The show so far, a continuing series

Vix is up 16% today, a sign that a Trump presidency is now seen as having a much more uncertain future.  I agree with Charles Cooke that the 25th amendment is not really an option, nonetheless investigations will be proceeding, with the FBI and many Republicans not really on Trump’s side.  It is not obvious that Trump will handle himself well during that process.  The chances for tax and health care reform are dwindling.  Many Republican leaders are pondering the logic of Timur Kuran, namely when they should flip out of their preference falsification and state their real views.

I think also that Trump’s instructions to Comey to halt the Flynn prosecution are significant.  I view much of the press coverage as overstated or sometimes even hysterical, including for the Russia leaks, but the Comey business fits into the category of “impeachable offense.”  A normal president would not be impeached for it, but Trump is not a normal president.  The instructions to Comey would not be the actual reason he would be impeached, but they create a path along which an impeachment inquiry could proceed, nudged along by other “non-impeachable but unpopular and objectionable actions” Trump might take in the meantime, and what information might be revealed in the meantime.  There are many shoes yet to drop.  So my estimate of the chances of a Trump impeachment or resignation have gone up from about 5% to about 25%, in less than a two-day span.

Addendum: Do consider the remarks of Philip Wallach.


We should thank Trump for saving the Supreme Court for a generation, no small thing. But it's time for him to go.

Helpful advice when reading this rag

I don't want you in the next foxhole. At the first sound of a gunshot, you throw your rifle down and run away. This week's events are no big deal. Read what an expert thinks:

Adams is a fairly smart guy who can't leave his own narrative for new truths. He's locked in.

On May 11, The Economist published an interview with Trump in which he betrayed near illiteracy about key economic issues facing the White House and his own proposed policies on them. [..] On May 15, Politico published a story about Trump’s news consumption that indicated his staffers were routinely passing him fake news stories, both to manipulate him and out of fear that giving him real news that might upset him. Politico also said Trump was unable to tell real news from fake, falling for a photoshopped Time cover before his staff intervened to tell him it was forged. Later that day, The Washington Post broke the news that during a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, Trump had shared highly sensitive classified information obtained from an ally who had not authorized its sharing. LINK

That's not the president Adams wanted, but he can't quit him.

From Scott Adams' blog, "Do you see Trump asking Comey to end the Flynn investigation in the quote “I hope you can let this go”?"

Dude, just stop. How would Adams ever wrap his head around an organized crime or corruption investigation in which people deliberately use code words and euphemisms in communication? This isn't nearly as ambiguous -- Trump is telling his at-will employee what his desired outcome is even though he hasn't seen all the evidence and, even if the evidence turned out not to be favorable to Flynn, Trump still possesses full pardon power.

Adams has lost it, don't let him bother you. A smart man got duped into thinking Trump was also a smart man, and he's embarrassed so he has to double down. Sad!

You guys are so right. Adams was the smart one about candidate Trump but he seems locked into his losing position regarding President Trump.

Adams always believed there was a hidden puppeteer inside Trump's head, the clever man making the puppet earn applause. But Adams was wrong, even during the campaign it was only the puppet, responding to applause.

That can't be right - because that would imply he meant he would fire him if he didn't do what he was implying. And of course that didn't happen. Wait, it did? Never mind.

And Scott Adams is an expert on this because....

I love how people who supposedly value "expertise" and rationality think a cartoonist is some sort of impartial expert on psychology and politics. Scott Adams isn't "right about Trump" and never has been; if Trump were a "master persuader" he wouldn't have taken office with a 40% approval rating. Trump IS a master self-promoter, but that's not the same thing (although there is some overlap between the two).

Adams said that Trump had 99% chance of winning the presidency. Nate Silver said he had a 35% chance. If you interpret that as meaning "Adams was right; Nate was wrong," simply because Trump won by a hair, you are doing the exact same thing newspapers did in the fall when they all but proclaimed Clinton the winner. That's not how probabilities work.

It is fair to say Adams was "right" about Trump being a candidate to take seriously, who had a great shot of winning. Almost every single other person on Earth didn't get that, certainly not as early as he did. He deserves credit for it. But he's now finding that he was right for the wrong reasons. He's a smart guy, so in his mind only a genius playing "Trump" could close the deal. The fact that a dumdum got millions of other dumdums to vote him in is really hard for Adams to deal with.

Adams is a pretty smart guy, who understands that he's smart about just a few things, and mines that for all it's worth. He's now let his success go to his head, and he's believing he's smarter than he is. And so he's embarrassing himself over defending Trump despite the obvious truth that Trump is unfit to lead.

Trump is a pretty smart guy who makes the mistake of thinking he's really smart, and that he's really smart about most things. So he's been embarrassing himself all his life, but no one cared too much, because he mostly stayed in his comfort zone. Now, the further he gets from the few things he's smart about (NYC commercial RE, self promotion), the bigger the embarrassments.

Thanks to Trump, corporations will have more rights than individuals!

Ie, individuals will not be allowed to require corporations not harm them, nor will individuals be able to use common law torts to sue corporations for compensation for the harms done to them by corporations.

After all, voters, workers, people, and consumers exist only to be exploited by corporations.

And government exists to serve corporations by making sure corporations have revenue that is 100% profit. If workers and consumers have no money because of labor costs being cut to zero, government needs to use tax cuts to money in the pockets of consumers, or vouchers for education, housing, food, etc, so corporations see higher revenue no matter what.

After all, the only acceptable cost in free lunch libertarian government political-economics is monopoly profits and rents. Every government rule requiring paying workers is harmful because paying workers is always job killing.

Job killing paying of doctors and nurses. Job killing paying of workers protecting workers, customers, populations, future populations. Job killing paying of workers building productive capital assets.

The best economy is the economy with zero labor costs: 1% slave masters owning 99% slaves.

Anyone want to make the case conservatives believe higher labor costs mean higher gdp?

"I think also that Trump’s instructions to Comey to halt the Flynn prosecution are significant."

Well, we don't know what was said do we. We do know that Comey testified under oath to congress that no one at any time asked him to stop the investigation.

But IF Comey really does write a memo after talking to the president to get the facts down for posterity then let congress subpoena them. I mean ALL of them. ALL the memos form his visits with Obama who clearly was spying on Trump and the Supreme Court and some congressmen and others. Let's get them all. I want to see what conspiracies Obama and Comey were involved in.

Someone needs to go to jail and Comey and Obama are at the top of my list.


Funny! It was OK when Barry Soetoro and Hillary Rodham committed hundreds of high crimes and misdemeanors that were a million times worse . . . Start with bypassing Congress.

The purposes of all this is "pomp and circumstances" are malicious and obstructionist toward Trump's (supposed) attempts to end crony socialists', crony capitalists', special interests', deep states', lobbyists', et al multi-trillion dollar rackets run out of DC.

Obama had Flynn investigated when he fired him. No charges were deemed necessary.

They don't know what is in Comey's memo - he testified there was no interference - or who leaked it. Anonymous sources are liars. What is the likelihood that Comey (he said, he said) is lying in whatever memo he fabricated. Lying is both SOP and a "virtue" in DC. Once a liar: not recommending indictment of Hillary is peak dishonesty.

PS Don't waste your time answering idiots.

I agree :)

The crazy thing is that there's still probably a better than 50% chance that Trump will be reelected.

A lot of people have said a lot of solemn stuff about our crucial but fragile democratic institutions in the past year, but it turns out a lot of these people maybe don't like democracy as much as they profess.

A lot of people are convinced that if their side didn't win then clearly the Democratic process was subverted. It's rationalization, but humans are good at that.

Trump's second greatest gift to us, after saving the Supreme Court, is illustrating the risks of having an overly powerful executive branch democratically elected by an ignorant and self-serving populace.

We ought to go back to being a constitutional republic.


I completely agree but this lesson will be forgotten as soon as a Democrat is elected and the mainstream media goes back to their fawning. Same with the new found love for federalism.

Can you elaborate on the phrase "self-serving populace"?

I mean, how dare those people vote their interest!


Also known as "Free Shit Army." Wants unsustainable entitlements and votes against anyone who can do math.

Or against their actual interests, as the case has actually turned out to be.

This time they voted for the candidate that swore he would never touch Medicare or Social Security. Also, that Obamacare would be replaced with better coverage, cheaper premiums and lower deductible insurance. And that nobody would lose what they gained. I.e. Medicaid expansion.

WC Varones,

No, people are not voting for "free stuff" (I rephrased that as I am not a fan of being needlessly vulgar in public forums). What people want is AFFORDABLE stuff. Healthcare that is priced beyond the average person's reach, or retirements that can only be had by the elite few are never, ever going to play in Peoria. Deal with it.


We tried that. It didn't work—in fact, it brought us here. Time to grow up.

Absolute Monarchy then?

The same group who professes love for Democracy regularly advocate the courts subverting it and are the same people who propose that we should "listen to the experts" but that voting should never involved a civics test. They are the same people who don't believe in "absolute truth". The simple solution to these contradictions is the lack of principles, resulting from a lack of belief in objective reality.

Can you explain what an absolute truth is?

I don't think saying it is what you want or believe is an acceptable explanation.

