It’s our duty to begin impeachment now. Congressional leaders are stalling, understandably worried. In fact we can win without risking 2020 and with nothing but upside for the Senate and presidency. We even have a solution for escaping Mike Pence. We just need to follow two simple rules.
1. Focus on the President’s Unfitness, Incompetence and Lawless Acts
Impeachment is about making the case that the president is unfit and removing him. High Crimes and Misdemeanors are about unfitness.
We can prove he’s a criminal too — even a mob boss — though that’s not a requirement of impeachment in general. But demonstrating the president is leading a criminal enterprise will help prevent his subordinates and accessories from rising to power if he is removed.
It’s easier than ever to make the case. Below I’ll list two dozen offenses. But we have to take care of one thing first.
2. Get Over 2016 and Never Mention It During Impeachment
Any mention of Russia, Foreign Meddling, Election Influence Campaigns, Stolen Emails, An Attack On Our Elections by a Hostile Adversary, Pee Pee Tapes, Mueller, Wikileaks or Putin will help the president and perhaps even doom impeachment. It’s a tell — a clear signal that his opponents are distracted and motivated by desperate bitterness and vengeance — not by their constitutional duty, justice, or the nation’s safety and prosperity.
It’s clear that for many people — including the Speaker, several presidential candidates, many in Congress, many on MSNBC, and many loyal Democrats — following Rule 2 will be the hardest thing about making the case for impeachment without stumbling. But be assured: even a single slip is a powerful signal to hundreds of millions of Independents, Republicans, and Democrats, including 100 Senators, that says: “The president’s opponents are bitter, partisan losers, too mired in the past to focus on today’s crises or the mounting daily consequences of the president’s unfitness, and too unhinged even to win these slam dunk cases. If I join them, I’ll probably regret it and just be humiliated when they screw it up, no matter what dangerous things the president has done and is doing.”
But if we all carefully follow the two rules, there is no such risk and we really do have dozens of slam dunk, easily proven charges to remove the president.
It’s obvious why some Democratic leaders are afraid they’ll blow it. All of us have been in unwitting daily training for going on three years — to break Rule 2 every few minutes. For years most episodes of Chris Hayes’ and Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC shows dove into Russia meddling within the first four minutes. And they’re far from done.
So unless we face that issue up front, it will turn our slam dunk legal impeachment case into a terrifying, ugly high wire act — like a new sequel to Saw where dozens of people are jailed or murdered every time someone with Tourette’s syndrome swears. People still just love to say Russia, and Mueller.
Keep in mind that in this context, even mentioning Mueller and his report is a risky, unnecessary way to begin conversations about impeachment. In fact when the Judiciary Chair begs or subpoenas Robert Mueller to appear — or when he calls for a long, careful investigation of the president — he unwittingly makes the case that Outside of trying to end that conspiracy investigation, it’s not yet clear the president has done anything wrong. In a tragic attempt to be cautious and appear fair, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have taken over for the president’s attorney Rudy Giuliani to — for now — make the case that the president might be innocent.
Whereas: the real impeachment case — which has been led by Rep Al Green, Rep Radisha Tlaib, Republican Rep Justin Amash, Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and more than 60* others [now already 135!]— is already an obvious slam dunk with little further investigation required to prove at least two dozen charges.
*Since this was first published in late June, key developments include doubling the number in Congress supporting impeachment — so it’s now over 135 and a majority of Democrats in the House; Rep Justin Amash leaving his party; and many more unchecked violations of the law, constitutional norms, and separation of powers — with a complicit new Attorney General. Both the justice department and the judiciary are increasingly corrupted.
Elizabeth Spiers’ groundbreaking article explains the Speaker’s complicity and paralysis in credible, thoughtful terms. While she means well, Pelosi is to impeachment politics what Alan Greenspan was to our economy: confident, universally trusted, way out of their depth and by most measures disastrously, irretrievably wrong.
Why Nancy Pelosi Won't Impeach
None of this is to say that Pelosi is not personally horrified by what's happening. Perhaps she is. But whatever she's…
One other key recent improvement: the constant drumbeat hysteria and digression into Russia and Mueller appears to finally be fading. Maybe future plans can have Rule 2 as just a footnote, so we can focus on more constructive narratives and more serious threats.
