Above The Law

On May 1, 1977 David Frost had the interview of his career. This was three years after Nixon resigned. Nixon was working on his memoirs and his publicist believed that these interviews would boost his popularity. Frost was able to get Nixon to admit that he DID cover up the Watergate burglary but that it wasn’t obstruction of justice because, in Nixon’s opinion, the President can’t do anything illegal.

Trump’s lawyer just floated the same defense for Trump.

This argument was first proposed by Alan Dershowitz this summer after the Comey firing. That argument has been dismissed by many legal scholars since including the Brookings Institute. In their document entitled “Presidential Obstruction of Justice: The Case of Donald J. Trump” they make the case that even if Trump had this authority (which is highly suspect) he cannot exercise it for corrupt purposes. Stopping an investigation into crimes committed by those in the White House is corrupt.

The problem is that Trump’s claim isn’t just for past actions. His attorney was asserting his ability to intervene in “any case” that may come up in the future. If the Mueller investigation is able to turn up credible evidence linking Trump to the crimes of others, Trump is asserting his right to “express his view” by firing everyone associated with the investigation.

Dowd is basically arguing that as the chief law enforcement officer, Trump has the authority to block investigations into himself, his allies and into his friends, and nothing he does can be construed as obstruction of justice,” Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman, told me this morning. “The logical extension of all this is that Trump can try to remove Mueller and it would be entirely legitimate.

But this ultimately won’t be a legal issue. It is a political one. That’s why the authors of the constitution gave Congress broad authority to hold the executive and judicial branches accountable for actions that were damaging to the country, even if they weren’t illegal.

Which brings us to the current problem.

Trump feels as though he can largely act with impunity because no matter what he does Republican Party leaders stand with him.

Here’s a brief list of his actions over the past couple of weeks.

  • Disputed the validity of the Hollywood Access tapes – No Republican response
  • Distributed inflammatory European anti-Muslim videos – British respond. Mild Republican response
  • Calls Sen. Warren Pocahontas at a meeting with American Indians – no Republican response
  • Piled on the sexual assault claims of celebrities and Democrats while ignoring accusations against himself and other Republicans – no Republican response
  • Wrongly claimed that the tax plan doesn’t benefit him – no Republican response
  • Endorses Roy Moore – Republican leaders (including McConnell) back off of their previous condemnations

He may be right when he says, “Hey look, I’m President. I don’t care. I don’t care anymore.”

He understands that he has the Republican Party right where he wants them. They need the passage of a tax bill (any tax bill) to support their campaign in 2018. They are not going to abandon Trump and risk fracturing the party when they are on the cusp of winning. He’s how EJ Dionne characterized it.

Don’t count on Republican politicians abandoning Trump quickly now that their tax victory is in sight. They and the president have a lot more in common than either side wants to admit. The primary loyalty they share is not to God or country or republican virtue. It is to the private accumulation of money, and this is a bond not easily broken.

The reality is that sexual assault and pedophilia are now acceptable as long as you are a Republican.

You need no more evidence than the tax plan to understand that the Republican Party does not care about the white working class voters that put them in office. When questioned about the faulty math in that bill Chuck Grassley said, we’re not talking about math here, we’re talking about philosophy. That philosophy is that what is good for business and good for the wealthy is good for the country.

What is happening instead is that Trump is remaking the Republican Party in his own image. By their silence, they are allowing Trump to define what the party stands for.

The Moore election in Alabama is a perfect example. Trump’s argument is that voters should ignore the claims of pedophilia because it is more important to have a key Republican vote in the Senate. Moore’s own defense is that his pro-life position should be all voters care about. Senate Republicans have now said they will accept whatever choice Alabama voters make.

If this is true, is there anything that Trump (or Moore) could do to cause the Republican Party to turn against him?

At this point I doubt that even video supporting the Steele Dossier Russian orgy claims would damage Trump’s core support.

Would invading North Korea and putting US territory at risk of a nuclear attack be a problem?

How about bombing Iran in an effort to destroy their nuclear facilities?

Trump is obsessed with testing the limits of his support. That has been true in his personal life. Now it is being demonstrated in his political life. The difference is that it is now our constitution and the fabric of our democracy that he is testing rather than the fidelity of his spouse or the loyalty of his employees. The only thing we can be sure of, is that as long as he is in office, this will continue. He will systematically break every taboo and challenge every social and political norm in order to prove that he is the most powerful man in the world. History tells us that these people always fail eventually. He is in the process of taking the Republican Party down with him. It will be interesting to see what the final straw will be for the rest of the country.