Absolute truth is the concept that things can be true or false, objectively. It is the antithesis of subjectivism which is in the very nature of the left - it's part of why they (check out Hero Chomsky) can't acknowledge that the US military is better than ISIS.

Absolute truth also implies more and less correct moralities, which is antithetical to the left's moral relativism. It's why they can celebrate terrorists attacking people unconnected to the broader political system being attacked. See 9/11.

Which implies a continued constitutional majority supporting Trump. And that constitutional majority, by definition, geographically diverse, will be voting on their representatives in the House in 2018.

No impeachment until they can turn the geographically diverse supporters of Trump to at least no longer care.

I don't like Trump, I didn't vote for Trump, but 63 million Americans did, and if the GOP, which controls Congress, decides to impeach Trump over this, the reaction (from the portion of the public that doesn't participate in the non-stop Washington insider intriguing) will be very interesting. Stay tuned.

Brian is right. And Tyler's word hysteria captures the anti-Trump frenzy well. (Btw, I did not vote for Trump either).

Trump's enemies are playing right into his hands. Deposing a newly-elected President by a constitutional trick risks plunging the nation into a constitutional crisis or, worse, civil war, that will make our present troubles seem benign.

(I won't waste my time arguing with pettifoggers about whether the 25 Amendment option is a trick or not. It is a trick and, more important, it will be recognized for what it is by Trump's base).

But it is worse than a trick. It is a colossal blunder. Precisely because it is a trick, it would probably fail. Trump's base would see the move for what it is -- a ruse to overturn the result of the recent election.

Think of what failure would mean. Think Erdogan. A failed coup would leave Trump in power. He would be able to consolidate that power and mount reprisals against the leaders of the attempted coup. Worse, the Constitution would not protect Trump's enemies because their shameless abuse of the Constitution would leave it gravely weakened, if not mortally wounded. Nor would a weakened Constitution be there to restrain the newly empowered President with scores to settle.

There are no short-cuts. If Trump is to be removed, it must be done the right way, and it must be seen as legitimate. The 25ers should heed Machiavelli's warning that you should never injure a prince unless it is so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.

Anti-Anti-Anti-Trump is the new hotness.

the country is presently in a constitutional crisis.

the electorate is hyper polarized. congressional districts are gerrymandered and unrepresentative. the electoral college is now moving towards more and more frequently awarding victory to the loser of the popular vote. approval of elected representatives is in the dumpster. confidence in the institutions of society is in the gutter. our public discourse can not even agree on what the characteristics of truth are or even could be. the university is a smoking ruin that has been captured by Stalinists. creeping authoritarianism pops up in more and more sectors of our daily lives. free travel and free expression are being rolled back by oppressive bureaucracies.

it's time to confront these issues. if not now then when? constitutional crisis has already happened and it's time to reform the terms by which our society is governed.

The precedent set by a 25th amendment removal would *probably* be worse than anything Trump can do in office, by at least a few orders of magnitude.

So was the precedent of electing a total buffoon to run the country just because of some emails by his opponent.

I agree that electing a buffoon was a bad idea.

I'd just like to see congress grapple with this problem in a way that does not set us up for mischief in future administrations.

We've had a buffoon for the past 8 years, why you concerned now?

@TMC: BURN!! Oh man, take that Obummer!

I think you mean "worse than anything Trump would most likely do in office" because Trump (and really any president) *can* do all sorts of things that would be much worse than the precedent set by the 25th amendment. I'l start with the extreme: Nuclear war.

Leaders are regularly removed by the legislature and cabinet in parliamentary systems. Yet they function well. Why would the precedent of making the presidency more vulnerable to Congress be so disastrous?

"by a constitutional trick." Yeah, that's not what this would be.

Every brazen onanistic act of rhetorical self-indulgence by our imperial elite is another reminder of their non-existent intellectual wardrobe.

The GOP won't proceed with impeachment unless the polls are showing that Trump's base is deserting him. Almost every single GOP member of Congress hates Trump, but with only a few notable exceptions (McCain, Amash, Paul), they have stuck with him because his base is with him. The polling over the next couple weeks, as the Comey memos come out and he testifies in Congress, is going to be critical.

Meh. If Trump goes Mike Pence becomes president-- whom the same 63 million people also voted for as Trump's potential replacement at need. A good case can be made that boring old Pence would be better for the Right's cause than Drama Queen Donald.

I guarantee the Reps would LOVE to get Trump out of there in favor of Pence. Problem is, if they are the ones shoving him out their voters will go ape crazy bananas angry at them.

I don't have a dog in this fight, I kinda like the do nothing gridlock we've had under Trump so far, but when you get basically the entire media, the whole intelligence apparatus/ deep state, almost all career bureaucrats, all Democrats, and most GOPers in DC trying to bring down the President, the whole thing starts to stink pretty bad to a flyover audience.

And of those 63 million, 20% thought he was not fit to be president. They just thought Clinton was worse.

From a libertarian standpoint, Trump is the best president in the last quarter century. The government can't get anything accomplished! It's fantastic!

+1, my thoughts exactly.

Celebrating over the functional collapse over a government capable of communicating is very naive.

Try that again?

Didn't realize the libertarian goal was low productivity in DC.

How is not getting anything done a libertarian position unless one favors the status quo... in which case, I guess Obumma wasn't that bad after all, right?

If you think about it hard you can probably figure it out, but since you use 'Obumma' in an internet comment I'm guessing you can't think that hard.

The reason is because libertarians would rather prove a point by having a poorly functioning high tax government than a low tax well functioning government. It's all about proving the point

Why would I want a government to function at all if it functions poorly? Isn't it better that it ceases to function at all?

yeah clearly world history has shown that societies lacking an organized set of social rules is superior to a functioning one. That's why the European Middle Ages were so much superior to classical antiquity or the enlitenment.

That's why African cheifdoms are such great places to live...

You are delusional.

We'd prefer a low-tax, low-power functioning government over a high-tax non-functioning one.

But the former was never an option this round or for the foreseeable future, was it?

So... given the options of "high tax, high power government sitting and spinning" and "high tax, high power government cranking out new stupid laws and regulations and etc.", the former wins.

See how easy that is to work out?

Yeah or you could support removal of the problem and push an agenda that lowers taxes and repeals regulations. Considering I prefer the status quo though, please sitting and spinning is ok with me. The clock it ticking away...

Me big dummy. Can you answer question and make me smartz?

I can't seem to understand how accomplishing nothing advances the libertarian position unless the status quo is the preference...

Also not so sure a surge in the drug war is a libertarian goal, nor is using the police to go door to door to round up illegal immigrants be, nor would escalating the conflicts in the Levant, things on which they have made some progress.

Perhaps you are just a LINO.

You realize there's only like 3 libertarians that comment on this blog, right?

That wasn't always so. That's a fairly recent development and one that has become more so since Lord Cheeto entered the fray.

you're not a Libertarian either though. you just pretend to be one in internet comment threads where there are no consequences to your shit talk.

While I am sympathetic to many libertarian positions, I am not a libertarian not have I ever pretended to be. Just point out the original comment didn't make much sense.

Ref. above: "Social rules" are not "government". The two are almost entirely separate.

That you conflate the two is your problem.

(Ref. less above, no, libertarians don't like Sessions as AG. So?

Nor are police actually going or being pushed for eventual going "door to door to round up illegal immigrants", though note that libertarian theory per se does not mandate any particular stance on immigration.

Lastly, foreign policy and warmaking are equally not strictly determined to any given policy by libertarian priors; libertarians can be isolationist peaceniks or pretty hawkish, especially about totalitarian failed states and international terror sponsors, equally.

"Escalating the conflicts", "ending them", same-same, right?)

When on the trip through life we find we've dug ourselves into a hole, rule #1 is: stop digging. But you wrote that you have a question to be answered. In your post, the only question you ask is "Can you answer question and make me smartz?" The answer is no; we can answer all sorts of questions, but it won't the (apparently) desired effect.

Um, yes, social rules are the very definition of government.

Police and immigration officers are indeed raiding apartment complexes, businesses, etc... or are entering them for trivial reasons and nabbing unrelated individuals. It's not my problem you are not aware of that. It has been happening since early February. In fact their are catholic cardinals and bishops urging their parishioners to refuse entry to police and immigration agents on church property unless they have warrants, for this very reason.

As one example, Cardinal Cupich of Chicago told priests and principals at catholic schools in late feb/early March to turn away immigration authorities that knock on their doors without a warrant and contact the archdiocese's lawyers.

Can you please name a couple prominent libertarians advocating an agressive interventionist stance?

Especially when you consider it's costing us just as much.
It's like saying "Let's hire and retain a CEO who does nothing but flame on Twitter and insult employees and customers alike."

Do you think Obama style regulatory growth increases GDP?

We came back from the Great Recession under Obama, slowly to be sure-- but it was a solid come back. Maybe slow but steady growth is better than wild cycles of boom and bust?

Not just Libertarians. I suspect Democrats would also rather have a distracted and impotent Trump administration squabbling under a constant Damocles' sword of impeachment than an actual impeachment followed by a functional Pence administration affective at getting its agenda through in Congress.

