Heigh Ho the Derry-O, The Cheese Stands Alone

It is Halloween evening, 2019. Here at Happy Acres, where we like to enjoy our second childhoods by playing dressup, the guy at dinner in the Trump mask was a real hit. By now, the children are out trick-or-treating. Round midnight, the real witches will come out for their annual witch hunt. And here is how matters seem to stand this evening, after the House voted this morning on impeachment procedures.

First Fallen Defense: Dispute What the Evidence Is

The evidence piles up and keeps on piling up. By metaphorical reference to the last impeachment exercise, we are at the stage where the blue dress has been located. And, yes, Trump’s semen is—again, speaking metaphorically—all over the dress.

Second Fallen Defense: Dispute What the Evidence Implies

By now, it has been widely noted that virtually none of the empty-suited Republican pols that the evidence shows Trump pressuring the Ukrainian government to make Biden and the Democrats look bad. And that this pressure was exerted by, among other means, withholding vitally needed military aid from a country under invasion.

Third Fallen Defense: Dispute the Moral Judgment to be Drawn from the Evidence

To the extent they’re talking at all, most of the empty suits are not questioning that it was a very bad thing for Trump to extort and bribe the Ukrainian government in this manner.

An Observation from My Daughter, Pollyanna

Pollyanna

Given the above, it is a shocking thing that the empty suits and their constituents are not already calling for Trump to be drawn and quartered. This circumstance has caused Michael Gerson to have a sad.

But as my daughter, Pollyanna Aardvark, pointed out today, the glass is actually half full. She presciently observed that it’s both surprising and gratifying that the empty suits have, at this point, come as far as they have come.

Heigh Ho the Derry-O, The Cheese Stands Alone

However, the Cheese—Donald J. Trump—is still disputing what the evidence is, how the evidence is to be interpreted, and the moral judgments to be drawn from the evidence.

This posture arises from the fact that the Cheese

  • does not know the difference between right and wrong,
  • is severely delusional, and
  • embraces a form of magical thinking in which reality can be altered by throwing words at it.

The Fourth and Final Defense: It Was Bad but it wasn’t Impeachably Bad

Today, those empty suits who aren’t hiding under their desks are beginning to come around to this fourth and final defense—the one that ultimately saved Bill Clinton’s sorry ass from removal from office.

And So, We Reach an Inflection Point

Will Trump—who is severely delusional, who doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong, and who embraces magical thinking—permit the empty suits to advance the only argument that might save him?

Or will lizard brain viciously turn on any empty suits who try to support him by making the only possible argument: it was wrong, but it wasn’t impeachable?

And if lizard brain does turn on his own party’s representatives in Congress, how will they respond?

Trust me, if I knew the answers, I would be happy to share my knowledge.

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The National Review Would Like You to Know that “The Longer the President Defends a Lie, the More Americans Will Resent Being Lied To”

sorry

There is mucho commentary in the last few days dissecting Trump’s non-defense of his actions. Here is Jonah Goldberg, writing in the National Review:

The longer the president defends a lie, the more Americans will resent being lied to.

In l’affaire Ukraine, the president is guilty as charged. And the best strategy for him to avoid impeachment by the House and perhaps even removal by the Senate is to admit it, apologize, and let voters make their own judgment. It’s also the best way to fend off a disaster for Senate Republicans.

The president is accused — politically, not criminally — of trying to force the Ukrainian president to tar former vice president Joe Biden with an investigation into his alleged “corruption” in exchange for the release of military aid and a meeting in the Oval Office. I believe a plain reading of the rough transcript of a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky supports the charge. So does testimony from the top American diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, as well as several other Trump appointees and aides, including Tuesday’s testimony from Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council staffer who listened to the phone call. There’s still due diligence to be done, but it seems implausible they’re all lying.

Common sense also works against the president. If Trump were sincerely concerned about Ukrainian corruption, why has he never expressed similar concerns about corruption anywhere else? And, why, if the issue is Ukrainian corruption generally, did the Trump administration focus on the alleged corruption of a single Ukrainian firm, Burisma, where Biden’s son sat on the board?

The most plausible explanation is twofold. First, the corruption issue was a pretext; under the law, corruption concerns are the only justification for blocking congressionally approved aid. Second, Trump’s real goal was to bruise Biden. Indeed, according to Taylor, the White House said it would settle for a mere statement about Biden’s potential corruption — meaning Trump cared more about political gain than about an actual investigation.

Trump and his defenders are still pounding on outdated, unpersuasive, or irrelevant talking points. They rail about the identity and motives of the whistleblower who first aired these allegations, even though the whistleblower’s report has been largely corroborated by others. They claim that the process of the Democratic inquiry in the House is unconstitutional, which is ridiculous. They insist that hearings where Republicans can cross-examine witnesses are a “star chamber” or reminiscent of secret Soviet trials. Also ridiculous.

Republican complaints about the heavy-handed tactics of the Democrats have some merit, but they’ll be rendered moot when the Democrats move to public hearings or to a Senate trial. And when that happens, claims that the call was “perfect” and that there was no quid pro quo will evaporate in the face of the facts.

This is why the smartest Trump defenders are counseling the president to simply admit the obvious: There was a quid pro quo, and the president’s phone call fell short of perfection, but nothing he did is an impeachable offense. …

I’d go one step further. Rather than take the Mick Mulvaney line and shout “get over it” — now a Trump-campaign T-shirt — the president should apologize. Trump’s refusal to admit any wrongdoing imperils GOP senators who are already reluctant to defend him on the merits. Once the process complaints expire, they’ll be left with no defense at all.  …

I disagree with those who say that the allegations against Trump are not impeachable. But, politically, apologizing could forestall impeachment by giving politicians and voters a safe harbor: “It was wrong, but he said he’s sorry. Move on.” The longer the president defends a lie, the more Americans will resent being lied to.

Of course, contrition doesn’t come easy for Trump and would be embarrassing for him and his media cheerleaders. But it would also give Republican candidates a rationale for opposing impeachment that they could sell.

Trump is fond of demanding ever more loyalty from Republicans. But loyalty is a two-way street. If he thinks they should defend him, he should give them something defensible to work with.

The Wall Street Journal Would Like its Plutocratic Readers to Know that Trump Think’s He’s King of Westeros

Game of Trump

Wall Street Journal, Trump Attorneys Assert Immunity From Broad Sweep of Law: Legal filings and lawyers’ statements show attempt to put president beyond legal reach while in office:

WASHINGTON—Over his nearly three years in office, lawyers representing President Trump have made numerous legal arguments that, taken as a whole, would give the president sweeping immunity—even if he were to commit murder.

An extensive review of correspondence, court documents, legal opinions and public statements from lawyers representing Mr. Trump shows the president’s attorneys have consistently pushed to put him beyond the reach of any other institution in federal, state or local government—immune to civil lawsuits, judicial orders, criminal investigations or congressional probes.

Those arguments have become even more aggressive as Mr. Trump faces numerous legal threats, including a possible impeachment in Congress, a New York state prosecutor who has subpoenaed his tax records as part of a criminal probe and a welter of civil lawsuits.

One lawyer for the president recently went so far as to suggest that Mr. Trump could shoot someone on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue and not be investigated by local authorities, echoing a statement the president made during his 2016 campaign in which he said he wouldn’t lose any voters over such an action.

“This administration has articulated a view of presidential power in which the president is above the law,” said Erica Newland, who served in the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel during both the Obama and Trump administrations.