Apr 23 2019

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: The Great Republican Abdication

A party that no longer believes in American values.

So all the “fake news” was true. A hostile foreign power intervened in the presidential election, hoping to install Donald Trump in the White House. The Trump campaign was aware of this intervention and welcomed it. And once in power, Trump tried to block any inquiry into what happened.

Never mind attempts to spin this story as somehow not meeting some definitions of collusion or obstruction of justice. The fact is that the occupant of the White House betrayed his country. And the question everyone is asking is, what will Democrats do about it?

But notice that the question is only about Democrats. Everyone (correctly) takes it as a given that Republicans will do nothing. Why?

Because the modern G.O.P. is perfectly willing to sell out America if that’s what it takes to get tax cuts for the wealthy. Republicans may not think of it in those terms, but that’s what their behavior amounts to.

The truth is that the G.O.P. faced its decisive test in 2016, when almost everyone in the Republican establishment lined up behind a man fully known to be a would-be authoritarian who was unfit morally, temperamentally and intellectually for high office.

Adam Schiff: Congress must ensure that Trump is working for the American people — not foreign interests

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report chronicles a “sweeping and systematic” Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump. It details a damning web of contacts between Russian actors and a Trump campaign that welcomed and sought to capitalize on the interference, as well as an out-of-control president determined to obstruct the investigation.

Yet, as I read the report, I was struck by how much was missing: the enormous counterintelligence and national security risks and ramifications of the president’s conduct and those around him.

The special counsel’s investigation began as a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI into an attack by a hostile foreign power. Yet the report describes the counterintelligence component only in a single paragraph, describing how the special counsel’s office met regularly with the FBI Counterintelligence Division and even embedded counterintelligence agents for the express purpose of ensuring that the FBI captured the foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information uncovered during the investigation. The work of those agents and their findings are not detailed in the report.

What did these counterintelligence agents under Mueller’s supervision uncover? What national security vulnerabilities did Russia’s covert campaign expose? Did any Americans present an acute counterintelligence risk? And what steps, if any, have been taken to address these threats?

Charles M. Blow: Impeach Donald Trump?

Obstruction of justice is a crime. The decision is clear.

The Mueller report has been released, with redactions of course, and it is a damning document. Not only does it detail Russian efforts to attack our election to help the Trump campaign and the Trump campaign’s eager acceptance of that help, it paints a picture of Donald Trump as an unethical man with no regard for the rule of law.

In this report, we see a president who doesn’t deserve to be president. We see attempts over and over to obstruct justice, which in some cases succeed.

The question is: What are we going to do about it? Obstruction of justice is a crime. If Trump committed that crime, he’s a criminal. Are we simply going to allow a criminal to sit in the Oval Office and face no consequence? Are we simply going to let the next presidential election be the point at which Trump is punished or rewarded?

It is maddening to think that we are at such a pass. But, my mind is made up: I say impeach him.

I know all the arguments against.

Jamelle Bouie: The Lure of Impeachment

We need congressional action to cure our body politic as much as we need it for our moral health.

Donald Trump may not have conspired with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election, but the Mueller report still shows a president with criminal disregard for the rule of law and constitutional government. And arguably it suggests that Congress should address this in accordance with what the report reminds us is “our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”

If that is the recommendation, then it’s a recognition that democratic accountability in the American political system goes beyond elections. Each branch of government is empowered to check and challenge the others, and Congress has a specific obligation to hold the presidency to account between electoral cycles. Under ordinary circumstances, lawmakers use their oversight powers to keep an eye on the executive branch. Under extraordinary ones, they have impeachment, the clear remedy for a lawless president.

But Democrats, who hold the House of Representatives and have the power to initiate this particular process, are divided on how to move forward.

Eugene Robinson: Democrats must seize and define this moment. Otherwise, Trump will.

The constitutional case for impeaching President Trump was best made two decades ago by one of his most servile Republican enablers, Lindsey O. Graham, now the senior senator from South Carolina:

“You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body [the Senate] determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role . . . because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

The political case for moving deliberately but fearlessly toward impeachment is even clearer: If timorous Democrats do not seize and define this moment, Trump surely will.