In Truth, No One Knows What Will Happen

We’ve heard a lot of bluster from Republicans lately, much of it pooh-poohing impeachment and the odds of President Trump’s being removed from office.

In Congress, Republicans used the House Intelligence Committee’s recently concluded public hearings to depict impeachment as uninteresting, unpopular, unfair, unnecessary, unsubstantiated, unpromising, and unwise.  The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, likewise prejudged the whole endeavor, saying that should the Senate try Trump on impeachment charges, “It’s inconceivable to me there would be 67 votes to remove the president from office.”

So say the Republicans, with impressive bravado.  Meanwhile, the nation is heading straight at a moment of truth that will show what every Republican in the House and Senate is made of.

The public has received a mass of credible evidence that the president violated his oath of office to pursue a delusional personal agenda at the expense of national security.  Trump enlisted other senior White House officials to further this agenda, explicitly empowering a private citizen, former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, to orchestrate it.  The House Intel hearings were an effective whodunnit.  A parade of witnesses described a president at ease with sacrificing America’s public interests to those of Russia and to what matters to him personally.  Such are the “goods” Republicans are bent on defending, at the expense of nation, party, and their own place in American history.

For, if the president’s conduct is tolerated, our republic is gone.

Republicans have sought to diminish the gravity of this Constitutional crisis.  They complain mightily about the Democrats, perhaps because it’s painful to admit the turpitude embodied in the leader of their own party.  They evoke the 63 million Americans who voted for President Trump in 2016, as if the mandate he secured then forever freed him from Constitutional limits or Congressional oversight.  Republicans even assert that the riveting testimony given before the House Intel Committee was trivial and boring, whereas this great week of political theater was singularly dramatic, momentous, and often moving.  Americans are far more sophisticated and more concerned with political rectitude than Republican lawmakers care to consider.  No poll can predict what will happen to Republicans who choose to enable Trump’s abuse of power.

Republicans like Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes pander to the sort of voter they imagine forms the unshakable bedrock of Trump’s support: this voter is ill-informed, narrow-minded, and easily hurt.  Republicans point to Trump’s forty-percent approval rating, as though this were a justification for abdicating the responsibilities Congress has to the Constitution.  Congressional Republicans come across as fearful of securing office on their own terms, once this amazing charlatan leaves the public stage (which, given presidential term limits, is destined to happen anyway).

Deference to Trump’s “base” is curious and self-defeating.  Trump is one of the least popular presidents in recent history, on a par with Gerald Ford.  (For graphical comparisons to other presidents, click here and scroll down.)

A simplistic and condescending view of the voter has the Republican establishment running very scared.  Republicans wants citizens everywhere to believe that impeachment is doomed, because otherwise Republican politicians will have to face the crisis of leading their constituents into the post-Trump age.  Will Republicans continue to shirk the responsibility of leading, which, in a republic, involves educating citizens on complex matters and figuring out how to change their constituents’ minds?

Impeachment is now before the House Judiciary Committee.  In the coming weeks, Republicans in power will come under increasing pressure to lead the nation, rather than dither about how hard it is to do the right thing.

Image: Edmund S. Valtman’s “Don’t Put Up Any Resistance! Just Keep In Step,” published 13 April 1973, from this source.


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17 responses

  1. Hello Susan. You said in part, “The public has received a mass of credible evidence that the president violated his oath of office.” I have not yet received it. I do not know yet of any evidence of wrong doing by our president. If you could please list some credible evidence I would be happy to study it. Thanks again for allowing me to post in your Chicago publication.

    • Dave,
      You kind of tipped your hand when you concluded your last comment on my blog with the words “Of course I’m right.” When I asked, “Why of course?” you had nothing to say. Why should I take the time to reply to your comments when you have indicated that you have no ears to hear and no eyes to see?

      You know that old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”? It makes me sad to think of good patriotic Americans like you hopelessly in thrall to this Manchurian candidate. You have closed your mind and are ending your life as a pawn in a Russian propaganda scheme.

      Richard Nixon was an enormously popular president; he was a skilled and committed public servant. Yet by the end of Watergate (when he too stonewalled forever trying to keep pertinent information from the public), members of his own party and millions of people who had voted for him came to understand that he had betrayed his oath. It was a terrible betrayal of the nation and his party. In his interviews with David Frost after he had been disgraced and driven from office, Nixon at last admitted the wrong he had done. He had the good sense to be ashamed. He at least cared about our political tradition and understood he had disgraced himself and the presidency in pursuit of his own twisted aims.

