Patterico's Pontifications

5/30/2019

The Point of Impeachment (Updated)

Filed under: Accepted Wisdom,Politics — DRJ @ 10:15 am



[Headlines from DRJ]

Andrew C. McCarthy @ National ReviewThe Point of Impeachment:

… the capacity of Congress to oust a lawless president is central to the Framers’ design of our governing system. Because executive power is awesome, and intended to be that way, certain abuses of it can be discouraged only by the credible threat that Congress will remove the president from power — or, if discouragement fails, can be remediated only by the president’s actual removal. That is why Madison believed that the inclusion of impeachment in Congress’s arsenal was “indispensible” to preserving the Constitution’s framework of liberty vouchsafed by divided power.
***
“[H]igh crimes and misdemeanors,” the Constitution’s trigger for impeachment, is a term of art for abuses of power that violate the president’s fiduciary obligations to the American people he serves, the constitutional system he takes an oath to preserve, and the laws whose faithful execution is his core duty. High crimes and misdemeanors are not — or at least, not necessarily — the same as “crimes” and “misdemeanors” prosecutable in the courts. Impeachment is a political remedy (i.e., the removal of political authority), not a legal one (i.e., the removal of liberty after criminal indictment and conviction). That is why Hamilton, in Federalist 65, described impeachable offenses as “political” in nature — as “proceed[ing] from the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”

UPDATE 6/1/2019: Andrew C. McCarthy today — The Mueller Investigation was always an Impeachment Probe.

— DRJ

72 Responses to “The Point of Impeachment (Updated)”

  1. 1. Because she knows that impeachment proceedings can only lead to embarrassment in the Senate. Credit where credit is due, she is thinking beyond the political ramifications for Trump.

    Gryph (08c844)

  2. the goal of impeachment is to restore the paris accord, move the embassy back to tel aviv, and probably rejoin the iran deal,

    narciso (d1f714)

  3. Was Alexander Hamilton a leftist? Asking for a friend.

    Leviticus (6b28ef)

  4. Pelosi believes that constitutional checks and balances are a fools errand because she cares about nothing but maintaining her own personal power.

    Leviticus (6b28ef)

  5. If you want to read the discussions that the Founders had, go here, download the PDFs and search on impeach. It was a complex decision, and the Why, How and If of Impeachment were not settled quickly.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  6. Was Alexander Hamilton a leftist? Asking for a friend.

    He was certainly a Statist.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  7. he goal of impeachment is to restore the paris accord…

    And to rescue polar bears from ice floes, helpless immigrant children from space blankets, and to stop crushing the hopes of transsexual infants, assuming mommie decides not to kill them.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  8. she cares about nothing but maintaining her own personal power

    If she accedes to the demand to impeach, it will be BECAUSE she fears losing that power.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  9. Pelosi is in the bubble and best wise up fast because failure to act only demonstrates dithering to citizens; a weakness revealing she cares less about the ‘Constitution’ than Trump–and she’s probably actually read it–and more about the political fallout for her party.

    There has to be an impeachment inquiry. If evidence is unearthed, spelled out methodically, properly and in ‘Earth English;’ a solid case built to quill articles to send it over to the Senate for trial, then impeachment would put the tails of Senate Republicans in a crack and force them to vote on Trump’s fate– which would likely seal theirs as well. Failure to act in the first place makes the Dems look as bad as the GOP. These fools have to look less at the Clinton experience and more to Nixon.

    All the more reason to force the likes of Mueller to testify before a Congressional committee in an impeachment inquiry and get him to articulate specifics rather than everybody attempting to interpret what they believe he and his report is saying.

    If the House, regardless of party control, is willing to let a Trump-type executive ‘get away’ with what he’s been doing this time, the next guy or gal will be set up to do some real broken field running. And Americans will discover all this ‘rule of law/no one is above the law’ babble has been just a bunch of bunk all along. Then Putin really will smile…

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  10. the goal of impeachment is to restore the paris accord, move the embassy back to tel aviv, and probably rejoin the iran deal,

    narciso (d1f714) — 5/30/2019 @ 11:01 am

    Wow who know Pence had such leftist views. We better update the other thread!

