“Total exoneration! It was all a hoax! But now, with my great vindication, the State of the Nation and State of the Presidency are better than ever in the history of the USA, thanks to me and 51 patriotic Republican Senators: Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz . . .”
We might have expected the president in his State of the Union address on Tuesday to go down the entire roster of Republican senators who voted to acquit him. Sort of like he did in a White House lawn gathering in the middle of the so-called Senate impeachment trial—personally thanking every senator in advance for their acquittal verdict. But, Deadbeat Donald, real estate tycoon, probably knows all about jury tampering. Get used to it, losers. Four more years!
That would be an existential threat to America as we know it.
But McConnell couldn’t quite grant Trump’s wish to be acquitted before his State of the Union date with Congress. Yet that may not stop him from claiming exoneration even before the preordained Senate acquittal on Wednesday. If he does, every Democrat in the House chamber should walk out—including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, handing her copy of the president’s address back to him as she leads her caucus, along with Sen. Chuck Schumer’s, out into the warm winter night of the Nation’s Capital.
It’s a fantasy, I suppose, but a fitting slap in the face that President Trump richly deserves. It’s also a rebuke to the Republican Senate majority that abdicated its constitutionally co-equal checks-and-balances responsibility on behalf of a semi-literate, fully ignorant, pathologically mendacious and narcissistic bully with the moral compass of congealed spittle and drool. Who speaks ill of the dead? Who mocks people with disabilities and gold-star parents? Who separates babies from their mothers to make his case for a border wall that can be completed only by confiscating millions of acres from American landowners? As for his ignorance and illiteracy, I cite Trump’s congratulatory tweet to the Kansas City Chiefs on their Super Bowl triumph—”representing the great state of Kansas!” Missourians must wonder if he can read even a map.
Never mind that he did it before with Russia in 2016. (OK, so the Russians initiated the hack campaign to defeat Hillary. But Donald tagged along with enthusiastic transparency. “Russia, if you’re listening [ya-da-ya] 30 thousand emails. . .”) So, the day after the Mueller hearings ended—the very next day!—Donald inadvertently revealed what he learned from that narrow impeachment escape. Nothing! He called the newly elected president of Ukraine to shake him down by withholding nearly $400 million in military aid authorized by a bipartisan Congress for the “favor” of an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. (He who did his father no favors by joining the board of a Ukrainian energy company.) Trump also sought investigations into the crazy conspiracy theory that the Democratic National Committee server hacked by Russia had been whisked away to the former Soviet Union republic that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to reclaim by armed proxy rebellion.
Trump’s perfidy—arguably treasonable and brazenly impeachable—was exposed in his self-described “perfect” phone call to Ukrainian President Zelensky. Ignoramus Trump should have known it would be monitored by a dozen or more White House and national security aides. A whistle-blower sounded his alarm. Several witnesses, both first- and second-hand, corroborated his complaint. Trump’s defense, as presented by his trial team, is barely more credible than those excusing his 2016 “Access Hollywood” audio of Trump bragging about sexual assault: It was just locker-room banter.
Well, far less credible if you listen to Alan Dershowitz’s legal theory on abuse of power. If the president believes his election is in the public interest, whatever he does in that pursuit is quid-pro-quo immunized—excepting only pecuniary sins (like accepting cash in brown bags which sunk vice president and former Maryland governor Spiro Agnew months before Richard Nixon resigned in impeachment disgrace). In other words, seeking re-election that he believes is in the “national interest” means Trump could get away with anything to further that outcome. Taken literally, that includes assassinating his rival. Hey, why stop at smearing Biden? Anyway, his Senate defenders made up for Donald’s failed Ukraine coercion by smearing the Bidens at every opportunity.
But Dershowitz goes way further in twisting the Constitution into ring-kissing knots for Trump. If Putin claimed Alaska because Russia once owned it, just as he did in stealing Crimea from Ukraine, and if Trump said, “You’re welcome, Vlad,” that would be “terrible,” Dershowitz concedes, but not impeachable!
We doubt Donald would go that far, though he’d be tempted if Putin offered to pay him personally for the real estate. And although Trump has deployed such mob lingo as “take her out” when referring to Marie Yovanovitch, fired U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, I doubt he’d conspire in assassinating Americans, though he’s stoked people at his rallies to retaliate, citing “Second Amendment” solutions. Trump is so unhinged to moral, strategic and intellectual responsibility that we have no idea what he might resort to in saving his own skin. How about provoking a war to distract from impeachment or, in upcoming months, un-election. Didn’t he nearly do that with Iran?
Democrats should have a Plan B in case Donald prevails in 2020. Use the Senate’s obscene fealty to His Trumpness to bury them in another Blue Wave. We’re looking at you, Moscow Mitch and all your Trump Toads, led by Lindsay Graham. You complain that the House didn’t have first-hand witnesses to Trump’s extortion of Ukraine. Then, when you have a volunteer witness who was in the Oval Office with Trump, you say the clock has run out. You don’t want to hear National Security Adviser John Bolton testify because word has it that he’d testify the president ordered himself and others to make the “drug deal” with Ukraine happen: Smear Biden or you don’t get your weaponry. Instead you say, we’ve heard enough, even as you complain it’s not nearly enough to impeach the president
We can’t count on ever hearing from Bolton. Not even through his book. That’s because we can’t count on it being published. There’s nothing to stop Trump from brow-beating national security officials now reviewing Bolton’s manuscript into redacting it to death. Or blocking publication altogether.
The House should subpoena Bolton to testify. Now. Maybe the subpoena will get nowhere. But by keeping the heat on, who would bet against the pertinent passages of Bolton’s nonfiction being leaked? Or that more witnesses will step forward to blow the whistle once the dam of Trump lies breaks?
Seventy-five percent of Americans polled on the issue said there should have been witnesses. Otherwise, it’s not a trial. And, as Pelosi says, without a trial, there can be no acquittal. Instead, we have a sham—a real hoax as opposed to Donald’s fake hoaxes in attacking Bob Mueller, Adam Schiff et al.
The remedy, aside from defeating Trump in November, is to capture the Senate, retain the House and stifle Trump if he wins again. Thwart him. Nullify him. Make him a four-year lame duck. Don’t approve any nomination, particularly to the courts, unless his name is Merrick Garland. And if he so much as jaywalks to enter his emolument-clause-violating Trump International Hotel near the White House, impeach him again. It may be partisan. But this time, with McConnell involuntarily retired, America might have the votes to rid us of this monarch-wannabe embarrassment to our constitutional republic, Donald John Trump.
Steve Parks is a retired journalist now living in Easton.