Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump; Neal Katyal, Sam Koppleman; 2019 (Dec); Mariner Books; 156 pgs, notes, exhibits
This book was banged out in two weeks and published just before Trump was actually impeached. In this case, I think the word "impeach" really means "impeach and convict (i.e.: remove from office)". It is remarkably current considering the pace of events.
Katyal is a regular on MSNBC and worked in the Obama Whitehouse. He is a Constitutional scholar and Professor of Constitutional Law. The book is a quick read. The writing is concise and clear.
He outlines the history of impeachment first. He then examines the evidence, and the case against DJT. The legal issues are well explained . He finds himself teaching the American people law in the usual way: establish a set of hypothetical circumstances, and then explore the legal consequences.
Except this time, the circumstances are real, and USA is dealing with a bizzaro hypothetical come to life. Finally, he offers up some legislative patches that might make it harder for the next out-of-control President to follow in DJT's footprints.
The Whistler-Blower's statement is in it in full. It was compelling reading. The WB really did his homework well.
Katyal lays out the case why DJT must be removed from office very convincingly. I could go through the long list of things that Trump has done, but they are well known and there is no point in my summarizing a summary.
The book is not expensive and is out in paperback. Read it for yourself.
This version of the report has introduction material and a number of appendices added. The full report is a part of it.
Because the Mueller Report is essentially photo-reduced to fit inside the book sized printed page of this report, the resultant font is very small. And I am getting a bit old. The reason they did this is clear… to keep all page references accurate and referable. That is, if you hear that something was written on page 150 of the actual report, you will have no trouble finding it.
I did not read it all. I only scanned the collusion/Russia half, knowing that it did not come to any conclusions that are not already part of history. Trump colluded his brains out (and he recently said he would do it again), but criminal conspiracy (which I believe requires a quid pro quo) could not be proven.
I read the half on Obstruction of Justice (OoJ) more carefully. There are several key obstructive acts that are as plain as day, all done in public, that they did not charge Trump with…. Because they say at the outset that they cannot charge a sitting president. Mueller all but said: "He is guilty, so Congress… you must act!"
The most striking thing about the OoJ evidence is that almost all of it took place in plain view or was report contemporaneously by various news outlets. I was constantly saying to myself "Oh yeah, I remember that."
So why have they not started impeachment proceedings? Beats me! I believe that should for many reasons, most of which were excellently described by John Oliver on his TV show (aired June 16, 2019).
This is not a readable book, but it is historic, and a good reference.
Michael Lewis has written some great books (Moneyball, The Big Short etc). I cannot really count this one among them. Nevertheless, it was interesting. Heavy leading and lots of white space make the 219 pages a short read.
This book a basically a collection of anecdotes about Trump taking power.
The first section focuses on the DOE. When Trump took power, he resented having to spend money on transitions (which he is required to do by law). He wanted to keep the money for himself! As a result, there was no smooth transition between administrations. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The first thing the Trump administration asked for was a list of DOE names that had attended any climate related discussions!
Like all departments, the DOE had prepared a primer on what the role of the DOE was. But no one showed up to see it! Rick Perry attended a meeting to brief him. He spent mere minutes familiarizing himself with the department. One official was ousted from her physical office by Eric Trump's brother in law who took it. No one knew why.
The DOE does a lot of things, like making sure reactors don't melt down, and that no bomb material "gets lost". Over the years, the DOE has recovered enough material to make 160 bombs. It is populated by some very smart people. They made sure, for example, that Iran lived up to its part of the deal… until Trump killed the deal. Trump likes to do things in half measures. DOE interviewees point out the dangers of cutting corners, and the huge risks involved when you do.
It is hard to build a fence. It is easy to knock it down. And it is stupid to knock it down if you don't understand why it is there.
The same story unfolded at the USDA (Department of Agriculture). Everyone was waiting to hand over power, and no one showed up… for a month. Soon, the USDA board was occupied by a long haul trucker, an AT&T clerk, a gas company meter reader and a cabana boy. The USDA is responsible for a lot of things, like crops, and nutrition, food stamps etc., and it is now being run by the least competent people imaginable who all hate climate change
The Department of Commerce sounds dull. It does have trade responsibilities, but mostly it is a data bank (data from agencies like NOAA and NASA). Information is their currency. And they have a lot of it. They got the same treatment as the other departments. Wilbur Ross runs it. He and Trump are cut from the same cloth.
