did someone muck with the backend here

Re: Ukraine

1

d) Backfire and harm Biden (and hence the Dems, if he's the candidate) more than Trump


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:02 AM
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Are you suggesting that as a choice, or both suggesting and picking it as the thing you think is most likely?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:03 AM
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Nothing. The administration will assert privilege and litigate forever; the raw information will leak anyway, confirming what Trump has basically confessed to already; House Democrats may or may not change the official nomenclature of their slow-motion impeachment-but-not-really investigations; nothing will get to the Senate floor, regardless; only election results will matter, and they will be determined by base mobilization.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:05 AM
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2: Mainly as a choice, but I certainly think it's a distinct possibility. I don't see how you could look at the 2016 election and think otherwise.

I think there's a good chance this leads to explicit impeachment hearings. But in terms of bringing Trump down, I think it's as likely to be negative as positive.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:07 AM
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I was about to post something really cynical and depressing, thinking there's just no way this would matter given that nothing else has so far. I figured the best way to be more-jaded-than-thou was to say that McConnell's approval rating was more important than Trump's. But I made the mistake of researching what McConnell's approval rating actually was, and it turns out to be really bad. He's up for reelection in 2020 and facing both a primary challenge and, if he gets past that, a Democrat who already holds statewide office.

I don't want to get too optimistic - he's never been all that popular but he's held on all these years anyway, etc. - but being more-jaded-than-thou in this specific way isn't appropriate, I guess. Weird.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:12 AM
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I've always felt pretty sure that the Senate won't remove him, but am now more open to the possibility that he might just do something unhinged enough in reaction that some senators would defect. What do they do in the spring if the polling for Trump is worse, and their internal polls show that Pence could win? Especially if Warren looks likely to be the nominee?

What I wonder is whether this helps Biden against Warren and Sanders.



Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:20 AM
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I thought it was interesting that freshman Democratic House members are talking impeachment. Apparently these are swing-district type politicians.

We can't have a functioning democracy if Democrats don't meaningfully object to the idea that Republicans can do whatever the fuck they want to, and Democrats are subject to prosecution for being Democrats.

I think it is also becoming increasingly obvious that impeachment is not so dangerous politically. What is the lesson we should take from Bill Clinton's impeachment? That impeachment is helpful to a politician? Or that Americans can make broad, obvious distinctions about justified impeachment vs. bullshit impeachment? I think the latter.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:29 AM
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What I wonder is whether this helps Biden against Warren and Sanders.

My guess: This tends to hurt Biden the way Hillary was hurt by e-mails. The media is going to play this as "Trump says this; others disagree."

The first two sentences of this quote were presented without context on CBS this morning:

"What Biden did is a disgrace. What his son did is a disgrace. His son took money from Ukraine. The son took money from China," Trump said.

Certainly being attacked by Trump is a fine thing for a Democrat, but I don't trust the media. Biden and Trump can both come out of this looking bad, and Trump doesn't mind looking bad.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:36 AM
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4 is not primarily or even materially predicated on impeachment being dangerous politically. It's about low information voters and the media being able/willing to distinguish between dodgy sounding Ukraine stuff involving Biden and dodgy sounding Ukraine stuff involving Trump, in a context where Trump does dodgy shit every day and large numbers of people don't care. This has the potential to be the "Clinton Foundation/Trump Foundation" of 2020.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:38 AM
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Pwned


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:39 AM
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I have moved off my conviction that Pelosi and the House Democrats weren't ever going to do anything useful about impeachment. On the other hand, I haven't moved to becoming convinced of anything else. I still can't imagine more than ten Senate Republicans voting for conviction, regardless of the facts, but I've been wrong about so many things before.

One thing that I am convinced of (could still be wrong, but I don't know much) is that Mike Pence is not going to win an election for President. Trump barely squeaked out a popular-vote loss/electoral college victory because he was flamboyantly crazy. Pence's brand of zero-charisma evil doesn't get all the same voters, and I don't think there are many Pence voters who couldn't stomach Trump in 2016.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:39 AM
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There's a reason Satan usually isn't depicted as tempting people with a split-level ranch outside Indianapolis and a mid-level managerial position.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:51 AM
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His farts set the shingles on fire?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:53 AM
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If it comes down to it, Pence could show his true elect-of-God-itude by divorcing his wife, dyeing his hair, and taking pep pills in public.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:19 AM
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As I understand modern evangelicalism, that's the sign that God is working through him as an unwitting instrument.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:19 AM
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I don't know if there are strong enough pills for him to get an erection in public.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:22 AM
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I still can't imagine more than ten Senate Republicans voting for conviction, regardless of the facts, but I've been wrong about so many things before.

Do you not see it as valuable to get GOP senators on record as supporting him through any and all misconduct (whose details will only get worse over time) to pave the way for 2020 and beyond?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:23 AM
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||

"The camels must be moved out alive or dead...on that one we are not negotiating," the senator added.
|>


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:24 AM
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17 is my view.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:25 AM
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19 is my view. Trump has to be tied around the neck of the Republican Party.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:26 AM
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I do think that is probably a good thing -- if I were Nancy Pelosi I'd impeach now and make the Senate vote -- but it's the sort of political calculation I'm never sure about. The thing I am pretty sure (not totally, but pretty sure) about is that the Republicans won't vote to remove him (I guess unless the facts get much much worse? But it's hard to picture what they wouldn't take in stride). So it might be a good idea, but I don't think it'll get him out of office.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:26 AM
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If impeachment is only a good idea if the Senate convicts, then impeachment is a bad idea.

I could see a scenario that resulted in a conviction. It would involve Trump's polls falling through what appears to currently be a very firm floor. But you don't wait for that -- if anything, you try to make it happen.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:30 AM
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I think it's one of those situations where any chance of a better outcome is better than the current strategy's certainty of hopelessness, surrender, enablement of worse.

I imagine Pelosi does not think that way having got where she is in her career by playing it as safe as possible at every juncture.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:30 AM
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I definitely don't see impeach-convict-fail-to-remove as worse (more humiliating?) than the present situation. Possibly Congressional leadership does, but that's extremely subjective regardless of political expertise/experience.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:37 AM
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With respect to 17 etc, I think you guys are on drugs. Those guys are as tied to Trump already as they are ever going to be. They'll all disavow him after he's removed (or after they are hauled off to re-education camps) and the people who voted them in, who are the same people who voted Trump in, will forgive all.

