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.

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Neal Katyal and Sam Koppelman: The transcript Trump released is still the only evidence needed to impeach him

Don’t get distracted by procedural details or new revelations.

President Trump is a master of distraction — and with impeachment, his strategy of deflection, obfuscation and diversion is in full force. Wednesday’s hearings in the House Judiciary Committee were no exception. Trump’s allies focused on an offhand comment about the president’s son, which had nothing to do with the case. And Trump’s opponents have become so caught up in questions surrounding the process of impeachment (Will former White House counsel Donald McGahn testify? Will White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney? What robe will the chief justice wear to the Senate trial?) that many have lost sight of the big picture: The president of the United States tried to cheat in the 2020 election, and used his awesome powers as commander in chief to ask a foreign government to help him do so.

This is the very crime of which our founders were most afraid; it’s the paradigmatic impeachable offense, the one impeachment was included in our Constitution to protect against; and we already have all of the evidence we need to prove it. In fact, we’ve had the goods since Sept. 24, when Trump released an edited transcript which he has claimed is “perfect” and “beautiful,” even though it’s perfectly and beautifully impeachable.

Instead of becoming bogged down in the House Intelligence Committee’s 300-page report, which basically no Americans will read in its entirety, Democrats should focus in on that five-page transcript. Because if every American knew what was said in that conversation, and understood its implications, there’s no doubt Trump would be impeached.

Lawrence H. Tribe: Democrats are debating a dangerous false choice on impeachment

As the House of Representatives moves toward formulating articles of impeachment, it is vital that the options on the table not be misframed. It’s a dangerously false choice to think that the House Judiciary Committee must either adopt a broad, kitchen-sink approach or take a narrow, laser-focused perspective.

Yes, narrow is better than broad for the purposes of focus and public understanding. But narrow mustn’t mean myopic. What makes President Trump uniquely dangerous is not that he has committed a single terrible act that meets the Constitution’s definition of an impeachable offense. Neither Russia-gate nor Ukraine-gate was a one-night stand, and the obstruction of justice that enabled Trump to get away with asking for and benefiting from Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election is of a piece with his defiance of congressional investigations that might enable him to get away with demanding Ukraine’s intervention in 2020.

The impeachment and removal of this president is necessary because Trump has been revealed as a serial abuser of power, whose pattern of behavior — and “pattern” is the key word, as Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) emphasized during Wednesday’s hearing — makes clear he will repeat the same sequence again and again.

Eugene Robinson: Trump is impeaching himself

President Trump apparently thought he could bluff and bluster his way out of being impeached, but he was wrong. His place of dishonor in history is now all but assured.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that the House will move forward with articles of impeachment was inevitable, and Trump has no one to blame but himself. No one forced him to try to strong-arm a foreign government into helping his bid for reelection. No one forced him to abuse the power of the presidency for personal gain. No one forced him to obstruct efforts by Congress to investigate his misdeeds.

Someone will force him to be held accountable, however. “Don’t mess with me,” a steely-eyed Pelosi warned a provocative reporter Thursday. Trump should have learned that lesson by now. [..]

“Our democracy is what is at stake,” Pelosi said Thursday. “The president leaves us no choice but to act, because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit.”

Impeachment is something “which I wish the president had not made necessary,” Pelosi said. And she’s right. Trump is impeaching himself.

Paul Krugman: Why Is Trump a Tariff Man?

It’s all about the power — and the cronyism.

Almost exactly one year has passed since Donald Trump declared, “I am a Tariff Man.” Uncharacteristically, he was telling the truth.

At this point I’ve lost count of how many times markets have rallied in the belief that Trump was winding down his trade war, only to face announcements that a much-anticipated deal wasn’t happening or that tariffs were being slapped on a new set of products or countries. Over the past week it happened again: Markets bet on an outbreak of trade peace between the U.S. and China, only to get body slammed by Trump’s declaration that there might be no deal before the election and by his new tariffs on Brazil and Argentina.

So Trump really is a Tariff Man. But why? After all, the results of his trade war have been consistently bad, both economically and politically.

I’ll offer an answer shortly. First, however, let’s talk about what the Trump trade war has actually accomplished.

William Saletan: It’s Not About Corruption. It’s About Revenge.

The GOP’s new explanation of why Trump extorted Ukraine.

Why did President Donald Trump—against the wishes of his State Department, his Defense Department, and his congressional allies—withhold military aid and a White House meeting from Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine? For weeks, Republicans said the reason was corruption. Trump cared deeply about fighting corruption, they explained, and he blocked the aid until he was sure that Zelensky would clean up Ukraine.

Unfortunately, that explanation doesn’t fit any of the facts. So Republicans have developed an alternative theory: Trump blocked the meeting and the aid because he thought Ukraine was out to get him. He did it for revenge.

The revenge theory starts with a May 23 meeting at the White House. A delegation of Trump appointees and a Republican senator, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, had just returned from Ukraine. They told Trump that Zelensky, who had just been inaugurated, was launching an unprecedented campaign against corruption. If Trump had cared about corruption, the delegation’s report would have moved him. It didn’t. He fixated instead on the idea that Ukraine was out to get him.