    Dustin (6d7686)

  11. If she accedes to the demand to impeach, it will be BECAUSE she fears losing that power.

    Kevin M (21ca15) — 5/30/2019 @ 11:26 am

    True. It’s been amusing watch the presidential hopefuls who need a little press one-up eachother at the expense of their party’s big picture hopes. It’s not like Team R is one big happy family either, which is a good reason to appreciate the humor in Pelosi’s situation.

    Dustin (6d7686)

  12. You think they will stop with trump, they hate him even more, so go ahead impeach, and after they’ve taken your guns and silenced any opposition, you’ll know the meaning of umpeachment.

    Narciso (24997a)

  13. Every single candidate wants to tear down the bill or rights and abolish capitalism as we’ve known it, you want to take a chance they wont do it?

    Narciso (f43143)

  14. narciso —

    Imagine, for a moment, what Nancy really wants. She wants to tie Trump so firmly to the GOP that, when he gets his comeuppance, probably through an overdue recession, the GOP will never be able to recover or clean the nativist stink from themsleves.

    Really will make it easier to tear down the Bill of Rights and abolish capitalism, when the opposition has done such a thorough job of discrediting themselves, don’t you think?

    Appalled (d07ae6)

  15. McCarthy posits impeachment as an appropriate response to lawlessness on a policy integral to the nation’s security (i.e., immigration), not as a remedy for an undesired election result. Refreshing, isn’t it?

    McCarthy also wrote this, in the same article:

    Obama is abusing prosecutorial discretion to undermine our governing framework.

    The McCarthy of 2014 couldn’t have known how many conservatives would sign on, years later, to what was an impeachable offense then. Nor did he know how it would be associated with term like “dossier”, “FISA” and “campaign surveillance”.

    Munroe (713ba7)

  16. Yet he was never censured much less impeached for his actual crimes against the body politic, so I find this hrumphimg a little forced.

    Narciso (f43143)

  17. High crimes and misdemeanors are not — or at least, not necessarily — the same as “crimes” and “misdemeanors” prosecutable in the courts.

    I have heard this argument bandied about, but I am very dubious. First of all, IIRC, the Constitutional Convention considered but rejected a standard that would have permitted impeachment for “maladministration” as too broad and vague. Yet this argument essentially restores that standard.

    Second, the Constitutional phrase is ““treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The word “other” clearly implies that HCAM’s (to coin an acronym) are like treason and bribery, i.e. specific, well-known crimes against the public trust.

    I did see this on one website, which seems to provide some historical context:

    The convention adopted “high crimes and misdemeanors” with little discussion. Most of the framers knew the phrase well. Since 1386, the English parliament had used “high crimes and misdemeanors” as one of the grounds to impeach officials of the crown. Officials accused of “high crimes and misdemeanors” were accused of offenses as varied as misappropriating government funds, appointing unfit subordinates, not prosecuting cases, not spending money allocated by Parliament, promoting themselves ahead of more deserving candidates, threatening a grand jury, disobeying an order from Parliament, arresting a man to keep him from running for Parliament, losing a ship by neglecting to moor it, helping “suppress petitions to the King to call a Parliament,” granting warrants without cause, and bribery. Some of these charges were crimes. Others were not. The one common denominator in all these accusations was that the official had somehow abused the power of his office and was unfit to serve.

    Bored Lawyer (998177)

  18. My problem with impeachment at this time is that a failed impeachment will in effect cement as precedent the notion that Congress has no authority to investigate the executive, and I don’t see any way for an impeachment to succeed given the way the members of the Senate are behaving.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  19. aphrael:

    The Clinton impeachment didn’t establish such a precedent. Why would a Trump impeachment? I am actually more concerned with the precedent being established by the failure to act on Trump.

    In any event, the actions of one Congress does not bind the actions of the next.

