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Fri Nov 15, 2019, 07:33 AM


Slate: What You'd Have to Believe to Let Donald Trump Off the Hook


The conventional wisdom after the opening day of House impeachment hearings seems to have settled on the theme that Democrats, calmly led by Rep. Adam Schiff, and the two sober, borderline fusty foreign service veterans, George Kent and Bill Taylor, spent Wednesday battling goofy claims and gauzy counterattacks by Reps. Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan and other House Republicans. That is surely true to a point, as are the purely speculative claims about who was watching, how it played, and whether any of it really matters. But there’s a second tale to be told of the day’s five-plus hours of testimony and cross-examination, and it’s the one best rooted in an Agatha Christie novel: Whose theory of the crime is more credible and what do the two warring conspiracy theories tell us about the alleged perpetrators, and ourselves?

Let’s imagine Hercule Poirot, or even Harriet the Spy, were tasked with explaining the impeachment plot. The Devin Nunes theory of the case would be extravagantly complex: This whodunit seems to involve House Democrats colluding with a deep state whistleblower and his attorney, who had been plotting a “coup” against the president since the weeks following his election, and who was willing to conspire with Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee to sideline the inspector general and hide the whistleblower from public view. Simultaneously, Democrats have been working assiduously with Russia toward the “funding and spreading” of the Steele dossier while “cooperating in Ukrainian election meddling” all while Hunter Biden used his preelection influence to have an impact on foreign policy under Predsident Barack Obama, and as the “politicized bureaucracy” now conspires to deliberately undermine “the president who they are supposed to be serving,” in the form of corrupt ambassadors. It’s elementary, my dear Watson: This, per Nunes, is a sprawling “hoax” engineered by disparate “elements of the FBI, the Department of Justice, and now the State Department” along with the “corrupt media” to work hand and glove to something, something “nude pictures.” The theory of the case is that all of these entities conspired for years, together, to craft a hoax and sham “Star Chamber” in order to subvert the will of the American electorate. All that’s missing, truly, is Colonel Mustard with a lead pipe in the conservatory.

It all amounts to one more weary turn around the dance floor with what Richard Hofstadter in 1964 dubbed the “paranoid style” of the American right and its “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.” It is even more remarkable that the same Republicans who decry secondhand testimony and “hearsay” from Kent and Taylor appear to believe in a fully realized criminal agreement between Adam Schiff, the whistleblower’s lawyers, the intelligence community’s inspector general, George Soros, Robert Mueller, CrowdStrike, and compromised State Department officials. In other words, jump back, Eric Trump, with all your claims that this is “boring.” This here is some next level Dan Brown conspiracy stuff.

The most intriguing moments of Wednesday’s hearings happened when Taylor and Kent, lifelong sane people and career diplomats, were questioned about the Republican theory of the case and, finding themselves utterly confounded, simply blinked into the klieg lights. Questioned about CrowdStrike and Donald Trump’s moon-bat theory that the firm was involved in hiding the Democratic National Committee server in Ukraine and passing the blame to Russia, George Kent appeared baffled: “To be honest, I had not heard of CrowdStrike until I read this transcript on Sept. 25,” Kent clarified. When he was asked if there was any “factual basis” to support the claim of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, Kent replied, “To my knowledge, there is no factual basis, no.”


I give you my word that I did not expand: These were the first four paragraphs of the article. - Bill.

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Reply Slate: What You'd Have to Believe to Let Donald Trump Off the Hook (Original post)
William Weehours Nov 15 OP
Chin music Nov 15 #1

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