Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Barr contempt vote: "Yes. I do agree with Chairman Nadler because the administration has decided that they are not going to honor their oath of office." pic.twitter.com/1uFKw7ic1W— The Hill (@thehill) May 10, 2019
One of the things that had me seething during the 2017 Presidential Inauguration was my unshakeable sense that a man was about to take an oath of office that he could not personally, in any sense, be true to. It did not strike me as even plausible that Trump was a person who could respect the Constitution over his own interests, anymore than he could separate his ego from the office he was about to hold. Within a span of less than 24 hours from taking that oath, he spoke before the CIA and rambled about the size of his inaugural crowd and his war with the media, right in front of a memorial for fallen intelligence officers. The note that struck has been the tone of his entire administration--at war with intelligence, with the media, with the judicial system, with Congress. President Trump, and multiple members of his party, have demonstrated a wholly partisan approach to their conduct, not the least with respect to the Russian interference investigation.
Barr has failed here on this very thing. But only because he's determined to back Trump. (His choice here is amazingly bad.)
This is why I think Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes a very reasonable point in saying that Trump is "self-impeachable". What she is saying is that, as what some are starting to call a "constitutional crisis" grows larger, the violations of norms and the nature of Trump's obstruction will only become more apparent. It can be argued, for example, that the installation of Bill Barr as AG and Barr's very clear legalistic leger de main has been the kind of overreach that a conservative legal thinker in good standing can easily see through.
We are in a very strange place when it should appear remarkable that a GOP Senator subpoenas a person who has dodged further inquiry, specifically because that person was the President's son. It's sheer batshit when another GOP Senator suggests it's just fine and dandy for that individual to dodge a subpoena.
What harm does talking to the Senate do, if what Trump, Jr. has to say would not be problematic? Oh, but wait--it probably would be! When your choices look like: don't show up, plead the fifth, or staying lying, you probably are in a bit of trouble. And while that sucks, for Don Jr., it doesn't give him any especial right to call this a stunt, or Senator Burr a coward.
See, those are not things you do when you can just walk in and deliver your truth. Those are things you do when you are not legit. As with Trump Sr.'s refusal to release his taxes, or respond to further subpoenas for docs, this kind of refusal looks bad in a way that sort of suggests the whole situation is bad. (What do I keep saying?) The fuckery about this is pretty upfront, and Republican politicians are drawing lines between supporting Burr's request or supporting Trump Jr.'s vastly telling silence. What I think we have here is an odd loyalty question--loyalty to Trump? Or that old oath of office Pelosi was talking about?
Former FBI Director Jim Comey in a recent op-ed described how a politician like Trump could co-opt the soul of someone working for him by slowly dragging them down, compromise by little compromise. He's really on to something, there. Josh Marshall in 2016 described the phenomena as "dignity-wraithing", where once respectable people suddenly lost whatever they were respected for because Trump eats that. I view it as a kind of ethical "sunk cost fallacy" (rather like the kind the banks who lent to him found themselves in upon discovering he was extraordinarily unreliable, except with morality instead of money). There will be people scrambling to cover Trump's ass as more of his awfulness comes out, only to discover they have less and less credibility themselves to cover it with.
This is why I am not in such an all-fired hurry to see Pelosi go straight to impeachment--her apparent delay looks to me to be strategic to get Trump and 'em to hang themselves just a bit more with whatever rope she hands them. Sure, I want to see Trump impeached, but there's a timetable to consider--when do we want the hearings, how long should they be, and how would they intersect with an entire election bid that's already underway? Put Trump's ass on trial right now, and the Trumpsters can lie and call themselves exonerated and we can all fully expect the Senate to agree (at least McConnell will, that bloated reprobate). Pelosi is leaving impeachment open, but I am certainly not inclined to rush it and fuck it up.
But I still insist the case needs to be made every day. The one thing I can say for the House trying impeachment even if the Senate would not boot Trump so long as it is GOP-held, is that it is a massive negative ad for Trump and his dignity wraith Senate minions. Build that case, and people will come to appreciate it. Right now, support for impeaching Trump is on the rise. But on the other hand, his approval rating is sort of high, for him? So I think a course of slow, steady, and always be chiseling away at how shitty, brutal and not the most legal Trump (and friends ) is everyday. The crescendo builds through 2020.
Build the case for Trump being out of office, and people will come. But I respect that it will take time to hang out as many people as truly need to get good and publicly diminished.