On the eve of his impeachment by the House, President Donald Trump sent a blistering letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi – airing his grievances with her and the broader Democratic Party while insisting that the actions taken on Wednesday will doom her to the dustbin of history.
I went through the letter – which, from its first words, you can tell has the President’s rhetorical fingerprints all over it – and highlighted some of the most, uh, important lines. They’re below.
1. “This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history.”
So, two things. One, impeachment is built into the Constitution and two past presidents have been impeached by the House. Two, it’s “Democratic lawmakers” not “Democrat Lawmakers.” And away we go!
2. “You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”
Like I said: You can clearly see Trump’s involvement in the letter.
3. “By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy.”
Wow. Lot to unpack here. Whether or not Trump likes it, the House is tasked with carrying out impeachment if a majority of members believe it is warranted. So, it’s not “invalid.” As for “declaring open war on American Democracy,” well, Trump never pretended to be understated.
4. “You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme?”
There’s almost never a good time for the “how dare you?” construction.
5. “Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying you pray for the President when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense.”
WHOA BOY. So, Trump knows Pelosi doesn’t actually pray for him? How? Did he someone eavesdrop on her prayers? Also, what is the “negative sense” of praying? I spent more time than I’d like to admit thinking about this and decided that Trump is suggesting that if Pelosi prays for him, it’s for his demise. I think.
6. “It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!”
Nothing is ever Trump’s fault. Ever.
7. “Fortunately, there was a transcript of the conversation taken, and you know from the transcript (which was immediately made available) that the paragraph in question was perfect.”
What would a perfect paragraph look like? Do we even know? Anywho, here are 4 facts from that July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: a) Trump tells Zelensky that the US does a lot for Ukraine b)Trump reminds Zelensky that Ukraine doesn’t reciprocate c) Trump asks Zelensky for a favor: to look into a debunked conspiracy theory that the hacked Democratic National Committee server is in Ukraine and d) Trump asks Zelensky to look into Joe and Hunter Biden. To my mind, the White House transcript of that call reads more like a smoking gun than an exoneration.
8. “I said to President Zelensky: would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it? I said do us a favor, not me and our country, not a campaign.”
Trump didn’t start making this “me” versus “us” argument until the past few weeks. But even putting that aside, the two things he asks of Zelensky (whereabouts of DNC server and investigation into the Biden) were not mentioned at all in Trump’s notes for the call, which were supposed to focus, generally speaking, on the country’s corruption problems.
9. “You are turning a policy disagreement between two branches of government into an impeachable offense.”
At issue is not the separation of powers or even really a disagreement. The issue is whether a president can ask a foreign country to investigate one of his potential political rivals. And, even if he can do it, should he?
10. “You know full well that Vice President Biden used his office and $1 billion dollars of US aid money to coerce Ukraine into firing the prosecutor who was digging into the company paying his son millions of dollars.”
Reminder: Biden called for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor as part of an international coalition designed to address corruption in the country. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing in Ukraine by Joe or his son Hunter Biden.
11. “Now you are trying to impeach me by falsely accusing me of doing what Joe Biden has admitted he actually did.”
Apples and oranges here. Again, Biden called for the firing of the prosecutor as part of a coordinated – and transparent – strategy to address corruption in Ukraine. Trump got on the phone with the Ukrainian president and, contrary to the notes prepared for him in advance of the meeting, freelanced to ask him to investigate one of his main rivals for the GOP nomination.
12. “President Zelensky has repeatedly declared that I did nothing wrong, and that there was ‘No Pressure.’”
Zelensky is no dummy! He knows he needs future aid from the US in order to fight the Russians at his borders. Given that, why would he piss Trump off by saying he felt pressure? Also, not for nothing: Why is “No Pressure” capitalized?
13. “Ambassador Sondland testified that I told him: ‘No quid pro quo. I want nothing. I want nothing. I want President Zelensky to do the right thing, do what he ran on.’”
Yes, Trump did tell US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that. After the White House had been made aware that Congress was looking into the withholding of military aid. So….
14. “Your chosen candidate lost the election in 2016, in an Electoral College landslide (306-227), and you and your party have never recovered from this defeat.”
The 2016 election ended 1,134 days ago.
15. “You have developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome and sadly, you will never get over it!”
An incurable case of TDS??? Call the CDC, STAT.
16. “You view democracy as your enemy!”
Just a reminder here: This is the President of the United States, on official White House stationery, telling the Speaker of the House that she believes democracy is the “enemy.” Very normal! Nothing to see here!
17. “As you know very well, this impeachment drive has nothing to do with Ukraine, or the totally appropriate conversation I had with its new president.”
Wait. Is this the “perfect” conversation? Or are we referring to another “totally appropriate” conversation here? Either way, Trump did nothing wrong! Ever!
18. “Congressman Adam Schiff cheated and lied all the way up to the present day, even going so far as to fraudulently make up, out of thin air, my conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine and read this fantasy language to Congress as though it were said by me.”
This claim, which Trump repeats constantly, makes me insane. Because it’s just wrong. Here’s what Schiff said before paraphrasing what was in the July 25 phone call: “In not so many words, this is the essence of what the President communicates.” He literally makes clear that he is paraphrasing Trump, not directly quoting him. Why is this a thing???
19. “You conducted a fake investigation upon the democratically elected President of the United States, and you are doing it yet again.”
To be clear: Pelosi had zero to do with the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That was the Justice Department under Trump. Also, that investigation wasn’t “fake” – it led to a number of arrests and prison sentences, not to mention documenting the deep and broad efforts of the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
20. “And by the way, when I speak to foreign countries, there are many people, with permission, listening to the call on both sides of the conversation.”
Again, Trump misses the point here. The issue is not that other people were listening. The issue is what he told Zelensky – even with people listening! If he talks like that when he knows people are on the line, how does he talk on the sidelines of summits and the like when there are far less staff nearby?
21. “You are the ones interfering in America’s elections. You are the ones subverting America’s Democracy.”
I am rubber and you are glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.
22. “If you truly cared about freedom and liberty for our Nation, then you would be devoting your vast investigative resources to exposing the full truth concerning the horrifying abuses of power before, during, and after the 2016 election – including the use of spies against my campaign.”
There has never been a shred of evidence that spies were used against Trump’s campaign. In fact, in the report released by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz earlier this month, it’s made quite clear there is zero evidence of spies being sicced on the Trump campaign.
23. “Any member of Congress who votes in support of impeachment against every shred of truth, fact, evidence, and legal principle, is showing how deeply they revile the voters and how truly they detest America’s Constitutional order.”
“Detest America’s Constitutional order”? Really?
24. “In other words, once the phone call was made public, your whole plot blew up, but that didn’t stop you from continuing.”
As I wrote at the time, the transcript of the July 25 phone call is pretty damn close to a smoking gun against Trump.
25. “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.”
Uh, paging John Proctor…
26. “This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth.”
Definitely not illegal! Or a coup!
27. “Your legacy will be that of turning the House of Representatives from a revered legislative body into a Star Chamber of partisan persecution.”
Not to be a contrarian here, but pretty sure that no matter what happens with impeachment, Pelosi’s legacy will be as the first female Speaker of the House.
28. “You apparently have so little respect for the American People that you expect them to believe that you are approaching this impeachment somberly, reservedly, and reluctantly. No intelligent person believes what you are saying.”
Really? And how did Trump learn to glean people’s “real” motives? Is that some sort device you can buy on Amazon? If so, send me a link!
29. “I write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record.”
“This will go down on your permanent record.” – The Violent Femmes
30. “One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it, so that it can never happen to another President again.”
Yeah, this feels like a good place to end.