Indeed, but I wouldn't. A threat to the rule of law must be addressed even if it means policy moves in a direction i may not prefer.

I bet you thought it was kosher when Lynch met Clinton on the tarmac for a secret meeting that was only caught by a local reporter. You know, the one where they talked about Bill's golf game in the 95 degree heat and definitely not about HRC breaking the law.

No I don't think it was kosher.

Me neither. Whataboutism is all Trumpistas have left.

Trump campaigned on doing a lot to really deliver the free lunches conservatives have been promising voters since the election of Reagan.

With Reagan, the promise was Reagan would make every one of his working class supporters richer by cutting labor costs by cutting pay and benefits that government and unions forced the working class to pay for.

Trump ran on promising he would end the TANSTAAFL Obama policies that forces everyone to pay for health care, forces them to pay for roads and water, forces them to basically pay for workers.

Trump promised that if you didn't want to pay for health care, you didn't need to because you will get much more health care without insurers or government placing restrictions on you, like paying for the care you want and demand. And by cutting drastically the 20% of gdp cost of health care, gdp will increase 5%.

Further, by cutting the costs of producing energy, gdp and jobs will increase at least 5% in the energy sector with prices falling significantly.

Plus, Trump will increase spending on infrastructure creating lots of jobs by cutting the taxes used to pay for such things so transportation, water, education, etc will be both cheaper and better because their will be more well paid workers.

After all, government is always the problem, and the solution to every problem is government tax cuts, more laws picking losers, eg, more people in prisons, and more wars, that aren't wars, just proof that the only solution is the entire world obey the dictates of President Trump.

I thought Trump was the best of all the republican candidates fo rexactly that reason.

Ha! I've resorted to a preference for gridlock, too, but the last week has strongly confirmed my prior belief that Trump is a complete moron (except for when it comes to self-promotion). And as much as I like gridlock, I really worry what the man will do in a foreign crisis, or how he'll "wag the dog's tail" to try to get out of trouble at home.

I'm not sure gridlock is worth a moron with the nuclear codes.

We don't we just come clean and stop electing a president and pretending he's in charge of the anything?

+1000, thread winner.

Well, "not electing one" would be areal constitutional crisis.

I approve stopping thinking of them as Sun Kings.

The putsch promoters are as clueless now as they were supporting Hillary. And they definitely lack an iota of an inkling of the consequences they are accruing even now.

Hey, I get it that we all want to preserve our ability to circulate in polite company so must express our extreme dislike of Trump as a sort of throat-clearing exercise. But I challenge anyone to point me to any evidence of any sort that this whole "Russian meddling/hacking business" is connected to Trump or anyone close to Trump in any way whatsoever. The giant hole at the center of this is quite obvious. 25% chance of impeachment? What are you smoking Tyler? As Jonathan Turley has cautioned, impeachment cannot be simply politics by other means.

Obviously an imposter. The real Widmerpool would never miss an opportunity to attack Trump.

Fred, the real Widmerpool would nonethless be playing the long game and backing the Russians. I think my comments are very much in character!

Excuse me? 17 intelligence agencies concluded that Russia hacked the election. I mean, it would be more accurate to say that 2 political operatives appointed by Obama, who collectively oversaw the 17 intelligence agencies said that Russia tried, but who cares about that? We have REAL NEWS, definitely not fake news, to report.

P.S. Have you heard about Ice Cream-gate?

He asked for evidence, not ipse dixit. You are a cow.

(comment nested incorrectly; disregard.)

Thry did not "hack the election," as in hacking vote tallies on ELECTION DAY. Stop spreading that hysterical lie.

No, 17 intelligence agencies did not conclude that Russia hacked the election.

The intelligence agencies believe that Russia was behind hacking Podesta and/or the DNC, and providing the American people through Wikileaks the truth about DNC corruption.

He did not ask for evidence that "russians hacked" emails (not "the election" - did one single intel agency claim Russia actually hacked voting machines or vote counts or voter registries?), he asked for evidence that that is connected to Trump or anyone close to Trump .

The difference is vitally important, since "Russians released emails to influence an election" is "day ending in Y" news; of course they want to do that, just as the US shamelessly "influences" elections by saying things. (Less illicit than "hacking", but in the end it's all boiling down to words.)

However, "the sitting president had prior knowledge of or encouraged such foreign meddling" is a blockbuster.

Problem being, people keep conflating the two.

Actual problem is two-fold. First is most people (all?) are frakking stupid. Second is taking what they have to say seriously.

Obstruction of justice, and whatever else comes out. As they say, it's the cover-up that gets you. Flynn may have a legitimate reason for wanting immunity in exchange for testifying.

That is, of course, the entire point of the ongoing FBI investigation....the one that prompted Comey's firing.

What sort of falling shoe would decisively get him impeached?

I am not sure we will get it. I think Tyler is saying that everyone is getting tired of President Trump, and this is a path to resolve it.

As a pundit reminded "impeachment is a political, and not a legal, process."

(But a real smoking gun, like a real quid pro quo on the GOP platform change, might do it.)

The big one. Wonder if Manafort is about to take a dirt nap?

Could be the more mundane money laundering charges, too.

"But a real smoking gun, like a real quid pro quo on the GOP platform change, might do it"

Why would that lead to impeachment?

It's not remotely a "high crime or misdemeanor", is it?

Isn't platform changing entirely a Party matter - and one ordinarily subject to mere politics?

Lying about a blow job evidently makes the cut.

And makes those pressing impeachment laughingstocks to an entire nation.

The first article of impeachment against Nixon was "lying to the American people."

Well he lied about multiple rapes too but that never bothered you...

"What sort of falling shoe would decisively get him impeached?"

An actual crime, of course.

obstruction of justice is illegal, but that's almost irrelevant since impeachment is a political act more than a legal one.

Wrong. An act which is viewed by the "silent majority" as so despicable as to warrant it. Probably have to be criminal. But he can get away with a whole lot of criminal acts, as long as they're not viewed as "actionable".

Yes, I think you've got a better answer. I'll concede the point.

An actionable high crime would be necessary.

What some have pointed out is that if congressional investigators start poking around Trump Org, even if not directly related to the presidency, they *will* find stuff. This crap lately gives investigators license to start digging. Trump himself has said openly that bribes of foreign governments are simply necessary to do business in some places. Whether this stuff is close enough to Trump himself and within the scope of "impeachable" offenses will still be somewhat of a judgment call.

See also Ken Starr.

It will be interesting.

The big lesson of the last ~100 days is the one which many of us understood before the election. Don't elect an idiot or an authoritarian President of the United States.

We are just perversely lucky that we got both.

When Trump said "how about dropping this investigation" or "how about throwing some reporters in jail" or "will you be loyal to me" he stupidly said those things to the wrong guy. A guy who was very obviously the wrong guy.

We do have strong institutions, but we are also lucky that Trump was stupid enough to run face-first right into them.

The guy who nonetheless didn't resign, didn't share the conversation with his investigative team, and didn't share with any member of Congress? Comey is really a compromised, pathetic figure for you to hang all your hopes on.

substitute "didn't" by "has not yet" and you describe the situation better.

Yep, and there is an excellent chance that Congress just needs to ask for those existing notes nicely, without resorting to using its power of subpoena.

And if the contents of those notes are disputed, then it is likely that the 'tapes' will also be requested by Congress, backed by the power of subpoena if need be.

I will ignore your question and answer a better one.

A crafty authoritarian would have taken longer, years, to put in place an FBI director he already knew to be personally loyal to the President. He would have spent two terms quietly building that kind of cult of personality.

And he would not burn loyalty as fast as he earned it, by torching the positions he asks his subordinates to take.

We should pray for incompetent leaders. Lest we end up with another Obama who burns the flame of romance between the Left and unconstitutional surveillance and perpetual war.

Perpetual war was an up-front Neocon policy. You hang it on the wrong man, one who tried de-engagement.

The Left is currently agitating for WWIII: Russia vs US/EU. The Left is currently claiming Susan Rice did nothing wrong by targeting review of surveillance against political opponents. The Left is currently defending dragnet surveillance by the NSA and the CIA. And you all sold out to perpetual war and surveillance for a lousy feel-good story about why Hillary! lost. (it certainly wasn't because she labelled white men in the midwest [where she lost long-held blue states] deplorable)

Have fun getting lost in those weeds.

I'll assume you acknowledge that everything I said is true and that you are okay with that.

See a doctor about that.

"I will ignore your question"

Your usual operating procedure.

It was a pretty dumb question. Comey's memo was SOP, and meant to maintain order in the investigation while noting, for the record, irregularities.

Please explain to poor, simple me how letting his investigators know about his conversation with Trump would have introduced disorder into the investigation.

That seems pretty self-evident. The investigators are supposed to investigate without distractions, let alone political interference, from above. By firewalling them, Comey let them keep their head down on their investigation. If he had not been fired, the dinner would have been inconsequential, and the investigation would have continued to its natural end.

It is only the firing that makes the dinner and memo significant. It says that Trump was not satisfied with the refusal to interfere.

Your explanation makes no sense.

