Trump advisors will be disgraced and removed from office for failure to disclose foreign contacts and entanglements.

If Trump goes down for Russia stuff it will probably be because one of his advisors gets thrown out for improprieties, and Trump blows that off and keeps taking advice from the disgraced guy because he doesn’t believe anything he doesn’t want to believe. Maybe in the process he might commit a crime, excelt that there are a ton of hideously irresponsible things that aren’t technically crimes if the President does them.

23

LFC 05.19.17 at 3:12 pm

Hidari @3

But Nixon was ‘the last liberal’, a Keynesian who founded the EPA.

The notion that Nixon was the last liberal is preposterous. Ever heard of Nixon’s ‘southern strategy’? He began his career as a quasi-McCarthyite and ended it, well, not as the last liberal at any rate.

Yes, the EPA was established under his admin. And he did say “we’re all Keynesians now.” Though whether he himself actually was a Keynesian is very debatable, to say the least.

Nixon was quite bored by domestic politics, anyway. His real passion was foreign affairs. And there his partner and inspiration was not Keynes, but Kissinger.

24

Glen Tomkins 05.19.17 at 3:36 pm

“It’s hard to imagine Mueller isn’t going to find something that Trump really really doesn’t want him to find.”

Actually, I think the opposite is pretty much the case.

Nixon was in trouble after the Saturday Night Massacre because taking such a public action against the investigation of the Watergate burglary was a desperate move. It tied him indisputably, for the first time in the public mind, to the burglary, which might otherwise have very reasonably been attributed to some overzealous underling or ally.

We leap to the analogy of Trump’s Tuesday Night Massacre to Nixon’s action. Here we have Trump making a seemingly desperate move, publically quashing an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. A rational person would not have done that unless there was something he really, really didn’t want Comey to find and publicize.

But Trump isn’t a rational person. He has dementia.

Nixon had to cover up Watergate, he had no choice. The conventional wisdom is that it wasn’t the third rate burglary that did him in, it was the cover up. It’s true enough that in getting his own fingerprints on the Saturday Night Massacre, he violated criminal mastermind rule #1. It was that overt involvement in the criminal enterprise that made people take seriously the idea that a president could be behind a third rate burglary. But this was not a mistake. Nixon had no choice but incriminate himself by launching a cover up, because what he had to cover up was much, much worse than the third rate burglary. He had only had to turn to the plan of hiring an ad hoc group of fourth rate amateurs as his goon squad as second best after his earlier efforts had been rebuffed to get the FBI and the CIA to spy on and sabotage the Democratic Party and his other long list of enemies.

What’s the equivalent of the White House Horrors that we can imagine Trump is covering up? That Trump and Manafort were even deeper in the pockets of the Russians, the Turks, the Chinese, the Albanians (Not the Dutch! That’s too horrible to contemplate.)? That’s embarrassing stuff, but Trump has already taken the hit for the poor judgement of hiring those two by having to fire them.

It’s not as if whatever we find out about Flynn’s and Manafort’s and others’ ties to Russia would make Trump’s judgment seem more questionable than what he already does in public on a daily basis. He’s a bathroom idiot. They’re child-proofing the upcoming NATO summit against him.

Trump fired Comey because something he saw on Fox News pushed him over the edge in the cartoon view he takes of the universe. Comey is an officious prick (also a tower of integrity, but those are two labels for the same thing), and Trump has been gifted with the power to put the officious pricks of this world in their place, so Comey is fired. There was no hidden agenda or ulterior motive at work. His dementia has taken away whatever interior or ulterior, depth or height, there ever might have been to the man.

All that’s left is the sad old dementia sufferer we can all see on the surface. He doesn’t even have family sensible or caring enough to have kept him from taking on a new job that they should have known would decompensate his dementia. He needs to be out of that job that is about as bad an idea for him and for the country as can be imagined. But he’s not going to be removed from office for being a criminal mastermind like Nixon.

Mueller’s investigation is going nowhere. It’s just a distraction, hopefully not a fatal distraction, from what really needs to be done. The patient needs to return to an environment in which his dementia is well-compensated, and the nation needs a mentally incompetent person out of the office.

25

Howard Frant 05.19.17 at 3:39 pm

Boy, if the comments (not the OP) on this thread represent The Left, thank goodness it’s so powerless. It feels free to comment on the US, despite a profound ignorance of it, using analysis seemingly based on the Empire in Star Wars. Of course concepts like “democracy” and “rule of law” mean something “rather different” in the Empire than they do elsewhere. And of course the galaxy will be much better off when the Empire collapses and everyone is free.

