On today's BradCast: It looks like Trump Attorney General William Barr's willingness to beclown himself to the level of Donald Trump didn't help much in protecting the President against his own clearly criminal and impeachable behavior as detailed by even the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report. And Democrats in both the House and even the Senate are finally beginning to use the "i"-word they should have invoked long ago. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Barr's willingness to offer Trumpian lies to the American people about what the report actually says and doesn't was swell until the American people were actually allowed to read it. Trump's repeated and now well-documented attempts at criminal obstruction of justice by trying to shutdown or otherwise derail the Special Counsel's probe is now detailed for all to see, as of Thursday public release of the redacted 448-page report [PDF].
They are also now able to read Mueller's clarion call, also detailed in the report, for Congress to take up the matter as per their Constitutional duty to serve as the only real check on a lawless President. House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has now subpoenaed the Dept. of Justice for the full, unredacted version of the report and its underlying evidence, and has called for both Barr and Mueller himself to testify to Congress in the coming weeks. At the same time, more House members are now calling for impeachment to get under way after, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) notes: "Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President" and "squarely puts this on our doorstep."
"While I understand the political reality of the Senate + election considerations," she Tweeted, "upon reading this DoJ report, which explicitly names Congress in determining obstruction, I cannot see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate."
For his part, after falsely hailing the report as a "total and complete exoneration" before it was publicly released, Donald Trump (who probably, ya know, should have bothered to read it first) returned to angry form as of Friday morning, railing profanely and incoherently against the report, the respected federal prosecutors and Republican former FBI Director who wrote it after a meticulous two-year process, and against his own top level staffers who are revealed in the report as the best witnesses to Trump's various impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors.
We're joined today by award-winning opinion and analysis journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo for her insight into the report itself --- which she describes as a "roadmap for impeachment" --- and its fallout today as even several Presidential candidates are now joining the growing calls for impeachment proceedings to begin in the U.S. House.
Among the many topics of our lively discussion: Bill Barr's BS; Mueller's reasoning for choosing to not prosecute while passing the ball firmly to Congress to pick up instead; Why Don Jr. wasn't charged (but should have been); Whether the long-standing DoJ guidance prohibiting sitting Presidents from being indicted makes any sense, either legally, Constitutionally or politically; and whether Democrats in the House and Senate (not to mention Republicans there) will find the backbone to do the right thing and hold Trump accountable as per their Constitutional responsibilities, or whether they'll continue to pull punches as they have for so many years. That, as we also discuss, is precisely what has allowed dangerously criminal and unfit clowns like Donald Trump to ascend to the Presidency in the first place.
"If we care about the Constitution, and we care about the democracy, you can't just let this kind of stuff go." Parton argues. "Even if they can't get the Republicans [in the Senate] to convict, I think that they have to do it anyway. It's the right thing to do. They have to lay out the case."
"Most Americans are not going to read that report like I just did. They're just going to hear snippets of it. But if they do impeachment hearings, in which they establish this narrative out there for all Americans to see, and to hear it in their own words --- from Robert Mueller to Don McGahn, to Hope Hicks, to everyone of them --- and hear what they have to say, to describe what happened, I think that's important for the record. It's important for the voters to have that as they go to the voting booth, whether Trump is convicted or not."
In case you're wondering, the phone number to reach your member of Congress is 202-224-3121. I bet they'd like to hear from you...
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READER COMMENTS ON "Mueller Report Places Impeachment 'Squarely on Doorstep' of Congress: 'BradCast' 4/19/2019" (One Response so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink] ...
Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant
said on 4/22/2019 @ 2:13 pm PT...
I know the REAL reason some of the centrist Dems are spooked by the prospect of impeaching President Donald J. Trump. Many observers have suggested that some, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, think that Trump may get a type of Bill Clinton-post-impeachment boost due to an enraged electorate perceiving an effort by the Dem controlled House to overturn the results of an election on meritless charges. Of course we know the differences between this moment and that one: Impeaching Trump would not be meritless for all sorts of reasons, whereas it was meritless in the case of Clinton, again, for all sorts of reasons; Trump does not have the majority of the public seeing a review of his actions as he sees it, but to the contrary the public is well aware of his crimes; in the case of Clinton all observers fully understood the Republican's real project, and there was even the matter of the blatant public hypocrisy of some of Clinton's attackers such as Newt Gingrich; for all its serious faults then and now the media has undertaken a lot of investigative journalism NOW as it did not then regarding the President's actions and suspect policies. Listeners to the Bradcast, Democracy Now!, any of Sirus XM’s Progressive Channel programs, readers of the Intercept, Daily Kos, Hullabaloo (hi, Digby!), the Russia-Skeptic press, the Nation Magazine, MSMNC's Prime-Time line-up and on and on all throughout the entire left-liberal-progressive-radical think-o-sphere all fully get what Trump is. So do the readers of the bestselling books by Corn and Isikoff, Michael Wolf, Carl Berstein and other. So do the readers of the investigative journalists in the mainstream press (as opposed to the political journalists in those same outlets...)
