These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do.
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.
Are you ready, boots? Start walkin’ –
That was the hit song written by Lee Hazelwood and recorded by Nancy Sinatra that topped the charts in January 1966, when feminist defiance by a strong woman was a bit of a novelty. The next year it was “Respect” from Aretha Franklin. Gloria Gaynor was late to the game. “I Will Survive” was released in October 1978, but it was a monster hit too. The culture had changed. Don’t mess with these women. You’ll be sorry. And it all started with Nancy Sinatra and those boots.
Donald Trump didn’t get the memo:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the extraordinary step Tuesday of initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump, accusing him of violating the Constitution in seeking help from a foreign leader to damage a political opponent.
As the song goes:
You keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’
You keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin’ when you oughta be a’changin’
Now what’s right is right but you ain’t been right yet
That’s what she was saying:
Pelosi’s move came after Trump acknowledged that he urged the Ukrainian president to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination who holds a wide lead over Trump, polls show, in a potential general election matchup. The revelation prompted a rush of moderate House Democrats to call for an impeachment inquiry into Trump, a step they had resisted for months. On Tuesday, Pelosi (D-Calif.) relented as well.
“The actions of the Trump presidency have revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in a brief statement before a backdrop of American flags, repeatedly invoking the nation’s founders. “Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”
She wasn’t going to do this. This would surely backfire. But enough is enough. She’s Speaker of the House. She wears those boots. And she’s not messing around now:
Congress has launched impeachment proceedings against a president only four times in the nation’s history. Pelosi’s move all but ensures that the House will vote on articles charging Trump with “high crimes and misdemeanors” in a matter of weeks, according to senior Democratic lawmakers and top leadership aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.
That’s fast, and this was time for the man (and the men) to howl:
Trump immediately lashed out at the Democrats, tweeting, “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
The White House scrambled to respond, announcing plans to release on Wednesday the transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Congressional Republicans rallied to the president’s defense, arguing impeachment would only motivate GOP voters.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a statement that Democrats “have been trying to reverse the results of the 2016 election since President Trump took office. For them, this is all about politics. Not about facts.”
What was McCarthy talking about? This is rather straightforward:
Over seven days, the revelations that the president sought the help of Ukrainian president Zelensky to investigate Biden infuriated Democrats, particularly lawmakers with national security credentials.
Trump has denied pressuring Zelensky by withholding nearly $400 million in foreign aid. Trump said Tuesday that he withheld the money over his concerns that the United States was contributing more to Ukraine than European countries were.
The specific claim was this:
President Trump said Tuesday that he held up American aid to Ukraine that has become the subject of furious controversy because European countries have not paid their fair share to support the country, and pointed to the fact that the money was eventually released as evidence that he had done nothing wrong.
So, he held up the money, which was wrong, as he admits, but did release the money, eventually, so he did nothing wrong. In fact, he didn’t really hold up the money, when you think about, even if he said he did, right?
Don’t think about it. It’s all bullshit, as Kevin Drum notes here:
Just for the record, the European Union says it has “mobilized more than €15 billion in grants and loans to support the reform process in Ukraine” since 2014. This includes €500 million disbursed late last year for 2019. According to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini this is “the largest support package in the history of the European Union.”
In other words, the EU has already provided Ukraine with about eight times as much aid as the US over the past five years.
Kevin McCarthy should consider those facts, but never mind:
Pelosi personally informed Trump of her decision Tuesday morning. The president, in New York for the U.N. meeting, telephoned the speaker to discuss gun legislation, Pelosi told lawmakers in private meetings.
The conversation, however, quickly turned to the president’s conversations with the Ukrainian leader. Trump insisted he had nothing to do with his administration’s refusal to share with Congress an intelligence community whistleblower complaint about his actions, according to individuals familiar with the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to frankly describe the conversation.
Trump told Pelosi that he wasn’t the one blocking the complaint. “He said, ‘you know, I don’t have anything to do with that,’ ” she told her caucus.
