First, a big tip of the hat to sundance at the ConservativeTreehouse.
Second, the players. James Comey is of course known to us. Let’s get to know his friend, Benjamin Wittes.
Those of you who have been following this closely might recognize the name.
By Daniel J. Solomon, forward.com
As the media reveal more information about the tormented relationship between President Trump and fired FBI director James Comey, some of the best tidbits are coming from his friend Benjamin Wittes.
Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and founder of the popular Lawfare blog, admitted that he was the principal source for a story in The New York Times this Friday.
He has since also claimed to have been retained as former Director Comey’s Attorney, and thus refused to testify before the House Select Committee on Intelligence. He is also the recipient of the four Memoranda that Comey composed while Director of his communications with President Trump, at least some of which are classified.
Back on October 24th, 2016 (three days after the FIS Court granted Title 1 surveillance of Carter Page) he had some interesting things to say.
By Benjamin Wittes, Lawfare
If you believe the FiveThirtyEight electoral forecast, Donald Trump has only between a 14- and 16-percent chance of becoming president. If you believe the New York Times’s “Upshot” forecast, that chance is even lower, around seven percent.
Given these numbers, it’s tempting to not plan for a Trump presidency. Personally, I’d like nothing more than to sweep the possibility under the high-impact-but-low-probability event rug, right alongside all those asteroid impacts and worldwide pandemics I don’t spend much time preparing for.
Better yet, I would love to put it in the category of horror movie, the sort of zombie apocalypse I can enjoy imagining knowing that it is impossible.
But events with a seven percent chance of happening actually take place all the time, and events that have a 16 percent chance of happening take place more than twice as often as that.
This is why I keep life insurance, even though I have a much lower than seven percent chance of dying this year. And while I don’t think I have a 16 percent chance of major medical expenses either, I still maintain a health insurance policy, as do other healthy people who know what’s good for them. Responsible people plan for disasters of this likelihood; and while the Sunday shows yesterday were full of talk of whether the presidential race is over, a major party candidate for president always has a chance of prevailing.
Hmm. Where have we seen an echo of that in the materials released of late?
But wait, there’s more!
The essential task of the Coalition of All Democratic Forces during a Trump administration will be to protect democratic institutions against his promised predations and to protect individuals subject to the abuses he promises.
Read as, defend our embedded activists in the Civil Service and the Executive Departments / Agencies they staff from the policies and priorities of a duly elected Chief Executive.
One would hope that Congress would be a partner or tool, in such a project, being a coordinate branch of government with vast legislative, oversight, appropriations, and impeachment powers. But I have my doubts that Congress would, in practice, be up for a serious confrontation with Donald Trump. So far, in contrast to many conservative intellectuals and a great many former Republican officials, most Republican members of Congress have jumped—many of them uncomfortably, but they have jumped—on the Trumpist train. And it’s hard to imagine Trump winning the presidency without the GOP retaining control of both chambers of the legislature. The congressional GOP leadership has been, well, something less than a group of profiles in courage—with Sen. Mitch McConnell pretending there is no presidential election going on at all, and certainly no Republican nominee for president, and House Speaker Paul Ryan playing an ongoing game of hot-and-cold which has simultaneously enraged Trump supporters and failed to endear Ryan to Trump opponents.
The point is that there is no reason at this stage to imagine that the legislature will be a viable venue for push-back, which is a shame considering the powerful set of tools at its disposal. The Coalition of All Democratic Forces should certainly see what kind of use it might make of the legislature, but realistically, we should probably expect that the coalition’s job in Congress will be to prevent Trump from passing anti-democratic legislation. That is, the task in Congress will be a negative one of denying Trump the use of the Article I powers, not the positive one of the coalition’s using them itself.
That leaves the tool that will certainly be available: the courts. The courts have a few obvious advantages, starting with hundreds of independent judges of both parties whom Trump cannot remove from office and who don’t have to face his supporters in forthcoming elections.
As it was written, so we have seen it done. It seems clear to me that we have found the theorist/strategist of our self selected Prateorian, and I think he needs to be questioned at length and under oath in the very near future.