Impeachment

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Re: Impeachment

Postby Thad » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:52 pm

Trump continues to stonewall, obstruct, and rave. Polls show that strategy isn't working out for him so far; support for the impeachment inquiry continues to increase. He's playing to the base because that's all he knows how to do.

Nobody outside the Fox News audience seems to be buying the talking points. "They're trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election!" say people trying to overturn the results of the 2018 election.

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Re: Impeachment

Postby Friday » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:28 pm

A friend of mine insists the impeachment is destined to fail because the senate will never actually impeach.

Is he right?
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Re: Impeachment

Postby Brentai » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:28 pm

Yes. Next question.
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Re: Impeachment

Postby Friday » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:47 pm

Have you ever been mountain biking?
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Re: Impeachment

Postby Joxam » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:47 pm

Yeah, the smoking gun they'd need would have to be absolute and even then polls would have to prove it'd hurt them not to
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Re: Impeachment

Postby Brentai » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:10 pm

Hurt them *enough*. Right now the Senate has every other institution designed to check and balance them by the balls, and giving them a gun to hold against the President's head isn't going to make that any less the case. Trump being such an irrational mad dog that they decide he's too dangerous isn't just going to help him get taken down, at this point it's the *only* thing that can get him taken down. As long as he's a useful idiot, the Senate's going to take whatever licks it needs to in order to keep him around.
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Re: Impeachment

Postby Thad » Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:39 am

I assume Friday's question is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but yeah, for the Senate to convict, things are going to have to change pretty dramatically. It would take very strong public support for impeachment, something a lot more than a simple majority of the public (which we're fast approaching). Something where Senate Republicans would have to figure that losing the Senate is a foregone conclusion and it's just a matter of how much -- and, on top of that, they figure that the best way to minimize their losses is to turn on Trump and alienate his supporters.

Think of the past 4 years, think of everything that's happened, and think about how not only is Trump's support pretty steady, it's actually comparable to Obama's at this point in his presidency. Now think about how much worse things would have to get for Trump's support not just to drop, but to drop so far that it threatens the Senate majority. And then drops a lot more than that, so that it's not just "threatens" anymore, it's, like, Iowa and Georgia are definitely going Democratic and it's an open question whether Republicans can keep Kansas and Kentucky. That's how bad things have to look for Republicans before there's any possibility that they might turn against Trump. Because they for damn sure won't do it because it's the right thing to do; there's not a one of them with the personal integrity of Barry Goldwater. They'll only do it if it's electoral suicide to do otherwise.

And again, given how resilient Trump's been up to this point, I don't see a lot of scenarios that lead to that outcome. A financial crisis is the most obvious possibility. I certainly hope that doesn't happen, but I think Trump's erratic behavior has put the economy at considerable risk and it's a distinct possibility (to say nothing of all the other factors that could destabilize the world economy, like Brexit).

So no, I don't think the Senate convicts. I think the possibility of that happening is growing, but it's still minuscule; they may be beating their chests about Syria right now, but the Senate Republicans are still entirely in the tank for Trump, and it's going to take something bigger than anything we've seen so far to change that.

But I think public opinion is going to come around to favor impeachment, and soon. Polls are showing nearly 60% of the public supports the inquiry, and nearly 50% supports impeachment full stop just based on what we already know. As I've said often, there's still every chance Democrats and/or the media fuck this up, it's what they do, and that trend could reverse.

But the biggest factor pushing public opinion toward favoring impeachment is Trump himself. He's acting guilty as fuck. Every day he says or does something that convinces more people, a lot more people, that he's committed an impeachable offense. And he keeps adding more to the pile.

And for that reason, I don't know if the trend line is reversible. I think this thing may be snowballing. I think Trump may have maneuvered into a position where things are only going to get worse for him.

I think a conviction in the Senate is too much to hope for. But I think a scenario where the House votes to impeach, and makes Senate Republicans go on record shielding Trump in defiance of overwhelming popular support for removing him, right before an election, is a plausible outcome.

