Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Sat, 25 May 2019 13:38:09 -0700 Joe Conason from Creators Syndicate 17de4bc3cac74365374d78e5ad556875 Congress Must Begin an Impeachment Inquiry for 05/22/2019 Wed, 22 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Donald Trump is no longer just a persistent object of national shame and revulsion. He has become a threat to the Constitution and the rule of law &#8212; and the question before the House, quite literally, is what to do about him.</p> <p>For understandable reasons, the Democratic leadership in Congress has been reluctant to answer Trump's lawless conduct with impeachment, as the founders clearly prescribed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi warns that attempting to remove a duly elected president, even one who lost the popular vote, will be inevitably divisive and politically unpopular. She worries that "overreaching" by Democrats will rebound on them politically, as the Clinton impeachment boomeranged on Republicans in the 1998 midterm election. <p>Updated: Wed May 22, 2019</p> 3b4201fa8f0136655ba3dd4a6a6233e3 The Hypocrites on the Hill for 05/15/2019 Wed, 15 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Donald Trump will never build the Great Wall he envisioned on this country's southern border, but his lawyers and minions are erecting the largest stonewall against congressional oversight since Nixon's presidency. In a scolding letter to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., White House attorneys have said that the administration will simply reject some 81 subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee that he chairs. </p> <p>The reason offered for this blanket refusal to cooperate sounds much like a Trump tweet. "Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation," huffed the president's lawyers, "not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized 'do-over' of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice."</p> <p>Requests for information from the House Oversight Committee, the House Intelligence Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee have all met with roughly the same arrogant attitude &#8212; as if the executive branch has no obligation to provide any information at all to Congress. Such dismissive responses represent a profound violation of the constitutional order.<p>Updated: Wed May 15, 2019</p> 3b5065cccf50375787e0ad00f9d250cf Law and Order and Donald Trump for 05/09/2019 Thu, 09 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When Rep. Jerrold Nadler said that America is in a "constitutional crisis" &#8212; as he and other members of the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress &#8212; commentators scoffed that the Manhattan Democrat was exaggerating, at least a little. The sweeping, concerted resistance to congressional oversight by Barr and the Trump White House isn't that much worse than what other presidents of both parties have done, they assured us.</p> <p>Except it is. Ask any of the conservative Republican lawyers who are now trying to alert the country about President Trump's unchecked abuse of presidential power. That dissenting cadre within the president's own party includes former government officials who helped to create this danger.<p>Updated: Thu May 09, 2019</p> c385292b31a0abd603f591c1fca6d48b What Made Robert Mueller So Mad for 05/01/2019 Wed, 01 May 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>The Republican message from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Mueller report, featuring Attorney General Bill Barr, was perfectly blunt: Forget that any of this ever happened &#8212; unless and until we can figure out how to blame Hillary Clinton.</p> <p>All of those "conservative" worthies including the chief law enforcement officer of the United States insist that the report doesn't mean what it plainly says, and that Donald Trump did nothing wrong. So move along &#8212; now.<p>Updated: Wed May 01, 2019</p> 0cb7ef8badc10e5061bc7933d24e71b8 A Perilous Path to National Redemption for 04/25/2019 Thu, 25 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Although Robert Mueller filed his massive report with the Justice Department, the special counsel must have known he was actually forwarding an impeachment referral to Congress. Between his decision to forgo a criminal indictment of the president and his incriminating recital of the president's 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice, Mueller left no alternative &#8212; except an unthinkable dereliction that would place Trump beyond legal accountability and endow him with dictatorial power.</p> <p>And just in case he didn't make that difficult choice plain enough, Mueller delivered sharp reminders about congressional responsibility in dealing with such a figure in the White House.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 25, 2019</p> 6d2f4cfd271a636cbf7f0e96cc521410 If Trump Weren't POTUS, He Would Be Indicted for 04/18/2019 Thu, 18 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>If Donald Trump were the president of any private or public entity &#8212; if he were the president of anything, that is, except the United States &#8212; he would be under indictment today for obstruction of justice, intimidating witnesses and conspiracy, at a minimum. That is what the Mueller report, even in redacted form, tells us in no uncertain language.