She responded that he had the power to fix it and challenged him to turn over the complaint: “I said, ‘Well, then undo it.’ Undo it. Because you are asking the DNI to break the law. I mean, it’s just outrageous.”
But he didn’t do it! He didn’t do anything! It wasn’t his fault! And she walked all over him.
But of course she’s just a woman:
While the House could vote to impeach Trump, his ouster would require a conviction in the Senate, where Republicans were dismissive of Pelosi’s move as politically motivated.
“Speaker Pelosi’s much-publicized efforts to restrain her far-left conference have finally crumbled. House Democrats cannot help themselves,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “Instead of working together across party lines on legislation to help American families and strengthen our nation, they will descend even deeper into their obsession with re-litigating 2016.”
Ah, that’s it, she’s the one who’s pathetic, or maybe that’s Mitch:
The House plans to vote Wednesday on a resolution condemning the administration’s efforts to block the release of the whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump’s promise to a foreign leader constituted an “urgent concern” to national security.
In a rare, albeit subtle protest from the GOP-led Senate, lawmakers adopted a resolution on Tuesday calling for the White House to turn over the complaint to the intelligence committees, as is required under law.
That was adopted by unanimous consent. They told the president to follow the law. That was a bipartisan rebuke, and there was this:
In a separate move, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said the whistleblower wants to speak to his committee and is seeking guidance from Maguire about how he could do so.
“The times have found us,” Schiff told his colleagues during the Democratic caucus meeting. “And in light of the damning allegations the president has admitted to, the time is now.”
Schiff will get what he wants, and Politico’s Nancy Cook covers the damage control:
In public, Trumpworld is casting the Democratic impeachment inquiry as more white noise.
In private, White House aides and allies say the impeachment momentum now presents a serious threat to the rest of President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda, to his negotiating strength with world leaders and to his concentration…
House Democrats’ decision to launch an impeachment inquiry on Tuesday afternoon raises the stakes of this massive White House gamble, even as the president called any impeachment proceedings “just a continuation of the witch hunt.”
It’s not that. It’s real trouble. So it’s best to talk about something else:
Few in the White House or the wider Trump orbit have privately defended Trump’s call with the Ukraine leader in which he reportedly asked eight times about investigating the Biden clan’s business dealings in the country. The incident violates the principle that U.S. officials should never allow or encourage foreign governments to interfere in U.S. elections.
Trump advisers and senior administration aides pivoted any discussion of the president’s call and ensuing whistleblower complaint to focus on the Bidens – in an effort to turn the attention to a rival much the way the Trump campaign undercut Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in 2016 by constantly bringing the discussion back to her campaign’s stolen emails.
“The president’s strategy on these matters has always been pretty clear: Never back up and go forward. He learned that from Page Six,” said Newt Gingrich, an informal adviser to Trump who served as House speaker during Republicans’ impeachment inquiry of President Bill Clinton.
Did their man do something terribly wrong? Did he do many terribly wrong things? Did he publicly admit to it all? Look! Hunter Biden!
That’s the plan, or this is:
The White House is betting Trump can ride out this “outrage du jour,” as one senior administration official called it, and move on just as he has skated through the release of the Mueller report; concerns of late about a possible recession; the Charlottesville, Va., uproar; Stormy Daniels; the explosive Access Hollywood tape and dozens of other threats to his presidency.
“Everything is presented as Armageddon. The absolutely worst thing he has ever done! You can excuse the public for believing nothing is that way,” the official added.
In short, he’s been so outrageous that any future outrage, however outrageous, is just another outrage. The public will shrug. They’ve seen it all, and Donald Trump will keep it that way:
Like any public relations guru, he has sought to get out ahead of the Ukraine story, set the boundaries of the narrative so that Biden is in the bull’s-eye, and overwhelm Americans with new and often conflicting information so the details change by the hour – and always at his bidding.
“Our country’s doing the best it’s ever done. They’re going to lose the election,” Trump told reporters before a bilateral meeting with the Iraqi president at the United Nations.
