David Brooks and the Impeachment Polls

Dr. Aardvark and I are emotionally attached to David Brooks. He seems like a nice fellow, and he often has interesting things to say. But he has a regrettable tendency to be cavalier, dismissive, and unfamiliar with all the relevant data.

So, let’s take a little look at the fivethirtyeight.com poll of polls on the topic of impeachment, beginning with these images from today. Here’s how it looks on the fivethirtyeight.com home page:

Poll 1

And here’s how a more detailed picture—over a longer time frame—looks:

Poll 2

Main Takeaway from the Data

When Congressman Schiff started his hearings, the best available data showed that American were literally split right down the middle on impeachment.

After a week of Congressman Schiff’s hearings, 2.6 percent had shifted from the no-impeachment side to the impeachment side.

If you go to the site and slide the vertical line, you can put all of this in greater context. For example, just after Mueller testified, anti-impeachment sentiment prevailed to the tune of nine percent. Now it’s pro-impeachment by 2.6. (If you add into the mix polls asking whether people support the impeachment inquiry, the number shifts to 5.3 percent.)

So, no, sentiment is not shifting away from impeachment.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Haven’t heard from Nostradamus this morning, so I can’t say for sure. But Trump hasn’t got an alternative narrative. And Trump seems incapable of asserting his best (or least bad) defense: bad but not impeachable. He continues to insult his supporters with Ukrainian fairy tales. And he’s likely, at any time, to hurl withering insults at anyone who tries to defend him in the most plausible way possible.

A logical person would infer that he is going to lose some more ground.

But, as I said, it’s anyone’s guess how low he will go.

Time for some music, I’d say.

How about Limbo Rock in Danish?

A Little Thought Experiment—with a Cigar and a Blue Dress

cigar

I just shared some thoughts on a rational Trump’s best and worst impeachment defenses. Let me follow up with a little thought experiment.

Suppose that Bill Clinton hadn’t stopped with asking senators to vote for acquittal.

Suppose he had demanded, in addition, that they all join in affirming that stimulating your intern’s clitoris with a big cigar is not, by ironclad and indisputable definition, an act of “sex.”

Suppose that he also required his senatorial supporters to proclaim—loudly but without any evidence at all—that the people who did the DNA test on the blue dress were a bunch of crooked Republicans who produced fake test results.

That the DNA on the blue dress actually belonged to Lindsey Graham.

That the real DNA results had been stolen, and hidden away in a rural Ukrainian village.

How do you think it would have worked out for Bill Clinton if he had made those arguments?

The Best Defense

fairy tales

In the immediately preceding post, I laid out the four possible lines of defense. If Trump were thinking logically, which would he choose?

I will answer my own question.

The best alternative by far would be to admit that he conditioned Ukrainian military aid on a Ukrainian announcement that they would open some investigations of the Democrats, and argue that, in so acting, he did not commit an offense worthy of impeachment. There are five powerful considerations that would lead a rational Trump to adopt this posture. (They are all compelling, and I don’t know how to rank order them by importance, so I’ll mention them in random order.)

One. The dividing line between impeachable bad conduct and bad conduct that doesn’t merit impeachment is amorphous, undefined, loosy goosy—whatever term you like.

That means that, whatever bad thing you or your guy did, you can always move the goalpost so it’s just a little bit north of the bad conduct that actually occurred.

Your argument to move the goalpost may be bad and it may be unpersuasive, but at least it doesn’t insult your listeners’ intelligence.

Two. As far as we can tell right now, Trump has no alternative narrative  about the Ukrainian extortion. Evidently, he cannot give an explanation for why he decided to withhold the military aid, and when he decided to withhold it. Some spoke loosely of withholding aid “pending an interagency review.” But interagency reviews leave paper trails. Any paper trail here to evidence the purported review? And, evidently, he cannot explain why he decided to relent and let the aid flow after all—but for the obvious explanation that he got caught.

It’s as if he wants to blame the blueberry pie consumption on his older brother—but he doesn’t have an older brother.

Three. Asking your supporters to claim they believe an obvious fairy tale insults their intelligence, imposes severe cognitive dissonance on them, and tends to alienate any rational people who remain among your supporters.

Four. Asking your supporters to claim they believe an obvious fairy tale tacitly admits that what you actually did was impeachable as hell.

It tells everybody that if you did what you actually good, then your goose is cooked.

You’re done, stick a fork in.

Five. Bill Clinton got away with the “bad but not impeachable defense,” so why shouldn’t you?

