Impeach the Nazi-in-Chief
We lay out, yet again, the urgent arguments for impeachment, and fact-check those we often hear against it. We also interview Alexandra Flores-Quilty (@AFQ_92) of the grassroots group By the People (@by_the_ppl) that works with Rep. Rashida Tlaib and other Congressional leaders to call for impeachment hearings. The worsening crisis at the U.S. border; the continued purge of our government leaving crucial key positions unfilled; threatening our national security and public safety; politically motivated attacks on investigators and other law enforcement; just this week alone strengthen the case.
Sarah: 00:00:05 I'm Sarah Kendzior. I'm a journalist and a scholar focusing on authoritarian states and the author of the book, The View From Flyover Country. My cohost is Andrea Chalupa, a journalist, activist and filmmaker and the screenwriter of the upcoming journalistic thriller, Mr. Jones. And we are Gaslit Nation, a podcast covering corruption and the Trump administration and authoritarianism around the world. As regular Gaslit Nation listeners know Andrea and I usually tape this podcast together. This week, I'm going out of the country to breathe the sweet air of freedom in Canada. Freedom for now, anyway. We'll see how things go up there. So we are recording our segments separately. Regular listeners of Gaslit Nation also know that together Andrea and I basically comprise a hive mind brought together by the magical elixir of a Trump sex tape rumor back in 2016. Seriously, this is how Andrea and I met. Go back and listen to the first three episodes of Gaslit Nation to hear more about that. Ours is a friendship formed in national tragedy and like really gross shit. Anyway, my point is that even when we are apart, Andrea and I are generally on the same page in terms of what we're thinking about. And what we're thinking about this week and what we've been thinking about since January, 2017 since Trump first took office is once again impeachment.
Sarah: 00:01:38 In March we did an episode of Gaslit Nation called Impeach Normalization, which I highly recommend you listen to if you haven't already. We had to record that episode during the week that murderous mobster Paul Manafort was declared by a judge to be someone who lived a quote, "otherwise blameless life" and Nancy Pelosi had decided that impeaching Trump, the most blatantly corrupt and anti American president in the history of this country by far, was not in her words worth it. Gaslit Nation has always stood in favor of impeaching the motherfucker and we have taken a lot of shit for that, particularly after Pelosi came out against it. That week I ended up writing an essay outlining the case for impeachment and posting it on our Gaslit Nation Patreon site so that anyone with questions about our argument could easily find our answers. Today I'm going to read that essay on the show for the first time because nothing has changed.
Sarah: 00:02:38 Trump should still be impeached and that House still has not budged. In the second half of the show, Andrea will continue on our impeachment theme with an interview with Alexandra Flores Quilty of the group By the People which is an organization committed to ending this administration and creating a country that lives up to its founding ideals. Their focus at the moment is also on impeachment. Before I read my essay, I do have a few comments related to recent events. This is the first episode on impeachment we've done since the release of the four page Barr report, which is not to be confused with the Mueller report, which at the time of this recording, no one has still seen. Maybe it'll actually be out by the time you hear this, though I doubt it, but whatever's in that report does not change our case for impeachment. As you will hear, many of Trump's impeachable offenses always fell outside Mueller's purview.
Sarah: 00:03:35 Furthermore, those which do fall inside Mueller's purview are impeachment offenses committed in plain sight such as obstruction of justice. You can listen to the first few episodes of our last episode titled Lisa Page for a list of all the crimes related to Trump and Russia that Trump his campaign team and his administration committed in plain sight with the evidence archived in the public domain, but the actions of Attorney General William Barr, who I'll remind you as an Iran contra cleanup guy who's dedicated his life to exonerating GOP criminals and who wanted the Mueller probe shut down years ago had brought a new problem to the fore. What do you do when an attorney general commits obstruction of justice to shut down an investigation of obstruction of justice? How many layers of obstruction of justice do we need to have before someone decides to actually do something and you know, bring forth some fucking justice and actual accountability.
Sarah: 00:04:37 Who is going to hold not only Trump but Barr accountable. It does not look like Mueller will. Since despite his team claiming to the New York Times and the Washington Post, that Barr had inaccurately summarized the Mueller report, Mueller will not actually issue a public correction himself. People who say that it is legally impossible for him to do anything are simply lying. First of all, Mueller was quite eager to issue a correction of a Buzzfeed article by Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier about Michael Cohen being directed by Trump to engage in criminal activity even though according to new court documents brought forward this week by Michael Cohen, that article seems to have held up as true quite well. So what you see here is Mueller being willing to speak up to contradict documents that are actually true while an investigation is going on, but after that investigation allegedly ends, he won't speak up to correct Barr's summary of lies despite the enormous implications for US national security, these actions of Mueller are not following the law. This is not following protocol. This is following orders in the way any lackey of an autocrat follows orders. There is a time when men and women need to stand up for what's right, stand up for the truth and stand up for your country no matter what difficulties come your way. Mueller holds tremendous power here and he is simply refusing to use it to defend our country from harm. I don't understand honestly how he wakes up every day and witnesses the horrors going on in this country. For example, the illegal separation of migrant children from their parents as Trump claims those migrants are not human beings, but are animals and how he feels it's okay to stand back and do nothing. I don't understand how a war veteran who once fought to defend this country will now not do a damn thing, to help the most vulnerable people or to uphold the rule of law, which is his job.
