Txxxx’s Success Makes Perfect Sense, Part 2 (the Mob Perspective)

From the foreword to Disloyal, the new book by Txxxx’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen:

. . . Let me say it the way Dxxxx Txxxx would: He wouldn’t mind if I was dead. That was how Txxxx talked. Like a mob boss, using language carefully calibrated to convey his desires and demands, while at the same time employing deliberate indirection to insulate himself and avoid actually ordering a hit on his former personal attorney, confidant, consigliere, and, at least in my heart, adopted son.

Driving south from New York City to Washington, DC on I-95 on the cold, gray winter morning of February 24th, 2019, en route to testify against President Txxxx before both Houses of Congress, I knew he wanted me gone before I could tell the nation what I know about him. . . .

Heading south, I wondered if my prospects for survival were also going in that direction. I was acutely aware of the magnitude of Txxxx’s fury aimed directly at my alleged betrayal. . . . Txxxx’s theory of life, business and politics revolved around threats and the prospect of destruction—financial, electoral, personal, physical—as a weapon. I knew how he worked because I had frequently been the one screaming threats on his behalf as Txxxx’s fixer and designated thug. . . .

For more than a decade, I was Txxxx’s first call every morning and his last call every night. I was in and out of Txxxx’s office on the 26th floor of the Txxxx Tower as many as fifty times a day, tending to his every demand. Our cell phones had the same address books, our contacts so entwined, overlapping and intimate that part of my job was to deal with the endless queries and requests, however large or small, from Txxxx’s countless rich and famous acquaintances. I called any and all of the people he spoke to, most often on his behalf as his attorney and emissary, and everyone knew that when I spoke to them, it was as good as if they were talking directly to Txxxx.

Apart from his wife and children, I knew Txxxx better than anyone else did. In some ways, I knew him better than even his family did because I bore witness to the real man, in strip clubs, shady business meetings, and in the unguarded moments when he revealed who he really was: a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man.

There are reasons why there has never been an intimate portrait of Dxxxx Txxxx, the man. In part, it’s because he has a million acquaintances, pals and hangers on, but no real friends. He has no one he trusts to keep his secrets. For ten years, he certainly had me, and I was always there for him, and look what happened to me. I urge you to really consider that fact: Txxxx has no true friends. He has lived his entire life avoiding and evading taking responsibility for his actions. He crushed or cheated all who stood in his way, but I know where the skeletons are buried because I was the one who buried them. . . .

As you read my story, you will no doubt ask yourself if you like me, or if you would act as I did, and the answer will frequently be no to both of those questions. But permit me to make a point: If you only read stories written by people you like, you will never be able to understand Dxxxx Txxxx or the current state of the American soul. More than that, it’s only by actually understanding my decisions and actions that you can get inside Txxxx’s mind and understand his worldview. As anyone in law enforcement will tell you, it’s only gangsters who can reveal the secrets of organized crime. If you want to know how the mob really works, you’ve got to talk to the bad guys. I was one of Txxxx’s bad guys. In his world, I was one hundred percent a made man. . . .

In the pitiful sight of Republicans throwing aside their dignity and duty in an effort to grovel at Txxxx’s feet, I saw myself and understood their motives. My insatiable desire to please Txxxx to gain power for myself, the fatal flaw that led to my ruination, was a Faustian bargain: I would do anything to accumulate, wield, maintain, exert, exploit power. In this way, Dxxxx Txxxx and I were the most alike; in this naked lust for power, the President and I were soul mates. I was so vulnerable to his magnetic force because he offered an intoxicating cocktail of power, strength, celebrity, and a complete disregard for the rules and realities that govern our lives. To Txxxx, life was a game and all that mattered was winning. In these dangerous days, I see the Republican Party and Txxxx’s followers threatening the constitution—which is in far greater peril than is commonly understood—and following one of the worst impulses of humankind: the desire for power at all costs. . . .