      Trump apologists who dread impeachment argue that what Trump has done isn’t “bad enough.” Others point to the disappointing performance of the political parties to try to justify leaving Trump in office, as if two wrongs will ever make a right. Very few officials are arguing as you do that Trump has done nothing wrong.

      I sure hope Republican legislators can screw up their courage and reconnect with the best standards of their historic party.

  2. Great post, Susan. I was riveted by the Constitutional scholars who testified today. Republicans with any knowledge of what is right and good for our country should have gotten a thought in their individual minds. This not about party anymore; it is about our country and rule of law.

    • I agree, and I think Republicans in the House and Senate will find that doing the right thing will secure them new respect, and bring a terrible period of hyper-partisanship to an end.

      As for the scholars who testified yesterday, I was particularly grateful to Professor Kaplan for explaining so clearly why foreign interference of any kind is illegal and anathema to American voters’ right to self-government. It was even worth hearing from Professor Turley, though I found his arguments unpersuasive. I cannot agree that, for Trump’s wrongdoing to be impeachable, it must be “systemic.” This is like saying that the commission of one crime isn’t enough to justify calling the perpetrator a criminal. Turley also tried to chip away at Congress’s right to impeach, which does not need the Supreme Court’s stamp of approval each time to be legitimate.

  3. I very much enjoyed your post, Susan. I, too, found the testimony of the law professors fascinating; and I agree, it was good to hear also from Turley, who, though very articulate, remained unconvincing, as you say.

    My goodness, the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani is, at this very moment in Ukraine (again) meeting with former Ukranian prosecutors to try to debunk the impeachment process and dig up dirt on Democrats (New York Times, December 4, 2019). So, yes, hurry up, House of Reps!

    (Thanks also for posting a link to the historical presidential popularity polls. You would think that Republicans who cling so tightly to Trump would see the writing on the wall.

    • Thank you, KW. You are right about that terrible blackguard, Rudy Giuliani; he is actually out with a bunch of pro-Russian hacks brewing up the world’s worst fake news to bring back home.

      I was very surprised to see how unpopular Trump is relative to other recent presidents. The lip-service devoted to the forty percent who approve of Trump should be doled out more sparingly, and commentators should be interrogating such poll results more critically. Strange that so much solicitude should go out a crowd that holds a minority view. I wish that the “lost causes” I believe in would garner similar respect.

  4. Trump’s popularity is only forty percent, yet the weak-kneed GOP senators and representatives behave like it is sixty percent or more. When a president’s popularity is under fifty percent most presidents have had the sense to be concerned.

    Trump was the laughingstock of every member of NATO during its two-day meeting in London. All the other leaders recoil from the slime and the constant lying he does. He can’t be trusted. Putin pulls his strings. Trump is Putin’s lap dog, ever eager to please.

    “Oh no,” Trump proclaims, doubling down yet again on the baseless claim that Ukraine was behind all meddling Russia did in our 2016 elections, “it was not Russia at all.” This goes against the findings of all sixteen American intel agencies that investigated that election.

    Trump is desecrating OUR Constitution; he could care less. Not sure why his supporters are so afraid to admit what this monster is doing to our country.

  5. Susan, I did not answer your question about “of course I am right”. I will answer it now. It was a flippant remark intended toward casual conversational endearment. I talk to many people each day and it is not until after the formal scrutinization of every word or gesture ends that actual communication begins.

    The problem I am having is real and widespread amongst fellow Americans. I have listened to too many newscasts, viewed too many blog entries, listened to too many claims about President Trump’s wrong doings. Yet never has a word been said about credible evidence other than the way you used that term. So I am saying if it is credible lets see it. I am convinced you believe it. Can you please explain to me why you believe President Trump should be removed from office after all the good he has done in the few short years he has occupied the White house? It’s all I am asking. Show me the proof. Tell me why you feel he is a bad apple. From where I am sitting he is the single most popular president of my lifetime. Ending NAFTA is wonderful. Stepping out of the Paris Climate Accord is fantastic. Pressuring the “bad apples” in the United Nations to stop with the fake committees about human rights peopled by appointees from dictatorships that don’t allow women to dress tthe way they wish or even to show their faces in public. We are getting a wall built across our southern border that will help stop the supply of money to the soul-less millionaire drug lord leaches in Mexico. That in itself is maybe the most humanitarian act of any president in my lifetime. NATO countries are beginning to shoulder their obligations instead of relying on the USA to pay their bills. The list of good accomplishments is quite long. The lineup of millionaire public servants (Democrat Congressmen) who are absent from their jobs pursuing Impeachment of the man who trumped their candidate in the last election is also long but lacks any apparent substance. This is not what they were hired to do. Had the Mueller millions been used to fund cancer research it may have saved lives. So what is this Impeachment mess going to cost us? It is as ridiculous as the Clinton impeachment.