So, that’s what Trump would do if he were acting logically.

But what will he actually do?

Ask Nostradamus, don’t ask me.

Nostradamus

Alternative Defenses, Blueberry Pies, and Three-Year-Olds

The time has come for Trump to lay out his defense to the charge that he used military aid to extort and bribe Ukraine.

With that thought in mind, let’s do this thought experiment. Let’s say you are a three-year-old named Al. Mamma has made some blueberry pies, but she has stepped out of the kitchen. You’re hungry and eat one of the pies, leaving evidence all over your face. Mamma comes in and demands an explanation. You have four possible lines of defense.

  1. Admit that You Ate the Pie, But Offer a Justification

For example: “I was starving, and. the blueberry pie was the only food I could find.”

  1. Admit that You Have Blueberries All Over Your Face, But Offer an Alternative Narrative

For example: “My big brother is the one who actually ate the pie, and then he rubbed some blueberries on my face to make me look guilty.”

  1. Admit that You Ate the Pie, But Argue that Spanking Your Butt is Unwarranted

For example: “Did you know that many studies have shown that spanking kids’ butts causes permanent psychological injury?”

Or maybe this: “Eating blueberry pie is not nearly as bad as all the other things I thought about doing.”

Or this: “When Bill Clinton was little, he ate blueberry pies, too, but he didn’t get spanked.”

But, since you are a three-year-old, you do not offer any of the above defenses. Instead, you pick number four:

  1. Just Stand There and Deny There is any Blueberry Pie on Your Face

**

Good day to the nice folks in Finland, India, and Thailand, who checked out this blog while I was busy writing my earlier posts this morning. They have joined early morning (US time) readers from Austria, Kenya, and the United States.

Words for Republicans to Use Defending Trump and Attacking Democrats, Helpfully Arranged in Alphabetical Order

dictionary

Please Forward to Your Favorite Republican Senators and Congresspersons

Good advocates stand up, state the proven facts in an understandable way and in logical order, sit down, and let the listener draw her own conclusion. There is no need for the advocate to state the conclusion; it flows naturally from the proven facts, properly presented.

Some advocates, however, have no case to make. Others have not got the slightest idea of how to be a good advocate. These kinds of advocates just stand up and hurl insults.

Now, Aardvark is nothing but a caring and compassionate person. And so, in the spirit of caring and compassion, I offer the following Words for Republicans to use in defending Trump and characterizing Democrats’ words and actions.

Words for Republicans

arbitrary
atrocious
barbarous
below the belt
biased
bogus
charade
circus
contrived
crooked
debased
diabolical
discreditable
dishonest
dishonorable
fabrication
fake
fakey
false
feigned
fictitious
foul
fraud
fraudulent
heinous
imposture
improper
indecent
inexcusable
infamous
iniquitous
inquisition
low-down
make believe
manufactured
masquerade
misleading
mock trial
monstrous
nefarious
one-sided
partisan
perverse
petty
phony
preconceived
prejudiced
pretense
pseudo
putrid
reprehensible
rotten
ruse
savage
schtick
shabby
sham
shameless
show trial
spectacle
spurious
stunt
tendentious
three-ring circus
trick
trickery
uncalled for
underhanded
undeserved
unethical
unfair
unjust
unprincipled
unscrupulous
unwarranted
vicious
vile
vindictive
wicked
witch hunt
worthless

 

What’s Your Defense and Who’s Your Lawyer? Please Respond Promptly. Signed: Love and Kisses, Jerry Nadler

Yesterday, Rep. Nadler, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to Orange Man:

Earlier this week, Chairman Schiff announced that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) is “preparing a report summarizing the evidence we have found this far, which will be transmitted to the Judiciary Committee soon after Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess.” That report will describe, among other things, “a months-long effort in which President Trump again sought foreign interference in our elections for his personal and political benefit at the expense of our national interest” and “an unprecedented campaign of obstruction in an effort to prevent the Committees from obtaining documentary evidence and testimony.” As you are also aware, the Judiciary Committee has been engaged in an investigation concerning allegations that you may have engaged in acts of obstruction of justice, as detailed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. For detailed discussion of the scope of the impeachment inquiry, I refer you to the report accompanying House Resolution 660.

In anticipation of our consideration of these matters, I am writing to determine if your counsel will seek to exercise the specific privileges set forth in the Judiciary Committee’s Impeachment Procedures adopted pursuant to H. Res. 660 and participate in the upcoming impeachment proceedings. In particular, please provide the Committee with notice of whether your counsel intends to participate, specifying which of the privileges your counsel seeks to exercise, no later than 5:00 pm on December 6, 2019.

