The end of Trump? It's not that simple

Posted 1/3/19

First of all, let me say I hope you had a restful holiday. I had soreness in the shoulders and neck (thank you, Bioflex) and I was a little blue and irritable at times this past month, but God gave …

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The end of Trump? It's not that simple

Posted

First of all, let me say I hope you had a restful holiday. I had soreness in the shoulders and neck (thank you, Bioflex) and I was a little blue and irritable at times this past month, but God gave me some support and rest in the past week or so that helped. I think many of us were in a bad mood this holiday season, and needed the rest.  (Nick Saban needs it, but give him another week. If I were the Tide, I would drill like crazy and pray not to make a mistake.) 

Speaking of a bad mood, I suppose with little activity here locally after Christmas and New Year's, we should check in on Trump, finally. I doubt he could be in a good mood after the past month. 

I find the situation more muddled and complicated than ever before. Shutting down the government over the proverbial wall in spite of Democrats taking over the House in a few days (and with children dying in the care of the federal government), having his respected defense secretary leave with a critical resignation letter (and then throwing him out early as punishment), and pushing trade matters and raising questions about the Fed chairman to the point of wrecking the stock market ...

Well, kiddies, it has not been a good holiday for the president. 

If this were England, the vote of no confidence for the prime minister would be at hand. Trump looks unstable in his actions, as fewer adults in the room are able to control him. (His chief of staff, who helped in that role, is out, too, replaced by someone regarded as a career-climbing boot licker.) Robert Mueller's investigation continues and new New York prosecutors are on his case. Republicans in Congress seem more willing to stand their ground, at least some, and I expect Mitt Romney's arrival in the Senate will be a thorn in Trump's side. 

So with Democrats taking over this week, it would seem like the end of Trump. No, not necessarily. 

Democratic leadership - which, by the way, are having trouble controlling the new young turks who are taking seats for the first time - will allow investigations.  There will be plenty of that, but they are reluctant to go now for impeachment, especially with Mueller still investigating. They want any charges clear enough that some Republicans can reach across the aisle. And then you have the Senate, which is still in Republican majority, so conviction is far from certain. 

Is Trump  incompetent? Oh, heavens, yes. A bully? Without a doubt. A criminal? Maybe. So far, the arrangements to hide his affair seems to be the best proof of criminal intent route, but even that was before he became president. 

And impeachment is not a short and simple process, as sourced Wikipedia articles reminds us after the Watergate break-ins in June 1972. At the moment, I'm only comparing the process, so indulge me ... 

A year after the break-ins, in May 1973, the Senate Watergate hearings began to do a congressional investigation, but it was not directly involved in impeachment, although it did lead to evidence gathered to bring 40 indictments of officials and a number of convictions. The Watergate hearings pressed on during a good part of 1973.

An impeachment process against President Richard Nixon was formally initiated on Feb. 6, 1974, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to give its Judiciary Committee authority to investigate whether sufficient grounds existed to impeach  Nixon. In March 1974, the D.C. grand jury that had been involved in the case since the original 1972 indictments against the Watergate burglars, handed up its most significant indictments in the case. 

But because prosecutors informed the grand jury that the Constitution likely prohibited the indictment of an incumbent president, with impeachment thus the only recourse, the jurors recommended that materials making a criminal case against Nixon be turned over to the House Judiciary Committee. The committee approved three articles of impeachment in late July. 

The full House had not even voted to impeach yet when the release of the "smoking gun" tapes brought enough pressure that even Nixon allies in Congress began to melt away publicly and Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974. Ironically, the Senate Watergate Committee issued its seven-volume, 1,250-page report on June 27, 1974, just as the end was near.

I bring to your attention that we are at the stage Democrats want to have their investigations - and with Democrats in full control of Congress in 1973-74, the Judiciary Committee did not get fully going until 1974. So if the process were to take the same track, it could all be concluding about the time of the 2020 elections, in the second half of the term. The Watergate process started at the start of Nixon's second term.  A major difference. 

As a result, I have a feeling that Democrats will want to go easy on this, as it would prefer to defeat the president by election. That would mean it did not take the most drastic action to remove a president while also making gains in other seats. That has its own risks as well, especially with one key factor: Democrats need a candidate. A great candidate. Really great. And preferably a fresh new face. Biden, Warren, Sanders are not what they need. 

On the other hand, many Republicans probably would tell you quietly Trump is not what they need, either. We have a president who has pulled audibles all over the place, without consulting generals, staff, Congress - and when I say consulting, I mean not even giving them an early heads-up. No one trusts negotiations to reopen the government unless it comes from Trump's lips, and he has been known to change his mind even then.

From a number of reports I read from Washington, many Republicans in Congress behind the scenes are fed up but won't say it publicly. Impeachment, with the right charges, might get the circus out of town. Pence would, I think, be considered stable to take over and make life easier. Except the Trump base would have to be placated and convinced.  And throwing out the president in your own party will be difficult, as he also does have his supporters in Congress. 

But the president has also made enemies or at least worn the patience of some in his party, which doesn't help if you need them to avoid conviction. Also, the truth is the map for the Senate has long been considered trickier for the GOP in 2020 than in 2018, and I doubt they can retake the House. Plus, if the markets tumble, interest rates rise and the economy pulls back, then that good will Trump has with the voters will weaken. Some reports say Hispanics are more divided than you would expect over Trump, but a large segment of them, plus African-Americans and millennials, with major help outside of the South, could put the hurt on Republicans in 2018. 

So in the end, those who think Democrats are going to rush in and throw the bum out are sadly mistaken. The only thing that might hurry up this matter is clear, solid evidence from Robert Mueller once his report is released (or leaked), and impatience and protest from the public and from Congress, that would force Trump to resign. Unfortunately, our president has made a life out of lying his way through life and fighting in court. Even Nixon sought an honorable end; Trump doesn't understand such a concept. 

Our holiday rest is over. Tell the band to play another number.  Bartender, fill up another glass for my friend here. The long national hangover is just beginning.