No one even listens anymore. But others still worry:
The White House is confident it can withstand any fallout from the Ukraine call. But current and former administration aides believe Trump will view the latest impeachment inquiry as a major blow to his ego – and the proceedings will likely distract him, cloud all his meetings and halt any agenda for this fall, including the passage of a major trade bill heading into an election year.
He’s spooked now, but maybe he shouldn’t worry:
“People have made up their minds on Trump. It would take a momentous event to change enough minds to alter his job approval rating away from the average of 43 or 44 percent,” said Whit Ayres, founder and president of North Star Opinion Research, a Republican polling firm. “We’re so polarized and in our tribes that people will look through their current lens and determine either the president did something wrong, or Joe Biden did something wrong. The facts won’t be particularly relevant.”
So expect this:
The White House press office framed the impeachment inquiry as the Democrats’ effort to “continue to weaponize politics.”
“President Trump is working hard on behalf of our country here in New York City while they continue to scream the word ‘impeachment.’ Nothing new here,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
The message won’t change:
The president’s 2020 campaign rushed to motivate Trump supporters and raise money from the fight. “Democrats can’t beat President Trump on his policies or his stellar record of accomplishment, so they’re trying to turn a Joe Biden scandal into a Trump problem,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “The misguided Democrat impeachment strategy is meant to appease their rabid, extreme, leftist base, but will only serve to embolden and energize President Trump’s supporters and create a landslide victory for the President.”
And the other message won’t change:
For Senate Democrats, the House’s new impeachment inquiry seems justified.
“This is very serious. I’m not sure Trump understands how serious this is,” said Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who supports impeachment. “I’m not sure intellectually, he personally understands how serious this is when you’re holding up military assistance passed by Congress in order to extort a political action of a leader in a foreign country.”
Our nation’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, does not seem to know what’s wrong with asking another government to conduct an investigation of an American politician who happens to be a political opponent of the U.S. president. Here’s what’s wrong.
Start with the basic problem of asking another country to conduct an investigation of one of our political candidates, or of any U.S. citizen, for that matter. Setting aside for a moment the propriety of using U.S. power and influence to serve a president’s narrow political purposes, how could we ever be sure such an investigation was conducted fairly? Or whether it was conducted at all? We have no control over the manner of another nation’s investigation, no way of monitoring the behavior of another country’s law enforcement officials, no control or insight into what standards they might apply and what investigative methods they might use. We would have to accept the word of another government without having any assurance the finding was valid. It’s a safe bet that many would not trust even Britain or France to investigate a U.S. citizen’s behavior – though they would have every reason to. After all, millions of Americans don’t even trust the FBI. But Ukraine?
With all due respect to Ukraine’s struggling democracy, would Pompeo place his own fate in the hands of the Ukrainian justice system? If not, why would he trust the results of any investigation the Ukrainians might conduct?
And then there’s this:
Consider what it will mean if we decide that what Trump and Giuliani have already acknowledged doing in Ukraine becomes an acceptable practice for all future presidents. Sending the signal that other governments can curry favor with a U.S. president by helping to dig up dirt on his or her political opponents would open our political system and foreign policy to intervention and manipulation on a global scale. Every government in the world wishing to influence U.S. foreign policy will have an incentive to come to a sitting president with information on his or her potential political opponents.
That information might be related to investments or other financial dealings in a particular country, as in Ukraine. Or it might have to do with the behavior of a particular individual while traveling abroad – who he or she sees and what he or she does. Other governments will therefore have an incentive to conduct surveillance of political figures traveling through their countries on the off chance of gleaning some bit of information that could be traded in Washington for some favor. Nor would other governments be limited to what they can see in their own countries. They would have an incentive to dig into the lives of potential opposition politicians in the United States, through monitoring their social media and other Internet presences, their bank accounts and other personal information -as already happened in 2016, and which Trump openly welcomed then, too.
In short, there’s no defending the flawed logic here:
In the high-stakes game of national security, if other governments discover that one of the currencies of relations with the United States is dirt on opponents, they will do their best to arm themselves. If we legitimize this kind of behavior by a U.S. president, if no price is paid for this kind of conduct, it will be open season on the American political system.
