Morning Impeachment Thoughts
- I am obviously not a member of congress. Nor am I an expert on Congressional rules, but I think this impeachment debate is a terrible showing for the Democrats.
- The Republicans are giving impassioned speeches. Democrats are reading scripted statements. I really don’t know what they are thinking.
- Every event in this impeachment is a public hearing, an opportunity to sway people and explain why Trump should be impeached. All three major cable news networks are carrying this live and the Democrats can’t even show up. The chamber is largely empty. What kind of message does that send? What are they doing? What is more important than doing everything you can possibly do to carry the nation along in this process?
- I know this will not be a popular sentiment, but I don’t even think Jerry Nadler should have left yesterday’s rules debate. I don’t think any family emergency is more important than the future of the country. Raskin is not good at debate. He is diffident, defensive, pleading. We need a fighter, someone who relishes fighting for the rule of law and justice.
- Oh God, now Chris Matthews is arguing that nobody is watching this impeachment hearing. That is certainly not true at our house. I have watched every minute of it and have probably written 700 pages of notes since the whistleblower came forward.
- Back to the Democrats being feckless. Most of the Democratic representatives cannot even read a prepared statement and make it sound like they mean it. Where is the passion? Where is the moral outrage? Where is the anger that Donald Trump and the Republicans have brought us here? This tactic of claiming “sadness” over impeachment is truly terrible. We are not sad to be impeaching Trump. We are furious, indignant, fist pounding morally outraged.
- Speaking to a Republican talking point, it doesn’t make any difference if every Democrat in the country is Jack the Ripper and wanted to impeach Trump since before he was elected, Donald Trump extorted an announcement designed to smear a political enemy with tax payer money. End of story. The motivations of the Democrats are irrelevant. WHY DOESN’T SOMEBODY F…ING SAY THAT?
- What this morning’s performance demonstrates to me is that most people are in Congress because they can raise money. They are certainly not there because they are good at public speaking. They are not there because they are capable of expressing moral outrage on the behalf of the people. In fact, I am wondering if any of them actually believe in anything.
- If they truly believe in the Constitution and the rule of law, they don’t sound like it. Either they are incapable of feeling a genuine emotion or they are incapable of expressing one.
- In any case, we can and should do better than this.
Chickenshit Club Notes:
- In 2002, James Comey was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan. When giving a speech to the criminal division, Comey asked the audience: “Who here has never had an acquittal or a hung jury?” People proudly raised their hands. Comey looked out over the assembled and said: “You are members of what we like to call the Chickenshit Club.”
- Comey was talking about the tendency for attorneys to go after easy targets that provide celebratory newspaper headlines rather than bringing cases that would right the biggest injustices. He was talking about the incentives that existed (and still exist and should be resisted) for prosecutors to advance their careers through wins, not fights.
- As Eisinger writes: Prosecutors should “…be righteous, not careerist….Victory in the courtroom should be a secondary concern, meaning that government lawyers should neither seek to win at all costs nor duck a valid case out of fear of losing. Federal prosecutors should not be judged on their trial record, whether they are criticized, or what the political consequences might be of their prosecutions.”
- Sadly, the very thing that Comey was criticizing, became standard practice in the SDNY and also in the Justice Department itself.
- Eisinger’s book is about how we wound up with a prosecutorial system that makes it standard practice to settle out of court white collar, corporate and political crimes. It is about how white shoe law firms, corporations and big money interests pressured the legal system so that it now works for their benefit not for the benefit of the society at large.
- This book is essential reading. It provides the context in which to understand many of the recent failures of the system to hold high level people accountable.
- If we had a functioning justice system for high level offenders, people like Manafort, Stone, Trump would all be in jail rather than involved in running a country.