Sarah: 00:06:50 I don't understand how someone like Mueller who so accurately predicted and assessed the threat of a global criminal syndicate as he did, in his January, 2011 speech on the iron triangles and you can go back we have the third episode of Gaslit Nation is about that, why he is so unwilling to speak out against that same threat now as that threat inhabits the White House. I don't understand why the House which turned blue because of the overwhelming turnout of voters who thought the Democrats would fight this emerging autocracy is behaving in such a cowardly and complacent way as well. Defending this country and upholding the rule of law is not only your moral obligation, Robert Mueller and Congress, but your literal job and you're not doing it. Finally, I want to emphasize how far our public officials have fallen in our expectation that they not only combat corruption in the executive branch in practice, but even just acknowledge it as a threat.
Sarah: 00:07:52 I'm going to read you a headline from a November 3rd, 2017 article in the Huffington post to bring you back to what our expressions were less than two years ago. The headline reads, Trump says he's quote, very frustrated. He can't order the DOJ and the FBI to go after Hillary Clinton. Then there's a direct quote from Trump. The saddest thing is that because I'm the President of the United States, I'm not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I'm not supposed to be involved with the FBI. It gets worse from there, but you can go find that article online yourself. Back in November, 2017 I posted this headline on Twitter alongside an excerpt of one of the articles of impeachment for Richard Nixon. One of the things Nixon was going to be impeached for was, and I quote, interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Watergate Special Prosecution and congressional committees.
Sarah: 00:08:57 In other words, Trump's statement saying that he sought to control the DOJ and the FBI and tell them who he could and could not prosecute was itself an impeachable offense. It was the same thing that Nixon did, and now Trump has done much, much worse than Nixon. He has carried out in practice what was for Nixon only a foiled plan. Trump has appointed a lackey who is there not to serve the United States, but to serve the GOP and to serve Trump and treat them as above the law. William Barr has carried out obstruction of justice squared, layers of obstruction that no one is battling with unnecessary assertiveness to save our country. This is why Congress needs to step up. Congress needs to use the tools that it has, one of which is the impeachment process. And so without further ado, here is my article on impeachment originally published on March 14th, 2019. On Impeachment.
Sarah: 00:10:02 In the Washington Post, Speaker Pelosi said, I'm not for impeachment. This is news. I'm going to give you some news right now because I haven't said this to any press person before, but since you asked and I've been thinking about this, impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think that we should go down that path because it divides the country and he's just not worth it. As we've previously stated and multiple episodes, Gaslit Nation stands in favor of impeaching the motherfucker. This was previously not a controversial view as Trump has committed a multitude of impeachable offenses including but not limited to violating the emoluments clause, obstruction of justice, ordering unconstitutional imprisonment of migrant families abusing the pardon power, high crimes and misdemeanors. Conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to illegally influence the 2016 election.
Sarah: 00:11:05 Trump has committed these crimes in plain sight and confessed to some of them like obstruction of justice, on television. These are not merely constitutional violations, but severe threats to national security and public safety that require immediate action, investigation and indictment as well as impeachment. Impeachment is not a snap of the fingers producing an instant result. It's a process of hearings in which officials present evidence of crimes and deliberate in a public forum removed from media bias. Americans these days tend to exist in information silos, but hearings from Comey to Cohen have brought our country together to bear witness. Hearings give the public information long withheld from them and shifts expectations of accountability. We see parallels with Watergate in which much of the republic was unconvinced of the severity of Nixon's crimes until hearings began and they learned the full details. The public has the right to information and to make up its own mind.
Sarah: 00:12:14 Our media is largely sponsored by dictators, or dictated by sponsors. It is critical that officials present evidence to the public directly. This is not a partisan issue. It is a matter of public safety. Trump's supporters have as much right to the truth as do Trump's opponents. We are Americans and we are in this together. Pelosi, however, does not appear to see herself as in it together with us, she sees herself as above it. She sees Trump as a partisan matter, not an urgent public threat. She does not understand that we are already divided as a nation and that truth and transparency are the salve. She is replicating the mistakes made by the Obama Administration and by the FBI and James Comey when they withheld the truth about Trump and Russia from the American public in 2016 due to their fear of seeming quote, divisive or angering Mitch McConnell. The GOP has been hijacked by a transnational crime syndicate masquerading as a government.
