Has the Endgame Started?

Frank Rich says so:

It is important to remember that the unrelenting lockstep loyalty of the feckless GOP leadership and the party’s base to Trump are not indicators of his fate. An occasional outlier in the Jeff Flake vein aside, Nixon’s party was wholly loyal to him too. Like today’s Vichy Republicans, they remained loyal despite the indictments of Cabinet members and aides as close to Nixon as Manafort, Cohen, and Michael Flynn have been to Trump. They remained loyal after the nation was riveted by the devastating Watergate hearings of the summer of 1973, which portrayed all the president’s men as counterparts to the mobsters seen in the previous year’s Hollywood hit The Godfather.They remained loyal even that fall, when Nixon’s firing of the special prosecutor in the “Saturday Night Massacre” attempted to blowtorch the Constitution and the rule of law.

As a counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the 1974 impeachment inquiry pointed out in a Times op-ed piece ten days ago, Nixon’s defenders routinely dismissed Watergate investigations as a political “witch hunt” intended to reverse the Democrats’ 1972 electoral defeat. As late as the end of July 1974 — less than two weeks before Nixon’s August 9 helicopter departure from the White House lawn — most Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee voted against all articles of impeachment. Many Republicans on the committee continued to support him even after the August 5 release of the “smoking gun” tape revealing that Nixon had ordered a cover up of the Watergate crimes.

The kicker, of course, is that Democrats controlled both houses of Congress at the time. But they still needed Republican votes in the Senate to remove Nixon from office. When a delegation of Republican senators led by Barry Goldwater told him that the Senate would vote to convict him, Nixon resigned the next day.

Trump, unlike Nixon, is out of touch with reality. He doesn’t know how to count votes, and he believes he can defy the law with impunity. (Nixon, a lawyer, could only lie to himself about his criminal exposure up to a point.) But, whether Trump recognizes it or not, the fact remains that his main and perhaps only hope for clinging to office is that Republicans hold the House in November.

It’s unlikely that Democrats in the House will seriously try to impeach Trump as long as there is no possibility the Senate would convinct him. And unlike a lot of people, I agree that impeachment alone is kind of pointless. If Trump is impeached but not removed from office, he and his supporters would take that as a vindication, and his position would be stronger than ever.

In short, don’t directly attack the beast if you aren’t sure you can kill it with one blow. But if the Democrats take the majority in the House, they can do the one thing that I suspect would destroy Trump — release his tax returns.

Nonstop congressional investigations will attempt to illuminate every dark corner of an administration in which the kleptocracy extends from the Trump family to most Cabinet departments. Those close to Trump, both in his family and in his immediate circle, will fear for their futures, both legally and financially. The GOP and the Trump Organization alike will be on the ropes, and in full panic.

See also Trump Organization Could Face Criminal Charges From Manhattan D.A. And keep in mind that Trump could face more prosaic political issues, such as the fact that the so-called “deal” with North Korea is about to backfire.

Back to Frank Rich:

If there is a shocking upset GOP victory in November, then all bets are off: America is in worse trouble than we already think and possibly in an existential fight for survival.

But the more plausible scenario is that Trump, even if he has to be pushed kicking-and-screaming by Ivanka and the possible jailbirds Donald Jr. and Jared, gets out of Dodge. As with Nixon, his administration is most likely not to end with impeachment but with a self-pitying and self-justifying resignation in which Trump lashes out against both Republicans and Democrats, declares another ersatz “win,” and flees.

And then, of course, most likely President Pence will pardon him for federal charges, but that would leave the possibility of convictions on lots of lovely state and New York City charges. However, when dealing with a personality as unstable and deluded as Trump’s, it’s possible he wouldn ‘t resign but would have to be removed from office and then, forceably, from the White House. Kicking and screaming.

Right now, Republicans in Congress are holding firm in support of Trump. But they held firm in support of Nixon, too, until they didn’t.

But when this White House collapses, it will happen fast. As the Washington reporter Elizabeth Drew, who covered Watergate for The New Yorker, would conclude, “In retrospect, the denouement appeared inevitable, but it certainly didn’t feel like that at the time.”

Martin Longman:

The one thing I don’t think is helpful is to continuously talk about how the Republicans in the Senate will never convict Trump even if the House impeaches him with the support of the American people. They will certainly be reluctant to do so for all the reasons I’ve already suggested, but it will really come down to the facts of the case.

If Trump is proven to have actively coordinated with the Russians despite all his denials, and if the people who were responsible for this are willing to attest to what they did, then Mike Pence is going to look like a very attractive option. To be honest, Pence is much better liked and a better ideological fit for congressional Republicans than Trump. The reason they stick with Trump is because their own ineptitude weakened them so much that Trump was able to take over their party, and now they can’t win without his supporters. They’re caught in a vice.

