I seldom agree with Joel Pollack, the former Democratic Alliance speechwriter turned fanatical Trumpslainer, but sometimes he can be quite astute. His take on his hero’s terrible Tuesday:
“In a weird way, today’s events could help @realDonaldTrump,” he tweeted. “Democrats will be unable to resist impeaching him if they take Congress. So Republicans will have to go the polls to protect the incredible gains of the Trump presidency. The 2018 election is now about one clear issue.”
Trump’s gains are indeed “incredible” but that’s not all that Pollak gets right.
Trump consigliere Michael Cohen’s statement under oath to New York judge that his boss instructed him to violate campaign finance law in the run-up to the 2016 election almost guarantees that on November 6 Americans will go to the polls to decide whether or not Trump should be impeached.
Hitherto, there seemed a good chance that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would wrap up his enquiry with a report that would leave open whether Trump broke any law in accepting election year help from Russia or that he obstructed justice afterwards. In which case, impeachment was unlikely.
Now there is clear evidence of wrongdoing: the admitted use of illegally large contributions to buy the silence of a Playboy bunny and a pornstar whose threatened revelations might well have deep-sixed Trump’s campaign, compromised as it already was by a tape of the candidate bragging about his ability to assault women with impunity.
As Harvard constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, who previously cautioned against impeaching Trump, put it: “Cohen’s allocution…in support of his pleas of guilty to having feloniously manipulated the 2016 election at Trump’s direction point directly to “high crimes and misdemeanours” by Trump entirely apart from Russiagate and Obstructiongate”.
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, recently hired away from the Wall Street Journal to add to some conservative spice to the Times’ editorial page, was more succinct: “I’ve been skeptical about the wisdom and merit of impeachment. Cohen’s guilty plea changes that. The president should resign…or be removed from office.”
Impeachment is the only way to remove him. A sitting president cannot be indicted and tried in the normal way — a doctrine that has the full support of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
If the midterm elections result in Democratic majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Trump’s presidency is in deep jeopardy. The Republicans look likely to lose the House, which is where the articles of impeachment will be drawn up and approved. Trump’s fate depends on the party keeping control of the Senate, which acts as jury. Right now, the odds there favour the Republicans.
Is it really in the Democrats’ best interest for the upcoming election be to be a referendum on impeachment? Pollak may well be right that it could work to Trump’s advantage, assuming no further shoes drop between now and then.
There is something a little technical about the crime of exceeding campaign spending limits to quell bimbo eruptions (to use a phrase coined for Bill Clinton’s shenanigans). Trump and and his personal television network, Fox News, will go all out to rev up the base by saying this is just one more example of a Deep State/elite/left-wing conspiracy to take its champion down.
The media feeding frenzy triggered by Cohen’s guilty plea (and the simultaneous conviction of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort for fraud and tax evasion) diverted attention from a serious Democratic effort to reach out to Trump voters, spearheaded by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, an all but declared contender for the party’s presidential nomination.
Warren — Trump calls her Pocohontas and seems to view her as a real threat in 2020 — unveiled an ambitious swamp-clearing anti-corruption plan on Tuesday. She was drowned out. This will keep happening so long as Trump commands everyone’s attention — as well he knows.