Angry Robot

To Impeach or Not Impeach

I place a lot of stock in the opinion of Josh Marshall at TPM, who thinks, if I can summarize: impeachment that is sure to die in a Republican-controlled Senate is a waste of time, so Democrats should focus on the other ongoing investigations, and possibly pursue impeachment at a later date if the needle starts to shift. Here’s one article on the topic, and here’s a more recent one.

(Brief summary of how it works: the House of Representatives, now controlled by Democrats, would start an impeachment inquiry. This would be a “trial” in the House in which evidence is presented, testimony given, etc. They would then vote on articles of impeachment, and then the vote on whether to actually remove Trump from office is done by the Senate, and requires a supermajority of 67. The Senate is currently controlled by Republicans.)

On the other hand, there are some great points in this article. First, impeachment proceedings themselves will move the needle.

Richard Nixon’s approval rating was at 65 percent when his impeachment process began and only 19 percent of the public supported his impeachment. By the end, the numbers had flipped: his approval was 24 percent and support for impeachment was 57 percent.

Second, even if the Senate lets Trump off, this is a better position for Democrats than failing to impeach:

If the public believes Trump is guilty but the Senate lets him off anyway, he won’t ever be truly exonerated—he’ll be O.J. Simpson, assumed guilty but sprung by allies and circumstance. Some Democrats have argued that we should skip impeachment and vote Trump out instead. But if the House impeaches Trump and Senate Republicans fall in line to protect him, the argument that the ballot is the only way to remove him will be supercharged… By contrast, declining to impeach Trump validates his claim that Mueller exonerated him.

Finally, this sobering point:

Even more ominously, Trump’s weaponized Department of Justice under Barr, who has shown himself to be Trump’s eager and obedient partner in abusing the power of the state to advance the president’s political interests, will inevitably invent a pretext for investigating the Democratic nominee. Democrats should consider whether they’d rather engage that fight against a president who has been impeached for serious crimes, or against a president strengthened by the de facto exoneration bestowed when his opponents declined to pursue the evidence against him.

Here’s an article by Greg Sargent that goes into more detail about how impeachment proceedings against Nixon affected poll numbers. Essentially, support among Republican voters was never more than one third, but the proceedings galvanized Democrats and swayed independents.

Josh has just posted this morning on the topic, clarifying some points, but unfortunately it’s behind the paywall (totes worth paying for btw). Here’s the crux fo me:

Historically impeachment inquiries have lasted about eight weeks, give or take. So once you commence an impeachment inquiry I think you’re starting a timer that leads you to a vote on articles of impeachment in a couple months. It seems crazy to me to put a two month time limit on the mountain of things Democrats need to be investigating. In theory, you could just declare its open-ended and say it won’t be bound by any arbitrary timeline. This was actually my thinking at first. But that’s naive. This greases the skids for actual impeachment on a pretty short timeline and ‘when will they impeach’ will become the question that overwhelms everything else.

Two points here. First, even if you concede that the inquiry must not last longer than two months, that’s still a lot of time when you consider these would be televised daily – and of course there is a shit ton of evidence. Second, even if you are strategic about timing, potentially this leaves a fair amount of time for the various committee investigations to hold their hearings and present their findings. The earliest you would want to have the impeachment inquiry would be fall 2019 (no one watches TV in the summer). Perhaps you want the committees to get airtime in the fall; you hold the inquiry in the winter, or the spring of 2020. I’m not sure it works to wait until September 2020 given that the election is early November, and you want to have the Senate already have voted at this point.

I’ll say this much. I’d get cable again just to watch it.

How to Talk about Impeachment: Preventing Harm to the Country

Convincing

How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump

A meticulous analysis of online activity during the 2016 campaign makes a powerful case that targeted cyberattacks by hackers and trolls were decisive.

If this is not treason, then what is it?

Dan Drezner:

A former CIA chief of Russian operations tweeted, “From a counterintelligence perspective, something is going on behind the scenes. Before Helsinki I was less sure; post Helsinki, I feel sick.”

Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook data was accessed from Russia, MP says

Innnnnteresting

Putin’s playbook for discrediting America and destabilizing the West

“The book in question is The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia by neo-fascist political scientist Aleksandr Dugin, whose nickname is “Putin’s Brain”.”

Russian pop star involved in collusion story releases salacious music video slagging Trump

Why the F.B.I. Raid Is Perilous for Michael Cohen — and Trump

Mueller Tells Guy Who Legally Can’t Be a Target That He’s Not a Target, Perhaps in a Bid to Make Him Legally Targetable

Marcy Wheeler:

All of which is to say we may be looking at a public report saying that Trump should be impeached just as Republicans attempt to keep Congress… Effectively, I think Mueller is giving the GOP Congress a choice. They impeach Trump on the less inflammatory stuff,which will remove all threat of firing and/or pardons to threaten the investigation, not to mention make Trump eligible to be a target for the actual election conspiracy he tried to cover up. Or after they fail to hold the House while explaining why they’re covering up for Trump’s cover up, they will face a more serious inquiry relating to Trump’s involvement in the election conspiracy.

How A Player In The Trump-Russia Scandal Led A Double Life As An American Spy

Trump-Russia enthusiasts will recognize Felix Sater, and he’s talking!

Manafort, The Cinematic Arc of History And The Wildest Coincidence

How the White House’s Tolerance for Wife-Beaters Exposed That It Was Harboring Counterintelligence Threats – emptywheel

While You Are Tweeting About the Nunes Memo, Russia Is Plotting Its Midterms Attack

“The point is distraction. And it’s working dangerously well.”

Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit

Starting to get the sense that this Trump fellow may not be the sharpest tool in the shed

The real reason Trump allies are attacking Mueller

To make any future pardons go down easier

If you think 2017 was bad, imagine an America without allies fighting another two-front war, this one involving nuclear weapons, under the leadership of the most hated president in modern history, while a torture apologist runs the C.I.A. The world right now is a powder keg. Trump, an untethered maniac, sits atop it, flicking a lighter that Republicans in Congress could take away, but won’t. If everything goes up in flames, we can’t say we weren’t warned.

Flynn has promised special counsel ‘full cooperation’ in Russia probe: Source

Did Michael Flynn Just Flip on Team Trump?

Robert Litt, who until Jan. 20 was the senior lawyer for the office of the director of national intelligence, said Flynn’s admissions flow from the role Mueller needs him to play: witness. In other words, the purpose of Mueller’s actions against Flynn on Friday are to hunt bigger Trump administration targets.

A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With Mueller

The Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow

“In 1987, a young real estate developer traveled to the Soviet Union. The KGB almost certainly made the trip happen.” Excerpt from a book that sounds…. very interesting!

U.S. Hires Company With K.G.B. Link to Guard Moscow Embassy

I mean.
Really?

A Russian Facebook page organized a protest in Texas. A different Russian page launched the counter-protest.

On that day, protesters organized by the two groups showed up on Travis Street in downtown Houston, a scene that appeared on its face to be a protest and a counterprotest. Interactions between the two groups eventually escalated into confrontation and verbal attacks… Russians managed to pit Texans against each other for the bargain price of $200.

Trump and his allies are laying the groundwork for a Saturday Night Massacre

Robert Mueller’s Show of Strength: A Quick and Dirty Analysis

Trump Campaign Adviser Met With Russian to Discuss ‘Dirt’ on Clinton

You’ve probably already heard about Manafort, but this could be an even bigger deal.