It’s becoming clear we’re better off focusing on the president as a leader of a criminal enterprise, a mob kingpin more like Al Capone, Pablo Escobar and El Chapo. It’s crucial that he be prosecuted quickly, competently and successfully because, unlike any of those mobsters, he now controls key levers of our government — the attorney general, judicial appointments, federal pardons and more — that no previous kingpin has ever so openly and directly controlled.
Never before has our nation faced a criminal with the power and intent to threaten witnesses, punish journalists, fire investigators, and to reward and pardon perjurers and fellow criminals. It’s an unprecedented crisis.
The truth is, the president has already clearly violated so many laws, constitutional requirements, ethics standards, and more — that have little or nothing to do with that investigation — that focusing on Mueller’s work diminishes and distracts from them all, and helps the president.
Below are two dozen obvious ongoing, well-documented grounds for impeachment, proving the president wholly and criminally unfit. Only a handful happen to be supported by the special counsel report. Can you think of important ones that are missing?
The Case: The President is Unfit and Lawless and Must Be Removed
1, Appoints incompetents and crooks in Energy, Education, Environmental Protection, Housing, Interior, Treasury, Health, and more to destroy those agencies in an intentional attack on those institutions — “deconstructing the administrative state”.
2. Failure to Divest of Trump Organization Assets
3. Constitutional US and International Emoluments Violation for Value Received
4. Allies with openly murderous regimes in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
5. Declares false emergencies in order to obtain funding and political power.
6. Rejects climate science in ways that are worsening climate change and endangering our population, our national security and the planet.
7. Breaks nuclear treaties with allies and potential adversaries without cause, making the country less safe, less trusted and weaker.
8. Is confused or lying about tariffs in ways that have destroyed US exports like soybeans, threaten other industries, and increase costs to businesses and consumers worldwide without creating US jobs.
9. Has brought white supremacists and their unconstitutional beliefs into the White House.
10. Recently called for the execution of black former suspects who have already been exonerated by DNA evidence, confessions from the actual perpetrator and corrupt police.
11. Ordered DHS and ICE to imprison asylum seekers and kidnap children in violation of international law and the domestic Flores decision, and failing to reunite them in violation of court orders.
12. Has ordered the violation international law concerning refugees.
13. Behaves lawlessly and encourages and orders others to break the law.
14. Participated illegally in racially segregated housing schemes, leading to a consent decree against the Trump Organization.
15. Has engaged in a lifetime of tax fraud regarding transfer of his parents’ wealth through shell organizations and fictitious transfers to hide payments and avoid taxes.
16. Participated in tax and insurance fraud regarding real estate holdings.
17. Suborns perjury. Threatens and punishes “rats”.
18. Ignores subpoenas. Asks witnesses not to cooperate with law enforcement.
19. Lies about security clearances, endangering national security
20. Abuses presidential pardon power. Dangles pardons to witnesses in criminal cases.
21. Pardons personal friends (e.g. Joe Arpaio) who are guilty of Contempt of Court, thus demonstrating presidential contempt for the court system and interfering in the constitutional separation of powers.
22. Clear evidence of multiple charges of Obstruction of Justice.
23. Requests that falsified records be created. Lies to reporters. Lies and misleads in ways that demonstrate a pattern of deception and consciousness of guilt.
24. Is known worldwide as dishonest — a fantasist and liar with a short attention span, who is thus easily flattered and manipulated. That’s why he can’t close key deals with North Korea or China, for example, and it’s why North Korea has resumed its ballistic missile program. World leaders all know he is untrustworthy and that with this president, treaties are meaningless.
Winning In the House and Senate
Impeachment has two parts, indictment and a removal phases. It’s a little like Law & Order, only the House is the prosecutor and the Senate is the jury.
This sets up an exciting constitutional precedent. In the House, the facts are generally clear and all 24 charges are easy to conclusively prove— so the main threat is unforced errors, where Democrats, reporters and newscasters reflexively distract from the fitness charges with digressions involving Russia, Mueller, unprovable allegations and party politics. Just watch a few hours of MSNBC and count the number of new ways to reference “condoning an attack on our nation” introduced each week. We must face the fact that the House members best known for betting on Mueller and conspiracy charges, like Reps. Schiff and Swalwell, are the worst possible choices to impeach.
Someone articulate about constitutional issues and the facts of the case, like Rep Justin Amash, may have the rare requirements to lead impeachment and be widely viewed as qualified and impartial.
