Musing about law, books, and politics

Trump Goes Public. Now What?

The breaking news this morning was that Trump, in public, urged China to investigate the Bidens. He moved the conversation from “Did Trump do it?” to “Now he’s doing it in public.”

Given that polling is showing increased public support for impeachment, journalist Derek Thompson called Trump’s doubling down “risky.”

It seems to me that doubling down on his base may be his best move. Remember:

  • 2/3 vote in the Senate is required for removal from office.
  • Less than 2/3 vote in the Senate will allow Trump to claim he was acquitted and fully exonerated.
  • Many (or most) Senators will vote with their constituents.
  • Trump’s solid base (about 33%)* is not evenly distributed.
  • His base is concentrated more heavily in the small, rural states more heavily represented in the Senate.
  • He can’t prevent impeachment. He’s looking for a Senate “acquittal.”

*That 33% comes from lots of places, including psychologists who tell us that about 33% of the population has what used to be called an “anti-democratic personality” and is now called an “authoritarian personality.

A follower on Twitter who calls himself Frederick C. Trump said:

I agree that this strategy of doubling down on his base means the Republicans will lose by a landslide in 2020.

But I don’t think Trump is thinking that far ahead. He’s trying to save his presidency.

We’ve known for a while that impeachment is coming. We’ve also known that the bigger challenge is removal in the Senate. This is why Pelosi and Schiff are working to create an airtight case that will make it difficult or impossible for GOP Senators to side with Trump.

This evening, Trump further went public by coming right out and declaring himself an autocrat:

In autocracies, the autocrat decides who should be investigated and prosecuted.

Prosecutorial independence is based on the democratic principle that elected officials shouldn’t make the decision.

This of course prevents elected officials from targeting political opponents the way, say, Putin does.

Trump has been pummeling the democratic institution of prosecutorial independence for three years.

In 2017, Trump said: “I have the absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department.”

Now he insists that he has the right to ask foreign governments to investigate anyone he wishes, including his political opponents.

This puts the Republican leadership in a corner.

Do they break with Trump?

Or do they admit that they’ve turned into an anti-democratic party? (You can’t try to hold on to white male supremacy AND be pro-democracy)

What will the Republican congressional leadership do?

Will they be willing to let Trump trample prosecutorial independence?

Or will they say Trump now gone too far?

That, my dearies, is the question.

TangoFoxTrox asked:

My guess is that, when push comes to shove, the Republican leadership will split. Some, like Jim Jordan and Nunes, will show their true authoritarian, anti-democratic colors.

Others will say Trump has gone too far.

This is why I think that two things are likely:

  • The Senate will acquit Trump
  • The GOP will lose in a landslide in 2020.

The Trump faithful will never forgive the Republican leadership who turns on him.

[Read the first part as a Twitter thread]

[Read the second part as a Twitter thread]