I look forward to your prompt response.

The Party at the End of the World

Slate informs us that

CBS reported Monday that Caliburn International, a for-profit company that holds federal contracts to operate detention facilities for undocumented children, had booked a holiday party at the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. The company’s board of directors includes former Homeland Security secretary and White House chief of staff John Kelly, who helped implement the administration’s family-separation policy. Caliburn made plans to hold the party at a different venue after CBS’s report was published.

Calling Paris
Come in London
Come in New York
Hello Rio
The bad news is the world is ending
The good news is there’s a party
But you better get here quick

When you feel like a written off actor on Deadwood
About to get fed to the pigs
When that preacher’s bus from hell
Blastin’ just cowbell
Parks itself in front of your digs

There’s a place you can go called Tierra Del Feugo
Down in the Southern Hemisphere
It’s kinda Troy without Helen
Past the Straits of Magellan
Things are always looking up down here
 

It seems like I’ve run out of reasons to be here
So I’m just gonna steal from myself
If your attitude’s appalling
There’s a latitude that’s calling
Get yourself past that continental shelf

Now the band that we hired
Is playing quite inspired
Singing Eskimos and eunuchs from Bangkok
And this location’s so nice
We’ll never run out of ice
‘Cause Antarctica’s just around the block

And there’s a party at the end of the world (end of the world)
Where the locals do the tango twirl (tango twirl)
Now don’t make that big mistaica
And wind up with Miss Jamaica
At the party at the end of world

Flying machines, yellow submarines
French girls in cowboy decor- “D’accord”
RSVP isn’t needed you see
And they all just be screaming for more-AMOUR

Now in case you hadn’t heard
Things are getting quite absurd
No one really shocks us that’s for sure
Roadside bombers and tsunamis
 

But I’ve spoken to the yogis
And had meetings with my roadies
Who tell me that arrangements are complete
Just below the “Roaring forties”
I am going to fly some sorties
So you best reserve that cherished window seat

To the party at the end of the world (end of the world)
Where the locals do that tango twirl (tango twirl)
I don’t care about “the Rapture”
When there’s native girls to capture
There’s a party at the end of the world

Who cares if there’s no playa
We’ll be rocking in Ushuaia
At the party at the end
You surely must attend
The party at the end of the world

Ma! Ma! Where’s My Pa? Gone to Downing Street, Haw, Haw, Haw!

Washington Post, How many children does Boris Johnson have? The British prime minister won’t say

But just how many children does the prime minister have? Johnson doesn’t want to say.

Appearing on British radio station LBC on Friday, Johnson was confronted by an angry listener who had called the show to reference his 1995 article for the Spectator. The caller, identified as “Ruth,” told the prime minister: “I don’t appreciate what you’ve said about single mothers,” before adding: “Why are you happy to criticize people like me when you refuse to discuss your family?”

Johnson, who has been married twice, has four children — two daughters and two sons — with his most recent ex-wife, Marina Wheeler, who he separated from in 2018. Rumors have long swirled in Britain that Johnson has a fifth child, a daughter, from an affair. Johnson’s personal life has often hit the headlines in Britain, with the 55-year-old frequently being accused of adultery during his 25-year marriage. “Boris Johnson booted out by wife Marina after she accused him of cheating AGAIN,” wrote the Sun in September 2018.

“Please Bear with Us as We Move Through this Moment in Time”: A Message from the Man Who Used to be Secretary of the Navy

Richard Spencer writes  in the Washington Post,

The case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was charged with multiple war crimes before being convicted of a single lesser charge earlier this year, was troubling enough before things became even more troubling over the past few weeks. The trail of events that led to me being fired as secretary of the Navy is marked with lessons for me and for the nation.

It is highly irregular for a secretary to become deeply involved in most personnel matters. Normally, military justice works best when senior leadership stays far away. A system that prevents command influence is what separates our armed forces from others. Our system of military justice has helped build the world’s most powerful navy; good leaders get promoted, bad ones get moved out, and criminals are punished.

In combat zones, the stakes are even higher. We train our forces to be both disciplined and lethal. We strive to use proportional force, protect civilians and treat detainees fairly. Ethical conduct is what sets our military apart. I have believed that every day since joining the Marine Corps in 1976.

We are effective overseas not because we have the best equipment but because we are professionals. Our troops are held to the highest standards. We expect those who lead our forces to exercise excellent judgment. The soldiers and sailors they lead must be able to count on that.