Sarah: 00:13:21 This is not a secret. We have seen the indictments and we have seen the panicked protectiveness of Trump by the GOP even when they're confronted with the most severe and obviously illegal infractions. Any possibility of bipartisan support for impeachment, for the GOP to put country before party is a myth. The Republicans created the situation. They long ago abdicated their duty through corruption and capitulation. If the GOP were to impeach Trump, they would effectively impeach themselves since they are caught in Trump's web of criminality. Michael Cohen, for example, was the deputy finance chairman of the RNC. But when Pelosi makes a bipartisan resolution that she knows is impossible, the standard for following rule of law, she continues the very abdication that the GOP initiated and in doing so, she aids in their complicity. Supporters of Pelosi believe there must be a secret message or a secret plan behind her statement, but there is very likely not.
Sarah: 00:14:28 We will be delighted if we are wrong and there is a secret plan. Since we are thinking first and foremost about the welfare of the American people, but our track record of accurate assessments speaks for itself. Some have said the point of Pelosi proclaiming Trump quote not worth it, is to wound his ego as if Trump remotely cares what Pelosi says. All Trump cares about is money, power, and being immune from prosecution. Impeachment hearings actually threaten all three of these things. Attempted jibes do not. The message Pelosi conveys when she says Trump is not worth it is that it is not worth holding him accountable for crimes that have resulted in the loss of human life and the ongoing destruction of our nation. Pelosi might not have intended for this to be her message, but that is how many received it. She hurled a grenade into progressives and wounded many with her words.
Sarah: 00:15:27 She may think we can vote Trump out, but she has hurt that very cause. We have heard from younger voters and voters from marginalized groups who no longer want to vote for the Democratic candidate because her flippant dismissal of impeachment as an outcome has led them to believe that the two parties are the same. They are not the same. One party is an existential threat and one party is deeply flawed. We strongly encourage you to support the Democratic candidate in 2020 but we demand that the Democrats confront our grim reality head on. That there may not be a 2020, that there may not be free and fair elections and that every day is damage done. It may be a partisan game to you Speaker Pelosi, but for the rest of us and for this country, it's a matter of life or death. It is critical that the stakes are made clear. Refusal to impeach sends the message that the situation cannot possibly be that dire.
Sarah: 00:16:29 If it were, the Democrats would move to impeach, right? This is the same disastrous miscalculation that gave us an unpunished cadre of criminals from Watergate, Iran Contra, the war in Iraq, and the 2008 financial crisis, criminals who are working with the White House right now. This is not a comparative study. This is literally the same people committing crimes over and over without repercussions. We would not even be dealing with this crisis if officials had acted with conscience and conviction earlier and brought these criminal elites to justice. Let's be clear, we do not think that if the House impeaches Trump, the GOP dominated Senate will convict. We also do not think that if the Senate, by some miracle, impeaches Trump, that he will leave. Trump has made it clear he will not leave office, even if the will of the people demands it in an election. And even if the will of Congress demands it in impeachment.
Sarah: 00:17:28 Trump is an aspiring autocrat and the GOP is seeking a one party state. So what's the point of the House impeaching Trump. An informed public is a powerful public and hearings are the best way of informing the people on what the White House has done. Autocrats and wannabe autocrats live by their brands and a symbolic vote of impeachment by the House sending the world the message that the United States still stands for the rule of law, damages the Trump brand and leaves a mark on it that Ivanka must carry with her as she continues to represent us abroad, the House must begin impeachment proceedings to help restore America's standing in the world and because it is their constitutional duty, impeachment sends a message about who we are as a country and what we will accept and abide. The rule of law demands action. Refusing to take action is normalizing atrocity. Lawlessness must be confronted regardless of the outcome as a matter of principle and conscience, fighting only the battles that you know you will win is a sure way of ensuring you lose. Preemptive surrender in a rapidly consolidating autocracy is permanent surrender. The American people have suffered enough under Trump. They should not have to suffer due to Pelosi's capitulation as well. We all deserve better than this.
Sarah: 00:19:02 Alright, Gaslit Nation listeners, let's talk about ZipRecruiter. Hiring used to be hard, multiple job sites, stacks of resumes, a confusing review process. But today hiring can be easy and you only have to go to one place to get it done. Ziprecruiter.com/gaslit. ZipRecruiter sends your job to over 100 of the web's leading job boards, but they don't stop there with their powerful matching technology. ZipRecruiter scans thousands of resumes to find people with the right experience and invite them to apply to your job. As applications come in, ZipRecruiter analyzes each one and spotlights the top candidates so you never miss a great match. ZipRecruiter is so effective that 80% of employers who post on ZipRecruiter get a quality candidate through the site within the first day. And right now my listeners can try ZipRecruiter for free at this exclusive web address. ziprecruiter.com/gaslit. ZipRecruiter is the smartest way to hire.
