Forget About Impeachment; Focus on the Crimes

Filed in National by on December 4, 2017

To anyone who lived through Watergate, Robert Mueller’s investigation is surprising in only one regard: How quickly he has put together a case that implicates not just the president but dozens of his underlings.

I’ve seen headlines recently (tl;dr) about living through Watergate. Even those of us who lived through it tend to forget that at no time during the first year of that investigation did the thought of impeachment cross anyone’s mind. Nixon had won 49 of 50 states by demonizing blacks and hippies, who were obviously fronts for commies. He was popular, except with those who opposed the war he had promised to end. People knew that the “burglars” were CIA-connected but didn’t yet have the testimony about the money trail that provided all the dots that have long since been connected. Impeachment? It wasn’t even thought preposterous. It wasn’t thought at all.

For all their bungling, the men involved in Watergate, Nixon above all, knew government and how it works, which is a big reason they were able to stall and stiff-arm investigative attempts. We now know that the leaks to Woodstein came from FBI official Mark Felt. Republican apologists argue that he was angry at being passed over for promotion; they rarely point out that almost all prosecutors and investigators get frustrated that the truth might never get out. Without him, the cover-up might have worked.

Ignorance of government is a big problem with the Trump crew. As Josh Marshall notes in this masterly recap of what we know at this point, Trump wasn’t working with the best people — he was working with castoffs who couldn’t find jobs with one of the other 15 candidates. Given that so many of those candidates refused for so long to accept Trump’s victory, he only picked up retreads (like Kellyanne Conway from the Cruz campaign) late in the game, and even then he only got people who were willing to gamble their reputation within the mainstream GOP. His lawyers aren’t crack D.C. veterans, and even if they were they would have to contend with a client so clueless he unwittingly tweets out his guilt.

The underlying crimes of Trump and crew so dwarf those of Nixon, or even of the Reaganauts who launched Iran-Contra, that it’s impossible to hide them. Manafort’s money-shuffling schemes provide a key for prosecuting Trump and all his spawn for money laundering; just look at the Trump Panama tower fiasco. Flynn’s cowboy diplomacy and links to foreign agents open up all sorts of avenues; I suspect that if these threads are followed to their ends they will find that foreign money entered Trump accounts he used to “self-fund” the campaign.

This administration does not have just a crime or two to cover up — it is a criminal enterprise and has compromised everyone involved from top to bottom. If you think this is anything but the Goths and Vandals sacking Rome, look at Trump’s cabinet, several of whom immediately started spending taxpayer money on personal travel, others of whom furthered the interests of the corporations who have sponsored their political careers. We’re well past the point of these being “ethical” concerns. They should be criminal concerns.

Impeachment happened to Nixon when his crimes became to obvious to ignore. If that never happens to Trump, well, that’ll be the ballgame, won’t it?

Benito Mussolini, who invented fascism, said that it was a fusion of government and corporate industry. The nationalism and racism were the sops to the mob. If that’s not the system Trump is trying to impose, what is it?

How ironic that a political party birthed partly in the name of freedom dies by committing itself to fascism.

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  1. liberalgeek says:

    is Woodstein an acceptable portmanteau for Woodward and Bernstein?

  2. Dana Garrett says:

    Ah, dreams of justice applied to the status quo in America. It won’t happen. Trump won’t be convicted in the Senate if he’s impeached in the House which itself is doubtful. It wouldn’t happen even if the Dems controlled the Senate by a two-thirds majority. iImpeaching and convicting a sitting President would show unambiguously that the political system can produce a criminal presidency. That would mean the system is fundamentally flawed and the political system will never allow the perception to be validated. Both Repubs and Dems have a huge stake in maintaining the governmental status quo. Maybe Trump won’t get re-elected. That’s the most that can be hopped for.

  3. liberalgeek says:

    Thanks. I had never seen it used.

  4. Alby says:

    @Dana: No dreams involved. My premise is that this system was set up to express the will of the majority, with some protections for the minority. A minority that somehow usurps the majority will either finds the nation ungovernable, or it ceases to be the nation as we understand it.

    I can’t predict the outcome. There are only probabilities, and yours is one. But remember that Republicans are still in the denial stage. Look at where Nixon was in a comparable point of Watergate — enormously popular and in full control of the government; neither is true of Trump. Even well into the underlings-pleading-guilty stage of Watergate, Republicans were openly mocking people who took it seriously.

    My point is that just because truth dawns slowly on a majority of people doesn’t mean that it never dawns at all. If hopelessness works for you, by all means indulge. It has no effect on me.

  5. Alby says:

    @LG: Showing my age and my roots.

  6. bamboozer says:

    Remember Nixon all too well, was at the U. of Delaware as a political science major watching it all go down. Nixon’s resignation was a shocker, but only in that the struggle was over and that we had won. Then as now the high and the mighty were not impressed by protests and individuals speaking out, as noted busted underlings did not impress them either. Trump is far worse than Nixon and his cabinet is a rogues gallery of incompetents, crooks and criminals yet to be caught. As with Italy and Berlusconi we need to focus on the crimes, not on the outrageous behavior of our noble leader.

  7. Dana Garrett says:

    Nixon resigned precisely to preserve the status quo and not allow a prosecution to occur in the Senate, a prosecution that never would have removed him from office had he not resigned. He fell on his sword not primarily to protect himself, but to protect the advent of public deep cynicism about the government. The pardon of Nixon was inevitable for the same reason. The government can’t allow the conviction of a former president for crimes committed during his presidency. That would impugn the government system per se.

  8. Matt Smith says:

    I think the Republicans still want him around as a distraction so they can get their Tax Scam bill through Congress and signed. And now Trump has endorsed Roy Moore since Moore is back in the lead. If Moore doesn’t win though, it will be another loss for Trump and maybe the R’s will finally start to see him as a liability. Or maybe not. I’ve given up predicting anything concerning our orange leader.

  9. Alby says:

    @Dana: Yes, it would. You understand that there’s no way for me to disprove your prediction, or any prediction. Unlike you, I see nothing certain from here, just probabilities, and one of them remains that justice is done. I see no profitable reason to think otherwise, unless there’s a pessimism trophy out there I don’t know about.

    As I said, the intent of the founders was a system that would reflect the will of the majority. If I am right, this minority will not be able to enforce its seizure of power indefinitely.

  10. Delawarelefty says:

    Now the GOP has again decided to back Moore. Gives new meaning to GOP…..Gross Old Pedophiles!

  11. Delawarelefty says:

    Obstruction of justice can become political but crimes are…..criminal. Lock the Trump crime family up! This story is going far beyond obstruction. Money laundering is the Trump business and link to the Kremlin.