Dec 17 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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Laurence H. Tribe: Don’t let Mitch McConnell conduct a Potemkin impeachment trial

For some time now, I have been emphasizing the duty to impeach this president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress regardless of what the Senate might end up doing. Now that Trump’s impeachment is inevitable, and now that failing to formally impeach him would invite foreign intervention in the 2020 election and set a dangerous precedent, another option seems vital to consider: voting for articles of impeachment but holding off for the time being on transmitting them to the Senate.

This option needs to be taken seriously now that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has announced his intention to conduct not a real trial but a whitewash, letting the president and his legal team call the shots. [..]

Consider the case of a prosecutor armed with a grand jury indictment who learns that the fix is in and that the jury poised to consider the case is about to violate its oath to do impartial justice. In that situation, the prosecutor is under no affirmative legal obligation to go forward until the problem is cured and a fair trial possible. So, too, the House, whose historical role is to prosecute articles of impeachment in the Senate after exercising its “sole” power to impeach, is under no affirmative constitutional obligation to do so instantly. That is especially true when the majority leader has made clear that he is, for all practical purposes, a member of the defense team.

William Webster: I Headed the F.B.I. and C.I.A. There’s a Dire Threat to the Country I Love.

The rule of law is the principle that protects every American from the abuse of monarchs, despots and tyrants.

The privilege of being the only American in our history to serve as the director of both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. gives me a unique perspective and a responsibility to speak out about a dire threat to the rule of law in the country I love. Order protects liberty, and liberty protects order. Today, the integrity of the institutions that protect our civil order is, tragically, under assault from too many people whose job it should be to protect them.

The rule of law is the bedrock of American democracy, the principle that protects every American from the abuse of monarchs, despots and tyrants. Every American should demand that our leaders put the rule of law above politics.

I am deeply disturbed by the assertion of President Trump that our “current director” — as he refers to the man he selected for the job of running the F.B.I. — cannot fix what the president calls a broken agency. The 10-year term given to all directors following J. Edgar Hoover’s 48-year tenure was created to provide independence for the director and for the bureau. The president’s thinly veiled suggestion that the director, Christopher Wray, like his banished predecessor, James Comey, could be on the chopping block, disturbs me greatly. The independence of both the F.B.I. and its director is critical and should be fiercely protected by each branch of government.

Eugene Robinson: Nixon was bad. Trump is much worse.

Richard Nixon was bad. Donald Trump is much worse.

The threat President Trump poses to our constitutional democracy is more profound than the threat Nixon posed because Trump has intimidated one of our two major political parties into whitewashing his crimes. Senate Republicans are openly and proudly boasting of plans to rig Trump’s likely impeachment trial in his favor.

“Exactly how we go forward, I’m going to coordinate with the president’s lawyers. . . . My hope is that there won’t be a Republican who votes for either of these articles of impeachment,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said last week in an interview with Trump’s unofficial minister of propaganda, Fox News host Sean Hannity.

“I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) declared Saturday.

That pretty much says it all. Before a trial begins, senators will have to take an oath swearing to “do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.” GOP senators, however, have already announced they will violate their solemn pledge and refuse to even consider the evidence against Trump.

Harry Litman: Don’t assume the Supreme Court will give Trump a resounding victory  

President Trump no doubt welcomed the news that the Supreme Court will review three separate decisions in which lower courts have ruled against him, upholding subpoenas calling for banks and accountants to turn over financial records pertaining to him. He’s taken a shellacking in the federal courts to date, and he’s well aware that the Supreme Court majority that he helped put in place is bullish on executive power.

But it would be a mistake to assume that the court will give Trump a resounding victory, or come close to upholding the extreme propositions that the president has been unsuccessfully advancing in the lower courts.

It is much more likely that the court will first set out principles defining the circumstances — for example, some sort of heightened evidentiary showing — under which the president’s personal records have to be turned over. They probably will be pro-executive branch principles that slant the balance toward future presidents, but Trump needs more than that to keep his taxes from public view.

And the next step after such a holding would be to remand to the lower courts to apply the announced principles, probably during the heat of the election, though possibly after. That is where Trump’s extreme arguments are likely to meet their end.

Charles M. Blow: Trump’s Lasting Legacy

America has changed under this president.

The impending impeachment of Donald Trump will be a rebuke, but it will not be a restraint.

Indeed, if the Senate votes to acquit Trump, as it is expected to do, the precedent will be set, and the die will be cast: A president can do almost anything to win re-election. And he can do anything at all to avoid accountability.

This is the new America, one in which all the old rules have been wiped away, one in which corruption is tolerated, one in which truth is denigrated, one in which tyrants are venerated.

It is tempting to think of this moment, this presidency, as a blip or an anomaly, as a horrible mistake the country made and will soon redress. But, I think that take is ill considered and overly optimistic. [..]

Trump is leaving an indelible mark on this country, regardless of what happens in November. He has shattered convention and protocol, and they can’t be repaired. Trump will leave in his wake a weaker country — with his sensibilities seared into it.

Max Boot: The only principle Republicans have left is partisanship

I come before you, my friends, to defend Republicans against charges that they are unprincipled, two-faced hypocrites.

Pointy-headed coastal elitists, with all sorts of useless book learning that real Americans don’t need, have been arguing that when it comes to impeachment, the POT (that’s Party of Trump) is calling the kettle black. They accuse the Republicans of inconsistency and insincerity in ways that go far beyond a Republican member of Congress who was once arrested for drunk driving bringing up the fact that a crack pipe was once found in a car rented by Hunter Biden.

Here’s what the usual suspects — you know, the human scum, traitors and enemies of the people — are saying. They point out that Republicans fervently denounce the mythical Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and then turn around and argue that President Trump has the right — nay, the obligation — to demand Ukrainian interference in the 2020 election. [..]

Oh, I know this looks bad. It looks like Republicans have no principles and no core beliefs. But there you are wrong, my friends. They do have a principle. Here it is: Whatever helps the Republican Party is good. Whatever hurts the Republican Party is bad. To understand the modern GOP, you don’t have to study unitary executive theory, supply-side economics, Burkean philosophy or anything else. All you have to do is remember those 14 words.