Sarah: 00:20:22 Today we're talking about Blinkist. Nowadays it can be hard to find the time to sit down and learn more. It's not easy when social media can be so addictive and time consuming, so you may think you don't have the time to read a whole book. That's why you need Blinkist. Blinkist is the only app that takes the best key takeaways and need to know information from thousands of nonfiction books and condenses them down into just 15 minutes you can read or listen to. Blinkist is used by busy people like you who want to get the main points of the books quickly without reading the entire thing. With its audio features, Blinkist makes it easy to finish four books a day. 8 million people are using Blinkist right now and it has a massive and growing library including self help, business health and history books. Right now for a limited time, Blinkist has a special offer just for our audience. Go to blinkist.com/gaslit to start your free seven day trial. That's Blinkist spelled BLINKIST. Blinkist.com/gaslit to start your free seven day trial. blinkist.com/gaslit
Andrea: 00:21:32 Gaslit Nation is very excited to invite an organization to this show that is working for a cause that we deeply believe in, which will get into today for the reasons why and that is the organization that is organized in part by Alexandra Flores Quilty. Am I saying your name correctly?
Alexandra: 00:21:52 Yeah, you are, thanks.
Andrea: 00:21:54 Great. So tell us about your group, which we've been plugging a lot on Gaslit Nation lately.
Alexandra: 00:21:59 Yeah. Thank you so much and appreciate the shout out. I'm Alexandra. Our organization, our campaign is By The People. And we are dedicated to help building the movement to impeach and remove Donald Trump from office and also fight really for the soul and the future of this country. Um, and we see that the United States is at a crossroads. A crossroads I think that is not necessarily a new choice in the history of the United States about an America for this few versus an America that could be for the many has not existed. And that Donald Trump really is a manifestation of so many of the evils that we've seen and an escalation of that. And so we're really dedicated. We're a grassroots group of everyday folks from around the country we're a pretty small team that works on this actually full time. It's mostly all volunteers who are just everyday folks who really want to take a stand right now against this administration and really feel the urgency of what's at stake right now. And our orientation is related to that. We know that we need to have people who are taking action out in the streets being public and their dissent and their resistance to this administration and are willing to take action around it. And so that's what we're dedicated to help build and offer.
Andrea: 00:23:23 Great. And some people may remember from when Sarah and I did a big episode called Impeach Normalization, listing all the reasons why impeachment is necessary and the reasons we gave were in response to a lot of comments people make against it, including Nancy Pelosi's own statement. So some of you may remember that episode Impeach Normalization. And the website we plugged, introduced to our listeners in that episode was By the People, by the people and that's your organization. And the website is bytheppl.us. So some of you have been tweeting that you're looking into this group that you're checking them out, that you're getting involved, which is great. And so just to sort of repeat ourselves, because unfortunately we live in an age where there is so much misinformation and so much gaslighting in the mainstream media and in both establishment parties, we have to repeat ourselves.
Alexandra: 00:24:18 It becomes an act of resistance. So let's first go through, I want to just grill you now on why you think impeachment is necessary. Why do you think now is the time for it? And then also let's go into some of your allies in the Congress and what they're doing to push this issue along. Because it's not just your grassroots group. You're actually backing some of the new blue wave progressive talent that got swept into Congress in the midterms that came in on a promise of impeachment. Because let's be honest with ourselves, the writing is on the wall, it's not just the crimes and the alleged crimes that helped bring the Trump family to power. It's also the abuses of power they’ve committed since then. I'm going to go through all like the usual talking points against impeachment, which I think are just very tired and shallow and we don't hold back on our show.
Andrea: 00:25:09 It's very, it's like a slumber party. It's fun. So let me tell you this. Okay. So what is the point, Alex, of impeachment, if we're not going to get this, the Republican Party on board and in the Senate, why, why should we set ourselves up for failure like that?
New Speaker: 00:25:25 And I think two things. One, I’ve been doing this work around impeachment now for a couple of years and there are some ways in which like you have conversations with people and you kind of get used to like, yeah, like the typical questions and then you say your response. And I think that just the name for myself, I've felt reconnection like groundedness about why it is I've decided to join with other people on this fight and in particular with Nancy Pelosi's comments a couple of weeks ago about impeachment is not worth it. And I think what's been sticking with me right now of like this feeling, it's worthwhile to do what is right. And for us as a group, that those of us who've come together around this, we know that Donald Trump and his administration have violated the constitution, violated the law and disgraced and dishonored the people of this country. And the people who call this country home. We know that he has committed impeachable offenses outside of the Mueller investigation and also within that. We've seen that those closest to him have deceived the American public with hush money payments to women, with different forms of obstruction of justice and collusion that those closest closest with him. We've seen a pattern of criminality and corruption this administration since day one, and that what's at stake is a lot. While some of these things are new and in the context of, of the United States and the history of this country, there's a lot on the line right now with what's happening at the southern border with children and families in detention camps, with the continued violations of our, of our constitution. There's so much at stake right now and every single day that he is an office is a threat to our democracy and quite frankly, the safety of the people who call this country home. And I really feel and believe that my bones, and I think that you know, whether or not we have all the things lined up today in order to begin this process is another question. Um, and it has to start somewhere. And I know that, I don't believe that, you know, there's no guarantees or inevitability that like impeachment is going to happen, but I think that part of what is allowed Donald Trump and men like Donald Trump in our country to continue to get away with things is us for society to like give up the fight to begin with because they continue to get away with things.
