Monday, December 09, 2019


I don't like the headline of this New York Times story.
With White House Absent, Impeachment Devolves Into Partisan Brawl

But the story itself is better than headline, and it contains some news.
At a meeting with senior White House officials and senators in the Roosevelt Room of the White House almost three weeks ago, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, made clear that there are not enough Senate votes to approve some of the edgier witnesses that Democrats and Republicans want to call. While he mentioned no names, it was interpreted by those in the room to refer to people like Hunter Biden, the son of the former vice president, whom Mr. Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate.
I don't know what "Democrats and" is doing in that paragraph. We're talking about "edgier witnesses" Republicans want to call, full stop -- not just Hunter Biden but presumably also Joe Biden, Adam Schiff, and the whistleblower. We've read in previous stories that there might not be the votes to call them, but it's good to have further confirmation.

But beyond the headline, I'm annoyed by one sentence in the story. It's this:
Mr. Trump and his close circle of advisers are convinced that the Ukraine inquiry is merely an extension of the investigation into Russian election meddling and the continuation of a three-year assault on his presidency that began the day he was inaugurated with the launch of an activist’s website,
Really? The Times is taking this complaint seriously enough to direct readers to a website that seems to have had little or nothing to do with the drive toward impeachment, but that the president and other Republicans seem to be obsessed with nevertheless? is the website of the organization featured in a Washington Post story with the headline "The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun." Republicans never tire of pointing out that the story appeared on the Post website at 12:19 P.M. on Trump's inauguration day. Here was Congressman Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, in his opening statement during the committee's public hearing on impeachment last week:
In 2016, the American people had the audacity to elect, in Democrats’ eyes, the wrong person as president. That is the entire reason we are here. Democrats, and their allies in the media and the permanent federal bureaucracy, are furious at the American people. They cannot abide as president a man who promised American voters he would shake up Washington. The man who said he would work for them — the Forgotten Man and Woman — not the entrenched political elites.

Just 19 minutes after noon on Inauguration Day, 2017, the Washington Post ran the headline: “The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun.”
At an October campaign rally in Minneapolis, Trump said,
You remember that just nineteen minutes after I raised my hand and took the oath of office, The Washington Post, a terrible newspaper that doesn’t know how to write the truth, published a story, and in this case they might’ve gotten it pretty correct. They said, 'The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun.' That was the headline. Little did we know they weren’t playing games.

But the Post story wasn't a call to arms. It was an inauguration-day sidebar story about a couple of scruffy pro-impeachment groups you've probably never heard of, groups that have had little or no effect on the events of the past three years.
The effort to impeach President Donald John Trump is already underway.

At the moment the new commander in chief was sworn in, a campaign to build public support for his impeachment went live at, spearheaded by two liberal advocacy groups aiming to lay the groundwork for his eventual ejection from the White House.

The organizers behind the campaign, Free Speech for People and RootsAction, are hinging their case on Trump’s insistence on maintaining ownership of his luxury hotel and golf course business while in office.
Until I found this story a couple of months ago, I'd never heard of either group. And you'll notice that there's been no serious effort in the House to impeach Trump on emoluments.

The group's website is professional-looking and the legal advisory board has a couple of semi-famous names (former presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig, former New York State gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout) -- but the blog has been dormant since July (most recent post: "Congressman Al Green To Force Vote on Impeachment of Donald Trump," July 15, 2019).

And yet the right wants you to believe that the story about this group was the beginning of the impeachment process that's happening now, that Democrats were in cahoots with this little-known group, and that The Washington Post was part of the plot also. And now the Times is taking that argument seriously.

Please, just stop. The story hinted at the widespread dissatisfaction with Trump, but otherwise it had nothing to do with what's happening now. It wasn't part of a plot.

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