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A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE'S IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

Added: Wednesday, October 9th 2019 at 8:23pm by chuckman
 
 
 

John Chuckman

 

COMMENT ON IMPEACHMENT DEVELOPMENTS

 

I tend to doubt Trump will face actual impeachment.

The reason for saying that is because impeachment is a political measure, not strictly a legal one. Each Senator voting in a trial really only has to answer to his or her own political constituents about the vote, whether it is more widely regarded as warranted or not.

The trial is conducted in the Senate where the Republicans command a majority. It is a slim majority, but conviction requires a super-majority of two-thirds of members.

Despite Trump’s countless blunders and stupidities, I doubt, as things stand, that a case can be made that would command a super-majority vote.

However, that could change. Politics does resemble Heraclitus’s metaphor for history, the impossibility of being able to step into the same river twice since the waters were always flowing.

The House Committee investigation works to associate Trump’s name with something unpleasant day after day in the press. They will, of course, constantly monitor for shifts in public opinion. And, in the course of going through evidence, they could always come up with a surprise.

At the same time, we have other developments and possibilities. Like some real dirt coming out on Joe Biden in connection with Ukraine. And the same even for Obama and his key people. The coup in Ukraine was a dirty operation, so again there could be surprises in store. The same may be said of Russia-gate efforts. That was a dirty operation with authority undoubtedly coming from the highest level, and it is always possible, but I think not very likely, that we could see some big-name politicians unpleasantly surprised.

Trump himself can change the dynamic. His announcement that he just won’t cooperate with legal demands for documents is not a really terrific way to proceed, but then this is a bull-headed man represented by a bull-headed lawyer. Something of a Constitutional crisis could develop along the way.

Trump is working to change the political calculation, too. I think that’s at least in part what his move in Syria represents. There is a significant number of 2016 supporters who have been alienated by his complete failure to deliver on promises about getting out of the Middle East and establishing better relations with Russia.

What he has done in Syria is a small step, and it may not be enough to recapture the alienated.

But even that small step has aroused anger from other quarters, including some Republican politicians. That’s because his decision touches Israeli interests, literally the third rail of American national politics. Trump likely thought he’d bought enough good will with all his giveaways to Israel to get away with a decision he must surely have known would not be viewed favorably.

If so, he figured wrong. Netanyahu and other prominent politicians in Israel are used to getting just about everything they want now from the United States. And they wanted American forces in northwestern Syria helping Syrian Kurds fight the Syrian government, creating a big ongoing problem for that government.

Now, instead, they see a situation whose outcome is uncertain. One that could even possibly see the government of Syria re-establish its authority in the northeastern region by working with the Kurds while Putin whispers helpful things in Erdogan’s ear about not going too far with his invasion, and they don’t like it. The Israelis have big clout with traditional Republicans.

So, again, in terms of the political calculus of impeachment, it is not clear whether the initiative in Syria made his situation even worse.

 

AFTERNOTE:

Not long after writing this, I find in a major news source: “Trump Agrees on Need for Sanctions Against Turkey, Wants Something 'Tougher Than Sanctions'” And this comes only just after the Turks have got rolling.

See what I mean about the third rail?

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