Trump’s lawyers argue he cannot be subpoenaed, can pardon himself, and can end the Mueller investigation

You almost certainly know about the leaked letter from Trump’s lawyers to Robert Mueller and John Dowd (handily presented, parsed, and explained by the New York Times) asserting not only that the President could be subpoenaed only under the most extreme circumstances, which apparently are not the circumstances obtaining now, but also that he has the power to end the Mueller investigation.  It further argues that Trump couldn’t possibly have obstructed justice in the Russia investigation because he has ultimate authority over all Federal investigations (this makes no sense to me), and, most disturbingly, that the President might be able to pardon himself.

After weeks of saying that he “welcomed” testifying before Mueller, Trump has lied once again. We are now moving closer to a Constitutional crisis, similar to that affecting the Nixon investigation (he resigned and was pardoned by Gerald Ford before charges were leveled), but now we have the claim that Trump can pardon himself. If he does that, he’d better resign, as well, for he’ll have lost all credibility—even for Republicans.

Trump isn’t like Nixon, I think: he’d rather fight than resign, and so I predict that this will wind up in the Supreme Court.  Whatever happens, Trump has done nothing of any value in the 16 months that he’s been President, spending most of his time embroiled in scandals, fighting investigations, and firing people.

How do you like your President now, you Republicans who voted for this pathetic excuse for a leader? And to the rest of the world: my apologies on behalf of those sensible Americans who refused to vote for this clown and continue to battle his harmful and unhinged policies.

As reader Ken emailed me, “Listening to the reporting on the letter from Trump’s lawyers, re the definitional impossibility of the president obstructing justice, I can’t help hearing ‘L’Etat, c’est moi’.”

114 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Trump’s lawyers concede that “no man is above the law” but go on for 20 pages about how Trump is above the law — like Julia in Lord Byron’s Don Juan, who “whispering ‘I will ne’er consent’ — consented”.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      Implying that Trump is not a man? Hmmm.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        Yeah, sure, I guess. Maybe they’ve recast history’s most famous syllogism, but with an undistributed middle:

        All men are mortal.
        Socrates Trump isn’t a man.
        Therefore, Trump isn’t mortal.

        🙂

        • Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

          We already saw the “Trump is like Jesus” car, so …

          Of course, Christians doctrinally believe that in a way at least some larger proportion of humans are immortal – or will be, in some denominations.

          • Zetopan
            Posted June 6, 2018 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

            “… humans are immortal – or will be, in some denominations”

            Not really, it is always true of *their* specific denomination. But sometimes it is only a subset of the members of their denomination, which is why there are over 45,000 Christian denominations today and that number is increasing at a rate of slightly more than 2 per day.

    • chrism
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 4:45 am | Permalink

      Silly me – I had thought you chaps fought the War of Independence to get away from arbitrary rulers who were above the law. I must have misunderstood something.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    As I heard it, Obama voters went and voted for Trump.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      The evidence for that is anecdotal; 11 million more Americans voted against Trump than voted for him.

      Trump carried certain districts in swing states that had been carried by Obama in the two previous elections. But that had more to do with Trump going to the trailhead to beat the drums of xenophobia and bigotry, and the lost tribes of resentful white folk who hadn’t voted before pouring forth from the hills ‘n’ hollers.

      • Helen Hollis
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        Yes. And I looked at it as a Chicagoan. The devil you know, vs the devil you have never known

  3. Tim Elsey
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I fear PCC(E) is vastly overestimating Republicans and their integrity.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      A lot will depend on whether Trump-affinity is seen as helping or hurting Republicans in November. Reelection trumps even Trump in their universe.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Those who support Trump are very unlikely to give up support. They are in this to the end. At this point Trump’s position in the White House is all that’s preventing the real crazies from taking their stash of guns and setting up militias. Hopefully he will peacefully be voted out of office in 2020.

      • Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

        And have his ability to destroy severely curtailed this November.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Trump’s deadend deplorable — the ones who would stick with him even if he shot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue — will support him to the bitter end. But hope springs eternal that this does not yet include many more-mainstream Republicans, who’ve merely pusillanimously acquiesced to his take over of the Grand Old Party.

        • Historian
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          For many months now the Trump favorability percent (42%) and unfavorability percent (52%) has remained remarkably stable. The only thing that may move these numbers is if Trump does something catastrophic. But do we really want that?

