Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Last Call For The Map To Victory

Long-time Political Wire prognosticator Taegan Goddard is out with his preliminary 2020 electoral map site, based on early numbers, and it makes a lot of sense to me.

If the Dems keep this map and win the rust belt states from 2016 (PA, MI, and WI) then they win the White House.  Even with NC and Florida, Trump can't win in that scenario.

I'll update this as it goes.

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

Brian Beutler sums up the Democrats' failures in the post-Mueller report era pretty succinctly in his latest Crooked Media article.  I know "failures" here is a strong word, but given two plus years of lies and perfidy, Democrats are still acting like this all can be fixed with a goddamn handshake over bourbon.

Democrats have allowed their fear of taking a lonely stand to metastasize into the complete collapse of the last-remaining mechanism of presidential accountability. They are also apparently willing to sidestep a debate over this decision by executing a Trump-like pivot to infrastructure, but in a manner that seems destined to provide Trump a political boost. What president wouldn’t salivate over the prospect of having $2 trillion at his disposal to rebuild the country’s failing infrastructure during an election year?

It didn’t have to be this way. Instead of preemptively abdicating the impeachment power, Democrats could have announced that they would not allow Republicans to quietly nullify it to protect Trump from accountability
. Instead of conceding that, absent bipartisanship, “there will be no impeachment, no matter how high the crime or serious the misdemeanor,” they could have lamented that in a polarized time, when the right wing is drowning in propaganda, impeachment might have to be deployed as a partisan tool—a means of collective accountability for the high crimes and misdemeanors of a derelict president whose party has enabled him. Republicans might keep Trump in power, but they would have to vote on the proposition that his obstruction of justice, his felonious conduct, his betrayal and looting of the country is acceptable behavior in a president.

It bears repeating that there’s no consequence-free way for Democrats to take impeachment off the table. This is what the post-election panic about “normalization” was all about. Responding to his historic depredations with the ordinary tools of congressional oversight doesn’t just look weak, betray the anti-Trump resistance, and invite Democrats to make fatal diversionary missteps. It also invites a terrifying moral hazard into our political system. Trump’s opportunities to obstruct justice weren’t and aren’t limited to the Russia investigation—there are many more Trump-related investigations, including several under the supervision of an attorney general who has already asserted that Trump’s obstructive acts aren’t criminal. The Democratic bias toward inaction invites Trump to sabotage all of them.

It also invites Trump and his surrogates to solicit foreign autocrats and oligarchs to commit more computer crimes against his Democratic opponent. It invites Republicans in Congress to help Trump complete his coverup and enable his corruption, while they treat him as a righteous victim and (laughable as it sounds) lay claim to the mantle of ethical governance.

The combined effect of all this will be a cacophony of Benghazi-like propaganda hearings about SPYGATE and the Deep State, staged with the complete cooperation of William Barr, that drowns out Democrats as they waste months in court trying to enforce the subpoenas he and Trump proudly flout.

The last best hope for avoiding this nightmare scenario is for Democrats to find an onramp to impeachment in spite of their misgivings. Between their anti- and pro-impeachment poles, some Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, have allowed that Trump’s stonewalling tactics might leave Democrats no choice but to begin an impeachment process reluctantly.

To be clear, the reluctance is unwarranted and the delay is harmful. The Democrats’ palpable impeachment panic, set against the GOP’s unwavering claims of vindication and lust for revenge, has moved public opinion away from impeachment, and that view will harden in the very districts Democrats think they’re protecting. Likewise, if Democrats move to impeach Trump on the basis of his stonewalling alone, it will convey a petty lack of principle and a sense that his documented misconduct is not itself the problem. But it would at least bring us into the realm of appropriate recourse—into an arena where we can learn that Robert Mueller has accused William Barr of sabotage, and the question of what to do about it has an obvious answer. 

Mueller's response in his letters today made this all very clear.  Barr's response in Senate hearings today was 100% predictable: No crimes were committed by Donald Trump,  and he set the stage once again for the coming months of hearings and investigations into the FBI itself, into the Steele Dossier, and of course into Hillary Clinton.

I guarantee you Beutler is right about this.  Dems are almost out of time.  If they don't announce impeachment proceedings before Barr starts announcing new investigations, impeachment is effectively off the table, and the rest of 2019 will be defined by LOCK HER UP.