With respect to Republican senators, I think the relevant question is whether there is some step he can take that 20 of them think is too far. Shooting someone on 5th Avenue is too far. The obvious attempt to frame Biden probably isn't. Is there something he can do in response to impeachment that is too far? I'm less willing to rule that out than I was 2 months ago.

Pence is a charisma black hole, yes. If the impeachment process works and red state senators/voters seem to be turning on Trump, then the 1% or .1% or whatever will have to do something to prevent Sanders/Warren from winning. 'Boring is good' is a pitch Pence can probably make, and if he's backed by all the usual suspects (including the editorial staff of the NYT) and in opposition to 'they're going to take away your health insurance and give it to illegal aliens' maybe there's more of a chance than you guys think. The Dem is going to win NY and California, sure. But Ohio and Florida?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:41 AM
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I still think you guys are way undervaluing the downside of acquittal. But Trump is rubbing their faces in it, and they really do have to move forward more publicly than they have been.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:45 AM
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and the people who voted them in, who are the same people who voted Trump in, will forgive all.

They're not the electoral targets - it's the less habitual voters / mushy middle who could be activated.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:49 AM
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It's about low information voters and the media being able/willing to distinguish between dodgy sounding Ukraine stuff involving Biden and dodgy sounding Ukraine stuff involving Trump, in a context where Trump does dodgy shit every day and large numbers of people don't care.

I thought Sausagely put that well today.

Donald Trump is likely the most personally corrupt individual to sit in the Oval Office.

But the issue hasn't really broken through with the broader public. There's been reporting on the facts of Trump profiting off the presidency. But as MAGA-hatted tourists outside the Trump Hotel in Washington tell me every time I ask them about it, they believe everyone in DC is profiting from their official position.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:52 AM
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I imagine Pelosi does not think that way having got where she is in her career by playing it as safe as possible at every juncture.

Huh? I think of Pelosi as very much a career politician but not always a cautious one.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:54 AM
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I'm skeptical about a mushy middle that's not already activated by kids in cages, taking away health coverage, and all the rest of it, that would be activated by acquittal. To be clearer, I'm skeptical that there's a materially larger post-acquittal activation against Republicans among this group than the post-acquittal activation against Democrats for another failed witch hunt ('attempted coup' is the proper nomenclature). Are there people mad at Pelosi right now for not trying who aren't going to be mad at Pelosi for not succeeding? That aren't already voters?

On drugs, I say.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 8:58 AM
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29: That's true, that's creditable to her.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:00 AM
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But Trump is rubbing their faces in it, and they really do have to move forward more publicly than they have been.
What would this mean in practice if not impeachment?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:00 AM
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To not impeach at this point is to condone and encourage. And it looks weak.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:01 AM
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And wouldn't it strengthen the House's hand in enforcing subpoenas in the courts? Months and months of Congressional investigations will do a lot of damage to Trump.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:04 AM
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33 has been true pretty much since day 1. And yet, no impeachment. I don't see anything changing now.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:04 AM
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32 Impeachment is a long process. Hearings, document requests, depositions, culminating in a vote on articles. It's already underway, but in a deniable fashion. The deniability is slipping away, I think. I don't think avoiding a vote on articles is viable at this point, especially as Trump doubles and triples down on dictatorship in response to the process. But no one should be acting like it isn't a huge risk. An acquitted and re-elected Trump is way way worse than a merely re-elected Trump.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:06 AM
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"The camels must be moved out alive or dead...on that one we are not negotiating," the senator added.

"What we've got to do," he continued, "is figure out how to make this needle's eye bigger."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:09 AM
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I see, so now you've come around on impeachment but want to make it clear that everyone here who's been calling for it all along are on drugs.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:09 AM
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It all depends on:
a) Whether an audio recording comes out.
b) How bad the things Trump actually said on the call were.

On a, I wonder if there's a point at which a foreign intelligence service leaks some recordings of Trump to the US press. Having such a dangerously unstable man as President is really bad for a lot of other countries.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: “Pause endlessly, then go in” (9) | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:09 AM
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I think this is a sea change, impeachment is coming.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:10 AM
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35 Time to put a stop to it and impeach this motherfucker. I think it's happening. If Pelosi truly gets behind it, and I think she has little choice at this point, she brings considerable strategic talents to bear. Bring it on.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:11 AM
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Pence is a charisma black hole, yes. If the impeachment process works and red state senators/voters seem to be turning on Trump, then the 1% or .1% or whatever will have to do something to prevent Sanders/Warren from winning. 'Boring is good' is a pitch Pence can probably make, and if he's backed by all the usual suspects (including the editorial staff of the NYT) and in opposition to 'they're going to take away your health insurance and give it to illegal aliens' maybe there's more of a chance than you guys think. The Dem is going to win NY and California, sure. But Ohio and Florida?

One big reason some of the elusive swing voters, in the north, liked Trump more than any previous Republican is that he removed "self-righteous moralizing Christian extremist" from the Republican brand. Pence brings that back with a vengeance.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:13 AM
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Pence is a charisma black hole, yes. If the impeachment process works and red state senators/voters seem to be turning on Trump, then the 1% or .1% or whatever will have to do something to prevent Sanders/Warren from winning. 'Boring is good' is a pitch Pence can probably make, and if he's backed by all the usual suspects (including the editorial staff of the NYT) and in opposition to 'they're going to take away your health insurance and give it to illegal aliens' maybe there's more of a chance than you guys think. The Dem is going to win NY and California, sure. But Ohio and Florida?

One big reason some people, in northern states, liked Trump more than any previous Republican is that he removed "self-righteous moralizing Christian extremist" from the Republican brand. Pence brings that back with a vengeance.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:14 AM
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CHIMPEACH THE CHIMPEROR!


Posted by: Opinionated 2005 blog commenter | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:19 AM
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What fraction of the 30% of Democrats who don't support impeachment have that position because they are making the exact same political "calculation" as Pelosi and Carp?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:20 AM
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I think you guys are on drugs.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Certainly there is significant factual merit to the view that everything is hopeless -- that a president can, in public, effectively acknowledge using US aid to blackmail a foreign country to try to gain the prosecution of a political rival and/or his family.

But Trump's genius is in controlling the narrative. Impeachment takes a big chunk of that narrative away from him, and gives the media an excuse to focus instead of jumping every time Trump says, "Squirrel!"