Alexandra: 00:27:48 And so I think part of this right now is taking a stand and calling for what's the appropriate response for when someone creates a impeachable offense? You know, so many members of the Democratic Party are saying like, we need to hold Trump accountable. And when someone has done something that's impeachable accountability is actually pretty clear. Accountability looks like impeachment. And so for us it's calling it what it is and being able to call for something that is the right thing to do in our minds. Whether or not everything is lined up at this moment. And I think that brings the second point to this question about impeachment is not winnable. You know, we don't have the votes in the Senate or even you know, so many folks around impeachment have said that like they have created this criteria that we need to have bipartisanship guaranteed from the very beginning of this process, which is a pretty ridiculous in my opinion, criteria to have considering that if we look back at previous things like for example, Nixon's impeachment process, when they began the investigation and then impeachment proceedings, they didn't have bipartisan support and they actually had even far less support from the public than we have today right now
Alexandra: 00:28:56 when actually initially began those proceedings and they initiated that process. And by the end of it, of course they did. And I don't necessarily say that there's a guarantee that that's going to happen in this situation, but I do think it's a possibility and that we shouldn't put the cart before the horse and put all these criteria that have not existed in previous situations that are similar or ignore what's the right thing to do right now because we think it's not worth it when there's just so much on the line right now. And I think that our democracy and our future and the people who are, who've already suffered the direct violence of this administration and like that enough is worthwhile to take a stand even for that. And that's what I feel even just at the most personal levels.
Andrea: 00:29:38 Exactly right. It's just, that's what we said on our episode Impeachment Normalization. It's just a matter of conscience. And also it's a political decision not to begin impeachment hearings. That's a political decision. It's a constitutional duty to call impeachment hearings given the long list of crimes and alleged crimes that not only brought them to power, but since they've been in power, they've, um, it just this, it's also your website lays it out so beautifully. You have an entire section called How We Win, which outlines all the areas of impeachable offenses that people need to look into and why we simply cannot tolerate this. And one point you make is that if we do not hold it accountable, this will be the new normal. And people don't understand that authoritarianism isn't coming to America. Authoritarianism is here. This is what it looks like. Devin Nunes is the perfect example of how inherently goofy and clownish a lot of these autocrats are.
Andrea: 00:30:44 Erdogan was laughed at when he was first coming to power. People compared him to George W. Bush and what an idiot George W. Bush was. If you look at Putin, he was laughed at when he first came to power. And when Putin consolidated media ownership in Russia, one of the first things he did was one of the first things that happened was a popular comedy show that made fun of them, got shut down. And these people are like ultimately clowns. And so the norms that are changing, norms such as the unredacted Mueller report not being sent to Adam Schiff, the chairman of the intelligence community in the house who has the security clearance to see the full Mueller report, including how intelligence is gathered, all of it because he has that security clearance. William Barr, the Iran Contra cleanup guy refusing to give to Adam Schiff despite his security clearance. That's a norm that's being violated.
Andrea: 00:31:42 And so people have to understand if we do not use the power available to us, such as calling impeachment hearings in the house, we're in for a very, very steep slide into these norms changing to the point where we will not recognize our country. It will be even worse than it is now. And so all the reasons you list on your website Bytheppl.us. You have an entire section that just lists all the reasons why it needs to be called now. And the fact that you brought up the norms, it's such a crucial one. So another response to this that I often hear is people don't want to take the risks of impeachment hearings because they fear that this will be used to radicalize Trump's base energize Trump's base and that will drive them out in 2020 and we're going to lose the election. So what are your thoughts on that?
New Speaker: 00:32:42 It's ironic because, um, yeah, I think we also heard this around the 2018 election. We originally launched this campaign back in this last August and we launched because we wanted to be able to launch this campaign as soon as possible because we thought that this fight needed to begin as soon as possible. And you know there's already folks before we launched it who've been doing both members of Congress and other groups in the public who have been organizing on this. But when we did, we had a hard time in the fall because there were so many messages coming around the election around like don't talk about impeachment, don't talk about impeachment and yeah, I think again, a couple of things. I mean one again I think just to say like it's both unhelpful, both strategically and I think like as you said before, to like our conscious, to not call out what's happening right now, to call out what the appropriate response is for egregious attacks that has happened from this administration in fear or in service of political calculations that I think have also proven themselves to be misguided and non strategic.
Alexandra: 00:33:44 I think the fear around inflaming his base, I think that it's true that in some races Republicans talk more about impeachment and running for House seats than Democrats did in in the 2018 election. And I think it's an honest thing that they've used that as a rallying cry for their base. And I think that it's been a missed opportunity. The people who talked about in some ways the least in 2018 were Democrats. It was like almost like everyone but Democratic leadership, who thought the Democrats would initiate impeachment. And I think that like, you know, we saw some from the exit polls in 2018 was that almost 80% of those who voted for Democrats supported impeachment in the exit polls from the midterms. And so it's popular among the base of people who are resisting what's happening in this country.
