Lets Face It — a Constitutional Crisis Is Certain

Calm, measured, careful David Brooks, on the News Hour Friday night, said something like this (reconstructed, not quoted):

Look Trump is transparent.  He has said — if you want to find my corruption go to the tex returns.  And he has said to Mueller, if you got the tax returns, I will fire you. So, we know exactly what will happen.  Mueller will go to the tax returns, Trmp will fire him, and we will have a constitutional crisis of some king.

I conclude that at this point we all actually know that a constitutional crisis is coming.  All that remains to find out is exactly what will trigger it, how the parties align at that point and perhaps how it will end.  Although I am pretty confident of the ultimate outcome.

This reminds me of my mother, who as 15 at the time of the events, saying that after Munich in 1938, everyone knew that war was coming, and that it was almost a relief when it finally did so.  Then people knew what they had to do.  I think it is the same now.

Now, the crisis could come from an attempted firing, it could be triggered by a refusal to comply with court or congressional orders, or less likely, it could be set off by extra-judicial illegal executive actions.  Nor do we know what the triggering event will be about.  It could be the now essentially admitted as to intent, Russia Collusion, the obstruction of justice claim, financial irregularities, or even the emoluments clause, to name just a few of the options.

But the outcome will depend on the willingness of the Courts and Republican politicians to enforce our constitutional norms. While it is clear that almost none of our Republican leaders have read or internalized Profiles in Courage, at some point the pain barrier will be reached.

Finally, I sometimes wonder what the definition of a constitutional crisis is?  Is it when one when of the corrective measures in the constittuion cuts in and works, as it did in 1974, or is it when that mechanisms are not triggered, or fail, causing a braoder legitimacy problem.  I hope we do not find out.

Memo to Trump Investigators — Remember to Subpoena the Couriers

We hear today from Politico:

President-elect Donald Trump said Saturday evening that no computer is safe from hacking and that some communications should be sent by courier.

“I don’t care what they say. No computer is safe,” Trump said while taking questions at the Grand Ballroom of Mar-a-Lago ahead of his New Year’s Eve party, according to pool reports, adding that messages should be sent by courier, “the old fashioned way.”

So, if you investigating the future president, do not forget to subpoena the couriers and the courier logs.

If you are in charge of the Archives, remember to insist that courier archives are to be kept and included in the archives.

If you sue him or his at any point, request a protective order on those materials as soon as possible.

This investigatory hint from Trump shows, as any good investigator surely will tell you, that the best leads almost always come from the target.

“The Presidential Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2017”

We all know how a certain party loves to trigger “blame the victim” mythology by invoking the words “personal responsibility.”

Well, with the most irresponsible president-elect imaginable, one who even often denies doing what he has done or said, maybe its time to think about a “Presidential Responsibility and Disclosure Act.”

Such an Act, unlikely to be passed in the first 100 days, would provide:

That presidents would be required to disclose any benefits they might receive as a result of actions taken by them or their appointees, or those under their appointees control, including White House staff.  The requirement would be waived when the President put their assets in a blind trust that met the standard that the President could not know or speculate about the impact of the decisions.  In other words that not only the trust would be blind, but its assets would have been randomized.

That the President would be required to acknowledge and correct misstatements made by him or her or the White House staff, unless given a confidential waiver by a national security staff, and subject to the disapproval of two or more of the chairs or minority leaders of the appropriate congressional committees.  The requirements would also apply to such statements made during the campaign, with the corrections required to be made before the voting by the formal electors in December.  With respect to campaign aides, the requirement would only apply to those who then take up government positions.

That presidential tweets would be required to followed within a few days, by a citation of authorities. (Given how badly Trump does with those with grad school experience, this could be sold as having potential to improve his rating with this rapidly expanding demographic.)

That, in order to facilitate first amendment exercise by voters, presidential candidates would be responsible for releasing their full Federal, state and local tax returns prior to the first steps in the convention delegate selection process.

Any other suggestions?

If Trump Supported or Protected The Tax Breaks He Took Advantage of, He Is Done

Trump and his surrogates have been relying on one defense to his more and more likely log term non-payment of taxes.  That defense is that he is under a duty to his investors to maximize their returns under the law.

Note that:  Under the law.

If there is any evidence that he lobbied to enact, or protect those breaks, whether in Congress or within the IRS regulatory structure, or even through the media, he is gone.

Because surely his may supporters will understand that there is a big difference between knowing how to navigate through an already rigged system, and being one of those who rigged the system.

He has been very honest about “paying to play.”  So it would be astonishing if he did not in fact make political donations to the chairs and members of the relevant tax-writing committees, and also have them expert influence over the statute and tax regulation writers.

Some of that may actually have happened during the two years that the Clintons were in the White House, AND Congress was republican.  So be it.  He’s been playing this game for a long time.  Remember, his claim is that he is different.  Saying the Clintons were part of it destroys his legitimacy much more than hers.

So, journalists and advocates, get out there, look at the contribution records of Trump and his groups.  Do FOIA requests of communications with the regulators.  (We know he could not resist pretending to be others).  Get the Congressional Research Office requests and how they relate to timing.

You just know that the evidence is going to be there.  Find it!