Winning in the House
The impeachment in the House will efficiently prove these dozens of trespasses beyond any reasonable doubt, since most of the evidence is part of the public record. The public will be convinced of the president’s unfitness and criminal behavior in areas that go vastly beyond familiar partisan conflicts or the Mueller report, confirming the president is dangerously unfit. The prosecution will include articulate Republican Justin Amash, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, dozens of others, along with historians and constitutional scholars from every party.
The public will consider whether continuing with this lawless, corrupt president is good for the country. Only then will voters in every state begin to influence their Senators and representatives on this issue.
Winning in the Senate
Then in the Senate it gets more interesting: how do we use our knowledge of mob tactics and government to address a known corrupt jury?
It’s worse than the most rigged jury in a mobbed-up city, where there’s at least a desire, pretense, some claim that the jury will be impartial and fair. Here the defendant is each juror’s party leader! He threatens their livelihood, their careers, and even openly threatens to support primary challengers — replacement with who’s loyal to him, not to their constitutional oath.
The Senate majority is currently 53 relatively loyal Republicans. The likes of Mitt Romney and Rand Paul criticize the president mildly, but no Justin Amash has emerged there yet.
This is the part where some earnest Democrats freak out and say we’ve got to hide, give up, and join in with the president’s lawlessness, prevent impeachment at all costs, and scold him impotently instead. Some convince themselves that the optics of failing to recruit Republican Senators to convict are inherently so devastating that it will cost Democrats seats in the Congress or the presidency in 2020. For their part, Republicans and the president love to pretend impeachment activity would help him win the election.
When Democrats worry that impeachment will energize the Republican base, they’re picturing a partisan shit show:
• sidelining the president’s fundamental unfitness and
• violating Rule 2 each time they open their mouths.
Republicans may be right that, IF Democrats spent the next two years whining about Mueller and Russiagate and 2016 in the context of impeachment, any removal vote would fail irrecoverably and convincing 100M disgusted voters to stay home again for the election. Nobody can stand cowards who needlessly overplay — or who fold with a winning hand.
But if we follow our rules, in a funny way there’s no inherent risk here. After all, ordinarily the Democrats’ curse is the shock of losing unloseable races — Hillary vs Trump, Gore vs Bush, Kerry vs Bush, etc — when no reasonable person would predict it. This situation is exactly the opposite of that curse. Everybody already knows the Republicans currently have a loyal majority in the Senate. So Democrats can’t disappoint the public or suffer a surprise optics disaster by failing to recruit loyal, corrupt Republicans to their strong case.
Meanwhile, the first 46 Senators with integrity will join the bipartisan Congress’s proven two dozen impeachment charges. The likes of Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin and Elizabeth Warren will make the case to a jury of their colleagues and the American people. (Of course, if anyone lets Chuck Schumer do a lame “I accuse the president of not calling the FBI before a Russia meeting!” instead, we’ll lose horribly, needlessly! So it’s critically important that everyone be on board with Rule 1 — the real reasons the president is unfit — and Rule 2. Careful, Liz!)
And meanwhile debates for election 2020 — which includes 33 Senate races with 8 vacant seats and several vulnerable Republicans running — will begin as those first 46 impartial Senators commit to removal, and most of the president’s loyal lackeys initially refuse to. (Note I don’t say 47 since Senator Joe Manchin may betray his country and side with the president at first.)
Now in dozens of 2020 Senate races, a Democratic candidate can say, “My opponent endorses the lawless mob behavior that threatens our safety, our economy, our institutions and our country, from a proven deceiver and financial fraud who breaks the law and offers pardons to criminals who do his bidding. Ask that Senator why he deserves your vote in 2020.” And suddenly 100M non-voters, seeing some gonads and spine, will be in play for those Senate races again.
In contrast, the Schumer/Pelosi approach — ‘Let’s assume we’re losers who can’t convince three people of what we know is true unless they’re in our party, and won’t dare fight our corrupt opponents’— won’t work here.
Letting Voters Replace a Corrupt Jury
As we’ve said, the Senate is the jury for impeachment and removal, and that’s both a problem and a great opportunity.
Again in the language of mob activity and corruption: if captured drug kingpin El Chapo has bribed or threatened every member of a jury, and the prosecutor knows it, she has a duty to explain to the public that the kingpin might be acquitted because the jury is corrupt, and to propose its members be replaced. And of course, the president’s implicit and explicit bribes and threats to Republican Senators are exactly what is operating here, independent of the facts of the House’s impeachment case.