In the end, after they’ve taken their losses despite sticking with Trump, the remaining senators are not going to be eager to go into 2020 with Trump as their champion. Since they don’t like or trust him anyway, if they can’t win with or without him, it’ll be far preferable to lose without him. There is a limit to how much shit they will eat to defend a man like Trump, and if the evidence comes in and it’s strong enough, there will be enough Republican senators who will choose removal over arguing that Trump should remain in office despite having done what he was accused of doing and then lying about it for two years.

I agree with this also. Keep in mind that Trump’s hard-core base is not in love with the Republican establishment.

The typical Trump supporter had complete disdain for all of Trump’s establishmentarian rivals for the nomination, and that contempt extended (and extends) to the Republican leadership in Congress. They have never liked Mitch McConnell and they especially hate Paul Ryan for abandoning Trump after the Access Hollywood tape came out. They don’t support Republicans in Washington except in the very limited sense that they rely on them to protect the president and enact his agenda.

On the other hand,  polls show that Trump is costing the Republians big in the suburbs, especially among the college-educated, country club class, and even more especially among college-educated women.

That’s why a blue wave in November is essential, and if it doesn’t materialize, we’re doomed. But if it does, then the denouement will not be far behind.

Update: More acceleration — Trump’s CFO is flipping.

16 thoughts on “Has the Endgame Started?

  1.  Trump is so delusional that he  views himself as the ultimate genius and the only one who can save the world.  No matter what happens, I just can't see him resigning.  I can see him being dragged out of the White House kicking, screaming like a spoiled brat and doing as much damage as he can.  After all, in his opinion, he just can't be treated that way.  I doubt if Putin will come to his rescue and I'm not sure his physical strength could take all the abuse.  His only out is a stroke or heart attack. 

  2. Some variables:
    1) the Dems could actually lose Senate seats. Consider Nelson’s numbers, even though he is facing a known”duckhead”.
    2) subpoena a few of the accessories in Congress (Nunes, lookin’ at YOU), and the rush to cast an impeachment vote will cause air currents that will suck all the doors shut.
    3) the only thing preventing the arrest of the illegitimate president RIGHT NOW, without impeachment, is that nobody’s ever done that to a president. Lawyers hate to proceed without precedent.

  3. Regarding impeachment – I despise the Republicans who have obstructed an objective investigation of the facts. I only know what I read in the news and if I was considering impeachment, the proof would have to be more reliable than the sources I listen to and trust.

    So again, regarding impeachment, why don't we find the truth – no DEMAND the truth wherever it may lead and let the public know. Then the duty of the US House will be to consider the evidence and whether it reaches the threshold of "high crimes and misdemeanors". If the evidence (not my damned opinion) says the President should be impeached, draw up the Articles of Impeachment. 

    Whether the Senate will or won't is their problem. The House fails in their Constitutional duty if they do not charge the President if the offenses do reach the level that he should be impeached. Screw the political consideration. Do your duty.

    If I put on my political hat, even if the Republicans in the Senate block the conviction, there will be a "trial". Evidence – witnesses – questions and cross-examination. Drama. People will watch. Donald will finally get the ratings and recognition he deserves. I was listening to a Republican juror on the radio, a Trump supporter who voted to convict Manifort because the evidence was unquestionably there. If – and only if the evidence is there – impeach. The American People, even Trump supporters will watch and see, without the Fox filter. Their reaction may be, "Donald, have you no shame?"

    But we have to put the raw evidence out there in a forum where everyone sees the same stuff. At some point the bias breaks down for a lot of people. Congressional hearings are important, but they will be disregarded by the loyalist who refuses to look at the evidence. That same loyalist WILL watch the C-Span trial, expecting to see Trump smite his enemies and many will discover the truth.

    The question isn't whether we can remove Trump. The question is whether the evidence is there.

  4. End game is on.

    Small change got rained on by his own 38.

    Small hands got rained on by a 38-24-36.

  5. My biggest worry, is that right before having to be physically removed from the Oval Office, a ginormously narcissistic psycho-douchebag like tRUMP will decide to take the world with him, rather than go home to lick his mortally wounded fee-fee's, and face mountains of Federal and State charges.

    You're welcome for that thought!  😱

    Now, go out snd have a grest weekend!!!

  6. I'd say this is, as Churchill put it, the end of the beginning.  I believe there's a lot more yet to come. But what should the endgame be?  Impeachment and conviction in the senate and removal from office alone is not enough, IMO.  He could be indicted criminally afterwards, as Nixon was about to be but like with Nixon and Ford, Pence would pardon him.  With the space of time and a helpful MSM, Nixon was rehabilitated somewhat as an "elder statesman".

    Trump has done considerable more damage to our democracy, national security and the justice system already; the longer he stays the worse it gets, some of which may be irreparable.  He's leveraged the presidency to enrich himself and his family.  And as Brennan pointed out, while the media helpfully played stupid, there IS a difference between treason and treasonous, and Trump's behavior has certainly been the latter.

    Does the endgame allow these people to keep their ill-gotten gains?  Should the welcomed threats to our national security and world standing go unaddressed? 

  7. CSM: the emoluments suit may separate the looters from their loot. Charging all parties under state law leaves Pence (if still standing) with nothing to do but grunt. And review his stash of Playsheep magazine.

