Write Me a Letter, Just Send it by Mail

Giuliani letter

Philip Bump, With an impeachment trial looming, new evidence that Trump sought personal benefit in Ukraine

Politico, McConnell courts GOP and Trump amid tensions over impeachment witnesses

Greg Sargent, Four big takeaways from the explosive Lev Parnas documents

Here is what seems to be going on, as of this morning.

Moscow Mitch’s contemptuous and dismissive demeanor is bogus. In reality, he’s shitting bricks.

The man is flailing around to keep his flock together. Right now, Moscow Mitch is postponing key votes, on witnesses and documentary evidence, in hopes that somehow he will get to 51 votes for doing things his way.

But time is not on his side. The longer it drags on, the worse it looks for Doofus Donald and Moscow Mitch.

Now, I know that some of you out there in internetland have a visceral feeling that our political enemies are ten feet tall—and are adroitly playing some kind of evil three-dimensional chess.

But read the three sourced referenced above, and think again.

Like I Said, Uncharted Waters


Greg Sargent, How GOP senators are already pre-spinning their coverup for Trump

Sargent has a different take from Jennifer Rubin.

Sargent thinks the Republicans’ cynical strategy will be (1) to reject Trump’s call to dismiss the charges before hearing any arguments—which is supposed to make them look “fair”—then (2) hear arguments of counsel, and then (3) vote to acquit without hearing any witnesses.

Cuter than Bambi

I share Sargent’s assessment of their utter shamelessness, but my overall reaction: it’s too clever by half.

Whenever your client is in deep doodoo, there’s often someone sitting in the conference room who comes up with a really clever proposed stratagem. I call it the “cuter than Bambi approach.”

It’s never a good idea.

OK, So What Will Trump’s Argument Be?

In addition to the general Bambi problem with this alleged strategy, there’s the more specific question, What will Trump’s lawyers argue?

If they argue that the House case is too indirect and too circumstantial, then anyone who votes to acquit without hearing the direct testimony looks really bad.

On the other hand, they might deep-six the “too indirect/too circumstantial” claim and go for the “not impeachable” argument, and try to draw all manner of purported comparisons with purported bad acts of Obama and other past presidents that did not result in impoeachment efforts.

At that point, the vote to acquit becomes the analogue of a judge’s granting summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, if that’s the game the Republicans want to play, just fine by me. We will have had a nice national debate about what’s impeachable and what isn’t impeachable, and we’ll see them in November.

In Impeachment News Today: The Plot Thickens

Plot Thickens

Washington Post, Top Senate Republicans reject Trump’s renewed call for immediate dismissal of impeachment charges

I find it gratifying that, in the depraved circumstances in which we live, there remains some role for logic. Rationality doesn’t matter much any more, but it still matters, at least a little.

Let’s take this in steps. Nothing new in the analysis below, but it seems the talking heads keep forgetting the key points.

  1. Trump, it appears, has now decided that he doesn’t want a trial, after all. Instead, he would prefer dismissal without trial.

No real surprise there.

Of course, he would.

  1. Republican senators, it is said, are refusing to dismiss the case in an offhand manner.

If that is true—a big “if”—then it’s a sane decision on their part, but also a surprising decision.

  1. Logically, Trump should be entitled to argue that the facts alleged in the articles of impeachment do not describe an impeachable offense. I didn’t say it would be prudent to make such an argument. I didn’t say such an argument would be persuasive. I said he has the right to make that argument, if he chooses to make it.

Trump’s right to make this sort of argument doesn’t depend on Senate Republicans, and it doesn’t depend on Senate Democrats. Logically, it’s his prerogative to make the argument, if he wants to.

  1. What tonight’s story is telling us—accurately or inaccurately—is that some significant portion of Senate Republicans are unlikely to embrace the argument that the facts alleged in the articles of impeachment do not describe an impeachable offense.

I find that both very interesting and somewhat surprising.

The reason I find it somewhat surprising is that it’s by far the best argument Republicans have, if they are bound and determined to acquit.

Their alternative route to acquittal is a real stinker.

  1. Rationally speaking, the other alternative route to acquittal is the say the House Democrats have not proved their case: it’s too “indirect” and too “circumstantial.”
  2. But, to reject the House’ case as “too indirect and circumstantial” while, at the same time, refusing to listen to the testimony of persons with direct knowledge is not just a bad argument, it’s not just a losing argument, it is in fact loony tunes.
  3. If Republicans want to acquit Trump based on a loony tunes argument, then be my guest.

Just go ahead.

Make my day.