Impeachment: Two Important Developments

There were two related and significant impeachment developments during the past two weeks.  Even former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie expressed outrage at an incredibly over-broad claim by the Trump administration that a President cannot commit obstruction of justice, since his Constitutional powers extend to the ability to end any investigation. President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, also claimed the President has a Constitutional power to pardon himself, while also saying that would never happen, since it would provoke impeachment.  The publication of To End a Presidency by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe and Joshua Matz is emerging as at least a “publishing non-event” – it has not yet appeared on the list of top 25 hardcover nonfiction books per PublishersWeekly – meaning weekly sales can’t be much over 3,000 copies.  James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty dropped from 5th to 8th on the list, with total sales now at 540,000.  Meanwhile, the Trump Administration remains unsteadily on course towards a North Korea summit that is now only a week away – and the country remains on course towards mid-term elections.  In reaction to this calming wind, the Dow Jones index continued to be relatively stable, trading within a 2,000-point range since early February, after almost a 3,000-point drop from January 26th to February 8th.  The economy is continuing to proceed full speed ahead – with a new record low for unemployment of under four percent. Trump’s approval/disapproval rating per the RealClearPolitics average continues on a slight upward trend – approval has now reached about the level it was at when President Trump was inaugurated.  However – disapproval is now about 8 percent higher than at the inauguration -- almost no Americans remain undecided on the question of approval/disapproval.

The Mueller Investigation –

CNN reports: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, interviewed on ABC News, blasted a Trump Administration claim that due to his extensive Constitutional powers President Trump could not commit obstruction of justice.  CNN reported: "'It's an outrageous claim, it's wrong,' the former Republican governor said on ABC News' 'This Week.'"  Mueller is reported to be investigating whether President Trump may have obstructed justice, a charge widely understood to be an impeachable offense, and one made against both President Richard Nixon and President Bill Clinton.

Reuters reports: "U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he had committed no wrongdoing but has the 'absolute' power to pardon himself, echoing sweeping arguments put forth by his lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Sunday...  ¶Giuliani told Reuters on Sunday the president cannot be indicted or subpoenaed and has the power to pardon himself, leaving impeachment by the U.S. Congress likely the remedy for presidential misconduct.¶ 'The constitution gave the president the right to pardon himself,' Giuliani said, adding that Trump would not need to because 'he didn't do anything wrong.'"  Note: regarding the pardon power, the Constitution says this:  "... he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment, see AP for more background on this."

Tom Steyer’s NeedToImpeach campaign –

The Hill reports: "Billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer in an interview compared the movement to impeach President Trump to the civil rights movement.  ¶‘Impeaching the president of the United States is upsetting the status quo,’ he said in the podcast. ‘Anytime in American history that there has been an attempt to upset the status quo, there have been people within the status quo — within the establishment — saying, “It may be true, it may be something we should deal with, it may be important, but not now.”’  ¶’If you look at the civil rights movement, the pushback was not, “You’re not telling the truth.” The pushback was, “We’re dealing with it in time. Stand down so we can deal with it in time,”’ he added.”

MeetToImpeach Feature editor Bob "Again" Carney Jr. was at Tom Steyer's town hall in Minneapolis, held May 30th, and after Steyer commented briefly about Vice President Mike Pence, he called on bobagain for a follow up question.  The nub of the dialogue was first Steyer's point that while "this President is reckless, lawless and dangerous, we don’t get to pick the next President," and that the consequence of impeaching President Trump would be that "we'll replace this President with a conservative Republican from Indiana with whom I probably agree on exactly zero policies... but where our country would be much safer, our democracy would be restored, and we could move forward in a much more straightforward way..."  Editor bobagain has produced a video, including the Steyer dialogue, and an excerpt from his speech to a Minnesota GOP Congressional District convention while he was a candidate for Governor, demonstrating that Republicans and Trump supporters do listen when they are reminded that America's constitutional choice is presently not between President Trump and a President Hillary Clinton, but between Trump and a President Mike Pence.

In a CNN Interview House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made clear her position that while the Mueller investigation should go forward, and impeachment could be considered based on its results, impeachment is not in her view a priority issue for the fall campaign.  She asserted if impeachment was to go forward, it would have to be on a bi-partisan basis, but it was premature to advocate for it at this point.

The RealClearPolitics floating average of approval/disapproval poll ratings shows a steady increase in President Trump's approval, from briefly and slightly below 38% towards the end of 2017, to a current approval of about 45% -- equal to his approval ratings right after his Inaugration in 2017.  However, due to the few voters who remain undecided compared to the time of the Inaugration, his disapproval number -- currently 53% -- is higher than it was shortly after the inaugration, but is down from a mid-December peak of 58%.  The overall gap is 8% -- down from 21% at it's height on December 15, 2017.  Due to rounding, about 3% of Americans are currently undecided as to approval/disapproval -- the country is very highly polarized.   

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