As readers here know, Ethics Alarms has identified 14 distinct strategies, A through N, ateempted to varying degrees by Democrats, the news media and “the resistance” to overturn the results of the 2016 election. I facetiously designated the brief, hysterical movement to nominate Opra Winfrey as the Democratic candidate in 2020 as “Plan O,” but now we really have one, #15.
Plan O incorporates several of the previous 14, but it is a new spin, unusually unmoored to fact or law. The theory is that the Mueller investigation was supposed to provide constitutional justification to impeach President Trump, so its report is justification even though the investigation found no evidence of crimes or misconduct that could sustain an ethical prosecution. To borrow from several on-line wags, it’s the “There has to be a pony in there somewhere” plan.
One could argue that Plan O is just an update of Plan F: The Maxine Waters Plan, which is to impeach the President for existing (after his appointments, staff and supporters have been accosted, harassed and assaulted), but it’s more bizarre than that. The theory is that an investigation that explicitly found no convincing evidence that the President had engaged in impeachable offenses has somehow shown that the President engaged in impeachable offenses. I’m not being arch—this is an entirely fair and accurate description.
Poster boy for this mind-bending exercise is the absurd Rep. Adam Schiff, who now argues that the report proves “collusion” and obstruction, despite the fact that it does neither, and says that it does neither. Telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulis that there is “ample evidence of collusion in plain sight,” Schiff said,
“I use that word very carefully because I also distinguish time and time again between collusion, that is acts of corruption that may or may not be criminal, and proof of a criminal conspiracy. And that is a distinction that Bob Mueller made within the first few pages of his report. In fact, every act that I’ve pointed to as evidence of collusion has now been borne out by the report.“
This approach requires a Procrustean definition of “collusion” to fit whatever there is evidence of, and then framing that definition as “corruption,” after defining that as including non criminal conduct. Schiff regards having a meeting with Russians that has no effects on the campaign or the election as “collusion,” even though any American is free to meet with anybody they choose to. This guy says outrageous things like this on national TV—
“The obstruction of justice in particular in this case is far worse than anything that Richard Nixon did…I would say in every way this is more significant than Watergate.And the fact that a candidate for president and now president of the United States would not only not stand up and resist Russian interference in our election but would welcome it goes well beyond anything Nixon did.“
..which is Big Lie enterprise par excellance.
Since there was no underlying crime to cover up, unlike Watergate, there was no obstruction of justice. Nixon authorized the payment of hush money. Nixon denied that he knew about the crime, when he was on tape admitting otherwise. Nixon tried to engage the FBI in his cover-up. Nixon used every legal maneuver and declaration of Executive Privilege he could devise to try to block the investigation. Nixon didn’t just want to fire the Independent Counsel (as Trump wanted to) , he did fire him. By what possible calculations can Schiff say the conduct by Trump was worse than Watergate, on par with Watergate, or even slightly approaching Watergate?
ABC reporters hearing this nonsene had an absolute obligation to ask that exact question. Of course, they did not.
The other question that had to be asked if Stephanopoulis was anything more than the Democratic Party’s water-carrying hack was, “What do you mean, Trump had a duty to “stand up and resist.”? What was he supposed to do? It was the job of the sitting President of the United States to “resist,” and Obama not only did nothing, his Justice Department employed a fake attack document created with the assistance of Russians to justify surveillance on the Trump campaign.”
It is because the news media refuses to clearly report the Mueller investigation’s findings rather than devote most of its analysis to negative innuendo in the text and anti-Trump spin by Democrats that there was a sudden drop in the President’s poll numbers, entirely caused, I presume, by people who haven’t read the report and couldn’t understand the report if they did basing their new opinions on slanted headlines and false claims like Schiff’s. Success! So far, Plan O works!
The Plan O purveyor in the news media who wins the prize has to be Meet The Press’s Chuck Todd, who really and truly said this yesterday:
“Are you, sort of, okaying the idea of foreign adversaries, helping out political campaigns if there isn’t an attempt to put this behavior on the docket of Congress?”
Chuck Todd, NBC’s political director, is seriously arguing that Trump has to be impeached to show foreign governments that we won’t let them interfere with our elections, and to warn future candidates that even allowing those with “ties” to foreign governments make noises about helping out will get them booted out of office…despite the fact that nobody has shown that “Russian interference” had any impact at all.
Todd says that Congress has to take up the impeachment of a duly elected President to punish him for what the Russians did and what President Obama allowed them to do, despite the fact that Mueller indicted several Russians for their “interference,” which I presume was designed to send a message and despite the fact that the two and half year, 25 million dollar investigation involving 19 lawyers assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and others , resulting in the issuing of more than 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, more than 230 orders for communication records, almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and the testimony of more than 500 witnesses, sated unequivocally that no American, including the Trump campaign, assisted Russian efforts to influence the election.
Then we have too many desperate “resistance’ members to list making the head-blowing argument that the President allegedly saying “I’m fucked” proves that he was guilty of something impeachable, or he wouldn’t have (allegedly) said it.
Funny—if I found out that there was going to be a huge investigation of my business and activities by a team of tough prosecutors whose intrusions would make it increasingly difficult to do my job and whose every move would be written up in the news mdia to suggest the most negative implications about me imaginable, I might well say, “I’m fucked” too. (Of course, being more civil and refined than Trump, I would probably say, “Egad! This appears to have dastardly motives that portend dire consequences and cataclysmic reverberations redounding to my inevitable detriment!” )
Plan O, then, is designed to have the effect of making the public believe the President could and should be impeached, facts and evidence to the contrary, because of the Mueller Report, even though the Mueller report, when all the obvious hostility to the President is stripped away, makes no case for impeachment at all.
I am nearly persuaded by the analysis of conservative pundit Liz Shield, who writes today,
The report is a political document, not a legal one. If you did not buy into the false Russia collusion narrative, you will read the second part of the report outlining the “obstructive” behavior of Trump as the actions of an angry man who was unjustly accused. You will see Trump’s behavior as that of someone who was getting absolutely pummeled all day and all night in the media and by Democrats who were making it impossible to for him to govern and were undermining his legitimacy as president. Trump wanted to stop the Democrat-media harassment, not cover up a crime. You may remember the #resistence’s plan was to delegitimize Trump and the goal of the Mueller team was to wait until the Democrats took control of the House to turn the report into a political weapon if they couldn’t charge the Trump folks with RUSSIA-related crimes.
Plan O is “the resistance’s” last stand.