This Could Take Awhile

At WaPo, on the naming of  Robert S. Mueller as special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

Rosentein’s order charges Mueller with investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” Mueller is also empowered to probe possible attempts to stymie his investigation. That language gives him leeway to interpret his mandate broadly if he chooses. It also might mean he goes after people who leaked classified information related to the bureau’s Russia investigation. He can continue his work however long he wants, and he is broadly “authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation.”

— That means this could last for years – potentially through the president’s 2020 reelection campaign.

We can discuss what should happen until we are blue; what’s going to happen is what’s going to happen. The wheels are in motion; the game is afoot; etc. If Mueller is the tough and honest guy everyone says he is, then I trust many things will come to light.  And I suspect those “many things” will go way beyond a mere attempt to interfere with the 2016 election. The election issue is the least of what might have been going on.

Original photo by Evan Guest,


Here is the latest, from Josh Marshall:

Reuters says that Mike Flynn and other Trump campaign officials were in contact with Russian government officials at least 18 times between April and November of last year.

McClatchy reports that shortly before President Trump’s inauguration, Mike Flynn effectively killed a military operation against ISIS that would have used Kurdish paramilitaries. The plan was later revived after Flynn’s ouster. But his decision delayed it for months. Any US operations with the Kurds would be firmly against the wishes of Turkey. This was while Flynn was working on behalf of the Republic of Turkey as an unregistered foreign agent.

The Timesreports that on January 4th, Flynn notified Trump Transition lawyer and now White House Counsel Donald McGahn that he was being investigated for his undeclared lobbying work on behalf of Turkey.

And that’s just the stuff about Flynn and Turkey. See also Report: Russian bank whose CEO met secretly with Jared Kushner helped finance Trump’s Toronto hotel. And I still say there’s something going on with Trump and the Russian mob.

Josh also says,

Vice President Mike Pence is often portrayed as Trump’s squeaky clean, perhaps goofy second, ready to take over if the avalanche of scandal overwhelms Trump. As I noted earlier this week, this is far from the case. Pence has managed to get implicated in most if not all of the big scandals – that just hasn’t gotten a lot of attention yet.

There’s a lot of arguing that we can’t get rid of Trump because then we’ll end up with President Pence, which could be worse.  I’m inclined to think that if Mueller’s investigation brings Trump down, Pence would go down with him.

But that’s in the event of a standard (if such a thing could be called standard) impeachment process. Trump clearly is not a stable person. And that brings us to the 25th Amendment:

The 25th amendment describes a process by which a president may give away power owing to his or her own disability, and a separate process by which power may be taken from a president owing to disability or inability.

The key players in the second case are the vice-president and the top 15 members of the cabinet. If the former and a majority of the latter decide the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”, they submit that information in writing to the House speaker (currently Paul Ryan) and Senate president pro tempore (currently the Utah Republican senator Orrin Hatch) and just like that, the vice-president would be acting president.

The president may challenge such a decision, at which point a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress would be required to stop the president from regaining power.

I can easily imagine Republicans in Washington preferring this option to watching both Trump and Pence being ground to bits by endless investigation. And if Trump’s behavior grows increasingly bizarre, as I expect it will, watch out for this. I’m sure the Republican establishment would rather cut Trump off at the knees and have Pence in the White House than endure a Whitewater-type investigation dragging their own party through the mud. The investigations would continue, but much of the heat would be removed from the Republican Party — unless Pence becomes a target, too.

I’d want congressional Dems to block Trump from being removed this way. Don’t let ’em off easy.

The other possibility is that Trump will leave the White House voluntarily, whether horizontally or vertically (someone with his ego is unlikely to be able to face the ignominity of being perpwalked out of the White House). Again, that would not necessarily be the end of  the political fallout.

So, hang on to your butts.

19 thoughts on “This Could Take Awhile

  1. We live in a culture in which a large number of people do not think or want to think in any way that accepts shades of grey or levels of uncertainty.  Their behavior suggests they select information and sources that confirm their preconceived notions, with claims of a divided country and tribalism a frequent observation and claim.  I think this is a valid observation.  I think it supports the notion that binary judgement runs rampant.  One just chooses a side and parrots the thinking of the tribe, team, side, they see themselves on.  Truth or judgement or critical thinking skills have no value to them.  I think this is a problem that needs a solution.  I think this way of thinking is causing huge problems, but we have no way to engage or discuss in a simple, understandable, way.  The cat paradox is a great one, and communicates to some.  The big problem in promotion of enlightenment or national or scholastic sanity, is getting this error of thinking rectified as the default.