    Appalled (d07ae6)

  20. @19. ‘Succeed’ – that is, ultimately removal from office, really isn’t the point. The point is acknowledging the threshold of actions warranting a legitimate impeachment inquiry to be opened have been reached. That in itself is a success. Letting this guy get away with his antics without even inquiry compared to Clinton’s sexcapades impeachment show makes the whole system look that much more of a joke to the world. Selling American values beyond the borders is fast becoming a laugh line. Besides, using Lindsey Graham’s own words from Clinton times against him in a Trump inquiry would be highly entertaining TeeVee. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  21. @20. ‘failure to act’… Bingo.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  22. > Letting this guy get away with his antics without even inquiry compared to Clinton’s sexcapades impeachment show makes the whole system look that much more of a joke to the world.

    An impeachment which does not result in removal will cement the precedent that the things Trump is doing do not warrant removal from office, and will result in many of his behaviors becoming *standard*.

    Do you want an inquiry that reveals all sorts of misbehavior and then comes to the conclusion that the legislature, and the American public, are *fine* with that misbehavior? Because that’s the *best case* outcome for impeachment, currently.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  23. Anti trumpers will not get the republican party back. Republican party is 90% populist/social conservative not free trade pro immigration libertarianism. Trump would not be convicted in the senate. The populists have taken over the party. You represent a small minority that is no longer in control.

    lany (0d5882)

  24. 2. Gryph (08c844) — 5/30/2019 @ 10:44

    she knows that impeachment proceedings can only lead to embarrassment in the Senate.

    Especially, if any of it is done on the basis of false premises. And a lot of the accusations against Donald Trump are just that: False!.

    But a lot of average Democrats don’t see it that way.

    Exposing the accusations could expose many of them to be lies.

    Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to tell Democrats that they are harboring some delusions about Dold Trump. They’re delusions even if Donald Trump has done many things in politics and government that you hate.

    Sammy Finkelman (db7fea)

  25. narciso @3:

    the goal of impeachment is to restore the paris accord, move the embassy back to tel aviv, and probably rejoin the iran deal,

    Is Mike Pence likely to do any of that?

    Oh and also, would Mike Pence be easier to beat in 2020 than Donald Trump? (you could argue that) Maybe Trump’s popularity is all personal. Maybe Mike Pence is nt hard rght enough for some people.

    I suppose you could argue that many many Democrats are completely crazy, so they want to impeach Trump, even though, win or lose, it sets back the possibility of the Democratic nominee winning in 2020.

    Sammy Finkelman (db7fea)

  26. Anti trumpers will not get the republican party back. Republican party is 90% populist/social conservative not free trade pro immigration libertarianism. Trump would not be convicted in the senate. The populists have taken over the party. You represent a small minority that is no longer in control.

    Bet you 1$ that shortly after Trump is no longer president we’ll find out that he was no true conservative.

    My confidence in this is based on how quickly GWB went from a great Conservative to not.

    Question for the populist Trump fans.

    Are tariffs a tool that will force more free trade that will go away once we getting better terms with China, specifically around IP?
    Or are tariffs a thing we will keep to reduce competition for domestic manufacturers?

    Because they can’t be both and it’s very likely that more companies would invest in China if they were confident their IP wouldn’t be stolen.

    As I’ve written before, I think a lot of party affiliation is about tribalism, respect and identity politics. It’s not about policy outcome in most cases.

    Time123 (89dfb2)

  27. @23. No, it would not, any more than it would ‘standardize’ cigar play in the Oval. What it would do is force the Republican Senators into the uncomfortable position of having to go on the record and vote on Trump’s actions in a trial, which is their biggest fear, particularly for those close to re-election. Couldn’t happen to a better bunch of bums.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  28. The American people need to see the likes of a Ted Cruz, a Mike Lee, a John Cornyn along with that always effervescent ensign, Lindsey Graham and the rest of McConnell’s Republican eight-ball-crew stand up on national television and defend The Donald against obstruction of justice charges in an impeachment trial.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  29. > force the Republican Senators into the uncomfortable position of having to go on the record and vote on Trump’s actions in a trial, which is their biggest fear, particularly for those close to re-election

    this only matters if there’s a reasonable basis for believing the voters of the states where they’re running for re-election will care. Other than Collins, which Republican Senators running for re-election in 2020 face populations who will vote them out of office for defending Trump?

