It was the epic Friday night news dump of all time, culminating in the just-past-9 p.m. pardoning of convicted criminal, ace birther and former Sheriff Joe Apieceofwork. With the possible exception of the "I quit/ no you're fired!" termination of Nazi Lite Sebastian Gorka from his nebulous White House post (with a quick slink back to Brietbart, natch), all of that dumped news has impeachment implications, new and old. Oh, and it was all done as the worst hurricane to make US landfall in a decade was closing in on Texas.
Let us begin with the most likely to be lost in the explosion: earlier on Friday: the public rebuke of Homegrown Hitler's remarks on Charlottesville by his chief financial advisor Gary Cohn in an interview with the Financial Times. As the WAPost reports, HH was "furious" but Cohn is so essential (Wall Street panicked when his resignation was rumored--a well-founded rumor, it turns out, because he drafted a resignation letter) that the official response from the White House was much more tepid.
Also the first subpoenas from Robert Mueller's DC grand jury for testimony about Paul Manafort and his tangled webs of deception. There was also the little matter of North Korea firing missiles into the ocean near Japan, though initial reports claim they all failed.
But the superstar of the news dump was the pardon. Two responses to it so far are notable: A quick statement of "disagreement" with the decision from the usually mealy-mouthed Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose statement continues:“Law-enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.” Ryan of course would be a key figure in any future impeachment proceeding.
And second, the response from Dem Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who said it "violates his [HH's] oath of office." That a Dem Senator opposed it isn't the significance--it is positioning it as a violation of the oath of office. Without saying so, that makes it grounds for an article of impeachment.
The predominant--if not universal--view is that the pardon is constitutional, though its extraordinary, really unprecedented nature qualifies it for court challenge. Although Christian Farias in New York Magazine opines that it won't lead to impeachment, he also quotes Justice Breyer from last year: “There’s no blank check, even for the president,” he said during the hearing. “And if there’s no blank check, that means sometimes they can go too far. And if they have gone too far, it is our job to say that.” As a constitutional issue, the Supreme Court could examine a pardon power case for the first time in its history.
If they do, they will look at the intent and the history. Its intent, say scholars, was to keep the peace in a time of upheaval, such as the first pardon of miscreants convicted in the Whiskey Rebellion--that is, for the common good. This pardon is obviously divisive, and plays only to HH's political base.
But a court case on the pardon itself, or an article of impeachment, aren't the only places it could turn up. If it demonstrates to those that Robert Mueller prosecutes that they need not worry about it, it subverts justice from the get go, and becomes another Obstruction of Justice count. If it impedes the investigation itself, as Rep. Adam Schiff charges, by signaling that targets or witnesses can get away with even not cooperating, then again it's obstruction.
The political base motive was clear in HH's campaign speech in Phoenix in which he asked the audience if they liked "Sheriff Joe" and promised him that he would be all right. Further, he offered the opinion that Arpaio was wrongfully convicted, ("convicted for doing his job") and therefore the pardon is a clear case of the maybe no longer apprentice but functioning dictator substituting his judgment for the court and for the legislature that passed the law.
These two political motives: to reward a loyalist and their common political base, and to foul up the Mueller investigation, are given further credence by the Washington Post story that last spring, the apprentice dictator asked the attorney-general to drop the federal case against Arpaio.
Add them altogether and it's called Abuse of Power, right up their with Obstruction of Justice as primary grounds for impeachment.
The other of the twin stars of the dump was the White House announcement banning the armed services from accepting transgender recruits. Let the law suits begin!
"As Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed reports, this memo is expected to receive significant legal challenges in the months ahead. Multiple LGBT advocacy organizations are seeking injunctions against the implementation of Trump’s transgender ban. The American Civil Liberties Union made no secret of its legal intentions, either, tweeting simply: “We’ll see you in court.”
The issues have become constitutional ones and it seems likely to end up, in fairly short order, in the Supreme Court. When articles of impeachment are drawn up, the attempt to abrogate a constitutional right of equality as recently interpreted by the Supreme Court, could be among them. In fact, because the Arpaio conviction was for persistent discrimination against Latinos, that could go into such a count as well.
Of the immediate responses to this decision, one stands out, partly because it came from the daughter of a cabinet member in the current regime, who is also an armed forces vet. That a child of a prominent pol publicly disagrees is not entirely new. But the terms used by Jen Detlefsen, the daughter of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in her social media post were notably harsh:
“This man is a disgrace. I've tried to keep politics out of my social media feed as much as possible, but this is inexcusable,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
“This veteran says sit down and shut the f--- up, you know-nothing, never-served piece of s---. #itmfa #wtf”
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