Sunday, May 19, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lashed out at an insufficiently loyal Republican.

Yesterday, Rep. Justin Amash became the first Republican currently serving in Congress to endorse Trump's impeachment. Amash is a member of the very conservative House Freedom Caucus, which overlaps with the "Tea Party" movement in the Republican Party. In a long Twitter thread, Amash laid out his reasons:

Here are my principal conclusions:
  1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report. 
  2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct. 
  3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances. 
  4. Few members of Congress have read the report.
I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony, and having discussed this matter with my staff, who thoroughly reviewed materials and provided me with further analysis.  
In comparing Barr’s principal conclusions, congressional testimony, and other statements to Mueller’s report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings. Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice.  
Under our Constitution, the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust. Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment. In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.
Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct. While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.  
Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch’s jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our Constitution. When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles. We’ve witnessed members of Congress from both parties shift their views 180 degrees—on the importance of character, on the principles of obstruction of justice—depending on whether they’re discussing Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. Few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report; their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation—and it showed, with representatives and senators from both parties issuing definitive statements on the 448-page report’s conclusions within just hours of its release.  
America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome. Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome; it deserves a government to match it.

Predictably, Trump lashed out at Amash today, although he was briefer: he called Amash a "loser" and insisted once again that the Mueller report proved he had committed "NO COLLUSION" and "NO OBSTRUCTION." (The Mueller report says no such thing.)

Trump also asked a question, probably meant to be rhetorical, that may have revealed more than he intended to: "Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime[?]" In reality, obstruction of justice is a crime in and of itself—because normally suspected criminals aren't in charge of whether or not their crimes are investigated. (Even in cases where the president isn't involved, obstruction is a crime all by itself because otherwise there would be no reason for criminals not to try to destroy evidence, intimidate witnesses, or lie to law enforcement.)

According to a recent poll, a slim majority of Americans support impeaching Trump.

Who cares?

  • Members of Congress swear oaths of allegiance to the Constitution, not the person who is president at the time.
  • No one president's political fortunes are more important than the rule of law.
  • It's wrong to lie.