Over the weekend, Rudy Giuliani made an outlandish statement about how a president couldn't be indicted or prosecuted while in office, adding that there was only one way the Constitutional process could deal with, for instance, Trump. “If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani told the Huffington Post. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”
The comment got a great deal of reaction for its ludicrous legal analysis. But most everyone was criticizing the wrong thing. They missed the part that was so horrific. Not everyone overlooked it -- Joe Scarborough commented on it, and Ari Melber even devoted part of a segment on it for his terrific MSNBC show, with a properly outraged RIchard Painter, former White House Ethics Chief for George W. Bush, and now a Democrat running for the Senate in Minnesota.
The point that most people overlooked was Giuliani talking about shooting James Comey. You don't do that. With all the far right hatred that Trump is stirring up over the former FBI DIrector, you Do Not toss out even as a wild example for the pure sake of discussion the concept of shooting James Comey. And attach Trump's name to the action. Yes, yes, I know it was not meant as an actual threat, but just a legal argument -- I also know that there are a lot of crazy, angry people in the world who a) don't listen closely, b) don't get nuance, c) miss the point, d) are so crazy and angry they don't need much prompting, e) know they understand what he "really" meant, f) get word second hand of what said that gets passed along incorrectly and g) fill in the blank with your imagination.
I'm trying to think of the proper word to describe Giuliani's comments. But nothing does it justice. "Irresponsible" doesn't go far enough. "Ghastly" is too commonplace in this administration. "Horrifying" only touches the surface. "Sickening," "Dangerous," "Pathetic," and "Galling" only dance around the concept -- even if you string them all together.
I liked that during the Melber discussion, the question was raised, and I paraphrase as best as I can recall it, "What do you think would have happened if it wasn't Trump they were talking about, but a mob boss -- and his lawyer made a comment like that about shooting a witness?" The response from all the lawyers on the panel was along the lines of how it would have been considered an attempt to intimidate witnesses, and it could have been a cause for disbarment.
That's how [fill in the blank] it was. But since it was about Trump, we have come to accept such things as almost "normal." And so we focus not on what was the absolute worst [fill in the blank] part and just deal with the ludicrous legal analysis from a once-top notch lawyer who has now lost it.
I won't even say "Shame on Giuliani" because that does a disservice to shame.
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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