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Legal Expert Makes the Case for Trump to Resign — but Why Have So Few Others Demanded He Step Down?

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In a new op-ed for CNN, constitutional law professor F. Michael Higginbotham argued Friday that President Donald Trump should resign from office.

Higginbotham argued in the op-ed that President Richard Nixon’s resignation in the face of his own impeachment could be seen to represent, despite his grave abuses, “an act of patriotism.”

Nixon “protected not only his own historical legacy but also the country he had taken an oath to serve,” Higginbotham wrote. “Donald Trump should follow suit.”

He continued:

Trump should resign so the country can begin the process of healing. The divisions in the country today are even more corrosive than they were in 1974. That’s why it’s even more important that Trump emulate the best of Richard Nixon, who, in a rare moment of grace, understood he could only weaken the nation he led by focusing solely on himself, and chose the better path.

In President Trump’s acceptance speech of the Republican nomination at the Republican National Convention in 2016, he told the nation, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” While many mocked the hubris behind that claim, at this moment of national danger it is undoubtedly true: Trump alone can spare the nation the painful ordeal of an impeachment trial in the Senate.

While Trump is written about extensively every single day, such calls are relatively few. For all the tumult, investigation, and fierce partisanship Trump’s presidency has produced, it’s produced surprisingly sparse demands for his resignation. Even as Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives, and top newspapershave called for the president’s removal, the other option — the only way a president has actually been ousted from office via the impeachment process — remains woefully under-discussed. And though Democrats have occasionally called for the resignation of administration officials such as Attorney General Bill Barr and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, they seem hesitant to take the same step for the president himself. Instead, they often call on him to stop creating division and “lead” the country.

But “leading the country” is exactly what Trump has repeatedly proven himself incapable of doing.

What’s odd about the relative dearth of calls for is that Trump’s conduct clearly merits it. I’ve argued that calling for Trump’s resignation was the Democrats’ best move since they took the House of Representatives. And if, as many do, you think it’s appropriate for Trump to be impeached or removed, you should probably also think that it would be best if he just stepped down without all the conflict. In fact, it would be reasonable to argue that Trump should resign, but that an ultimately doomed impeachment process is too disruptive for the country. So in theory, there should be more support for Trump’s resignation than there is for his removal.

So why aren’t we deluged with calls for Trump’s resignation? CNN host Chris Cuomo’s response to the Higginbotham piece probably sums up the explanation:

Everyone assumes — almost certainly correctly — that Trump will never agree to resign the presidency. He hates admitting failure, he loves the adulation the office provides, and he fears the potential legal consequences of no longer being protected from prosecution. Nixon was a monster with a devoted base of support, but he realized eventually that it was time to throw in the towel. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a plausible scenario in which Trump does the same — and not just because the Republican Party seems even more devoted to the current president than it was to Nixon. He won’t even admit that his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was far from “perfect,” even though this admission could have helped him.

But the fact that Trump would almost never agree to resign doesn’t mean we should ignore the obvious fact that he should. Ignoring this option lets Trump off the hook for his own responsibilities, and it lowers the bar for the presidential standard of behavior.

Many Republicans have spoken out against impeachment by citing the fact that it will be divisive for the country and create more animosity or tension. By calling for resignation as a potential alternative to impeachment, Trump’s critics could point out that any resulting division from impeachment proceedings is at least as much the fault of the president. Democrats could argue that Trump’s behavior forced them to pursue impeachment, but if he were gracious and cared about the country, he could bring it to a peaceful end.

This reframes the discourse around Trump’s impeachment in a useful way, especially when pressed against Republicans who can’t bring themselves to defend the president’s conduct on the merits. And it exposes and dispenses with the implicit idea that Democrats are the only actors responsible for preserving constitutional government; that obligation falls just as heavily on the shoulders of Trump and the Republicans.

 

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COMMENTARY

First Lady Unveils White House Christmas ‘Gifts from the Heart’ Decorations – as Some Remember ‘Creepy’ Trump Holidays

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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden on Monday unveiled the White House’s 2021 Christmas decorations.

“Inspired by the acts of kindness and experiences that lifted our spirits this year, decorated rooms in the White House reflect the Gifts from the Heart that unite us all: faith, family, friendship, the arts, learning, nature, gratitude, service, community, peace, and unity,” Dr. Biden said in a social media post, which included photos.

