The politics of playing oneself for a fool

Practical Politics

David L. Horne, Ph.D OW Op Ed | 7/2/2020, midnight

Have the stars re-aligned themselves yet? Is this finally the moment of destiny when the bad guys get hosed?

It is apparently too soon to tell. But the heavy weight upon him for a while just got heavier. Mr. Trump, once again, is in serious jeopardy and it may be too late to pull his leadership plane back up out of its deep, deep dive. The accusation now of not defending America’s on-the-ground troops and allowing assassination bounties against combat soldiers in Afghanistan is very serious and potentially catastrophic. The loss of support and trust from America’s military establishment and on-the-ground troops is a death blow for Mr. Trump’s re-election chances. Finally, we’ll have the equivalent to the 5th Avenue murder shot that is unforgiveable, rather than allowable. And yet, the Trump administration cannot come up with any fresh defenses. It’s simply the same old “I didn’t hear about it,” ‘Nobody told me,” “I didn’t read that anywhere,” and simply, “You can’t blame me for this, I didn’t know about it!”

After over 20,000 verified lies told to the American people, you would imagine that he would at least try a different tactic, but he won’t. Some people will still believe his denials, too. But not enough of them. Short of a major cheating strategy on November 3 that is successful, Mr. Trump will be removed from the presidency this fall.

The real coup-de-grace, however, would be a Supreme Court decision that Congress is authorized to look into Mr. Trump’s personal finances. He’s been on a long losing streak with the SCOTUS, and hopefully, it will continue a little longer. It is widely believed that hidden in the Deutsche Bank records is evidence that Mr. Trump owes Russian interests $600-700 million dollars and thus is owned by Russia. The financial records may prove he is a Russian asset, not a patriotic American. That, literally, would be the whole ball game. Even his Republican sycophants would have to abandon him.

There are actually two cases to watch: one is Trump vs. Mazars, LLP, which is a case in which Trump’s lawyers sued his own accounting firm to prevent it from complying with congressional subpoenas (four in all). The subpoenas include one from the House Financial Services Committee, the House Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight Committee. The fourth case is a State of New York grand jury subpoena of Trump’s banking records. Although the latter case is a criminal matter, the cases have been consolidated by the Court.

The main issue in the congressional section is whether the subpoenas issued by the House committees are a valid exercise of congressional power. The guiding principle long used in such cases is “Congress may use its investigative powers, including both subpoenas and the ability to call and examine witnesses, only in aid of a legislative function. It may not investigate solely to expose embarrassing or illegal behavior or to gather evidence that might be used in a legal proceeding. Any governmental power to investigate with these ends as goals is impermissible.

Justice William Brennan put the matter this way: “Investigation conducted solely to … punish the investigated, either by publicity or prosecution, is indefensible—it exceeds the congressional power: exposure for the sake of exposure is not legislative inquiry.” The other component, however, is that the Court rarely investigates or questions what Congress’ legislative intent is. If it says there is such intent, usually the Court simply accepts that statement.

The Court also usually accepts the authority of grand jury determinations in criminal matters. So, in both instances, the decision can go either way. What is clear, however, is that a loss in any part of these combined cases will lead directly to Trump’s undoing and a big loss at the ballot box. Mr. Trump will have to become Harry Houdini to escape all this unscathed.

That combined court case decision is expected in a few weeks. But he may be toast well before that decision. In that case, there will be some dancing in the streets and a just end to an unjust election mistake.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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