Can we trust the media? Of course not! But at some point, some institutions have to function with minimal levels of confidence or we're all fucked.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:22 AM
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I'm with pf on this. Impeachment will take the narrative away from Trump (and will make him look ever more pitiful).


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:25 AM
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25.1 and 26 get it exactly right. I don't think it's helpful to get Republican Senators on the record as supporting Trump. Their voters already support Trump overwhelmingly. And for the few Senators like Collins who could lose, they can always just vote to convict.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:25 AM
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An acquitted and re-elected Trump is way way worse than a merely re-elected Trump.

I think this really captures the disagreement. An unchallenged Trump is a disaster, regardless of whether he wins or loses. At some point, Democrats are going to have to stand up for democracy, or we ain't gonna have any.

As one might expect, Lithwick is good on this.

I'm not even opposed to Pelosi talking down the prospects for impeachment. In the end, it doesn't hurt if she's seen as acceding to overwhelming pressure from the facts and from the public.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:26 AM
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48: This is learned helplessness -- and hey, it's not crazy. We may well be helpless.

I don't think it's helpful to get Republican Senators on the record as supporting Trump.

What you want to do is get them on the record supporting the subversion of American democracy. Obviously, there are some voters who support that, but there are quite a few more people out there who don't understand the current danger, and who could be persuaded.

The NYT gets a lot of shit for going to Middle America and interviewing ignorant assholes, but I think this piece shows how little the salt-of-the-earth Americans are paying attention right now. I think some of them could be persuaded to give at least half-a-damn.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:40 AM
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50 et al (can I say et seq pointing backwards?: They can't actually be forced to go on the record. McConnell can dismiss the articles as witchunting while they're still in the House and decline to hold a Senate trial.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:46 AM
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51 is very right. It's not clear that's allowed by the constitution, but I don't see this Supreme Court stepping in.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: “Pause endlessly, then go in” (9) | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:51 AM
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49.1 I agree with this. I just don't think we should be acting like we think that (a) people in the Dakotas turning against their senators who voted acquittal is more likely than (b) opposition leaders in jail, as a result of acquittal & re-election. (OK, maybe Collins and Gardner have to get McConnell to let them vote to convict. McConnell will be dedicated to keeping his majority and will let them do it. Any others? I can't think who they are.)

I think you're wrong, though, about how much bolder a challenged and acquitted Trumo will be. Up to now, he's been restrained, at least somewhat, by legal advice and the like. (This is diminishing, which is why I think 35 is wrong.) True, he's been replacing voices of caution with yes-men for quite some time, but an acquittal will be vindication like you can't believe.

49.3 Yes. Lots of people disagree with us, are busy pushing the line that if Pelosi doesn't start being enthusiastic about impeachment, then people shouldn't/won't support our nominee in 2020. The logic of this is ridiculous -- nothing about whether Pelosi fights Trump tells you anything about whether replacing Trump with Warren is a good idea -- but there's a material slice of the electorate that responds to this type of thing.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:51 AM
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The press isn't going to be our friend, period.

Trump is always going to control the narrative. It's the nature of (a) the office and (b) our press.

Look, I've thought that impeachment was necessary but risky for months now. Necessary because democracy has to be defended. But all the side-benefits I hear people touting seem delusional to me. It has to be done, it's unlikely to work, and we can only hope that the worst downsides don't happen.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:54 AM
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51: Okay. But that will be tricky to claim as "exoneration," and it has the additional benefit of putting the Democrats on the record. It is Pelosi's current position that Republican crime should be measured by Republicans' willingness to convict. That's a bad standard when it is promoted by Republicans. It is disastrous when Democrats accept it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:56 AM
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53.2 is right re Trump. I just don't see why this latest outrage will change everyone else's behavior when everything before hasn't.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 9:58 AM
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55: The Mueller Report reads literally "this report does not exonerate the President." It was claimed as exoneration.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 10:04 AM
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57: Well yeah, of course it was, and accurately so. Mueller can say Trump might be guilty of impeachable offenses, but if you can't get a Democratic House to say that he actually is, then Trump has been effectively exonerated.

56: If no behavior changes, then the conversation is moot: Impeachment won't happen. That may well be correct.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 10:22 AM
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56 Because it's different, and the context is different. Barr is materially different from Sessions (and his underlings) in that he completely buys the assertion that DOJ works for Trump, which his predecessors thought it had an independent duty to the law. State and everyone else compliant in the Ukraine thing have also gone over the wall: they're choosing treason over their oaths. This is new. Trump is getting more defiant, and the internal checks on his worst impulses have eroded. And this isn't kids in cages, or Saudis eating dinner at his hotel: messing with Biden goes to the election in a way that the previous abuses don't. You can't even handwave at replacement by election if the guy is brazenly subverting the election.

Last year, the story was that Trump was giving orders but subordinates were subverting them. The year before the story was that Trump couldn't get health care done because McCain defied him (but could get tax cuts). This year, there's no legislative agenda, and no administrative agenda other than re-election. And no one is telling him no.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 10:32 AM
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59: Well put, and I agree with it all. But do you see those facts changing behavior on the hill or in the electorate?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 10:36 AM
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John Lewis just came out in favor of impeachment. He's very influential in the caucus, and there's no way he did that without Pelosi knowing (media reports say she would have effectively given him the green light to do so; I don't know how true that is).