Alexandra: 00:34:33 And yet I think we're missing and need a lot more leadership. It’s going to take leadership in this way. And I think that their base, their base already is energized. I would never downplay what their base is capable of considering that we've already seen so much of those who are fueled by Trump's rhetoric, who cite him as, as they commit hate crimes and acts of violence. And I think that part of what many of us right now we're throwing down around this and then could come from communities who have been attacked by Trump and Trumpism. I have like felt that firsthand within our various communities is that like their base already is energized and emboldened by the longer that he remains in office and they continue to contest as you've said for what is normal in this country both institutionally like within our government of like what rules get violated and go unchecked and also for what's like the center of gravity around various hatred and racism and things like that.
Alexandra: 00:35:35 Like that center continues to move. They can test for what is considered the dominant culture, the dominant norm in this country, the longer they're in power and that we actually need to engage in that fight. I think that there's some ways in which we talk about like being afraid of their base and I think that that is a valid thing for us to fear. And also I think that there's lots of people out there who've already felt the harshest brunt of that, they've already felt what that base looks like and I've also felt them being emboldened. My mom’s side of the family lives in Arizona and are, Mexican Americans have been here for a few generations and live in Arizona. Whenever I talked to my grandparents on the phone, they always are giving me the latest thing that happened. They've like heard around town or something, news in particular like in Phoenix around slurs or like physical attacks on Brown people in Arizona and my grandma says it like very clearly if she just like, oh yeah, like they're saying the rhetoric of the President of the United States, like they are emboldened.
Alexandra: 00:36:31 More and more people who are maybe somewhat passively racist or passively held hatred before in this way are now actively embodying that. And so that's already happening. If we think that this is going to somehow go away by letting him continue to remain an office or not fighting for accountability, that that somehow is going to go away on its own, then we're kidding ourselves and they're only growing and I think that like what’s required right now is bold action. I also think that part of what you all talk about so much on your podcast of as experts in in authoritarianism and what that has looked like around the globe and throughout history. Right now we're at one of those points, that often, many other countries and societies are at where there's a fear of the repercussion both from those in power and also those in their base who rallied behind them and that that's a legitimate one. And I think also what we've seen in, in many of those other instances throughout history and throughout the world is that those things don't go away and often escalate on the other side. And what's often required is bold action in order to confront that. And so that's what I feel right now. Those of us who decided to engage in this fight.
Andrea: 00:37:40 Yeah. Without question. And just to respond to that because I have my own thoughts as well on the election calculation going into, you know, we can't call for impeachment because that's just going to fire up Trump’s base and they're going to campaign on that. And that will lead to defeats of Democrats in Congress in 2020 and could help Trump win in 2020 all of that. The reality is, like you said, Trump's base, whether you supported Hillary Clinton or not in the primaries, it doesn't matter. She nailed it when she said his base, they're deplorable. They are the racists. They are the far right. This is what the Brown shirts look like is this. There's no getting through to them. So if you can't be moved, by babies and cages, there's no getting through to a person like that. They continue to support this president. The other reality is the lack of awareness of people who say we cannot call impeachment because of the 2020 election and that can backfire. Well, guess what? Trump's base campaigned on an anti Nancy Pelosi platform, they were blasting Nancy Pelosi left and right. That didn't stop the Democrats from standing by Nancy Pelosi. There was a revolt against her and it tended to come from more conservative Democrats that maybe they felt that way genuinely or maybe they were pandering to their more conservative districts. So we did see that. And so I think if you want to see what impeachment hearings could look like in terms of the impact on the 2020 election, look at how Nancy Pelosi was treated as a talking point in the 2020 election among the Republican base among Republican candidates and Democrats that were stuck in conservative leaning districts.
Andrea: 00:39:28 It will play out that same way. Nancy Pelosi was enemy number one among Trump's base and that didn't stop the blue wave. So why are we forgetting that? I don't understand why we're forgetting that. And I think also a very important thing to remember. We have to use the power we have while we have it and not expect it to be there, not expect us to win again. The Democrats could very well lose the house. The Trump family needs to stay in power in order to survive politically and legally. They need to stay in power. And elections that Republicans tend to win whether it's George W. Bush in Florida or it's George W. Bush in Ohio in 2004, whether it's Trump with Russia and all that dark money in 2016, Republicans, the elections that they have one on the presidential level have all been shady and like with wide research, like wider ranging evidence of just absolute shadiness.
