Yesterday, Howard Stern reminded his listeners-- probably the world's first Trumpsters-- that Trump is a traitor-- someone committing treason. Also a criminal. History will not treat Trump well... but we're not going to have to wait decades to see this monster get his comeuppance. Let's leave his day-- months, years-- in court on the side. What I'm also very much looking forward to is the collapse of his political party-- the enablers and fellow-fascists who caused the needless, pointless, tragic deaths of 290,931 Americans (as of this writing and rapidly rising) in a pandemic that has been politicized into a culture war demanding a steady flow of human sacrifices. Trump's legacy.
The Dakotas are two of his most loyal states. The poorly educated left-behinds who make up the base of the GOP in those two COVID-devastated states gave Trump 65.1% (North Dakota) and 61.8% (South Dakota) of their votes. One in nine Dakotans have been infected with the coronavirus. Both states' hospital systems are in shambles. And no states have worse rates of dying. Talk about voting against their own "interests!" They are killing their own families!
Another of Trump's legacies will be a shattered GOP. Only the gross incompetence and worthlessness of the Democratic Party is keeping it afloat at all. This morning, Politico reporter David Siders wrote that Señor Trumpanzee's "efforts to overturn the presidential election have met with defeat in every swing state and in nearly every court where his cases have been heard. But Trump’s campaign to pressure GOP elected officials to support his baseless claims of a rigged election-- and his success in convincing a majority of the party that widespread voter fraud occurred-- is already showing signs of having far-reaching effects that will reshape the Republican Party for years to come. State party chairs are tearing into their governors. Elected officials are knifing one another in the back. Failed candidates are seizing on Trump’s rhetoric to claim they were also victims of voter fraud in at least a half dozen states. As his presidency comes to a close, Trump has not only imprinted his smash-mouth style on the GOP, he has wrenched open the schism between the activist class and the elected class, according to interviews with more than a dozen Republican Party officials and strategists in the states... In the short term, the forces unleashed by Trump threaten the party’s prospects in the Jan. 5 Georgia Senate runoff. But the infighting also stands to reshape the party for the long haul, with implications for the midterm elections and the presidential nominating contest in 2024."
In recent weeks, the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, Kelli Ward, told the state’s Republican governor to shut up on Twitter in a feud over the integrity of Arizona’s election, which Biden won — choosing Trump over the state’s highest ranking Republican Party official. Ward’s counterpart in Georgia, David Shafer, joined the state’s two Republican senators in attacking the state’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, while leaving Trump to tear into Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
In Michigan, the state Republican Party chair, Laura Cox, stood by Trump’s campaign as it pressed Republican lawmakers to override the popular vote in her state-- something Republican legislative leaders have said repeatedly they won’t do.
Enmity between the Republican Party’s populist and establishment wings has existed in some form for years, long predating Trump. But Trump’s domination of the party has exacerbated the gulf between them, and his persistent demand that Republicans choose sides has left little room for compromise.
He is leaving the party at an unfamiliar crossroads: The outgoing president is a defeated candidate, but unlike recent one-term presidents, he is adored by the base and is the source of a significant expansion of the GOP’s ranks. Millions of Republican voters remain convinced, without evidence, that the election was unfairly taken from him. And Trump will leave behind a party apparatus controlled by loyalists unbeholden to less populist, less Trumpian holdovers.
The result is that many of the party’s field officers in the states are preparing to dig in to ensure that Trump-- and his style of politics-- remains the party’s guiding light. That is putting them at cross-purposes with more traditionalist Republicans, such as Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who are positioning themselves as alternatives to Trump.
Siders sees signs pointing to "a protracted intraparty war." He reported on how the GOP is already splitting apart in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa...
Last night, the editors of the Washington Post wrote that embattled Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler backed Señor T in the debate with Rev. Warnock Sunday, "selling out democracy in an attempt to keep the GOP base riled for her runoff election next month. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who is also running in next month’s runoff, has joined Ms. Loeffler in attacking Georgia state officials who have refused to aid Mr. Trump in upending the vote. A Post survey of every Republican member of Congress found only 27 who were willing to admit that Mr. Biden won the election. Two actually said Mr. Trump won. The remaining 220 mostly avoided responding. 'The future will take care of itself,' Mr. McConnell said last week, avoiding reporters’ questions about Mr. Trump’s claims of fraud. His complacency and that of so many others as the president seeks to discredit a national election discredits them and threatens grave damage to the government’s legitimacy. It also increases the likelihood that a future would-be authoritarian will more successfully abuse cracks in the system, now that they are so visible."