One thing the brave rebels have in common with Americans, apparently, is difficulty in spelling “free rein.” Sorry, that just always irks me.

26

Layman 05.19.17 at 6:10 pm

Patrick: “There won’t ever be a good smoking gun…”

Who needs a smoking gun, when the accused actually admitted the crime on television?

27

Heliopause 05.19.17 at 6:13 pm

“They can maybe get back to taking from the poor to give to the rich.”

Well, yeah, if Ted Lieu has his way.

“I guess we’ll find out eventually, not by next week.”

This will go on for years, unless you can think of one of these similar investigations that didn’t.

“I don’t think Comey did that because he wanted Trump elected. He did it, it seems, to preserve the reputation of the FBI.”

There are several possible interlocking reasons Comey got involved, but one thing we have to remember is that just a few days before Comey’s initial presentation Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch had just gotten caught doing some of the same stuff that’s making the whole nation so hysterical right now.

28

Suzanne 05.19.17 at 6:14 pm

@15: It was a CYA. The calculation was that if he didn’t let Congress know then the virulently anti-Clinton New York office would leak it and at least this way he was in control of how the information got out there.

Also, as you say, if you have a choice between having GOP congresspersons mad at you and Democratic ones mad at you, you choose the latter every time.

29

BroD 05.19.17 at 7:22 pm

OK, look: child psychologists object to calling Trump “a child”, I object to excusing his actions by claims of dementia. The correct diagnosis is “asshole.”

30

Hidari 05.19.17 at 7:50 pm

@20
you may be right. Reading through my Twitter feed, most of which is filled with ‘liberals’ one gets the sense that the entire American political class (apart from a few dissidents like Glenn Greenwald and Max Blumenthal) has simply lost its mind. It’s like following ancient scripts about politics in the 14th century, or amongst the Maya. Conspiracy mongering, veiled fantasies of violence…you name it. Trump and his crazy friends were always nuts, but those who oppose him aren’t much better.

In any case, whatever comes of this, it will be nothing good. At this stage, Trump going or Trump staying both seem equally bad outcomes.

31

Layman 05.19.17 at 10:05 pm

“Conspiracy mongering…”

Now this is damned funny, coming from someone who just wrote this:

“The one way Trump can stop all this Russian nonsense, right now, is to start a war (preferably nuclear) with Russia. It’s really the only way to ‘clear his name’ if you think about it. Interesting to note that the Americans have just bombed the Syrian army, who, as everyone knows, is supported/backed by the Russians. You can forget any ideas you might have about Trump being ‘reigned in’ in this respect by his ‘allies’. Prime Minister May will defend him whatever happens, she has made that perfectly clear. And the Europeans hate Putin much more than they hate Trump (which is a lot). So the more the investigation starts to menace Trump (and that would seem to be a more or less unstoppable process now) the more appealing the idea of an attack of Russia will become. And of course the ironically named ‘Democrats’, by the logical of their own position, will feel duty bound to back him.”

32

LFC 05.20.17 at 12:24 am

An interesting point that perhaps has not gotten enough attention here (though I can’t say I’ve lavished minutely close attention on either Holbo’s self-designated stream-of-consciousness post or the thread) is that someone fairly high inside the WH saw fit to leak to the press what Trump said to the Russian f.m. and ambassador in that mtg: specifically, that (1) Trump apparently shared rather sensitive intel w them and (2) Trump apparently said to them that his getting rid of “the nut job” Comey relieved pressure on him (Trump).

Point (1) is not a crime, though it cd conceivably endanger the lives of sources and therefore is presumptively not good (irrespective of the nationality of those sources, since you don’t want as a matter of policy and morals for people who are giving you sensitive info to be killed). Point (2) might be evidence of obstruction of justice or it might not, depending on various things.

But even if Trump’s behavior in that mtg was not criminal, it does seem to underscore that while one can campaign by the seat of one’s pants, so to speak, it’s a lot more hazardous to be President by the seat of one’s pants, e.g. saying (even in private mtgs) whatever occurs to one on the spur of the moment. And right now there doesn’t appear, practically speaking, to be such a thing as a private mtg in this WH, which adds to the difficulties of anyone inclined to a somewhat improvisational approach to the Presidency. Meanwhile Trump has still managed to sign a lot of very bad executive orders, and even if only some of them are eventually implemented, and only partially, he will still have done considerable damage.

