I’m not sure what your take on the end of impeachment was, but my thoughts never drifted to the idea that 2020 would settle into something resembling placidity.
Rather, I wondered what was next.
There was always a next, mind you.
It was out there somewhere — lurking, perhaps, but out there somewhere.
If necessary, it would be like William Randolph Hearst’s war: Someone would furnish the controversy and everyone else would furnish the outrage.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long for the next season of “Trump: Let’s Impeach the Sucker” to drop onto cable systems nationwide.
This time, a seven-to-nine-year sentence suggested by federal prosecutors in the case of former Trump adviser Roger Stone — a recommendation that apparently came as a surprise to higher-ups at the Department of Justice — got enough pushback from the DOJ that the prosecutors resigned their roles on the case.
It was a another Friday Night Massacre like when Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland got fired! Or was it like the Tuesday night massacre when someone else got fired? Is anyone keeping track of these?
Well, anyhow, we know what’s next. I mean, we don’t know exactly what’s next. “Trump: Let’s Impeach the Sucker” is like any fictional crime show, except it deals in what the president is fond of calling “fake news.”
You don’t quite know how the thing’s going to end, but, let’s face facts, you’ve got the formula pretty down pat by now if you’ve been watching it.
Former South Carolina GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy has been watching, and I dare say he’s not a fan.
In fact, he called one of the first episode’s major beats — calls from Democrats for Attorney General William Barr to resign — the “dumbest damn thing I have ever heard.”
Gowdy, once the head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and still in “bulldog” form, appeared Wednesday on Fox News to talk about the controversy, which will see the attorney general testify before the House Judiciary Committee on the Stone case, inter alia, on March 31, according to National Review.
Nevertheless, that’s just not soon enough dagnabbit-goshdarnit-insert-’50s-slang-here for Democrats, Quoth Pocahontas: “Congress must act immediately to rein in our lawless Attorney General. Barr should resign or face impeachment. And Congress should use spending power to defund the AG’s authority to interfere with anything that affects Trump, his friends, or his elections.”
Congress must act immediately to rein in our lawless Attorney General. Barr should resign or face impeachment. And Congress should use spending power to defund the AG’s authority to interfere with anything that affects Trump, his friends, or his elections.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 12, 2020
What’s funny is that this Twitter hot take about whether or not the top law enforcement official in our country ought to resign was all brought about by President Donald Trump’s Twitter hot takes on Stone’s sentencing:
Two months in jail for a Swamp Creature, yet 9 years recommended for Roger Stone (who was not even working for the Trump Campaign). Gee, that sounds very fair! Rogue prosecutors maybe? The Swamp! @foxandfriends @TuckerCarlson
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020
Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020
These tweets were supposed to have influenced Barr, which is interesting because Barr has basically told Trump to put down the cell phone.
“I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” Barr told ABC News on Thursday, though he said Trump’s tweets have had zero influence on his actions as attorney general.
“To have public statements and tweets about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity,” he added.
Gowdy, a Fox News contributor, went full-on bulldog over the idea that it was time for Barr to resign. (Also, forgive me: “The Bulldog” is one of the coolest monikers in all of politics and I so seldom get to use it.)
“The prosecutors wanted nine years. Bill Barr thinks that two or three years is more proportional, and the only difference between the two is whether or not you count this eight-level enhancement for actively threatening a witness,” Gowdy said on Fox.
“If you didn’t have that enhancement, then everyone would agree that Bill Barr’s view of the guidelines is accurate. So the judge is going to decide whether or not that enhancement is appropriate — supported by the facts,” he told host Martha MacCallum.
“Martha, this was a trial. She presided over the trial. She listened to the witnesses. She’s uniquely well-positioned to decide whether or not that enhancement should be in play,” he continued.
As for whether Barr should step down?
“The notion that Bill Barr should resign is about the dumbest damn thing I have ever heard,” Gowdy said. “There are child pornographers who don’t get nine years, Martha. There are people who rob banks who don’t get nine years.”
But that’s not the point, right?
Roger Stone keeps the Russia narrative alive, for one thing.
Yes, he was convicted of crimes.
No, none of them warrant a seven-to-nine-year sentence.
We don’t know what the reason for the sentencing recommendation was.
We also don’t know why, according to the original report from Fox News, the DOJ “was shocked to see the sentencing recommendation in the filing in the Stone case.”
And now we have the four prosecutors stepping away from the case because Barr acted well within his purview in reducing a punitive sentence designed to cause friction.
All right, so it’s not impeachment — yet, anyway.
I’ll say this, though — this season’s plot line of “Trump: Let’s Impeach the Sucker” wins for the sheer swiftness it was delivered in. Seems kind of low-stakes, though.
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