This morning, Bob Cesca wrote that what Trump has been up to lately is more a massive MAGA grift than an actual coup attempt. He wrote that "It turns out that the performative coup, including the bogus 'whistleblowers' and all of Trump's various 'lookits' ('Lookit Philadelphia! Lookit Dominion! Lookit Detroit!'), is only half of our transactional president's latest transaction. He's selling his Red Hats a stack of lies and nonsensical conspiracy theories about the election disguised as hope. In return, these badly deluded suckers are handing over their checking accounts to Trump's Save America PAC in the midst of a crushing recession. Since Election Day, around $207 million has been raised by Save America PAC as well as both the Trump Victory and Trump Make America Great Again committees. According to numerous news sources, however, hardly any of that sum is being spent on 'stopping the steal.'"
Almost all the money (75%) raised will go right into Trump's pockets via a leadership PAC called Save America, which can pay whatever Trump wants as salaries to whomever Trump decides, including-- and most likely-- his family members. In short-- a slush fund.
In 1991 George HW Bush nominated J. Michael Luttig a Circuit Court of Appeals Judge for the 4th Circuit (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas). This morning, Luttig, who has retired from the bench, wrote an OpEd for the Washington Post: No, President Trump can’t pardon himself. It's important to read because there isn doubt Trump will try to pardon himself. Luttig acknowledges that some scholars-- he says they are wrong-- have said a president can pardon himself but insists the Constitution gives the president no such power. He wrote that "The pardon clause’s language is broad indeed, unambiguously allowing the president to pardon seemingly any other person convicted for any federal criminal offense. But its language does not unambiguously include the president himself. Had the Framers intended to give the president such broad power, we would expect them to have clearly said so. After all, the new nation was in the process of rejecting a monarchical government in favor of a democratic republic."
Instead, the words they chose to confer the pardon power on the president contemplate his granting of reprieves and pardons only to persons other than himself. The word “grant” connotes a gift, bestowal, conferral or transfer by one person to another-- not to himself. That would have been the understanding of this word at the time of the Constitution’s drafting, and it is how the term “grant” was understood and is used elsewhere in the Constitution.
At the same time, the “take care” argument against the power to self-pardon merely assumes the very conclusion it reaches: that the pardon clause does not empower the president to pardon himself, and therefore that his self-pardon would be irreconcilable with his responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. This begs the question just as much as the textual argument made for self-pardons. If the Constitution allows a president to pardon himself, there could be no argument that in pardoning himself the president was not faithfully executing the laws.
So why is it clear that the president lacks the power to pardon himself? There are three reasons. The language of the pardon power itself is ambiguous in the face of a constitutional expectation of clarity if the Framers intended to invest the president with such extraordinary power-- a power in the sovereign that was little known to the Framers, if known at all.
Second, the Framers clearly contemplated in the impeachment provisions of the Constitution that the president would not be able to violate the criminal laws with impunity. There, without so much as a hint of a president’s power to avoid criminal liability through self-pardon, they provided that even “in Cases of Impeachment,” for which the president can only be removed and disqualified from holding high federal office, “the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”
And last, but not least, a power in the president to pardon himself for any and all crimes against the United States he committed would grievously offend the animating constitutional principle that no man, not even the president, is above and beyond the law.
In contemporary constitutional parlance, the Framers more likely would have regarded a self-pardon not as an act of justice, grace, mercy and forgiveness, as they did presidential pardons of others. They would have viewed a self-pardon as a presidential act more akin to an obstruction of justice for criminal offenses against the United States by a president, the prosecution for which can be brought, at least according to the Justice Department, only after a president leaves office.
The current president, never shy about violating norms, may well be tempted to challenge the Constitution by pardoning himself for any possible crimes he may have committed during his presidency. If he does, he may discover that neither the Constitution nor the Supreme Court will allow him to forever escape liability for any crimes he may have committed against the nation he served.