Abbreviated pundit roundup: Acting with impunity

Sam Brodey and Asawin Suebsaeng:

On Thursday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) objected to quick consideration of a bill championed by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) that would have required campaigns to notify federal authorities if they are contacted by foreign entities. The freshman Republican claimed that the reporting requirements in the bill were onerous. […]

[T]he dust-up nevertheless illustrated, yet again, that the biggest impediment to applying more safeguards to foreign interference in elections may not come from Trump himself, but from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). 

Here’s Susan Glasser’s take at The New Yorker:

Trump is a political octopus, squirting so much diversionary black ink at us that diversion is the new normal. The new issue of Foreign Affairs out this week declares this historical moment “the self-destruction of American power” and offers a depressing autopsy on the vanishing of U.S. global leadership. But there are too many outrages of the day, of every day, to think about it. Some members of Congress are now publicly confessing that they haven’t had time even to read the Mueller report (and more are saying so in private, as I myself have heard). I doubt that they are stopping to consider the collapse of the liberal international order.

John Nichols says Trump has laid out the clearest case for impeachment:

When the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia considered the question of whether to allow the impeachment and removal of presidents while they are serving in office, William Richardson Davie warned: “If he be not impeachable whilst in office, he will spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected.” Davie, a Revolutionary War hero and legal scholar, explained to his fellow delegates that the impeachment power should be “considered…as an essential security for the good behaviour of the Executive.”

Benjamin Franklin echoed this understanding with regard to an executive’s abusing the authority of his position for the purpose of “strengthening his own party, as the party opposed to him became formidable.” In other words, if there is reason to believe that a president might engage in lawless actions in order to secure his reelection, is is time to impeach.

At USA Today, Sam Berger, vice president for Democracy and Government Reform at the Center for American Progress andTalia Dessel, research analyst for the Moscow Project, lay out the Mueller report evidence and call for the strengthening of the law against foreign interference:

Recognizing the future threat, Democrats in the House passed legislation to protect our elections — but Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to even consider it. Now, House Democrats are re-upping their legislative effort, including considering a “Duty to Report” bill that would require campaigns to report foreign contacts or attempted foreign influence to law enforcement.

This type of legislation would be an important bulwark against foreign interference. But what would be even better is a president who actively combated these foreign attacks on our democracy instead of encouraging them.

And, on a final note, in a piece for The Atlantic, Rep. Eric Swalwell explains how he’s come around to supporting impeachment:

We have no choice: Congress must begin an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Even if the effort to remove him comes up short in the Senate, showing a willingness to hold a lawless president accountable may be the only way to save our democracy.

I purposely have not rushed headlong into this or prejudged the outcome, as he would have done. Along with my colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee, I have carefully weighed the available evidence. Impeachment is the most extraordinary remedy the Constitution offers, and even this president deserves fairer and more impartial justice than he ever renders. Yet no other American would have been afforded—and refused—so many chances to cooperate, come clean, and do the right thing.

The president continues to betray America, putting his own interests ahead of our country’s. His statement that he would accept a foreign power’s offer of information harmful to an electoral rival, and probably not inform the FBI of such an effort, shouldn’t be shocking—because he already did it.

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