Fun fact: Really rich people do not want to be listed in the Forbes 500. Only three in the history of the magazine have fought to get on the list: Saudi Prince Alwaleed, Donald Trump and Wilbur Ross!
The problem is this: Scientific data can be used for many things. Like predicting weather to help farmers make timely planting decisions for example. Huge amounts of data were made public, and scientists used that data to make the world better (you will have to read the book for details), but Trump et al smelled climate change, removed all references to it from all web sites, and removed the aforementioned data from the cloud.
There is an interesting conflict building. AccuWeather gets its data from the feds. But they make money selling that information and the feds give it away for free. So AccuWeather sought to stop the feds from doing that.
Soon, you can expect to see headlines like "Hurricane coming! If you want to know where and when, subscribe to AccuWeather now!".
It will take many years to undo the damage that Trump has done to the US and the world.
I borrowed this book from my brother. My usual habit is to highlight sections of interest as I read a book and use them as notes to create my own notes. But it is not my book, so this will be brief.
The is largely a fact heavy book. I was reminded of much and learned a little. If you want to see a good review of just how deep Trump is, or might be, in cahoots with the Russians, this is the book. I had a renewed sense of outrage over Trump cozying up to ambassador Kislyak and inviting him into the Oval Office.
In many ways, the book is premature as the Russian connection is still being explored. Manafort has just turned on Trump as I write, so there are probably new tales to be told.
One largely unanswered question was why the Obama administration dragged it feet in blowing the whistle on Russian interference in the election.
Along the way, the book reminds us of Clinton's difficulties during the election. The general view of the Clintons as influence peddlers and money/power grubbers was briefly reinforced.
I read it from cover to cover, so that says something. If you are into the details, this is a good book to turn to; for more arm-wavy scary stories, I suspect (I have not read it yet) Woodward's book is the better bet.
Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic; David Frum; 2018; Harper Collins; 235 pgs; notes, index
David Frum is a name you might find familiar. He is the son of Barbara Frum (the internet does not mention his father), a Canadian journalist that I recall for her raised eye brow and her tenacity.
David Frum is a conservative, and he sees Trump as an idiot. DJT has no idea what real conservatism means. I liked Barabara Frum and I like David Frum, who regularly appears on MSNBC and shows like Bill Mahar. I learned a thing or two about conservative politics from the book, but that was not its point.
Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump… the most powerful man in the universe. -- Omarosa Manigault
Omarosa is a whore (in the political sense). Once she was physically ejected from the White House, she jumped to the "detractor" ship in a nanosecond. The quote speaks not just to her sycophancy, but the whole, disreputable, in many cases felonious, cast of slobbering ring-kissers he has surrounded himself with.
I liked this book, because it took no sides that I can see. Frum called out Democrats, as well as Trump-ites and Republicans, when he had to… but mostly the latter. He sees Trump as destroying not only the country but the ideals of his party.
The book is a quick read. After all, the Trump story is only half way in. But the leading is loose and the 235 pages go by quickly. It is broken into chapters that discuss how he got there, who helped and why, and what the result was. Spoiler alert: its not good.
He discusses the history from birther BS through to Republicans hating him, to their come-to-Jesus moment when he won. Now it seems he can do no wrong in Republican eyes. Who can forget the "thank you for the honor of licking your boots Mr Trump" meeting he had on air to feed his ego. The chapter called Plunder speaks for itself. Trump's in-your-face lies and self enrichment never cease to amaze me. He is conning the public in the least subtle way one can imagine, and they just take it.
Trump's golfing-loving lifestyle has a already cost the American people more in one year than Obama burned in eight. The Kushners have two agendas, get out from under 666 Park Place, and get richer.
Read the book if only to discover the good news, according to Frum. The good news is that post-Trump America will probably put a leash on the powers of the president and that a better, sounder democracy will emerge from the wilderness. They can start by making it law that the president must submit his taxes.
Fun facts from the book...
We all know Trump refused to release his taxes, but he also funneled campaign funds into his own businesses. The book reports that DJT's companies do not generate P&Ls and balance sheets because no one in the family reads them. DJT ignorance of world affairs allows him to cling to a belief that the US has a trade deficit with Germany and that Germany believes it is under trade restrictions. They are. Germany is part of the EU, which is the entity Trump should be talking to.
I recommend this book as a good read, especially because it comes from a conservative.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.