This is one of my recent columns for the print version of CounterPunch. It was written several weeks ago. But the only thing that’s really changed is that Nancy Pelosi’s resistance to impeachment has grown even more adamant, even as the grounds for impeachment reach ever-more monstrous heights.
The impeachment conundrum is remarkably simple. As I’ve said before, every single day of his presidency, Donald Trump violates the emoluments clause in myriad ways, all of them eminently impeachable. We don’t need to know how many angels can dance on the spine of the Mueller Report; we don’t need to parse every utterance of that grim-jawed investigator as if it issued from the oracle at Delphi.
Again: Trump commits impeachable violations of the Constitution every day, and has done so since he was inaugurated. He could’ve easily avoided this by making different financial arrangements, but he chose not to. He chose to keep putting the profits of his businesses – with their innumerable foreign entanglements – directly into his own pocket. This is not lawful, not constitutional. And it happens in broad daylight, day in, day out. If you want to impeach Trump, you don’t have to deal with Russian collusion or obstruction of justice or indeed any issue investigated by Robert Mueller.
I’ve said repeatedly that putting virtually the entire focus of opposition to Trump on a narrow probe into the murky world of espionage – where all is inference, indirection and plausible deniability – would end badly, and it has. The ‘Resistance’ struck the prince — but with a blunt, clumsy weapon. Trump is still standing, claiming victory and martyrdom, and he’s now using the power of the state to go after his political enemies.
As I’m writing this, Nancy Pelosi is still resisting impeachment with every bit of backroom guile and chop logic at her command. Of course, by the time this is published, she might well have succumbed to pressure and finally instigated the procedure in the House. (As always with our stalwart party of Demos, it will depend on what the donor class prefers.) But it’s certain that any impeachment process will be based on the Mueller investigation; it will stand or fall on that thin reed. Because the leaders of the ‘Resistance’ have decided that the only way to get to Trump is through Mueller.
The liberal lionization of Robert Mueller has always been a ring-tailed wonder to behold. Comedians fawn on him; columnists rhapsodize about him; why, his media avatar is no less than Robert DeNiro himself, who portrays him on Saturday Night Live. DeNiro even writes op-eds in the NY Times, urging Mueller to be more like his portrayal. (Of course when he’s not helping direct the affairs of the American Republic, DeNiro can currently be seen on British TV screens in a glitzy ad series for a bagel company.)
Many Resisters have expressed — more in sorrow than in anger — some disappointment in their champion for not producing a more forthright report, red-hot with smoking guns. But anyone whose knowledge of US political history began before November 8, 2016, might have suspected such an outcome. After all, Mueller, a longtime GOP apparatchik, played a key role in covering up government complicity in one of the biggest criminal conspiracies in history – the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, as I’ve noted in stories going back to 2006. In journalist Christopher Bryon’s apt description, BCCI “engaged in pandemic bribery of officials in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. It laundered money on a global scale … engaged in extortion and blackmail. It supplied the financing for illegal arms trafficking and global terrorism. It financed and facilitated income tax evasion, smuggling and prostitution.” And the Bush I boys, along with a goodly portion of the bipartisan political establishment, were neck-deep in BCCI sleaze.
When a scandal at a BCCI-connected bank in Atlanta forced the feds to act, GHW Bush moved quickly to suppress the probe. Lawyers for the companies involved were appointed to the investigation team, which was headed by a safe pair of hands: Bob Mueller. Again, as I’ve noted elsewhere, the investigation was mysteriously botched: evidence got lost, witnesses disappeared. There was some wrist-slapping of low-hanging fruit, but Team Bush escaped with its many ties to BCCI (including Bush’s surreptitious arming of Saddam Hussein) left hidden.
A few years later, the family factotum got his reward: Bush Junior made Mueller head of the FBI, where Bob used his safe hands to push the deceptions about Iraq’s non-existent WMD that led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. A great progressive hero, you’ll agree.
In any case, whatever Mueller did, said or meant in his Russiagate probe has no bearing at all on the other clear, undeniable, easily impeachable violations Trump perpetrates every day. There is no wiggle room for Trump on this score, no murk, no mystery: it’s cut-and-dried, cash-in-hand, unconstitutional corruption.
If you really wanted to do something about Trump, to take concrete action to remove this dangerous, addled criminal from office, then why wouldn’t you choose this easy, straightforward line of attack, from day one? And now that you have power in the House, why wouldn’t you use it as the basis of an impeachment proceeding that needs no Delphic decipherment but can be laid out plainly and simply before the people? This to me is the great mystery of the ‘Resistance.’ When your enemy hands you a sword – every single day – why do you throw it aside?