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Re: Impeachment

Postby Blossom » Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:52 am

Even if public support was in favor of impeachment 60%, 70%, 80%, that still wouldn't mean the Senate would actually impeach and convict. It's a ridiculously narrow view.

I mean, what's the pressure of public support, there? Lost votes? What's the scenario there? Suppose a Republican senator in a safely Republican district votes against impeachment, and then impeachment passes. And then that senator votes against conviction, and Trump's convicted anyway. Or that vote is the swing vote that means one of those two doesn't happen. Some people might be pissed, sure, but seriously. Do you really think the Republican base is then, on that single solitary issue, going to vote Democratic in 2020? Or vote for President, but pass over the senate ballot in protest? Does anybody actually think that there's a significant ... hell, even measurable number of Republican voters who would do that? Or that a primary could roll around in time to make a difference? Because I think that even if all that happened, the threat of Scary Democrats with their Evil Socialism will still drive the loyal fascists to the polls regardless, and they'll keep on suppressing the votes against them.

Poll numbers just aren't a realistic threat to Republicans. The people at large keep voting them in no matter how much miserably unpopular shit they do. Trump losing corporate and lobbyist support, that'd be a different story completely, but nobody really cares what Nate Silver tweets.
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Re: Impeachment

Postby Friday » Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:31 am

My friend's argument is that due to gerrymandering, the only race the (Senate) Republicans care about is the primary. So as long as Republicans maintain support for Trump, whatever the democrats do is entirely irrelevant to them.

The Supreme Court case that recently went up we lost, and not only lost, but it was decided that the Supreme Court could never rule on any gerrymandering based case again, forever enshrining it.

I don't know what case he was talking about (he keeps up on politics, especially the Supreme Court, more than I do) but he generally knows what he's talking about.
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Re: Impeachment

Postby Thad » Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:47 pm

Blossom wrote:Even if public support was in favor of impeachment 60%, 70%, 80%, that still wouldn't mean the Senate would actually impeach and convict. It's a ridiculously narrow view.

I mean, what's the pressure of public support, there? Lost votes? What's the scenario there? Suppose a Republican senator in a safely Republican district votes against impeachment, and then impeachment passes. And then that senator votes against conviction, and Trump's convicted anyway. Or that vote is the swing vote that means one of those two doesn't happen. Some people might be pissed, sure, but seriously. Do you really think the Republican base is then, on that single solitary issue, going to vote Democratic in 2020? Or vote for President, but pass over the senate ballot in protest? Does anybody actually think that there's a significant ... hell, even measurable number of Republican voters who would do that? Or that a primary could roll around in time to make a difference? Because I think that even if all that happened, the threat of Scary Democrats with their Evil Socialism will still drive the loyal fascists to the polls regardless, and they'll keep on suppressing the votes against them.

Poll numbers just aren't a realistic threat to Republicans. The people at large keep voting them in no matter how much miserably unpopular shit they do. Trump losing corporate and lobbyist support, that'd be a different story completely, but nobody really cares what Nate Silver tweets.

I think that in the hypothetical case where 80% of the public supports impeachment, then we're looking at an absolute blowout, a bluer map than 1996. You seem to be suggesting that this wouldn't have a major impact on down-ballot races, and if that's your contention, then yes, I absolutely disagree with that premise.

Whether even that would be enough to convince 20 Republican senators to convict? I don't know. You'll note that the phrase I used was "before there's any possibility", and I believe my post repeatedly made it clear that I don't think we'll get to that point and the best case we can reasonably hope for is Republicans failing to convict and then suffering at the ballot box for it. (Probably not very much, but they could lose the Senate.)

Friday wrote:My friend's argument is that due to gerrymandering, the only race the (Senate) Republicans care about is the primary. So as long as Republicans maintain support for Trump, whatever the democrats do is entirely irrelevant to them.

The Supreme Court case that recently went up we lost, and not only lost, but it was decided that the Supreme Court could never rule on any gerrymandering based case again, forever enshrining it.

