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Friday, October 18, 2019


Once again, I find that the time I take away from this blog to travel to New York and teach coincides with developments so remarkable that before I can return to blogging the world has changed.  Now that Mick Mulvaney has issued an official, on camera, confession of guilt on behalf of his boss, President Trump, it remains only to draft the articles, listen to a few more rats scurrying down the ropes from the sinking ship, and present the articles for a vote to the full House.

What on earth is there to say about what has been happening?

Since I have no more information or insight than any of you, I will content myself with making some predictions, confident that most of them will prove incorrect.

1.  Trump will be impeached by the House, probably before Thanksgiving.  The House vote will be preceded by televised hearings during which a series of former and present Executive Branch officials will testify in vivid color.  This will cause the polls to shift against Trump, causing some Republicans to jump ship.  Nevertheless, no more than a handful of House Republicans will vote “aye.”  [Or is it “yea”?]

2.   The trial in the Senate will be accelerated, but this means held to two weeks or so, not to fifteen minutes as a humorously suggested a week or two ago.  Trump will be acquitted, but I confess I cannot now see whether any significant number of Republicans will defect and vote to convict.

3.    Biden will fade, Sanders will not surge, Harris and Buttigieg will languish, and Warren will win the nomination, gaining more Black votes as time goes on.

4.   Trump will not resign [I confess I am uncertain about this].  The campaign will rival those of the early 19th century in ugliness, and Trump will lose.  If the Democrats squeak through in Texas, which is possible, it will not be close in the Electoral College.  If they do not, it may be close.  Either way, Trump will rage, claim that the election has been stolen, and do everything he can to bring the entire nation down around his ears.  He will issue veiled or overt calls for revolution, and they will result in little or no actual domestic unrest.  He will actually vacate the White House, despite fears that he will resist.  He will also not resign after the election but before the Inauguration in order for Pence to issue a plenary pardon to him.  [This too is one I am unsure of.]

5.  In the longer term, I simply cannot figure out what the future holds for the Republican Party.

Now I must return to my real work, grading midterm papers.


Ecrasez L’Infame said...

Is it not possible also that Trump will pardon himself? I’d thought Nixon considered this, but that wiser heads around him said that, although constitutionally allowed, it would be beyond the pale. Trump’s long since sacked all his wiser heads.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I will ask my son, the Constitutional Law scholar. My impression is that it is at this point an undecided point of law.

s. wallerstein said...

The most interesting discussion topic here is the future of the Republican Party.

First of all, I don't know any Republicans myself: all of the people in the U.S. with whom I'm still in contact are Democrats or in one case, Green Party. My ex-college room-mate defines himself as a "Clinton-Obama Democrat", I have a cousin who could be described that way too, my son and his wife support Buttigieg and the rest back either Warren or Sanders.

However, ignorance has never held me back from expressing an opinion and still less from trying to get better informed people to express theirs. My guess is that if Trump is defeated (which is probable), the Republicans will drift towards a Trumpism without Trump:
a rightwing xenophobic populism (much less hawkish than Bush 2 and the Neocons), anti-immigrant, racist and unlike the French National Front, clearly neoliberal (they know where their campaign contributions come from.). They'll strengthen their ties to evangelical Christians and to Israel, the Israel lobby being another source of campaign funds.

aall said...

The pardon issue is irrelevant as Trump (and spawn) likely has enough civil and criminal liability in NY State alone to make the rest of his life a well deserved hell. Still, this also may well be moot as, between the coming stress and growing brain worms, adjudicative competency will likely be a factor.

Dean said...

CRS addressed the issue of self-pardons in an August 30, 2017, Legal Sidebar, "Presidential Pardons: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

The text of the Pardon Clause does not speak to whether the President can pardon himself. The Framers did not debate ( this question at the Convention, and it unclear whether they considered whether the pardon power could be applied in this manner. No President has attempted to pardon himself. In a memorandum issued several days before President Nixon resigned, the OLC concluded that the President could not issue a self-pardon, positing that “under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself.” This general legal assertion closely echoes Federalist No. 10 (, in which James Madison declared that “[n]o man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.” However, Madison’s comments were not made in the context of pardons, and appear to be a general assertion about the rule of law, rather than an opinion on the constitutionality of self-pardons. While some legal scholars have contended that the President cannot pardon himself (see, e.g., here [] and here[]), others contend (see, e.g., here []) that a good-faith argument, at least, could be made to support a self-pardon’s constitutional validity given the lack of textual restrictions against self-pardons within the Constitution. Accordingly, this is an unsettled constitutional question, unlikely to be resolved unless a President acts to pardon himself for a criminal offense.

Dean said...

Sorry...I could have used basic HTML to embed those URLs.

Jerry Fresia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerry Fresia said...

I think you are 5 for 5.

However, there is talk of some much darker tales to be told. So, if the SDNY turns up the heat and convinces Trump that when he leaves office he, and possibly Ivanka and Jared, will go to jail for many years, the Dems will have some real leverage: RESIGN NOW OR GO TO JAIL LATER. Ditto Pence. Enter Nikki Haley, which by then the "never Trump" Repubs will be anxious to push forward. A woman, a minority, young, attractive, and totally corporate, she'd be a serious threat to Warren.

The Berniecrats will strongly push Warren to accept Bernie for the VP slot.

Ecrasez L’Infame said...

As self-pardon is unsettled, if Trump were to try it, it would go to the Supreme Court - which has two members appointed by Trump. Would they have to recuse? I imagine that itself is “unsettled”!

Even if he doesn’t try it, it seems remarkable that no one considers it impossible or would be surprised if he did. That strikes me as new, a president so wildly capricious that whatever happens is just another normal day at the White House.

Jerry Fresia said...

Some are now saying that Adm. McRaven's Oct 17th op-ed in NY Times offering rationales for Trump’s imminent removal (without mentioning impeachment) is an effort to prepare the citizenry for a military coup.

Dean said...

Unlike all the other Article III judges, SCOTUS justices are not bound by a Code of Conduct, though they do consult the Code that binds the lower court judges. The only law on the books governing recusal by SCOTUS justices is 28 U.S.C. s. 455, which requires a justice to "disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned." It then enumerates various circumstances in which recusal is required, none of which involves presidential appointment. Not only is SCOTUS recusal unsettled, then, but the constitutionality of this very law, too, is unsettled, inasmuch as it is arguably a legislative encroachment upon the judiciary! Complicating SCOTUS recusal is the fact that, unlike the other federal courts, there is nobody to substitute for the recused justice during the proceedings. To my mind, the fact that President So-and-so appointed a justice does not reasonably implicate that justice's impartiality toward the president, but I suppose it's arguable.

Ecrasez L’Infame said...

Wow, thanks, Dean!

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