Andrea: 00:40:30 So what, what I'm saying is they need to steal 2020 to protect themselves. So what we need to prepare ourselves for is that without any accountability, especially without this Mueller report ever being released, without more indictments coming, we should not count on more indictments coming. I hate when people say, oh, look at the southern district of New York, let's all put our hope in the southern district of New York. Well guess what? That falls under the AG, the Iran Contra Cleanup guy. So if you have the lever of power to call impeachment hearings, do it now to protect yourself, protect your country, and understand that the stakes are so, so, so high right now. And you have to use the power you have while you have it. Because especially without accountability, they are going to do everything they can and steal congress from us and it's still the White House again in 2020 that's what we're up against. These are criminals who are getting away with the crime and this is how they protect themselves by is by staying in power. We're playing by the rules, they're not. And so we're screwed. I'm not saying that we need to start breaking laws, but we need to use the power we have while we have it and not take it for granted.
Alexandra: 00:41:37 Yeah, totally agree. And I appreciate so much the work that you all do on this podcast. I think that in some ways, in the US, we have a hard time understanding what authoritarianism looks like, what a consolidation of power looks and feels like. Cause we in some ways we have a little bit less of a direct history except for black and brown people in the history of this country. And I think that there's this obsession in our culture and in our political culture around elections solve everything. You know, there's a tagline that some of our sitting Democrats in the House have said like "we'll impeach him in the voting booths in 2020," which is just the most ridiculous thing and it makes me very, very angry.
Alexandra: 00:42:20 One that's not what impeachment is. That's voting. We vote someone out because you don't like them. Voting is a different process for removal. That's intended for a different reason. And also that didn't save us before. We already know for a fact they've had outside help, foreign help to try and break the election and influence and deceive the American electorate. That's already happened. That's been proven true. That's going to happen again. And there's going to be a further like, you know, I think that there's a spectrum of how afraid they are. A spectrum of like how democratic our country is and that's only further going down lower and lower on the spectrum. And there's so much that we're going to be up against in 2020 and we can and should act now before it is too late.
Andrea: 00:43:09 Yes absolutely. So I guess the other question is, is it enough if the house calls for impeachment, holds impeachment hearings, but then it goes to the Senate and Mitch McConnell, who has exhibited zero morals, especially in recent years, is it enough that impeachment dies in the House? Wouldn't Trump crow that it was a failure?
New Speaker: 00:43:32 I think that it's not nothing to have passed impeachment in the House. I think that that is an important and bold step that is necessary and justified for us to take, even if just in the house. I also think that there's a lot that we can speculate about what it would look like at that point in time. I think that, you know, anything could happen. I know that it might seem ridiculous to think of right now considering the political conditions. I also think of various scenarios in which the Republican Party does jump ship on Trump if he seems like he is a sinking ship. Who knows? But even in all that different speculation, I think that in that scenario that it's not nothing and it's an important check that we can and should make and I do think it would hurt his political capital both in the US and around the world. That's an important stand for us to take to say that these are not actions that we're going to tolerate and that we're actually for what is acceptable for those who serve in the highest office in this country. And it is an important and powerful check on him and that it's us contesting for, yeah, setting a standard for what our government and those who are in office can get away with. And so I think that like that is something worth pursuing and doing. It would be powerful enough even just on its own. I think that there's a way in which again are the culture of politics in the US for us that like we like want things to be like verified.
Alexandra: 00:45:03 We want to give like a blue checkmark on things like we already know there's lots of legal scholars who are trying to use their legal authority to confirm the things that we can already judge and know on our own, which is that Trump has committed impeachable offenses. Like John Bonifaz with Free Speech for People. They're like trying to use their authority that way because so many of us in the public are like, well like I feel like we need something more official like there's ways in which we're continuously disempowered and told that we don't know enough or that you don't understand that we need someone else to like grant us something kind of like official confirmation. And I think that for many members of the public, it would instill a sense of confirmation and belief and some level of justice even just a little bit to say that our representatives who are elected to represent us and protect the people of this country in the the US House Representatives have voted for it to impeach Donald Trump, have passed articles of impeachment, that that would be a powerful confirmation and an important check. And I think that it would be politically harmful for Trump both in the United States and also around the world.
Andrea: 00:46:12 And in terms of supporters for impeachment people that get it inside Congress, who are those people?
Alexandra: 00:46:20 We've most closely worked with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib from Michigan who has been unafraid and unapologetic, took to call out Trump for what he is, which is corrupt, a criminal and a racist. And she has called for impeachment during her campaign in 2018 and has made that part of her mandate of what she's fighting for as a sitting representative now and just last week introduced to her resolution to begin impeachment proceedings and she was joined by Congressman Al Green from Texas in introducing that resolution. I think that we're going to be seeing more members of Congress join on as cosponsors in the coming weeks and maybe months. And also there's no guarantees. Look, they're only going to do that if you forced them to.
Alexandra: 00:47:04 I think that many of our elected officials have showed us a deep lack of courage and that they're only going to do what's right or what we've elected them to do if we force them to do it and that we put real pressure on them and that there are some that I think that Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has received a lot of backlash both internally to the Democratic Party from leadership and also became then a target from the far right of her being bold on the impeachment accountability. And who has unwavered in her commitment to do the right thing. And so we have people like her who are willing to do that. And I think there's agitation for all of us that we need to, to have her back especially as one of the only Muslim women that sit in Congress.