Under these circumstances, a Speaker who publicly declares the Senate’s bias against removal as a reason NOT to impeach, is legally akin to a sheriff or DA telling the public, “Since El Chapo has bribed or threatened most of the jurors, we’re forgiving the 3000 murders he’s committed and we won’t charge him with any crimes. He’s not worth it.” It’s the cry of a dangerously reckless, cowardly loser — and it’s the real threat to our constitutional system. Only the House can indict the president.
Particularly when our public Senate election votes choose this jury, the Speaker’s real duty is to tell the public that IT has a duty, and a historic opportunity: to replace as many of those corrupt Senators as possible in 2020 and ensure that, whatever the outcome of the presidential election, that corrupt jury has been disqualified and replaced — so going forward, justice can be done.
Democrats’ official leaders may be terrified to make this case to voters, certain they will fail and shouldn’t try. But even in the worst case they’ll wind up with 46 Senate votes and remain just a few votes shy of a majority. Only feckless cowards would find this predictable outcome terrifying.
Whereas if this constitutionally mandated activity weakens or convinces just one Republican Senator to heed his constitutional duty and speak up to check the president, like Justin Amash in the House — we will make history.
And if just four Republican Senators with shreds of integrity question their dangerous, unconstitutional allegiance with an unfit criminal president, a majority in the Senate will have joined the House and the public in demanding the president’s removal — another historic moment.
In the end, to reach the total of 67 Senate votes needed for removal might require twenty Republican votes, which many observers consider unlikely. Then again — the lawless, unchecked president commits new offenses and creates new opportunities every week. Every week justice is further obstructed, another request for cooperation or subpoena is ignored, another scofflaw, murderer or war criminal pardoned — strengthening the impeachment case and the case that his enablers in Congress are corrupt and must be replaced. Maybe extended tariffs will destroy new industries. Maybe kidnapped and dead children whose lives currently don’t matter will become a greater factor. We don’t know and there is no natural limit. The sooner we start, the sooner we might attain a supermajority for removal. Unless the Speaker and Senate Minority Leader are utterly incompetent (sadly we can’t rule it out), the official Senate vote can be postponed until a supermajority has been recruited so instead of the feared “the president has been vindicated!” news cycle, each news cycle is more like “one more Republican distances himself from un-indicted felon”.
Thanks to impeachment, constituents at Town Halls throughout 2019 and 2020 will ask every sitting Republican Senator why he or she is endorsing two dozen varieties of gross unfitness and criminal activity, and whether someone more independent — someone respectful of the law and the Constitution — should be representing voters instead.
None of this healthy political activity is possible unless we follow through on the impeachment work that key Democrats find so terrifying. The idea that avoiding impeachment will weaken Republicans and make Democrats more popular is delusional. In reality, powerless people feel stronger when they can rally behind bullies and winners, while no one rallies behind cowards. Even if the president isn’t removed by the Senate before 2021, stepping up to our duty to impeach and making the case to the people that the president is unfit will be a win for the constitution and the country.
Note that the value of all of this is not predicated on the president’s removal. Replacing as much of the corrupt Senate as possible is of great value in its own right.
Criminal Enterprise Status Rules Out Pence as Successor
If the president is removed as well, the demonstration that he has led a criminal enterprise with a corrupt US Cabinet is amply provable, and crucial to avoiding an equally perilous outcome: the ascension of his criminal subordinates and accessories through presidential succession. The Senate confirming these vacts must not Vice President Mike Pence or any other member of the corrupted cabinet to succeed the removed president.
The Speaker may seek to mitigate worries about a conflict of interest by agreeing that neither the constitutionally mandated Speaker nor any member of the criminal cabinet should succeed the president in the long term. Such a show of good faith may be essential in convincing the Senate, dominated by people who despise the Speaker — to take the step of removing the president after impeachable acts have been proved.
Wins in Impeachment, the 2020 Senate and the 2020 Presidency
We don’t know who will win the 2020 presidential race. It may well be a landslide for Warren or Sanders. Or Biden may be pushed in by party superdelegates and do even worse than Hillary in the general election. If we do our duty and follow the rules, Senate seats we earn in 2020 — by challenging Republicans’ enabling of the president’s illegal behavior — may lead directly to his removal in January of 2021 by the new Senate. In any case, our determination to fight a corrupt president and his enablers will likely earn us a stronger House, the Senate and the presidency.