Generally, I try to base these notes upon some level of validated facts, expert authority, history, or logic [although a number of the learned eyes that read these pages may reasonably demur, at least with regard to the latter ;)]. This note has none of that – just a couple of admittedly gut instincts I have as what is hopefully the last spring snow melts in Wisconsin.
As to the first: I think that President Trump will grossly overplay his hand if he persists in a course of rebuffing every information request and refusing to comply with every subpoena put to the Administration by House committees. While polls make clear that a plurality of Americans are opposed to any efforts to impeach him – clearly, even a number of our citizens who oppose Mr. Trump don’t believe that obviously partisan politicians should attempt to fire a duly-elected President – my gut says that the vast majority of our people don’t want a King who considers himself above the law, either. The Mueller Report has set forth a sufficiently widespread pattern of unsavory behavior that it has arguably punctured the President’s “Witch Hunt” claim in the eyes of open-minded Americans (a point that Mr. Trump, judging by his behavior of late, apparently recognizes).
It would appear that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her lieutenants face a conundrum – the need to avoid commencing generally unpopular impeachment proceedings while at the same time preserving the House’s Constitutional oversight responsibilities. If advising them, I would recommend that they limit themselves to strategic probes where the President seems most legally and popularly vulnerable:
Aggressively push the subpoena to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for the President’s income tax returns. As has been widely reported, 26 U.S.C. 6103(f) provides a mechanism under which the Treasury Secretary “shall” furnish a House of Representatives’ committee with “any [tax] return” that the committee requests. While a committee’s right to a return may not be unlimited under the statute, it would seem that the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees, given the Special Counsel’s undisputed findings of repeated interactions between the Trump Organization and Russian interests, can readily construct a rationale for their need for the President’s returns to help them assess what, if any, relationships exist between the Trump Organization and Russian business interests that could influence Mr. Trump’s conduct of his office. I suspect that virtually all Americans, including those that support Mr. Trump, are curious about the contents of the tax returns he has so zealously guarded. By pushing a properly-positioned request to the Supreme Court if need be, House Democrats would potentially put the Court’s avowedly strict constructionists in a position in which they would seemingly be loath to look partisan. No matter the outcome, if the Democrats position themselves correctly, they will look reasonable – and the President autocratic — to the majority of our citizens who will decide the 2020 election.
Aggressively assert the Oversight Committee’s prerogative to thoroughly interview former White House Security Director Carl Kline regarding the security clearances provided to certain White House aides, including Jared Kushner, allegedly despite objections presented by career security staffers. As this is being typed, Mr. Kline intends to appear on May 1 with a White House lawyer. If Mr. Kline is less than fully cooperative, I would cite him for contempt and take any resisted requests for information to court for adjudication – again, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. Here, the issue is national security and the Special Counsel has shown the majority of Americans that the President and his cohort are unprincipled; this seems another area in which the House’s oversight activities will appear in sympathetic light.
The second musing is perhaps more suitably offered over late night refreshers than in a sedately-toned website; nonetheless: The combination of distaste and exhaustion about President Trump is sufficiently pervasive among our people that if the Democrats present a reasonable nominee [four coming to mind for me as good matchups against Mr. Trump from a purely handicapping standpoint are former Vice President Joe Biden, VT Sen. Bernie Sanders, MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar (whose candidacy admittedly seems to be fading), or South Bend IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg], the Democrat will not only defeat Mr. Trump; s/he will win convincingly – approximating President Obama’s 2008 Electoral College total of 365 votes. It is up to the Democrats to NOT do what they are chronically prone to do – beat themselves through internecine clashes …