Donald Trump last week once again told the world that he is willing to break the law. Evil doers around the world smirked. Republicans throughout the United States mostly observed the latest instance of Trump’s above-the-law attitude in silence.
As Paul Simon sang, “Fools” said I, “You do not know Silence like a cancer grows…”
Trump is already, essentially, an unindicted co-conspirator is the Michael Cohen/Stormy Daniels cover-up case. The Mueller Report lays out ten instances where he appears to have obstructed justice. Twenty-two foreign countries have handed over cash to Trump and his family through their business interests, which is a violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
Trump’s campaign management team and his cabinet have experienced multiple investigations and scandals during the past three years. Some have already been convicted or pled guilty and have begun prison sentences. Trump is fine with looking the other way. The Republican Party follows his lead.
The Mueller Reports documents more than one hundred instances where Trump connections met with/worked with/coordinated with the Russian government. Trump had said “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected,” meaning of course that he left the dirty work to his team. The Republican Party used to be staunchly anti-Russian, anti-Communist. No more. Where is Richard Nixon – where is Joe McCarthy – when the Republican Party needs them?
Trump last week said he has no problem again taking assistance from a foreign country to help him win office. The Chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, Ellen Weintraub, almost immediately noted “[i]t is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election. This is not a novel concept.”
Nonetheless, the leader of the Republican Party says it’s okay to take such assistance from a foreign national. Sure, he tried to walk back his willingness to violate federal law, but we all know the pattern he follows. The walk-back will be followed sooner or later by a strong re-affirmation of his original comments about how taking something of value from a foreign national to help in an election is okay.
But there is more. When a politician accepts assistance, he or she is not simply breaking the law. A foreign country who provides such assistance has now claimed an “asset” in some form. Regardless if the candidate admits it, the recipient of the assistance owes something to the country providing the assistance. The foreign country, in effect, owns the asset.
Try as he might, Donald Trump cannot explain away his cooperation with Russia by claiming that he is his own man. The assistance of the Russians in the 2016 election is well-documented by American intelligence agencies. His repeated deference to Vladimir Putin has clearly demonstrated his allegiance.
Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell ties up legislation dealing with foreign interference in our 2020 election. House Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise play dumb. “No one dared disturb the sound of silence.”
The Democratic primary
The first Democratic presidential debates for the 2020 election will be held next week. The debate arrangements by the Democratic National Committee, Governor Steve Bullock aside, have done a decent job of giving everyone a chance. They learned from the 2016 Republican primary debates, which arranged things so that some of the candidates with just marginal support, including Lindsay Graham and Rick Santorum, were assigned to the 5 PM “children’s table debate” – which in retrospect was probably a good idea for those candidates.
With the crowded stages on both nights of the Democratic debates and a two hour time limit the exposure of each participant is going to be quite limited. It’s not really going to be a debate in the sense that there will be some meaningful exchange of views between and among candidates. It is what it is. The ground rules for the September debates are much more stringent, so we should start to see a winnowing of the field by then to the top eight or so candidates.
A recent post on this blog conducted a short poll about presidential politics. I made it clear that the poll was in no way scientific, but rather just a random testing of the waters. Nonetheless, a couple nuggets of information were interesting.
Eighty percent of the people participating in the poll indicated that they are or lean toward being Democrats. Twenty-four Democratic presidential hopefuls were listed in a question.
Joe Biden was the choice of the largest number of poll participants (34 percent). Coming in second was Elizabeth Warren (22 percent), followed by Pete Buttigieg (10 percent) and Kamala Harris (9 percent). But where was Bernie Sanders? Not one participant selected him!
The other point worth noting from Politics and Other Stuff’s informal survey was the total lack of support of 13 of the 24 listed Democrats. Seven others barely registered.
These unscientific bits of information seem to parallel what is happening nationally thus far in the Democratic primary. It appears from national polls that the crowded liberal end of the candidate field is doing some sorting, and Sanders appears to be fading. Warren and to a lesser extent Kamala Harris seem to be using up much of the oxygen in that particular candidate lane.
Most of the 24 candidates need to clear the stage in the not too distant future to let the party make a serious evaluation of the candidates who are qualified, credible, and may have a chance of winning in 2020.
It’s still way too early to sort this thing out, but the way in which the party has structured the debates is on the right track. Let the games begin.