Deep In The Woods On Whether Any POTUS Should Be Subject To Criminal Indictment

“Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”

—The Constitution, Article 1, Section 3

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If you’re like me, you probably don’t really know why it is that, effectively, nothing can be done to Tr-mp, in terms of trying him in court, for committing any type of federal crime like obstructing justice, should the Special Counsel point in that direction some sweet day. Well, we’re in luck. Bob Bauer, courtesy of the Lawfare blog, has come to help dissipate our ignorance and offer us the faintest bit of hope that something can be done. I warn you, though, it is a very faint hope and this is not a short exercise.

But before I get to Bauer’s post, allow me to quote something, something that perhaps we’ve all grown too comfortable with, that should absolutely stun us. The quote is from an article by Jonathan Rauch (“Impeaching Tr-mp is a Heavy Lift“), a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who argues that so long as Tr-mp remains popular among Republicans, there isn’t much hope of an impeachment:

Might some decisive event—Tr-mp’s own version of the smoking-gun tape—kick the Republican props out from under Tr-mp? Maybe. But Tr-mp’s strategy is antithetical to Nixon’s. Nixon maintained a façade of probity and normalcy. Trump doesn’t bother. He has publicly asked the Russians to tamper with U.S. elections, publicly helped cover for their having done so, and then publicly acknowledged firing the FBI director for investigating the matter. His weaponization of flagrance, as I have argued elsewhere, draws his supporters into complicity. Given that his Republican approval has stayed in the eighties, the GOP base appears to have priced in, so to speak, his deviant and erratic behavior.

We all need to take time to let that sink in. Especially what Rauch said about Tr-mp not bothering to maintain even a facade of honesty or normalcy:

He has publicly asked the Russians to tamper with U.S. elections, publicly helped cover for their having done so, and then publicly acknowledged firing the FBI director for investigating the matter.

That triad of wrongdoing in and of itself ought to be enough to rid us of Tr-mp. But politics makes that almost impossible, so long as Democrats a) don’t have a majority in the House (necessary for initiating an impeachment proceeding) and b) don’t control two-thirds of the Senate (necessary for a conviction). So, with impeachment a distant possibility at this point in time, we turn back to the law and to Bob Bauer’s post on Lawfare.

Bauer, who was the White House Counsel when we had a real president named Obama, titled his piece, “A Disabled Executive: The Special Counsel Investigation and Presidential Immunities.” He discussed the famous United States v. Nixon, the case from 1974 in which the Supreme Court, in an 8-0 shellacking, told Nixon to fork over his secretly recorded tapes and other material. That decision effectively put some serious restrictions on any president’s power to claim “executive privilege” and withhold subpoenaed evidence relevant to a judicial proceeding. In other words, the Court found that the president can’t hide behind a claim of privilege to shield himself or others from their accountability to the law. This is the idea, we all have heard, that “the president is not above the law.”

Well, he is. Sort of. But Bob Bauer has a fix in mind.

Bauer sets the contemporary scene regarding the Special Counsel’s investigation and its obvious negative effects on the current Executive Branch, and asks a couple of questions that demand answers:

The investigation is beginning to consume the Trump Administration. Most notably, the president seems to have little capacity for managing these pressures. As suggested by his inability to stay off Twitter, he is evidently not one to “compartmentalize” sufficiently to push the inquiry to one side while carrying on regular business. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is barely into his task and so one might ask: what happens when the investigation begins to accelerate and, worse, if indictment becomes a possibility?

It is at this point that the long-standing constitutional question, so far unaddressed by any court, is again raised: do the strains on a presidency under investigation require the conclusion that the president cannot be indicted while in office?

It’s important to emphasize the fact Bauer pointed out: the idea that POTUS cannot be indicted while he’s still in office has never been tested in the courts. Never. In the Nixon case, the Watergate grand jury, while indicting other White House officials for their part in the burglary that began it all, did not indict Nixon himself. He was, famously, labeled an “unindicted co-conspirator,” so as to avoid that “long-standing constitutional question” Bauer referenced. And, as we all know, Nixon boot-scooted out of the White House soon after the Supreme Court took his executive privilege away. So, the can-POTUS-be-indicted question is still open.