    I wrote this some days ago when a good friend found and sent me this:

    Dead Cats Can’t Lead – Sharply Worded

    Dead Cats Can’t Lead – Sharply Worded
    By Adam Sharp
    Comey, Trump and the Physics of Presidential Credibility

    I just watched the baggy eyed press conference of the Neo-Manichaeist binary brain inspiration of these recent word gems/turds (you rate it).  I lied though, I just watched a sample, but the binary bit brain good-evil 2000 year old rejected thinking pattern and philosophy is so rampant and evident it just screams.  No shades of grey.  The cake is either the greatest most magnificent cake or we do not even mention the cake.  And if I think the cake is great you can have a piece too, but you only get one scoop of ice cream and I being the anointed one get two.

  2. Putting America First is an oxymoron when it’s a GOP initiative, since republicans put party first above all else. Power mad and inherently corrupt, republicans are incapable of acting on what the world sees in Trump — a dangerous man who is a threat to not only US security but the world as well. For now, they are taking the do you believe your lying eyes approach and try to brazen it out.

    Problem is, we’ve got a long way to go, and given the seriousness of the charges, and all the smoke and embers that’s been generated, there will be a constant drip of bad stuff on a regular basis. The likelihood of these cretins “getting stuff done” is very low. And anything they do manage to accomplish won’t be very popular, given the dynamics of their congressional coalition. With all this in play, will the GOP be able to brazen it out in the face of mounting criminality, corruption and incompetence until the mid-terms, let alone 2020?

    The GOP really has no good options. They can stick with Trump, share ownership of his corruption and incompetence, continue having to make increasingly absurd defensive comments, tarring themselves as a result, looking like accomplices, and maintain their base, but then risk being accountable if Trump sets off some kind of conflagration and given how he is, that’s a very real possibility. He’s trending towards getting worse, not better. Or, do they cut Trump loose prior to 2018 so they don’t have to run with him as an albatross, and hope that Pence has enough wingnut street cred to satisfy the brain dead? But then, health care is also a factor in this option as well. In fact, if none of this stuff had happened, and amazingly, it might not have if Trump just had some self-control, they would STILL be faced with the AHCA blowing them up.

  3. There are a lot of conspiracy theories about all this Russia shit-storm so here is mine! I think Flynn either has a copy of or has seen the Trump pee-pee videos! Trump demands loyalty but rarely reciprocates, he’s known for casting people aside when they don’t meet his needs anymore. So why he hell is he so loyal to Flynn? Trump made him a center piece in the campaign, talked him into taking the NSA job even after they knew Flynn had accepted bribes from Russia and Turkey. Took a real gamble asking Comey to end the investigation and later firing him. Heaped praise on him even after he canned him for lying to the VP. And still to this day he sends him love notes about stay strong. I’m telling you Flynn knows some shit and Trump knows it!

  4. The problem with the idea that if Trump goes down Pence goes down to is that Paul Ryan would then become President. Sorry, still no improvement.

  5. Could take a long time, yes. And all the while, the “drip, drip, drip” of daily disclosures, as H.R. Haldeman put it. He also told John Dean — “Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it’s hard to get it back in.”

  6. I have a friend with a Ph.D. in psychology/social work; and, her adjunct studies have been in genetics. She told me that Trump’s father died of Alzheimer’s (which I knew) and he is showing early signs of Alzheimer’s. To me, he has just always been and still is a dreadful and appalling human being. And, I find all Republicans who continue to support and defend this (insert Swami’s description of Trump) are as repugnant and detestable as Trump. Family values–NOT!

  7. So why the hell is he so loyal to Flynn?

    I think because he’s fixated on military authority, and Generals in particular. I suspect it has something to do with assuaging the sting of cowardice that gnaws on his soul from his draft dodging days. A.K.A guilt abatement
    He didn’t have the balls to show up.

  8. Swami your argument makes perfect sense, but I like the Russian pee video angle better!

  9. Uncledad – I agree. Flynn knows where the body is buried. It’s quite possible that Trump needed a trusted courier to pass messages and Flynn knows some stuff. A presidential pardon might shut Flynn up, but if anything Flynn did can be charged in a state court, Trump can’t protect Flynn completely.

    This should take a long time, based on how things proceeded with Nixon & Clinton. However, if the FBI already has the smoking gun that directly connects Trump to the Kremlin, the FBI may hustle the case along. CNN is asking out loud how it’s possible that Pence did not know about Flynn’s entanglements. If Eddie Munster isn’t thinking about the prospect of a double-impeachment, I’ve seriously misjudged that boy.

    Pence will not resign in the face of a double-impeachment,because if Trump is convicted and he’s not, then Pence gets to be president Trump won’t resign – his arrogance won’t allow it. So I see a couple of reasons this might be hustled along real fast.

  10. If Eddie Munster isn’t thinking about the prospect of a double-impeachment, I’ve seriously misjudged that boy.

    Ah, the perfect plot.. He’ll wrap it up neatly with Kevin McCarthy as his vice president…and the two remaining Young Guns ride off into the sunset of American democracy.