Think of it as "different (potential) crimes." The low level investigators are starting with concrete evidence (emails, phone calls, bank accounts, etc.) and trying to build a case upward from them to various crimes. I'm not sure which crimes, but being the FBI, they know the boundaries on various things. The fact that Trump wants an investigation stopped doesn't really help the low level investigators. They still need to build a case from the bottom up.

Trump's question to Comey "can you" or "would you" is something different. It isn't evidence connecting emails, phone calls, bank accounts, etc to crimes.

It still might be that Trump is unaware of any crime associating his campaign with Russia. He might just hate hearing about it on TV. So Comey gives Trump the benefit of the doubt, notes that questions, and lets the investigation run.

This actually does Trump, if he hadn't fired Comey, and if he was fully innocent, a favor.

Shrug boy's explanations get stupider as they go. "Imagine you're in a movie... "

Imagine you've ever been in an organization of any size, with multiple levels of subordinates.

@widmerpool " didn’t share the conversation with his investigative team" Are you sure of this?

So says the NYT.

He did share it with his investigative team.

A little better understanding of truth would be appreciated.

Per the NYT:

After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. officials. Mr. Comey and his aides perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the F.B.I. agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.

Obama never needed to do that. He was an ideologue and he surrounded himself with ideologues. He didn't have to direct Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch to put politics above the law - even breaking the law when politics demanded - that was always a given.

I guess I could partially agree, but also say that Obama dialed that back from GW Bush and the lies of the Neocons, and the resulting tragedy of their ideology.

Who cares? Trump is better than Bush or Obama as he obviously has a hard time breaking the law than either of them.

Hey now, Trump likely has years to go - give him a chance.

We could be reaching Nixonian levels in just a couple of months after all.

Obama was able to direct Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, and James Comey to not prosecute the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation, not prosecute anyone for the Fast and Furious Murder, not prosecute anyone for the IRS targeting of conservative groups, not prosecute anyone for Hillary's server and deleted evidence, not prosecute anyone on his side for anything.

Two of the arguments in favor of Trump are at play here: 1. He is a political outsider and so can't wink-and-nod like Obama and Bush could, to direct their subordinates to break the law. 2. The media hates him: the media would have labeled this a right-wing conspiracy theory and never published based on a "anonymous source" against Obama on something of this scale. Hell, the NYT's Maggie Haberman - who was caught in emails asking John Podesta to review her articles, was caught sitting on the Susan Rice story - another example of media bias, and Obama's wink-and-nod criminality.

Trump should be unmasking all of his political enemies right now and leaking everything to friendly press... if he wanted moral equivalency to Obama and the Democrats.

Please point to any evidence Obama himself "directed" any of these people to do the things you named. I'll wait.

But but but omg mass coverup! Yeah, Comey, the guy who continually talked about Hillary's investigation throughout the campaign but not once mentioned that Trump's campaign was ALSO under an FBI investigation at the exact same time, was convinced by Obama to not prosecute Hillary. OK Thomas.

I have "anonymous sources", so it is certified 100% true. That is your standard of evidence for full, 100%, storm the Bastille conviction right?

Of course not - when it comes to Comey's notes, I trust Trump's 'tapes' of those meetings.

Anonymous sources include documents prepared by the FBI director himself?

No, someone claimed to be reading to me documents they claim were written by the FBI director that supposedly made a claim. And now I'm claiming this to you. So, you know, 100% verified prime-grade Democrat fact.

BO didn't even know about the server, remember? Then his bobama email account was found on the server, but whatevs! Did you Trump RUSSIA Trump RUSSIA? Did you 2 scoops of ice cream for TRUMP?! Did you the bust of MLK is GONE?! Did you Susan Rice DID NOTHING WRONG?! C'mon. Get with the program.

Holder was held (heh) in Contempt of Congress for the Fast and Furious scandal. What percentage of Americans are even AWARE of that fact due to the completely subdued reaction of the mainstream press?

The MSM couldn't have cared less. If you polled NYT staff on whether they would approve of selling guns to Mexican drug cartels in order to produce violence that could be used to push gun control, you'd likely get a majority in support. If you polled DNC delegates, you couldn't find one person opposed.

You can't honestly believe that. Or are you a parody like Just Another MR Commentor?

Poe's Law, MR variation.

Yes there are definitely pluses to Trump's unpopularity and definitely good to have a media that hates the POTUS.

Hate is such an interesting word, at least when we can read Comey's notes, and listen to Trump's 'tapes,' and thus make up on our minds based on documentary evidence. Who needs the media? Just a couple of congressional requests (or subpoenas), and there we are, able to make up our own minds. Unless, for some unexplainable reason, that 'tape' is missing 18 minutes or so.

Trump and the media are in a co-dependent love-hate relationship. Trump loves the media in that he craves attention, but hates the fast much of it is negative. The media bosses love what Trump has done for their ratings and ad revenue, but individual journalists for the most part loathe him and will jump on him at the slightest opportunity.

The problem is not that the media is skeptical of Trump. The problem is that the media should always be skeptical of any administration, and has been far too collegial with previous ones, specially George W. Bush and Obama. The question is whether they will revert to buddy-buddy access journalism when Trump is gone, whether that is in 3.5/7.5 years' time or earlier due to impeachment.

For all its faults, the election gave a largely ignored constituency (working class, rural, not college educated) a turn at getting government actually responsive to its needs. I have yet to see any concrete steps the government has taken to improve their lot, other than withdrawing from TPP.

Imagine spending your entire day watching Fox News (making a special effort to catch Fox and Friends in the morning) like this guy Thomas here.

"FOX NEWS" remains the best "shut up, he explained" ever.

(Disclosure: Not a Republican, never watch it, and yes, he was overboard in suggesting President Obama made any of those calls himself.

He's still a lot closer to right than you seem to want to believe.)

Yep, folks. I remember Obama scandals and how the left wing media failed to cover them except to give excuses. Therefore I am oppressively watching Fox (despite not having cable). TheBJ on the other hand gets his facts straight from reputable sources like Jon Oliver, Sam Bee, Bill Nye, Trevor Noah, and Lena Dunham.

Re: Obama was able to direct Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, and James Comey to not prosecute the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation

Well, maybe if such things had actually happened anywhere but in InfoWars La-La-Land...

More importantly, Obama hired Holder specifically to ensure his (their) Wall Street backers would not be prosecuted despite massive and widespread criminality leading to the 2008 recession and economic quasi-meltdown.

The problem with prosecuting Wall Streets CEOs is that there were no obvious charges that could be leveled against them. Which is not to say no one did anything wrong-- but the head honchos almost all had plausible deniability and it does behoove prosecutors to only bring cases they have a chance of winning, and not conduct gaudy show trials they are fated to lose.

You ignorant hack. Holder admitted the New Black Panthers did this.

If you can only respond to other people by insulting them then you are not fit to discuss things with. Ave atque vale-- I will be ignoring your volleys of fake news and tin-foil hattery henceforth.

Appreciate the Monty Python clip. Reminds me of when I had to stay up too late as a kid to watch that very episode.

I've read many articles questioning how someone with apparent mental illness could be elected president, but not a single article questioning how someone with apparent mental illness could amass a fortune. The latter strikes me as more interesting than the former. What if Trump isn't alone, if those who have amassed fortunes are as mentally ill as Trump, if having a mental illness increases the likelihood of amassing a fortune.

Trump seems to be senile, he started with a lot and amassed the basis for the rest before the onset. Celebrity seems quite random which explains why many Celebrities lose their fortunes.

Actually, those who have known him a long time say he is the same today as he was 30-40 years ago. While scholars ponder how such a man could be elected president, they ought to consider if we have a much broader problem of similarly ill wealthy people controlling our economy, our politics, our entertainment, our best colleges, our companies, and our financial markets. Maybe we are doing this all wrong.

Um, didn't Trump inherit his fortune? The information I have seen are that he inherited hundreds of millions from his father, which in todays dollars would be worth more than a $1billion. Maybe that info is incorrect, but that seems to the MSM narrative.

It isn't clear how much Trump inherited. It's hidden from public view. Unquestionably, Trump's father loaned & gifted & paid him on the order of $100,000,000; but that doesn't 'inflate' to $1 billion, using any reasonable inflation rate. OTOH, investing in the Dow Jones Industrials (an Index) would have returned well over 2000%, meaning it would likely increase a $100MM to well north of $2 billion. (And this doesn't even factor in the fact that his investments "happened" to be in real estate, meaning on average several % more per year).

" how someone with apparent mental illness could amass a fortune."

Answer: Fred

Trump is somewhat unique because a lot of his business is built on licensing his name and image to other products. Steve Jobs -- by all accounts, a fellow narcissist and often cruel person to those around him -- was somewhat comparable but even his company was called Apple and not The Steve Jobs Organization or some such. Most billionaires tend to keep a lower profile and have brands that are largely divorced from their individual personalities.

The company name was originally 'Elizabeth Trump & Son'. Not sure what Steven Jobs would have done had he come of age and taken over a 50-year old Milwaukee machine tool manufactory called 'Clara Jobs & Son'.

It was perfectly normal in 1925 to put your name on your business. It's still normal for law firms. It's 'narcissistic' only in your addled head.