I don't know what case he was talking about (he keeps up on politics, especially the Supreme Court, more than I do) but he generally knows what he's talking about.


OK, there look to be some misconceptions here about the Senate and the House and their respective roles in impeachment.

The House votes to impeach. A simple majority is required to impeach.

If the House impeaches, the Senate holds a trial and votes on whether to convict. A 2/3 majority is needed to convict.

The House has serious problems with gerrymandering; there *are* a lot of safe districts where the primary is more important than the general. But, as 2018 showed us, there aren't enough of them to protect a Republican majority in a wave year.

Democrats have the majority in the House. They can impeach without a single Republican vote. If such a thing were to happen, Republicans would try to spin the impeachment as a partisan witch hunt, while Democrats would try to spin it as Republicans putting party over country. Ordinarily, Republicans are far better at controlling a narrative, but they haven't been doing such a good job of that with the impeachment narrative to date, mostly because Trump can't stop implicating himself.

I think that, overall, opposing impeachment in the face of public support for it is bad for House Republicans, though of course it depends on the seat. For example, AZ-4's Paul Gosar called the Nazi rally in Charlottesville a false flag by liberals to make Republicans look bad, his own siblings campaigned against him, and he won reelection by 40 points. (Did you see the Who Is America? segment in Kingman, AZ? Those were Gosar's constituents.) Paul Gosar can do whatever he wants; ain't no way AZ-4 elects a Democrat. But, while there are certainly safe Republican seats, there are still swing districts. Whether House Republicans feel electoral pressure to vote to impeach is going to depend on the district. I think that if most of the public favors impeachment, and Republicans vote against it, I think, at minimum, Democrats keep their House majority, and they may pick up seats.

Moving on to the Senate: there are similar issues there, though it's not accurate to say that they're caused by gerrymandering. Senators are elected by state; that certainly has demographic implications, but state boundaries can't just be redrawn by the state legislature every ten years.

And yes, most Senate seats are safe, not just because of the partisan lean of a given state but because incumbents usually get reelected. And unlike the House, only 1/3 of the Senate is up for reelection at a given time, so one party may have an inherent advantage over the other based on what seats are open -- see 2018, which was a Democratic wave year where Democrats actually lost seats in the Senate.

2020 is still a favorable year for Republicans in Senate elections, though not as favorable as 2018. It's possible that the Democrats take the Senate; their likeliest pickups are Colorado, Maine, Arizona, and North Carolina (and keeping Alabama is going to be tough for them). Pickups in Iowa and Georgia are very unlikely; Kansas and Kentucky are *extremely* unlikely; I chose those examples as an indication of just how unlikely it is that Senate Republicans will feel electoral pressure to remove Trump.

At any rate, yes, while there is a possibility Democrats will take the Senate, the vast majority of Republican Senate seats are safe, which was my point: for Trump to be removed from office, 20 Senate Republicans would have to vote to convict, and there are very few scenarios in which I can see that happening.

That's part of why Pelosi and the other Democratic leaders opposed impeachment for as long as they did -- it's basically a foregone conclusion that even if they impeach, the Senate will never convict (and there's also this notion that impeachment would backfire like it did with Clinton and actually make Trump and the GOP stronger -- I think that take relies on a series of misconceptions, including, fundamentally, the bizarre notion that what a president gets impeached *for* does not have any effect on public support for the impeachment). My view is that that's a load of fetid dingo's kidneys and that Democrats need to make the case for impeachment, get public opinion on their side, impeach, and then *make* Republicans run as the party that's protecting Trump.

For the moment, at least, it seems like the Democratic leadership has come around to that way of thinking, and public opinion is on their side. I don't think that's due to any bravery or introspection on Pelosi's part; I think it's that Trump forced the issue and she didn't see any other alternative but to move forward with an impeachment inquiry. It's still possible that public opinion could shift and House Democrats could back down, but I think Trump is *continuing* to force the issue and makes impeachment likelier every day.

