Trump’s Impeachment “Defense”: A Trial Balloon

slashed balloon

In previous posts I outlined the Deny the Undeniable Defense, the Explain the Inexplicable Defense, the the Defend the Indefensible Defense, the Just Get Over It Defense. Actually, there is probably a fifth alternative: the Nancy Reagan Defense—Just Say No to impeachment and removal and don’t say a word more.

Right now the trial balloon is Explain the Inexplicable: admit that Ukraine was extorted, but “explain” that it wasn’t Trump doin’ the extortin’ but rather a confederacy of dunces claiming to speak in his name. This argument necessitates the defenestration of the said dunces.

Here is how matters appear to stand as of this afternoon.

  1. It has been clear for quite a while—and it remains true today—that all Trump’s options are bad, but his least bad option is to throw Mulvaney and Giuliani under the bus.
  2. Because of a variety of mental infirmities, Trump cannot grasp point one.
  3. So the House Freedom Caucus has decided to throw Mulvaney and Giuliani under the bus, on Trump’s behalf, claiming that Mulvaney and Giuliani, not Trump, were responsible for withholding military aid to Ukraine.
  4. One problem with the defense is that it isn’t true.
  5. A second problem with the defense is that its intended beneficiary—Donald J. Trump—will probably not go alone with it.
  6. A third problem is that the Designated Fall Guys will probably not take the fall. Because, among other things, taking the fall would probably expose them to criminal liability. Not to mention that their names will live in infamy.

Hence, Giuliani has lawyered up. And Mulvaney has lawyered up.

And Mulvaney has now asked to join a lawsuit names Donald J. Trump as a defendant, seeking a federal district court’s direction on whether Mulvaney should obey Trump or comply with the House subpoena for his testimony. The New York Times finds the latter development both anomalous and ironic, and spends a goodly number of paragraphs today, sucking its journalistic thumb over these goings on.

One plausible explanation for Mulvaney suing Trump is that it’s part of a well-thought out Machiavellian legal maneuver. Deep within the article, the Times writes,

A lawyer for Mr. Mulvaney alerted the White House Counsel’s Office about the pending filing, and the office raised no objections, according to a person close to Mr. Mulvaney. Some observers said Mr. Mulvaney’s goal may be not to oppose Mr. Trump, but to help him, as well as himself: In signaling that he would like the courts to decide whom he should side with, he is turning the decision over to a legal process that may continue well beyond the Democrats’ impeachment time frame.

One could elaborate on this theory, but I’m not going to do it.

The Times seems to think the more likely explanation is that Mulvaney has hired a real lawyer; that said real lawyer has advised his client that he’s in danger of taking a bullet for Trump; that the lawyer has counseled Mulvaney on some steps he needs to take to protect himself; and that Mulvaney is taking the advice.

That’s what I would guess, too.