          See http://fivethirtyeight.com/ for information on polling.

          • Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

            Has he not already committed numerous catastrophic acts at home and abroad? Are we thinking “catastrophic” only in terms of nuclear acts? His avid support of the coal, oil, and nuclear energy companies at the expense of state lands and national parks is disastrous. His diplomacy skills are worse than nonexistent. His tariff decisions are horrible. And on and on.

            • Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

              Agreed but they are not catastrophic in the eyes of his supporters. As many news pundits remind us, this is what they elected him to do. Of course, that leaves the very real question as to what event or revelation would ruin Trump in the eyes of his deplorables? When everything is so far removed from fact and reality, I worry that the answer is “nothing”. Even voting him out of office or running up against term limits may not stop him. Perhaps that is my Trump Derangement Syndrome flaring up but I want his opposition to be as scared and motivated as I am.

            • Harrison
              Posted June 3, 2018 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

              The thing that seems most likely to be his undoing at the moment is his stupid trade wars, which Republicans don’t particularly want but they lack the spine to talk him out of it. Republicans have coasted on an economy that was well into recovery before they took over and hasn’t done noticeably better under their auspices, but if it suddenly got a lot worse they’d have a hard time spinning it as Something Democrats Did this time.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, Trump’s the first US president in the history of polling to be underwater unremittingly since Inauguration Day — and he’s the first US president that hasn’t even tried to broaden his base while in office.

            I sure hope Trump doesn’t do anything “catastrophic.” But it wouldn’t surprise me if some catastrophic bad news for him comes out of the Mueller probe or out of the parallel investigation of Michael Cohen in the SDNY.

        • nicky
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

          His supporters are wilfully blind to the fact that he probably is a Russian shill. Absolutely surreal.

      • Posted June 4, 2018 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        He will leave on his own terms if there’s even a hint he might lose… bigly.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

      That statistic, like most others is just crap. Meaningless and without anything else to even conclude it means something. Right next to his number is – HW Bush. What happened to him at re-election time? It also ignores the whole world around you. Were any of these other guys hip deep in an investigation of him in bed with Russia? If you are going to just throw out a stat like this you could say yeah, and he is a racist too.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        Poppy Bush was riding high after his splendid little victory against Saddam in Kuwait (as was Bush fils after the initial success of his invasion of Afghanistan) but then he drove the economy into a ditch and had to give the car keys to Bubba.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I recall that little ditty very well. Was shoveling merchandise out of a warehouse in Waco, Tx. in support of Desert Storm. Lots of it came back unopened, the thing was over so fast.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        You’d be right if it was just that statistic. Unfortunately, there are others which, taken with this one, paint a worrying picture.

        One is the opinion of the Mueller investigation amongst Republicans. From the pov of sensible people, bringing Giuliani on board has destroyed Trump’s credibility even more. However, since his appearances in the media began, Republicans trust in the Mueller investigation has dropped 20 points, and it was already low. At the same time, Trump has successfully eroded GOP trust in the media even more. So when Mueller’s findings become public, tbere is a good chance that a third of USians simply won’t believe them and, there’s been talk of civil war on his behalf.

        In the parts of the country that believe in him, they don’t even believe the statistics that a majority are against him. Almost everyone they know is a Trump supporter, and they think the media is being controlled by George Soros, Jeff Bezos, the fictitious Deep State and others, including the Obamas and Clintons, in a massive conspiracy.

        There’s even a Trump Prophecy that these people take comfort from. It includes things like the behind the scenes work Trump is doing arresting thousands of Democratic paedophiles and rescing children. Everyone will love Trump when it becomes public apparently. (Quite apart from anything else if this were real, do you really think Trump would be keeping quiet about it?) It’s all tied up with the Evangelicals of course.

        Imo, the only hope is for Republican politicians to stand behind the results of the Mueller investigation.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          Here’s a late thought. Former U.S. Attorney, Preet Bahrara said it would be outrageous for a president to pardon himself. That’s almost self-executing impeachment.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

            It would be outrageous, but those supporters would think he was justified because as the only way he could get justice.

            • Randall Schenck
              Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

              Lucky for all of us, his supporters do not constitute the laws or what we have available to use against him. Just four or five hot months before election time. It is past time to start rallying the troops here. Most running at the state level are not just running against Trump. That would be a mistake. Run for health care, medicare, Medicaid, immigration, education and on and on. If you look ate Virginia this week, after the very blue elections of a few months back, they just got medicaid insurance back to 400,000 people in the state. The legislation was still just republican but the word was out – either you go for this or you are gone. At least 12 republicans voted yes. And Virginia is blue.

              • Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

                The Virginia result is interesting. Not only is the Blue Wave electing Democrats, it is making the Republicans bluer, at least in some places.

                The news from VA is not all good. They have a self-described pro-incest, pedophilia, and rape candidate running for Congress as an independent:

                https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2018/06/01/hes-pro-incest-pedophilia-and-rape-hes-also-running-for-congress-from-his-parents-house/

              • Diane G
                Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

                @ Paul T. re that pedophile-phile candidate: normally I’d think, wow, what a gift for the Democrats…but that’s exactly what I thought when Trump was nominated…

              • Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

                Unfortunately for Dems, he’s running as an independent, not a Republican. Still, he’s bound to split the deplorable vote. Perhaps he is a Trump supporter though.

              • Diane G
                Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, I saw that, and was already counting on what you say in your second sentence. 🙂

            • Posted June 4, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

              I follow a few of the saner right-wingers, and this is true. All that matter is that he is theirs.

          • Posted June 3, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

            I don’t know if you’ve noticed but you are pretty much in uncharted waters here. I thought it would be outrageous for a presidential candidate who admitted on tape he sexually assaults women to be voted in, but here we are.

            Trump will not be impeached. Forget it.

        • Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

          It’s all so scary and depressing. I knew when Obama got elected that this group would emerge from the woodwork in response but I am surprised at how big it turned out to be.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

            The GOP’s been taking the snakes to its bosom since Nixon’s vaunted “Southern Strategy” near to 50 years ago. First it was the Dixiecrats, then the religious right, then the Tea Party (I’m skipping over many interim steps here), and now the alt-right — giving us today’s Republican Party in which a grotesque, authoritarian buffoon can maintain an approval rating upwards of 90%.

    • Tim Elsey
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Though, as has been noted in replies to that tweet, perhaps most self respecting conservatives have dropped the ‘Republican’ label and are not represented in that data.

    • Posted June 4, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      But also note people *have* left the party, so the numbers discount those. Are there enough of those to count? I have no idea.

  4. Frank Bath
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Mr Trump reminds me of an increasingly berserk Mr Punch in a Punch and Judy show, whacking everybody who comes to get him and shouting, ‘That’s the way to do it!’

  5. W.T. Effingham
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Obama spoke eloquently,clearly,concisely, and his intonation added meaningful information to his statements. With our current leader(?),it’s hard to tell what is happening. The only positive thing I’ve personally associated with tRUMP is from the eighties when his McDonald’s adds made me even less likely to have fast food.

  6. Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Anyone know who leaked the memo? As Marshall McLuhan reminded us, it’s all part of the medium. Perhaps Trump’s own legal team did the “leaking”.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Didn’t come from Team Mueller, which is tighter than a tick. Trump’s White House, OTOH, leaks like a Soviet-era nuclear sub.

      • Mikeyc
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        I know that was tongue in cheek, but I knew submariners who served on Ohio and Franklin class subs during the bad old days of the cold war. They certainly thought Soviet subs were the rival of ours. They spoke with great respect of their rivals.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          Maybe I’ve just watched too many Hollywood flicks (like K-19: the Widowmaker) with guys like Harrison Ford or Sean Connery doin’ bad Rooskie accents. 🙂

          • Posted June 4, 2018 at 6:00 am | Permalink

            Sean Connery never did any bad accent – all he ever did was a good Scottish accent.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

              I’ve always loved this bit.

              Their Michael Caine’s even funnier.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:30 am | Permalink

              Yeah, he was doing a Scotsman in Russia and a Scotsman in Germany, etc.

      • Zetopan
        Posted June 6, 2018 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

        “Trump’s White House, OTOH, leaks like a Soviet-era nuclear sub.”

        With a *lot* of random really bigly holes drilled through the hulls.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Trump has had no credible lawyers throughout this pathetic stretch of government so why would any person buy this rubbish. Now that his team of lawyers consist mainly of television attorneys who’s better days are long past it is just a laugh. It is a reality show from another universe. This joke will move on to the supreme court very likely and Trump will lose. The best thing to happen will be to see what happens after the election. If things go the way they should, with both houses going back, the impeachment will be done unless he gives it up before.