    What we’ll get is a close to unanimous closing of ranks behind the President, with the Senate majority asserting loudly that the whole thing is nothing more than a witch hunt.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  30. less than you think, romney seems to be like toucan sam, after being basenghi in the Obama years, Murkowski well we know her value, fidel o flake, well he’s out, dependable senators are few and far between, they have to virtue signal like kirk and heck and the one from new Hampshire,

    narciso (d1f714)

  31. rip thad Cochran,

    narciso (d1f714)

  32. @30. Will the voters of those states care to see their senators, who represent them, make fools of themselves on global television? It’s reasonable to find out.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  33. @33 Especially since Democrats probably don’t want Mueller to testify as he’d be a bad witness for them, particularly Republicans would be able to point out deficiencies with the Mueller team and actions.

    whembly (4605df)

  34. Impeachment has been very rare in US history, at least in the last 120 years. Clinton, quite rightly, got impeached for lying under oath, and trying to get others to lie under oath. Nixon, quite rightly, was going to get impeached for all kinds of high crimes and misdemeanors. But that’s been it.

    Now, the Democrats want to impeach Trump because they don’t like him. The Republicans should refuse to be a part of the farce. Let the Democrats vote for impeachment, but the Republicans should not attend the judiciary hearings or take part in an impeachment vote. Don’t dignify a partisan misuse of he impeachment powers.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  35. > Will the voters of those states care to see their senators, who represent them, make fools of themselves on global television? It’s reasonable to find out.

    YOU think they will make fools of themselves.

    THE TRUMPIST BASE will react by thinking they did the right thing and that the libtards made fools of themselves.

    Without a plan for *persuading* the people on the other side, all we’d be doing is encouraging further entrenchment — in an environment where the other side has most of the power.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  36. > the Democrats want to impeach Trump because they don’t like him.

    I don’t think that’s an accurate statement of the position of the people who want to impeach Trump.

    They want to impeach Trump because they honestly believe that he (a) attempted to interfere with an investigation in order to protect himself and his cronies from the consequences of their actions, and/or (b) they believe that he is indebted to, and therefore in some way *answerable to*, a hostile foreign power.

    They may very well be wrong. But I see no reason to assume that these are not earnestly held beliefs.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  37. > > High crimes and misdemeanors are not — or at least, not necessarily — the same as “crimes” and “misdemeanors” prosecutable in the courts.

    > I have heard this argument bandied about, but I am very dubious.

    > >not spending money allocated by Parliament

    seems to me that’s a “high crime and misdemeanor” which isn’t prosecutable by the courts.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  38. > She wants to tie Trump so firmly to the GOP that, when he gets his comeuppance, probably through an overdue recession, the GOP will never be able to recover or clean the nativist stink from themsleves.

    The GOP *deserves* that fate, given the party’s utter fecklessness and inability / unwillingness to stand up to Trump.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  39. I have heard this argument bandied about, but I am very dubious. First of all, IIRC, the Constitutional Convention considered but rejected a standard that would have permitted impeachment for “maladministration” as too broad and vague. Yet this argument essentially restores that standard.

    Yet they also did not want to make it the same as in England, where impeachment carried a criminal penalty. Nor did they want to limit the reasons, and they did indeed opt for vague.

    There are a number of reasons why impeachment might not be criminal. A President who continuously makes unwise or unsound agreements with foreign powers. Or who is senile but won’t resign (and the 25th Amendment does not completely fix this). Or is wildly abusing the pardon power. Etc.

    The one thing they did not want is a need for assassination, and impeachment is, in the end, the acceptable alternative.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  40. not spending money allocated by Parliament

    Nixon did this. He called it “impounding.”

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  41. Kevin M, at 41: absolutely true.

    My point was more that if the person I was responding to endorsed everything in the list they put forward of reasons why Parliament has approved impeachment, then they have *per se* endorsed the principle that impeachment need not be for actual crimes.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  42. “Letting this guy get away with his antics without even inquiry compared to Clinton’s sexcapades impeachment show makes the whole system look that much more of a joke to the world.”

    Ah, an inquiry? Like…a trial? Wait, you mean like a thing with the presumption of innocence and the charges brought prior to investigation and the well-understood procedure and the enforced decorum and the standards of evidence and the burden of proof and the experienced judges?