The Hill’s Alex Gangitano posted some images from today’s tour:

In a monumental gesture of inclusiveness and spirit of bipartisanship the Bidens even included a nod to Donald Trump and Melania Trump, the former President and First Lady.

But some were quick to remember the disturbing Christmas decorating efforts of the former White House occupants:

Related:

Video of Trump Saying ‘Christmas Will Be Canceled’ if Biden Wins Goes Viral After President Refuses to Sign COVID Bill

‘Praise Be!’: Melania Mocked for ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ White House Christmas Trees Video

After ‘Give Me a Break’ Complaint Melania Mocked for ‘Pretending to Like Christmas’ as White House Tree Is Delivered

 

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COMMENTARY

Head of Federal Agency Responsible for Wildly Inaccurate Jobs Numbers Is Trump Holdover

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Asked if He Will Resign, the Commissioner – a Former Heritage Foundation Fellow – Does Not Answer

Some areas of the U.S. federal government are sacrosanct.

The CDC doesn’t screw around with reporting COVID information, because millions of people, including scientists, make life or death decisions based on those data.

The Labor Dept. doesn’t tweak jobs numbers for political purposes, or to make a president look good or bad, because to report inaccurate results leads to tremendous distrust of the government, messes up markets, and plans of major corporations.

And yet under President Donald Trump the Health and Human Services Dept. altered CDC documents – once considered sacrosanct documents – for political purposes, CNN reported last year.

“Amid tension between the administration and the CDC, former Trump campaign official turned chief HHS spokesman Michael Caputo and his team had demanded to see reports out of the CDC before they are released, a senior administration official said. Officials within HHS had defended the demand, saying the CDC fell under the agency’s umbrella and that all communications and public documents needed to be cleared at the top.”

A federal official told CNN that in addition to reviewing reports, HHS political appointee Paul Alexander has regularly added his input — often interpreted by CDC officials as political in nature — to weekly scientific reports intended to track the ongoing coronavirus pandemic response. The development marks the latest example of political interference by administration appointees at the nation’s health agencies.

So when The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the federal government “sharply underestimated job gains for most of 2021, including four months this summer in which it missed more job growth than at any other time on record,” some expressed concern.

“In the most recent four months with revisions, June through September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported it underestimated job growth by a cumulative 626,000 jobs — that’s the largest underestimate of any other comparable period, going back to 1979. If those revisions were themselves a jobs report, they’d be an absolute blockbuster,” the Post noted.

They add, “recent revisions have been big enough to turn a substantial slump into a surprising surge.”

Americans, in other words, have been living under the false belief that the labor market wasn’t exactly hopping, thanks to wildly inaccurate numbers out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency under the Dept. of Labor that collects, tracks, and analyzes these critical numbers.

Yes, under President Joe Biden the labor market has been surging, we now know, contrary to the information that’s been coming out of the BLS.

Curiously, as the Post also noted, the exact opposite happened last year, when Donald Trump was president.

“Revisions in the already calamitous months of March and April 2020,” under Trump, “found the economy had lost 922,000 more jobs than initially reported.”

Oops.

Given what we know happened at CDC, you’d think some might be wondering what’s going on.

Well, we are.

As it turns out, William Beach – the head of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency that since the start of the pandemic has been churning out wildly inaccurate (but very pro-Trump) numbers – was appointed by Donald Trump, used to work for a very pro-Trump think tank known as the Heritage Foundation, worked for a university research center that is funded by the very pro-Trump Charles Koch (as in the Koch Bros.), and also used to work for the Republicans on the the Senate Budget Committee.

(And while it’s unclear when Beach left Heritage, it’s important to know that right wing think tank is a purveyor of climate change denialism, fake critical race theory and voter fraud claims, and voter suppression legislation.)

So, who cares if the labor numbers are wrong?

Well, everyone, when they read headlines calling Biden’s jobs numbers a “colossal miss,” “ugly,” “dismal” and “disappointing,” as The Post noted. Companies make major decisions based on these numbers, which everyone realizes are just estimates, but up until last year were good indicators of what is going on.

Under Beach, the Biden administration has been slammed, giving Republicans a false tool to attack. And like bad newspaper articles that appear on page one and linger in Americans’ minds for days, corrections only appear on the back pages, invisible to the vast majority of people who only remember what was false.