(Jobs was a grotesquely self-centered man, not a narcissist, btw).

"It’s ‘narcissistic’ only in your addled head."

Your response demonstrates a failure at reading comprehension and includes a gratuitous insult on top.

There's a chance to win a lot of money on this on PredictIt. They currently have the chance that Trump will be president at the end of 2017 at 69%.

Trump might be impeached, but it won't happen before the end of the year. Things take time.

"There’s a chance to win a lot of money on this on PredictIt. They currently have the chance that Trump will be president at the end of 2017 at 69%."

Seriously? Yeah, I might have to look into that.

It seems to me that if people were serious about getting rid of Trump, all they'd have to do is ask him a bunch of questions while he is under oath and allow him to perjure himself.


Perhaps the guy is 100% clean, but any investigation implies the risk of making a mistake, like perjury.

How are you going to get him under oath? Congress can't require him to testify.

Not precisely - that is what impeachment is for.

However, they can most certainly subpoena his records -

For example, Congress has the Constitutional power to subpoena Trump's 'tapes,' assuming that such recordings exist.

Sure, but tapes aren't evidence under oath, so ...?

The tapes are not a matter of oath, they are a matter of record.

A record to which the American people are fully entitled to read, if Congress subpoenas those records.

This is what makes so much of the blather here about the 'media' so ridiculous - the records are likely to be available for anyone to read, just like the Starr Report.

Oops, forgot the Trumpian quote marks around 'tapes.'

They were not "instructions to comey".

Yes, unfortunate to see Tyler overreach here. According to an anonymous source reading part of a memo over the phone, Trump expressed hope that Comey could absolve Flynn.

If Comey thought he was being obstructed, he was compelled by law to report it. McCabe has testified that the investigation has continued without interruption or interference.

Now compare this with Obama's statement - in the midst of the FBI email investigation - that he didn't think she broke the law and that she should be president. Or Clinton's secret meeting with Lynch (no memos there), the DOJ refusing to prosecute Lerner, the list is endless.

Trump shouldn't have said anything to Comey while alone with him. But this is proof of his stupidity rather than proof of obstruction.

The exact words:

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go .”

Tyler calls it an instruction. Really? It can easily be read as Trump hoping Comey will eventually realize Flynn doesn't need to be investigated, especially when you consider how inarticulate Trump can be.

Again, so far this is just more proof of Trump's stupidity. There is no crime.

Andrew McCarthy explains further here:

Why do you consider the "I hope" separate from the firing?

I agree that the first statement was in a gray area, but I think the firing defined it quite starkly. A President who said "I hope" and then didn't fire Comey is very different than one who said "I hope" and then did.

How would you prove causality? Maybe he fired him because he didn't like his shoes.

Sorry Russian troll, impeachment is a display of institutional strength, the very opposite of collapse.

The accusations online of Russian trolling are such a sad reflection on the sheep in the Democrat party.

No, it is not. We i peached ro oresidents in the last 25 years (and overthrew two Emperors im the 1800s). It was sad and ghastly. Were we not as strong as we are, our nation would never have survived. American egotism will never allow Americans unite the way Brazilians unite putting the nation's welfare above everything else in the world. Americans everywhere are already st each other's necks. Sad.

impeached two presidents

I like Brazil, but when I searched for news just now: "Brazil electoral court to take up case that may annul 2014 election." Sounds like your country is an even bigger mess than ours.

The GOP does not need to impeach Trump nor should they. They should speak against him, and try to rope him in as much as possible.

If he does something clearly illegal and outside of norms then you can impeach, until then you must wait him out.

4 month down 44 to go.

BTW be careful what you hope for, in Trump Martin Gilens got his wish.

>4 month down 44 to go.

92 actually.

92 delusionally, actually

Still in shock from Nov 8th, eh? Nice.

LOL no. Cute that you think your trolling can rustle my jimmies though.

Trump can always surrender, and then move to Brazil. The refuge of slavers and Nazis.

How much of the uproar is hysteria? He passed on an intelligence tip about ISIS plane bombs to Russia (who have had a plane bombed). He fired an FBI chief whose head the democrats have been screaming for. He 'hoped' a veteran wouldn't face charges after resigning in disgrace.

I realize you can make all this look nefarious but it could also be business as usual at the Whitehouse with an extra-attentive press corps.

Bingo, turning molehills into mountains for political purposes. Correct attitude is to ignore and focus on actual issues and results.

I don't think it looks nefarious. I think it looks incompetent.

Tyler - thanks so much for keeping us apprised of your prediction percentage.

And hey, what was your prediction percentage on Hillary winning the Historic 2016 Election again?

On the bet "Trump To Leave Before End of 1st Term" implied probability is near 0.5. It's interesting to compare with Tyler's.

Doesn't seem likely we'll get impeachment unless the Comey Memo is particularly damning. Chaffetz is demanding the letters....probably so they can see what they say rather than let morons at NY Times report a bunch of nonsense again.

GOP House will not raise impeachment charges unless the evidence is crystal clear. A Dem House might in 2019, but then you 67 votes for conviction, which will likely mean 22/55 republicans (or half the caucus).

Slim odds of impeachment. Overall, better Presidency than expected, and the last 4 months revealed the media/political establishment to be a lot weaker and dishonest than even I thought 6 months ago. Trump isn't the best guy to fix it, but whatever.

Yeah if there's anything to learn from the last few.months, it's that every one else is dishonest. Not Trump. He's still telling it it like it is in less than 140 characters

'He’s still telling it it like it is in less than 140 characters'

And oddly, there is something admirable about the fact that Trump seems to go to such lengths to show how those around him lie, until Trump finally reveals the truth that was being obscured.

A normally intelligent person, much less a politician able to win the presidency, would do things differently. Inform their staff beforehand, for example, for that famed 'message discipline.' Or realize that making fools of those that represent you, in the end it just makes no one interested in being made a fool for you (and to keep going, unless they are fools willing to be fools for someone else).

But an admirable trait in the abstract is often the hinge on which Greek tragedy is based - who knows, we might be able to create literary works resembling tragedies using a format limited to 140 characters - with real people playing the role of characters.

Re: Overall, better Presidency than expected

Well, maybe if your standards are A) Hasn't started nuclear War and B) Hasn't been caught skinny-dipping with strippers in the Reflecting Pool...

He won't be impeached until he loses the support of the republican electorate. Most of his base are authoritarian who prefer a strongman to stand up to what they see as a corrupt bureaucracy that is past redemption and don't care if he breaks a few laws or stealthily enriches himself while doing so. Republican lawmakers would be committing political suicide if they supported impeachment and let's face it the system self-selects away from moral decency.

2018 may demonstrate the limits of that perspective, but yes, it will take more than notes and 'tapes' to impeach Trump in the next 12 months or so. No opinion on how the Republican electorate will be looking to Republicans candidates in June, 2018 - in part, because the Republican electorate does not represent the majority. Fr that matter, neither does the electorate of the Democrats - partisans tend to lose sight of that fact.

You guys are so unimaginative. You ruined the significance of the word nazi and now you've moved onto authoritarian. And then once you ruin that word you'll move onto another word some buzzfeed guy half remembers from a Hannah Arendt book.

I have to agree that using authoritarian in regards to Trump is ridiculous. Particularly as such a comparison would likely be rejected by any half way competent authoritarian that reached the highest office of their nation.

Really, Prof. Cowen wasted so much reading time concerning fascism, when he should have been reading about the Nixon era. Though even an author like Hunter S. Thompson would likely not be able to deal with the speed at which events revolve around Trump.

This could well be the beginning of the end, not of Trump's presidency, but of the U.S. as a liberal democracy. I find it hard not to think that the lessons from the Bush II, Obama, and Trump presidencies is that everything remotely involving politics is politicized (including the press), and only the most egregious, incontrovertible wrongdoing by the president will be punished, and even then there is the substantial possibility that the presidents co-partisans will prevent any punishment from happening. Unless something dramatically changes, we soon will have our own American Erdogan or Orban, someone who is not stupid or incompetent, someone who has majorities in congress, someone who can effectively staff the Federal Bureaucracy with cronies who will not challenge the president's wrongdoing, and someone who can effectively neuter the press (or transform it into a defacto propaganda machine for the governing party).

We actually have a pretty deep history of Presidents acting badly, and then a new election wiping the slate clean. Jackson, Harding, ...

Um, Harding's slate was wiped clean by being dead

Harding's VP retained 70% of his cabinet and then won re-election with the largest plurality in United States history.

Shrugging symbol person does not care about facts, Art Deco and msgkings. It's a kind of semiotic self advertising. A bit like Nathan pretending to be a sensible poster but having a website that says Troll Me, in an ironic reversal of what he actually does to others.

I am not sure I care about these particulars, if they do not change the narrative.

Do you, The Centrist, believe that my central statement was false, that "we actually have a pretty deep history of Presidents acting badly, and then a new election wiping the slate clean?"

I thought it was a well understood benefit of democracy. The change of power, the reversal of policy, without bloodshed. I think most history teachers would agree (even if I name the wrong examples).

Was Nixon's pardon an example? I am your student.

