Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (UC Berkeley) My threads are here: terikanefield-blog.com/ NBC News Opinion contributor Impeachment notes: impeachment-trump.com/ Jun. 22, 2019 8 min read

(Thread) Expect more Trump-GOP lawbreaking

People are frustrated that Trump and pals aren't deterred by the threat of subpoenas.

I have some bad news: You can expect lots more Trump-GOP lawbreaking before this is over.

3 things are happening at once. . .

1/ Happening at once:

💠Trump and friends openly break laws;
💠 The Trump-FOX GOP pretend it isn’t happening; and
💠The Trump-FOX-GOP accuse Democrats of made-up crimes. (This started decades ago with Whitewater and is happening now with the FISA-warrant made-up scandal.)

2/ We’re in for more Trump-GOP lawbreaking, I’m afraid.

Look, Trump’s supporters know he is a law breaker.
Many voted for him BECAUSE he is a law breaker.

He ran on a promise to destroy the political establishment. What do you think that means? They love that he defies "norms."

3/ The problem isn’t a lawbreaker in the White House. The problem is that a major political party supports him and 42% of the population approves of him.

First let's consider the reasons. When we understand the problem, we can find a solution.

4/ Reason #1: Some Trump supporters want to destroy the federal government because of a “crisis of legitimacy” which happens when people don’t think the government governs on their behalf. See: “The Authentic Appeal of the Lying Demagogue":

5/ They think the “political establishment” is favoring new groups over“real” Americans. Exactly what Laura Ingraham explained here.

Reason #2: Some Trump supporters cheer the lawbreaking because they don’t believe those laws should exist. . .

6/ They want to go back to the 1920s, before the New Deal, Civil Rights legislation, and regulatory agencies.
They despise the regulations that, in their view, infringe on their personal liberty.

They want to be able to do what they want, and those pesky laws get in the way

7/ They want to go back to the days when white men could grab and take and cheat. See👇

Reason #3: Greed. You can get richer faster if you ignore the laws.
You can get richer even faster if you take Russian money.

8/ Reason #4: Trump has a strange effect on people. James Comey talked about how he corrupts people.

He said: “people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump. . .” Read this passage:

9/ Reason #5: In tribal (us v. them) politics, if “our” team does it, it’s okay.
There is an incredible passage in Max Boot’s book beginning on page 165👇

Boot looks back on a lifetime of conservative / GOP activism, and asks where things went wrong. How did Trump happen?

10/ Notice the part about how GOP members ignore “sins” in the name of “unity” on the right.

As a result lawbreaking is no longer disqualifying in the GOP. In fact, it’s become a badge of honor. Lawbreakers are widely seen as heroes . . .

11/ This astonishing video shows the ovation and applause Roger Stone received at a GOP event in VA after his indictment.

The GOP even act like victims when their lawbreaking is exposed.

12/ Text messages reveal that Manafort told Hannity that he did "nothing" and that "they" would “go after” Trump and family next, but he wouldn’t “give” them up. (Sounds like he's both guilty and a victim, an odd combination.)

13/ What we’re experiencing could be* the last gasp of a dying old regime, the regime of white men doing as they pleased.

(I say "could be" because it depends on how people react.)

When Trump defies court orders, I expect lots of people to declare democracy officially dead.

14/ That is the wrong thing to do. I know because it fails the "Putin" test, which goes like this: "Would Putin approve?"

Putin WANTS us to declare democracy dead. In fact, a goal of Putin’s Active Measures is to get people to lose faith in democratic systems.

15/ when enough people lose faith (despair and give up) it’s all over.

Harvard Prof. Levitsky talks about why the GOP is so desperately breaking laws: Demographically, their long term and medium term prospects are poor.

16/ The problem is that their base is shrinking, so their medium and long-term prospects are not good.

The Democratic Party, OTOH, has morphed into the party of urban intellectuals, minority communities, and young people.
Democrats own the future. See:

17/ Levitsky says to treat Trump's lawbreaking like an earthquake.

The way to respond to an earthquake is to move quickly to strengthen the weakened structures.

The analogy is perfect because people keep asking me, “What if the GOP destroys our democratic institutions?”