68 Responses to “Above The Law”

  1. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Wells Fargo raises pay after tax bill
    http://www.seekingalpha.com/news/3319530

    This the same Wells Fargo that systematically stole money from their customers and announced plans early this year to shift work overseas?

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-wellsfargo-offshoring/wells-fargo-looking-to-move-some-jobs-to-india-philippines-idUSBRE85K05A20120621

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    AT&T Will Give Workers $1,000 Bonuses to Celebrate the Tax Bill
    https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-12-20/at-t-to-pay-1-000-to-200-000-workers-after-tax-bill-signed

    This the same AT&T that wants to merge with Time Warner but is being blocked by the Justice Department? As a candidate a year ago, Trump said the merger would place, “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

    Is this also the same AT&T that just got a big win from the FCC is voting down the Net Neutrality regulations?

    And Boeing also

    This the same Boeing that just moved 200 programming jobs to India after Trump visited their South Carolina plant in February?

    Trump made a big deal of saving some Carrier jobs. In June they laid off 600 workers and moved those jobs to Mexico. This was pretty much the plan Trump claimed he had convinced them to shelve.

    Trump claimed that he had shamed Ford into killing their plans to move production jobs to Mexico. Ford just announced that they are moving those jobs to China instead.

    As you’ve already agreed, there aren’t enough skilled workers in this country to support much more economic growth.

    Instead companies are going to make these sorts of PR announcements, and then take the bulk of the money they are saving, pump up their stock prices with buy backs, and pay their execs big bonuses. The stock market will get artificially inflated and will ultimately correct itself when growth doesn’t support the high prices. If we haven’t had a recession by then, this will likely cause it.

  3. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Many, many companies are now join in……
    This is good news…seems greedy companies are doing the right thing!

    You know that they are doing this with your money (mine too). Companies are not going to be the ones who end up paying off this debt. It will be the regular taxpayers who will foot the bill through increased inflation, reduced services, and ultimately higher taxes.

  4. Keith says:

    Geez Jeff, it’s Christmas. Lol. No good deed is a good deed? We only remind ourselves of our sins?

    I’m traveling a lot. Many times in the airports yesterday I heard.peoplewanting there $1,000. That’s a good thing!!!

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Geez Jeff, it’s Christmas. Lol. No good deed is a good deed? We only remind ourselves of our sins?…

    The tax bill is NOT a good deed. You’ve allowed yourself to be bribed with a paltry sum that you will quickly pay back multiple times over in loss of asset value, reduction in services, and continued instability of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

    Here’s just another example. The business and personal tax codes got the way that they are because of thousands of special interest exceptions that were added as a result of lobbying by industry, special interest groups, and wealthy individuals.

    Please tell me how the current tax reform is going to prevent that from happening all over again. The same incentives remain. What protections did the Republican put in this bill to either make it more difficult or illegal to game the system in the future? Companies will take the big windfall that Republicans just gave them and use is to get the same special tax breaks that they have always received. They make A LOT more money investing in corrupting the government than they do raising wages or hiring more people. That’s been the big revelation since the Reagan administration and nothing has been done to change it because Republican politician in particular are the ones who benefit.

  6. keith says:

    Let see what happens.

    Couple things to measure over Trumps Presidency-
    GDP -so far its up 3% ish and the Q4 will probably be higher.
    President Obama increased the debt $10 trillion. Lets measure Trump

  7. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Couple things to measure over Trumps Presidency-
    GDP -so far its up 3% ish and the Q4 will probably be higher.

    Yes that’s true and Trump’s approval ratings are in the 30’s. That’s because most people (except for the same folks who approve his performance) attribute the current economic success to Obama. That is likely to change as a result of the tax bill, but that also means that Trump is going to have to fulfill his promise of wage growth. That’s fine with me too, because experts say that this tax bill will not substantially increase wages. There are only 10 months ’til the next election, so people aren’t going to forget that promise.

    President Obama increased the debt $10 trillion. Lets measure Trump

    There are three ways to measure debt. You picked the least insightful and you still got it wrong. Quit listening to right wing sources. They make you look stupid.

    The simplest way to measure debt is to subtract the debt on the books when the President left office ($19.947T) with the debt when he came in ($10.626T). There was a $9T difference. Where did you get your $10T number?

    It’s not fair to hold Obama responsible for the any debt accrued in the first year of his administration because every first year President (including Trump) is working with the budget that his predecessor put in place. Bush left a budget with a $1.16T deficit. Obama added additional emergency stimulus spending of $253B to that which he is reponsible for. The next three years as the country emerged from the great recession were also trillion dollar deficits, but the economy did get going again in 2013. The deficits every year from then on were in the $4B – $6B range ending this last September with $666B. Add all of these up and they total $6.786T. But Obama, like most every President, did a little bookkeeping to get some of those under $500B numbers. His real total deficit was closer to $7.9B.