Do you, The Centrist, believe that my central statement was false, that “we actually have a pretty deep history of Presidents acting badly, and then a new election wiping the slate clean?”

Yeah, that probably is false. Warren Harding had lice on his back; he was not their instigator or enabler and he was enraged when he was apprised about what some of them were up to. No 'new election' wiped the slate clean. Harding's death and federal prosecutors did that. No new election 'wiped the slate clean' regarding Executive Order 9066. Franklin Roosevelt died a revered man. Regarding Kennedy and Johnson, their misbehaviors were kept confidential until their deaths. The Democratic Party and the usual Vichy Republicans were happy to protect Bilge Clinton and the Department of Justice under Barack Obama was an ongoing lawfare operation. The only misbehaving head of state ever held accountable was Richard Nixon. And, again, no new election 'wiped the slate clean' in his case either.

I don't recall Clinton being "protected". He was investigated on all manner of alleged shenanigans and actually impeached over a tawdry (disgusting, even if you like) and sophomoric affair.

That is to say, if you are a president at this point in time, why not just go for it, consequences be damned? It seems that was what Obama was thinking with his executive order on immigration. It sure seems to amount to the President (legally) attempting to nullify the laws passed by congress. Sure, it was legal, but it was also a bad precedent to set and norm to establish. Apparently most of "democratic backsliding" isn't illegal, it is legal norm breaking of customs that provide some checks on the powers of the governing elites. But hey, Obama believes that the arc of history bends toward progress, so his side (the progressives) will end up winning, and the winners write history. So Obama's illiberal norm breaking won't threaten his legacy at all. Just liberal democracy.

I really don't see that. People don't like to admit that Obama knew Constitutional Law, but he did. He knew where the line was, and he sailed right up to it. A slightly immoral but highly lawyerly attitude on his part. Lawyers believe in confrontation as a path to illuminate justice.

I agree that what Obama did was very lawerly and legal. I even agree with the outcome he was trying to effect. But it turns out that the President is only subject to the rule of law (and not a dictator) if the President chooses to respect certain norms. Confrontation as a path to illuminate justice works well in a court of law. Not so much when you have the full might of the Federal government behind and effectively no oversight and an incredibly small risk of prosecution. Just because a new dictator will be selected every 8 years doesn't make it any better; in fact it makes it worse as the new dictator will look at the norm breaking of the past president and think to their-self "The past president broke all of these norms, so why can't I break just as many norms; I and my cause are more just than theirs, and in any event the next time the other party has power they are going to going to break norms (and laws) even more egregiously than anyone has in the past, so we must not let norms or laws get in the way of us accomplishing our goals, as surely our opposition will be just as ruthless." The country is as divided as it was during the civil war, and the same logic of war (that all is permitted), now applies to politics, although thankfully people have not yet taken up arms.

I guess I'm optimistic today because I think news is breaking nicely for believers in democracy and rule of law.

Either there were enough believers in the Constitution elsewhere in government, or Trump managed to tangle with the few who do defend the Constitution, but he is rebuffed.

I really hope that people who still love "Trump style politics" manage to find someone next who can combine that with some thought and a bit higher personal ethics.

Obama even joked that he didn't exactly have a bucket list before leaving the Whitehouse, but more like a phuckit list.

The Philip Wallach bit is a good reminder. We know that threat of impeachment can lead to resignation, but it certainly should have the potential to straighten up a President. If that President has the self-control.

Companies were expecting a tax reform. Everyday lost on Trump's loose lips means lesser profits. Remember a year has 4 quarters, in Profitland results are expected faster compared to our everyday life.

Anybody (and I mean anybody - look at how the Russians were burned by Trump himself after the Russians put their own prestige on the line to say nothing classified was discussed before Trump confirmed it) that counts on Trump to do something for anybody's benefit (except Trump's own perceived benefit) is a fool who has not been paying attention to Trump over the last 3 decades or more.

How dare the voters think that they can actually change the Executive Branch.

How dare the president think that people swear loyalty to him, and not the Constitution?

But let us wait for the notes and 'tapes' to come out to make up our own minds.

What Trump did was neither high crime nor misdemeanor: it's simple management. And if you think no one from the previous White House attempted to manage the FBI in just the same manner you probably shouldn't cross the street without holding a grownup's hand.

'What Trump did was neither high crime nor misdemeanor'

Only Congress gets to decide that, no one else.

At this point, given the paucity of actual hard evidence, the only question is whether or not the media can convince the Republicans in the House to impeach Trump- if that hurdle can be passed, the Senate will vote to convict. Right now, the argument is being pressed that the Republicans would do better with "boring" Pence as president rather than Trump, but this argument is bullshit of the highest order- as soon as Pence is sworn in, the media onslaught would turn to destroying him. In the 2018 elections, after a Trump impeachment and removal, the Republicans in the House will lose 70 seats minimum, and will be lucky to hold onto 48 seats in the Senate. After 2020, the Democrats would be all but certain to hold the presidency and both houses of Congress with larger majorities than they enjoyed in Obama's first two years as president,

'given the paucity of actual hard evidence'

Notes, 'tapes,' testimony, subpoenas - just wait a bit for all that hard evidence to appear.

'the media onslaught would turn to destroying him'

Well, unlike Trump, Pence actually does seem to understand the American political system, so just like every president since Nixon, the media will not be able to destroy him either. Which is giving (excessive) credit to the media for destroying Nixon, compared to Nixon's actions destroying Nixon's presidency.

I have been waiting for six months for hard, incontrovertible evidence of the crimes of Donald Trump and his campaign- everything reported so far has come from anonymous sources who provide literally no documents of any kind. The latest, the Comey memo, was reportedly read to the authors of the newspaper article. In this day and age, how hard is it to photograph a damned memo so that it can be reproduced in an article?

As for the so-called leak that Trump did for the Lavrov, every American in the damned room has said that the story is basically untrue as written. Common sense should tell anyone that describing a plot by ISIS to take down commercial aircraft should be widely shared, even with non-friendly governments. In addition, there is literally no evidence at all that Trump compromised the intelligence services of the Israelis by revealing this- even the WaPo story itself didn't claim that Trump told the Russians it came from the Israelis, only that it might be inferred that was the source by describing the city in which the planning was being done. For the life of me, I can't quite figure out how that could even be inferred unless the planning was taking place in Israel itself, and there is literally no evidence that was the case.

The single hardest evidence of malfeasance to date is that of Michael Flynn, and I still don't see what law he broke, and even if he did, he had already been canned by Trump months ago for possibly misleading Pence. As for his call to the Russian ambassador, he didn't do anything illegal that I can see, and he did eventually report the small amount of income from foreign sources, so I can't even infer any intent to mislead on his part.

"The latest, the Comey memo, was reportedly read to the authors of the newspaper article. In this day and age, how hard is it to photograph a damned memo so that it can be reproduced in an article?"

The memo can and should be subpoenaed by Congress. In the absence of a subpoena, whoever leaked it obviously wanted to protect themselves from possible prosecution -- anyone who works for the FBI is conscious of the fact that digital cameras leave numerous digital artifacts and bits of metadata that can be used to trace the person who took the picture.

It would surprising if even 'reading' should be treated as a precise term. The point of this was to attract Congress's attention - after Congress gets involved, hopefully the vast majority of Americans will trust what they can read for themselves, without the media being involved at all.

For example, it is fair to say that the findings of the Starr Report were also the cause of Clinton not being removed from office, as anyone with Internet access could read the report in full, without the media having any influence. A document that can still be purchased, oddly enough - (Maybe this comes under Internet Rule 34?)

'I have been waiting for six months for hard, incontrovertible evidence of the crimes of Donald Trump'

Why would you believe Trump has committed any crimes in the last 18 months? I don't, as his own behavior in this entire area (not winning the majority vote, insisting his Inauguration was larger than Obama's, etc.) is self-consistent with the idea that Trump cannot tolerate even the slightest doubt that he is not bigger than the previous president. Or whatever - Trump's psychological quirks are not that interesting, but why would anyone believe, on what is known to today, that Trump has committed crimes?

'and his campaign'

Well, how about his transition team? Sessions may have been able to paper over his Kisylak inaccuracy problems, but transition team member Flynn is a proven liar, and not just in regards to Russia. And the subpoena of his documents is extremely recent news, particularly at the pace that Congress normally acts.

'The latest, the Comey memo, was reportedly read to the authors of the newspaper article.'

And Congress now knows it exists, and can politely request - or subpoena - its contents. And Congress is also able to politely request - or subpoena - Trump's 'tapes,' in case there is any question of whose account is more accurate. The existence of such records is the news, not the contents. Much the same way that the existence of transcripts of Flynn's denied conversations with Kisylak were the news.

'As for the so-called leak that Trump did for the Lavrov, every American in the damned room has said that the story is basically untrue as written.'

Not anymore.

'The single hardest evidence of malfeasance to date is that of Michael Flynn, and I still don’t see what law he broke'

Interesting point about law, but directly lying to the Vice President or investigators is certainly grounds for him to be fired., without even mentioning that he was concealing contacts with a nation that is inimical to American interests. Besides, give it a couple of months - Congress still needs to read his, hopefully Comey accurate, documents.