I don't believe in reading tea leaves, but I do note that a lot of folks were reacting cynically to Pence's wife having a new/newly active social media feed, as in the "someone thinks she's about to be FLOTUS" sense. I am pretty darn skeptical of this take, but I haven't made political predictions since 2008 and am not going to start now.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 10:41 AM
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A huge number of Republicans believe that Bill and Hillary Clinton verifiably did worse stuff than anything Trump has been accused of, consistently got away with it, and therefore Republicans unfortunately have to play by those rules; they have believed this for decades. If Trump can be shown to have done something worse than anything Bill or Hillary were accused of, or widely believed to have done, then I think you see mass movement among Republicans. I don't know what the hell that thing would be, given that the Clinton accusations all go up to 11. Maybe it would have to be collusion with the Clintons.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 10:45 AM
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Ordinary voters, I mean. I think actual politicians mostly know it's a game.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 10:46 AM
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NBC guy on Twitter says reliable sources have Pelosi announcing impeachment inquiry this afternoon.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 10:51 AM
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The distraction argument.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 10:53 AM
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61 Lewis is a big deal.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 10:55 AM
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65 There's definitely something to that. Sure, most of the problematic pro-wealthy rulemakings are already underway, and don't need presidential involvement. So the benefits of this are overstated. And isn't war a good distraction from the distraction?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 11:20 AM
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I am really trying to stay pessimistic, and not get my hopes up that Trump finally nailed himself to the wall, but with the media seeming to be breathlessly promoting that the time has come, it's really hard not to feel a bit excited.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 11:22 AM
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Maybe Trump will just prorogue the House to prevent an impeachment hearing. He can do that, right?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 11:40 AM
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Hale reading that judgement was such a joy. An important person, talking sense straightforwardly.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 11:56 AM
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Maybe the Spanish could relocate Franco's corpse to Johnson's summer house closet.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 12:02 PM
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68: I too am trying to avoid optimism. But I'm also coming to the conclusion that if this isn't the Trump fuck-up that nails Trump to the wall, just wait! He'll do something more egregious in a week. Maybe that one will be the Trump fuck-up that nails him to the wall.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 12:22 PM
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68: As long as you understand what to be excited about. Conviction is a longshot (but not impossible!) But at long last, the politicians and the media are going to have to address the actual issues in the correct framework. The correct question is: Is Donald Trump fit to be president of the United States? The question is not: Will this hurricane hit Alabama? (Or any of the other squirrels that Trump has people chasing).

For a long time, we have been told that we cannot try to hold Republicans accountable or they'll be mean to us. Certainly the media (and Charley!) have internalized that narrative. But the next time Trump pulls out his Sharpie to modify a map or threatens professionals for doing their jobs, that becomes part of the impeachment conversation. Is this man fit to hold office?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 12:23 PM
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Douthat takes Charley's side.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 12:26 PM
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Bummer, Charley. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 12:35 PM
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Yeah, okay. That was a cheap shot. Sorry.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 12:43 PM
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It's going to culminate in Bolton testifying before congress that Trump did something bad but not bad enough to warrant impeachment, and shame, *shame* on the Democrats for turning this issue of national security into a partisan witch hunt. It's gonna suck


Posted by: Trivers | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 12:54 PM
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Doesn't the McConnell Rule say no one can be impeached in an election year? Better hurry up!

I'm going with (a) and (d). (a) because even pundits and trolls are getting tired after three-plus years of this, and (d) because Biden has peaked anyway. If impeachment gets in motion, the stories (true or false) about Biden pressuring Ukraine to fire the prosecutor will be believed, and you know for sure the Republicans will focus on that as why there's a "witch hunt" over Trumps conversation. Hell, he's already doing that.

We live in a post-truth era.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 1:21 PM
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This is interesting (and encouraging)

The Senate has *unanimously* agreed to Schumer's resolution calling for the whistleblower complaint to be turned over the intelligence committees immediately.

That's every Senate Republican plus every Democrat now via unanimous consent agreeing to call on the Trump administration to cough up the whistleblower complaint, not just the phone call transcript. This is rare, folks.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 1:49 PM
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And when I clicked through to 74, immediately below was: "John Yoo
Beware of Impeaching Trump. It Could Hurt the Presidency."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 1:55 PM
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I'd love it if this were truly to lead to change. 538 has DJT's approval rating at the highest it's ever been there, above 43%, noticeable increase in the last 2 weeks.

Fox viewers believe that trump's style is what everyone else does behind closed doors. Maybe the election-fixing angle will have some traction, but the narrow thing he's guilty of on this is blocking foreign aid. I hope that this is too pessimistic.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 1:59 PM
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Fox viewers believe that trump's style is what everyone else does behind closed doors. Maybe the election-fixing angle will have some traction, but the narrow thing he's guilty of on this is blocking foreign aid.

This is close to my fear, not specific to Fox viewers. When the liberal blogosphere was losing its shit because W had sanctioned torture, it failed to translate into any nationwide momentum, and I think it's because average cynical moderately sensible people (ie not Fox viewers) assumed that our government was always doing that kind of awful thing and didn't perceive a bright line to have been crossed. My fear here is that: that people will think "Aren't all politicians slimy, and isn't this what any slimy person would do?" without seeing it in the context of a critical linchpin holding together somewhat free-ish and sort of fair elections.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 2:10 PM
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One must not discount the possibility that lots of Republican Senators fucking hate Trump, and if there was an opening to stab him in the back and get away with it, they might take it.

If he starts circling the bowl, the rats will abandon ship.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 2:14 PM
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Spike is right. We probably underestimate the force of the personal hatred Trump has created over the years. I can't imagine the Secret Service personnel enjoy the time they've spent with him. I assume professionals will mostly stay professional, but if hating Trump and being professional happen to align...


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 2:28 PM
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83 Maybe, but how will they get reelected? They will need the support of conservative media. The narrative "outsider protects your guns against illegals and politicians" will need to be replaced. What's the replacement? They are all (DJT, Fox, republican establishment) stuck together, they have painted themselves into a corner.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 2:29 PM
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84. DJT began by making an enemy of the intelligence establishment and firing the upright head of the FBI.
Basically, enraging a competent and resourceful entity.
Their response, Mueller, was ineffectual.
Expecting effective response elsewhere on the right-- well, nothing is impossible, but I don't see the basis for such a belief.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 2:33 PM
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82: When the liberal blogosphere was losing its shit because W had sanctioned torture, it failed to translate into any nationwide momentum,

You are comparing inaction (bloviating by the liberal blogosphere) to action (impeachment proceedings). I think it's fair to say that Trump isn't worried about the liberal blogosphere, and that Bush would have been troubled by impeachment.

The Democrats facilitated Trump by essentially ignoring:

1. A war of aggression against Iraq based on premises known to be false. (WMD and al Qaeda links to Hussein)
2. Weaponization of US attorneys to suppress votes.
3. Inaction in the face of the drowning of New Orleans.
4. Leaks of classified information designed to out an agent and punish an enemy.
5. Guantanamo and other torture.
6. The global economic meltdown.
7. The intelligence lapse that allowed terrorists to knock down the World Trade Center.
8. All the other stuff.

Some of that isn't impeachable -- it's just incompetence. But the fact Bush committed enormities without consequences should be a matter of regret among Democrats, who facilitated the depredations that followed by failing to punish prior wrongdoing.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 2:33 PM
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Maybe, but how will they get reelected?

Well, hence the "and get away with it," qualifier.