    But how much of that $7.9B was actually under Obama’s control? So this final method, I think is the fairest way to compare Trump and Obama going forward. That’s to look at the debt spending for every program that Obama implemented. Bush left him with a recession, TARP, a tax cut, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the War on Terror still burning in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The biggest debt driver was Obama’s extension of the Bush Tax cuts. That added $858B to the deficit in 2011 and 2012 according to the CBO. Next was the recession spending. That added $787B from 2009 – 2012. That ACA actually reduced the deficit by about $104B. Obama further reduced the deficit through the sequestration process. Add it all up and Obama’s policies added $983B to the deficit during his eight years.

    Trump started out his first year by adding $1.5T to the debt over 10 years and by increasing government costs through his attempts to destabilize the ACA. If he succeeds, where everyone else has failed, in increasing government revenues as a result of economic growth, perhaps he will prove the experts wrong.

    So I agree.

    Let’s track the impact that Trump’s policies have on the debt and compare. Just so it is an apples to apples comparison, if Trump leaves office before his term is complete, or fails to win re-election, then we’ll have to compare the first four years of each just to be fair.

    Deal?

  8. Keith says:

    Jeff, I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again. You do better the not insinuate everything I get is from right wing sources. Adding “Fox News” to your comments is silly and I wish you would discontinue the practice.

    To be correct the number is 9.321 trillion. You had the numbers in front of you so should I suggest your stupid because you said it was 9 trillion? Jeff folks through out approximates. All we need to follow is the total debt incurred. Lighten up.

    Why would you attribute the recent growth to President Obamas. The moment Trump won enthusiasm jumped and things started moving up. Coincidence? So if the economy grows through out Trumps presidency will it be due to President Obama? I’m sure that’s going to be your position. I don’t expect Trump will get credit for anything.

    Let try this. After nearly a year has Trump done anything you would consider an accomplishment?

    Does Trump get credit for the trillions of dollars of wealth creation we’ve already seen?

  9. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Jeff, I’ve said this before and I’m saying it again. You do better the not insinuate everything I get is from right wing sources. Adding “Fox News” to your comments is silly and I wish you would discontinue the practice.

    To be correct the number is 9.321 trillion. You had the numbers in front of you so should I suggest your stupid because you said it was 9 trillion? Jeff folks through out approximates. All we need to follow is the total debt incurred. Lighten up

    There is a lot of misinformation out there, most of it created by right wing sites. Your $10T number reverberates on right wing sites and was even mentioned by Trump. It’s just another lie. It’s not a rounding error. It is a purposeful attempt to undermine the Obama administrations accomplishments and also to sew distrust in the media. Use the right numbers and I won’t take exception. BTW, the total debt calculation, as I’ve already indicated is bogus. The real calculation is what each President has done to ADD to the debt. Neither Trump nor Obama should have to account for growth in mandated spending over which they have no control. Trump is on the hook for whatever portion of $1.5T is added during whatever portion of his time in office remains.

    Why would you attribute the recent growth to President Obamas. The moment Trump won enthusiasm jumped and things started moving up. Coincidence? So if the economy grows through out Trumps presidency will it be due to President Obama? I’m sure that’s going to be your position. I don’t expect Trump will get credit for anything.

    The only thing that has changed significantly since Trump took office is the stock market. But even there, his gains pale during the same period of time compared to Obama. From January 20, 2009 to October 20,2009 the market delivered a 37% return on investment. During that same period of time in the Trump administration the return has been less that half that – 15%. Obama also did better than Trump during the same period in his second term after he was re-elected. Here’s an article with the details.

    https://seekingalpha.com/article/4115465-trump-bump-compare-obama-effect-stock-market

    How about Jobs?

    During the last six months of the Obama administration, 1,084,000 jobs were added. During the first six months of the Trump administration 1,074,000 jobs were added. BTW, that is well below the average number of jobs/month that Trump would need to add in order to hit his prediction of 25M new jobs over 10 years.

    How about wage growth?

    When Obama left office wages were growing at an annually adjusted rate of 2.9%. Through the end of the July that rate at dropped to an annually adjusted rate of 2.5%.

    The labor participation rate (lower numbers are better) fell to 62.4% under Obama. It has risen slightly to 62.9% under Trump.

    As far as GDP rate, through the first two quarters, Trump was averaging 2.6% which was the growth rate before the election. The third quarter was better at 3.2%, but missed the estimates of 3.3%.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/04/business/economy/the-economy-under-president-trump.html?_r=0

    This is the first President in history with approval numbers this low and an economy this good.

