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We know he’s a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue who leads a devoted base of about 40 percent of the population. We know his trade policies have been a disaster for farmers and haven’t much helped anyone else. We know his foreign and defense policies are so incoherent and impulsive as to be laughable—if they weren’t so dangerous. We know he’s presiding over a healthy economy that he takes credit for, even though it builds on eight years of recovery under Obama (which he won’t acknowledge). We know his tax cuts for the rich have ballooned the deficit to record levels. We know he still owns his businesses, which are being administered by his children. We know we don’t know about his tax returns. All this we know about Donald Trump.

Scumbag Trump

With the Republican majority in the Senate and no “smoking gun” so far, the prospects of bringing impeachment successfully to conviction in the Senate is near zero.

And now we know, from the fragmentary information so far released by Attorney General Bill Barr, that the special prosecutor did not find prosecutable conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign, or Trump himself. And we further know that Mueller left open the question of whether Trump engaged in obstruction of justice. Again, it is a question of what is prosecutable: what can you prove beyond reasonable doubt?

We need to see the whole report, not just Barr’s summary. The prohibition on releasing grand jury information is of course a problem to be addressed, when the whole focus of the grand jury is Trump himself. There are also issues of national security and counterintelligence that must be resolved. But we need to be able to piece together how the investigation was conducted, and what they did find, even if it didn’t lead to indictments beyond those we already know about.

There are still several federal and state investigations of his affairs that may yet entangle Trump in some serious way. And there are lines of legitimate congressional inquiry: do his tax returns show large scale tax evasion, or major unacknowledged investments in, or debts to foreign powers? To what extent has he profited from his office by business directed to his hotels, golf courses or other enterprises?

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And there is the Great White Whale: what is it between him and Putin?

Notwithstanding all these additional lines of inquiry, there is not at this time a plausible case to be made for Democrats to keep working on laying the groundwork for impeachment. With the Republican majority in the Senate and no “smoking gun” so far, the prospects of bringing impeachment successfully to conviction in the Senate is near zero. To keep pushing it will actually help Republicans and hurt Democrats’ chances in 2020 (compare what happened to Republicans after their unsuccessful attempt to impeach Bill Clinton).

Democrats have the means, even after Mueller, to beat Trump and his Republican enablers, and beat them badly enough so even Trump won’t be able to deny it.

impeachment unavoidable

That should be the focus now.

John Peeler