    “The American people need to see the likes of a Ted Cruz, a Mike Lee, a John Cornyn along with that always effervescent ensign, Lindsey Graham and the rest of McConnell’s Republican eight-ball-crew stand up on national television and defend The Donald against obstruction of justice charges in an impeachment trial.”

    Oh, you mean like a CONGRESSIONAL trial…by politicians. On TV! For show!

    You silly Commies and your show trials.

    “‘Succeed’ – that is, ultimately removal from office, really isn’t the point.”

    Looking like it was never the point of the Mueller investigation either. Almost like people like you have been abusing the system to defame people via discovery for some time now.

    “The point is acknowledging the threshold of actions warranting a legitimate impeachment inquiry to be opened have been reached.”

    So what you’re admitting is the Mueller investigation wasn’t legitimate, or didn’t inquire hard enough? Need to sweep away a few more laws and practices in your quest to take down the Devil, do you?

    “That in itself is a success.”

    It will ‘succeed’ in making ‘first of all let’s kill all the lawyers’ that much more plausible a counter-tactic.

    “Selling American values beyond the borders is fast becoming a laugh line.”

    The world has always been filled with all sorts of people who aren’t American but will pretend to be for enough money. It is your party and its allies that insisted on keeping the money flowing to them.

    But enough about you and your unenviable, petty life of deceit. Tarriffs for Mexico are coming to reverse that flow!

    Third Year's The Charm (9ce670)

  43. Appalled — *of course* the Clinton impeachment set a precedent. There’s no way that any President could get impeached, now, for lying to a grand jury about his sex life.

    What I’m concerned about is that impeachment followed by acquittal sends the message that what Trump has done is *just fine*, and will create an environment in which it’s tacitly tolerated because hey, Congress has already accepted it.

    Sure it may change in a generation or two, but that doesn’t help.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  44. #37: Neither of these is accurate.

    They want to impeach Trump because they don’t think he should be President. Some want to use this legal club called obstruction, but that’s really not sexy enough to get 20 or so GOP senators on board. But understand: it’s only the club. Another president in the same boat and they’d not dream of it (Clinton massively obstructed Whitewater and Paula Jones, but not one Democrat Senator vote to convict).

    It’s political, and the only way to pull it off is to find a political crime (which MAY be an actual crime) that moves the masses. Unless the people want a President gone, it won’t happen; if they do, it will. Senators aren’t idiots.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  45. > your unenviable, petty life of deceit.

    that seems … unnecessarily personal. surely we can disagree about politics without attacking each other as people.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  46. There’s no way that any President could get impeached, now, for lying to a grand jury about his sex life.

    An unpopular president could be impeached for anything. A popular president cannot be.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  47. Kevin at 45:

    > They want to impeach Trump because they don’t think he should be President.

    Right, but ask the next question: *why* do they not think he should be President? Why do partisans who would never have supported impeaching Bush want to impeach Trump?

    The sense I get from talking to people about this — and note that while I go out of my way to talk to Trump supporters online, in my day to day life the number of people I know who support him is within a rounding error of zero — the sense I get from talking to people about this is that most of them honestly believe that he’s been subverted by a foreign power and/or are abusing the power of the office for corrupt, personal purposes.

    That belief may be irrational, absolutely. But the existence of the belief means that the people demanding his impeachment aren’t acting just because of garden-variety dislike.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  48. the GOP will never be able to recover or clean the nativist stink from themsleves.

    Oh, parties cover themselves with stink all the time. Later they get over it. The Democrats have wallowed in their share.

    You say GOP = Nativist, others say Democrat = Open Borders. Neither is good. We don’t want third-world shany-towns and we don’t want apartheid. The truth is that both of these things are exaggerations.

    But a political system so divided and set on increasing the division may well get both. Using impeachment as counting coup to further destabilize America isn’t all that noble.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  49. aphrael, there are Republicans who would vote to impeach Trump, but not for these reasons. I doubt that Sasse would convict on these weak-assed obstruction charges. What did Trump obstruct? Well, nothing, actually. What was he trying to cover up? Well, nothing actually. The politics does not work.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  50. > your unenviable, petty life of deceit.