That makes what Trump and his team are saying here quite dangerous if not deadly, and Dana Milbank adds this:
For months, Democrats agonized over whether to impeach President Trump. Would it cause them to lose House seats? Would it hurt their chances of winning the Senate? Wasn’t it pointless because of the near certainty the GOP Senate wouldn’t convict him?
But Trump just made the Democrats’ choice for them. He left them no alternative but to proceed with impeachment – and they will.
The president admitted Tuesday that he withheld congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine just days before a phone call with the Ukrainian president in which he demanded Ukraine produce dirt on Trump’s likeliest Democratic opponent. That, on its face, is a flagrant abuse of power and nearly identical to the behavior, denied by Trump, at the core of the Russia investigation: seeking a foreign government’s help in a U.S. election.
That’s bad but begs another question:
The question now is whether Republicans, who have tacitly endorsed Trump’s behavior so far, will go on record to uphold the propriety of this conduct and in doing so, affirm the constitutionality of such behavior not just for him but for presidents to come.
Republicans (who decided perjury about sex was impeachment-worthy, and who thought it an abuse of power to defer deportations of certain illegal immigrants) must now decide whether to accept Trump’s standard as proper for future presidents.
Would Republicans, with their votes on Trump’s impeachment, condone the actions of, say, future President Elizabeth Warren when she:
Defies congressional power of the purse by unilaterally raiding the Pentagon budget to finance her pet projects?
Rejects the authority of congressional oversight, disregards subpoenas and refuses to furnish documents, including a whistleblower complaint about the president deemed “urgent” by the intelligence community?
Is found by an independent prosecutor appointed by her own administration to have engaged in 10 possible instances of obstruction of justice but is not charged because regulations prohibit such a move against a sitting president?
Approves and reimburses secret payments, in violation of campaign-finance law, to a person threatening to put out damaging information about her?
Fires an FBI director who refuses to call off a probe of one of her close associates?
Declares federal law enforcement officials who investigate her guilty of “treason,” demands they be put under investigation and succeeds in getting one of them fired and brought to the brink of indictment?
Rescinds the security clearance of a former CIA director critical of her, as well as the press credentials of journalists who criticize her administration?
Persuades a foreign leader not to admit Republican members of Congress into his country?
Grounds the jet used for official business by the congressional leader of the Republican Party?
And so on and so forth. The list goes on and on, ending with this:
Without congressional approval, establishes a de facto network of internment camps, run under inhumane conditions, for a class of people she disdains?
And, finally, asks and coerces foreign governments to sabotage her Republican opponents’ campaigns?
Milbank is just asking:
Republicans have blessed all of this and more with their silence. They must now state their positions explicitly. If they vote to accept such conduct by this and therefore future presidents, the American experiment will be badly damaged. But if they aren’t at least forced to answer the question, it has already failed.
But even if it’s just one issue there’s enough for impeachment, as David Ignatius notes here:
If you’re wondering why it matters that President Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine while he was requesting political favors from its new president, then think about the Ukrainian soldiers who are fighting a nasty proxy war against Russian-backed separatists.
The United States is Ukraine’s ally in this fight. Ukrainian commanders, battling to hold their country together against a five-year onslaught by Russia, have been depending on U.S. promises of military assistance. In life-or-death situations like this, America’s word is its bond. But suddenly, in mid-July, American commitments seemed to Ukrainians to have become Trump’s political tool.
Why is this more than just another Trump vs. Democrats mud fight? Because the Ukraine issue is about compromising U.S. national security – and direct pledges to allies – for the president’s personal political gain…
This isn’t just another partisan fight. It goes to the essential obligations of a commander in chief.
That should be more than enough for impeachment, but there are all those other outrages too. And then there’s Nancy, and her boots. Donald Trump was nineteen when Nancy Sinatra sang that song and girls all across America sang along. He should have listened, carefully. Nancy is gonna get him.