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Terminate with extreme bureaucratic prejudice

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I was looking over Section Four of the 25th amendment in the public library on Thurmon Street when it suddenly occurred to me that, if Mike Pence merely has the will to do it, he could — with the cooperation of seven other cabinet officers — get rid of Donald Trump permanently this very Sunday, the last Sunday of the accursed year of our Lord 2020.

It may seem extremely unlikely that Mike Pence, who up to this point has been one of Trump’s most craven enablers, would even consider taking advantage of this constitutional power. But it’s always possible that, between now and January 20 when Trump’s term expires, the situation may become so extreme that he and seven other Cabinet members may find the modicum of personal courage and moral decency necessary to do the right thing.

Trump would put up a fight, but it wouldn’t matter this late in his presidency. Once Pence has transmitted the letter to Congress that makes him acting president, Trump may contest the vice-president’s actions via a letter of his own. Section Four, however, would give Pence four days to respond to this letter. After Pence did so, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives could — by simple majority vote — decline to act on the substantive dispute for the remaining 21 days. (Meanwhile, Democrats could filibuster any action in the Senate.) Were it not the end of his term, Trump would return to office after 21 days if Congress failed to act.

This, in effect, means that Pence could become acting president on Sunday, December 27, and would remain in the position for the rest of the current administration’s term in office, as long as House Democrats acceded to the new status quo. For the good of the nation, he should do so this weekend.

And then I realized like I was shot with a diamond — a diamond right through my forehead . . . And I thought: My God, the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.

Speaking of which:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening announced 26 new pardons, including ones for longtime ally Roger Stone, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s father, Charles.The pardons extend Trump’s streak of wielding his clemency powers for criminals who are loyalists, well-connected or adjacent to his family. While all presidents issue controversial pardons at the end of their terms, Trump appears to be moving at a faster pace than his predecessors, demonstrating little inhibition at rewarding his friends and allies using one of the most unrestricted powers of his office.

The pardons of Manafort and Stone reward two of the most high-profile and widely condemned former advisers of the President, both of whom were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, went to trial and were convicted by juries of multiple crimes. Manafort, who is serving home confinement, admitted his crimes and initially agreed to cooperate with Mueller then lied to prosecutors, while Stone never cooperated after lying to Congress to protect the President.

Manafort spent close to two years in prison for bank and tax fraud, illegal foreign lobbying and witness tampering conspiracies before being released because of the Covid-19 pandemic, while Stone’s sentence for obstruction of Congress and threatening a witness was commuted by Trump earlier this year days before he was set to surrender.

Guardrails!

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