Impeachment Week in Review: Trump's Tax Returns

This week is yet another slow week for actual, hard Trump impeachment news.  A NY Times analysis of the likelihood that a Democratic House would seek President Trump’s tax returns emphasizes that executive branch Trump appointees are expected to simply refuse to comply with demands for the returns from Congress – even though a Progressive Era law clearly establishes their right to obtain the returns.  The Mueller investigation is reported to be near to issuing core findings about alleged Russian collusion and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump soon after the election.  A state level drive by the West Virginia legislature to impeach their entire State Supreme Court prompted judicial intervention, and appears to have stalled.  Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, dropped to #2 in its fourth week on the list of top 25 hardcover non-fiction books – the #1 spot was taken over by Tucker Carlson’s new book: Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution.


A Democratic House would battle to obtain President Trump’s Tax Returns

The NY Times offers an analysis of the potential for a Democratic House to obtain President Trump's tax returns and make them public, using an obscure 1924 Progressive era Federal law provision.  The Times reports: "The law, dating to the Teapot Dome scandal of Warren G. Harding’s administration, appears to give the Trump administration little leeway to resist such a request; it says merely that the Treasury secretary 'shall' furnish the requested information.  But Democrats expect that Mr. Trump and his appointees within the Treasury would outright refuse to comply, tempting a lawsuit by the House and all but ensuring a long court fight over the legitimacy of Congress’s oversight of the chief executive.  Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, said in a brief interview on Tuesday that he would advise Mr. Trump to fight any such request and saw reason to think he could win. With control of the House, he said, Democrats would merely be conducting a ‘circus’ and would probably have a difficult time proving they had any legitimate legislative or oversight objective.  ’It is really for the purpose of political harassment,’ Mr. Giuliani said, adding, ‘It is a heck of a good battle for a president.’”

Mueller investigation is close to issuing core findings soon after the election

Bloomberg reports: “Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections as he faces intensifying pressure to produce more indictments or shut down his investigation, according to two U.S. officials.  Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice, according to one of the officials, who asked not to be identified speaking about the investigation.”  There are still many uncertainties -- including the fates of both Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Court intervenes in West Virginia State Legislature’s Supreme Court impeachment battle

The Washington Post reports West Virginia has "botched" the impeachment of its Supreme Court Chief Justice: “On Monday morning, West Virginia’s chief justice was scheduled to go on trial before the state Senate for ‘lavish spending’ on elaborate office renovations, among other ethics complaints. She faced removal from office by impeachment in the House.  But there will be no impeachment trial in the Senate for Margaret Workman on Monday — because her own Supreme Court of Appeals said it would be unconstitutional.  To be fair, it wasn’t the regular Supreme Court of Appeals, but a bunch of stand-ins, acting justices.  They ruled last week that despite the state constitution giving the power to impeach justices to the legislature, this particular impeachment was unconstitutional, a violation of separation of powers.  As a result, the justice who was to preside over the impeachment Monday got cold feet. He was a no-show.”

Most Americans appear set in their assessment of President Trump

Two websites -- (“538”) and (“RCP”) -- are the most widely recognized aggregators of polling data.  It's not surprising that their results for President Trump's approval rating are in close agreement -- what may be surprising is the stability of that result from March of 2018 to the present. The 538 site shows approval of 42.6% and disapproval of 52.1 -- a spread of 9.5%, while RCP shows approval of 43.8% and disapproval of 52.2 -- a spread of 8.4%.  Since March of 2018 the 538 approval rating has ranged from 39.1% to 42.7% -- a swing of 3.6% -- while RCP has ranged from 39.8% to 44.6% -- a swing of 4.8%.  Since March of 2018 the 538 disapproval rating has ranged from 51.3% to 54.5% -- a swing of 3.2% -- while the RCP disapproval rating has ranged from 51.1% to 55.7% -- a swing of 4.6%.  Very simply -- almost everyone appears to have made up their mind about President Trump.

Book Beat -- Bob Woodward’s recent book, Fear: Trump in the White House, fell from the #1 perch in its third week on the list of top 25 hardcover non-fiction books – it is now #2, with weekly sales of 42,319 copies, and cumulative sales of 802,819 copies. the previous week, to 70,947 this week.  Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution, by FOX News host Tucker Carlson, opened at #1 for its first week on the list, with sales of 82,220.

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