</p> <p>"No obstruction"? That's merely another Trump lie, repeated by his public relations flack, Bill Barr, who operates under the guise of the U.S. attorney general.<p>Updated: Thu Apr 18, 2019</p> b87d8f2947844ca5fdb8968a4e273730 Send a Subpoena to Mar-a-Lago for 04/10/2019 Wed, 10 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>We were sitting on the patio at Mar-a-Lago, enjoying drinks and dinner with a few friends, when Donald Trump suddenly showed up.</p> <p>He scowled at me for a few seconds and then did a double take. Perhaps he was rattled to encounter on his own property a journalist whose skeptical coverage dated back to the era when Roy Cohn was still fixing politicians for him. (Back then, I wrote a weekly column in the hallowed pages of the Village Voice with Wayne Barrett, the nonpareil investigative reporter and Trump nemesis who is gone but by no means forgotten.)<p>Updated: Wed Apr 10, 2019</p> 96c43ab7fc76e00c771df435c05ae2bd We Need The Mueller Report, Not Barr's Spin Memo for 03/27/2019 Wed, 27 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Even in a moment of triumph, Donald Trump lied.</p> <p>Exulting over the summary findings of the Mueller report, as spun by his attorney general, William Barr, President Trump declared that the investigation found "no obstruction" and resulted in "complete and total exoneration." But according to Robert Mueller's own words, that boast is utterly false &#8212; especially with respect to a conspiracy to obstruct justice.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 27, 2019</p> 8cb5b62b68797af9c95956b5faa5fbf7 How To Stop Worrying About Socialism for 03/20/2019 Wed, 20 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>When President Trump barks about socialism, he is probably thinking (and hopes you're thinking) of the dark, dank and dull version that oppressed the people of the old Soviet bloc. Republican media feeds, including his, currently feature "socialist" as the preferred insult, warning that Democrats aim to transform the United States into the decaying, authoritarian Venezuela.</p> <p>While such dystopian visions make for scary propaganda, does anyone really believe that the Democratic Party aims to deprive us all of food and medical care? The only politicians actually trying to take those goods away from some Americans are the Trump Republicans, with their incessant campaign to slash food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 20, 2019</p> 90546ac30a107f7aca3b10f9ba7f64ab The Ultimate Proof of Guilt for 03/14/2019 Thu, 14 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>No longer can there be any doubt that Paul Manafort expects Donald Trump to pardon him &#8212; and that Trump has encouraged that expectation in a broad strategy to obstruct the Russia investigation over the past two years.</p> <p>The signals emanating from Manafort's legal team over the past few days could scarcely have been clearer. Moments after Judge Amy Berman Jackson extended Manafort's federal prison time to seven and a half years, his lawyer, Kevin Downing, assured the assembled press outside the Washington courthouse that the judge's sentence indicated there had been "no collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russia. Downing uttered that false statement just minutes after Judge Jackson had scolded him in court for making exactly the same irrelevant remark following Manafort's sentencing last week in Virginia.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 14, 2019</p> a86d5cb47ee0ecc750580ef20e336a42 What Was Good For Clinton Is Good for Trump for 03/07/2019 Thu, 07 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>When the Office of Special Counsel completes its assigned tasks and sends its findings to Attorney General William Barr, Americans will expect to learn what is in that document. Despite recurrent warnings that Barr can legally withhold some or even all of the Mueller report, those expectations of transparency must be fulfilled.</p> <p>The matters investigated by former FBI Director Robert Mueller are so fundamental to the national interest that there is no alternative to full disclosure. It is a need that outweighs Justice Department policy designed to safeguard the reputation of individuals who are investigated but not charged with any crime.</p> <p>Republicans seeking to protect Donald Trump from Mueller's most damaging findings may cite that traditional policy to argue that Barr should withhold most or all of the final report. But it is worth remembering how little attention was paid to such concerns when the partisan roles were reversed.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 07, 2019</p> 5d2a76786e20c7a3bcbff7766b2c6583 Cohen Embodies Trump's Sordid Career for 02/27/2019 Wed, 27 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Watching the Republicans strenuously berate Michael Cohen as he appeared before the House Oversight Committee, it was clear that they had no idea who this New York character is or what his testimony means. They couldn't grasp that further diminishing this already disgraced attorney could not separate him from the man he had represented for 10 years, and that denouncing him as a lying felon cannot rehabilitate the president &#8212; because the detestable Cohen so perfectly embodies the sordid world of Donald Trump.