  8. Thanks Tom_b, forgot about that.  I think about those China trademarks Ivanka got, the loans the Kushners got to save their 666 Fifth Ave boondoggle of an investment.  Then there's all the business going on at the Trump hotel in DC, the golf courses and Mar a Lago and elsewhere, to curry favor, obviously.  

    After the election, which surprised them all, once they got over the shock the very first thing these people set about doing was leveraging the presidency for financial gain, and they set about it with an unseemly vengeance.  One of Trump's initial deceptions, after the crowd size, was to claim he had separated himself via a blind trust, which never (effectively) happened.

    In this case the endgame should be to separate them from every last cent they gained as a result.

  9.  Impeachment and conviction in the senate and removal from office alone is not enough, IMO.

    Well. as much as I'd like to see him end up like Mussolini or Ceausescu or even Samuel Doe; I'll settle for just getting his lying ass out of office. He's a bag of shit and a blight on our nation.

    I wouldn't expect Pense to pardon him even if he does get impeached. Pense will turn on him with a feigned christian vengeance intended to bolster his own image as an upstanding man of god who has no tolerance for evildoers.. not to mention the idea of polishing his own political image in the eyes of the christian right. Much the same as Jerry Falwell turned on Jim Bakker with a moral castigation after seizing control of his empire.

    My hope is that NYS tears him and his criminal empire( the trust) up. Nothing could make me happier than watching Donny Jr. and his simpleton brother Eric headed up the river to Sing Sing. I'd be OK with Attica also.

  10. Swami,

    Now, tRUMP will never recreive the respect of the truly rich and powerful that he's craved his entire adult life.  

    They're sitting there at their exclusive clubs, sipping their rare and expensive cocktails, and wondering who to back as the GOP candidate for POTUS in 2020. 

    tRUMP has proven to be too "Queens."

  11. I don't think the repeated tirades against Sessions are a feint. Trump may be desperate abut shutting down all investigations from the top. Trump wants Sessions to resign so Trump can take overt action to end investigations, but if Jeff refuses to go, I think the decision has been made to fire Sessions – soon. Not after the midterms – now. (That's the substance of the memo from Linsey – WAIT til the midterms are over. And he's shouting to Trump because Lindsey got the word – it's about to happen.)

    Trump can appoint an interim AG if they have been approved by the Senate for another post.  There's the rub, as Shakespeare said. Anyone appointed by Trump to shut down all prosecutions and investigations has to go to multiple departments – the only active prosecution that Mueller has kept is the Manifort trials. Everything else is in different jurisdictions which makes the multiple simultaneous cease-and-desist orders from a new AG an overt and obvious act of Obstruction and possibly multiple offenses. Look up John Mitchell.

    Is Trump stupid enough to fire Sessions before he's checked if anyone on the list of loyal appointees wants to volunteer for a stay at Sing-Sing? As soon as the purge starts under an acting AG, someone in Justice will (with witnesses) inform DeVoss (just my guess) that she's created a high risk of later prosecution for herself unless she rescinds the orders. That warning will make a conviction a virtual certainty unless she decides NOT to follow Trump's orders, as Sessions is doing. 

    If Trump is smart, he will wait as Lindsey is begging him to, but I don't think Trump is smart and he's on the verge of panic. The midterms are over two months away and Don Jr could be indicted Monday. Whether or not Jared is exposed for tax violations is your guess. What other scandals are in the National Inquirer vault and are they going to wind up in Mueller's hands? Two months chillin' to try to save the GOP's ass?

    The deification hits the turboprop next week, is my guess. (How do you like that dodge, twit filter?)

  12. Would someone please give him a gun and send him to 5th avenue? I want the Rs to be forced to do something. Let him shoot a few times.

  13. FWIW, I think we're halfway there. We have to have hearings first, to lay out the facts for the American public. It will take more than facts to make people stop supporting Trump. I see Trump sucking up  to dictators; his supporters see him making America great again. Perceptions have to change. Frankly, I was surprised to see so many Christians supporting Trump, as I grew up in the Bible Belt. How anyone who believes that Satan is the Father of Lies can doubt that Trump is one of Satan's imps baffles me, but there you have it. 

    The Watergate hearings lasted over one year before Nixon resigned. Russiagate hearings won't start until we have a new Congress, which won't happen until next year. My guess is that the Republicans will ditch Trump early in 2020. 

    But things seem to be developing quickly. Rats are deserting the sinking ship. The Dems will take Congress through no fault of their own. I do not watch Fox News, but I hear that Trump admitted to them on air that he has committed Federal crimes (although claiming that what he did was legal) and suggested that for criminals to turn state's evidence should be illegal. Republican politicians may be hypocritical about supporting law and order, but I think that regular Republicans do support it, and many of them have to start wondering if Trump is really a criminal.

    To tell whether Trump will lose in the Senate, perhaps the main barometer is Fox News. I doubt if they will turn against him, but their support will weaken over time.

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