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Re: Impeachment

Postby Thad » Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:42 pm

The latest Fox News poll shows 51% of registered voters think Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

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Re: Impeachment

Postby beatbandito » Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:03 pm

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Re: Impeachment

Postby Thad » Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:21 pm

In case it wasn't clear, the reason Trump hates Fox's polling is that it's actually accurate and reliable, which is of course not what he or anybody else expects from Fox.

Notably, it has a slight Republican lean. So if Fox News says 51% of registered voters support removing Trump from office, there's a decent chance that the real number is higher. (Like, not massively higher, but maybe a couple of points.)

But I think clearing 50% is an important psychological milestone.

And, again, when the Watergate investigation started, impeachment only had 20% support.

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Re: Impeachment

Postby Mongrel » Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:33 pm

beatbandito wrote:

♪ STOP! In the name of... ♫ ... uh...

...something.
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Re: Impeachment

Postby Thad » Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:07 am

Nicole Hemmer at Vox: The difference between Nixon and Trump is Fox News

She starts by quoting Geraldo saying that Hannity is the difference between Nixon and Trump, and noting that this is by design; Ailes's intention all along in creating Fox News was to make sure the next Nixon got away with it.

But then she gets into the irony that Fox isn't just helping Trump, it's hurting him too: he's provoked an impeachment inquiry because he believed some stupid conspiracy theory shit he heard on Fox.

(Arguably he's president because he believed some stupid conspiracy theory shit he heard on Fox; while he talked about running for president in the past, there's a strong argument that his role in the birther conspiracy was the beginning of his political career.)

Hemmer's article doesn't mention Bush, but it's interesting to look at the difference between his relationship with Fox News and Trump's. Bush certainly benefited from Fox, but they were very clearly taking their cues from him, not the other way around. With Trump, it's a tail-chasing feedback loop; Fox takes its cues from him and he takes his cues from Fox.

Bush was stupid and evil and uncurious. But he also had a basic understanding of how government works, and he surrounded himself with experienced political operatives and listened to what they had to say (maybe not Powell). While Cheney famously demanded that the TV in his hotel room be set to Fox News, it's not as if he and George sat around all day watching it and liveblogging. And with Rove, in particular, I got the impression that he saw Fox News viewers as useful idiots; he did not respect them (and still doesn't, even as a fixture on the station) but he saw value in manipulating them.

And while Bush did hire a Fox News anchor to work in the White House, it was only as press secretary; he didn't staff his fucking cabinet with people he'd seen on TV.

Where Rove disdained the Fox News audience, Trump is the Fox News audience. He believes every crazy damn thing they say. "Lock her up" wasn't just political opportunism; he really believes all the conspiracy theories about the Clintons, and the Obamas, and the Bidens, and Soros, and the (((globalists))), and everybody else Hannity and Tucker regularly rant about.

And when real journalism creeps in -- like Fox's polling -- it enrages him. It is, of course, incompatible with everything else Fox News is telling him; one of those things must be lying. And obviously the liar is whoever's telling him something he doesn't want to hear.

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Re: Impeachment

Postby Mongrel » Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:06 pm

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Re: Impeachment

Postby zaratustra » Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:55 am

if there's one good thing in this presidency is that as soon as the government stops covering up for criminals it'll be really easy to get them

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Re: Impeachment

Postby Thad » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:28 pm

zaratustra wrote:if there's one good thing in this presidency is that as soon as the government stops covering up for criminals it'll be really easy to get them

And a lot of this is shit they really can't cover up, they can only stall with lawsuits and appeals.

There were rulings in two lawsuits concerning Trump's taxes this past week. There's a state case, in New York, where this week a federal judge dismissed Trump's suit to quash a Manhattan subpoena for his tax records. The Trump team basically argued that a sitting president is not only immune to indictments, but immune to criminal investigations of any kind. The judge was not impressed by this reasoning. Trump has appealed and the appellate court has granted a stay.

