The water heats up as we sit in it

The Post reports that history is repeating itself as Bozo Trump bullies and harasses witnesses and legislators in an effort to obstruct the impeachment inquiry.

President Trump has sought to intimidate witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, attacking them as “Never Trumpers” and badgering an anonymous whistleblower. He has directed the White House to withhold documents and block testimony requested by Congress. And he has labored to publicly discredit the investigation as a “scam” overseen by “a totally compromised kangaroo court.”

All of that is attempted obstruction, and obstruction itself is an impeachable offense. Trump seems to be too stupid and too ignorant to grasp that, since he’s doing it all in public, rather than in secret as Nixon tried to do.

The centerpiece of House Democrats’ eventual impeachment charges is widely expected to be Trump’s alleged abuse of power over Ukraine. But obstruction of Congress is now all but certain to be introduced as well, according to multiple Democratic lawmakers and aides, just as it was five decades ago when the House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against then-president Richard Nixon. But Nixon resigned before the full House vote.

“It’s important to vindicate the role of Congress as an independent branch of government with substantial oversight responsibility, that if the executive branch just simply obstructs and prevents witnesses from coming forward, or prevents others from producing documents, they could effectively eviscerate congressional oversight,” said Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.). “That would be very dangerous for the country.”

Democrats argue that the Trump administration’s stonewalling — including trying to stop subpoenaed witnesses from testifying and blocking the executive branch from turning over documents — creates a strong case that the president has infringed on the separation of powers and undercut lawmakers’ oversight duties as laid out in the Constitution.

It’s very likely that Trump has never so much as read the Constitution, and if he did read it there’s no chance that he absorbed it or understood it. He does seem to think his power is absolute, and that Congress is an annoying interference as opposed to an equal branch of government.

Laurence Tribe comments:

“I know of no instance when a president subject to a serious impeachment effort, whether Andrew Johnson or Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, has essentially tried to lower the curtain entirely — treating the whole impeachment process as illegitimate, deriding it as a ‘lynching’ and calling it a ‘kangaroo court,’ ” Tribe said.

“It’s not simply getting in the way of an inquiry,” he added. “It’s basically saying one process that the Constitution put in place, thanks to people like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, for dealing with an out-of-control president, is a process he is trying to subvert, undermine and delegitimate. That, to me, is clearly a high crime and misdemeanor.”

But Trump’s people think they get to shout it all down.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham proclaimed Trump’s innocence in a statement Thursday and dismissed the inquiry as an “illegitimate impeachment proceeding” that “hurts the American people.”

“Illegitimate” is the last thing it is. Calling it illegitimate is dictator behavior.

Barbara McQuade, another former Obama administration U.S. attorney from Michigan, said there is no standard for impeachment.

“Impeachment is anything Congress says it is for charging purposes in the House and for conviction purposes in the Senate,” said McQuade, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. “There can be some crimes that are not impeachable, like littering or jaywalking, and then there are some that are impeachable but not criminal, such as abusing one’s power for personal purposes as opposed to acting in the best interests of the country.”

Hmm. Has Trump abused his power for personal purposes as opposed to acting in the best interests of the country at all? Say, by withholding military aid to an embattled ally in an attempt to force the ally to help him knock a rival out of the next election? Can that be seen as at all self-serving and country-not-serving?

Trump’s treatment of Congress’s witnesses is reminiscent of his behavior during the Mueller investigation. He worked to keep witnesses on his side through a mix of personal warmth to those who appeared to remain loyal and public and private hectoring and bullying of those he believed had not.

Trump has been blasting witnesses now testifying against him as part of the House impeachment proceedings, even some administration officials that he appointed. The president slammed Ambassador Bill Taylor, a longtime Foreign Service officer who agreed to lead the Ukraine embassy at the personal request of Trump’s secretary of state, as a “Never Trumper” who had hired Trump enemies as his lawyers.

And that was Trump being restrained.

Trump has called Democrats leading the process rank names, accused them of treason and has said they should face criminal investigations for unspecified behavior. The president also has revived the same dismissive title for the impeachment inquiry that he wielded effectively for nearly two years against Mueller: “Witch Hunt.”

Trump also directed the executive branch not to comply with congressional requests for documents or testimony — a posture articulated earlier this month in a scathing memorandum to Congress from White House counsel Pat Cipollone that effectively declared war on the inquiry.

Keeping people from testifying based on intimidation or a pretextual assertion of executive privilege is the clearest element of Trump’s obstruction of the congressional inquiry, according to [Joyce] Vance, a University of Alabama School of Law professor. She said Trump’s obstructive actions have been obvious yet have not triggered commensurate outrage because they follow his now-familiar pattern of behavior.

He’s been a raging bullying asshole from day one (and before), so we have no new levels of outrage we can express.

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