Third try at Eliot Widaen’s impeachment post-mortem

I wrote two long versions of this the last two days, assessing the painful one-sided travesty that resulted in a jury that included the 45th president’s co-conspirators (Hawley, Cruz, Graham, Lee, Tubaveale among the most vocal) voting, on a disputed, minority-embraced technicality, to acquit a president they helped to organize and incite an insurrection against the government.

Two things the angry pro-Trump mob chanted during the ransacking of the Capitol that I don’t necessarily disagree with — “Treason!” (yes, it was) and “Hang Mike Pence!” (I’m never in favor of political murder, but if some sacrificial lamb has to go, why not the already soul-dead religious bigot Mr. Pence?) [1].

I realize now, fittingly on Presidents’ Day, that it’s time to look forward, to always frame things in the positive, from our perspective, what we concerned citizens need to do to fix a broken democracy, not from the incendiary and intentionally crippling perspective of modern day Nazis. The immediate future includes criminal conspiracy prosecutions of violent criminals (and ethics investigations of those in Congress who continue — they persist, even now — to shill for the soundly disproven Big Lie about a “stolen” election Trump and his party unsuccessfully tried to rig) and changes to the law to allow actual fair trials in future impeachments and similar Congressional investigations.

First, a palette cleanser, from E. J. Dionne (in an op-ed in yesterday’s Bezos, er, Washington Post) for a bit of perspective:

Don’t waste time mourning the Senate’s failure to convict Donald Trump for crimes so dramatically and painstakingly proven by the House impeachment managers. The cowardice of the vast majority of Republican senators was both predicted and predictable.

Instead, ponder how to build on the genuine achievements.   Led with extraordinary grace by Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), a diverse and able group of prosecutors laid out an indelible record not only of what happened on Jan. 6 and why, but also Trump’s irresponsibility throughout his term of office: his courting of the violent far right; his celebration of violence; his habit of privileging himself and his own interests over everything and everyone else, including his unrequitedly loyal vice president.

This record matters. We often like to pretend that we can move on and forget the past. But our judgments about the past inevitably shape our future. Every political era is, in part, a reaction to the failures — perceived and real — of the previous one. The Hoover-Coolidge Republicans loomed large for two generations of Democrats. Ronald Reagan built a thriving movement by calling out what he successfully cast as the sins of liberalism.

By tying themselves to Trump with their votes, most House and Senate Republicans made themselves complicit in his behavior. And Trump will prove to be even more of an albatross than Hoover, who, after all, had a moral core.

Given the chance to cast a vote making clear that what Trump did was reprehensible, only seven Republicans in the Senate and 10 in the House took the opportunity to do so.

You can tell how worried Republicans are that they are now the Trump Party by the contortions of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who aided Trump almost to the end. Rarely has a politician been more blatant in attempting the impossible feat of running with the foxes and hunting with the hounds.

Moments after voting to let Trump off — “on a technicality,” as Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas shrewdly observed about many GOP “not guilty” votes justified by anything and everything but the question of guilt itself — McConnell blistered the inciter in chief in a speech the impeachment managers could have written.

His words told the world who won the argument. They also underscored how wrenching it will be for Republican politicians to appease the GOP’s Trump-supporting majority while pretending to be another party altogether.

The fact that only seven Senate Republicans bolted should end the absurd talk that there is a burden on President Biden to achieve a bipartisan nirvana in Washington. If most Republicans can’t even admit that what Trump did is worthy of impeachment, how can anyone imagine that they would be willing and trustworthy governing partners?

The case for ending the filibuster is now overwhelming. There are not 10 Republican Senate votes to be had on anything that really matters.

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Say it again, brother:

The case for ending the filibuster is now overwhelming. There are not 10 Republican Senate votes to be had on anything that really matters.

Free speech is our right as Americans, but, at this point, so is shutting off noise that makes free thought and informed debate impossible. We don’t need to endlessly give oxygen to demented theories endlessly repeated by our agitated mass media. No reason to waste energy further debunking the lies of a party that unites behind Big Lies that are shown to be false over and over and over and that have proven to lead to violence and mayhem. Nobody cares, those who drank Trump’s/GOP’s insane kool-aid have shown they will swallow anything. The Jews did it, fine, we did it, now let’s move forward.

If Democrats do the only sane and practical thing and end the filibuster, which has been used (since its creation by slavery advocate John C. Calhoun three decades before the Civil War) overwhelmingly to support slavery (fake, there was never slavery here! LIAR! Jew!) and racism (only Black people and radical Jews perpetuate that lie!!! Anti-lynching laws blocked by filibuster were attempts at COMMUNISM!!!) they can pass laws favored by the vast majority of Americans. Here’s a short list.

Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, making it easier for people to vote, as a right of citizenship, and much harder for Republican state apparatuses to continue violating the Voting Rights Act in the name of suppressing the majority vote, which they frame as a “privilege” only their side is fully entitled to.

Use actual scientific knowledge to fight the pandemic and give financial relief to millions of Americans who are in desperate situations.

Get busy doing everything possible to slow the hastening destruction of the earth.

Nominate five or more “moderate” Supreme Court justices and confirm them with as much bipartisan support as is available.

Stop aiding foreign despots in genocide (our billionaire Saudi “allies” are mass murdering Yemeni people in the poorest country in their region).

Restore faith in the rule of law by enforcing the law against powerful serial scofflaws like several criminal associates pardoned by our criminal former president (“Mr.” Trump must now be prosecuted for leading the well-financed “collusion” to overthrow an election) guys like Roger Stone and the always innocent Mike Flynn, who called for violence and actively participated in the planning and promotion of the riot and (in the case of self-proclaimed rat-fucker Stone) whose phalanx of Oath Keeper bodyguards all took part in breaking into the Capitol (as the NY Times documented yesterday).

Free OJ and exonerate him (sorry, couldn’t help myself… trying to be bipartisan. How did Trump miss this layup? Why is Bill Cosby still languishing in prison? Oh yeah, Trump is the least racist person in the world.)

and so forth.

And here’s an important concrete suggestion, from former federal prosecutor/justice activist Glenn Kirschner — create an Inter-branch Dispute Court [2]. Here is why this idea is a crucial step toward actual justice and enforcing a true democracy-protecting balance of powers, as intended by the sainted Framers. There was, sadly, a strong argument for the seeming resigned, weak-kneed capitulation of Democrats on the issue of calling fact witnesses to disprove transparent lies told by Trump’s defense team about crucial facts that established Trump’s guilt — the interminable delays caused by the slowness of adjudications by federal courts.

When Robert Mueller interviewed former White House Counsel (and weasel-dicked Conservative operative) Don McGahn, McGahn admitted, under penalty of perjury, that Trump asked him first to fire Mueller, and then, after he refused because it could be seen as part of an ongoing pattern of Trump’s obstruction of justice, to write a memorandum for the record falsely stating that Trump had never asked him to fire Mueller. Erring on the side of staying out of prison, McGahn left the White House (after successfully installing Gorsuch and Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court) and returned to private practice.

McGahn was subpoenaed by the House to testify to this effect, on live TV, in connection to Trump’s first impeachment. Had McGahn (and others who swore to damning facts in Mueller’s Obstruction of Justice volume II) been allowed to testify, the House surely would have drafted an article for Obstruction of Justice, backed by the eye-witness testimony of those asked by Trump to “collude” in making the Mueller thing go away, as he had tried to make the Flynn/Russia thing go away by firing Comey. It would have been hard, with that sworn, live testimony, for even today’s GOP to unanimously (thanks, Mitt, I didn’t forget your historic guilty vote on one count) acquit their leader, even at the no witness, evidence-free first impeachment trial.

McGahn had the politically unpalatable (for him) option to appear before the Congressional committee, and likely the legal obligation to testify, but McGahn chose to fight the subpoena in court, one of several such decisions by prominent present and former Trump officials to defy/contest subpoenas during the Trump term. McGahn v. Congressional Cucktards was filed in federal court in 2019. The matter has still not been decided.

As angry as I was Saturday that Democrats didn’t pause the trial and get testimony from former Trump aides present with him during his absorption in the riot on live TV, testimony that would have made an airtight case that Trump didn’t care how many police officers and other people had to die when his Stop the Steal riot was going on, I grasp one aspect of their hesitation. While in office Trump ordered subordinates to defy 130 lawful subpoenas, under Barr’s inspired suggestion he assert a ridiculous pre-emptive blanket immunity against anything that could tend to incriminate or compromise the Unitary Executive. His remaining loyalists, like Kevin McCarthy, who had already said he would not testify voluntarily, would certainly fight a subpoena, as his team does now by reflex.

Trump was never held accountable for that open violation of the law under color of Barr’s absurd theory of absolute Executive branch authority. One reason the issue was never decided is is that federal courts are overwhelmed, even essential cases of great public consequence move lethargically. Another reason is that if you manage to run out the two year clock on a Congressional subpoena, as McGahn, John Bolton and other “patriots” did, the question of defying the subpoena expires too, when that Congress ends, the subpoena is no longer valid. The “case” becomes moot, as they say.