Now, sitting alone in an upstate New York prison, wearing my green government-issued uniform, I’ve begun writing this story longhand on a yellow legal pad. I often wrote before dawn so not to be disturbed in my thoughts when my fellow inmates awoke. I had to report to the sewage treatment plant where some of us worked for a wage of $8 a month. As the months passed by and I thought about the man I knew so well, I became even more convinced that Txxxx will never leave office peacefully. The types of scandals that have surfaced in recent months will only continue to emerge with greater and greater levels of treachery and deceit. If Txxxx wins another four years, these scandals will prove to only be the tip of the iceberg. I’m certain that Txxxx knows he will face prison time if he leaves office, the inevitable cold Karma to the notorious chants of “Lock Her Up!” But that is the Txxxx I know in a nutshell. He projects his own sins and crimes onto others, partly to distract and confuse but mostly because he thinks everyone is as corrupt and shameless and ruthless as he is; a poisonous mindset I know all too well. . . .

Watching Txxxx on the evening news in the prison rec room, I almost feel sorry for him. I know him so well and I know his facial tics and tells; I see the cornered look in his eyes as he flails and rants and raves, searching for a protector and advocate, someone willing to fight dirty and destroy his enemies. I see the men who have replaced me and continue to forfeit their reputations by doing the President’s bidding, no matter how dishonest or sleazy or unlawful. Rudy Guiliani, William Barr, Jared Kushner and Mike Pompeo are Txxxx’s new wannabe fixers, sycophants willing to distort the truth and break the law in the service of the Boss. All this will be to no avail. Txxxx doesn’t want to hear this, and he will certainly deny it, but he’s lost without his original bulldog lawyer Roy Cohn, or his other former pitbull and personal attorney, Michael Cohen . . .

Otisville Federal Prison, Otisville, New York, March 11, 2020

Unquote.

Like I said recently in a post about Casino, the true crime book about Las Vegas, mobsters are used to lying and exaggeration. But I think Cohen is telling the truth about the mob boss millions of Americans (and an antiquated election process) put in the White House.

Txxxx’s Success Makes Perfect Sense

From Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a professor of history and Italian studies, for The New York Review of Books:

“As time went on, it became clear that the sickness was a feature, that anyone who entered the building became a little sick themselves,” wrote the journalist Olivia Nuzzi in March 2018 of the Dxxxx Txxxx White House and those who serve it. For a century, those who have worked closely with authoritarian rulers have shown the symptoms of this malady: a compulsion to praise the head of state and a willingness to sacrifice one’s own ideals, principles, and dignity to remain in his good graces, at the center of power.

In his relationship with Republican political elites, as in other areas of endeavor, President Txxxx has followed the model of “personalist rule” used by leaders like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Some of these rulers destroy democracy, and others, like the Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi, govern nominally open societies in undemocratic ways. Yet personalist rule always concentrates power in one individual whose own political and financial interests and private relationships with other despots often prevail over national interests in shaping domestic and foreign policy. Loyalty to this head of state and his allies, rather than expertise, is a primary qualification for serving him, whether as ministers or bureaucrats, as is participation in his corruption schemes.

While some authoritarians have political parties of their own creation at their disposal, Txxxx had no ready-made vehicle for his political ambitions before 2016. He had to win over the Grand Old Party to gain credibility and access to its machine and gain the collaboration of its elites. “Co-optation” is the term political scientists use for the way authoritarians bind individuals and groups to them through buy-offs or intimidation. It can also be considered a form of corruption, given the ethical compromises and changes in personal and professional practices that cooperating with amoral individuals entails.

The journeys that high-level enablers like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Senator Lindsey Graham have taken at Txxxx’s side since 2016 have different motivations. Some saw Txxxx as a means to accomplish their own goals . . . . But collectively, they have contributed to the consolidation of an authoritarian political climate in today’s America, marked by fealty to a personalist ruler who holds his senior associates in thrall through complicity and intimidation.

The Republican Party, and the robust media universe that supports it, had been ready for a far-right, rule-breaking, and polarizing personality like Txxxx. A 2012 assessment by the political scientists Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann captures the crucial elements of an illiberal move that had, by 2016, primed Republicans to accept Txxxx’s candidacy: 

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

This retreat from bipartisan governance is why Txxxx’s open intention to be president of only some Americans . . . was not a deal-breaker for the GOP during the campaign . . . Nor were Txxxx’s many actions that promised a decidedly anti-democratic future for America . . .

Still, the aspiring president needed access and credibility from establishment figures like former Senator Jeff Sessions, who joined the ranks of history’s first-hour enablers—along with Priebus, Txxxx’s first White House chief of staff. These individuals back the extremist when he most needs it—and are often later discarded. Sessions, in particular, is the perfect case history of this phenomenon.

