Monday, October 21, 2019

Impeachment Theater And The GOPe

We've all known, I think, that the NeverTrump movement within the Republican Establishment went beyond mere rhetorical handwringing. During the 2016 campaign there were outright efforts to sabotage the Trump campaign. After the campaign, however, we also know that there was collusion with the Russia Hoax efforts. Disgraced former Speaker Paul Ryan--a key member of the Gang Of Eight--was key to that effort. For example, President Trump recently explained Ryan's obstruction of House investigations into the Russia Hoax while Republicans still had the majority:

President Trump: We have great, great relationships with the people in the Rupublican Party. But they don’t fight dirty. As an example with subpoenas. You take a look at Paul Ryan when he was Speaker. He wouldn’t give em! I’m not even knocking him for that. He wouldn’t give em. He thought it was inappropriate. Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, all of the guys wanted, Gaetz, all of them. Matt Gaetz. I could name 25 people. These are incredible people. They wanted subpoenas to investigate all of the corruption that they found. Horrible, horrible corruption. Paul Ryan would say, “Well, wait a minute, slow down. Let’s come back next week.” They would come back, they wouldn’t get it. She hands them out like their cookies!

Later, in the runup to the 2018 Midterm elections, Ryan appears to have deliberately sabotaged Republican efforts and to have helped lose the House to the Dems. The NYT, How the House Fell: Republican Chaos and Democratic Focus, notes:

While he promised to keep raising money for fellow Republicans, Mr. Ryan’s contributions to the party would steadily decline; in the last fund-raising quarter of the campaign, his political committee transferred a paltry $1.4 million to the N.R.C.C., less than some first-time Democratic candidates raised for themselves.

I've long believed that at least some GOPe senators played into that perfidious game. My reasoning wasn't based on inside information but on the simple belief that the Russia Hoax could not have gone as far as it did without institutional support within key Senate committees (and bear in mind that the Majority leader doesn't have the degree of control in the senate that a Speaker has in the House).

Yesterday, regarding the Senate, I noted:

How does Impeachment Theater figure into [the struggle to regain control over the IC]? Impeachment Theater works in different directions, but it seems clear at this point that legislators, including Republicans, were involved in the coup plot. From this vantage point, Impeachment Theater could be--in part--a defense against an ascendant Barr whose lifelong determination to protect the Executive from Congress could lead him to target those legislators. McConnell's seeming openness to an impeachment trial could, from this standpoint, be an opening gambit to come to a more amicable settlement.

It's important to view this from McConnell's standpoint. As leader of a fundamental governmental institution, his job and duty is above all to safeguard that institution--but also to safeguard his party's position within that institution, all else being equal.

I personally believe McConnell was too smart to associate himself with overt NeverTrump actitivites. That doesn't mean that he has supported Trump's agenda. He hasn't, except on a selective basis. Nevertheless he almost certainly--again, IMO--understands that at this point Trump is the leader his party for electoral purposes and is a veritable juggernaut. McConnell is not one to look that type of gift horse in the mouth.

At the same time, however, McConnell will seek to protect his fellow GOPe senators who played a fool's game by colluding with the Russia Hoaxers. Not out of love for them, not out of hatred for Trump, but out of a desire to protect party interests in maintaining a majority in the Senate. I don't believe that the number of GOPe fools comes anywhere close to the 20 defectors who would be needed to commit political suicide--removal of a Republican president on a relentless path toward reelection. However, to get an idea of who some of those fools are--beyond the obvious Pierre Delecto and the now departed and not lamented Bob Corker--sundance at CTH has a long rehearsal of what's been going on at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for the past two years:

McConnell's dilemma is how to maintain his majority--a majority that Trump helped to build. McConnell will certainly understand Trump's interests in rooting out Dem perfidy and gaining control over the full Executive Branch, but he also knows that that could be a hollow victory without control over at least one chamber of Congress. Impeachment remains unlikely and removal is, in my opinion, a non-starter as a realistic possibility. But revelation of major Republican wrongdoing is a distinct possibility. McConnell will very much wish to communicate these concerns to Trump and to Barr. The need to communicate with Barr, discretely, arises from the fact that Barr's control over the ongoing investigation is almost complete. If he has obtained most of the documentation that he needs--especially in the form of NSA records--even the POTUS would have great difficulty in preventing Barr from following the investigative path to an end that could be very bitter not only for coup plotting bureaucrats but also for legislative NeverTrumpers of both parties.

All this is undoubtedly under discussion in Washington, in one form or another.


  1. I lean towards the House never voting out articles of impeachment. I mainly base this judgment on the fact that Pelosi hasn't held a vote to open the inquiry. The only explanation for that lack of an opening vote is that they don't intend to impeach, but only make it look like they are. I also agree with you that it is unlikely they would be willing to transfer this to the Senate where real subpoena power against the effort would be used freely.

    I did count of the Senate the other day- there are, at best, only 4 Republican senators who might vote for conviction, and I would guess there are only 2 who actually would- Romney and Murkowski. I also think there are probably at least 4 Democrats who would vote against conviction.

    1. I haven't had the energy to attempt a count, but I'm with you on that.

    2. What about Burr and Collins? Also what about McConnell's China connections and money making family deals?

    3. Collins wants to win next year, and a vote for conviction would finish her off- no Republican will vote for her.

    4. Yes. No matter what GOPers like Collins might prefer, Trump is the face of the party and she (and the rest) distance themselves from him at great risk.

  2. That "Trump's impeachment" sound all over the District of Conspiracy of late isn't reverb, it's the sound of coup plotters laying down astroturf with the aid of their media accomplices. It's to be perceived that High Crimes and Misdemeanors occurred and have been proven and impeachment is inevitable.

    These are the same people who first tried to rig the 2016 election to be a "landslide" and were devastated, then attempted to oust the president by manufacturing a conspiracy and were again devastated when the salvation that was "Mueller Time" turned out to be an empty plastic cup laying in the gutter. Next came the fabricated Ukraine scandal that's blowing up in their faces like Wile E. Coyote with his newest ACME Trump-catcher.

    Trump is right about republicans not fighting dirty, but I think he was remarking on their lack of killer instinct. He's not going to be impeached. Unless the democrats and their "republican" useful idiots really want to light the short fuse of a second civil war in the political tinderbox they created.

    But, hey, the Tree of Liberty is parched and thirsty for blood, so have at it. Might want to green light Beta's gun confiscation plan first and see how that goes.

  3. The fool Republicans need to remember what happened to them after they failed to support their president, they were massacred in the next election.

    Rob S

    1. The Establishment brass are not fools. They've no problem being under Nancy's boot.

  4. Dems, GOPe, Media, Deep State all against DJT. All he has is a measly plurality of voters guaranteed to get him more than 269 votes. We love him! Of those who hold their noses, they know that the choice is between the President and the Joker as played by Heath Ledger. That is, chaos and blowing things up for the sake of anarchy.

    From where I sit, Advantage Trump!!!