Romney could get away with it, if he decides to - he doesn't have to run again for five years. I'm not really planning on putting a lot of eggs in the "Romney will do the right thing" basket, but, on the other hand, you know that Trump makes his skin crawl. Being the first one to turn against Trump would feed his pretensions to statesmanship.

Ted Cruz also doesn't have to run again for five years, though I can't tell if he really hates Trump because he carries a grudge or if, underneath it all, he actually has a lot of genuine admiration for the guy.

Susan Collins will be grasping at straws and could do anything, or, at the very least, she could make a show of pretending to be concerned.

Rand Paul might flip, its on-brand for him.

Lisa Murkowski, maybe.

And there are are a bunch of Republican Senators I know nothing about. Probably not enough to get to 67, though.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 3:03 PM
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88 was me


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 3:03 PM
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Trump says the full transcript will be made public tomorrow.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 3:16 PM
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they'll be mean to us

As to me, this is a calumny. Honestly, I have never worried a single minute about whether Republicans would be mean, or have thought that we have some obligation or ability to make them not be mean. Really, this is a very disturbingly dishonest frame.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 3:50 PM
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I think the attitude in the Executive Branch about the liberal blogosphere has always been the same as Stalin's about the Pope. Or the Kansas City Chiefs' about the Raider cheerleaders. Relevant at some margins in some specific circumstances, but not generally.

Twitter is a bigger megaphone, but is still only relevant in limited instances.

I understood why Obama thought looking forward was the right play, when he hoped for Republican cooperation. Once it was clear he wasn't going to get it, though, I think the gloves should have come off. My theory of the soft military coup of May 2009, though, explains also why that didn't happen.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 4:00 PM
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I will say, though, that public pressure re GTMO may well have played a part in the trend in the population there from 2005-2014, and surely played a significant role in the change of conditions in 2008 (well prior to the election). I don't think it's an accident that despite dumbshit dogma (eg statements by candidates Romney and Trump) new captives haven't been sent there in any real numbers since the post-Hamdan HVDs in 2006. The courts have played a big role in this, yes. But public scrutiny/awareness is also significant. The question how many followers Carol Rosenberg has might seem like it's something Stalin might have asked, but I don't think a lot of the people involved in crafting the policy think of it that way. (It's 32.8k, btw).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 4:09 PM
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soft military coup of May 2009,
Please say more.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 4:39 PM
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I'd like some evidence that the FBI is enraged by Trump. Mueller and his team were content to separate Trump from some of the more overt Russian operatives and that's it. The FBI leadership has cooperated with Trump's reprisals against his perceived enemies within their organization. They are not our ally.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 5:36 PM
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Really, this is a very disturbingly dishonest frame.

My intent was primarily to be talking about the media, but I included you as an afterthought with this in mind:

I think you're wrong, though, about how much bolder a challenged and acquitted Trumo will be. Up to now, he's been restrained, at least somewhat, by legal advice and the like.

The Republicans are as bold as they feel like they can get away with. Pelosi heretofore has tried to downplay the possibility of any serious-minded defense of democracy. If the net result of impeachment is that Trump believes there will be no serious defense of democracy, well, I don't see anything as being lost.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 5:46 PM
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I mean, I would love some evidence. We know what it looks like when the FBI intervenes in politics.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 5:49 PM
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That's not about being mean. Acquit the guy on an emoluments charge, and he'll start openly advertising to foreign delegations that if they want to meet with him, they should stay in his hotels.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 6:13 PM
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The FBI isn't one thing. I think it probably was a mistake to have alienated some senior people in the DC office for a short period, and there were some leaks. Are there still? I'm not sure where the leaks about the whistleblower complaint was coming from.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 6:17 PM
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I'm thinking that things are going to continue to fall apart until either a crisis produces something like a New New Deal or we drift into Argentina with nuclear weapons.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 6:37 PM
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88: Romney has no spine.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-24-19 7:39 PM
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||
NMM to Robert Hunter
|>


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:51 AM
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XCII.I: The Polish Pope turned out to be a big part of expelling the Soviet Army. Also, Pope's still here, USSR not so much.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 2:04 AM
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THEY WERE NOTHING WITHOUT ME. NOTHING.


Posted by: OPINIONATED STALIN | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 2:20 AM
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We helped too!


Posted by: Opinionated CIA Mimeographs | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 2:24 AM
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99. We should have a non-intervening, non-partisan FBI (and CIA, and NSA, and ...). I'm not sure we have ever had one, though. Once you set up a secret police organization intrigue and political interference kind of come with the territory. Not at all sure how one squares that circle.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 5:19 AM
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You can't. We have a government structure that favors two parties and a large portion of the population that is conservative. They can absolutely destroy or neuter and co-opt almost anything. That's not because the Democrats don't care enough or try hard or moved too far left or stayed too moderate. It's because there's no way in the current set up that somebody horrible isn't going to win roughly half of the elections.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 5:30 AM
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One of Russia's goals has been to increase cynicism about liberal democracy—spreading the idea that all politicians are corrupt and elections don't really matter and *shrug* what're you gonna do. And what I can't figure out is whether Trump is consciously advancing these narratives or whether he just happens to have the autocratic instincts that fit.

Like, sometimes, there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 5:46 AM
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Like a tumor in a smoker's lung. He's making things worse by the day, but he's not the root cause.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 6:28 AM
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108. TBH, it was the internet, and Russian promotion of cynicism is a tiny fraction of the cynicism promoted by people who have no connection to it. In fact Moby's 107 (sorry Mobes) is a classic bit of home-grown cynicism. The increase in cynicism results from the transparency enabled by the internet: leaks can't be covered up, everything is posted, every utterance is recorded, social media promotes quick responses to anything and mob pile-ons. The easy reaction to all that is to be cynical about everything. The difficult reaction is to figure out what to do about it and make that happen. Spoiler: Giving "my side" total control is not the answer. As a moderate liberal, I view the Dems' stampede to the far left to be as worrying as the GOP's stampede to the right. I don't want either of them to have total control.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 6:33 AM
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I don't think I'm particularly cynical. I'm trying to point out that assigning blame to Democrats fur every failure is to ignore that structurally you would expect the Democrats to lose half of the time. America will be nearly as bad as it's worst political party.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 6:37 AM
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Only Alaska Democrats are allowed to wear fur.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 6:46 AM
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Fur Elise.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 6:57 AM
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As a moderate liberal, I view the Dems' stampede to the far left to be as worrying as the GOP's stampede to the right.
Both sides!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 7:04 AM
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The radicalization of the Republicans was well in progress before the internet was a gleam in Al Gore's eye. AM radio and Fox News are still the primary vectors.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 7:06 AM
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"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great"

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/amphtml/zoetillman/trump-ukraine-call-transcript-biden-impeachment?__twitter_impression=true


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 7:18 AM
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Holy shit that transcript


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 7:28 AM
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110: the Dems' stampede to the far left

In what universe are you observing this phenomenon?