“I have a man who is respected by everybody here… I’m becoming mainstream,” crowed Txxxx, as he introduced Sessions as a surprise guest at a February 2016 event. . . . Sessions beamed and dutifully donned the red MAGA hat handed to him as he left the stage. A year later, he resigned from the Senate position he’d held for twenty years to take up the position of attorney general in Txxxx’s administration that was the reward for his loyalty.

Txxxx also needed people who would lie for him and keep his secrets. Corruption is a process, as well as a set of practices. It involves gradual changes in ethical and behavioral norms that make actions that were once considered illegal or immoral seem acceptable—whether election fraud, lying to the public, treasonous conduct, or sexual assault. The discarding of accountability as an ideal of governance makes keeping the fundamental pact of personalist rule—staying silent about the leader’s incompetence and illegal actions—a lot easier. . . .

The successive purges—FBI director James Comey, US attorneys, government scientists, senior diplomats, inspectors general—the targeting of American intelligence and the press, the attempt to manipulate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to Txxxx’s impeachment in 2019… all of it was made possible by the careful enforcement of a covenant of loyalty and silence taken by the GOP leadership. . . .

Txxxx’s acquittal on impeachment charges by the Senate in February 2020, following a trial in which no witnesses were heard who might give damaging evidence, was another stark example of the GOP’s complete subordination to the needs of a personalist ruler. . . . Senator McConnell, a man with “no ideology except his own political power,” as his biographer . . . puts it, stage-managed the non-trial to safeguard Txxxx’s presidency, a cause he has made his own from the beginning.

From the era of interwar fascism onward, one principle of authoritarian–­elite collaborations holds true: once those close to power sign on to protect the leader, they tend to stick with him until the bitter end. Even the June 2020 revelation that Txxxx knew Putin had been putting a bounty on American soldiers in Afghanistan and said nothing—the ultimate betrayal by a commander in chief, and a treason unthinkable under any prior Republican (or Democratic) administration—did not move the dial, even with Senator Graham, whose political brand was once a hard-core patriotism and hawkishness toward Russia.

Graham’s conversion from fervent Txxxx critic to fanatical Txxxx defender has puzzled many. Seen from the perspective of authoritarian history, though, Graham is no anomaly. He fits the profile of the individual who has led a life of seeming rectitude and now experiences the thrill of partnering with an amoral individual. “Is there no bottom?” legions complain on Twitter . . . It is precisely this absence of a bottom that draws many to leaders, like Txxxx, who think big, make the unthinkable possible, and are open about their desire to exercise power without limits or restraints. Breaking the rules, and getting away with it, is at the center of the ethos of macho lawlessness that underpins strongman rule.

Politicians like Graham need only contemplate the fate of their former peer, Jeff Sessions, to know what happens if they break ranks. During his confirmation hearings for attorney general, Sessions behaved in conformity with the omertà around Txxxx’s illegal actions, swearing under oath that he had had no contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. After the news subsequently broke that he had, in fact, met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, contradicting his congressional testimony, Sessions recused himself from the Department of Justice’s investigation into Russian interference with the election.

Sessions continued in office but had to endure months of Txxxx’s repeated ridiculing of him, including calling him a “dumb Southerner.” By the time Sessions handed in his resignation, in late 2018, Txxxx had already scouted out a more suitable co-conspirator. He found one in William Barr, a man whom Txxxx pointedly calls “my attorney general.”

Then forced to run for the Senate seat he’d held for so many years, Sessions entered the most delicate phase of the authoritarian leader–follower drama: the quest for forgiveness and a return to grace. “Out of the 100 United States Senators I was the very first one to stand with @realDxxxxTxxxx and I will keep fighting for him and his agenda,” Sessions tweeted in November 2019. To a strongman, though, such a display of weakness only warranted further humiliation. Txxxx loudly endorsed Sessions’ opponent . . . Txxxx dealt Sessions a death blow by tweet: “Alabama, do not trust Jeff Sessions. He let our Country down.” Sessions responded sourly,“Perhaps you’ve forgotten… I did my duty & you’re damn fortunate I did. It protected the rule of law & resulted in your exoneration,” forgetting that feeling grateful to others is alien to leaders like Txxxx. . . .