    Truly uncalled for. I think this troll has been showing up lately with a different name each time. He’ll get bounced soon.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  51. And this is because the media has been feeding this garbage with no sense of perspective for three years now, anyone with clear understanding can see who really was more responsive to foreign interests than American ones

    Narciso (f43143)

  52. @43. “Commie show trials?” Oh, you mean like your GOP Tailgunner Joe McCarthy and Trump-buddy Roy Cohn’s show trials? Or maybe Benghazi is more your speed.

    Thanks for playing.

    Whadda we have for him, Johnnie… a case of Screaming Yellow Zonkers and from Fox Records, Red State Rage the new CD by Newtie And His Blowfish.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  53. @51. ROFLMAO ‘unenviable petty life of deceit’

    Shorter: Reaganomics. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  54. When you have someone literally set themselves on fire, and it’s barely remarked you know the madness has set it.

    Yes disco the Soviets infiltrated the highest ranks of govt the mid level of the movie industry and you just say meh. And such contacts continued onto the 80s

    Narciso (f43143)

  55. Third Year’s The Charm (9ce670) — 5/30/2019 @ 5:57 pm

    Not cool. Take a break.

    DRJ (15874d)

  56. @47. Don’t forget, the ‘popular’ Nixon won re-election in a landslide in Nov.,’72 and 2o months later, by August, ’74, he resigned w/articles of impeachment nipping at his heels all the way to the helicopter door– w/a popularity down to about 28%– so it could happen.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  57. Nativist stink? get used to the smell libertarian free trade conservatives. Nativist are 85 % of republican party and will soon be 90% as the establishment scatters like rats.

    lany (f76f0a)

  58. Pelosi Believes Impeachment Is A “Fool’s Errand”

    By not “indicting” Trump for his felonies, Pelosi just gave Trump more room for the executive branch to abuse power and tip the balance of power further toward the executive and away from the legislative branch. By her doing nothing, any future president can obstruct justice and say it’s okay because of the Pelosi Precedent. What Pelosi should do is push impeachment through the House, thus forcing every single member of Congress to lodge their vote on impeachment or removal, and have that vote forever etched in history. And to hell with what the polls say. After all, the polls in 2016 said that Hillary would win.

    Paul Montagu (ed733c)

  59. Oh, and McCarthy is stone-cold hypocrite.

    Paul Montagu (ed733c)

  60. Nativist is just the word when you lose an argument like racist sexist et al, if everything is one or other category nothing is, a great way to empower a yutz like Richard Spencer whose advanced degrees taught him nothing

    Narciso (f43143)

  61. Slightly off-topic but very Trumpy:

    William Barr interview: Read the full transcript. Very interesting reading, in particular regarding Mueller, the OLC memo, and Mueller’s decision not to consider even the threshold question of whether an obstruction of justice crime had been committed. Barr makes the same point I made in comments on another post yesterday: What people are saying about Mueller and the OLC memo doesn’t exactly match up with what Mueller himself wrote about the OLC memo. I emphatically agree with Barr that Mueller could have reached ultimate conclusions on obstruction. But it’s at all not accurate to say, “He didn’t because he thought the OLC memo forbade him to do so.” It didn’t; he didn’t say it did; he said it was a factor he considered, with other prudential factors, in an analysis that I think is simply wrong, but that was mooted by Barr’s and Rosenstein’s decision to tread where Mueller pointedly, if oddly, trod not.

    I frankly enjoyed this part, too:

    JAN CRAWFORD: But when you came into this job, you were kind of, it’s like the US Attorney in Connecticut, I mean, you had a good reputation on the right and on the left. You were a man with a good reputation. You are not someone who is, you know, accused of protecting the president, enabling the president, lying to Congress. Did you expect that coming in? And what is your response to it? How do you? What’s your response to that?

    WILLIAM BARR: Well in a way I did expect it.

    JAN CRAWFORD: You did?

    WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, because I realize we live in a crazy hyper-partisan period of time and I knew that it would only be a matter of time if I was behaving responsibly and calling them as I see them, that I would be attacked because nowadays people don’t care about the merits and the substance. They only care about who it helps, who benefits, whether my side benefits or the other side benefits, everything is gauged by politics. And as I say, that’s antithetical to the way the department runs and any attorney general in this period is going to end up losing a lot of political capital and I realize that and that is one of the reasons that I ultimately was persuaded that I should take it on because I think at my stage in life it really doesn’t make any difference.