And Bauer helpfully points us to two crucially influential opinions on the matter issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The first opinion, issued in 1973, took the position that a sitting president cannot be indicted. And the other, issued in 2000, affirmed that original OLC conclusion. It is important to keep in mind that these opinions, as influential as they are, were written by Justice Department lawyers, not judges in a court case. Bauer summarized the reasoning supporting the OLC conclusion:

OLC has taken the position that while the Constitution does not explicitly provide for immunity from indictment or prosecution, and the record on the Founders’ views of the question is inconclusive, the constitutional role of the president requires that he or she be afforded temporary immunity. Indictment and prosecution would have a “dramatically destabilizing effect” on the president’s capacity to discharge his or her duties. The executive’s energies would be diverted into the “substantial preparation” needed for his legal defense. The mere stigma and opprobrium of indictment, and possibly conviction, would result in “undermining the president’s leadership and efficacy both home and abroad.”

The 2000 opinion landed hard on conclusion that “given the potentially momentous political consequences for the Nation at stake, there is a fundamental, structural incompatibility between the ordinary application of the criminal process and the Office of the President.” Of course, delay in either indictment or trial until a term ended would be costly to the administration of justice: but “while significant, [they] are not controlling. In the case of clear and serious criminal wrongdoing, Congress can act to impeach, and this outcome is more consistent with democratic values than “shifting an awesome power to unelected persons lacking an explicit constitutional role vis-à-vis the President.”

Bauer attacks the “weakness” of this position by pointing out how little difference, in terms of disruption, there is—in Tr-mp’s case—between what may be the late stages of the process and the current investigatory stage:

From the beginning it was unclear how the OLC’s reasoning distinguished between indictments and prosecutions, on the one hand, and investigations, on the other. The institution of a serious investigation into presidential wrongdoing has been sufficient to lead to” mass hysteria” in the West Wing. It has clearly and heavily burdened the president—one need only read his tweets—and disrupted normal business and the recruitment of personnel for key positions. So, while few doubt that the president is subject to investigation, it is hard to see how these disruptions can be easily distinguished from those associated with indictment. The difference is one of degree, not of kind, and as the Nixon experience established, those differences are indeed fine.

The “distractions will worsen,” Bauer says, as the “current investigation continues.” There will be interviews, document requests, lawyers upon lawyers hired by witnesses, and inevitable “leaks.” Bauer argues:

The more serious and far-reaching the investigation becomes, the greater will be disruption. By the time of his resignation, President Nixon had not been indicted, but his capacity for governance had been all but extinguished.

Here Bauer, for the sake of argument, entertains a dubious idea related to the claim that there is a meaningful distinction, in terms of disruption in the Executive Branch, between indictments and investigations:

It is possible, of course, to believe that for just these reasons OLC did not go far enough, and that it should have clearly extended temporary immunity to the investigative stage.

Now, think about that. The OLC could have extended “temporary immunity” to a president that covered an investigation of wrongdoing. Merely investigating whether a crime was committed would then have to wait until POTUS was out of office. And the logic of the OLC reasoning, as Bauer points out, leads in that direction. Fortunately, the authors of those two OLC opinions were not imprisoned by their own logic:

The drafters in 1973 and 2000 declined to take this next step. Doubtless they were constrained by a powerful democratic norm, reflected in the Supreme Court’s pointed rejection in United States v. Nixon of any suggestion that the president, as the head of a unitary executive branch, is somehow “above the law.”

Image result for justice scalesThat “democratic norm,” that POTUS is, like the rest of us, subject to the law, has “only gained force” since the 1973 OLC opinion and that famous and suddenly relevant 1974 Court decision, Bauer says. Even though there is still a judicially unanswered constitutional question lingering around about whether a sitting president can be indicted, tried, and possibly convicted, we still have in force the minimalist norm that a president can at least be investigated. But Bauer is not content to leave it there. He still has serious problems with the OLC logic that indictments and trials and prosecutions—but not investigations—would have a “’dramatically destabilizing effect’ on the president’s capacity to discharge his or her duties.” Bauer focused on that 2000 OLC opinion:

It tried gamely, but more or less in passing, to show that investigations can be managed without undue disruption. In a footnote, it noted that a grand jury could still “collect” and “preserve” evidence, available for use once the president has left office. The picture it presented is that of the grand jury working quietly in the background. More realistic is what we had in the Nixon era and may be seeing develop today: a full-fledged investigation from within the executive branch, by special counsel dedicated to this purpose. It is not a question of a grand jury collecting and preserving but of the Special Counsel investigating. The process is active, not passive….

A major inquiry at full boil is most often an indication of the seriousness of the potential charges, and yet it is here—where the public interest in a presidency accountable to law is keenest—that the OLC’s concern with disruption is most obviously triggered. By a strange twist of constitutional logic, the president under investigation for the most serious wrongdoing would then have the most compelling claim to immunity.

