The real issue is not whether Donald Trump --- an utterly dishonest raging authoritarian narcissist and "pathological liar" --- should be removed from office. Instead, the focus should be on which of two alternative constitutional means for removing this miscreant from office has the best chance of ultimately succeeding.
Impeachment is a cumbersome process that, assuming the GOP-controlled Congress would permit it, entails lengthy investigative hearings, and the introduction of Articles of Impeachment alleging High Crimes and Misdemeanors --- Articles that must be approved by a majority of the House. This would be followed by a trial in the Senate. Trump would then be removed from office only if two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict. Tall orders for both Republican-majority chambers, to say the least.
Throughout the length of those protracted proceedings, Trump would remain in office with access to the nuclear codes.
In his recent New York Times op-ed, Nicholas Kristof, quoting Harvard's renowned Constitutional Law Professor Laurence Tribe, opined that the 25th Amendment offered a viable means for removing Trump from office. Per the language of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, if Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of Trump's own cabinet transmitted to the leaders of the House and Senate "their written declaration that [Trump] is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President." The burden would then shift to Trump to submit "his written declaration that no inability exists." If he submits a declaration contending that he is able to carry out the duties of his office, Trump would not be permanently removed unless two-thirds of both Houses of Congress upheld the Vice President's declaration.
Irrespective of the legal bases for impeachment --- such as Trump's corrupt and remarkably overt violations of the Constitution's Emoluments Clauses --- it is unlikely that a GOP-controlled Congress would be willing to entertain, let alone vote to impeach a Republican President. This would especially be true if, as is likely, the Articles of Impeachment were introduced by Democratic members of the House.
By contrast, as observed by Lawrence O'Donnell during a Feb. 20 airing of The Last Word (see video below) --- if successfully invoked, the 25th Amendment would pit Republicans against Republicans: to wit, Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the cabinet against Trump and a minority of the cabinet. If the chaos that is the Trump administration continues and potentially threatens GOP majority rule in either or both houses of Congress in 2018, there's a distinct possibility that, as predicted by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), the dynamics within the GOP could undergo a significant change. If he could overcome loyalty to the man who named him as his running mate, Pence and a majority of the cabinet could legally initiate a swift end to the Trump presidency.
That's a lot of "ifs"...and even if they all came to pass, there is more to think about regarding this path...
On today's BradCast, it's another busy day of warmongering on Capitol Hill, attempts to gut American's health care systems, and one last-ditch effort to keep Trump from becoming the President-Elect. [Audio link to the show follows below.]
The cyberwar-mongering against Russia continued today in both the U.S. media and U.S. Congress, despite wildly erroneous reporting by mainstream media outlets and the disturbing lack of public evidence to support both the claims and calls from Democrats and some Republicans alike, to go on the offensive against the former Soviet nation. Those calls increased today during a U.S. Senate hearing with outgoing Dir. of National Intelligence James Clapper (who previously lied to Congress about the NSA's bulk collection on American email and phone call information), and despite new revelations that the FBI never examined the computer servers of the DNC, which they allege to have been hacked by Russia in hopes of supporting Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.
Then, a new report documents an attempt from a bi-partisan legal team hoping to block the ratification of Trump's Electoral College victory in Congress on Friday. The effort is based on the group's 1,000-page documented legal finding that more than 50 of Trump's electors were unlawfully and/or unconstitutionally seated.
Alternet journalist Steve Rosenfeld, who broke the story late last night, joins us to explain the basis for the last-ditch effort to stop Trump, its chances for success, and some Congressional Democrats' surprising response to it.
"Everywhere you look under the rug, there's something else that is either broken or not followed when it comes to the partisan tinkering of elections," Rosenfeld tells me, arguing that Dems should use the information from the legal experts to both challenge Trump's (lack of) mandate and, at the very least, "as a moment to lecture the Republicans on voter suppression." He adds that despite the seeming Hail Mary nature of the effort, "today people are frantically searching for a Senator" to support a challenge to the Electoral College results during the Joint Session of Congress scheduled for Friday. Good luck with that.
Also today: U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan announces that the GOP plans to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, despite the organization's popularity and Desi Doyen joins us for the first Green News Report of the new year, with a whole bunch of environmental-related news that you may have missed over our holiday break, including the blatantly false story late last week by the Washington Post charging that "Russian hackers penetrated [the] U.S. electricity grid"...
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Still on the road (back full time as of next week), but thought this video from yesterday's The Lead with Jake Tapper on CNN was well worth popping here quickly, if you've yet to see it.
It's a fantastic and very lively debate about Edward Snowden and, perhaps most-interestingly, Obama's Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, between journalist Glenn Greenwald and Washington Post op-ed columnist Ruth Marcus. Greenwald describes Marcus here --- much to her apparent consternation --- as an Obama Administration "loyalist" for, among other things, what he sees as a double-standard for her calls for the prosecution of whistleblower Snowden, versus the seeming free pass she's willing to give to Administration officials such as Clapper who has admitted to misleading Congress with false testimony (aka Lying to Them). That would be a felony crime...if anybody bothered to prosecute it.
Greenwald is tenacious (as usual) in forcing Marcus to answer his question about whether Clapper should be prosecuted. For her part, she does a decent job of acquitting herself, sort of, even as the entire conversation --- and the two staked-out positions here --- really do help to illustrate, as Greenwald describes it, how "the D.C. media" and "people in Washington continuously make excuses for those in power when they break the law."
"That's what people in Washington do," he charges. "They would never call on someone like James Clapper, who got caught lying to Congress, which is a felony, to be prosecuted. They only pick on people who embarrass the government and the administration to which they are loyal, like Edward Snowden. It's not about the rule of law."
"People in Washington who are well-connected to the government like she is, do not believe that the law applies to them. They only believe that the law should be used to punish people and imprison people who don't have power in Washington or who expose the wrongdoing of American political officials," Greenwald argues. I'll let you watch to see how Marcus responds.
This one is very much worth watching in full. If you prefer, the complete text transcript is posted here...