The Phaserl


Impeachment Just Got Closer, But at the Expense of the People

by Seth Ferris, New Eastern Outlook:

Nowadays all we hear is the “I” word – Impeachment. Donald Trump is going to be removed from office through being impeached, i.e. charged with, and then tried by, Congress for crimes he has allegedly committed. There has been talk of this since before he took office, and it would be a major surprise if it didn’t happen.

Trump won the election by being an outsider, much like Jimmy Carter once did in the wake of Watergate, but he is too far outside for his own Republican Party, let alone the Democrats. These forces have always sought an excuse to get rid of him, but Trump has provided them with plenty, treating the rest of the country’s elected representatives with contempt, as if only he has a mandate and that mandate is to get rid of them, not the other way round.

Professor Robert Reich, admittedly a Democrat, reckons there are already four grounds on which to impeach Trump, with a fifth about to happen .

All the grounds given are indeed “High Crimes and Misdemeanours” as defined by the US Constitution. Trump must have been aware of his predicament, but blusters on committing more crimes on the grounds that he is somehow above reality, a trait very characteristic of political leaders and big businessmen, but not ultimately beneficial to them or anyone else.

The interesting thing however is: what grounds will be used to impeach Trump? The latest suggestion is that Trump’s handling of James Comey’s firing constitutes obstruction of justice, adding yet another ground to what is already a long list. But we have been down this road many times before.

The one thing we can say about making public accusations against a high-profile figure is this: whatever the publicly stated reasons for removing the person, they won’t be the real reasons why those behind the prosecution want to get rid of them.

This famously happened as far back as the Council of Constance in 1416 when it tried the Antipope John XXIII. John’s crime was being on what was suddenly considered the wrong side of the split in the Western Church, which his former supporters wanted immunity from being part of. However, as Edward Gibbon noted, when it came to his trial “the most scandalous charges were suppressed – the Vicar of Christ was only accused of piracy, murder, rape, sodomy and incest”.

More recently a scandal engulfed the English county of Somerset in 1986 over the decision not to renew the contracts of two of its cricket team’s star players, both West Indians, who had helped the club win multiple trophies after they had never won any before. The official reason for the sacking was that the two stars were no longer pulling their weight. In fact one of the sacked players had been reported to be a drug user, and Somerset’s other big star, Englishman Ian Botham who resigned over the issue, was proven to also be a drug user around the same time, the headlines concerning this being cited as a distraction for the club.

So will we ever hear why so many people with the power to do it want Trump out? It is unlikely, for one reason – look who has been appointed the Special Counsel!

Wolf Tending Sheep

One of the grounds to impeach Trump is his alleged collusion with Russia to win the election. Important overseas governments, not least that of the US, always try their hand at influencing elections in other countries in the way they like. However actively colluding with other governments to influence an election is a serious violation of US law. Russia may have committed no crime, but anyone colluding with it to procure a particular election result certainly has.

However the Department of Justice investigation into this matter will now be overseen by Robert Mueller, the former assistant FBI Director. Initially this appointment was greeted with jubilation, particularly by those who drew parallels with the gradual destruction of Richard Nixon by the appointment of investigators he had long resisted appointing himself. But what do we know about Mueller?

We know that he has longstanding links to the gun running empire of Senator John McCain. We know that he has a history of laundering corrupt governments – it was his agents who were brought in to whitewash former Georgian president Saakashvili over the probable murder of his own Prime Minister, and his government’s part in the illegal exportation of arms to terrorists through issuing fake end user certificates.

We also know that he was FBI Director immediately before James Comey, who was apparently asked by Trump to end the investigation into Michael Flynn’s Russia links. Such a request is, by definition, obstruction of justice. Now Comey has been fired, allegedly for bungling the previous investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails – in other words—not convicting her, as Trump continually demanded during his campaign. Even if that is the real reason he was fired, it is clear that Trump only wants people around him who will play by his rules.

There are plenty of other lawyers in the US with the credentials to be a Special Counsel in such an important matter. The one chosen is yet another of the people who were immersed even thicker in the “swamp” Trump said he wanted to drain than the people he fired. Mueller is another who was actually committing the crimes, not giving the orders. The likes of McCain can’t get away with illegal activities without somebody signing a free pass, and only Mueller was able to do this as far as US law enforcement is concerned.

So Mueller is left with two choices. He can find no evidence against Trump, and risk further allegations of a cover-up, rightly or wrongly. Or he can find the evidence Trump wants him to find, the stuff least damaging to himself, and impeachment tries to proceed on that basis.

It is well known that Al Capone was never tried for any of his prodigious array of crimes but for tax evasion, due to his connections with anyone who might be able to prosecute him. He was convicted of that crime alone. An investigation into Trump’s campaign which produces evidence of small “errors of judgement” would not exonerate Trump but make it more difficult to impeach him, as Mueller’s investigation would be presumed to have looked at larger matters, but decided he had no case to answer.

There used to be an award in the US called the Stella Award, which was given for filing the most frivolous lawsuit. You can just see President Donald Trump demanding that the Stella Award be revived for whoever tries to impeach him based on Mueller’s report, rather than the multitude of reasons which could have been used.

With Enemies Like These …

We are also unlikely to know the real reason Trump will be impeached because he has pulled off a standard political trick which many thought him incapable of – manipulating the opposition to suit himself.

There are many with a genuine, impeachment-worthy grievance against Trump. But there are also people who hate Trump simply because he won, and will invent any excuse to try and remove him.

The worse Trump behaves, the more these two forces will align. When anyone comes out with a real issue, Trump can rely on someone to support them by spouting a stupid one.

In 1989 British politician Lord Aldington won an unprecedentedly large sum in a libel action he had brought against the author Nikolai Tolstoy, a distant relative of the novelist, and businessman Nigel Watts. The defendants had accused him of committing war crimes during the Second World War due to his involvement in the forced repatriation of various exiles back to the Soviet Union, where many were summarily executed. Aldington insisted that he had not known what would happen to these people if they were returned to the Soviet Union, but Tolstoy and Watts had stated the contrary in print.

It emerged during the trial that Watts had been involved in a long dispute with a company Aldington had been chairman of, and was desperate to smear him in any way possible. Tolstoy’s claims about Aldington had far more substance, and it later emerged that crucial documents about Aldington’s involvement had disappeared from Ministry of Defence files. Nevertheless, getting involved with Watts and his vendetta seriously damaged Tolstoy’s case, and was a major factor in the jury upholding Aldington’s claim, no one wanting to listen to sound arguments which were coupled with insane ones.

The forces trying to impeach Trump are very predictable: his political opponents, those he has fired, the liberal media he frequently attacks and anyone who considers themselves better than him. All these constituencies will cling onto any excuse to railroad him, just as Nigel Watts did when he discovered Tolstoy’s writings. However valid the reasons for impeaching Trump are, if they come out of the mouths of any of these people everything can be dismissed as part of the same “establishment conspiracy” Trump was elected to fight, despite all he has done to entrench it further.

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