Over at Samizdata the following question is asked:

[D]oes Trump have a case to answer? Has he done anything illegal and – more to the point – has he done anything wrong? Perhaps even more to the point, has he done anything that other US presidents – Obama for instance – wouldn’t do?

I responded there more or less as follows but I wanted to add a bit more to my ‘additional thoughts’ section than seemed appropriate for a blog comment

Did Trump do anything illegal?

Technically probably yes. But illegality is not, as far as I can tell, anything worse than that done by many previous administrations or indeed worse than you as an individual driving at 120 in 30mph zone at 2am and not having an accident because (duh) it’s 2am and there’s no one around. The only difference is that Trump appears to be less interested in having middlemen and fixers who can take the fall and provide plausible deniability.

Did Trump do anything wrong?

No, IMO. The quid pro quo thing tying aid to an investigation of Biden (as opposed to corruption in general with Biden being an example) seems to be total BS because there’s no non-hearsay evidence and plenty of factual counter-evidence. Did he want to have a quid pro quo? maybe. I’m sure he wanted Biden’s ties publicized and (arguably) the impeachment event has done that far better than having some unknown Ukrainian chief prosecutor investigate.

Did he do anything other presidents wouldn’t have done

No, except that he’s very much his own negotiator which seems to be rare in US politics and this makes him potentially more susceptible to accusations because he can’t do the slopey shoulders blame it on the underlings thing

So to sum up. This whole impeachment thing is the Dems doing the equivalent of a prosecutor calling for the death sentence for someone caught speeding and then rigging the courtroom so that the defendant is forbidden to make any defense.

Some additional thoughts

I’m not a big believer in the Trump plays multi-dimensional chess school of thought, but it has occurred to me that he’s benefiting from the whole circus in ways which his Deep state and democrat enemies may not have thought about initially.

Firstly the nutters have been demanding his impeachment since his election (quite literally in the more extreme cases) and thus it is easy to portray this impeachment as a politically motivated witch hunt*. The fact that the Republicans in the House of Representatives have steadfastly voted against in lock step helps a lot because it removes any hope that the Dems might have to portray proceedings as bipartisan. To that end it might have helped the Dem cause if they had allowed Republicans on the various committees to call witnesses, question Dem witnesses more broadly etc.

Secondly the way the proceedings have been conducted means that no one who has paid a small bit of attention and is not a NeverTrumper thinks it was in any way impartial. Even if Trump were as bad as he is claimed to be by the Dems, the way that due process and other similar bedrock parts of the anglospheric legal code have been ignored is far far worse. That famous Thomas More quote about tearing down the laws to get the devil does seem to be remarkably apt and that’s not a good thing. Just as with the way the Democrats in the Senate changed the rules to get Obama’s justices through without thinking what that meant when they weren’t in charge, this one is going to be bad for the next Dem president with a Republican House of Representatives. You can read / watch Jonathan Turley’s testimony to the impeachment hearing to see that I’m far from the only person who sees it this way. Combine this with the way that somehow the whole thing has become incredibly urgent and this looks even more like an attempt to ram through a conviction without properly evaluating the evidence. This looks particularly bad now as it is happening at the same time that the Horowitz report shows that the FBI was guilty of ‘suppressio veri’ and ‘suggestio falsi’ with respect to the Trump/Russia investigation and generally lying to the FISA Court. [Aside: For those of us paying attention the fact that the court itself has asked the FBI to explain why it should be believed on future FISA warrent applications is telling.]  Humans, on the whole, have a sense of fairness and get upset when they perceive others acting unfairly. It will be amazingly easy for Trump to play on this sense of fairness to get votes next year. Plus this weak impeachment thing has effectively inoculated Trump against any future impeachment because he can simply defend himself claiming that it is more of the same, even if that hypothetical one were actually justified in some way.

Moreover in the process of finding this molehill to impeach on, we have seen far greater coverage of the Biden family’s general sleaziness than we might otherwise have. In other words impeachment is helping Trump’s re-election campaign by focusing negative attention on his leading opponent, for precisely the reasons that caused the impeachment process to start. At this point it seems like the only way the senate will agree to judging impeachment is if Trump is allowed to call lots of witnesses about the Biden family’s behaviour so the Dems are now on the horns of a massive self-inflicted dilemma. Do they fail to pass the impeachment docs to the senate for consideration and thus avoid pesky things like witnesses being called and cross-examined or do they allow that and accept that Republican senators are going to ask repeatedly how a cokehead could justify such a large salary from Burisma.

Finally, the process has pretty much illustrated the complaints of both Trump and the Tea Party (remember the Tea Party?) about how the US is governed by a shady corrupt cabal of Washington insiders who put their own well being ahead of the country they are supposed to serve. We’ve seen a whole load of witnesses that look remarkably like “Deep State” come forward and bitch about how Trump is ignoring them and hurting their tender feelings and generally being a big meany. And we’ve had editorials from the NY Slimes and other similar MSM outlets that more or less say “The Deep State is good because it’s trying to stop Trump” as opposed to the denials of a year or two earlier that Deep State was a thing. In other words this impeachment is enabling Trump to go back to what he campaigned on in 2016 “Drain the Swamp” and have countless soundbites showing that he was right.

Trump may not be a master of multidimensional chess but he doesn’t need to be because his opponents seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot in ways that should be entirely predictable but apparently aren’t to these super smart liberal sorts.

*and that’s not just because it is one

PS