'As for his call to the Russian ambassador, he didn’t do anything illegal that I can see'

Apart from lying about it to the FBI. And really, how stupid does a former head of the DIA (an Obama appointee, so I am sure he is fair game to ridicule) have to be to deny talking with someone he knows is being recorded to the full extent that the entire American government is capable of doing?

I am trying to imagine the NYT going with a story that put Obama's presidency in jeopardy based on a document that was read to them over the phone.

One gets the impression reading the moderator's latest post that Democrats and suborned Republicans listen to no one but each other.

Yup it's a bubble for sure. Just visited a plant location of my job. Quite a few Trump number stickers. Doubt they'll be calling for his resignation. They probably would want him to cool it though.

one gets the impression from reading my posts that I am a self-loathing homosexual

I really have to tell my husband that his interns are acting in very poor taste.

Your strength as a rationalist is your ability to be more confused by fiction than by reality
Eliezer Yudkowsky

'a sign that a Trump presidency is now seen as having a much more uncertain future'

Here I was, thinking that the 'tapes' and notes were the only reliable sign that currently matter when it comes to Trump's future as president.

It's primarily a coordination problem for Republicans. The vast majority probably think Trump is bad for the country, bad for the long-term future of their party, and bad for their re-election chances. If only all GOP-ers moved at the same time, the tribal loyalties of the base would shift away from Trump and back to them. But the first-movers risk having a vindictive President and his still largely-loyal base move against them. And for most of the House, a primary challenge is probably a worse threat than a strong general challenge.

The Republican Party is the white party, period. More than half the whites (63% of the country) like Trump--or the next charismatic guy who'll promise (!) to shut the borders and prevent their demographic overthrow--which is why he's President.

This is a very uncomfortable fact for Republicans, caught between their base and their donors, and their need to virtue-signal. There is no threading this needle though; ethnic minorities do not vote Republican.

Thus, this is a territorial conflict, not an ideological one, and Republicans do not have the tactics or rhetoric for such a fight.

McCain got 55% of the white vote back in 2008 with a much less bellicose message on immigration. The Republican Party is a majority-white party for lots of reasons and immigration policy is not the dominant factor.

I see your John "Maverick" McCain and raise you a "Build That Wall!" chant.

Immigration is the issue, because it determines who gets to decide the other issues.

Herman Cain (remember him?) promised to electrify the border fence back in 2012. He wound up getting eliminated from the race fairly early and I haven't heard much from him since. One data point is not enough to construct an entire narrative -- not that this ever stops political analysts or their close cousins in the sports world from doing so.

I see your point. Problem: Trump captured the poll lead within two weeks of announcing. Within ten weeks, Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee had seen two-thirds of their polled support evaporate, Walker had left the race, and Gov. Perry had left the race. The donors' favorite candidate, Jeb Bush (who'd led the polls from November 2013 to June 2015), also saw much of his surveyed support evaporate and ended up running 5th or 6th in the contests he entered. There was something Trump was providing that the other candidates were not providing. His most vigorous opposition came from the candidate with the most crisp profile and the most thorough grounding in the Republican Party's ideological constituencies (a man the Capitol Hill nexus liked even less than Trump).

I agree that resignation is just as likely as impeachment. It seemed clear during the campaign that Trump was never much interested in the actual job of president or the specifics of public policy. Now that "It's good to be king" has turned into "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown", he may decide that he'd rather not anymore.

This has always been my take, that resignation would be much more likely than impeachment (with a Rep Congress). But now I think he wants to stick it out to prove yet again he's the big winner. Also gets him more press staying which is his ne plus ultra.

Now, I've also thought he has no interest in running again, at age 74, where he could easily lose not running against Hillary and with his baggage and 'record' to run on. Still think that's the outcome, he keeps the clown show going for all 4 years but then says "I'm outta here" on his own terms, not voted out, leaving because he wants to.

Impeachment seems rash. Perhaps this is an opportunity for our Congress to relearn how to exercise its authority. I counseled my legislators to box him in.

David Brooks piece was my favorite take. You're grounded, go to your room!

How much time before an Emperor rises from the barracks to take over the shell of the Republic? Americans have lost faith in their regime.

People on here and the media underestimate Trump's appeal. The two GOP senators that lost in competitive races were the ones that forcefully distanced themselves from him after the Access Hollywood tapes.

Conservative media is still firmly behind him. Heck I'd argue that the Dems removing confederate statues is more significant than this nonsense in terms of political impact.

Of course Trump needs to calm down some. Something he tends to do when he gets in major trouble.

Man, I am tired of this garbage. An impeachment is likely because most of the people in D.C. want to destroy Trump. Trump needs to figure this out and drain the swamp before the swamp destroys him. He knows this Russia stuff is bull, and the previous administration had them all under surveillance. If there had been anything they could indict on, it would have been done a long time ago.

It is virtually impossible to indict a president, as Nixon so clearly demonstrated. A vice president, or candidate for the office, on the other hand, may or may not be easier, depending on whether they received a good Republican cloth coat or not -

Interestingly, the 25th Amendment was first tested in the case of Spiro Agnew, and the Republicans of the time found that application completely acceptable -

A meta-fact about these pages .. nearly one-in-ten older Americans (65+) say they go online almost constantly

I can't remember the last week that didn't involve at least one call for the impeachment of the President. It's a good way to get a headline in the press because it sounds so ominous, as oppsed to I disagree with the President's policy on this.

Well, you clearly didn't experience the Nixon era, because till now, the calls for impeachment have yet to reach the level they did before this -

Afterwards, of course, the volume increased immensely. If only because the Americans of that time did not seriously believe that the president was above the law.

Calls for Impeachment are a political tactic, not serious attempts at impeachment. They're purely partisan ploys. An actual impeachment could come about only after an extended period of time during which the President was sufficiently weakened politically to be voted out by Congress. Holding politicians accountable isn't part of our current political culture, but it did make me smile.

Just google calls for President Obama's impeachment.

'Calls for Impeachment are a political tactic, not serious attempts at impeachment.'

Well, the subpoenas underpinning potential articles of impeachment are still to be done, in the main. Why, we have yet to see a request (or subpoena if necessary) for Trump's 'tapes' or Comey's notes.

'They’re purely partisan ploys'

One can say, in good faith, that American citizens being able to read Comey's notes and hear Trump's 'tapes' would be non-partisan. After all, it was the Starr Report that actually doomed the chance for Clinton to be removed from office, after people were able to read it for themselves.

'An actual impeachment could come about only after an extended period of time during which the President was sufficiently weakened politically to be voted out by Congress'

Of course - when using Nixon as an example. Clinton's case is considerably less obvious in that regard.

'Just google calls for President Obama’s impeachment.'

Or Bush's. But then, when you read the calls for Nixon's impeachment, in major part due to obstruction of justice, things look a bit different.

Subpoenas lol. HRC destroyed documents under subpoena, the IRS too.

'HRC destroyed documents under subpoena, the IRS too.'

Why do some people remain fixated on a loser or think that claims of malfeasance by others are a defense? Nonetheless, I am fairly confident that Comey has not destroyed his notes - why, he might even have copies, just in case someone at the FBI or Justice Department cannot find his originals.

Whether Trump has the 'tapes' he claims to is another matter, of course. After all, he need not destroy what he actually does not have - at this point, reasonable people could accept that John Miller forgot to make the recording as Trump instructed him to. Trump lives in his own world, after all - though these days, I cannot remember every single detail - did Trump talk about the millions of illegal voters that showed up to make his Inauguration the largest in history, or was that Spicer?

Speaking of Comey, I believe he violated the Hatch Act. Of course, an impeachment might occur if the situation gets bad enough.

T'was always the plan.

The moment Pence was announced as VP, I knew it to be the contingency, should Trump get elected, to replace him with Pence - whether as a result of impeachment, or death, his days in office were numbered before the first vote was cast.

Re: The chances for tax and health care reform are dwindling.

Good! Both are in need of serious attention (taxes especially) but the GOP proposals for both take us from bad to worse.

How were Comey's notes made public? Were they leaked? Or how?

Nothing has been leaked, merely the fact that notes exists, and that they contain relevant information regarding Trump's actions.

Luckily for all of us, Trump informed the American people that he has 'tapes' pertaining to the events that these notes describe. An announcement made several days before public mention of Comey's notes, so Congress will be able to politely request (or subpoena, as need be) both the notes and the 'tapes.'

And we will all be able to read these then public records, without any need for the media.

Though these days, it is true that the leaks are coming fast and furious, along with the predictable denials that any such thing was said, before a reporter saying they have a recording - '“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.


When initially asked to comment on the exchange, Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ryan, said: “That never happened,” and Matt Sparks, a spokesman for McCarthy, said: “The idea that McCarthy would assert this is absurd and false.”

After being told that The Post would cite a recording of the exchange, Buck, speaking for the GOP House leadership, said: “This entire year-old exchange was clearly an attempt at humor. No one believed the majority leader was seriously asserting that Donald Trump or any of our members were being paid by the Russians. What’s more, the speaker and leadership team have repeatedly spoken out against Russia’s interference in our election, and the House continues to investigate that activity.”