Bauer then criticizes the OLC for not seriously engaging “the question of how temporary immunity from indictment or prosecution can be reconciled with the due administration of justice.” He writes:

For example, it included the president’s exposure to the stigma of a criminal charge among the “dramatically destabilizing effects” of an indictment. Of course, unresolved questions of criminal misconduct also cast shadows on a presidency, as the Nixon saga showed. The opinion did not explain how the president’s credibility is enhanced by charges left hanging and defended only by a claim of immunity. It might be just as persuasively argued that the president who engages with the criminal justice process does more honor to the office and invites closer consideration of the merits of his self-defense. “I did no wrong, and here is why” has a more presidential ring and better serves the rule of law than “You can’t get me.”

We can all see, by his behavior, that Tr-mp isn’t interested in any high-minded notion like “honor to the office.” And we can all imagine, at some future time, him shamelessly utilizing the “You can’t get me” defense. Tr-mp isn’t concerned with anything fundamentally essential to a stable democracy like the concept of “the due administration of justice.” But Bauer is. He criticized the OLC opinion for falling back,

on a comforting image of a grand jury operating silently and (somehow) mostly out of sight and out of the way.

But that is not how it goes with high-profile, high-stakes investigations. We have them or we don’t: there is no quiet, non-disruptive version. And if we have them, accepting the disruptions they entail, then it is difficult to argue that they cannot be brought to one possible conclusion, if justified by the evidence: indictment. If a president can be investigated, then, it seems, a president can be indicted; if not in the second case, then not in either case, because it cannot be said that the government in the throes of a major investigation is measurably or reliably safer from severe “disruption” and massive loss of presidential credibility. The better, more internally consistent view in line with democratic “rule of law” norms is that the president is subject to investigation and, if the evidence supports it, indictment.

Bauer discusses the truth that “the president could use his executive authority to thwart an investigation,” through dismissing successive prosecutors until he finds an individual with Marco Rubio’s or Ted Cruz’s compromised blood running through his or her veins. But Bauer has faith, too much in my opinion, that in such a case “Congress would intervene via the impeachment process to restoring the ‘rule of law.'” He says, with way too much confidence given what we have seen from Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders:

It is in constitutional theory only that a president may order an end to an investigation directed against him. In practice, he will fail.

I have a feeling we will find out if Bauer is right. In the mean time, Bauer offers us a novel solution (at least it was to me) to the problem of what to do, should his theory prevail some day that there is no difference, in terms of disruption, between indictments and investigations:

If a president is not, then, immune from investigation or indictment, the “dramatically destabilizing effects” on government may be addressed in one of three ways. The president could resign. Congress could move to impeachment. Also available  is the 25th Amendment, which permits a president to temporarily vacate the office while fighting the indictment and standing trial—perhaps, in the thick of an investigation, while fending off indictment.

The 2000 opinion was equivocal in its treatment of the 25th Amendment, particularly as an answer to the possible incarceration of a president following conviction. But it also conceded that “the amendment’s terms ‘unable’ and ‘inability’ were not . . . narrowly defined, apparently out of a recognition that situations of inability might take various forms not neatly falling into categories of physical or mental illness.”

I find that a rather stunning argument. The president should be subject to investigation, indictment, and possible prosecution, and if the process proves so disruptive that he can’t adequately perform his duties, there is a 25th Amendment remedy. Bauer’s conclusion:

In a case where, as of now, neither impeachment nor resignation is probable, the 25thAmendment supplies more of an answer than OLC would credit to the problem of an incapacitated presidency. It is also more convincing than temporary immunity from indictment or prosecution that is grounded in dubious reasoning about the implications of the “constitutional structure” and that, if taken to its logical conclusion, would also insulate a president from investigation into serious criminal wrongdoing.

In other words, as it stands right now, using only the reasoning of Justice Department lawyers from long ago, Tr-mp is essentially beyond the reach of the law and we have little hope of a House impeachment and little hope of a Senate conviction. And the truth is, although Bauer’s idea is solid and soundly reasoned, we also have little hope that anyone who matters will pay the slightest bit of attention to it.

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12 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  June 19, 2017

    Nobody is above the law, but unless there is a smoking gun, I can’t see this SCOTUS going against Justice Dept. Counsel. But the investigation is just started and Trump further incriminates himself every day. An intelligent co-conspirator will note Trump’s history of throwing others under the bus, and provide criminal charges. My question is, if criminally charged, but not impeached by fellow trolls, can the people petition SCOTUS for relief from criminal leadership?