    • Dave, your standard of “credible evidence” must be far different than mine if you are as well-informed as you suggest yet are still not convinced. If you have read the transcript of President Trump asking for a favor and listened to the sworn testimony of American diplomats thwarted in carrying out their mission to Ukraine and do not see anything amiss there, you are very much in the minority. Why do you think it is okay to inveigle foreign actors (heads of state at that) to get involved in our politics and throw their weight to one side?

      Trump is like a criminal who, when confronted with an array of witnesses in a court of law tries to claim “They’re all lying but me.” I’m not a partisan, and I would gladly abandon impeachment if Trump could explain why he withheld military aid from Ukraine and if he, further, lifted the gag that prevents his underlings from testifying.

      Most of the political establishment knows the president’s conduct is wrong and his character bad. He is not upholding the Constitution. End of story. Whether he could win another election, how much you like his policies, how desperate this country is for inspired leadership or a massive redirect, how expensive it is to investigate corruption: all such considerations are irrelevant.

      The people of the US desperately desire a federal government more attuned to their needs. Trump is trying to deliver this but he is also abusing his office and powers. He must be impeached.

    • Susan, I began a reply then was interrupted. Don’t know if you received my partial reply or not as I lost it off of the computer. Maybe tomorrow, good night.

    • Dave, unfortunately what you wrote didn’t reach here. Obviously the nation needs dialogue to move beyond this critical chapter.

  6. Susan, good morning. Anthropogenic climate change is a similar issue that I am more acquainted with that mirrors the current issue of impeachment. Government entities offer many solutions that do nothing other than raise taxes and reduce freedom, yet none of these can possibly have any effect on the problem. Any research facility, group, or individual who publishes information that is contrary to the “official” narrative suddenly bears the burden of derogatory labels: “denier”, “crackpot”, “in the pocket of oil companies”. Then receives no more research money. Even so, there are reams of peer-reviewed papers floating around that show the fallacy of this ruse and all is ignored by those pushing for the taxes and restrictions. Telling a lie often enough and loudly enough makes it accepted, even if not a fact.

    In my corner of the world, we are living with the Spotted Owl hoax. In that issue, one man, for college credit, did a paper on the decline of the Northern Spotted Owl. In that paper, he claimed the decline in this Owl’s population was due to one single action: The harvesting of “Old Growth Forest”. Those with influence in government ran with that uncontested paper and used it as a tool, in conjunction with the Endangered Species Act, to put hundreds of thousands of people out of work. Ended many multi-million-dollar corporations. Devastated hundreds of communities and thousands of careers. Since the term Old Growth Forest has no exact meaning, it soon grew to include any tree of any age. In a few short years (early 80’s), our industry nearly ended. We (we as an industry) then began to harvest privately owned timber. Now nearly forty years later. Harvestable private timber is almost exhausted, the federal timber lands are overgrown, and hundred of square miles of federal forest burns up each summer at a cost of billions to suppress fires. Years ago, it was proven that the Northern Spotted Owl thrives equally well in any forest as it did in Old Growth, yet the nation still believes the narrative of the original college student report.

    Crying wolf again. There are members of Congress who have been talking of impeachment before Donald Trump won the election. If President Trump, while working toward the betterment of our country (doing his job), stepped outside the accepted constraints, and it was to a high enough degree that Congress needed to take action on it, I see no reason for impeachment. The pro-impeachment crowd wants to remove him from office, not to correct any failings. It is possible that the Ukraine has greater corruption in its government than even we do here. The television tells me the current President of Ukraine ran on a platform of anti-corruption, just as our President did. I see nothing wrong in the transcript where President Trump is asking President Zelensky to investigate corruption that is mutual between both our countries. This claim of President Trump asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival is missing one important component. Illegality. Would you want any president to be aware of corruption and be silent about it? Complicit? I am not well informed, as you claim in your reply to me. Maybe it is just my longer period of education allows for clearer vision.

