Weekend Reads Opinions | Trump is cornered, and his ‘civil war’ threat stinks of panic
Fredette's lawyer urges jury to opt for manslaughter in double murder case
SAINT-JEROME, Que. — A Quebec man accused of the murder of two people, including his ex-wife, snapped the day of the killings but didn't intend to kill anyone, his lawyer told a jury on Thursday. Ugo Fredette has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murders of Veronique Barbe and Yvon Lacasse. Louis-Alexandre Martin delivered his opening statement to jurors in the case of Fredette, asking them not to absolve him but to set aside the murderUgo Fredette has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murders of Veronique Barbe and Yvon Lacasse.
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President Trump has nowa top supporter raising the prospect of “civil war." He unnamed national security officials in his own government of “spying” on him. He just a top Democrat in Congress to be arrested for “treason.”
And that was all in the last 24 hours.
All of this has many observers warning that Trump is lurching in an increasingly authoritarian direction, as the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry ratchets up.
Rick Salutin: Trump derangement syndrome and the Canadian election
The U.S. is now at peak derangement on the Trumpometer, which measures Americans’ states of mind, not Trump’s. Salon surveyed “Trump’s Wacky, Angry, and Extreme August” with tips on fighting “Trump depression.” The New Yorker portrayed “a dark journey to a nasty and contentious place.” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote: “We’ve been trying to figure out for three years if he is a mad aberration … or is rewiring the game in some permanent way.” Observers will note this angst mostly arises in journalists and/or liberals who feel they’re no longer receiving the deference they deserve.
But all of this is better seen as an expression of deep panic and self-incrimination -- not just because the latest revelations have Trump on the defensive, but also because of meaningful shift in the power dynamics shaping the standoff between the White House and Democrats.
There’s been a very fundamental change in the way House Democrats are going about holding Trump accountable: They’re no longer in the position of demanding cooperation from the White House and then waiting for a court to compel it.
Instead, Democrats now can threaten immediate consequences for the failure to comply: Impeachment for that very act of stonewalling.
This pattern, and the force of this new dynamic, become clear when you pull together multiple new statements from Democrats. On, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said that if the White House doesn’t meet its demands as part of their impeachment inquiry, “they will be strengthening the case for an article of impeachment based on obstruction of the lawful functions of Congress.”
Opinions | How you know Trump is in a full panic
The unanswered question is fatal to Trump.President Trump, amidst the shouting of “treason” at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and the repetition of debunked conspiracy theories, revealed that he understands how much trouble he is in.
Schiff issued a similar warning. And Democrats on three committees just the State Department for a raft of documents designed to shed more light on Trump’s pressure on the Ukrainian president. They that failure to comply “shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.”
This came with a hard deadline of one week. And this fundamentally upends the dynamic that held sway for months.
Before, Trumpworld had developed an effective way to insulate Trump against accountability. White House lawyers employed deeply strained claims of executive prerogative to stall testimony and document production demanded by Democrats hoping to flesh out the special counsel’s findings. Meanwhile, Trumpists like Corey Lewandowskiwhen questioned by Congress.
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Three Spanish police officers who were thrown into the sea when their boat crashed early Friday during a high-speed chase were pulled to safety by the drug-smugglers they were chasing. The unexpected rescue happened after a police vessel began pursuing a speedboat "with four people on board that was suspected of transporting drugs" in waters off the southern coast of Spain, a police statement said.
Trumpworld could keep all this up, secure in the knowledge that the right wing media would lay down a covering fog of pro-Trump obfuscation while mainstream fact checks got drowned out by the din, and by their own both-sidesing instincts.
As long as Republicans in Congress could be counted on never to break from Trump, and the courts would drag out Democratic oversight demands for many months, there would be no immediate consequences for any of this, and perhaps not ever.
But now that’s changed. Now there is a consequence for all of this.
A stark choice
The result is that Trumpworld is faced with a stark choice: Either they cooperate with Democratic demands, or they strengthen the public case for an article of impeachment for obstructing Congress.
The problem for them is that such cooperation will also likely build the case for impeachment. Democrats havethe State Department for a full transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president. They’ve demanded records relating to Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani’s campaign to pressure Ukraine, and to Trump’s decision to withhold military aid.
Former Trump Organization executive says she expects President Trump will resign
A former Trump Organization executive says she thinks President Donald Trump may resign rather than face possible removal from office by impeachment. "He does a lot of things to save face," Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization vice president, told CNN's Brian Stelter on Reliable Sources Sunday. "It would be very, very, very bad for him to be impeached," Res said. "I don't know that he'll be found guilty but I don't know that he wants to be impeached. I think that's what this panic is about. And my gut [instinct] is that he'll leave office, he'll resign.
Meanwhile, Schiff hasthat the Justice Department produce records that could shed light on its role in trying to block the whistleblower complaint from reaching Congress.
Meeting such demands would almost certainly deepen the gravity of this scandal. After all, the known facts are impeachable: Trump corruptly used the power of the presidency to pressure a foreign leader desperately awaiting our military aid to interfere in a U.S. election on his behalf by manufacturing smears against a likely general election opponent. And his top officials tried to keep it all from Congress.
But if Trump and officials refuse to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, they are preventing Congress from getting to the bottom of all this already-established corruption.
An article of impeachment for that is not an idle threat. That formed part of oneagainst Richard Nixon.
Now that we’re seeingfor the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, further obstruction of Congress is likely to work against Trump in another way -- by helping to build public support for impeachment itself.
Trump builds case for his impeachment
Which brings us to Trump’s latest rage tweets. TrumpSchiff should be tried for “treason,” and a prominent supporter claiming removal would “cause a Civil War like fracture." Trump also recently that the whistleblower should be executed.
Trump mocked for claim of 'great and unmatched wisdom' in Syria tweet
Critics said Donald Trump showed anything but wisdom in suddenly announcing a U.S. troop withdrawal from northern Syria."My great and unmatched wisdom.
It has been suggested that these utterances themselves constitute more grounds for impeachment. But this point needs to be refined.
Such outbursts, rather than constituting impeachable offenses on their own, could form a part of an article of impeachment for obstructing Congress. This would declare that Trump has defied lawful oversight efforts. It would add that pursuant to that, Trump tried to incite violence in the country, potentially put the whistleblower’s life in danger, tried to chill future whistleblowing, and suggested prosecution of a member of Congress for carrying those efforts out.
There is precedent for such an approach. Oneagainst Nixon included his pattern of public statements -- his relentless public lying about ongoing investigations into him -- but this was used to support the broader charge of obstruction of justice. As Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz detail , this “mosaic approach” is the way to loop in lesser but egregious charges.
Thus, Trump’s wannabe-autocrat ravings actually could help bolster an article of impeachment against him. And they could help build the public case for his impeachment as well.
Five facts that blow up the latest White House defense of Trump .
Trump has declared war on the impeachment inquiry. It's based on demonstrable nonsense.President Trump has “declared war” against the House’s impeachment inquiry, we’re told, based on an eight page letter written by the White House counsel that openly declares a posture of maximal resistance, on the grounds that the inquiry is illegitimate.
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