    Liked by 1 person

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    • You are right. I don’t see any way to five Supreme votes against the OLC’s reasoning. And it is important to remember that the effect of the OLC reasoning is that no president can be charged or prosecuted while in office. If there is no impeachment and conviction by Congress, justice will have to wait until the offender serves out his term(s). And as we all know, we won’t get that shot at justice. Pence, or any VP in a similar situation, would do a Ford and announce a pardon “for the good of the country.” 

      Finally, as far as Tr-mp being above the law: he is, given the conditions we have in place now. There is exactly zero expectation that Tr-mp would get impeached by this Congress, no matter what conclusions the Special Counsel comes to (I will grant you that the investigation is just beginning and there may be even more serious shit out there that could change the game; but I doubt it would).

      People forget that Nixon left office after he realized there was support, even among members of his party, for impeachment and conviction. And here’s the deal: The House in 1974 was controlled by Democrats by somewhere around a 50-vote margin. The Senate was controlled by Democrats by a 57-40 margin. The Dems didn’t need that many Republicans to convict upon impeachment—just a fourth of the Republican contingent, which, as we all know, wasn’t as ideological as it is today.

      The sad fact is that so long as Tr-mp holds the title (legitimately or not), he holds all the cards, given the spineless ideologues that populate the Republican Congress. And an even sadder fact is that he seems to know it. Of all the things he doesn’t understand, the one thing he seems to grasp is that he is essentially beyond the reach of the law. That is why, in my opinion, he doesn’t even bother separating himself from his businesses, doesn’t mind appearing to obstruct justice, or doesn’t really care what anyone but his cultish base thinks about him. He may be the most insecure person on the planet, but when it comes to staying in office, he has figured out he is untouchable, given the dynamics.

      Duane

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  2. . . . can the people petition SCOTUS for relief from criminal leadership?

    I would say not, except in the form of federal votes every two years. That is the effect of having a republican form of government rather than a plain and impractical democracy. Obviously, it is public opinion that drives politics, but mere polls are insufficient to drive political action. Mid-term elections may have some effect on a ground-swell leading to the mid-terms in 2018. The pols know it, hence the tug of war over the Tom Price house seat in Georgia today.

    One might be tempted to fault the founders for not providing a more clear path to justice for faulty presidents, but I can’t think of how. We have reached an extreme condition, a federal executive that has never been more subject to public scrutiny because of technology but which is characterized by megalomania, venality, inconsistency and incompetence. This is a test of the American character playing out for all the world to see. So far, I’m embarrassed.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • I’m embarrassed, too, Jim. (Especially for the typos in this piece, which I sloppily posted before scanning for them.) I’m also afraid you’re right that there is nothing We The People can do about Tr-mp except vote against him, as well as those who enable his “megalomania, venality, inconsistency and incompetence.” 

      And this is a test of our character. And by “our” I mean not only a majority of the people, but our social and political institutions that did not protect us from Tr-mp (in some cases they helped him along). We are watching some of those institutions try to recover from that lapse. The question is will they succeed? And if they don’t, what then?

      Duane

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    • Not just “public opinion” drives politics, Jim. Also: dark money, voter repression, citizen apathy and basic stupidity. Trump will stay because there in no longer any actual morality left in the GOP. The supremacy of the individual states led us down the electoral college path, and our obsession with tradition kept it in place for far longer than was relevant. We’re screwed and we must understand that we will need to resist for three and a half more years.

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  3. ansonburlingame

     /  June 20, 2017

    Interesting points above and gave me cause to get out my “pocket copy” of Constitution to review these issues.

    As a substitute teacher I once taught a high school class on the arguments related to the States ratifying the Constitution. One anti-constitution issue was “How to prevent a President from becoming a King”. Certainly that was a huge challenge in the late 1700’s in America right after winning a Revolution to overthrow governance by a King.

    Impeachment was (is) the primary mechanism for legally “overthrowing” any President and has always been the primary constitutional solution. See Article II, Section 4 wherein a sitting President “….. shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Impeachment has only happened twice and conviction by Senate of the above crime(s) has never happened.