    People must realize this slob is guilty as hell. No innocent person acts this way, even for a day, let alone for more than a year. I just hope they get him out before going after all of his friends and family because most of them should go to prison. This is the reality show govt. of the U.S. and we are dumber than nearly anyone can imagine.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Trump’s hiring of television attorneys is a smart move. He realizes that public opinion is what is going to matter most in this fight. If he can make enough voters believe he is being unfairly treated by the Mueller investigation, and the “deep state” that backs it, the Republicans in Congress won’t impeach him and won’t throw him out of office.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        Yes, very good. And if we all jump on tiny space ships and go to Mars for the next election, that will prove positive there is a deep state out there. And it will all match up, Trump is orange and Mars is pretty close.

        • Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

          You know I am not on Trump’s side, right? I can’t allow anyone to think I would favor that idiot.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        You think Rudy Giuliani is a an effective tv lawyer? He comes off as somebody’s batshit uncle who’s wandered down from the attic. He and Trump can’t keep their stories straight, since neither can be arsed to focus in on facts and details.

        • Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          No, I don’t think Giuliani is an effective lawyer. Trump basically fired all the real lawyers and replaced them with spokespeople that can hammer his opposition day in and day out, all in the guise of being “lawyers”.

    • tomh
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Why do you think Trump will lose in the Supreme Court?

      • Diane G
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

        I live in fear that some whacko will decide to off one of the remaining liberal (for SCOTUS, anyway) Supreme Court justices so that Trump gets to select another nominee.

        • tomh
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

          I think the current Supreme Court is all Trump needs.

          • Diane G
            Posted June 3, 2018 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, that scares me, too.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    We are now moving closer to a Constitutional crisis, similar to that affecting the Nixon investigation …

    I think we are headed for such a constitutional crisis in the best-case scenario; it could get much worse. Trump has no bottom, no step below which he will refuse to go to avoid the dreaded label “loser” — including calling out the 82nd Airborne to set up a cordon sanitaire from Pennsylvania Ave down 17th Street, around the Ellipsis, up 15th, and back to Pennsylvania again, to prevent service of a grand jury subpoena upon him.

    This was the last line of defense Nixon considered to prevent release of his tapes, and Trump is no Nixon — who, despite being a monster straight out of Grendel, had a core respect for American norms and institutions.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      The really funny thing for all of us normal people to ponder is there are very few laws out there to regulate our government. Much of it is a matter of tradition and cultural norms that Congress and the Executive have simply adhered to over the years. Nothing written in stone, we just act in certain ways. We are much to elite and good to behave in such bad ways. Every day you hear someone say – can he do that or can that be done. A often the answer is, well yes actually it can but most people would never. All kinds of laws were piled in there to cover us standard folks but damn little to cover the jerks taking things apart now.

      • Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Certainly you are right when talking about the balance of powers between the three branches of US government. Perhaps when Trump is gone Congress will make laws to fill the gaps. Those that remain after the Supreme Court adjudicates the forthcoming battles.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          Yes, they thought they had instituted some after Nixon but obviously they had actually done very little. Taking an oath to protect and defend the constitution but that one is most certainly a joke. Paul Ryan must still be laughing at that one. And in Trump’s case he must have a copy of the Russian constitution. And does Russia have a constitution? Yes, it’s an 8X10 glossy of Putin.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          That’s what happened in the immediate aftermath of Watergate (and the contemporaneous aftermath of J. Edgar Hoover’s abuses at the FBI and the “Family Jewels” scandal at the CIA).

  9. Mikeyc
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    (As seen on Reddit)
    Obama signs executive order
    Republicans; “IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY!!!”

    Hillary Clinton isn’t charged for crimes she didn’t commit
    Republicans; “OMG SHE THINKS SHE’S ABOVE THE LAW!!!1!”

    Trump; “I’m POTUS. Laws don’t apply to me.”
    Republicans; “Right, chief, we’re good”.

  10. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    So the news here is more on the problems the loser president Trump is responsible for.

    – Trump does not understand markets or agreements, so he is ripping up free markets without even trying to make changes that he wishes for – he *could* ask first. He just cannot stand seeing Mercedes sold in New York.

    – The 40 million US citizens that are in deep poverty is unheard of outside developing nations. Trump just cannot stand people that does nothing (because they are not given the chance).

