May 8, 2019
By Robert Kuttner | May 08, 2019
The True Constitutional Crisis Is Upon Us. Trump has now defined himself as simply above the law. Congress can issue all the subpoenas it wants, but if Trump stonewalls, it all ends up in courts. And the federal courts are increasingly as independent as, say, Poland’s, Hungary’s, Venezuela’s, or China’s.
Robert Mueller must be kicking himself. He tried to play it straight and this is his reward.
Suppose, instead of hinting at it, he had simply written:
Were it not for the Justice Department guidelines (which are not part of the Constitution), I would have requested indictments of Trump. Since the Justice Department would not permit me to do that, I recommend that Congress follow the constitutional remedy, and impeach him.
That would have shut up Trump’s claims of vindication.
Mueller should now defy Trump, and testify. As a citizen. It would be the most noble act of civil disobedience since King, Gandhi, or Thoreau.
At Least We Can Always Count on Tom Friedman. To get it 180-degrees wrong, that is. Friedman writes in today’s Times: “I don’t want him impeached. He has to be voted out. Only that will restore the faith of the world that America has not lost its mind.”
Does Friedman perhaps remember ... Watergate? In case he was on an extended junket to Riyadh at the time, here’s what happened: Nixon was forced to resign thanks to an extensive impeachment proceeding. The Democrats won a massive victory in the midterm elections three months later, and took back the presidency two years after that. This trifecta did the job very nicely.
The China Feint. Crystal ball time. Trump’s last-minute get-tough posture and threat to raise tariffs is of course a bargaining ploy. The negotiators will burn the midnight oil and come back with some nominal but hollow Chinese concessions on intellectual property and industrial espionage that will be easily evaded when it comes to enforcement. Trump will claim that his hard line and threatened tariffs saved the day. The world will be spared the tariffs, Trump will get his signing ceremony, and the Dow will go up 700 points.
Consumer Warning: I am not a licensed investment adviser, so do not base your stock market strategy on this prediction.
Trump’s cynicism knows no bounds, and he needs this deal, even if the U.S. gets sold out in the fine print. Of course, I could be wrong. A tariff war would make him look even tougher. But in terms of rehabilitating his image, at least for one news cycle, he needs to look statesmanlike.