I know that rushing into this incorrectly will be devastating, but waiting too long will also be a catastrophe.

Senate Democrats are putting the brakes on impeachment chatter in the House, cautioning that lawmakers need to do more work before even thinking about moving forward on the issue.

A number of steps should be taken before there can be a serious discussion about impeaching President Trump, including hearing testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller, say several Senate Democrats.

They also want the House to review the unredacted version of his report and its underlying documentation.

“We ought to get the full report unredacted, get the underlying documentation, have Mueller come testify, and then we can make decisions on where to go,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday.

“We need to see the whole truth. Then we’ll make decisions on impeachment,” he added.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who are both running for president, have come out in favor of starting impeachment proceedings, but they’re alone among Senate Democrats so far.

And soon we'll be buried in HER EMAIL hearings.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Attorney General Bill Barr is expected to testify today before House Democrats on his redactions and characterization that there was no funny business, and that Robert Mueller supported the conclusions in his letter last month.  But last night somebody in the DoJ hung him out to dry as it turns out Robert Mueller sent Bill Barr a letter very plainly saying that Barr's "summary" was bullshit, ans somebody leaked that letter to the Washington Post.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wrote a letter in late March complaining to Attorney General William P. Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into President Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work, according to a copy of the letter reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post.

The letter and a subsequent phone call between the two men reveal the degree to which the longtime colleagues and friends disagreed as they handled the legally and politically fraught task of investigating the president. Democrats in Congress are likely to scrutinize Mueller’s complaints to Barr as they contemplate the prospect of opening impeachment proceedings and mull how hard to press for Mueller himself to testify publicly.

At the time Mueller’s letter was sent to Barr on March 27, Barr had days prior announced that Mueller did not find a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials seeking to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. In his memo to Congress, Barr also said that Mueller had not reached a conclusion about whether Trump had tried to obstruct justice, but that Barr reviewed the evidence and found it insufficient to support such a charge.

Days after Barr’s announcement, Mueller wrote the previously undisclosed private letter to the Justice Department, laying out his concerns in stark terms that shocked senior Justice Department officials, according to people familiar with the discussions.

“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,” Mueller wrote. “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

Remember, Barr testified earlier this month to the Senate that he had no indication that Mueller disagreed with his summary.  Indeed, Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi and others made it a central tenet of their Trump exoneration argument that if Mueller had disagreed with Barr's summary, he would have said something about it.

Mueller did say something about it over a month ago.

The Justice Department covered that fact up.

And Bill Barr lied about it to Congress.

So why doesn't Mueller testify to this fact?  He can't.  He's still a Justice Department employee at this juncture, and the Trump regime is refusing to let him testify because of that.

House Democrats tell The Daily Beast they’ve been told Special Counsel Robert Mueller is willing to testify before them about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election but that the Department of Justice has been unwilling to set a date for it to happen.

The impasse comes as lawmakers have grown increasingly frustrated over Attorney General Bill Barr’s handling of the release of the Mueller probe and as other Trump World figures have declined to appear before congressional committees.

Shortly after it was reported on Tuesday night that Mueller had written and called Barr to complain that he not fully represented his findings, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) sent out a statement demanding both appear before his committee and revealing that he had been stonewalled so far.

“The Attorney General has expressed some reluctance to appear before the House Judiciary Committee this Thursday,” Nadler said. “These reports make it that much more important for him to appear and answer our questions. The Department of Justice has also been reluctant to confirm a date for Special Counsel Mueller to testify.”

Nadler had sent a letter to DOJ following the department’s release of the Mueller report asking that Mueller appear for questioning no later than May 23. Two sources familiar with the conversations said the Judiciary Committee has been in regular contact with DOJ about setting a date for that Mueller’s testimony and that those conversations were ongoing as of this week. Committee sources said that it was their impression that Mueller was willing to testify to discuss his findings though it was unclear whether that would take place in public or behind closed doors.

But the DOJ has, according to multiple sources, not agreed to a date, citing Mueller’s continued status as a department employee—since the Special Counsel serves under the attorney general.
A Department of Justice spokesperson did not return request for comment.

To recap, Bill Barr lied to Congress under oath.  That's a felony.  Mueller is being blocked from testifying on his own report.  That's obstruction of justice.  Barr should be facing impeachment.  This whole mess just got untenable for Trump.

Democrats have to act, and now.


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