Constitutional Crisis on Infinite Crises

Buckle up, neighbors.

So, it's happened:


Hair Furor has grown tired of ignoring subpoenas individually and had his lawyer write-up a really officially sounding nuts to the whole proceedings. The basis for this legalistic document is what Donald and his proxies have been testing for days now:

He's being denied due process! He's not being given the right to confront his accusers! The House is withholding evidence from his lawyers! They haven't even voted to impeach him yet!

If you don't understand what's going on -- and this is not something that happens every day, so many people won't -- these might sound like compelling arguments, especially when they're couched in very lawyerly language, by a lawyer.

But it's the same nonsense that Trump has been coming out with since the days of the Mueller investigation, the same back-to-front logic of "how can you have an investigation before you've even proven a crime?"

An impeachment inquiry is, as the name suggests, an investigation or finding of facts. It's an early stage of the process. At the end of it, if facts are found to justify continuing, the investigating committee will send articles of impeachment to the floor for a vote. If those are ratified, then it goes to the Senate, which holds a trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

That last stage is where due process entitles Donald to know his accusers and to have his representatives cross-examine any witnesses. It's preparation for the trial, if it comes, that his lawyers must be given access to the evidence against him.

Donald isn't demanding due process, in other words. He's demanding the process be what he wants it to be, what works out best for him: a mirror image of actual justice, where they have to prove he committed any crimes (to his satisfaction, in particular) before they can be allowed to investigate.

Support for impeachment proceedings have been historically high and climbing, so this is far from a slam-dunk for him, outside of his base (which was already repeating the line about how they have to vote for impeachment first before they do anything else days before the letter went out).

Time will tell if it moves the needle for him with the Mild Moderate Middle.

If you would like my advice on what to do about it, I would say: continue to contact your representatives as you are able, voicing support for impeachment. And do so also in your daily life, as you feel safe to do so. Don't get bogged down in arguments with individual trolls on Twitter spreading Trump's pseudolegal narrative, but do push back in a general way on tweets and news posts about it. Just sort of laugh it off and matter-of-factly state something like: "Ha, no. The inquiry happens first, then formal impeachment, then the trial. That's due process, and he'll get every chance to defend himself in front of the Senate."

In the meantime, what to make of this?

Here's my big takeaway: it's not conviction in the Senate that the regime fears, at least not for what's come out so far. They're trying to shut the inquiry down before it gets to impeachment (or pressure the House Democrats into rushing to vote on a case they're far from closing), and before anything else even more damaging can come out.

Donald has been telling those close to him that impeachment would be a stain on his resume. The common refrain to this is: this is what he thinks will tarnish his legacy? I would say don't underestimate Trump's ego-fueled visions of posterity, but also bear in mind that he knows better than most just how big the stain is likely to be if we go the distance on this one.

Don't get me wrong - this is absolutely a desperate move, and it comes at a really bad time for Donald as his hasty Syria retreat exacerbated stress fractures between him and some of his enablers. 

But also don't get me wrong - desperation, historically, has worked out well for this guy. He doesn't just fail upwards, he flails upwards. He plays chicken like a man who simultaneously believes he is immortal, believes he has nothing left to lose, and believes his life won't be worth a hill of beans if he does lose. The result is that his opponents almost always blink, almost always back down, almost always figure out a way to rationalize themselves around to letting him just do what he wants.

So we need to keep the pressure up and keep the pressure on. A whole heck of a lot of important people who have already backed impeachment will be looking for a way to back down, as it becomes explicitly clear that he's not going to play along at all.

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