Updated: Nancy Pelosi Can Either Uphold the Rule of Law or Enable Trump's Lawlessness and Corruption. Her Intractable Opposition to Impeachment May Actually Endanger the Dem House Majority in 2020.
September 21, 2019
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH
Updated on September 22
In Its Sunday, September 22, edition, The Washington Post ran an article, entitled “‘We’ve Been Very Weak’: House Democrats Decry Their Oversight of Trump, Push Pelosi on Impeachment.”
Included in the article is this quotation from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez:
“At this point, the bigger national scandal isn’t the president’s lawbreaking behavior — it is the Democratic Party’s refusal to impeach him for it,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a longtime impeachment backer, tweeted late Saturday night. “It is one thing for a sitting president to break the law. It’s another to let him. . . . The GOP’s silence and refusal to act shouldn’t be a surprise. Ours is.”
Original Commentary Updated
Ukraine-Gate is unfolding as you read this. Trump has admitted that he had talked with the president of Ukraine about Biden, and has implied it was about Biden, Biden’s son and alleged “corruption.” It should not be a surprise because not long ago Trump stated that he did not see anything wrong with accepting "kompromat" (compromising material) from a foreign power.
It was a bit of a befuddling statement, since he has spent most of his presidency denying that he would ever have accepted 2016 election assistance from Russia.
Now, we are facing a Constitutional crisis because the inspector general for our intelligence services wants to turn over an "urgent" whistleblower report to Congressional oversight committees. However, the Department of Justice (with what we can assume are directives from the White House) has informed the Director of National Intelligence not to release what is assumed to be a highly-damaging report
Articles in the Washington Post that ran on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday quote anonymous sources that the whistleblower alert reveals that Trump spoke to the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenky, perhaps on several occasions, and instructed him to "investigate" Biden's son, Hunter, and his business dealings in Ukraine -- and to also try to dig up "kompromat" on Biden.
What makes the potential revelations -- if Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, can pry loose the whistleblower's report which by law his committee is entitled to -- is that Trump may have been dangling $250 million in military aid to Ukraine to extort them into muddying up Biden through his son's business dealings there. If so, that is taxpayer money that the Grifter-in-Chief was very possibly using in a political shakedown scheme.
After word leaked to Congress of Trump's alarming behavior, Trump did finally release the $250 million to Ukraine, likely in an effort to protect himself from the assumed charges in the whistleblower's alarming document.
On Friday, hardly chastened, Trump claimed everything was “perfect” about his call, and he pushed back that the media should look into Joe Biden's role regarding the dismissal of a state investigator in Ukraine.
The Wall Street Journal reported on September 20 that in the pivotal phone call on July 25 between Trump and the president of Ukraine, Trump mentioned obtaining "kompromat" on Biden at least eight times. The Washington Post wrote that its sources said that the whistleblower indicated that there may have been multiple calls.
As is is his common practice, Trump is trying to normalize his apparent illegal behavior. His trusted aide is none other than the dumbfounding master of jabberwocky, Rudolph Giuliani. In fact, BuzzFlash ran an article on September 20 headlined, "Rudy Giuliani Lost His Mind on CNN and Admitted He Was A Co-Conspirator in Ukraine Deal."
Schiff is expressing outrage and promising action to get the whisteblower report released, but given the languid pace with which the House Dems move, don't hold your breath, even if Schiff appears a bit more stalwart than the other hapless Dem committee chairs.
Given that Trump poses a threat to our national security on a regular basis, you would think that Pelosi would put the safety of the US above her obsession with re-electing twenty representatives that won districts in 2018 that Trump won in 2016.
Moreover, if the whistleblower charges are revealed, not only would Trump have committed another act of obstructing justice, he would have heinously broken the law and imperiled our way of government -- which is nothing new, just in a more glaring way. Meanwhile, he said Friday, echoing Nixon, that he has the right to do whatever he wants as president.
Although BuzzFlash understands the need for pragmatism at times in politics, sometimes a political leader has to deal with the cards he or she is dealt.
In Pelosi's case, she can either theoretically try and protect her 2018 Trump district reps -- which assumes that the Dems can control the debate, but that hasn't been the case thus far given Trump's insidious mastery of the media -- or she can stop enabling a chronic and endangering law breaker who holds the highest office in the land.
The Democratic leadership has rarely been able to control the national political narrative. With Trump’s wily ability to become the center of almost every news cycle, and to divert media attention from his corrupt, racist and illegal behavior, it may be naive, to say the least, for Pelosi to think that the Dems will be able to create a compelling political message in 2020 based on bread and butter issues, such as healthcare and student loans . Trump will continue to create a cacophony that will drown the Dems out, in the absence of putting him on the defensive for his high crimes and misdemeanors.