    Susan I very much enjoy the use of your blog. I have given your remarks much thought. Yet my conclusions remain unturned. People on each side of an issue tend to talk only with those who are in agreement. Only when talking across those artificial lines is progress made on any issue.

    • In such a large and varied nation, citizens differ in their notions of what the federal government should or should not do or be. I am sympathetic to the charge that the government has made mistakes, both in the direction of doing too much and doing too little. The blame game that has been growing in popularity since the time of Newt Gingrich has sickened Congress and favored office-holders incapable of crafting and supporting commonsense solutions. It is sad that the parties are dysfunctional and unresponsive to the people’s needs.

      I can’t imagine any intervention capable of “correcting” Donald Trump’s “failings.” His responsibilities are great, and he took them on voluntarily. He swore he would protect and defend the Constitution His situation is not that of an unruly kindergartner crying out for some mild reprimand or discipline! Your account of the president’s actions fails to mention his withholding aid from Ukraine for over a month in an effort to use Pres. Zelensky for a personal end. This is what is wrong in the president’s behavior. Ukraine rose up against its pro-Russian hack government and with the election of Zelensky is making an effort to reform. Now Giuliani is over there lapping up what the disgraced pro-Russian officials are feeding him. What a dunce and a tool! Yet this is the person the president has ceded our policy to. I am ashamed to have such vulgar nitwits directing the course of our history–down and down it goes!

    • I have to say I can get only about 1-and-a-half pages through Donald Trump’s tiresome diatribe. I can’t believe what the president says anymore, because, in the past, whenever he’s in a tough spot, he has lied and put the blame on others in order to save face. He is like a criminal on trial who insists that “everyone is lying but me.”

      If only the president were a Christian and possessed some humility. Then, he might be able to admit he has made some mistakes and take responsibility. Instead he maligns other people, even digging at Nancy Pelosi’s religion. How tasteless and unappreciative! In fact, millions of Trump’s opponents pray for him every Sunday in church, entreating God to give him a sense of wisdom and justice to be a good leader. Unfortunately, Trump continues to attack the institutions and traditions of the United States.

      He is in a position to completely destroy the underpinnings of our federal system, which is the foundation of the individual freedom we enjoy and which we must credit with making this the most prosperous and most powerful nation on earth.

      Now, you are loyal to this person–even though he isn’t someone you would actually like if he came to your town. As the impeachment moves into the Senate, you and every other Trump supporter has a choice. Do you really want this person to continue in power and destroy the federal government for good? You are answering yes. Another year, another term of Trump and our system of checks and balances will be destroyed. It baffles me why you think this will solve the abundant problems you have written of.

      In pre-Nazi Germany, many ordinary people were suffering. World War One had left the German population traumatized. Their economy was destroyed with no hope of rebounding. Hitler came along and promised the nation a miraculous restoration. He mobilized and uplifted sentiment but encouraged Germans to channel their hatred toward “outsider” populations. He scapegoated others, arguing they were to blame for the nation’s ills.

      Under Nazism, the economy improved. Hitler was popular. In the space of a few years, he justified taking over more and more of the German parliament’s power. We all know the horrors that followed from Germans’ belief in this terrible person. Yet, at the time, many German lawmakers and citizens were fully convinced that he was “good.”

      Instead of making Germany great again, Hitler turned his own country into a factory of barbarism. He destroyed Germany, perverted its morality, robbed its people of their civilization. When it was all over, a broken and degraded Germany woke up to lasting shame.

      I am not a partisan. I have voted Democrat and Republican. When I was in my twenties, I fell in love–with the history of this country. I have given my whole life to studying it and writing about it. It is surreal to recognize that a “perfect storm” is brewing right now on our watch. The republic could be destroyed through a lack of virtue and the ambitions of a vicious corrupt president. It is a nightmare to realize that a substantial part of the population does not want to “wake up” and defend the United States against the real threat that Donald Trump poses to the Constitution–to divided government, with its delicate system of checks and balances, with its limits on power. Trump’s refusal to admit that Congress has the right to check a president’s behavior through impeachment should alarm every American.

      As the impeachment charges leave the House and head to the Senate, the nation’s fate is increasingly in the hands of people who up to now have been Trump’s defenders, collaborators, and followers. I ardently pray that Republicans in the Senate remember their oath and protect our way of government from the reckless imperiousness of Donald Trump.

