Elephants are Afraid of Mice: The Impeachment of Donald Trump
The newest Republican/Trump argument about impeachment is that the charge is so narrow and small that it cannot possibly serve as the basis for impeachment. The president insists that he did not do anything wrong when he spoke to the new president of Ukraine, Zelensky (or Zelenskiy, or Zelenskyy). He repeats again and again that he gave the Democrats the entire transcript of the call, word for word, comma for comma and that the transcript is a “perfect” script of a “perfect phone call.” Trump never mentions his use of the phrase, “I would like you to do me a favor, though.” It is perhaps just too subtle for this theatrical guy to accept that the House could launch an entire impeachment process on the basis of what is implied in that one phrase. Of course there was more. Turns out this transcript had been stored incorrectly in a special server reserved for extremely classified materials. Oops, kind of a dead giveaway.
This time he has not been well served by his cronies and his appointees. Rudy Giuliani agreed that he had been in Ukraine asking the new president to look into the corrupt behavior of Joe Biden and his son Hunter. I guess he thinks that there is nothing wrong with doing this kind of strong arm extortion, that a nation with a reputation for corruption must be used to it. It became clear that the Ukrainian president was being pressured to announce his findings publicly through the media.
Mick Mulvaney in a very public news conference affirmed that there were two quid pro quos. Money (that had been promised to Ukraine to buy weapons to use against Russian troops attempting to annex part of Ukraine for Putin) was being held up, and the new president would not be invited to visit Trump in the oval office until the dirt on Biden was presented. As time went on it became clear that our AG, William Barr was also in Europe trying to find information about the DNC hacking and to try to pin it on Ukraine instead of Russia. Mick Mulvaney, acting Chief of Staff, said these kinds of quid pro quos happen all the time in politics and we should get over it. But I do not recall ever hearing any other American presidential candidate asking a foreign nation to meddle in an American election. And yet we heard Donald Trump do that twice. He asked Russia for opposition info on Hillary Clinton in the campaign, and he asked China for info about Biden and Hunter Biden while the helicopter blades whopped. Normally we do the opposite. We try to protect our elections from foreign interference.
It is definitely wrong to bribe a foreign official by delaying military or any other aide in order to force a foreign government to do anything, but even worse when it involves election interference on behalf of the American president, and when the nation being extorted is under attack by a superior force, when delay could mean higher numbers of casualties. There has been, as we were told on MSNBC, “a parade of patriots” who are civil servants and could lose their jobs who are willing to testify about what actually happened. These loyal Americans who sworn oaths to uphold the Constitution work for the state department and Ukraine is their assignment. Trustworthy evidence is piling up, enough to allow a vote in the House to formalize the Impeachment Inquiry today, Thursday, October 31.
Most of us know in our hearts that this is not the first time Trump has done things that are unconstitutional. We read the Mueller report and we know that while Mueller stopped short of indicting Trump, there were enough Russians canoodling with the Trump campaign staff to make it clear that there was some collusion going on. Five of Trump’s campaign staff people, all men he considered loyal to him, are now either in jail or waiting to go to trial. There were at least ten examples of obstruction enumerated in Part 2 of the Mueller report. When William Barr was placed in the Attorney General position at the head of our Department of Justice we were already aware that he believed that the office of the President of the United States was all powerful, that the president could not be indicted or tried, and that he could not even be investigated. I have read the US Constitution. That is not what my copy says. We knew that he would have control over the Mueller investigation and we despaired when he suddenly ended it. We knew his brief four-page summary was incorrect, but it stood for a month and by then the real content of the report was considered deniable by Trump’s strangely loyal followers.
Our frustration has been building as Trump has been able to wriggle out of things that seemed pretty criminal, and unconstitutional, even worse in a president. But Trump had years of practice in the private sector surrounding himself with cronies who would do his dirty work for him, often for a fee, but sometimes simply as members of some mafia-esque happy-to-be-lawless, boy’s-just-like-to-have-fun-and-get-away-with-things club. We can see that the president does not see our constitution as any kind of rule book, as any limit at all on his absolute power. It is this lack of reverence for democracy that makes us nervous, but it is the disregard of our laws that makes us angry. We might have been able to learn more about Trump’s role in the many questionable policies and actions we have observed, if Trump did not forbid any one who ever met him from testifying claiming that it would be against national security to tattle about the president’s business (however dubious such behavior might be). He just uttered the magic words “executive privilege” and, until now, no one would testify. Maybe he is channeling Lethal Weapon 2, where the villain’s defense was “diplomatic immunity.”
So we have been unable to pursue impeachment because the Trump has been able to cloud our minds with tactics that should not work, like flatly declaring that people we know to be reliable are lying, accusing others of doing the very things we suspect him of doing, accusing the Democrats of still trying to get revenge for 2016, doing things out in the open to suggest that there is nothing to see here, offering pardons to toadies who will lie for him or refuse to testify against him, threatening his cronies families, playing the victim, and taunting us that we have no proof and that we couldn’t use it even if we had it because an American president now has absolute power and his every action is considered sacrosanct, (as if Mr. Trump even understands the meaning of sacrosanct).
To find that Trump finally has a chink in his armor, that he may have acted on his own, thinking that the coded threats he used were too subtle to decipher, that he had no deniability because people were listening to and taking notes on every presidential call to a foreign leader, is a relief. Perhaps it is now not quite so inevitable that we will not be able to dislodge this particular very destructive president. Perhaps this one seemingly small, but very significant error will bring down this charlatan, or at least curtail his ability to damage our republic. Our love of our country means that it is our responsibility to defend it. We know that sending this Trump packing may not be possible but he has given us an opening and we at least have to use the tools our founders gave us. We have to impeach even if it is only a way to discredit Trump’s behavior.We have to impeach even if it seems like we are bringing down an elephant with a mouse. As I understand it elephants are afraid of mice.