    – The US cities and states that want to go to cheaper, cleaner energy but cannot do so due to federal non-cooperation. Trump does love his loser election promises over what would win US more money and better environment.

  11. J Cook
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    One hears he watches more teevee than any other activity. 6- 8 hours a day.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Trump’s lawyers’ memo admits that he dictated his eldest son’s dissembling press release regarding the June 8, 2016, Russian-collusion meeting at Trump Tower — putting the lie to the claims Trump and his spokesminions, like Jay Sekulow and smokey-eyed Sarah, made last July when DJT Jr.’s emails came out.

  13. Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Tr*mp’s lawyers seem to be paving the way for the coronation of King Donald. Here in Britain, the Monarch cannot be the subject of any criminal or civil legal proceedings, since she is, in the quaint and archaic terminology, the Fount of Justice. Nor can she be called as a witness in any British court, since she embodies, as Monarch, the legal system itself.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      The thing is, the Queen is not elected, so needs no help from Russia to get in, can’t pass or sign any laws and basically cannot take the country down the toilet unlike this would be King we have.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Way things are goin’, we’ll all be doin’ time for lèse-majesté before this thing is over.

  14. Heather Hastie
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Remember, if Trump resigns, Pence becomes president.

    If Trump is impeached, Pence becomes president, and he will pardon Trump.

    A dominionist will be in the White House. That is scarier than Trump as they will have direct control, and Pence knows how to work the system.

    I really hope there are some crimes in the NY Cohen investigation that Trump can be charged with after he’s out of office. He can’t be pardoned for those. As long as he has money and power, Republicans are scared to go against him.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Resignation or impeachment, Trump will wheedle himself a pardon. Nobody (excepting some self-stigmatizing patriots, like yours truly, who wish to see the rotten bastard get his due comeuppance) will want to put the nation through the trauma of a trial after he’s gone from office.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Just skip the trial and go directly to jail. Isn’t that what they do in Monopoly? That should be the Trump’s favorite – buy up property and go to jail.

      • Diane G
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        “Trauma of a trial?”

        Hell, talk about your reality TV! I’m buying popcorn futures.

  15. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    It seems that all the Republicans that would have tried to stop Trump have left or have been fired.

    • Diane G
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      Or in McCain’s case, are inconveniently dying.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Indeed!

  16. Randy Bessinger
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Again, his supporters only care if he is “winning”. It does not matter how. They will applaud if he defeats the “deep state” of The Clintons and Obamas even if it is with his own pardon. A large majority of the rest of the public will only care that the economy is humming along, and a peace deal with N. korea may happen. I am very concerned about our democracy.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, Randy, one of the dangers here is that, the longer this goes on, the more Trump can gaslight his fans into believing that, no matter how bad the evidence against him gets, it’s all just us-versus-them, a meshuggeneh conspiracy carried out by his enemies.

    • Posted June 4, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      I strongly suspect that all his supports only care if *he says* he’s winning.

      That commemorative coin celebrating that US/Korean summit that never happened? That was *for sale* in The White House gift shop when the photo of it appeared in the news.

  17. mirandaga
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    The leaked letter argues that Trump “could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.” The commentary by Charlie Savage acknowledges that this refers to ending the Flynn investigation and pardoning Flynn, neither of which is all that controversial. But then Savage goes on to say “But the sentence may also leave open the possibility that he could order the obstruction investigation into himself shut down or even pardon himself.”

    So now we’ve got a huge and highly controversial conjecture based on the flimsy “may also leave open the possibility” which somehow gets translated into “Trumps lawyers argue he. . .can pardon himself.” In fact Trumps lawyers argued no such thing; some NY Times pundit raised it as a possibility.

    This is why none of this is going to amount to more than a hill of beans—because unless one is afflicted with DTS (Dump Trump Syndrome) that’s exactly what it is, a hill of beans.

    • Randy Bessinger
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      How do you think the investigation will play out?

      • Randy Bessinger
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Also, I am old so my memory “ain’t so good”, but I thought Trump himself suggested quite awhile ago that he could pardon anyone he wanted. He then said his lawyers said even himself. I am talking several months ago.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      Sure, it is all plausibly deniable. But don’t you think Trump would try to pardon himself if circumstances bring us to that point? I may be suffering from DTS but I really don’t see how anyone can successfully argue that he wouldn’t.