    After the death of JFK the constitution was amended (25th Amendment) that provided a means for the President to voluntarily (as first step) to withdraw from office due to his own inability to govern. Later it provided a means to force his removal (due to inability to govern) under strict and onerous levels of agreement within the Executive and Legislative Branches of government. (majority of cabinet officers and 2/3’s majority in both House and Senate). That process (25th Amendment) has never been tested, legally.

    One point that seems to be to be consistent in the constitution is that a President should never be removed from office for political reasons. ONLY, “Treason, Bribery or other High Crimes AND Misdemeanors” or “inability to govern” should be the cause of such removal. Political cause was left to time and the will of the people in duly constituted and regular elections. So “popular opinion” other than as demonstrated in regular elections is NOT a constitutional process for “overthrowing a president” embedded in our fundamental law of the land.

    The Constitution seems to attempt at least to remove politics from such a removal from office as well. A simple majority is enough to Impeach but Convict requires a 2/3’s majority in the
    court trial held by the Senate (or a 2/3’s majority in both House and Senate in the case of 25th Amendment). Simply because Americans decide they “don’t like” any President despite election results, that is not enough to remove such a president from office. There must be bipartisan consensus that any President has somehow become “unfit for the office” after an election. That is a high legal bar to achieve but seems a sound one to prevent exactly what is happening now, half the country having a “fit” over a regular election result. That is pure partisan politics, vicious partisan politics, but now becoming routine politics since 9/11. I have read calls for impeachment in this blog for Bush II (Herb), allegations of GOP calls for impeachment of Obama, Duane’s call for impeachment of Trump (Emolument clause) and now this approach by Bauer with Duane’s encouragement to use it.

    My point has been that I “don’t like” Trump as my President any more than all you liberals herein. I “didn’t like” Obama either. But political opposition to any President is never enough cause to campaign for his removal from office other than by a normal election process. The legal bar to remove any president is high indeed and I agree with that bar being set as such. Essentially that legal bar is “beyond reasonable doubt” as far as I am concerned and Trump has yet to reach that level of misbehavior in my view, legally. And I seriously doubt that 2/3’s of any “jury” (Senate made up of two Parties) will agree on removal, given what is currently known about allegations of ……….. (causes for Impeachment). But given the state of national politics a majority of a future House (but not the current one) might well decide to Impeach him. Thus, politically at least, we are stuck with Trump, like it or not, until 2020.

    In the meantime, my grave concern is how to continue to govern America with a very “unpopular” President that steps on his own toes all the time with his damned Twitter account.

    As for indicting a President, who knows for sure. I leave that one to lawyers and ultimately SCOTUS to decide. But even if a federal court convicted him of some crime it seems to me that the only Constitutional remedy is to remove him from office via the House AND Senate process laid out in the Constitution and just “any crime” would not be good enough. It would HAVE to be conviction in a federal court of law (what about a State court????) of EITHER, “T…., B…., or HC AND M……..” THEN such a criminal conviction would have to be tried for removal from office purposes in the Senate after the House impeached him.

    Convoluted, yes indeed but it is the constitutional process today. Don’t like that process? Fine, change the constitution again to make it far more clear. Hell we could change the Constitution to allow removal from office based on a simple majority vote in the Senate as well but I doubt even you Dems would want to see that enacted into Constitutional law.

    But then who am I to make such decisions, reading only my “pocket copy” of the Constitution.

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      I don’t disagree with you that we are stuck with Tr-mp. I’ve been saying that for months. I just believe we shouldn’t be stuck with him. And I still have yet to convince you, apparently, that my primary opposition to him is not political. If he were impeached and convicted, Pence would be politically worse, at least domestically. Pence is the real ideological deal, complete with crazy evangelical ideas and reflexes. He would be politically worse, in terms of what I would prefer as public policy.

      So the opposition to Tr-mp from me is not political. It is our democratic institutions that I am concerned with. They failed us. They are failing us now. A very sick man is running the government and there isn’t an institution in place that can do a damned thing about it. Even if the Special Counsel announced the results of his investigation, that Tr-mp should be charged with (place offense here), there is still little expectation that Congress would move against him. And Tr-mp, even if the SC allowed a prosecution to take place (almost no chance of that), Tr-mp could still fire all the prosecutors or those who have the statutory power to fire them. And if he couldn’t get away with that, and if he were actually convicted of a crime, he could pardon himself, as far as I understand. And all the while his support would stay around 35% or so. Add all that together and it ought to concern all Americans who love their Republic over an unhinged reality TV celebrity.

      Duane

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  4. Duane,

    Excellent analysis of Trump’s legal protections via the constitution. Best I’ve read so far.

