On the very same day the House unloaded articles of impeachment against President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the mayor of District Heights was convicted of using his office to help an acquaintance buy $50,000 worth of fireworks.
Eddie L. Martin was forced to resign his office and was sentenced to two years in prison, with all but two days suspended, and will have to pay restitution as well as be on supervised probation for five years.
Trump will likely beat his rap in the Senate where his trial will center on shaking down a foreign government – call it for what it is, bribery or extortion – for personal political benefit, and for defying Congress’ Constitutional oversight and investigative authority.
It is expected that a majority, if not all 53 Republican senators will drink Trump’s flavor of Kool Aid and put their own scalps above the welfare of the nation – just as Trump will be tried for. The fix is in. Acquittal has been announced before the trial has begun by Senate Majority Leader Mitch “the Turtle” McConnell (R-Ky.).
Trump will be emboldened by the forced display of partisan support, so who knows what lies ahead in his reckless, know-nothing remaining but uncertain time in elective office?
Martin was to serve his two days in jail over this past weekend. Trump flew on revelation Thursday to a rally in Hershey, Pa., the Alabama of the north, where he described the articles against him as “flimsy, pathetic, ridiculous.” In another reference, Trump characterized the FBI as “scum” over an inspector general’s report clearing the law enforcement agency of political bias against him.
The four District Heights commissioners can choose Martin’s successor from among themselves or call an election. If Trump is ejected from office by some unforeseen miscue in the Senate, his successor will automatically be Vice President Mike Pence, the Elmer Gantry of the religious lobby.
Martin, whoever he is, sounds like a pathetic schlub. Trump we already know is a thug and a lout, among a long list of other genetic dispositions. But does hustling fireworks outweigh bribery and borderline treason as punishable offenses?
The point here is – Martin got the sticky end of the lollipop and Trump will choreograph a theatrical extravaganza with a chorus line of 53 GOP senators attempting to truckle favor, and get a red-state ovation at the curtain.
The truly offensive thing about Trump is not so much that he has shredded the Constitution, or that he bribed a foreign government to taint America’s political system, or that he adopts the behavior of despots and dictators.
The disgust arises from Trump’s unsavory ability to corrupt everyone and everything around him, even debasing further those who were already inherently corroded enough to ally or work for him. They all bend to an audience of one.
Any number of ideas, foreign and domestic, that Trump has attempted as president have either failed, been blocked by the courts or are under review for irregularities. His personal business is being microscoped and investigated and he has been ordered to make restitution for cheating his charity and for his fraudulent real estate university. He is a suspected tax cheat. The latest is a Pentagon inspector general’s review of a $400 million border wall contract that Trump lobbied the military to award to a GOP friend and donor.
A sampling of the chumps and suck-ups around Trump:
Front and center in the lineup is William Barr, the attorney general, who has become the front line of defense for Trump, spinning the wonderful world of justice into a realm of absolute presidential power.
Barr, since his days as attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration, has advanced the notion that presidents can do pretty much anything they wish, without penalty or limitation. That concept might apply to a sovereign who has the wit to recognize the danger he can inflict and the limits he can impose, but not for Trump, who seems to be totally witless, and thus the menace he is.
The Justice Department under Barr has become a house of mirrors, noted lately for its distortions and obstacles. Barr, for example, turned the Muller Report inside out by issuing an interpretation that said exactly the opposite of its findings – all to Trump’s favor, of course.
Again, Barr challenged the conclusions of his own inspector general’s report on Trump’s allegations of an FBI bias against him in its investigation during the presidential campaign. Barr has ordered a parallel probe that – one can only guess – will produce results more favorable to Trump.
(Barr, it should be noted, is also the Trump toady who has scheduled a Christmas party, estimated to cost $30,000, at the Trump International Tower in the District. At last report, the date had been rescheduled but not made public.)
Another on the hit parade list is Trump’s pom-pom girl, Stephanie Grisham, the White House communications director, who has been reduced to a servile banshee by Trump. A White House press secretary, or whatever, is supposed to be a facilitator for reporters. Grisham has never held a briefing, so no one really knows whether she’s equipped for the ($179,700) job. Grisham was First Lady Melania Trump’s flack when she was plucked for the top job upon the departure of Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Grisham often acts more like a den mother than a presidential spokeswoman, issuing statements such as this pip, which was denied and debunked: “We came into the White House, I’ll tell you something every office was filled with Obama books and we had notes left behind that said ‘you will fail’ and ‘you aren’t going to make it.’”
Or this one, when Trump just happened to stop by Walter Reed for a quick physical, some forensic proctology, perhaps: “He’s as healthy as can be. He has more energy than anybody in the White House. The man works from 6 a.m. until very, very late at night.” Yup, watching Fox News.
Everyone who watches cable TV or reads print news now knows why Rudy Giuliani represents Trump pro bono: Why of course, Giuliani is expecting his just reward on the back end for advising – not lobbying for, he has made the distinction clear, if you believe that piffle – foreigners on how to corrode American politics. Giuliani, whose DNA includes a mob-connected father and uncle, has been asked by Trump to advise Barr’s Justice Department on his findings during a recent trip to Ukraine.
The Bopsy Twins of the U.S. Senate, McConnell and Lindsey Graham, have tough elections ahead as well as other personal interests to protect. For Graham, Trump is hotter than hominy in South Carolina and may help pull Graham back to his perch in the Senate.
McConnell is a different story. He’s in local trouble over his connection to a Russian oligarch investor in Kentucky. And bedfellows make strange politics. McConnell’s wife is Elaine Chao, Trump’s transportation secretary, whose shipping magnate father’s interests collide with Chao’s regulatory authority, another administration conflict of interest.
So here’s what McConnell told Sean Hannity, Trump’s human trumpet, on Fox News: “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House Counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”
McConnell, in effect, will be jury foreman in the GOP controlled Senate, so the Senate is no place for anyone seeking a fair trial – as Trump has said, “I’ll do whatever I want” during the trial.
The White House counsel is a conservative Catholic of Italian descent named Pat Cipollone. For those who are unfamiliar with the language of the ancient boot, here’s a tutorial: Chipolla is Italian for onion. chipollone, translated, means “big onion,” and colloquially can mean “big head.”
So here’s what the big onion wrote to the House Judiciary Committee before it adopted the two articles of impeachment:
“House Democrats have wasted enough of America’s time with this charade. You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings. Adopting articles of impeachment would be a reckless abuse of power by House Democrats, and would constitute the most unjust, highly partisan, and unconstitutional attempt at impeachment in our nation’s history. Whatever course you choose as the president has recently stated: ‘If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, so that our country can get back to business.’”
The House Judiciary Committee did just that. The full House votes on the articles this week. Then on to the Senate for trial early in the new year.
So it all gets back to the Senate, which has the power to remove a president and where the power of confirmation resides – the power to stack the Justice Department worm hole with toadies, the power to pack the courts with Federalist Society handpicked judges and the power of 53 Republican mountebanks to peddle Trump’s transgressions as nothing more than mirth and mischief.
But back to the first stanza: Impeachment and fireworks juxtapose nicely. As do Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and Joyous Kwanzaa.
Editor’s Note: This is Frank DeFilippo’s last column of 2019. He’ll back back in 2020.