      • mirandaga
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Forget about the pardoning himself issue. My point is that this is how most of the “firestorms” surrounding Trump get started—by some pundit making a conjecture that gets repeated until it becomes, yes, fake news.

        It’s pretty clear by now that the strategy of the media (aka the “resistance”) is to keep Trump on the defensive (as Jerry points out, “spending most of his time embroiled in scandals, fighting investigations,” etc.) until the mid-term elections. Personally, I doubt they can keep it up that long without encountering backlash from people who might dislike Trump but who recognize biased reporting when they see it and dislike that even more—dare I say it, people like myself.

        • Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

          I believe that the mainstream media does, in fact, have liberal bias. But how can reporters, as real people up on current events, not be biased against racism, lies, and deliberate disassembly of valuable institutions? Trump is so one-sided in his speech and actions that any truthful reporting on them inevitably has the appearance of being biased. I would argue that, for the most part, it is fair bias — the same kind of bias we have against someone mistreating a child or robbing a grocery store.

          Trump and his supporters realize their opponents’ dilemma: Countering him inevitably opens them up to the threat of bias. This is why he is trying so hard to make the contest about us vs them, rather than good vs evil or lies vs truth. He knows that his best chance of winning is to make it into a team sport and then accuse the referees and the crowd of being unfairly against him and his team.

          • Diane G
            Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

            + 1

        • Randy Bessinger
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          My reading comprehension ain’t so good either but you don’t seem like you dislike Trump. Personally, I separate him and his administration policies from his character and personality. I admit I dislike him.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      “This is why none of this is going to amount to more than a hill of beans …

      What is the “this” you’re referencing?

      • mirandaga
        Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        The whole Russian investigation fiasco. There’s simply nothing there that isn’t manufactured by a party of poor losers. I could be wrong, of course, but I’d be willing to wager nothing will come of it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

        • Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          That’s certainly the party line but how do you explain all the coziness this administration has shown to the Russians who have been the sworn enemy of the US for many decades? And here’s the tally from Mueller’s investigation so far:

          https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/20/17031772/mueller-indictments-grand-jury

          Many of these involve Trump people lying about their Russia connections. Why would they lie unless they have something to hide?

          Finally, the nature of investigations like this is that we don’t know the full tally until the end of the investigation. The results we have so far are the small potatoes. That doesn’t mean there are big potatoes but it does mean that no one can really claim there aren’t.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          Thus far the Mueller investigation has produced four guilty pleas and 19 indictments, including 13 Russians accused of assisting in the election of Donald Trump — making it by far the most productive special counsel investigation at such an early stage in this nation’s history.

          In addition, there were numerous incriminating contacts between the Russians and the Trump campaign, and numerous suspicious actions taken by Trump vis-a-vis Russia both during the campaign and since he took office. There is also now extant an indictable case of obstruction of justice against Donald Trump.

          More indictments are coming, some likely of people in Trump’s inner circle. And the investigation of Michael Cohen in the SDNY will doubtless reveal a decade’s worth of criminal activity Cohen engaged in with DJT. If the House of Representatives flips to the Democrats in this upcoming election, articles of impeachment will be voted on by the full House next year.

          The “hill of beans” assertion is identical to what Nixon’s supporters were contending just a few months before his resignation. If this is a hill of beans, we’re in base camp staring up at Everest.

          • mirandaga
            Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

            Far be it from me to argue with someone who’s read Anthony Trollope and who can us “recrudesce” in a sentence. Still, Ken, I think there’s a good measure of wishful thinking in your projection. Again, we’ll just have to wait and see.

            Gary

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

              We both know I’m not the only one here who’s suffered through Trollope. 🙂

        • Randy Bessinger
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          I don’t know either, but I do think that “winning is the only thing” in Trump’s world (and in the world of many of his supporters). I do not think that extends to just politics for Trump so we shall see what happens. Regardless, I think the real history of Trump will be written by historians after I am dead. Too bad I won’t be around to read it.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Either you are kidding or addicted to Fox news. There are more Russians in this thing than bugs on your radiator. Trump is so owned by the Russians he probably has a backside picture of Putin just for practice. Mueller is a republican, by the way. So is Rosenstein. The guy that collected lots of the Russian ties was a British X MI6 agent. The only thing manufacturing here folks are those little conspiracy ideas in your head.

          • mirandaga
            Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

            So you’re the one who thinks the Russians rigged the election and I’m the one with little conspiracy ideas in my head? Hmm.

