Trump is the (unintended) beneficiary of the long-game Charles Koch and friends have waged to reshape the U.S. government into a body that will tirelessly protect the liberties and privileges of our most privileged. Attaining this “business friendly” government has been the death of a thousand cuts. A series of Supreme Court decisions now clarifies the high bar for corruption in a federal court: proof of an actual quid pro quo in public corruption cases. (It’s worth a click, if you’re interested, Zephyr Teachout does a great job explaining the problematic series of unappealable holdings about corruption).
This weakening of anti-corruption laws was one of the deepest of the thousand cuts hacked into our democracy by a corporatist Supreme Court made possible by the indoctrination of literally dozens of Koch-funded institutions, including the famous Federalist Society, a national fraternity of lawyers and judges committed to the conservative/libertarian project of preserving the status quo and making it eternal. In post-Citizens United America, if you can’t show that there was an actual negotiated deal involving you scratching my back in exchange for me scratching yours, and a formal exercise of governmental power involved in my scratching, you haven’t proved shit as far as corruption.
So let’s say Trump didn’t tell Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick “Koch-funded Tea Party government shut down patriot” Mulvaney  to withhold $400,000,000 in military aid to besieged Ukraine until he spoke to the new comedian president of the Ukraine, Volodymyr (that’s kind of funny already) Zelensky, about getting dirt on the allegedly corrupt son of Trump’s possible sleepy rival for the presidency in 2020. Let’s say Trump just called Zelensky and told him he needed dirt on the son of his adversary, to discredit the corrupt father and help Trump win reelection in 2020, without holding withheld military aid over Zelensky’s head. No quid pro quo, nothing to see. Just two guys being guys.
In other words, if the Trump-hating Washington Post hadn’t reported the other day that Trump ordered Mulvaney to place a hold on the promised $400,000,000 in military aid to the Ukraine back in July nobody would have been aware of the leverage Trump was exerting on the new Ukrainian president when he asked him for a perfectly normal favor — help from the Ukrainian justice department in discrediting a political rival here in America. The real culprit here? The liberal media again: enemy of the people. So unfair!
The drumbeat is getting louder for impeachment of this arguably corrupt, arguably unimpeachable singularly Unitary Executive. Senator Elizabeth Warren has been outspokenly for impeachment since the Mueller Report was released in redacted, hard-spun form more than five long months ago. That report was a long-winded blueprint for impeachment, even as it reached no conclusions other than that the president could not be exonerated, based on the impressive evidence of his obstruction of justice. The other day Warren used Twitter to challenge the inaction of Congress:
In yesterday’s New York Times Michelle Goldberg had some excellent insights on the current Mexican standoff over impeachment. After quoting from Nancy Pelosi’s arduously worded letter of “warning” to fellow House Democrats:
“If this administration persists in blocking this whistle-blower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the president, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us to a whole new stage of investigation.”
Goldberg wrote of Warren’s tweet:
Well said, sister.
He opposed gun control initiatives and the Affordable Care Act. In response to criticism for meeting with the extremist John Birch Society in July 2016, Mulvaney said, “I regularly speak to groups across the political spectrum because my constituents deserve access to their congressman. I can’t remember ever turning down an opportunity to speak to a group based on the group’s political ideology.”
According to The New York Times, Mulvaney took “a hard line on spending during President Obama’s term, vowing not to raise the nation’s debt limit and embracing the term ‘Shutdown Caucus’ because of his willingness to shut the government down instead.” In 2015, Mulvaney voted against a government-funding resolution, which would have prevented a government shutdown, in part because it included funding for Planned Parenthood. Explaining his vote, Mulvaney said, “This is not about women’s health. It’s about trafficking in pieces of dead children.” After his appointment as head of the OMB in 2017, he reiterated his conditional position of support for a shutdown.