To a great degree, voters respect strength in national leaders. Right now, Pelosi and Schumer project weakness and fear of taking on the emperor who wears no clothes.
For the past two decades, the Republicans have used every institutional opening they could take advantage of to advance GOP, corporate, tax breaks for the wealthiest and white American Red State interests. This includes the packing of the Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, with young fringe partisan hacks and shameless political posturing that whites are victims and have justified grievances. They have been ruthless, unscrupulous and without remorse in creating emotional appeals, supported by a right-wing propaganda media machine, that trades in lies and caricatures.
Pelosi and Schumer have been unable to create a compelling counter-message or to mount a persuasive national messaging campaign that energizes the Dem base and draws in Independents. Republicans are marketers — as the success of MAGA exemplifies in activating the dark side of their base — and they understand how to emotionally galvanize their voters. The Congressional Dem leadership appears timid and generally unwilling to fight back against Republican hypocrisy, parliamentary dirty tricks and moral turpitude with anything but inside-the-beltway lip service.
This does not bode well for a 2020 blue wave.
Chuck Schumer barely has a voice in the national debate, and Nancy Pelosi has managed to let the vile Republican attacks maneuver her into lower poll ratings than Trump. In 2018, Pelosi had fallen to a 29 percent approval rating. Ironically, a January, 2019, Washington Post article notes a rise in her polling favorables with a headline, “Opposing Trump is making Nancy Pelosi more popular.”
As an article in The Week was headlined, "Trump Officials Are Reportedly Ignoring House Democrats Because They Know Nancy Pelosi Won't Impeach." Pelosi, in her implacable anti-impeachment stance is facilitating Trump's venal and illegal behavior.
To allow the president of the United States to regularly violate the rule of law is to call into question our whole system of justice for the rest of us. Why claim that every person should follow the law or face the consequences when the president of the United States has immunity from egregious crimes?
Pelosi only wants to say that she thinks Trump is deplorable, but she is enabling his law breaking by not holding him accountable. On top of that, she is making the Democrats in the House, such as Nadler, appear weak and ineffectual, which is not going to help the Dems in 2020.
On Friday, Nancy Pelosi proposed that a law that she is recommending be passed that would allow for the indictment of future presidents. However, it wouldn't apply to Trump.
It will be a bit longer before the "urgent" whistleblower crisis plays itself out, but it is already clear that Pelosi must take a stand on behalf of the rule of law or continue to enable Trump's illegalities.
The Daily Beast ran an updated article on September 21st, “Pelosi Not Budging on Impeachment and Her Colleagues Are Privately Screaming.” The sub-headline is, “She’s still holding back,” one pro-impeachment lawmaker said of the Speaker. “If impeachment isn’t for this, why is impeachment in the Constitution?”
Indeed, her current intractable stance that Trump will not be held accountable may backfire and put the very Dem Reps that she is concerned about in serious jeopardy by giving Trump bragging rights that his “alternative facts” must be true because the Dems won’t impeach him.
Pelosi is also assuming that the 2020 election will be fair, but Trump’s phone call to the Ukraine reminds us of Russian assistance to his campaign in 2016. BuzzFlash also just ran a speech by Hillary Clinton outlining four ways that the 2020 elections can be stolen. Lying down like a doormat to Trump and Mitch McConnell will only endanger Democratic prospects in 2020, and there is little heard from Nancy Pelosi about these ominous and real threats. She seems caught in a DC insider’s bubble that has little relationship to the brutal reality of how Republicans steal elections and how letting Trump continue to tarnish and undermine democracy puts her majority more at risk.
The key goal of impeachment is documenting and exposing Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors through an official investigative process. It is a given that the Republican Senate will not remove him from office, but the impeachment process will be a powerful tool to counter Trump’s teflon-coated impunity.
In the absence of the exposure that the impeachment process will provide, Trump will continue to break the law while claiming that he’s not. Just this past week, his lawyers argued that as president, he is even immune from any investigation: “The Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House.”
This cannot stand.
Pelosi must uphold the rule of law, or our system of justice is in grave peril, and the 2020 elections may very well lead to the defeat of the Democrats at the polls.
Jon Favreau is a former Obama speechwriter.
Two Dem presidential candidates also weighed in on the urgency of impeaching Trump or resigning ourselves to the dismantling of democracy and the rule of law.
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