November 19, 2019

The Only Path Forward

“Acongressional impeachment inquiry into President Trump has been underway in earnest for a month now. We still have no way of knowing for certain what the outcome of the process will be — if the House will vote to impeach (likely), and if so, whether enough Republicans in the Senate can be persuaded to join with Democrats in removing him from office at the conclusion of a trial (unlikely). But after Tuesday’s testimony of career diplomat William Taylor, we can at least know what the outcome should be: Trump clearly deserves to be removed from office for violations of campaign finance law, abuse of office, and obstruction of justice.

Go ahead and peruse Taylor’s lengthy opening statement for yourself, or read the masterful summary and analysis of it by my colleague David Faris. Just be aware that you’ll need a shower afterwards.

On November 8, 2016, the United States elevated a demagogue-charlatan with the personal ethics of a two-bit mob boss to the most powerful job on the planet. For the first two years or so of his presidency, members of the career civil service and intelligence community, political appointees with long track records in Republican politics, and a range of retired military officers in top positions in the White House and Cabinet hemmed Trump in, limiting his actions, in most cases forcing the him to conform to the law and accepted administrative norms. When that failed, judges pushed back on executive branch overreaching and incompetence. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. Sort of.

But over the past several months, the wheels have come off the Trump administration. Whether that’s because responsible grown-ups resigned and were replaced by partisan hacks or because staffers have been ground down by struggling to contain an ignorant and angry president for months and years at a time is something that presidential historians will try to answer once all of this is behind us. What’s clear in the present is that by this past summer, Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani set out to warp and subvert American foreign policy, turning it into an arm of the president’s conspiracy-addled re-election campaign. The plan was to force a vastly weaker foreign government into colluding with the campaign for the purpose of digging up dirt on the president’s political rival.”

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