There is also the worry by some of the moderate Dems that an impeachment will require something they won't get now but did back in the days of President Richard Nixon: Republican support. This understanding, based on comparing impeaching Trump now to impeaching President Richard Nixon then over the crimes listed under the name Watergate, is valid. However, it should be understood by all that the House Republicans were defending Nixon up until the tapes came out. Then they could not anymore. At that point Nixon became a liability. Nixon even lost some support with those who voted for him in 1972. Evidence mattered then with Republicans. We don't have that kind of thinking with today's Republicans and with Trump. But I don't think that is the issue, either, true though it is.
Comparing impeaching Trump with the impeachments of Nixon and Clinton misses the real point behind the timidity of centrist House Dems. In fact, impeachment itself is not even the right place of comparison. The right comparison to be made with impeaching Trump is with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Historians of recent American history have all pointed to these events as the reason White America began its abandonment of the Democratic Party, starting with voting for Nixon in '68 and '72 and culminating in its support for Ronald Reagan in 1980. Those Democrats interestingly enough, were called "Reagan Democrats" and not "Nixon Democrats". Whoever coined that phrase meant to probably to insulate that part of the electorate from the taint of voting for a dishonest madman. The gross realignment of voting blocs in the American electorate has been traced, at least partially, to White anger over Democratic support for the practical and effective expansion of existing Constitutional rights to African Americans, and to the nimble ability of the Republicans to appeal to that anger. The Democratic Party has ever since been seen (and sold) by all as the "Negro Party".
And here - finally - is the "pernt" (as Archie Bunker would say to the liberal "Meathead"). In the early part of the 1960's history issued its call to the Democratic Party and it answered that call correctly in 1964 and 1965 in its efforts to Make America Great. In so doing it paid for its actions by suffering the long-view sabotaging attacks of the Republican Party to the point that the current President can even call the Democratic Party treasonous and say of them "They don't like our country very much!" After signing these Acts, and according to a 2010 article in The Economist "[President Lyndon Johnson] reportedly turned to his press secretary and lamented that Democrats 'have lost the South for a generation.' Johnson's judgment was optimistic." The most important point here is that this call IS NOT being made to the Republicans. It is not that they don't hear it; it is that is not being made to that Party. This call is being made to the Democrats ALONE.
This, I submit, is what Speaker Pelosi and House leader Steny Hoyer mean when they publicly fret over the alleged "divisiveness" of impeachment hearings. Of course, they’re "divisive". As "divisive" as legislating persons of African descent into full citizenship.
Just like in the early 1960s, the Democratic Party is now being called upon to meet its historic responsibility. In those days as is the case now, the Democrats have true divisions within the Party(back in the 60s, the other important Dem division was the War In Vietnam) and the Republicans will seek out those divisions and exploit and exacerbate them to its own benefit. The malevolent brilliance of the Republican Party is not in evidence these days as they are reduced to electoral cheating, schoolyard bullying, death threats (Trump's tweets) and playing the political version of "keep away" with the Mueller Report. This is best they can do. That it can work speaks to the political press' intransigent tendency to give the Rs the benefit of the doubt and put the Ds on a constant defensive posture.
An article I read a few days ago suggested that Ms. Pelosi is not convinced that the public is with the Democratic Party on a whole host of policies, not just impeachment. My guess is that she likely thinks that the Dems just won the House and its hold on that body is so very tenuous that even the slightest puff from the Rs could blow it all away. Only an electoral victory at the White House level and in the Senate would allow her to think that the public really wants the Dems in charge, since this outcome would clearly show that America wants Trump out and the Dems in. To her and to some others (including the political press, as opposed to investigative journalists/journalism) impeaching Trump would invite not just short-term losses for the Democratic Party but it would introduce a new political realignment on the model of the old: an angry White America would punish the Dems for wounding Trump just as it did when the Dems gave "those people" the rights of real Americans. And from this America would not recover. The U.S. cannot take two rightist realignments in succession and remain a democracy. Gilead gets real in this scenario. It is more than possible that some of the more powerful Democrats do not understand the historic juncture at which they currently stand. We, the people, have to tell them. And we have to tell them why this is true. What I write here is that why, I believe.
But the fretters are wrong. We CAN take the "divisiveness" of impeaching Trump. History is calling again on the Democrats to take right action, action that can save this democracy and bring to account anyone that dares to take it away. This is more than just dumping a bad president. This is about saving this democracy from a criminal and authoritarian madman and yanking him away from his complicit helpmeets. History will be on the Democrats' side in such action. And here is the best part: believe it or not, the Republican Party is NOT up to task of pursing a second "Southern Strategy"-style realignment that would give them the "bigger half" of a divided America for another half-century. This ain't the late 60s/early 70s America. The national support of Trump is inadequate to the task, even if Trump survives impeachment due to a Senate that won't convict. Impeaching Trump is as profound a BFD historic moment now as the Voting Rights and Civil Right laws of the early 1960s were a BFD historic moment then. And for very similar reasons. The real long term, structural impediment to the Democrats, at least in the near future, is the federal judiciary. But they can be fought too, and with right and legitimate - and constitutional - action.
But the Dems don't need the Senate to start impeachment hearings and don't need them to convict him, which they won't. Just impeach anyway; impeach, and let the Senate save his orange, racist ass. If the Dems do this, it will chill the Rs to the bone as their threats to take revenge on the Democrats for the Mueller investigation gets the answer of the raised middle finger of impeachment waved in the R's livid, red-blotched faces and is accompanied by the phrase, "Go ahead, Republicans, make our day!"