    As I see it, we will very soon run out of the rope that tethers us to the constitution. The checks and balances the founders gave us are not working. The political machinery is barely functioning. Voters are better at praying than thinking.

    Congress is inept, incompetent, and insensitive to the needs of we the people. It is an abject failure at governing; an embarrassment to the founders, to most Americans and virtually all the rest of the world – with the possible exception of Russia.

    We are like the frog in the pot where the water heats up faster than we can respond and jump out. We may just end up in a Russian borscht.

    As you have clearly pointed out, when it comes to controlling the president, all remedies are political, not legal. Articles of Impeachment would never be approved by this congress, much less a trial by the Senate.

    I believe it is accurate to say that we have gone from a democratic republic to an undemocratic and plutocratic oligarchy. We may be at the point now similar to that of our forefathers when they saw that the Articles of Confederation were not working and decided to establish a new form of government; a constitutional government.

    I don’t know how a revolution these days would work out. I suppose it would be the equivalent to a civil war. And a coup d’état would be almost impossible to pull off. In any case, the extreme polarization and incivility that divides the right and the left these days would prohibit a rational solution to the almost insurmountable problems we face.

    And we are surely leaving ourselves open to foreign powers – Russia and China – by insulting and disrespecting our allies.

    In writing this, I thought of the theme song from M.A.S.H. — “Suicide is Painless” Here is how it starts.

    “Through early morning fog I see
    Visions of the things to be
    The pains that are withheld for me
    I realize and I can see

    “That suicide is painless
    It brings on many changes
    I can take or leave it if I please.”

    Herb

    Liked by 2 people

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    • I’m a big M*A*S*H fan, Herb. I’m glad they only used the tune for the TV show and left out the lyrics.

      In any case, where to start?

      First, you wrote about how we have become “undemocratic and plutocratic oligarchy.” Well, if we want to be honest about our history, that particular DNA is in our founding genes. It has taken a lot to get us to the point where all people can vote and have the semblance of controlling their own destiny. Republicans, naturally, want to put a stop to the idea that “all” people can vote. Their ideas just aren’t all that popular, as the Senate’s secret crafting of a replacement for Obamacare demonstrates. In any case, I do think we are a crucial point in our history. The system has to expel Tr-mp, either through the mechanism of impeachment and conviction, the 25th Amendment, or an election. If we don’t, if he serves two terms, we are pretty much finished as a stable democracy.

      Second, you brought up a great point about where we are in terms of how the government seems not to be working as designed. The Articles of Confederation may be constructive, in the sense that we still are fighting over the concept of federalism, and what that means in a modern, complex America. Republicans, if you listen to them carefully, often argue for something akin to a confederacy, where the states are supreme. That’s where this Obamacare replacement thing is headed (block granting Medicaid, for instance). It seems so strange to me that after all these years, after the failure of the Articles of Confederation, that we are still arguing over the same ground. That isn’t healthy.

      Lastly, I want to address your mention of Russia and China. I have heard for years now how Obama’s alleged “leading from behind” was diluting America’s world influence. I can’t count the number of times John McCain or Lindsey Graham (et al.) appeared on Sunday shows severely criticizing O for his lack of “leadership.” And now we literally see, right before our eyes, Tr-mp not only shitting on our allies, but begging China to be a world leader (the North Korea appeals are only a part of that; they are taking over Africa and Asia and making progress in Europe), as well as the obvious: Russia has been empowered by the advent of a Putin-sucking Tr-mp. Yet McCain and Graham and the others who blasted Obama are, relatively speaking, rather quiet. Oh, they have had some mild criticisms of Tr-mp, but mostly they praise McMaster and the other “adults” in the administration, who, as far as I can tell, aren’t doing much “adulting.”

      We are, it is sad to say, in serious trouble. I see the increasing likelihood of a war against not only North Korea, but Iran. And who knows what the rise of Saudi power (supported by Tr-mp) will mean in this whole mess.

      Duane

       

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  5. Even though I am very pessimistic about the future of our nation, I am, at the same time, quite sure all of the problems are solvable. But it will take the will of Congress and a rational president. And the solutions will be painful – higher taxes, eliminating corporate welfare, reorganizing our military to fit the 21st century, raising the minimum wage.

    But the right wing won’t accept any of these solutions and will fight like hell to stop any such remedies in their tracks. The irony is that while the rich are laughing all the way to the bank, they are blindly setting up the economy and the country for collapse. Stupid nincompoops.

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