“Congress no longer operates as an independent branch of government, but as an appendage of the executive branch,” former House [Republican] Tom Davis told The New York Times in January 2020. Four years after Txxxx won the Republican nomination, the GOP has become a personalist ruler’s dream: a party solely dedicated to defending and promoting the leader, no matter what he says and does. No price, even the mass death of Americans from the president’s willful mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, seems too high to pay to keep the pact of silence about the leader’s criminality and unfitness for office that maintains him in power.

With the authoritarian’s personal needs and desires setting the tone for political life, it is all too tempting to focus all blame on him. And that is routinely what happens when such rulers inevitably exit office. Yet, as the former Republican strategist Stuart Stevens asserts in his new book, It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Dxxxx Txxxx, it would be a mistake to conclude that Txxxx had somehow simply hijacked the GOP. The Republican Party had already become a laboratory for American autocracy, a vehicle for power combining a base of white supremacists and gun-rights extremists with leaders like McConnell who had long approved of subverting voting rights and other democratic procedures to maintain their privileges and authority.

The GOP was already becoming “Txxxxian” even before Txxxx himself appeared to complete its self-destruction as a democratic party. Enticing and intimidating individuals into becoming their worst selves as willing collaborators is what authoritarians do best. On this count, Txxxx has succeeded magnificently.

The Toddler Strikes Again — Pandemic Edition

From Crooked Media’s informative newsletter:

The T—- administration abruptly removed the doctor who led the federal agency working on a coronavirus vaccine because he pushed back against the administration’s efforts to promote [the president’s] favorite unproven drugs. Now he has become a whistleblower: “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.”

Dr. Rick Bright said he was dismissed as director of [Health and Human Service’s] Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) because he insisted that the government invest funding into scientifically vetted treatments, vaccine research, and critical supplies, and resisted widespread use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus symptoms. (On Tuesday, a panel of experts [at the National Institutes of Health] specifically advised against the use of hydroxychloroquine outside of clinical trials.)

Bright believes he was transferred to a smaller role at NIH as an act of retaliation. He said he’ll request an investigation into the politicization of BARDA, including how the administration has pressured scientists to “fund companies with political connections and efforts that lack scientific merit.”

A vague but stunning accusation of political corruption hobbling the government’s response to one of the most deadly crises the country has ever faced….

Remember during Trump’s impeachment,a mere 400 years ago, when we learned that Trump fired an experienced career diplomat because she wouldn’t go along with his corrupt Ukraine scheme? We’ve just seen him do the same thing to a career scientist in a key public health role, in the middle of the worst public-health crisis in our lifetimes. Somebody ask [Republican Senator] Susan Collins if she still thinks T—- learned his lesson. 

This Matters, Although It’s Not the Only Thing

From Paul Krugman in the NY Times:

“Wednesday’s Democratic debate was far more informative than previous debates. What we learned, in particular, was that as a presidential candidate, Michael Bloomberg is a great businessman — and that Elizabeth Warren remains a force to be reckoned with.

Both lessons ran very much counter to the narrative that the news media has been telling in recent weeks. On one side, there has been a palpable eagerness on the part of some news organizations and many pundits to elevate Bloomberg; on the other side, complaints by Warren supporters about her “erasure” from news coverage and polling aren’t wrong.

What does all this mean for the nomination? I have no idea. But maybe the Warren-Bloomberg confrontation will help refocus discussion away from so-called Medicare for all — which isn’t going to be enacted, no matter who wins — to an issue where it matters a lot which Democrat prevails. Namely, are we going to do anything to rein in the financialization of the U.S. economy?

During the U.S. economy’s greatest generation — the era of rapid, broadly shared growth that followed World War II — Wall Street was a fairly peripheral part of the picture. When people thought about business leaders, they thought about people running companies that actually made things, not people who got rich through wheeling and dealing.

But that all changed in the 1980s, largely thanks to financial deregulation. Suddenly the big bucks came from buying and selling companies as opposed to running them.

In many cases, these financial deals saddled companies with crippling levels of debt, often ending in bankruptcy and job destruction — a process that continues to this day. There was also an epidemic of financial fraud and racketeering, exemplified by the career of Michael Milken, the junk-bond king Donald Trump just pardoned.