Earlier this year, Gallagher was formally charged with more than a dozen criminal acts, including premeditated murder, which occurred during his eighth deployment overseas. He was tried in a military court in San Diego and acquitted in July of all charges, except one count of wrongfully posing for photographs with the body of a dead Islamic State fighter. The jury sentenced him to four months, the maximum possible; because he had served that amount of time waiting for trial, he was released.

President Trump involved himself in the case almost from the start. Before the trial began, in March, I received two calls from the president asking me to lift Gallagher’s confinement in a Navy brig; I pushed back twice, because the presiding judge, acting on information about the accused’s conduct, had decided that confinement was important. Eventually, the president ordered me to have him transferred to the equivalent of an enlisted barracks. I came to believe that Trump’s interest in the casestemmed partly from the way the defendant’s lawyers and others had worked to keep it front and center in the media.

After the verdict was delivered, the Navy’s normal process wasn’t finished. Gallagher had voluntarily submitted his request to retire. In his case, there were three questions: Would he be permitted to retire at the rank of chief, which is also known as an E-7? (The jury had said he should be busted to an E-6, a demotion.) The second was: Should he be allowed to leave the service with an “honorable” or “general under honorable” discharge? And a third: Should he be able to keep his Trident pin, the medal all SEALs wear and treasure as members of an elite force?

On Nov. 14, partly because the president had already contacted me twice, I sent him a note asking him not to get involved in these questions. The next day, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone called me and said the president would remain involved. Shortly thereafter, I received a second call from Cipollone, who said the president would order me to restore Gallagher to the rank of chief.

This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review. It was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.

Given my desire to resolve a festering issue, I tried to find a way that would prevent the president from further involvement while trying all avenues to get Gallagher’s file in front of a peer-review board. Why? The Naval Special Warfare community owns the Trident pin, not the secretary of the Navy, not the defense secretary, not even the president. If the review board concluded that Gallagher deserved to keep it, so be it.

I also began to work without personally consulting Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper on every step. That was, I see in retrospect, a mistake for which I am solely responsible.

On Nov. 19, I briefed Esper’s chief of staff concerning my plan. I briefed acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney that evening.

The next day, the Navy established a review board to decide the status of Gallagher’s Trident pin. According to long-standing procedure, a group of four senior enlisted SEALs would rule on the question. This was critical: It would be Gallagher’s peers managing their own community. The senior enlisted ranks in our services are the foundation of good order and discipline.

But the question was quickly made moot: On Nov. 21, the president tweeted that Gallagher would be allowed to keep his pin — Trump’s third intervention in the case. I recognized that the tweet revealed the president’s intent. But I did not believe it to be an official order, chiefly because every action taken by the president in the case so far had either been a verbal or written command.

The rest is history. We must now move on and learn from what has transpired. The public should know that we have extensive screening procedures in place to assess the health and well-being of our forces. But we must keep fine-tuning those procedures to prevent a case such as this one from happening again.

More importantly, Americans need to know that 99.9 percent of our uniformed members always have, always are and always will make the right decision. Our allies need to know that we remain a force for good, and to please bear with us as we move through this moment in time.

Rudy Hears it Through the Grapevine

Paul Waldman writes,

In an interview Tuesdaywith former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, the president seemed to be road-testing a new explanation for the entire scandal, that Giuliani was some kind of freelance rogue agent who unbeknownst to Trump took over American policy toward Ukraine, doing things that Trump was neither aware of nor bears any responsibility for.

What was Giuliani doing in Ukraine on Trump’s behalf? “Well, you have to ask that to Rudy, but Rudy — I don’t, I don’t even know,” Trump said.

But isn’t he Trump’s lawyer? “Rudy has other clients, other than me,” Trump said. “He’s done a lot of work in Ukraine over the years.”

So he didn’t direct Giuliani to go to Ukraine and pressure their government? “No, I didn’t direct him.”

Even for Trump, that’s a brazen set of lies. We now know without a shadow of a doubt that Trump tasked Giuliani with managing his Ukraine “policy,” including his effort to pressure Ukraine to help smear Biden in advance of 2020. Giuliani engineered the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. American diplomats worked with Ukraine to craft a public statement vowing the investigation Trump wanted — but had to run it by Giuliani. Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were in regular contactabout Ukraine.

And as the testimony of multiple witnesses in the impeachment inquiry made clear, Trump continually, repeatedly decreed that Ukraine policy should be coordinated with Giuliani. “He just kept saying: Talk to Rudy, talk to Rudy,” testified Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

Indeed, Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on their July 25 call: “Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.”

