The Fog Of Scandal: Worst Case Scenario

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I wasn’t surprised by Friday’s NYT blockbuster but I was still shocked. We need to retain the capacity to be shocked, if we lose it, they win. There are more stories of White House horrors in the pipeline, if we’re numb to the outrages, they win. This is not normal.

I’ve resisted the temptation to label Kremlingate the worst scandal in American political history, but that ended Friday with the confirmation that the FBI has investigated Trump’s sinister pro-Russian conduct as president*. Imagine if Woodrow Wilson had connived with the Kaiser in 1916 or if FDR was in league with Tojo and Hirohito in 1940. That’s where we find ourselves in 2019.

I deliberately picked the years before war was declared (a quaint thing we used to do in the pre-Korea/Vietnam/Gulf Wars era) to remind everyone that Trump’s peacetime affiliation with Putin’s Russia is subversion and sedition, not treason, which, as I pointed out early last year, is the only crime defined in the constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

An additional definition is offered in the constitutional dictionary:

treason n the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of one’s country or of assisting its enemies in war.

We’re not at war with Russia and when it comes to the law words matter. I understand why the T word and its variations roll off the tongue and one’s twitter timeline but repeat after me:  Kremlingate is sedition, not treason.

I’m *almost* a Russia hawk but I don’t want war. Bullies like Putin should be resisted. But we should use the tried and tested methods of containment. It worked with the infinitely more powerful Soviet Union. Putin’s efforts to subvert small-L, small-D liberal democracy by stealth are an admission of weakness, not strength. Unfortunately, we have a fake tough guy as president* who is compromised by Russian intelligence.

Until last Friday, I was in favor of slow walking impeachment. I’m well aware that it’s a politically explosive topic. The last thing I want is for Trump’s eroding base to rally around him BUT with the latest confirmation of his seditious activities there’s no choice but to impeach. Timing remains important: the House should wait for Muller to issue his final report on the Kremlingate aspects of this sprawling scandal. BUT they will have to confront this issue directly this year even if the votes to convict in the Senate aren’t there. At the very least, impeachment will turn this president* into a political eunuch.

As I’ve said many times before, Watergate was my formative political issue. In fact, I’m currently re-reading Woodstein’s The Final Days. So, I’m loathe to admit that any scandal is worse than Watergate or that any president is more corrupt than Richard Nixon but the time has come to put aside my “childish ways” and agree with Congressperson Rashida Tlaib that it’s time to “impeach the motherfucker.”

4 thoughts on “The Fog Of Scandal: Worst Case Scenario

  1. Great post.
    What keeps buzzing in my brain is the line about always fighting the last war. Certainly Putin/Russia learned they can’t compete with US armaments but a few 1000 pc’s…they can swing that. He’s found an affordable and effective means to wage war on US it appears. What if our future wars will be cyber wars? Or more to point are we now there? And more to point — what would that mean in terms of treason?

  2. I think we’re in “war by other means” with Russia. I think this is unquestionably the largest political scandal in U.S. history and has been pretty much from the start. And I hope (but do not expect) that Mueller just straight-up indicts Trump, because I think that would dispel a lot of the fog and bring things into much sharper focus even for some of the perpetually myopic Republicans.

  3. Legally, this is still not treason. It’s just as serious but you gotta charge people based on the law, which in this case is the constitution. I’d rather see a court fight over indictments than one over the definition of treason. I will be less surprised than most if there *are* indictments There may be charges in NY over the campaign finance charges Cohen pled guilty to. An indictment is needed to avoid staute of limitations. Stay tuned.

  4. You lost me when you equated Russia with Tojo and Hirohito. I’ll chalk up your rant to Trump Derangement Syndrome.

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