Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

President Donald Trump didn’t wait long to humiliate the Republican senators who voted to acquit him with wan assurances that impeachment might check his worst impulses. Far from learning that he should not have extorted the Ukrainian authorities to interfere in our politics — as Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says she hoped he would — the president instead found out that he can abuse power without fear.

That is why Democrats in Congress must continue peeling away the layers of concealment to expose the truth about Trump, not only in the Ukraine affair but in all of the scandals under investigation by House committees. That is their constitutional responsibility, made all the more urgent by the abdication of the Senate Republicans who covered up Trump’s offenses. Having sworn an oath to act impartially, Republicans colluded in his stonewalling defense.

Some Democrats may prefer not to continue the investigation of Ukraine, fearing that they will be tarred as sore losers or some such juvenile nonsense. But if they believe what they told the nation about Trump’s misconduct — that he endangered national security and attempted to fix the 2020 election — the Senate’s tainted verdict cannot stand as the final word.

Although some Republicans have now conceded that Trump actually did what the articles of impeachment charged, much more remains to be discovered about the Ukraine plot. And many Democrats agree, as Republicans complained, that the case against Trump ought to have included firsthand witness testimony.

With the impeachment trial concluded, there are no longer any time constraints to keep Democrats from going to court to compel testimony and production of documents. They should subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton, who has tantalized the nation with a strange striptease, sometimes promising and sometimes withholding his potential testimony. News accounts indicate that his forthcoming memoir, The Room Where It Happened, includes fresh information about the origins of the plot.

Bolton is a prime target for congressional investigators not only because of the information he can provide but because Trump is still trying to intimidate him. In recent days, the White House has leaked threats that the president intends to prosecute his former adviser and prevent the publication of Bolton’s book. If Trump and his minions silence Bolton with such authoritarian tactics, then the country will be on a very dark path indeed.

But there is more to this than John Bolton. When Americans expressed an overwhelming demand to hear from witnesses at trial, that meant they wanted to know the entire story and the roles played by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and all the other clownish figures who are already implicated.

We need the fullest possible accounting of their actions, from Mulvaney’s complicity in withholding military aid to Giuliani’s scheming against a U.S. ambassador. Lev Parnas, Giuliani’s indicted associate and accomplice in the plot against former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, has turned over thousands of pages of documents and vowed to testify if called. There are a lot of questions Parnas should answer in public, under oath.

So far, both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who ran the impeachment prosecution with skill and eloquence, appear equivocal about continuing the investigation. But the duty to complete the investigation is unavoidable — and walking away from that duty now would be a political mistake as well as a dereliction.

The Republicans aren’t letting go of impeachment, Trump or his stooges in the Senate. While the president menaces Bolton like a mob boss going after a snitch, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., are threatening to expose the National Security Council whistleblower who first reported the conspiracy. In fact, Graham and others have said they plan a full investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the origins of the impeachment probe. Among their key targets, of course, is Schiff — recently the subject of death threats by a heavily armed maniac who became agitated while watching Fox News.

Like a tough cop, Pelosi knows there is only one effective response to the lying and bullying of the Trump Republicans: Just the facts, ma’am.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

If Boss Trump is headed for defeat, he's getting his revenge early. His revenge upon his deluded supporters and the people they love, that is. Trump's re-election campaign now consists mainly of what epidemiologists call "super-spreader" events: large-scale rallies of unmasked, non-socially distanced Trumpists yelling in each other's faces while the Big Man emits a non-stop barrage of falsehoods, exaggerations, and barefaced lies.

Let me put it this way: If, say, the Rolling Stones decided to put on free concerts at airports around the country, they'd likely end up being taken into custody and deported as undesirable aliens. Of course, they'd also draw far bigger crowds than Trump, but that's not the point. The point is that Trump's actions are reckless and immoral; the peacetime equivalent of war crimes.

"Covid, covid, covid, covid, covid," he hollers. Trump claims that the United States is "turning the corner" on the pandemic, and that the accursed news media will quit reporting Covid-19 fatalities come November 4. He claims that health officials are motivated by greed because "doctors get more money and hospitals get more money" if they report that the virus was the cause of death.

Surveys have shown that more than a thousand physicians and nurses have died fighting the disease nationwide.

As ever, what he accuses others of doing is an excellent guide to the question: What would Trump do? Answer: he'd steal the silver dollars off a Covid victim's eyes and demand an investigation of Joe Biden

According to the Washington Post, the Trump campaign organization signed an agreement with officials in Duluth, Minnesota to limit attendance at a September 30 fly-in rally, in accordance with public health guidelines. Hours before the event, it became clear that no effort was being made to honor the agreement; some 2500 Trump supporters bunched up without masks on the tarmac, ten times the agreed limit.

Health Department officials' protests were simply ignored. Three days later, Trump himself was taken to Walter Reed Hospital by helicopter. Three weeks after that, the following headline appeared in the Duluth News-Tribune: "St. Louis County sees another record-breaking week of COVID-19 cases."

Any questions?

The Trump Circus subsequently performed in Janesville and Waukesha, Wisconsin in the midst of a record-setting pandemic outbreak there. "It took us 7 and a half months to reach our first 100,000 cases, & only 36 days to reach our second," the Wisconsin Department of Health tweeted. "In just two short months, the 7-day average of new confirmed cases has risen 405%."

But the show must go on. Trump regaled his Janesville audience with a veritable torrent of lies. The New York Times did a thorough fact-check of his October 17 speech. Reporters documented 130 false statements during Trump's 87 minutes onstage. Nearly three-quarters of his factual claims were untrue. The most egregious concerned Covid-19, probably because the disease represents his single greatest failure and most damaging political liability.

Another question: Does Trump count upon his supporters' invincible ignorance or simply share it? I fear it's a little of both. In Janesville, Trump made this absurd claim two minutes into his harangue: "When you look at our numbers compared to what's going on in Europe and other places," he said "we're doing well."

Any regular newspaper reader knows that this is simply nonsense. As the Times reports, "America has more cases and deaths per capita than any major country in Europe but Spain and Belgium. The United States has just 4 percent of the world's population but accounts for almost a quarter of the global deaths from Covid-19."

Germany, to choose the most striking comparison, has suffered only 122 deaths per million of its population, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has recorded more than five times as many: 686 per million. Neighboring Canada, meanwhile, is at 264 per million. Several Asian countries, have handled the pandemic even better.

It's a matter of capable leadership and public cooperation.

No wonder Trump appears to have succumbed to a case of dictator envy. "COVID, COVID, COVID is being used by [the 'Fake News' media] in total coordination" he tweeted the other day "in order to change our great early election numbers. Should be an election law violation!"

Yeah, well they all report the same World Series scores too. Furthermore, if Trump had good election numbers, he wouldn't whine so much. Has there ever been a bigger crybaby in the White House?

(In related news, Vladimir Putin has issued a mandatory mask mandate after a surge in Russian Covid infections. Go figure.)

Meanwhile, the rallies go on; a bizarre spectacle people treat as if it's normal. Trump has become Covid-19's Typhoid Mary, an Irish cook who unwittingly infected 53 people back in 1906.

But unlike Mary, he should know better. If anybody should be locked up, as his rapt admirers chant, it's the Super-Spreader in Chief.