            Frankly, I couldn’t care less how many Russians were involved. Do you think we’ve never been involved in another country’s elections? If the Ruskies had the good sense to want Hillary to lose, more power to ‘em! So did I. Good riddance!

            But there’s not a shred of evidence that team Trump put them up to it nor that the so-called Russian “involvement” had any effect on the outcome. The whole point of the investigation is to keep it going. No conspiracy this, just a lot of poor losers who can’t think of anything better to do win the mid-terms.

        • Zetopan
          Posted June 6, 2018 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

          People here need to be aware that poet Gary Miranda publically stated years ago that he was working on a play supporting the catholic churches claim at that time that Galileo was wrong and the church was right. How’s that play coming along Gary?

          I think that you will find that Miranda is a right winger who actually supports Trump.

    • Randy Bessinger
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      Looks like one of his lawyers said today he could pardon himself but “likely” won’t. It is Rudy though so tomorrow may be a dufferent TV interview. This would enjoyable if I didn’t live in this country.

    • Mikeyc
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      I just read the NYT analysis of the letter to Mueller that is alleged to make the claim that Trump can pardon himself. I think mirandaga has a good point – this is a supposition made by the Times, not a claim by Trump’s lawyers.

  18. bric
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted June 3, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Actually, I think they’re both wrong. Any obstruction of justice charges are likely to be be based on the so-called “omnibus clause” of 18 USC section 1503(a), which prohibits anyone from “corruptly … endeavor[ing] to ifluence …” any grand jury or federal agency investigation.

  19. SusanD
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    What’s the definition of a dictator:

    1. a leader who has complete power in a country and has not been elected by the people

    2. a person who gives orders and behaves as if they have complete power

    As 3 million more people voted for Clinton than for Trump, he wasn’t elected by the people but put into power by the ridiculously non-democratic electoral college (created to ensure that the stupid people did not elect a demagogue), so definition 1 applies. Definition 2 is definitely applicable.

  20. eric collier
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    “How do you like your President now, you Republicans who voted for this pathetic excuse for a leader?”
    The answer is: they love him more than ever, his approval ratings are rising, the public’s approval of Mueller is sinking, and America is officially a shit-hole country.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      Eric – precisely. Just listen to the chatter of the folks who think Trump is a godsend; he is singularly responsible for the best economy ever from jobs numbers to unemployment; for tax cuts for everybody; he has called out the main-stream media as purveyors of fake news that cannot tell any truth about how great he is; he has come down hard on illegal immigrants; he has called out all [especially black athletes] who do not honor America and its flag; he has defended traditional Christian values and stopped the persecution; ad nauseum. Anyone with a modicum of sense doesn’t buy this tripe, but it’s clear that many folks are buying what the con man is selling.

  21. Randy Bessinger
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I think what the heck I will make a prediction. I think that Mueller’s report will show a reasonable person would conclude that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. Trump himself will be implicated. I don’t think he will be impeached because the House (and Senate) will remain Republican. I also think confidential parts of the report will show he broke the law and a case could be made against him for money laundering. Nothing will come of that part of the investigation. I think the odds are against him running in 2020. Before leaving office, he will pardon those indicted individuals from the Mueller investigation that did not plead guilty.

    • Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      That’s as good a bet as any. Of course, having free will, we should work to improve the results.

  22. Jon Gallant
    Posted June 3, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    369 years ago, Charles 1 asserted: “No learned lawyer will affirm that an impeachment can lie against the King… one of their maxims is, that the King can do no wrong.” Charles rather lost his head with that line of argument. Today, thanks to the progress of American democracy, lawyers for the USA’s chief executive make essentially the same claim, and can probably get away with it. I suspect the pessimists are correct about what will happen (or rather NOT happen) here. On the other hand, there are some countries—such as France, Israel, S. Korea—where national executives are not treated as above the law.

  23. Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Today, Trump cleared things up for us by tweeting:

    “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!”

    • tomh
      Posted June 4, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      He must mean that noted legal scholar Rudy Giuliani.

  24. Bob Gilbert
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    RE: “If he does that, he’d better resign, as well, for he’ll have lost all credibility—even for Republicans.”

    I have seen no evidence that “credibility” is ever a factor in contemporary Republi-con thinking or pontificating. It simply is a non-factor for them.

    • Posted June 4, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      His “credit” + “ability” with his Russian backers is more than enough to compensate.


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