Impeaches and Creamed
So, first Trump said the report about his phone conversation with the president of Ukraine was "fake news." Then the story evolved and became that, okay, yes, Trump did talk to Ukraine president, but that's all, so what?. Then it evolved again and changed to that, yes, he did bring up Joe Biden's name, period. And then the story became that, okay, Trump did discuss corruption with the Ukraine president. And then, Trump needed a reason, so the story changed that the reason he brought it up was because if a country was corrupt, why would you give them any foreign aid? Then that story evolved to Trump saying that he discussed not giving Ukraine money because others weren't paying their share, so he wanted to create a situation that forced them, too. (A story, by the way, which contradicts the point about not wanting to give them foreign aid if they were corrupt -- since, if you didn't want to give money to a country that was corrupt, which rarely is a reason for not giving foreign aid, then you wouldn't suddenly give them money just because others were.) And then the story changed to that Trump will release the transcript of the phone conversation. And that then changed yesterday to how Trump will now allow the whistleblower's complaint to be released.
As Stephanie Ruhle said on MSNBC yesterday, "Do you know the one thing that the truth doesn't do? Evolve."
So, anyone concerned about whether there is anything damaging in the phone call -- just know that the story has kept evolving. And that doesn't happen if you have nothing to hide. When your first story is the story, that's also your second, third and last story.
Throughout the day yesterday, we heard a lot of analysis about the upside and downside of impeachment hearings for the Democrats. The biggest downside is that it will energize the Republican base.
Seriously?? The Republican base needs impeachment hearings to be energized to support Trump?!! We've been told by Trump since the 2016 campaign that if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York City, his base would support him.
That leaves two other GOP groups. One is the part of the Republican Party that isn't his base but begrudgingly support him -- but that means they already support him. And the other is the part of the Republican Party that isn't his base and has not supported him because they find him a pathological liar, misogynistic, a racist, and an enabler of white supremacists -- impeaching him confirms all those beliefs. Could there be some Republicans who aren't strong Trump supporters who rally to him because a Republican has been impeached? Sure, there could be. But if there are, I suspect there will be more who impeachment pushes away, because there will be hearings and more and more evidence will come to the surface.
By the way, for all the understandable attention given to Nancy Pelosi announcing official impeachment hearings, I think one other piece news (which occurred at the same time) is almost as important, and even more meaningful is some ways -- that the U.S. Senate has just unanimously passed resolution calling for the whistleblower complaint on Trump to be released to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
Again -- the vote was UNANIMOUS. That means ALL REPUBLICANS supported it. All. Yes, including Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham. And Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Marsha Blackburn, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, Chuck Grassley, Jodi Ernst, Jim Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Rand Paul, Thom Tillis...all of them. All -- of -- them.
Yes, Trump is now supposedly going to release the transcript of the phone call and the whistleblower complaint. The latter is the one that matters most, since not only can a transcript be edited even if they say it wasn't (like what happened during Watergate with Nixon...), and a whistleblower who testifies can't be edited -- but also, what little we know about the whistleblower's complaint is that it involves more than just the one phone call.
Still, for all that Trump is supposedly, maybe releasing, it’s scrambling is too little, too late. I have a bunch friends who always contact me to talk them down from the ledge whenever they get there and are currently freaking out about “what if there’s nothing in the transcript with the Ukraine president.” What I tell them is is – a) We already KNOW that Trump talked about Biden and corruption to the Ukraine president -- because Trump Told Us He Did. And moreover, that moere knowledge alone was enough for Speaker Pelosi to push for impeachment, b) this about more than just the phone call, there are apparently several issues that concerned the whistleblower, including (let us not forget) some “promise” that Trump made, and c) this impeachment investigation is about more than just the Ukraine, because there are six House committees investigating Trump.
Fun fact: in regards to point "c)" above, it is generally overlooked by the public that two weeks ago there was a previous whisteblower at the IRS with a complaint of improprieties over Trump's tax returns. For now, the White House has blocked that (too) from going forward, but it is being challenged in court. It is not unreasonable to think that that charge will be public soon. Completely separate of all this. Yet potentially damning on its own.
What I tell my concerned friends, as well, is that it’s good to worry about all the problems that are “possible,” but it's far more important to focus on what’s probable and what’s likely. I said to one friend last night that I think it’s significantly worse for Republicans worrying about what’s likely and probable than you worrying about what’s maybe possible. I said that if one is going to story worrying about what's possible, then you have to follow what's "possible" to its ultimate conclusion, and it’s “possible” that Trump said lovely things about Joe Biden on the call – but it’s not likely. It's not probable. He also was worrying about what...what...what if it turns out that Trump didn’t even mention Biden on the call. I said, we KNOW he did…because he TOLD us he did!! But what if he was lying?? What if he didn't actually mention Joe Biden on the call?!! I offered to make my friend a bet -- $10 on 5-to-1 odds that Trump really, truly, actually did mention Biden. And shockingly...no, he wouldn’t make the bet, despite worrying about was “possible.” I said “Even you know it isn’t likely or probable. Focus on that. Focus on what is likely."
Honestly, I think it's great and even important when people worry about what possible, because you’re prepared. But the people who win are those who operate from a position of strength of what’s likely, not those who worry about all the things that maybe could possibly happen.