</p> <p>The Cohen moment on Capitol Hill inspired an almost eerie sense of deja vu in anyone who has ever watched a mob chieftain's trial or a congressional hearing on organized crime. With their exaggerated indignation and their recitations of witness lies and sins, the Republicans on the House panel sounded just like Mafia defense lawyers impugning a rat witness. And in their morality play, Cohen fit the role of a Mafia capo who has turned on his old boss.</p> <p>The timeworn strategy of discrediting an associate to exonerate the accused is rarely effective, however, for a very simple reason routinely explained by federal prosecutors: Convicting a bad guy almost always requires the testimony of another bad guy, because nobody else has firsthand knowledge of the crimes in question. Just look up the trial of the late John Gotti, or the Senate hearings on organized-crime influence on labor unions &#8212; where the key witnesses had perpetrated crimes far worse than tax evasion or bank fraud.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 28, 2019</p> 9934d20046ef0a32fca5bcd99dfae76c This Trump Scandal Is Radioactive for 02/21/2019 Thu, 21 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Often enough, the ambitious phrase "Middle East peace plan" emanates from the Trump White House, often associated with presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Only last week, the Polish government joined with the U.S. State Department to host a major international conference on Middle East issues in Warsaw.</p> <p>But now the House Oversight Committee has released a stunning 24-page report about the pursuit of certain potentially dangerous commercial opportunities in the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia, by Kushner and an assortment of other Trump cronies. Suddenly, the "peace plan" looks far more like a "piece" plan &#8212; as in cronies grabbing a piece of the Saudi financial action.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 21, 2019</p> 5b52e77993a4d07df29bc5b05e5d119d On Russia, Trump Is Still In Deep Trouble for 02/14/2019 Thu, 14 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>If Donald Trump believes his own tweets, then he must be feeling a huge sense of relief. According to the besieged president, he has been exonerated; the hoax has been disproved; and the witch hunt has been canceled.</p> <p>"The Senate Intelligence Committee: THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA!" he exclaimed in the predawn hours on Feb. 13, a theme he and his minions repeated throughout the day.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 14, 2019</p> d7f1b406b8cbd1400c1555541514c330 First, She Made Us Listen for 02/07/2019 Thu, 07 Feb 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Whatever Congress may do in the weeks and months to come, the introduction of the "Green New Deal" resolution is a major victory for climate advocates and its principal sponsors, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. For the first time in years &#8212; perhaps for the first time ever &#8212; millions of Americans are not only fretting about the planet's imperiled future but also organizing behind a visionary approach to its salvation.</p> <p>Lacking in legislative details, this bill wasn't drawn to address every aspect of climate policy or all of the economic changes required to reduce carbon emissions to zero within 10 years, its ambitious goal. The Green New Deal is an idea, designed to explode the myth that environmental progress must reduce economic growth and destroy jobs &#8212; as corporate propaganda has insisted for decades. Instead, this clean-energy transition promises full employment at living wages, universal health care and improved educational opportunity.<p>Updated: Thu Feb 07, 2019</p> 7f717036dfaf4ea0db59c6ef6ab5d011 My Last Cup of Starbucks for 01/31/2019 Thu, 31 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>The biography of Howard Schultz is the stuff of American capitalist folklore: a man who grew up in a Brooklyn housing project and amassed a fortune worth billions. Now he proposes to repay America by imposing the ruinous rule of Donald Trump for another four years.</p> <p>Like so many billionaires, including President Trump, Schultz appears to believe that his success in business qualifies him for the highest office. Unlike Trump, Schultz is a legitimate business executive whose skills and drive created the Starbucks coffee empire. He even deserves some credit for having improved the quality of coffee available in the United States.<p>Updated: Thu Jan 31, 2019</p> 63479078bda885e63f1b01942f684969 A Conspiracy Theory That Makes Sense for 01/23/2019 Wed, 23 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Like so many other things in American life, political conspiracy theories just aren't as good as they used to be.