Posted by: (gensym) | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 7:37 AM
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The same universe where it makes sense to be as scared of the fascists in control of our country as it is the leftists who want universal healthcare and to save the fucking biosphere.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 7:40 AM
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Re: the earlier speculation on Pence's chances, while he is a charisma void and gives every indication that he would be outwitted by a potted plant, it's also uncomfortable for me to recognize that I personally know at least three Republicans who didn't vote for Trump who would vote for Pence in a heartbeat.

If you're committed to preserving what remains in this manifestation of the liberal democratic project, you have to support impeachment regardless, of course. Just saying that Pence could mobilize a winning coalition.


Posted by: (gensym) | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 7:45 AM
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Anyone who thinks the Squad or any of the major presidential candidates are "far left" in any absolute terms really needs to get out more.


Posted by: (gensym) | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 7:47 AM
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it's also uncomfortable for me to recognize that I personally know at least three Republicans who didn't vote for Trump who would vote for Pence in a heartbeat.

Really? Talk about their demographics/positions? I would have guessed (and said above) that there were very few of those, but I live in a bubble so I need to be told when I'm wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 7:49 AM
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That's a reasonably common position among say evangelical pastors. Evangelical laity went along with Trump wholesale, but leadership is pretty split as you might expect for a job that requires a masters degree. This would be even more true if Clinton weren't the candidate. I think you'd find a lot of evangelical pastors whose rankings are Pence > Obama > Trump > Clinton or Pence > Obama > Clinton > Trump.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 7:59 AM
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That does make sense to me. That is, from seeing how well Trump did among evangelicals generally, I'd dismissed them as all hypocrites on issues of personal morality, but of course it's most, not all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 8:03 AM
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Keep in mind that Trump has almost universal support among people who describe themselves as evangelical christians but do not attend church, which boosts his numbers among "evangelicals". He did poorly in the primary with actual church goers. But at any rate, the big thing here is education, and whether you think "reality television" is real.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 8:14 AM
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OT: I didn't win a genius grant again, so it's back to work after lunch


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 8:14 AM
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Holy shit that transcript

Indeed. Even leaving aside the Biden/Muller stuff, it's really quite striking that the only things he asks for are about him personally, not the country. Pretty much the only thing he says on the entire call that isn't about digging up dirt on opponents is to slag off Merkel.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 8:40 AM
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126: But Lynda Barry did!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 8:48 AM
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Also he implicates Barr as an active co-conspirator.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 8:53 AM
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128: I'm sure she's great, but she's not going to give me enough money to sit around the house all day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 8:55 AM
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Barr claims he was never actually directed by anyone to make the calls Trump mentions. Take that for what it's worth...


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 8:57 AM
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in what universe
"far left" in any absolute terms

That would be the universe of American politics, not the theoretical universe where there is a Platonic ideal (he talked about the "absolute" a lot, too) of far left positions and another of far right positions. I get really tired of the whataboutism of measuring against extremes.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:02 AM
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The anti-Trump pro-Pence folk are earnest conservative Christians who can live with realpolitik torture and impersonal systemic racism but for whom the grotesque sexism and obvious unfitness were dealbreakers.

As for the far left: seriously my guy, get out more. You'll find e.g. radical labor leftists in rural West Virginia that have no voice in the VSP political discourse.


Posted by: (gensym) | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:14 AM
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I'm sort of confused:
The white house released the transcript without delay and without withholding a bunch of blacked out parts, a la Mueller report and it hasn't been secretly edited? Was this actually released by a different department on behalf of the white house, or did it literally come from the white house on time and untampered? I genuinely find that hard to believe.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:16 AM
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16: [re; Pence] I don't know if there are strong enough pills for him to get an erection in public.

If this is an oblique reference to the fact that Karen Pence's ex was the developer of Cialis consider this crossposted to Standpipe's blog.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:17 AM
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134: I don't think we've yet ruled out that the original transcript elided some even worse sections - it's not intended as verbatim and there are some ellipses, maybe there's "And then we'll release the aid" making it even more explicit - but yes, it is kind of surprising that they didn't even black anything out. I suspect it's the lack of guiding hands around the WH - Trump, Giuliani, Miller, and factotums.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:19 AM
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135: I did not know that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:20 AM
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This is not technically a transcript. As it is it probably reflects maybe half of that call.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:21 AM
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A developer, it looks like.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:23 AM
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Some miscellaneous items in the call readout not directly related to the primary matter at hand:

1) The complete trashing of the former US Ambassador. Appointed by Obama but left in place for 2+ years of this administration. And seems to be something of threat toward here from Trump Well, she' s going to go through some things.

2) Got emoluments much?

3) The utter obsequiousness. (How much of it strategic, who knows?)

What a fucking shitshow on so many levels.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:28 AM
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and it hasn't been secretly edited?

This is a memorandum of a half-hour call, and it's not nearly long enough to contain everything -- that is, it's a memorandum, not a transcript, and it was prepared by people working for Trump, so we know it left some material out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:48 AM
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As Barry said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:48 AM
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The transcript was made from a tape with 18 minutes blank.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 9:51 AM
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so we know it left some material out.

Probably the exculpatory stuff, though. "How dare you suggest such a thing!" and so forth.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 10:13 AM
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Actually, considering how damning the memorandum is and how incompetent this admin is, perhaps they literally were cutting the bad things out, but then released the cuttings by mistake.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 10:14 AM
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Rudy Giuliani, 1981: "Of course Reagan told the ayatollah to not release the hostages until he was elected president. That makes him smart."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 10:18 AM
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This is amazing. There were apparently 2 calls. Rewatch Barr's testimony back in May when asked if he had been asked to investigate Trump's political enemies. Someone pointed out the redactions in the summary in 3 places where Trump makes a request. GOP Trump defending talking points emailed to Dems. So much so fast.