    JAN CRAWFORD: You are at the end of your career, or?

    WILLIAM BARR: I am at the end of my career. I’ve you know–

    JAN CRAWFORD: Does it, I mean, it’s the reputation that you have worked your whole life on though?

    WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, but everyone dies and I am not, you know, I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?

    JAN CRAWFORD: So you don’t regret taking the job?

    WILLIAM BARR: No.

    I’ve no fault to find with anything Barr said in this interview.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  62. I nearly always agree with Paul, but I am surprised to read this:

    By her doing nothing, any future president can obstruct justice and say it’s okay because of the Pelosi Precedent.

    Since the current president did it just fine, without needing any “Pelosi Precedent”, I don’t really see how it matters.

    Absent 20 GOP senators willing to uphold decency and the rule of law, impeachment would be a gift to Trump by diverting attention from his rank incompetence and the utter failure to keep his promises.

    Dave (1bb933)

  63. I can’t help but recall, with horror still after all these years, the ghastly pep rally that Bill & Hill and the congressional Democrats held on the steps of the Capitol after his acquittal in the Senate — a celebration of the “right” of an abusive sexual predator and obstructer of justice to get away with it.

    Now the “#metoo” movement seems to have come and largely gone, without more than a tiny fraction of those same people and their fans having ever had the simple moment of moral clarity that could have redeemed their humanity.

    Inhumanity, moral degradation, and awful behavior have now been normalized for both political parties, however. Trump and Bill Clinton are peas in a pod.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  64. 61. Barr is not that old, and he doesn’t even think he is at the real end of his career, but it’s good that he’s willing not to care. He is being very patriotic in knowingly taking on the criticism
    that was coming.

    Sammy Finkelman (db7fea)

  65. #61 @Beldar: That interview by Barr was metal AF. I think this man is very serious about any misdeeds by the previous administration.

    Also… did you get a change to read this?
    https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/05/robert-mueller-investigation-was-always-impeachment-probe/

    This is what I meant by Mueller’s team crafting the report for Congressional consumption. (where I disagree with your earlier points to simply take the man’s word).

    I found this tweet too regarding the Mike Flynn portion of the report:
    https://twitter.com/almostjingo/status/1134574689592832000

    …whereby the Mueller report was claiming that conversation was to influence Flynn and dangle a pardon. The full transcript of that phone call reveals Dowd’s message was pretty typical for a lawyer and he clearly states he’s not interested in any confidential info.

    whembly (4605df)

  66. – so it could happen.

    Yes, but by April ’73, 6 months after his 49-state sweep, Nixon was firing his top aides in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding. His approval rating had fallen 30 points since the inauguration, and would fall further, down to about 30% by the end of summer.

    Trump has had consistent approval in the 40s, occasionally low 50s, for the last two years, roughly in line with his election totals. There is no indication that any revelations, together or separately, have dented that.

    So, sure it could happen, but it won’t be because of anything we’ve heard so far.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  67. By her doing nothing, any future president can obstruct justice and say it’s okay because of the Pelosi Precedent.

    You could just as easily say the same thing about the Senate’s failure to convict Clinton, not because they didn’t think he obstructed justice, but because they were voting the Party line. Call it the Clinton Precedent.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  68. Trump and Bill Clinton are peas in a pod.

    If you discount intelligence, education, competence, manners and experience.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  69. Since the current president did it just fine, without needing any “Pelosi Precedent”, I don’t really see how it matters.

    It’s less a matter that the president did it than how the Speaker of the House is responding to multiple counts of obstruction of justice. If President Biden obstructs justice and Speaker Pelosi decides to pass on impeachment, she can rationalize it by saying “Look, I did the same thing when Trump was in the Oval Office.” To me, it’s a bad course of action to let a president commit felonies with an election being the only recourse. I agree with page 220 of the Mueller PDF.

    The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.

    Paul Montagu (ed733c)

  70. @ whembly (#65): Thanks for that link! I hadn’t yet seen it.