18/ If the GOP destroys them, we build them back up. Cities rebuild after earthquakes and continue on. Then we prepare for the next earthquake by reinforcing our institutions.
Ziblatt says you don’t respond to an earthquake by putting more stress on the institutions.

19/ The future is (can be) democratic and diverse, so we want to preserve the institutions as much as possible during the rattling.

The more people get involved and take positive steps to strengthen our damaged institutions, the better chance democracy has of surviving.

20/ Spreading panic and thus increasing chaos is the worst thing we can do.
Remember, Trump is trying hard to keep everyone in a spin.

By “strengthen institutions” I mean individual citizens taking personal responsibility. There is a wonderful passage in this book (p. 60):

21/ Here's the passage 👇
We need to make politics cool again.
More people need to be engaged and involved at the grassroots level.
Taking power back in a way that preserves institutions instead of putting more stress on them means using only democratic means.

22/ In other words, I'm urging a careful, measured response.

@SawyerSteve points out that the alternative to careful and measured, urgent and dramatic, can have a lot more appeal.

Resist that appeal. We need to preserve, not further stress, our institutions.


A few people have asked me this👇@A2Mamman

I am in favor of opening impeachment proceedings, and in fact, marched for impeachment last week.

The problem is that people seem to think impeachment will stop the GOP lawbreaking, or even that . . .

. . . impeachment means Trump will be removed from office. Removal requires 2/3 of the Senate, which is highly unlikely.

For why the analogies to Nixon (and Clinton) are probably wrong, see 👇

It's also unrealistic to think that impeachment. . . .

. . . will "teach the GOP a lesson."

Looking to the criminal justice system to get us out of this mess is also not realistic. I know, I know. The Trump-Fox-GOP are disregarding rule of law. But (and here's I'm speaking as a criminal appellate defense lawyer) . . .

. . . mass arrests or incarceration is also not a good solution, particularly when the lawbreakers are members of a major political party and represent a significant portion of Americans. (Unless you ignore polls and facts, it;'s upwards of 35%) Not a majority, but a lot.

This brings us to the question of the hour 👇

I'm afraid you're not going to like the answer. But I want to caution you against answers you will like. I believe anyone who tells you there is a quick and easy solution is not being realistic . . .

. . . the mess we are in was decades in the making and there are no quick fixes. Before I tell you what will make it stop, I'll tell you what is dangerous. This kind of talk 👇
There is no legal way to remove Trump from office immediately. The drafters of the constitution . .

. . . deliberately made it hard to remove a sitting president.

I asked, "What legal means will remove the president, & received answers from several people. One person said this 👇which to me comes dangerously close to extortion, and is what Prof. Levitsky calls "hardball."

. . . another answer I received was that NY should arrest Trump and 👇

If a state arresting a president automatically removes him from office, I don't think Obama would have lasted 8 years in office.

OK so there are no easy solutions. What will stop the lawbreaking? Only this:

. . . Everyone who wants to put an end to the GOP lawbreaking spree needs to come together and win big the next few election cycles.

The far right wing that has taken over the GOP and government needs to be pushed back to the fringes. They will never go away . . .

. . . a certain percentage of the population will always have authoritarian and anti-democratic tendencies.

You won't argue them out of their views, or deter them with threats of prison or worse.

For more on the authoritarian personality see:

Lots of typing errors and I left off a screen shot. (Sorry!)

The person who said to arrest Trump in New York, also said this 👇

The argument is that if NY arrests Trump, the 25th Amendment is evoked and Trump will be removed.

It doesn't (and shouldn't) work that way.

I totally understand.
What works for me is volunteering. Instead of moaning about what's happening at the border, I volunteer through Raices. I was in Texas for a week recently giving legal assistance to asylum seekers.

I've compiled a list . . .

. . . of things people can do. If millions of people direct their outrage and frustration into constructive action, we can speed things, or at least guarantee that Democracy will win.

Volunteering can also lift you from the exhausting news cycle.

Exactly right. This is what Prof. Levitsky meant when he said to avoid hardball tactics.

This is a much punchier way to say it.

You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.


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