When there is a dispute between the Executive Branch, insisting on its Article II supremacy, and Congress, enforcing its legitimate Article I powers, that dispute must go to a court that can immediately rule on the question of vital national concern expeditiously. Glenn Kirschner outlines how this dedicated court would work:

McGahn refuses to testify, based on an asserted presidential privilege. McGahn sends the legal arguments for his refusal to obey a lawful Congressional subpoena to the IDC. The Court gives Congress 72 hours to respond, they file an answer. The court then has 72 hours to make a ruling. Instead of a two-year wait for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to appear as a hostile witness, admit that he had a shouting match with Trump during the riot and that Trump said at one point “Well, Kevin, obviously there are people a lot more upset about this stolen election than you are, bitch…” the wait is less than two weeks. Impeachment trial adjourned for the ruling of the IDC and the inevitable Supreme Court challenge (which would be fast tracked, as in the instant overnight vacating of stays that sought to prevent the execution of federal death row inmates Trump was intent on killing). McCarthy then testifies, under penalty of perjury, and we learn the truth about a matter crucial to all of us, as the rule of law should have it.

Instead, because of the practical impossibility of enforcing Congressional subpoena power, impartial jurors Graham, Cruz and Lee are free to openly strategize with Trump’s defense team on the eve of their (angry, incoherent, false) closing arguments and Lyin’ Ted is free to visit Trump’s legal team during breaks in the trial itself, right up to the acquittal.

There are ways for people of good will to fix some of the fatal weaknesses Trump’s lawless reign exposed. Now we have to get busy doing it. La lucha continua! Let’s get busy, and be of good cheer!

[1]

And, talk about unfailing, obsequious loyalty, nobody, NOBODY, showed this more than Mike “I’m NOT a Fag!!!” Pence. You can see him standing behind the president every time Trump made an outrageous claim, his face a solemn mask of moral neutrality, conveying a certain zombie-like fealty to his master at the same time. Pence passionately defended his insane boss at every turn. When others quit, went to the media with accounts of Trump’s insanity, Pence made speeches praising Trump. He defended indefensible statements and actions, over and over, proudly. His reward for this doglike fidelity?

An angry crowd, dispatched by Trump, calling to hang him for betraying them by not breaking the law. Learning how Trump actually felt about him and Karen. When Trump learned they hadn’t yet strung up the traitor Pence, he sent another rage tweet (ten minutes later) that was immediately read aloud through a bullhorn, repeating Trump’s opinion that Mike Pence lacked courage, had not stopped the steal and, arguably, deserved whatever happened to the weak fuck.

Trump made it clear to coach/senator Tommy Fucking Tuberville, in their phone call that ended after Pence was hustled out of the Senate, that Pence’s life meant nothing to him. He also told House Minority Leader and expert bootlicker Kevin McCarthy that he didn’t give a rat’s ass about the riot, or dead and wounded cops, that Pence was as dead to him as Sessions, Barr, Bolton, Bannon, McMaster, Tillerson, Mulvaney, Liz and Dick Cheney, that the important thing was to continue to Stop the Steal.    Poor Mike Pence!

[2]

[00:59:17]
To deal with, for example, interbranch disputes between Congress and the executive branch, so Congress issues a subpoena for testimony in an impeachment hearing, the executive branch says, nope, you can’t have that witness. Well, you know what you do? You go to the interbranch dispute, caught the eye, BDC and you get 72 hours to file your brief. You get another 72 hours to prepare and conduct your oral argument, and then you’re going to have a court opinion in another 72 hours.

[00:59:52]
Was that nine days? If I can count, I don’t have my calculator. You want to appeal that decision? 72, 72, 72. Now, in less than a month, you’ve got an appellate court opinion and it’s been all but definitively resolved because you could still go to the Supreme Court. But what you have done is you’ve taken out the endless Don Meghann year and a half delay to run out the clock. The interbranch dispute caught folks it’s imminently doable.

[01:00:19]
Donald Trump has opened our eyes to all of the problems, all of the deficiencies, all of the areas for abuse, right where they’ve wiggled into the cracks in our system and they’ve engaged in their abuse in those cracks and they’ve just blown them out into chasms, chasms of abuse and corruption and crime. By Donald Trump and his cabinet members and his family, and they’ve exposed they’ve exposed the weaknesses in our government, in our republic, in our democracy and our institutions.

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