Oddly, the biggest positive flag I saw in all of this yesterday was Chuck Todd’s interview with Sen. John Kennedy, the Republican from Louisiana. What leaped out was the subsequent commentary on social media. A lot of people there don’t like Chuck Todd, they find him wishy-washy and too often making false equivalences, in an effort to be "fair." And most of what I read yesterday afternoon were people stunned and in awe that, although many felt Todd did a poor job early on letting Kennedy make all these false claims about Joe Biden, eventually the host got fed up and Chuck Todd of all people shredded Kennedy about how all he was saying was untrue and “don’t try to gaslight us.” If you’ve got Chuck Todd saying that, it’s a great sign.
Will there be more like the Louisiana senator trying to obfuscate the issue with noise? Absolutely. But I think more reporters too will be like Chuck Todd, and give them their say and then throw reality at them. Because this is about impeachment, this is serious, this is important. It's only happened four times in U.S. history.
And that too is why the GOP effort to make noise will have less impact than at other times. At other times, all we have at our disposal is talk and opinion arguing the facts, so talk and noise fill the air. But when there is an impeachment hearing, I think people understand that the ground rules have changed -- the only thing that matters, the ONLY thing, are the actions of the House and Senate. Talk and noise don't count.
During Watergate, people were riveted to their televisions during the impeachment hearings. Most people who were there at the time can probably tell you all their thoughts about things that have stood out from the hearings -- and I suspect few can tell you about news stories. Because it's the House and Senate that matter, only.
I understand too that if Trump is impeached by the House, it's likely there won't be a conviction in the Senate. But there are two possibilities here --
The first is that we don't know what evidence comes to the surface in the House hearings. There absolutely could be things that are SO horrible and damning that, especially with the public watching they can't be overlooked. If so, then it might be incredibly difficult for some Republicans to vote to acquit Trump, and conviction is possible. No, it isn't likely. But we don't know the evidence, so jumping to an unsupported conclusion is getting ahead of yourself.
And the other is that even with damning evidence presented against Trump, Republicans do vote to acquit him. But if so, the Republican Party will have to live with defending their acquittal of someone who the public saw all the blunt, clear-cut evidence against.
And yes, I'm presuming there will be damning evidence against Trump. I say this because we've seen the damning evidence. Just not all of it, and not how completely damning it is.
Side note: if there ends up being a Senate trial, it is my belief that one of the first things that Democrats do once the trial starts is quote Lindsey Graham's words on the Senate floor during the trail against President Bill Clinton about the importance of impeachment and holding a president accountable when Graham led the Republican's case.
Right now, Trump has an approval rating of 39% A poll last week showed that 69% of American didn't like Trump personally. For all the comparisons some might want to make, this is not a case of Republicans impeaching Bill Clinton and the public rising up against them in the next election. The charge against President Clinton was over lying about a personal sexual matter in his private life. People can differentiate between that and colluding with the president of Ukraine against U.S. national security, obstructing justice, money-laundering for Russian oligarchs, whatever serious problems most-certainly exist with his tax returns he's been blocking, and all manner of other evidence that will come out during the hearings. Further, the overall public generally had a reasonably positive opinion of Bill Clinton, and the unfairness of him being impeached for lying under oath about his sex life increased his approval to 73%. Look at that number again -- 73%!! At his best moments in almost three years in office, Trump's approval has never reached 50%. It will not do so if he gets impeached. And anyone who thinks otherwise, please feel free to contact me on this website and put your money on the table with a straight-up bet. Wagers begin at $100. Could it happen? Sure -- and wagers still begin at $100.
Trump's approval not hitting 50% aside, I would suggest that after hearings begin and evidence is presented at public hearings, and courts rule that Trump's tax returns must be given, and courts rule that witnesses against Trump must testify -- it is more likely that his approval will go down rather than up.
I don't know what will happen next. I understand the worries by Democrats about what could possibly happen with impeachment hearings ahead. And it's a good thing to worry. But if I was a Republican -- I'd be terrified.
The default response I get to all this is always: "I hope you're right." Well, honestly, I hope I'm right, too! And importantly, these are all the specific, detailed reasons why I think I am. But in the end, yes, it's absolutely possible that I could be wrong about how the whole situation surrounding impeachment will go. No question. I absolutely know it. Moreover, I'm willing to change my opinion about impeachment because I know I could be wrong. But I require others to explain in equal detail why I am wrong, rather than just noting what's "possible," before I think that another view makes even more likely and probable sense.
If I was a Republican, with impeachment hearings ahead, I'd be terrified.
And why? Well, lots of reasons, among them all the things above. But mainly because --
Do you know the one thing that the truth doesn't do?
9/25/2019 03:09:05 pm
I've been saying (and tweeting) since the story about the Ukraine phone call broke last week that there was absolutely no legitimate reason for Trump to be talking about Joe or Hunter Biden in his conversation with Zelesky. Whatever Giuliani and Trump claim happened (and it's all a total lie) was 4 or 5 years ago, and surely not the most important item in the Ukraine corruption story. It's irrelevant to the current situation. So the only reason for Trump to mention it is to seek Ukraine's cooperation in attacking his political opponent.
9/25/2019 03:57:07 pm
All very good points. You've convinced me...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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