      You could be doing your part to protect our republic but instead you are letting this happen. You refuse to see the danger that is real and present. You are choosing to believe Trump’s desperate lies.

      If we do nothing, we could lose everything. Your choice.

  7. Susan, in response to your last comment I wish to say I am for upsetting the status quo of our current government.

    The Constitution outlines clearly what the job of federal government is and I am happy to see those who feel otherwise evicted from their positions in our federal government.

    Ours is not a democracy; it is a constitutional republic. Supporting the Constitution means your actions comply with constitutional intent, not that you claim to support it with your mouth. I am not aiming that remark at you at all, I am using it to describe many of the impeachment crowd in our Congress. Hours of showmanship spent on convincing the public that our president is guilty of high crimes or impeachable actions, without presenting a single fact. [Editor’s note: There are facts supporting impeachment, abundant facts aired during the House impeachment inquiry, as well as public admissions by Mick Mulvaney,etc., contrary to what the president and his supporters would like to admit.]

    Why should I believe these two-faced politicians about that, when they use the same lying tactics to disarm Americans (gun safety) and to tax away our personal profits to support the healthcare industry, whose companies are nearly half of the top ten Fortune 500 companies.

    I know corruption when I see it. To date I have seen no corruption from President Trump. At the same time, I can view pages of lies from my own congressmen, many others in Congress. Including Nancy Pelosi whose butt must be sore from sitting atop the wall of “jump to the winning side”. Aside from their claims of wrongdoing, why should I support the impeachment of President Trump? Where are the facts?

    No one can operate their own life as a civilian and be knowledgeable about all issues facing those in government. That’s why we elect a few persons to temporarily donate a portion of their lives to look out for our interests. I am happy to have Donald Trump as our president; his words and his actions are the same. He will serve his term as president, then he will move on. With luck and support from the American People he will get much draining accomplished before he leaves office. I have a remote hope also that Americans will wake and see the pretenders in Congress for what they are and replace them as well.

    The House Report on the impeachment of President Trump: No number of words can make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

    • Hi, FarmrDave–
      From your previous writings I’ve noticed you are an avid Trump supporter, but I have a few questions to ask as to why.

      1. Now that he has been rightfully impeached by the House-in a fair and open proceeding, fully covered on many stations, his fate now lies in the Senate for a verdict of guilty or not guilty.

      2. The Senate, headed by McConnell, is threatening not to allow ANY witnesses to testify or documents to be introduced. Do you think that’s fair?

      3. McConnell and Trump have been working/conspiring together as to how the trial should be run and held. Do you think it fair or even lawful that the defendant (Trump) and the chief juror (McConnell) should “fix” the upcoming trial they way they want? (By the by, you know, that is a federal crime.)

      4. It is called “jury tampering.” Do you think that makes for a fair trial?

      5. Such actions “taint” the other jurors. Do you think that makes for a fair trail?

      6. Soooo, given all the above, the Senate–in front of the entire nation–is planning to run a total “kangaroo” court. Do you think the American public will accept such an outrageous and egregious lack of justice and fairness?

      7. I know from talking with many folks, listening to radio stations, reading articles everywhere, that most any informed person thinks this trial will begin with an already foregone conclusion–it will be crooked, fixed, a shame.

      8. Sadly yet truly, that sums up Trump’s presidency: constantly lying, a prolific liar, not knowing, in all honesty, what the word “truth” even means.

      9. Such a trial–and the American people will know it–is what occurs in Russian courtrooms, North Korean courtrooms, Turkish courtrooms, etc, etc. Fake, fraudulent trials with an already foregone conclusion, already fixed and the outcome known. A show trial.

      10. Hey, if Trump is totally innocent, why in the Sam Hill does he not–and why don’t any of the others in his most inner circle–take the stand, swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, with their right hand on The Bible and simply speak up under oath?

      11. He would then vindicate himself and make The Dems look as though they had indeed engaged nothing but a “witch hunt.”

      12. Trump and his innermost circle never complied with House subpoenas.

      13. Two Federal judges appointed to the First Circuit (the one in D.C) have already written that they find such behavior extraordinarily WRONG. By the by, one of those judges was appointed by Bush #2 and the other by Clinton. . . . Please reply to my questions and comments point by point and specifically, as you always request in your prior writings. . . . Thanks for reading this and I look forward to hearing from you……RB