    Why is that?

    The only logical conclusion I can come to is that people don’t attribute the continued robust economic growth that we are experiencing to Trump. If you look through the facts, it’s pretty easy to see why. The economy IS good. But it isn’t a whole lot better after a year that it was when Obama left office. In particular wages, which really how people evaluate how they are doing, is growing no faster than inflation, and no faster than it did under Obama. Trump promised he would do MUCH better than he has in fact done. So this is as much his fault as anyone because he is the one who over promised and under delivered.

    You can blame this on anything that you would like, but the basic facts remain that electing Trump hasn’t really changed much at all for most people (I’ll comment on the stock market in a minute).

    Let try this. After nearly a year has Trump done anything you would consider an accomplishment?

    You don’t seem to be paying attention. I have regularly posted what things Trump has accomplished. Gorsuch got confirmed by only a simple majority because McConnell changed the rules. That change will come back to haunt Republicans. He also got a tax bill passed on a party line vote with no Democratic input that addes $1.5T to the debt and will only modestly impact the economy (according to the CBO). He also fired the head of the FBI during an active investigation into connections between the Russians and the Trump campaign/administration. He won the lie of the year award again this year from Politifact for calling Russian election hacking a hoax and fake news. He has had more turnover in his administration during his first year than any President in recent history. He is the first President in recent history not to release his tax returns. As a result, there is continued speculation regarding what financial connections he has to Russian interests AND how his actions are affecting his business. He takes more vacation time than any President in recent history. He has broken most of the taboos associated with our shared political beliefs including supporting racists, anti-Semites, and white supremacists; endorsing a suspected pedophile, bragging about sexual assault, questioning the impartiality of the judiciary because of their ethnic heritage, demeaning military heroes, and questioning the motivations of gold star families. AND he has brought us to the brink of nuclear war by getting into a name calling contest with a tiny rogue nation who is more than happy to get the attention that it has been getting. I could go on, but I don’t think those are the sorts of “accomplishments” that you were thinking about.

    Does Trump get credit for the trillions of dollars of wealth creation we’ve already seen?

    Sure. But if you are going to give him credit, you are going to have to ALSO give Obama credit for doing even better during his time in office. I don’t recall hearing that from you.

    Also very little of that wealth that has been created through the stock market over that past year trickled down to the average middle class worker.

  10. Keith says:

    And I ment to say I DO NOT get my news from fox. I hardly watch at all…

    And in conversation $9 trillion $10 trillion. No difference. We doubled our debt. We also did under Bush.

  11. Keith says:

    As to your numbers above of amounts and percentage of budget and comparing that to the $1.5 trillion. (not the accurate number but I’ll let it slide) Are you comparing measuring with balanced weights? The $1.5 trillion is over 10 years so $150 billion on avg per year. Is this the number you should be using? If so compare the numbers again.

    Also either Trumps election or Tax reform has created trillions of dollars already of wealth. I’ll leave it to you to tell me which. I’m wondering if you consider this a good thing are a bad thing?

    I’ll address the rest later.

  12. Jeff Beamsley says:

    And I ment to say I DO NOT get my news from fox. I hardly watch at all…

    And in conversation $9 trillion $10 trillion. No difference. We doubled our debt. We also did under Bush.

    I just asked where you heard the $10B number. From my brief google search, only right wing sites were reporting that number. I didn’t mention Fox, you did. The NYT, WashPost, CSMonitor, and NPR all reported the correct number.

    You telling me you just made it up?

    If you don’t care about $1T, then let’s just say that Trump’s tax bill adds $2.5T to the debt over ten years and we’ll call it even. 🙂

  13. Jeff Beamsley says:

    As to your numbers above of amounts and percentage of budget and comparing that to the $1.5 trillion. (not the accurate number but I’ll let it slide) Are you comparing measuring with balanced weights? The $1.5 trillion is over 10 years so $150 billion on avg per year. Is this the number you should be using? If so compare the numbers again.

    If we are back to insisting on accurate numbers, they you are going to have to accept the accurate number ($9.321T for the total debt added during Obama’s 8 years).

    In that spirit, the two estimates of the cost of the tax bill are $1.46T over ten years using normal scoring and $1T using dynamic scoring. Dynamic score anticipates that the economy will grow at an average of .8% faster over the next decade than it would without the tax cut. The additional revenue generated from that growth will account for an additional $460B in tax revenue. It also assumes that the individual tax cuts will be allowed to expire in 2025 and growth will slow for the last couple of years. The average GDP growth rate over the year is $2.3%. So that means we have to AVERAGE 3.1% or better every year for the next ten years for this savings to happen. If you take into account the last couple years of slower growth because of the expiring tax cuts, growth is going to have to average close to 3.2%. Unless we bring in a lot of new workers, it’s not going to happen. Too many baby boomers are going to be retiring.