I don't think they would have made these kinds of unforced errors without recently credible threat of impeachment. Much more will be coming I'm sure.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 10:38 AM
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145 Exactly, this was what they thought would look good. And it's crimes all the way through. Imagine what's in the whistleblower report.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 10:39 AM
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This is what they think will be spinnable/useful and be vaguely consistent with the evidence they think is likely to get out.


Posted by: (gensym) | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 10:43 AM
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||

I once saw an uncle running madly from the shallows with an octopus coiling up his leg. It was red like his hair and he was convinced it was after his dick.
|>


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 10:55 AM
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All these moments will be lost in time like tears in rain.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 11:14 AM
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Robert Mueller puts a more favorable spin on Trump's crimes than Trump does.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 11:25 AM
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Pelosi wants to narrow the impeachment proceedings to the Ukraine thing, What the fuck is wrong with her?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 11:45 AM
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Not really relevant, but noting that the president of Ukraine is a screen comedian who got elected after playing an ordinary Joe becoming the president of Ukraine on a TV show.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 12:27 PM
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In the other timeline, 154 dominated the news cycle for like 8 months.
153?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 12:32 PM
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Without having read the thread: Pelosi wanting to limit articles of impeachment to the Ukraine thing makes sense to me. If there is any hope at all that Republicans might move over to the impeachment column, not muddying matters with reference to the Mueller investigation (e.g. obstruction of justice with respect to 2016) seems essential. No?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 12:40 PM
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Keeping it narrow also fits with Keep It Simple, Stupid. Make a simple narrative and hound it to death. Don't fall for the bed-of-nails diffusion of attention.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 12:44 PM
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Also this version involves the withholding of All-American Weapons from Brave Patriots defending Freedom against Russians, and doesn't involve Republicans winning elections.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 12:50 PM
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and it's face-saving for Pelosi: nothing else rose to the occasion!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 12:53 PM
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148/149: I saw a comment to the effect that Trump especially, and his circle generally, are so Fox-addled that they probably honestly believed that this was, if not exculpatory, then at least readily spun. Hence the "no quid pro quo" talking point in the face of what any functioning adult would recognize as a quid pro quo. But they're so accustomed to Fox being able to spin anything, and so personally able to be spun, that it never occurred to them that there could be a bridge too far.

Another wrinkle is that this whole thing spun up so quickly from the initial info about the whistleblower* that their normal process of deny-diminish-admit-proclaim didn't really have time to play out in the way that normally soothes Trump types. Typically there's talk about a given scandal before the press really runs with it, and in that gap the Wurlitzer spins up and ensures that listeners are ready to shout "the real scandal is that Obama didn't donate an aircraft carrier to North Korea, triggered much lib?" This time, they were literally interrupting video of Trump denying it with new video of Trump bragging about it, and I think it prevented the normal immunity. A good example of this was some Fox blonde begging Rudy to provide a plausible and exculpatory explanation, and him failing utterly.

*info that came from presumably feckless D Adam Schiff in the course of his Pelosi-endorsed inquiry


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 12:54 PM
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OMG, I just read the actual "transcript" of the Trump-Zelensky conversation. Holy shit, it sounds like poor Zelensky -- who is, I gather, speaking in English -- but my god, it sounds like Zelensky is groveling before Trump and trying his best to mirror and match Trump's own second-grade level language and tropes. It's like Zelensky is talking to an all-powerful infant, assuring Trump that he stayed at Trump Tower a while back, and ... just wow.

I get that you guys have probably said all this already. But my god.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:00 PM
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The actual transcript, or the redacted memo?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:03 PM
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Actually, following up on 160.2, I just remembered that the whistleblower story came out, spurring lots of speculation, and then maybe 18 hours later, the actual facts started coming out, and the facts were worse than basically anything anyone had (seriously) speculated about. And it all starts with a whistleblower who's been approved by a Trump appointee--there's zero partisan angle.

IOW, Fox et al couldn't really defuse the situation in the first couple news cycles because they didn't know what to respond to, and so they had to rely on lame "the Press is totally allowed to betray the US on the phone, plus the unknown whistleblower was probably a Hitlery voter," which isn't super-believable unless you can distract with specifics.

Dems-are-feckless types have been desperate to frame this whole thing as exactly the same as every other one, but to me it felt different from the start. It's clearly different from all the Trumputin stuff that 60% of the country has decided doesn't matter, and yet makes really clear that Trump was just as guilty on Trumputin as the 40% kept insisting. It's nothing to do with personal corruption, which Americans falsely believe is SOP, there's no complication or nuance, and no plausible pro-USA angle for MAGAs to mindlessly parrot.

It's not that I think this is literally the worst thing Trump has done, but it's an outlier on several dimensions, some mundane, some germane. And yes, it came at a time when Dems, after taking a lot of impeachment questions during recess, were feeling pressure to act.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:05 PM
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156-159 seem like good arguments for keeping it narrow. The link in 155 doesn't. Consider the source. Wittes is a moderate establishment insider who happens to have a little more decorum than Trump, not a particular fan of democracy or the rule of law. Beyond the ad hominem, the five "baskets" they recommend read like a particularly dry law class, or maybe Masterpiece Theatre. Four of them are based closely on the Clinton and Nixon impeachments, never mind that Watergate was small potatoes compared to a dozen things Trump has done, and the capstone of their argument is they should examine Trump's lying. What a joke. Right now, most Republicans ignore his misconduct on the belief that everyone does it to some degree. Turn the question into, "do politicians lie a lot?", and you could get a good fraction of 2016 Clinton campaign volunteers to say yes.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:08 PM
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163: Last I saw the actual whistleblower is still unknown, but the IG trying to forward it to Congress is a Trump appointee.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:09 PM
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164: Wittes and Hennessy (an actual lawyer) who has been vociferously, tearing-her-hair-out, anti-Trump for years.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:12 PM
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162: The actual transcript, or the redacted memo?

? The typescript of the notes taken by intelligence staff during the course of the conversation. There is no transcript as we normally understand it, because there is no recording of the conversation from which such a proper transcript could be derived, or so it's been reported. It's certainly true that everyone should stop calling it a transcript (hence my scare quotes upthread); and true as well that we have no way to determine whether this is the unredacted typescript.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:19 PM
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165: Yeah, that's what I was trying to say. There was a double layer of credibility: the whistleblower was unknown, and so unimpeachable, and the IG who deemed it credible was a Trump appointee, and so also unimpeachable. That hamstrings the usual shit-flingers while also encouraging the regular press to take it really seriously (even if the siren song of "both sides" was almost irresistible).