The other case this week was the House Oversight Committee's attempt to get access to Trump's financial records. This case is notable because they're not asking Trump or the IRS for them, they're asking Mazar's USA, Trump's accountants. At any rate, a DC circuit court ruled this week in favor of Congress, 2-1; the dissenting judge was an unqualified Trump appointee who argued that, because this subpoena wasn't part of an impeachment inquiry and served no legitimate legislative purpose, Congress has no authority to request the president's records. That's a bad theory with no basis in the law, but, more to the point, it suggests that now that there is an impeachment inquiry, even Trump's cronies on the bench are going to have a hard time justifying his position.

Trump can still appeal, to the full circuit court, an appellate court, and the Supreme Court. I think it's unlikely any court will rule in his favor, or that the Supremes will agree to hear this case. This is merely a stalling tactic.

And there's another case in the news this week, the House Judiciary Committee's attempts to gain access to grand jury testimony from the Mueller investigation.

The discussion also turned back the clock to 1974, when Judge John Sirica, who presided over multiple Watergate cases, granted Congress access to grand jury materials as part of the House's impeachment inquiry of President Richard Nixon.

[Judge Beryl] Howell asked the Department of Justice if they disagreed with that ruling. [DoJ attorney Elizabeth] Shapiro said that the department's position has evolved since the 1970s.

"The answer would be that if that same case came today, a different result would be obtained," Shapiro said. That briefly left Judge Howell in silence.

"Wow, OK," Howell said. "As I said, the department is taking extraordinary positions in this case."


The DoJ is literally trying to relitigate Watergate. As the judge's "Wow, OK" reaction indicates, I do not think this is likely to work out well for them. I think the Trump team intends to take this all the way to the Supreme Court and assumes SCOTUS will decide in their favor. They seem to have a sympathetic judge in Kavanaugh (rather hypocritically given that he was part of Ken Starr's team in Clinton's impeachment), but I'm not sure a 5-4 ruling with the conservatives overturning the precedent is as likely as the Trump team seems to think it is. While the Roberts Court favors a strong executive, it also tends to defer pretty strongly to Congressional authority granted by the Constitution. (They also know that someday a Democrat will be president again.) At this point I never get too surprised by the SCOTUS making an extreme ruling, but I'd be a little surprised if it overturned Nixon v Sirica.

Overall, I think these various suits and appeals feel like stalling tactics. I don't think they're likely to succeed.

As for what happens if appeals are exhausted, courts rule that the Trump Administration has to comply with subpoenas, and they still refuse to do so? Well, that's a constitutional crisis and, itself, grounds for impeachment -- which leads us back to the issue that the Senate probably won't convict no matter what Trump does, but such a position is likely to cost them at the ballot box (but probably not as much as it should).

Course, even then, it's still a stalling tactic. As you say, even if the courts were to uphold Trump's absurd legal theory that he's immune from investigations as long as he's president, that's only going to work as long as he's president.

I think there's a good chance that, Democrats being Democrats, if Trump loses in 2020 the House might drop all the investigations, much as they pretty much let Bush and his cronies off the hook after he was out of office. But I don't think the Manhattan DA's office will leave him alone once he's out of office.

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Re: Impeachment

Postby Thad » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:58 am

And of course Trump's "just don't comply with subpoenas" strategy only works if the people being subpoenaed are willing to go to the mat for him. The Washington Post reports that Gordon Sondland is going to testify to Congress ("that there was some kind of a quid pro quo, 'but not a corrupt one,'" whatever the fuck that means).

You may recall that Sondland declined to testify last week after the State Department told him not to. But that was an invitation to testify voluntarily. After he declined, House Democrats filed a subpoena, and he's planning to comply with it, if the Post story is accurate (and it bears noting it's based on a single anonymous source, so grain of salt). If true, that demonstrates that even a Trump loyalist like Sondland is only willing to go so far to defend him. (Of course, it's also possible that, like many rich white men, he assumes he can just talk his way out of this.)

It's not going to stop with Sondland; there will be more. The State Department ordering a witness not to testify is a powerful incentive not to testify, but it's not going to work on everybody.

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Re: Impeachment

Postby Grath » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:20 am


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