Separation of Power, Esyay, But Ixnay on the Checks and Balances

Checks and Balances

Day before yesterday’s decision in House Judiciary Committee v. McGahn was a big deal. It runs to 121 pages, and if you want to read it yourself, here it is. Be my guest.

Last night I had a spot of insomnia, and—in lieu of a visit with my friend Jack Daniels—I read part of it and skimmed part of it. As you may know, the case involves the House Judiciary Committee’s effort to subpoena Don McGahn, Esquire, former White House Counsel. The committee wanted McGahn to give public testimony covering the same ground as his thirty hours of testimony to Bob Mueller, dealing with the Orange Man’s efforts to obstruct justice.

Here are some highlights, in the form of Q and A.

McGahn was White House Counsel, so, on the face of things, you might think that any conversations between McGahn and the Orange Man would be protected BOTH by executive privilege AND By attorney-client privilege. Is that what this week’s case was about?

No, it was not. Though there most definitely some privilege issues to be resolved. According to the Mueller Report, the Orange Man wanted McGahn to assist in his illegal obstruction of justice. There is a “crime/fraud exception” to the attorney-client privilege—the gist of which is that you and your lawyer can’t hide behind attorney-client privilege if you’re asking your lawyer to help you commit an ongoing crime. It is widely thought that the same exception would apply to executive privilege.

Also, there’s the fact that Trump waived any claim of privilege vis-à-vis McGhan’s testimony to Mueller. (Presumably, the Orange Man thought that McGahn was going to lie through his teeth to protect Dear Leader, aka God’s Chosen One—an expectation that was grievously disappointed.) And, generally speaking, once a privilege is waived, it can’t be unwaived.

But this week’s opinion told us nothing about these matters. What this week’s opinion said was that McGahn had to show up pursuant to the congressional subpoena, answer whatever questions he thought he could answer, and assert whatever privileges he thought might prevent him from answering any question he felt he couldn’t answer.

OK, then, what WAS the case about?

The case was about the Trump’s Administration’s argument that the system of checks and balances, as traditionally understood and as depicted in the above chart, is wrong in important respects. First, the Administration argued that “close advisors” of a President are entitled to an absolute “testimonial immunity.” In other words, a President has the power to obstruct congressional investigations of possible wrongdoing in the executive branch by directing “close advisers” not to show up at all.

Second, the Administration argued, the courts have no right, under the Constitution, to referee such a dispute between Congress and the President.

Foundational to our system of constitutional government is the 1803 case, Marbury v. Madison, where the Supreme Court declared, “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” The Trump Administration wanted to overturn Marbury, at least in important respects.

The Trump Administration is big on “separation of powers,” but doesn’t cotton to “checks and balances.” What would be the effect on our constitutional system of the Administration’s position prevails?

The effect would be to protect presidential criminal conduct and other wrongdoing from congressional investigation, and probably from judicial accountability as well.

What did the judge say this week about the Trump Administration’s constitutional arguments?

She said they were bullshit.

Has this issue come up before the Trump Administration?

Yes, it has. The administration of Bush the Younger asserted similar legal claims to try block the House Judiciary Committee from looking into its mass firing of federal prosecutors. A district court decision blew the Bush the Younger Administration out of the water. While the case was on appeal, the Administration and the Judiciary Committee negotiated a settlement in the form of an “accommodation,” setting parameters on how the investigation would proceed. In effect, Bush the Younger used an untenable, extreme legal position as a tool of negotiation to gain some leverage in protecting its interests.

What about the Obama Administration?

The House of Representatives—then under Republican control—got into a pissing contest with Attorney General Eric Holder over congressional investigative powers. In a 2013 case, I am sorry to say that the Obama Administration made an argument that was sort of a first cousin of the Trump Administration’s position. The judge said that “the Attorney General takes the position that a dispute between the legislative and executive branches must be resolved through negotiation and accommodation, and that the judiciary may not, or at least, should not, get involved.” (emphasis added)

How did the judge rule in that case?

She said it was still a bullshit argument.

What happens now?

The case is being appealed to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. If you would like to best on a sure thing, please bet that appellate court will side with the district court.

God’s Chosen One will appeal to the Supreme Court, which may or may not take the case.

What will the Supreme Court do?

I have no earthly idea.

What would an entirely cynical, politicized right wing majority of the Supreme Court do?

If they think that Republicans will continue to be elected president indefinitely, then a presidential dictatorship might look like a really good thing, from such a cynical perspective.