An important side note: the Bureau of Labor Statistics is also responsible for reporting out the Consumer Price Index, which in recent days has claimed massive price increases.

NCRM emailed Commissioner Beach on Wednesday, asking if he intended to resign, and asking him to explain what caused these massive errors and if that has been fixed.

We also asked if he maintains any professional, personal, or financial ties to The Heritage Foundation, Senate Republicans or any of his previous right wing employers.

Commissioner Beach did not respond, but Bureau of Labor Statistics Deputy Commissioner William J. Wiatrowski did – with a boilerplate explanation of revisions, and a statement assuring us that the “integrity of BLS data collection and reporting is paramount. The BLS commissioner, as has always been the case, does not see data until they are finalized. Civil servant economists and statisticians tabulate and analyze the data.”

No word on any resignation – or if this massive problem has been fixed.

There’s no evidence to say these massive screw ups are intentional – or worse, politically motivated – but the American public and American businesses deserve better, they deserve factual data they can count on, and they deserve to know what’s actually happening on their President’s watch – any president.

If that cannot happen under this commissioner, it’s time for a new one.

Image by jaimebisbal via Flickr and a CC license

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COMMENTARY

Chris Christie Went on Nicolle Wallace’s MSNBC Show. It Didn’t Go Well for Him.

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Chris Christie is on what some are calling a rehabilitation tour. The combative Republican former governor of New Jersey is hawking his new book, “Republican Rescue” on all the major news networks, trying to position himself as an alternative to Donald Trump as he anoints himself the savior of the Republican Party.

Christie, who left office with a dismal 14 percent approval rating despite (or because of) having others in his way to distance himself from Bridgegate, somehow having escaped any legal ramifications over his management of Hurricane Sandy funds, and after trying to slough off Beachgate, for a short time tried to be less “Christie”-like. But that softer persona disappeared this week, especially late Tuesday afternoon when he stepped on the set of MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House” and sat down with host Nicolle Wallace.

It did not go well for him.

Here’s basically how it ended, with Wallace – a former Republican – stringing him up using his own words, saying: “You may or may not support Donald Trump in 2024. You may or may not run for president. And [your] book about liars and conspiracy theorists doesn’t have anything to say about Fox News.”

Here’s what led up to that dénouement:

“You know the book is called – it’s about conspiracies and lies and you really don’t take on Fox News, why not?” Wallace asks.

She pounds him further on Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Christie says he doesn’t watch the right wing cable giant’s top show and “I don’t pay a lot of attention” to him.

Moments later, Wallace again pound Christie, telling him, “I don’t think it’s an intellectually honest case to make against conspiracy theories without taking on Fox News.”

In typical Christie fashion he claps back, “Well, I, listen, then you can write that in your book.”

Not having it, Wallace retorts, “Well, I’m not trying to rescue the Republican Party.”

Seconds later, she presses him again on Fox News.

“I guess my question is you want to run for president, what’s your relationship with Fox News going to be?”

“Well first of all, I didn’t say I want to run for president. You said that. So let’s be clear about that,” Christie said, challenging Wallace.

“Well a lot of people have said that in the last few days – you haven’t corrected any of them,” she noted.

Wallace again goes back to Fox News.

“Do you think that Fox News in primetime is good for the country or bad?”

Christie basically refused to give a straight answer, knowing that if he wants to run for president he will need their support.

“Listen there are shows that I like in Fox News and shows that I don’t like.”

“You’re afraid to question the purveyors of conspiracy theories and lies?”

“But that’s your opinion,” Christie insisted, despite the fact that Fox News is a purveyor of conspiracy theories and lies. “You’re welcome to your opinion like everybody else in this country is welcome to your opinion. I don’t consider people like Sean Hannity, or Laura Ingram, purveyors.”

Heather Digby Parton, the highly-admired Salon writer who goes by the name Digby, shared her thoughts after the interview:

Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali focused on Christie writhing away from Wallace’s questioning on domestic violent extremism (which does not appear in that clip.)

Wallace had repeatedly asked Christie if he agreed with FBI Director Christopher Wray that domestic violent extremism is a top national security concern for America.

Christie’s response? “I don’t know” if Wray still thinks that.

“He testified about it in September,” Wallace replied.

 

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