</p> <p>Back in the years before the Civil War, the Know-Nothings told one another that the pope was sending Catholic immigrants &#8212; the forebears of many of today's anti-immigrant fanatics &#8212; to take control of the United States so that he could rule from Rome. In more recent years, the John Birch Society members worried that almost every elected official in Washington, including the war hero President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was secretly a "conscious agent of the Communist Party." However incredible, those paranoid imaginings explain otherwise incomprehensible social changes.</p> <p>Today's most popular conspiracy theory, known by the shorthand QAnon, is an online phenomenon that assures its hundreds of thousands of true believers that behind the chaos personified by Donald Trump, there is order, that contrary to the "fake news" purveyed by real newspapers and television networks, President Trump is fully in charge.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 23, 2019</p> ad5990c4e09453f00bab11d9b7e0fd75 What the Shutdown Really Means for 01/16/2019 Wed, 16 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>The unprecedented government shutdown is approaching the end of its first month with no foreseeable relief. The costs and the risks are quickly becoming intolerable. The notion of any upside to this fiasco is absurd.</p> <p>Yet we can at least hope that the American people, often afflicted with historical amnesia, will learn a lesson from this shutdown and remember it: Government services are essential to a decent, livable, secure society &#8212; and the people who provide those services are our fellow citizens, not anonymous "bureaucrats."</p> <p>Does that seem too obvious? After decades of anti-government propaganda &#8212; financed by all the usual right-wing billionaire suspects &#8212; many Americans came to believe the simple-minded mantra so famously attributed to former President Ronald Reagan: "(G)overnment is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." (In the same spirit, Reagan also once told us that the creation of Medicare would put the United States on an inexorable path to Marxist perdition.)<p>Updated: Wed Jan 16, 2019</p> d36ffbb10013e6b82f6912cc040e72d3 Will Partisan Politics Trump Justice? for 01/10/2019 Thu, 10 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Certain figures in Washington develop a gold-plated image over the years, praised so often in reputable media outlets as men (almost always men) of integrity that their reputations become unassailable. Nobody criticizes them, because they are defined above criticism. Often enough, these figures prove less perfect than advertised &#8212; think Clark Clifford or Kenneth Starr.</p> <p>Such a fellow is William Barr, whose nomination by President Trump for United States attorney general will come before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week. His name is almost invariably adorned with adjectives like "prominent" and "respected." These days, it is also usually noted that he is one of the youngest lawyers who ever served in the office to which he again aspires, named by the late former President George H.W. Bush, of blessed memory, et cetera.</p> <p>Given this uplifting consensus, it may seem churlish to mention some basic facts about Barr. Contrary to the sugar coating routinely applied by pundits to the Ronald Reagan-George H.W. Bush era, the Justice Department that Barr once headed was rife with political intrigue. (An attorney general predecessor of his &#8212; one Edwin Meese, still at large &#8212; barely escaped prison.)<p>Updated: Thu Jan 10, 2019</p> 3cd469e6faa71d2707e5bb0a24dcba14 The New Sheriff Talks Impeachment for 01/02/2019 Wed, 02 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>On the afternoon of Jan. 3, life will change irrevocably and in many ways for President Donald J. Trump when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives. One of the most important changes is personified by the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., a very able politician who has known Trump &#8212; and sometimes thwarted his development schemes &#8212; for decades.</p> <p>The stakes are much higher now than any gaudy edifice Trump ever wanted to build in Nadler's home district on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (he now represents most of the island's western neighborhoods and parts of Brooklyn as well). Nadler will be the new chair of the committee where impeachment proceedings must begin &#8212; and where the liberal Democrat has served since the impeachment of Bill Clinton.</p> <p>Interviewed on the local NPR station in New York on Wednesday, Nadler left no doubt that he will approach this rogue presidency far more aggressively than his predecessor Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., whose flaccid attitude mocked any thought of accountability. His innate seriousness is itself a grave threat to Trump. As he has made clear on more than one occasion, he will proceed without fanfare, but also without fear, to follow wherever the evidence leads. And if that means impeachment, he will get there in due course.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 02, 2019</p>