33

John Quiggin 05.20.17 at 12:36 am

The week just got a bit worse for Trump with the news that someone senior in the White House (most likely Kushner) is a person of interest.

Except(!) for the possibility that he will blow us all up, it seems to me that Trump is now pretty much irrelevant. He’ll go, sooner or later, having created a lot of chaos but not much else. And, there’s not much that the Democrats, let alone the left, can do to influence the timing and manner of his departure.

So, the real problem is how to fight the Repubs, including (presumably) President Pence. Those questions (how to deal with the Wall Street wing, class vs culture politics etc) have already been debated a lot, and will be more so. The only Trump-specific point is the need to tie Pence, Ryan and the rest as closely as possible to the Trump disaster. That already seems to be happening with Pence, which is good news.

34

LFC 05.20.17 at 12:39 am

Trump probably fired Comey mostly because he sensed that Comey was not going to bend to his wishes, whatever they might be, in the way he wants an FBI director to do — that, rather than a desire to stymie this particular investigation, might have been the main motivation. Unfortunately for him, Trump does not seem to have realized that the firing would necessarily be read as tied to the investigation, just given the context of what was happening — and apparently he acted before some cooler head could explain to him that it was a bad idea from his own standpoint.

35

Raven Onthill 05.20.17 at 6:12 am

John, Trump’s chaos includes the individual health insurance market (word is he wants to do it, and he could do it Monday) and turning loose the bad cops nationwide. Before the slow processes of law remove him, the republic could be a shambles, perhaps an irreparable shambles.

And, of course, he is probably a traitor, or heavily influenced by traitors. We can only wonder how far the rot has spread.

36

Peter T 05.20.17 at 7:17 am

Investigations like this are high courtroom drama, guaranteed to draw large audiences as revelation after revelation emerges, with pundits pontificating endlessly over the significance of each detail. Bad news for Republicans. Also, the leaks are coming from inside the White House, as different factions compete. Add in the pressure that will come on as people inside start to worry about charges and start trying to throw others off the sleigh, and pissed-off bureaucrats feeding the press (officials routinely make records of high-level conversations as soon as they get back to the office, and circulate them to their immediate circle).

This circus will run and run. Also, Mueller’s brief is not confined to Trump’s presidency, but covers the campaign period. I understand he has a background in money-laundering investigation and whatever ties to dodgy Russian finance he turns up will fuel the fire.

Trump is unlikely to resign and cannot be forced out. The best the GOP can hope for is that the headlines out of the White House will obscure progress on their larger agenda.

37

pieceofcake 05.20.17 at 11:49 am

@29
‘the correct diagnosis is’asshole’!

– and there never was much sense in anal-ysing ‘assholes’.

38

William Timberman 05.20.17 at 1:11 pm

My view is that we can expect about as much resolution in the case of Trump as we got in the case of O.J. Simpson. The body, along with its cultural signifiers, will get tossed off into the weeds at some out of the way junction, while the train and its screaming passengers continues to barrel along toward its inevitable, if unknown destination. If we want anything good to come of this, we need to set up further down the track.

39

Lee A. Arnold 05.20.17 at 1:21 pm

THE PROCESS.

(Back in January.) Trump to Comey: “I need your love.” Comey to himself: “Crikey.”

President’s mind continues wandering: Never should have sent Flynn to Kislyak. Um looks cold outside. Where’s my Coke? Maybe change the curtains. Oh no here comes Reincey and Spicey. Jesus. That fucker Putin. What’s taking so long with that Coke. I inherited a mess. Maybe I should get a haircut. When’s it time for steak & ketchup?

Time passes, many more steak dinners with BSE and ketchup.

(Then, in early May.) –Comey tells Senators and all the rest of the world –live on TV!– that he will NOT rule-out: 1. investigating Trump, 2. investigating Trump’s taxes & finances, and 3. will not rule-out publicly concluding in the future that (as with Hillary) Trump is extremely careless etc.

President goes ballistic, starts screaming at the TV. Aides rush in, thought he was watching The Young and the Restless, oh jeez he turned the channel, oh no, not this…

President orders into the room Rosenstein & Guildensessions: Draw me up reasons why to shitcan that fucker Comey!!!

(A day later.) Mind wanders, says to Spicey & Pencey: It wuz Rosenstein’s letter, wot done the trick! “… mmm, okay, boss, we will say it for you! You da boss!”

(Two days later.) Mind wanders, says to Lester Holt: Nah, I did it cuz of Russia.