On the other hand, if they entertain the possibility that Democrats may sometimes win future presidential elections, then a presidential dictatorship might tend to lose its appeal.

 

 

 

Loony Tunes Tuesday

GOP Senator Says He Mistakenly Spread a Ukraine Conspiracy on Fox News. He Meant to Push a Different Falsehood.

Ukraine trap

Trump Wonders Why Coin Commemorating 100-Year Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage Wasn’t “Done a Long Time Ago”

19th_Amendment_Voting_Badge-Harding_Coolidge_Ticket_1920

Peter Wehner, Are Trump’s Critics Demonically Possessed? Two of the president’s prominent evangelical supporters are literally demonizing his opponents.

Satanic

The Senate Impeachment Trial: Evidence and Procedure

impeachment ticket

Benjamin Wittes, who is very smart, writes today on What Impeachment Is Revealing About the Republican Party: Trump’s Senate trial will force voters to evaluate nihilism as the governing philosophy of a political movement.

He addresses several topics of interest, but I want to draw attention to his observations on process and rules of evidence in the Senate. Mr. Wittes writes,

Things get even murkier when the articles [of impeachment]—whatever they end up including—land in the Senate chamber. The Senate’s rules for impeachment trials are an odd combination of the highly specific and the maddeningly vague. On the one hand, they specify the precise time of day the impeachment trial shall go into session the day after the House members appointed to manage the trial march into the Senate chamber and present the articles the House has passed (1:00 pm, in case you were wondering—unless it’s a Sunday). On the other hand, they don’t specify rules of evidence, leaving almost everything of substance initially to the judgment of Chief Justice John Roberts and ultimately to the judgment of 51 members of the body, the vote required to overrule Roberts on a wide variety of motions.

In other words, the course of the Senate trial will ultimately depend on two variables that are, at this stage, mysterious. The first is how Roberts understands his own role as the trial’s presiding officer. The rules permit the chief justice to be—if he chooses—quite activist in ruling on evidentiary motions and the like, subject to being overturned by a vote of the Senate itself. The rules also permit him to be—if he chooses—quite passive; he’s entitled simply to submit such matters to the vote of the body itself in the first instance. So one key question is what role Roberts himself thinks he should play.

The other question is whether Republicans will be as disciplined in the Senate as they have been in the House in opposing Democratic actions, or whether a small number of defectors will give Democrats the 51 votes they will need to prevail on evidentiary disputes—either if Roberts’s rulings are challenged or if he submits questions to the judgment of the Senate. In other words, if the initial question is the personality and attitudes of the chief justice, the ultimate question is which side has the votes to carry motions.

A lot turns on these issues: Depending on the answers, one can imagine a Senate trial in which Mulvaney and Bolton would have to testify and executive-privilege claims would be unsustainable. One can also imagine a trial that would be short and, for Democrats, deeply frustrating.

Getting Crazier by the Day, and the Fat Lady’s Still Warming Up

N.Y. Times, A Senate Trial Could Put Trump’s Use of Aggressive Defense Tactics to Their Biggest Test

Greg Sargent, Trump’s impeachment trial will be a sham. Here’s how to blow up his lies.

As I said, gettin’ crazier by the day. Sometimes by the hour.

It feels like the irresistible force is about the collide with the immovable object. It feels like things are about to blow up.

I don’t know how this ends. I haven’t spoken with my daughter Pollyanna lately. I am not here to spread sunshine and joy and optimism. I am not here to tell you that good always triumphs over evil and truth always triumphs over lies. But I am here to say that things are about as fluid as they can be, and that it’s going to get worse for the Orange Man.

At some point, John Bolton will shoot his bolt. Giuliani’s goon is said to be about the sing like a canary. Giuliani, himself, may yet be thrown under the bus—causing him to invoke his insurance policy. More civil servants will probably come forward. More documents will be leaked.

And now this.

Often, Trump lies with conscious intent to deceive. Sometimes, he acts delusionally: the person he has deceived is himself. As far as I can tell, in the latter category is his fairy tale about a Ukrainian company that isn’t Ukrainian and a Democratic server that is not in fact being held in a secret location in Ukraine.

As the above two articles detail, Trump has ordered that his impeachment trial must try to prove these fairy tales and that all members of the Republican Cult must endorse them. Some are now doing that very thing.

Meanwhile, as Gerg Sargent points out, the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by a Repubican senator, has investigated these claims thoroughly and is about to declare them to be the fairy tales they are.

Like I said, push coming to shove.