    The longest period of uninterrupted growth we have had was the Clinton years from March, 1991 to March, 2001. The average annual GDP growth was 2.1% and it ended with the dot com bubble. Employment grew during that period time 22.5%. The population grew by 20.4M. That included 15M immigrants. The longest period of growth above 3% was the 106 months (almost 9 years) from 1961 – 1969. The annual growth rate was 3.2%. Employment grew a staggering 33.4%. We were spending a lot of money on the Vietnam war and the baby boomers were graduating from college and going to work.

    We are now 58 months into the current expansion. Unemployment is 4.1%. The Clinton boom started to slow when the unemployment rate hit 4% in 2000. The Vietnam boom started to slow in 1968 when the unemployment rate hit 3.8%. We are NOT going to see another 120 months of growth at 3.2% growth with the current administration’s immigration policies. It’s just not going to happen. As a result, the dynamic scoring model will prove to be the myth that every honest economist has claimed it would be and this tax bill will cost prove to be just a foolhardy as the Bush II tax cuts were at the start of his administration.

    Reasonable tax policy at this point would be raising taxes in order to run a surplus and pay down the debt in anticipation of the recession that is coming when we will need more deficit spending. Obama’s low deficits combined with high growth WERE reducing the debt as a percentage of the GDP. This tax plan will drive the total debt to over 100% of GDP. That’s why Republican’s can’t be trusted with the economy.

    Also either Trumps election or Tax reform has created trillions of dollars already of wealth. I’ll leave it to you to tell me which. I’m wondering if you consider this a good thing are a bad thing?

    I haven’t disputed that stock market gains have created wealth (at least on paper).

    What you have failed to acknowledge is that Obama generated more stock market wealth during comparable periods of time in his administration than Trump has generated so far in his administration. If generating stock market wealth is an accomplishment for Trump, why have you failed to acknowledge that it was an even bigger accomplishment for Obama (since the stock market did even better under his watch)?

  14. Keith says:

    The debt was almost $10 trillion when he started off the top of my head. It was almost $20 trillion when he left. So following
    $20
    -$10
    =$10
    Did you see how I got there. lol

    Using the accurate numbers I was off much less the $1 trillion

  15. Keith says:

    Many of my responses are purely motivated to respond to yours. You think in a box sometimes. Namely pointing to conservative positions without looking at progressive positions the same way.

    President Obamas gain in his first year were simply gains of the bottom of near historic crash. While he was on duty I would not hold him responsible for those gains just like I don’t hold him responsible for the job loss and debt in his first years.

    The gain in GDP and the financial markets ARE a reflection of the election of President Trump. I don’t think I need to explain why.

    Remember, I believe in the continuum of our country. The president simply is given a set of circumstances and hopes to influence sone way.

    In 2007 the stock market was at 14,000 plus. When Obama left office it was somewhere around 18,000. We’re now nearly at 25,000 a year later.

    Again let’s watch debt.

  16. Jeff Beamsley says:

    In 2007 the stock market was at 14,000 plus. When Obama left office it was somewhere around 18,000. We’re now nearly at 25,000 a year later.

    This is becoming tedious. You are SO invested in this meme that somehow Trump single-handedly pumped up the stock market that you have invented statistics to discount that Obama did a better job in the same period of time creating wealth.

    This whole idea of “creating wealth” as a Presidential accomplishment is what I question. It is all about timing. Trump came into office at a time when the stock market was ALREADY growing at a brisk pace. The optimism that continued brisk stock market growth as a result of Trump’s election was the same optimism as a result of Obama’s election that caused financial markets to recover from the global collapse that occurred during the waning days of the Bush II administration.

    If you can’t at least admit that, then we aren’t really going to make any more progress on this subject.

  17. Jeff Beamsley says:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/DRUDGE/status/946392234403991552

    Wonder if this is true???

    Could be, but Rasmussen is a poll that has a Republican bias. So it is regularly the best poll for Trump and would have been the worst poll for Obama.

    RealClearPolitics has Trump’s overall approval rating at 39.3% today. FiveThirtyEight who tries to adjust out the 5 point or so Republican bias in the Rasmussen Poll has the overall approval rating at 37.7%. Obama’s approval rating from the same aggregated polls by FiveThirtyEight at the same point in Obama’s administration (343 days) was 49.6%.

    https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/?ex_cid=rrpromo

    The Drudge Tweet good example of disinformation looks like.

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