And the financial sector itself doubled as a share of the economy, which meant that it was pulling lots of capital and many smart people away from productive activities.

For there is no evidence that Wall Street’s mega-expansion made the rest of the economy more efficient. On the contrary, growth in family incomes slowed down as finance rose — although a few people became immensely rich. And the runaway growth of finance set the stage for the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

It also made Michael Bloomberg a billionaire.

Now, I wasn’t being sarcastic in calling Bloomberg a great businessman. He is. And to his credit, he himself hasn’t, as far as I know, engaged in destructive financial wheeling and dealing. Instead, he got rich by selling equipment to destructive wheeler-dealers.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the famous Bloomberg Terminal, a proprietary computer system that gives subscribers real-time access to large quantities of financial data. This access is incredibly expensive — a subscription costs around $24,000 a year. But it’s a must-have in the financial industry, because traders with Bloomberg Terminals can react to market events a few minutes faster than those without.

It’s an extremely profitable business. But is it good for the economy? No.

After all, does getting financial information a few minutes earlier do anything significant to improve real-world business decisions that affect jobs and productivity? Surely not. Bloomberg has, in effect, made his billions off a financial arms race that costs vast sums but leaves everyone pretty much back where they started.

Which brings me to Elizabeth Warren.

Warren stumbled badly, making herself a long shot for the nomination, by trying to appease supporters of Bernie Sanders. She endorsed proposals for radical health care reform that have almost no chance of becoming reality, and she was raked over the coals about paying for those proposals even though Sanders himself has offered few clues about his own plans.

But before all that, Warren had made a name for herself as a crusader against financial industry fraud and excess.

It wasn’t just talk. One key piece of the reforms instituted after the 2008 financial crisis, the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was Warren’s brainchild. Furthermore, by all accounts the bureau was wildly successful, saving ordinary families billions, until the Trump administration set about eviscerating it.

And here’s the thing: Financial reform, unlike health care, is an area in which it might make a big difference which Democrat becomes president. It’s true that other candidates — including Bloomberg! — have endorsed Warren-type reforms. But it is, I think, fair to ask how committed they would be in practice, and also whether they would squander their political capital on unwinnable fights, which is my big concern about Sanders.

Again, aside from the clear damage to Bloomberg, I have no idea how or if Wednesday’s debate will affect the Democratic race. But it may have helped remind Democrats that corruption, fraud and the excesses of Wall Street in particular can be potent political issues — especially against a president who is both personally corrupt and so obviously a friend to fraudsters.”

Unquote.

The title of Professor Krugman’s column is “Warren, Bloomberg and What Really Matters”. I’m sure he’d agree that issues like climate change and poverty really matter too, but he makes an excellent point that relates to Warren’s fundamental message: we will only make progress on things that really matter if we make our democracy stronger and address the corruption in Washington.

Those were the goals of the first bill the House Democrats passed in 2019, H. R. 1, a bill “to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics and strengthen ethics rules for public servants”. They are also the goals at the top of the list of plans on Warren’s site: “End Washington corruption and fix our democracy”.

Little will get done unless we fix and enforce the rules. After we elect enough people who want to.

The House Begins To Present Its Case

This afternoon, members of the House of Representatives submitted a Trial Memorandum “in re [the] impeachment of President D—– J. T—–“. It summarizes the case for the prosecution in the president’s Senate trial. (The president’s lawyers are supposed to submit their response before noon on Monday.)

In theory, all 100 senators will read the prosecution’s memorandum before the trial starts next week. You can read it, even if they don’t (all 111 pages).

There is an eight-page introduction. Here’s how it begins:

President D—– J. T—– used his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain, and then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his misconduct. The Constitution provides a remedy when the President commits such serious abuses of his office: impeachment and removal. The Senate must use that remedy now to safeguard the 2020 U.S. election, protect our constitutional form of government, and eliminate the threat that the President poses to America’s national security.

The House adopted two Articles of Impeachment against President T—–: the first for abuse of power, and the second for obstruction of Congress. The evidence overwhelmingly establishes that he is guilty of both. The only remaining question is whether the members of the Senate will accept and carry out the responsibility placed on them by the Framers of our Constitution and their constitutional Oaths.

