A wonderful article in today’s London Guardian newspaper, discussing the concept of ‘presumption of regularity,’ as it relates to elected officials generally, and to Trump specifically.
There are those who will say that this presumption is an unfair measure for a President, who won election precisely so that he would be ‘irregular.’ Not least the large number of Trump backers who say they still support him.
It is a weird dichotomy. I have spent my time since the Presidential election of 2016 making a case that those who oppose Trump will more likely defeat him with politics, not facts.
That no matter how much ‘educated’ Democratic leaders and others can argue that Trump does not conform to the norm, if Trump is perceived by those who voted for him to be sticking it to ‘elitist’ Washington, then he will remain a potent political force.
And yet now, it seems that the eggheads will win the day. With law. But is it as simple as that?
There is little doubt that, whatever may actually be in the Comey memo’s, however difficult it may be to make even contemporaneous yet unsubstantiated testimony apply, the very knowledge of those memo’s has changed the tenor of the ‘game.’
Even if the measure is not presumption, it is perception. And that again underlines the dichotomy here.
Our perception is that legal has now replaced political. That the allegation by the immediate past Director of the FBI that a sitting President requested him to go easy in an investigation is irrefutably an impeachable offense of obstruction of justice.
And yet, as I have written elsewhere, the process of impeachment is itself singularly political, not legal.
Even if the process were not so, the outcome almost certainly will be. Articles may clear the House. But it will be extremely difficult to find 67 votes to convict in the Senate. And, if they are found, to what extent will that be a strictly ‘legal’ conclusion, and to what extent, payback for ‘irregularity’?
There are then two political consequences which will almost certainly figure in the minds of some.
First, regardless of what Trump may or may not have done. Is Pence really the better option?
Trump is a loose cannon. He is reckless. And feckless. He may be a crook. Certainly, on the face of it, he appears to have unhealthy associations with Russia. On the one hand, he could be no more than a buffoon, out of his depth. On the other, he could be someone who knows precisely what he is doing, knows it to be wrong, and is deserving of removal.
And yet. Pence is a believer. Is this better? I’m not asking that question. I’m saying it may well be in the minds of people engaged in a process that is way more political than legal.
The second political consequence is this. And please forgive the unfortunate sexual reference. If we blow our wad now. If we are not fully loaded. If we slip and fail. Will we get another shot?
Will the actuality, even the threat, of impeachment merely incense and rally Trump’s supporters, who may see all of these moves against their ‘champion,’ barely 100 days into his Presidency, their Presidency, who may see these moves as no more than a plot by Washington against the ‘ordinary folk’?
If investigation by the special counsel drags on beyond 2018, and Republicans perform well in the elections that year, to what extent might there be a view that such a performance of itself could be seen as a form of political substitute for impeachment?
Again, I’m not saying these political considerations should play any part in a process that presents itself as being strictly legal. But I do believe they will. Precisely because the process is more political than legal.
But. We get ahead of ourselves. The special counsel has not even begun his work. And, as much as that work probably should be sub judice, it won’t be. It wasn’t with Bill. It won’t be with Donald.
The great pastime for talking and writing heads for the next few months, if not years, will be pontificating about facts and processes, aspects of Russia, Trump and impeachment, which very few of those expounding know anything about. But then, that too is the way in this new world of social media immediacy.
Do I think that the special counsel will recommend that the President be impeached? On the basis of what we know now? No.
But then, I have written at length on this blog that I believe there could be much more at work here than what we currently are being told. I guess now we might find out.
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