40

F. Foundling 05.21.17 at 12:12 am

Re the talk of ‘treason’ – I’m no expert in US law, but when I look at the legal definition of treason, it doesn’t seem obvious to me that treason even *could* have taken place in this case. AFAIU, treason is defined as waging war against the US and ‘providing aid and comfort to the enemies of the US’ and an enemy of the US is someone who engages in hostilities against the US. Russia is not engaged in hostilities against the US, and it is not, I believe, officially designated as an enemy of the US. Furthermore, advocating dovish policies w.r.t. a hostile/rival country cannot reasonably be regarded as ‘aiding’, or else no conflict with a foreign country could ever end and no FP course could ever be changed. If we grant that many in the Trump campaign can be shown to have business ties to Russia and that it can be reasonably inferred that they have had their FP positions influenced by that, this should obviously be morally unacceptable, but I don’t see how it’s very different from, say, a politician with ties to gun manufacturing that campaigns against gun control; and while, again, I’m not an expert, I don’t have the impression that this sort of thing normally results in a sentence in court in the US. I also sort of wonder whether having, say, a ‘friend of Netanyahu’ as opposed to a ‘friend of Putin’ in a candidate/president’s entourage would have been referred to as something self-evidently wrong (and strategic allies and enemies are a matter of choice, not something predestined). Further, even if we grant that the Russians did attempt, or even that they can plausibly be argued to have *succeeded* in tipping the election in favour of Trump, this would be embarrassing, but it still would not incriminate the Trump campaign. And as for the possibility that the Trump campaign actively and deliberately guided or conspired with the Russians engaged in this alleged effort, that seems very implausible, simply because it was never necessary for the campaign to do anything as extreme as that in order to rip the benefits of what the Russians allegedly did.

So, in the end of the day, this still looks very artificial to me. There seems to be a lot of intentional noise, and little to no legal substance.

41

F. Foundling 05.21.17 at 12:19 am

Drat. *Reap* the benefits.

42

F. Foundling 05.21.17 at 1:20 am

The legal(istic) considerations aside, one thing seems clear. The US Establishment, Democrats and Republicans alike, really, really don’t want to put up with a bigoted, chauvinistic, plutocratic, massively privatising, anti-social, environment-destroying, militaristic President who happens not to be *entirely* committed to antagonising the world’s other nuclear superpower at the risk of WW3. What they want is a bigoted, chauvinistic, plutocratic, massively privatising, anti-social, environment-destroying, militaristic President who is *also* *entirely* committed to antagonising the world’s other nuclear superpower at the risk of WW3. Oh well. Interesting times, one can’t deny that.

43

Hidari 05.21.17 at 8:35 am

The obvious parallels to the Trump Russia thing are (in descending order of probability) the Monica Lewinsky affair, Iran-Contra, and Watergate. In the first two, the scandal dragged on and on for months/years until nothing very much happened. Watergate, obviously different, although, as I pointed out, it’s debatable what real difference it made. The Democrats never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, and even if Trump goes, and (this is a much bigger if) the Democrats win the next election, the probability must be that the Republicans will win the election after that.

Meanwhile the American political class fiddle while the world burns.

44

Mitchell Porter 05.21.17 at 7:11 pm

Roger Stone, on InfoWars, said next they’ll accuse Trump of dementia. Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks said, I haven’t seen that, that’s Roger Stone preemptively floating a legal defense for Trump. But here on Crooked Timber, I now see opponents of Trump asserting dementia. Score one for Roger Stone.

45

Lee A. Arnold 05.22.17 at 10:55 am

It would appear that Stone and Uygur haven’t read the press for decades!!

46

sanbikinoraion 05.22.17 at 12:12 pm

Two words, F. Foundling: “foreign emoluments”.

47

Raven 05.22.17 at 8:48 pm

Meanwhile, Trump, it would be thought “safely” away from Twitter and other White House temptations, with Melania on his foreign tour, manages to endure further public indignity and humiliation by reaching for her while on the red carpet leaving the plane in Tel Aviv with the Netanyahus (apparently belatedly reminded by seeing the Netanyahus holding hands as he was walking with them, while he’d left his own wife walking behind him) — and getting his little hand quickly slapped away in response.

48

Raven Onthill 05.23.17 at 3:23 am

Foundling, as you say, it’s hard to prove treason. Still, a power which, though covert means, interferes with US elections is hardly a friend. In the end, “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which the Constitution gives as reasons for impeachment, are whatever the House says they are; there is enormous latitude. By the way, it appears that some members of the House are in it up to their ears.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>