    I referred to McCarthy earlier this week by writing, “Put down the crack pipe, Andy.” He’s become among the very least objective legal commentators on this entire affair, which I trace back to two things: (1) his very public screw-up in insisting, for months, that Mueller was outside his jurisdiction — a conclusion refuted conclusively when the DoJ released, in defending against a similar (and losing) argument from Manafort, an DoJ internal memorandum expanding his jurisdiction. (McCarthy wrote the most spectacularly disingenous response I’ve ever seen from him or anyone of his calendar, insisting that he’d been vindicated somehow, instead of admitting he’d screwed the pooch. (2) His joining Fox News as a regular, since which he’s been less a lawyer and more a lick-spittle. My respect to him is now down to zero, and he’s working hard on negative numbers.

    This latest bit of fantasizing — “Because Mueller’s brief speech on Wednesday was not a matter of reading the lines of his report; it was about reading between the lines” — is more lick-splittledom in my opinion, castles built in the air that require us to ignore facts on the ground. The guy literally comes out and says “Read my report.” McCarthy says this is a bombshell, and that it means the following 22 other things, but definitely not “Read my report.” It’s just idiocy.

    He is right that the OLC memo didn’t prohibit Mueller from considering and then making conclusions on ultimate issues regarding obstruction, starting with whether a crime was committed. He’s right, too, that the whole point of having a special counsel is to take that prosecution/declination decision out of the hands of the regular DoJ, and to instead put it in the hands of the special counsel, subject only to reversal by the AG, which triggers a special, mandatory “I’ve overruled the special counsel!” message to Congress. That’s the balance point of the whole regulatory scheme, as a replacement for the constitutionally dubious and otherwise pernicious independent counsel statute. Mueller abdicated.

    If political appointees Barr and Rosenstein had taken the Mueller report, said, “Okay, we see Mueller didn’t address obstructions, so we will, we find no obstruction, and now the matter is closed and we’re not going to release this Mueller report, which the regulations don’t require,” then Mueller’s abdication could have been very, very consequential.

    That did not happen. Barr committed in his confirmation hearings that he’d release all he could, and he has. The report, plus Barr’s four-page letter to Congress, more than adequately fulfill the regulation’s original purpose, which was merely to let Congress know if the AG had ever overruled the special counsel. They answered that question — everyone agrees, Barr & Rosenstein never overruled anything Mueller did do, or decide to do — but they also gave us the whole of Mueller’s report with his investigative findings.

    So ultimately I’m puzzled by Mueller’s abdication, but I’m not concerned by it. And I just don’t buy anyone’s theories about what Mueller had to be thinking, or what he’s intending, or what Morse Code signals are contained in his eye blinks. I take the man at his word. And I don’t think there’s a word he’s trying to say, or wants to say, or wanted to say, that’s not in the damned report. It is his testimony, as he insisted this week — all of it; he doesn’t have any more to give us.

    Rosie whoever’s tweet is nuts. I’ve written how spectacularly stupid and abnormal Dowd’s voicemail and subsequent conversations with Flynn’s lawyers were on the new post about that.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  71. I’ve no fault to find with anything Barr said in this interview.

    I do, particularly the parts where he asserts the investigation was directed “against the Trump campaign” without acknowledging that another critical focus was the counterintelligence investigation on Russia. Also, Barr made it sound like it was a witch hunt on Trump when the reality was that Mueller was instructed by the Deputy AG to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.” Mueller could not not investigate Trump people when there were over 100 contacts between Putin people and Trump people, and when Trump people kept lying and stonewalling about those contacts.
    Ms. Wheeler has a fair takedown of the Barr interview.
    Also, Barr mentioned “we didn’t agree with the legal analysis”, yet Barr not only signed off on the report–which means he owns it–he made it available to the public. His “we didn’t agree with the legal analysis” directly contradicted his testimony before Congress, where he said the DOJ “accepted the special counsel’s legal framework” (link). This is the kind of backtracking and dishonesty that I detest about Barr and how he handled it, approving the report and then bitching about it after the fact.
    There were other factual shortcomings by Barr, noted here. The guy is a hack.

    Paul Montagu (ed733c)


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