I gotta remember – all I have to do is be so sure about something that I predict it in writing, and POOF, the opposite happens! I wonder how I can put this to use…hmmm…well, for starters, I will certainly never win a hundred million in the lottery. That’s for sure. I won’t live to be 135, in rude good health all the way. And Trump will definitely not be removed from office.
OK, let’s just fix ourselves some sandwiches, pull up a comfy chair, and wait.
It was just a couple of days ago, a lifetime, apparently, in the world of politics, when I predicted loudly that This Won’t Matter Either. That seemed right. Why would it matter? Nothing else did. Stuff that was much, much worse didn’t. Why would anybody get all worked up about Trump putting the screws to Ukraine? Who cares about Ukraine? After everything else, this is going to set a cat among Trump’s big, fat, happy pigeons?
It looks like it. I don’t know what to believe.
It’s not altogether clear what’s going on, either. Nancy Pelosi marched up to the podium yesterday and declared an “impeachment inquiry” was now underway, but what does that mean, exactly? Legally, operationally, not a great deal. Jerry Nadler, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee (traditionally the body that draws up Articles of Impeachment following an inquiry) stated some weeks ago that an impeachment inquiry was already ongoing. Was it not, really, but is now? If so, how is this different? The same oversight committees will be conducting more or less the same investigations as before, and no magic procedural red line has been crossed, not really. The Constitution itself provides little guidance, and while it’s clear that a President is not formally impeached – a process akin to a criminal indictment – until there’s a resolution of the full House (following which any trial moves to the Senate), the necessary procedures for kicking off an investigation, the end result of which might be Articles of Impeachment to be sent to the floor for a vote, are the stuff of scant tradition. Does the full House need to pass a resolution to initiate an inquiry? It isn’t clear, and Pelosi isn’t taking that route.
What seems to have happened, for practical purposes, is a signal from the Speaker of the House that she’ll now support a formal impeachment if the investigation supports it. This is, actually, a dramatic development, and it means that Pelosi has concluded that she has the votes if it comes to that, and is determined to whip them if Articles of Impeachment, which would likely be drafted by Nadler’s Judiciary Committee, are brought to the floor. It seems that in the result, what’s been a rather feckless, stonewalled process of investigation, which has bumbled along to no particular effect for almost nine months now, becomes Big Magic, much more difficult politically – and perhaps legally – for the Trump administration to resist. It’s thought that Pelosi’s use of the magic words may spur courts to expedite rulings on the many subpoenas at which Trump and his minions have thus far thumbed their noses, and may result in a rapid and binding refutation of all the bogus claims of privilege, even at the level of the stacked Supreme Court, owing to the solid precedent set during Watergate in US v. Nixon. Things may start to happen fast.
We’ve already seen what look to be the first signs of a sea change. The full Senate, Mitch McConnell’s Senate, voted unanimously that the suppressed whistleblower complaint that set all of this in motion must be produced to Congress. This merely affirms that the existing law ought to be obeyed, but even that much seems almost revolutionary coming from the Death Chamber that Mitch Built. Trump has also felt it necessary to release what appears to be an honest transcript (more descriptive notes than transcript, really) of the call to the Ukrainian President that was part of the impetus for the whistleblower’s complaint. The whistleblower himself (herself?), still unidentified as I write this, may be testifying before Congress, perhaps House Intelligence, before the week is out.
Is all of this really going to amount to something? No doubt, the details that emerged since yesterday, even, look very bad for the President, if being a transparently lawless thug is suddenly important. The notes of the phone call to Ukraine’s President, which Trump apparently still believes was no big deal, are almost farcically descriptive of something indistinguishable from a mob shake-down. You can imagine John Gotti on the line with some quivering contractor who’s been buying his cement from a non-approved source. The United States does a lot for your country, says Donald. Your country, what it does for us, it’s not so much. You maybe want to help me out with this Biden thing, then, yeah? Have a look:
Nice country you got there. Shame if something were to happen to it.
Why this should finally cause the dam to burst is beyond me, at this point. Maybe it’s just so clear, comprehensible, irrefutable, and obviously wrong in a way that any rube can understand. Maybe it’s less murky to the average mind than all that stuff about Russia, and obstruction of justice, and breach of the Emoluments Clause, or even paying off porn stars to keep them quiet on the eve of the election. Maybe it’s the florid, flamboyant, glorious stupidity of once more seeking foreign interference to help rig an election, with a call placed just one day after Mueller’s testimony concluded in Congress. Maybe it’s just all too much, now, at long last. Maybe one day they’ll refer to this transcript as a “smoking gun” – or maybe they already are.
Whatever. To me this seems among the lesser of Trump’s many deadly sins, but fine, I’ll take it.
Anyway, I’m done making predictions. A formal impeachment seems inevitable now, but what do I know? The outcome of a trial in the Senate also seems preordained, but who am I to say? Maybe things will start to snowball, now, what with the State of New York going after Trump’s tax returns, and six House committees digging into all sorts of malfeasance, and Trump’s gorging on taxpayer dollars in blatant violation of the Constitution once more coming to the fore with all the news about the Air Force renting out half of Donald’s Scottish golf resort, until at last it reaches the point that Donald decides to resign while the resigning’s good, leaving in the dead of night under cover of a pardon from President Pence. Maybe my happy prediction at the end of 2018, that the Trump Administration wouldn’t last to the end of 2019, comes true. Or maybe the bastard toughs it out. Maybe McConnell, as I’ve suggested before, refuses to hold any trial if Articles of Impeachment are sent his way, and that’s that. I’m not saying I know, understand. Nope. That ain’t me no more. I’m just sitting here watching. Watching, and God help me, hoping.