164: I have no idea how to credibly approach the lying bit, but I don't really have a problem with the other baskets. Anyway, I think it's silly to speculate about Dems' strategy and tactics when this very thread, scarcely 30 hours, started out wondering if Dems would do anything about this topic. That is, it's fine for us to talk about what we'd do or say, but IMO stuff like 153 is likely to be superseded too fast to put energy into it.

FWIW, I think pursuing Ukraine only would probably result in a too-easy out for Rs, who would say, "he did it, it was wrong, but not sufficient for removal." But in practice, I think pursuing Ukraine will inevitably lead to additional instances. What you want to do is build up support for the idea that this is across the line, then demonstrate that the line was crossed frequently.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:20 PM
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165: Yeah, that's what I was trying to say. There was a double layer of credibility: the whistleblower was unknown, and so unimpeachable, and the IG who deemed it credible was a Trump appointee, and so also unimpeachable. That hamstrings the usual shit-flingers while also encouraging the regular press to take it really seriously (even if the siren song of "both sides" was almost irresistible).

164: I have no idea how to credibly approach the lying bit, but I don't really have a problem with the other baskets. Anyway, I think it's silly to speculate about Dems' strategy and tactics when this very thread, scarcely 30 hours, started out wondering if Dems would do anything about this topic. That is, it's fine for us to talk about what we'd do or say, but IMO stuff like 153 is likely to be superseded too fast to put energy into it.

FWIW, I think pursuing Ukraine only would probably result in a too-easy out for Rs, who would say, "he did it, it was wrong, but not sufficient for removal." But in practice, I think pursuing Ukraine will inevitably lead to additional instances. What you want to do is build up support for the idea that this is across the line, then demonstrate that the line was crossed frequently.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:20 PM
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155 is kind of maddening. "For impeachment purposes, Trump should get a mulligan on misconduct that took place while he was a candidate." Yes, the well-known legal and moral principle of a mulligan! And god forbid any future president ever feel at risk of accountability for the crimes he committed in order to become president.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:20 PM
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170 is true, but I think reflects the state of your republic at this point. Any possible lawyerly weaseling will assuredly be used, so it might be better to avoid the possibility.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:27 PM
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(To avoid rabbit-holing, I'm not especially committed to 155 being correct, just that it suggests how Pelosi may be thinking.)


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:36 PM
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I think it depends a whole lot on how the 'limit' is articulated. If the various committees aren't precluded from continuing their investigations, any bombshells can be folded in later.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:37 PM
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157 et al: The simple narrative is Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States and [insert latest outrage here] adds to the evidence. Of course we will give the president every benefit of due process, but we won't give him a pass on crimes.

And if the wise heads decide that Trump must be given a mulligan, they sure as fuck better not admit that.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 1:59 PM
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174: This gets back to what impeachment is for. Is it a goo-goo civics exercise that will let Dems feel self-righteous without accomplishing anything practical? Is it an actual effort to get, if not removal, then some meaningful number of R Senate votes? Is it an electoral move, where the goal is to maximize Dem outcomes in 2020?

And if your answer is that your preferred approach is the optimal one no matter which of those 3 questions is asked, then you're full of shit and you need to try again. ["you" doesn't mean pf here]


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 3:09 PM
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The memo describing the call is surprising for how unprofessional the entire exchange feels. Even without Trump's bizarre strong-arming, there isn't even a pretense (on either side) that they are peers on the basis of both being heads of state. I don't know how these calls usually go, but I just saw somebody link to an example of a similar memo from a different administration (in this case Clinton talking to Soeharto) and the contrast in tone is remarkable (and, in that call Clinton is explicitly putting pressure on Soeharto to do something he doesn't want to do).

https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//dc.html?doc=4616940-Document-07-White-House-Memorandum-of


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 3:10 PM
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174: I can see the argument for giving him a mulligan on the Stormy Daniels stuff *for purposes of impeachment only*, to avoid muddying the waters. It would still be possible for a prosecutor to indict him for it after he leaves office, as long as the SoL hasn't run.

And I think there is a need for Congress to review that Justice Department policy about not indicting a sitting president after Trump is gone. Either clarify that you really can't indict the sitting President but that means the SoL doesn't run while he/she is in office, or overrule it through legislation. No more sitting in the Oval Office running out the clock.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 3:17 PM
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I can see the argument for giving him a mulligan on the Stormy Daniels stuff *for purposes of impeachment only*, to avoid muddying the waters.

How does that muddy the waters? What Trump did was a bright-line defiance of campaign finance law, and the evidence is pretty overwhelming. Plus it involves sex, so Americans' attention spans won't be taxed.

People forget that Nixon was going to be impeached for a grab-bag of illegal behaviors, and the Democrats eventually brought the country along. There was a pretty simple (sexy!) narrative to the Clinton impeachment, and he ended that process more popular than he began it (I'm pretty sure).


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 3:42 PM
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I didn't know before I read the Lawfare piece that "lying to the American people" was in the articles of impeachment passed in committee against Nixon.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 09-25-19 4:44 PM
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Whistleblower complaint. PDF.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 12:33 PM
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I was told that a State Department official, Mr. T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, also listened in on the call.
Definitely genuine.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 12:41 PM
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175: I like Dan Drezners approach that impeachment is justified as a way of confusing and distracting Trump so he can do less damage in other areas.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 1:49 PM
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I'm about halfway through the whistleblower complaint - it's very dense, numerous names and dates, numerous people (U.S., Ukrainian, the US Ambassador to the E.U.) apparently involved in a variety of meetings around all this, either facilitating action on Trump's demands, or trying to manage the fall-out (or both).

I don't know what I expected the whistleblower's account to contain, but such a massive thing as this wasn't it. Huh. There are going to be a hell of lot of people to subpoena.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 1:54 PM
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182: Right. Press him on every front, ceaselessly.

If he is not removed from office by impeachment and does lose the 2020 election, I'm worried about the Nov-Jan period. I hate to impose on them, but I feel like the other world leaders should host him at constant international parades to distract him for that stretch.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 09-26-19 2:51 PM
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Dismal.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 09-29-19 3:56 AM
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182: Ahem.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 09-29-19 8:01 AM
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