There follows a section describing the president’s abuse of power (the first article of impeachment), when he illegally delayed military aid to Ukraine in order to get the Ukrainian government to publicize (not necessarily to carry out) a criminal investigation into Joe Biden, one of the Democrats’ leading candidates for president, and Biden’s son:

President T—–’s solicitation of foreign interference in our elections to secure his own political success is precisely why the Framers of our Constitution provided Congress with the power to impeach a corrupt President and remove him from office. One of the Founding generation’s principal fears was that foreign governments would seek to manipulate American elections…. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams warned of “foreign Interference, Intrigue, Influence” and predicted that, “as often as Elections happen, the danger of foreign Influence recurs.”

The Framers therefore would have considered a President’s attempt to corrupt America’s democratic processes by demanding political favors from foreign powers to be a singularly pernicious act. They designed impeachment as the remedy for such misconduct because a President who manipulates U.S. elections to his advantage can avoid being held accountable by the voters through those same elections. And they would have viewed a President’s efforts to encourage foreign election interference as all the more dangerous where, as here, those efforts are part of an ongoing pattern of misconduct for which the President is unrepentant.

Then there is a section concerning the president’s obstruction of Congress (the second article of impeachment), his interference in the House’s investigation of the president’s apparent abuse of power:

President T—– obstructed Congress by undertaking an unprecedented campaign to prevent House Committees from investigating his misconduct. The Constitution entrusts the House with the “sole Power of Impeachment.” The Framers thus ensured what common sense requires—that the House, and not the President, determines the existence, scope, and procedures of an impeachment investigation into the President’s conduct. The House cannot conduct such an investigation effectively if it cannot obtain information from the President or the Executive Branch about the Presidential misconduct it is investigating.

Under our constitutional system of divided powers, a President cannot be permitted to hide his offenses from view by refusing to comply with a Congressional impeachment inquiry and ordering Executive Branch agencies to do the same. That conclusion is particularly important given the Department of Justice’s position that the President cannot be indicted. If the President could both avoid accountability under the criminal laws and preclude an effective impeachment investigation, he would truly be above the law.

But that is what President T—– has attempted to do, and why President T—–’s conduct is the Framers’ worst nightmare. He directed his Administration to defy every subpoena issued in the House’s impeachment investigation. At his direction, the White House, Department of State, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) refused to produce a single document in response to those subpoenas. Several witnesses also followed President T—–’s orders, defying requests for voluntary appearances and lawful subpoenas, and refusing to testify. And President T—–’s interference in the House’s impeachment inquiry was not an isolated incident—it was consistent with his past efforts to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The Introduction ends with a brief summary:

…. The impeachment power is an essential check on the authority of the President, and Congress must exercise this power when the President places his personal and political interests above those of the Nation. President T—– has done exactly that. His misconduct challenges the fundamental principle that Americans should decide American elections, and that a divided system of government, in which no single branch operates without the check and balance of the others, preserves the liberty we all hold dear.

The country is watching to see how the Senate responds. History will judge each Senator’s willingness to rise above partisan differences, view the facts honestly, and defend the Constitution. The outcome of these proceedings will determine whether generations to come will enjoy a safe and secure democracy in which the President is not a king, and in which no one, particularly the President, is above the law.

The House memorandum then goes into greater detail concerning the rationale for impeaching and removing the president. It concludes with 61 pages of “material facts”, i.e. the evidence for his removal.

If D—– J. T—– were simply a mob boss or a corrupt businessman (him? are you kidding?) on trial for bribery or obstruction of justice, and members of the Senate were serving on the jury, each one of them would convict the defendant, D—– J. T—–, without a second thought. That especially holds for the Republicans, who still fancy themselves Congress’s strongest proponents of “law and order”. The prosecution’s case is overwhelming. And the verdict in this trial doesn’t even have to be unanimous! Sixty-seven out of 100 senators can throw the bum out.

But here it’s as if most of the jurors are the defendant’s underlings, fearful of his power and willing to protect him no matter what. The men who wrote the Constitution imagined a corrupt president, but they couldn’t have imagined most of the Senate being corrupt too. They assumed most senators, if not all, would take their oaths to uphold the Constitution quite seriously.

Soon we’ll know if Jefferson and Adams, Hamilton, Franklin and Washington, got the future very, very wrong.