Barr Fight Round One: TKO!
This Barr fight is turning into the greatest constitutional crisis of my already long life. At no time in my memory has the separation of powers been so strained. Only the Supreme Court appointment of GW in 2000 comes close to this. The machinery of our democracy is broken, perhaps has been for a long time. But this power struggle between a criminal president with his corrupted political party and a second, also corrupted political party, opens a window into the shattered machinery of control in our country.
We could be the next Venezuela, if we don’t get through this crisis correctly.
Here’s the key sentence from Robert Mueller’s letter to Barr of March 27. Barr tried to withhold any knowledge of this letter from the public.
“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.”
In the big fight in Washington, the first round was devastating for Trump proxy William Barr. The Democrats landed body blow after body blow, until Barr was finally left stammering and unable to complete a sentence. Sen. Hirono scored the first knockdown, with a five-minute withering condemnation including what must have been, for Barr, a devastating comparison with the blubbering Rudy Giuliani. Ouch, that must have hurt.
But it was Kamala Harris who delivered the TKO. Her simple, direct question, “Did anyone in the White House ask you to prosecute any individuals?” left Barr blubbering and shaken. Even five minutes of massage by one of his Republican trainers couldn’t bring him around. His psychological breakdown was so complete that he had to cancel the second round, scheduled for today.
Barr knew better than to leave his home ring in the Senate and climb into the Democratically-refereed House.
I wonder if he’ll be able to come out of his corner again? I somehow doubt we’ll hear anymore testimony from William Barr.
The only real winner, though, in yesterday’s hearings, was the New Cold War Club. Russia, and China, North Korea, and other “enemies”, were attacked from all sides. At least the Democrats and Republicans are united in their fear of those bad guys. And the Mueller report does show in some detail how Russia worked with Trump’s campaign to get him elected. I have questions about, and some explorations of, the New Cold War Club coming to the View soon. But for now I’m at least glad that concern for electoral integrity is expressed by all sides.
Every aspect of yesterday’s hearing solidified the need for impeachment of the President. There should not be any doubt now that the executive branch has dug in to cover up and protect its ongoing criminal activities. Only the sharp shovel of impeachment can dig those worms out now that they’ve gone to ground.
Here’s a strong argument for impeachment from The Nation
The founders gave Congress one constitutional remedy for a corrupt and lawless president. Failing to use it because of political concerns or because the Senate is unlikely to convict would not only signal to Trump that he’s above the law but also make it clear to future presidents that impeachment is too politically fraught to serve as a practical check on their power and that they would have to adhere to the law only if the opposing party controls the House and has a big majority in the Senate.
That’s a bad precedent to establish. Fortunately, reining in Trump with at least an impeachment inquiry is not only a constitutional imperative. There’s also good reason to believe that it would be smart politics heading into 2020.
And another strong case for impeachment, this from The Atlantic. Quinta Jurecic lays out the many impeachable offenses Trump has committed. Unlike most analysts, Jerecic reminds us that known crimes, misdemeanors and general Trumpian misconduct exist far outside the narrow Mueller agenda. These impeachable offences include the payments to Stormy Daniels during the campaign and so much more. The article points out that the “beyond a reasonable doubt” criminal standard is not needed for impeachment, and it argues eloquently that the overall pattern of Trump’s conduct is clearly impeachable, even if any single incident doesn’t rise to that standard. This is the same point Amy Klobuchar made in her questioning of Barr yesterday. It’s the overall pattern of action that reveals the criminal intent.
Do you remember this powerful sentence from our nation’s founding document about a pattern of intention?
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
So, Rod Rosenstein has retired (as of May 11) and almost no mention of this has shown up in the media coverage of the Barr hearings. Barr raised up Rosenstein’s name in his testimony— like a kind of shield— several times during the hearings yesterday. The designated fall guy, I guess you might guess. But now Rosensein is retired, which means at least some of Trump’s control over him is gone. Congress should, of course, question him as soon as possible.
If nothing else, this single sentence by Rosenstein from his retirement letter is enough reason for Congress to ask him a few questions.
The bottom line is that there was overwhelming evidence that Russian operatives had hacked American computers and defrauded American citizens, and that was only the tip of the iceberg of a comprehensive Russian strategy to influence elections, promote social discord and undermine America.”
From the side, Rod Rosenstein looks a lot like John Dean to me.
As Bill McKibben wrote about climate change in his book, The End of Nature, what we are losing now is not necessarily our democratic system of government. It may be that that system was lost long ago. It may even be that that system never really existed except as an ideal, a noble concept, a great destination toward which, we imagined, our nation was evolving.
But now we are losing the idea of that democratic system. We’re losing the dream of equality, justice, of government that serves the people. What is being killed off is a belief system. A definition. The definition of America, which is being distorted, erased, and re-written in front of us.
We may not be able to save the idea of democracy. We may not be able to restore the ideal of justice in our country, after the performance we saw yesterday by the supposed head of the supposed Department of Justice. Not without major reform.
And if the idea of democracy is gone, then what will replace it?
From the side, it’s hard to say what will happen to the American people when we recognize that we are living through the end of our two-party system of democracy.
When the Two-Party Circus is the Problem, What’s the Solution?
Here’s wonderful testy clip of Congressional Clowns on parade. I’d like to be able to praise Nadler, for recognizing the deep danger of the situation to the democratic structure of the nation. But there is no constitutional solution besides impeachment, especially if the electoral system is in the kind of danger yesterday’s hearings and the Mueller report reveal. Before watching this, you might remember to picture each speaker with a clown nose and wig. It will help you get through. This ends with a pretty epic mic drop.
Everybody’s using my “Circus” metaphor. I’m flattered, even when a Clown like Doug Collins complains about his own circus. He keeps blowing the same horn, louder and louder, making more and more a clown of himself. Does anyone else know the word “degregate”? His literary reference is especially telling: “sticks and stones”.
Why is the life of our country being debated on a playground?
Even the CNN clown commentators at the end of the clip pick up on the Circus metaphor. Hey, those are my words, not Collins’!