    Sure, It could take a while, but sometimes divine retribution needs time to come to fruition. Trump has already received his termination notice even though it is not apparent to him yet. You can liken it to the bite from a Gila monster..The bite itself isn’t enough to overcome it’s prey immediately, but with the bite comes the introduction of a deadly bacteria that will eventually overcome its prey. The appointment of a special counsel is the equivalent of a Gila monster bite. And Donnie just got bit!
    I’m as pleased as Punch. Now Donnie is going to get a taste of his own medicine. As you sow, so shall you reap?

  12. Just for grins I tuned into Hannity for a few minutes last night to see how the Trump shit-storm is being explained to the dullards. Hannity had a two page list of all the “crimes” committed by the Obama administration. Jade Helm was not on the list but I did see “Fast and Furious” and “Solyndra”! Ah yes I love the swell of right-wing desperation!

  13. “If Mueller is the tough and honest guy everyone says he is, …” Well, remember what kind of dishonest douchebag Ken Starr turned out to be. I wasn’t impressed with Judge Louis Freeh, either.We haven’t had any heads of the FBI as bad as the Old Queen since he died, but I’m expecting Trump to appoint one. Weepin’ Joe Lieberman? You can’t make this stuff up. Anyway, appointing a special counsel won’t make the damned Democratic Elite shut up with their lies, they’ve got too much invested in it now. I’m so tired of these puerile hysterical exaggerations.

  14. The question that begs answer is are we as unprepared to fend off Pence and Sessions’ establishment of a Christo-Facist White theocratic oligarchy as we are unprepared to fend off Drumpf uck’s dementia or Ryan and McConnells’ gleeful with malice and aforethought systematic disolution of a hundred years of social progress.

  15. Give me the slow drip, drip, drip…

    It’s water-torture.
    People go insane, waiting for the next drop.
    And, without a stopper on a drain, soon, that slow drip, drip, drip, will be ankle deep…
    Then, knee high…
    Then thigh high…

    Also, those drips splatter. And those splatters will wet those nearest t-RUMPLE-thin-sKKKin.

    Pence Mike “The Dense” Pence is not someone we want as POTUS.
    But then, most of us didn’t want t-RUMP either.

    But, if t-RUMP goes, Pence dosn’t – and never will – have the “Zieg Heil, t-RUMP!” sense of loyalty the the t-RUMP-a-LOON-pa’s have for their “Dear Leader.”

    I’d rather have Pence stay, rather than “Lyin’ and Privazinin’ Ryan, move up.

    What a fucking mess!

  16. My best guess as to how this plays out: (1) DT is prevailed upon to resign (with the tacit promise of no further “persecution”) sometime around the end of the year, and after a very brief vacation re-enters the fray on Fox & Twitter as a rabble-rousing martyr to the fake media. (2) Pence assumes office, having been only tangentially implicated in the incomplete Mueller investigation(s). The MSM and both parties’ establishments hail him as a healer bringing an “end to our long national nightmare” a la Gerald Ford. (3) Pence, unlike DT, quietly climbs into harness with McConnell & Ryan, passing numerous items of GOP-licious legislation, cutting taxes for the rich & gutting (directly or otherwise) any expenditures besides defense. (4) In Nov. ’18, the R’s point to this “record of accomplishment” and at worst hold their current numbers in the midterms. (5) Come the nominating process for the ’20 election, the D’s manage to nominate another uninspiring ticket (e.g., Cuomo/Harris) despite a weaker-than-Sanders challenge from the left (possibly Merkley); the R’s nominate Pence and Nikki Haley for VP and go on to win, holding both houses of Congress as well (and along with that, of course, the power to gerrymander for another decade following the ’20 census). (6) I leave the consequences to the federal judiciary, from the S Ct on down, to your imagination.

  17. I take back what I said on a previous post about this being more fun than a soap opera. This is not fun, it’s depressing and if the Mueller investigation takes years, I cannot see the country being able to withstand things going on as they have been. It has been said that the WH is in chaos and the laws of nature (yin/yang) are that chaos cannot go on indefinitely. Order must be resumed. I do not see Trump resigning under any circumstances. He will have to be removed. Although only a psychiatrist or psychologist can legally make a diagnosis, it does not take one to be able to see the pattern in Trump’s behavior and as Dr. Phil says: The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Trump is 70 yo and has been successful (winning and making lots of $$$$) for his entire adult life. It is always possible for someone to change but he won’t. As president, he is being forced to realize that he is not completely in control of things. A government cannot be run like a business. He is a narcissist and has proved that by always bringing the subject back to himself and he is unable to realize the damage he is doing to himself. He is frustrated because the press is not constantly raving about what a fantastic president he is, how remarkable and the best president ever. This is making him angry and he cannot do anything about it. I am not really good at predictions but I cannot see the country being able to survive for even 4 years in all this chaos. I have said before he will go, I don’t how or when but it will not be pretty. Of course, then we will have Pence or if he turns out to be like the preacher who has all the affairs and gets caught, we will have Ryan. Depressing, ain’t it?

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