“This was a failed attempt at humor,” Sparks said.'

Really, these days, it is so fun to watch how recording devices have spread so far into the political world, compared to the old days when only the president or FBI could be counted on to be doing the 'taping.'

The American regime is falling apart too fast for words describe it.

TC: get some sleep - or are you Trolling your own blog? 25%??? Would you care to explain that number? I find it delusional.

I was an early fan of Memeorandum, but I thought better things came along. I like it again, as a pulse of the news. I'm not sure "pulse" translates to any actual odds, but it definitely captures the change in attention:

The top story right now, meaning the mainstream story most discussed by blocks and links is "First Republicans talk possibility of impeachment for Trump." I don't think any of us would have expected that 7 days ago.

A normal president would not be impeached for it, but Trump is not a normal president. The instructions to Comey would not be the actual reason he would be impeached, but they create a path along which an impeachment inquiry could proceed, nudged along by other “non-impeachable but unpopular and objectionable actions” Trump might take in the meantime, and what information might be revealed in the meantime.

And yet no one pushing this course of action seems to worry we would no longer have a country after dismissing the outcome of a fair election leading to the abandonment of the rule of law?

On one side, Trump may have done things worthy of impeachment, and indeed, I'd guess he's more likely to do such things than most other presidents have been, because he's fundamentally more of a loose cannon than most presidents. And he may well have done things (or do things in the future) that make it really critical that we remove him from office.

On the other side, doing this sets a precedent, and removing one president will make it easier to remove the next. Further, independent prosecutors and FBI investigations of the president are ways to investigate possible crimes, but they're also a mechanism by which some unelected people who are connected to the intelligence / law enforcement community could end up with a lot of power over an elected president. It's not hard to see how that might go badly for us.

I found this creepy as hell when it was Hillary being investigated by the FBI, too. The FBI was in a position to potentially decide who the next president was, and that's not a great position for the nation to be in. You could be pretty sure Hillary Clinton wasn't going to propose cutting the FBI's budget or taking away any of their powers while that investigation was going on! Similarly, while Trump is under serious investigation by a bunch of FBI agents, you'd expect him to be pretty deferential to the concerns of the FBI, though perhaps his firing of Comey demonstrates that he's not going to respond to those incentives.

The Establishment would've been far wiser simply to spend 4 years finding Democratic judges to rule that Presidents named Trump have no power and accepting those few defeats that even the most shameless judge would not reverse.

As things stand, their coup attempt had better succeed.

We should consider the possibility that Tyler is a little more dialed into inside the beltway news than the rest of us. He says "the chances of a Trump impeachment or resignation have gone up from about 5% to about 25%, in less than a two-day span" this morning.

A special counsel is appointed for the Russia probe this afternoon.

This is a slow motion coup d'etat. Have we had enough fun pretending to be a democracy?

Coup d’etat involve bullets. You and everyone above who use that phrase play a deplorable game. You equate effective use of the machinery of state with actually killing people.

You should be ashamed.

In China, they at least don't pretend to have political freedom. You can keep pretending, but I'm not really in the mood.

I don't like Trump all that much, but this is f-ing ridiculous.

Seriously, what is the problem? If Manafort and Flynn had Russian "interactions" it is possible that they broke laws. There are a great variety of laws on the books evolving money, influence, foreign powers, disclosures, security clearances, and etc.

This Mueller sounds like a stand-up guy. Why wouldn't your predisposition be that he'd be fair in investigating, and perhaps recommending no indictment?

If he says "no", the DNC will leak some embarassing Susan Rice intel on him and he'll be labeled a Russian operative.

With such a rich fantasy life, why do you even need internet?

To be clear, if you believe Trump and/or his circle to be innocent, you should want an independent review to clear them.

Judah, Trump is just reaping what he sowed. The guy comes charging into the arena smashing everything in sight, insulting his own party and half of the public, breaking norms and conventions and generally being an asshole, and now you expect him to be treated with deference and respect? Doesn't work that way.

This is the kind of support rolling in on Mueller.

It is a million miles from "coup d'etat"

It is a million miles from “coup d’etat”

Reread Tyler's original post. He didn't describe a lawful removal of the President. He described a situation in which no laws were broken, no other President would be impeached, and yet Trump would be removed from office.

5-25% was before the special counsel. It was based on nothing but the events of the last two days, wherein unnamed sources described unseen documents in ways which - regarding any other President - would get laughed out of the room, not printed on the front page of major newspapers.

That is the world we are living in, and those in power don't seem to see the destruction they're causing in their zeal to remove Trump from office by any means necessary.

The Pottery Barn rule applies to America too.

Neither Tyler, you, or I should assure anyone that laws were or were not broken.

As citizens we should support due process.

We know for a fact that Hillary brole laws on disseminating classified materials but 0 prosecution for the queen.

It's hard for you to believe, but that was due process.

Hillary took good care of her server. Better security than the Trump Whitehouse.

'no other President would be impeached'

Well, nobody has asked Trump under oath about getting a blow job, so let us not get to far ahead of ourselves.

Not yet at least, but once that investigation gets going, the Starr precedent is pretty clear.

Neither Tyler, you, or I should assure anyone that laws were or were not broken.

As citizens we should support due process.

I have yet to hear anyone not support due process. Due process has been going on since before Trump's inauguration and it continues today. Tyler's post was about how an innocent President might face impeachment not because of actual crimes committed but based solely on the Trumpness of the officeholder.

You can ignore the post when writing your comments, but you can't tsk tsk commenters for addressing the central thesis of the post we all came here to read.

The guy comes charging into the arena smashing everything in sight, insulting his own party and half of the public, breaking norms and conventions and generally being an asshole, and now you expect him to be treated with deference and respect?

I don't recall those being relevant to articles of impeachment when we studied the Constitution. If they were, Trump surely would not be the first President to have breached them.

Where did I say "articles of impeachment"? If he had been a respectful and collegial pol, who at least got along with his own party, then a lot of the stuff the press and DC are giving him grief about would be ignored/minimized/forgiven. But he's Trump, so he's getting back in spades what he dished out. They're out to get him, because he set the terms.

Fair enough. Tyler is talking about impeachment for being unliked, you are not.

However, if you think President Mike Pence would not have the press ripping into him every day, think again. It would be worse.

“Normal Republican,” though, the thing the Left has openly wished for all these months, reverts to being an oxymoron should Pence come within sight of the presidency. His promotion would make progressives reach for the old playbook: Attack as a dangerous theocrat who hates women, minorities, and gays. No matter that the evidence for any of this is thin (unlike, say, the evidence for Trump’s volatility or unfitness). Opposition to abortion, or even opposition to government funds being directed to the nation’s leading abortion provider, will be recast as posing a supreme danger to “women’s health.” Disagreeing that we need a federal bathroom policy will be recast as “hate.” It was completely unacceptable even to “normalize” the man who earned 306 electoral votes on November 8. But Pence will be called even more abnormal because he deflects questions about evolution as beyond his pay grade.

Because Pence is a man of faith, the ludicrous attempt to tie the secular, non-moralizing Trump to the neo-Puritan misogynist dystopia imagined in the new TV series The Handmaid’s Tale will be recharged, only this time at 10,000 volts. Pence will be labeled an extremist for being part of the American Christian majority. We’ll be told that Pence’s misogyny is even more outlandish than Trump’s because he declines to have boozy one-on-one dinners with women other than his wife. We’ll hear lies about how Pence wants to electrocute gays to convert them to heterosexuality, or at very least that Pence hates gay Americans.

@Kevin: sure Pence would be getting ripped, because of the hyper-partisan moment we've been in a while. The other side ripped Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama mercilessly and often without merit. Because that's what we do. When you say "the press" you mean the partisans on one side or the other. WaPo will rip into Pence, Fox News ripped into Obama, so it goes. What makes Trump different is even his own party hates him, which he brought on himself. So of course he's getting extra grief.

You scumbag hack. Your journalist heroes used that term to describe Comey's firing. Next you'll be accusing the independent prosecutor of being a Russian agent, you lunatic.

It is the end.

5-25%? - so do you know something that you didn't read or see on tv?

The election campaign theme of two sides, each claiming that the other cannot be trusted with power, for very similar reasons, seems to have persisted past the election.

If it were to appear that a President had been dismissed for behaviour similar to that of their electoral opponent, especially using an extended interpretation of the constitution, this would appear to weaken the presidency.

Any suggestion that the side dismissing the President had ever been guilty of sharp practice would then make the US system look more like a "one person, one vote, one time" government, where a party wielding power could use creative interpretations of the legal system to stop any real challenge to them - and making sharp practice more attractive, because the penalty for losing power would be harsh whether the losing politician had broken the rules or not.

(The above suggestions may be influenced my spending too much time wondering about decades from the Gracchi to Julius Caesar, but I have tried to make it independent of this)

"Vix is up 16% today, a sign that a Trump presidency is now seen as having a much more uncertain future." No it doesn't. All it says is that the SP500 dropped last couple of days. That's it. Pls stop recycling the academic boondoggle that the vix surfaces future expectations. We would like to believe that, its theoretically supposed to, but it absolutely does not.

Comments for this post are closed