Alexandra: 00:47:50 And so much of the backlash that she has received has absolutely been fueled by racism and Islamophobia and sexism that it can't just be those who are most vulnerable, who are taking the most amount of leadership right now, who are showing the most amount of political courage. And I think that that's an agitation and call for all of us to join them in that. And so we have the people like Congresswoman Tlaib who are willing to do that and there's a whole bunch of other folks who are going to be unwilling to do that and risk the political calculations that might have some backlash early on unless we force them to. And so I think that the resolution has not been introduced. There have been previous articles of impeachment that have been introduced by other members of Congress in the last two years. Although those have been mostly symbolic as far as what the process actually looks like for impeachment. Those have been symbolic and also an important stance. And that this resolution is actually, if and when it's passed, is actually the beginning to actually start what impeachment proceedings actually really look like. And so right now we as a grassroots campaign are rallying around the resolution from C Congresswoman Tlaib and trying to spark external pressure and outside heat in the streets to members of Congress to cosponsor and support the resolution and ultimately to support impeachment.
Andrea: 00:49:05 And what do you think about this comment that we often hear that Nancy Pelosi is playing greedy chess, that Nancy Pelosi must have some bigger strategy in place for why she isn't calling for impeachment.
Alexandra: 00:49:18 What we've been saying since the beginning of this campaign is that the reason why Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses and both parties, both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are putting political calculations over doing what's right. Both of them are choosing party over country, right? The leadership of both parties. And we're calling on both of them. I actually appreciate one of the things Congresswoman Tlaib says where she says that, you know, if it was a Democrat doing these things I would be doing the same exact thing and I believe that when she says it. And I think how a lot of us who've been rallying around this also feel that if someone in an administration are going to commit these acts of violence and violations of the very fabric of our democracy, then we need to respond with the appropriate response of calls for impeachment. And so I think that why we aren't seeing that as putting political calculations over, doing the right thing. And I don't think that Nancy Pelosi has some grand plan. I think that she really does believe that it's too much of a political risk and has a pretty short sighted vision about what's actually at stake in American politics and is really focused on 2020 and I think that she really believes those things and I think it's ultimately misguided and quite frankly insulting considering what it's actually looked like of the violations that this administration has done of children in cages and emboldened white supremacists murdering you know Heather Heyer in Charlottesville and Donald Trump responding back and saying that there's very fine people on both sides, essentially calling Nazis, very fine people. So much of of those of the American public who've experienced the breadth of what this administration has meant, it's really, really insulting to just sit there and rather put short term political calculations that are ultimately I think miscalculated above what's the right thing to do and I appreciate it, I think you also have said this many times as well. No one's going to save us. Robert Mueller is not going to save us.
Alexandra: 00:51:13 Nancy Pelosi is not going to save us. There is nothing that's going to save us right now. The only thing that can save us is ourselves. And that really what's called we're right now in this moment is for us to come together and take responsibility for our country, take responsibilities for the future of what our country is going to look like. And that means I think that right now that we need to come together to stop and remove this administration. You know, when time and again throughout the history of this country and the history of the world, we've seen that like when the people really lead, our politicians will have to follow. And so instead of looking to them for validation or for permission, I think that we need to look to one another and say that we're going to do something about this.
Andrea: 00:51:56 And I agree, the only power we have left now is grassroots power. And even Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, we can't just sit back and wait for her to save us. We need to protect our protectors for backup and build a progressive infrastructure across the US using Howard Dean's brilliant 50 state strategy that got Obama elected. So it's like we need to stop self sabotaging with this savior syndrome. Mueller is not going to save us. AOC is not going to save us. Pelosi is not going to save us. It's up to us to save ourselves. And if you love AOC, we need to make her the future of our party. We need to make her the future of our politics period. And everyone in the far right sees her for what she is, which she's a threat to the Republican far right establishment. She's a threat to the democratic establishment. And because she's a threat, they're going to be coming after her and at the end of the day she's a human being. She's not a superhero. She's a human being. And so she cannot do this alone. She cannot do this without us. She needs a grassroots army. She needs a progressive infrastructure in every single state across this union. And so that is the only power we have left. And we cannot wait for people to just save us. And to your point, Nancy Pelosi's calculation, no, there is no 3D chess. There is simply not. There's been this history of failure of our institutions betraying us.
Andrea: 00:53:26 The Obama administration not holding anyone accountable or the Wall Street crash bailing out the banks instead and now they're back in their same gambling den that could put our global economy at risk again because of the slap on the wrist and very minimal regulations that were passed in response to that. And Nancy Pelosi, Nancy Pelosi, herself, Pelosi herself was saying that people want me to call for impeachment of Trump just like they wanted me to call for impeachment of George W. Bush and Iraq. Well, you should have called for impeachment of W Bush in Iraq. He dragged us into war, deliberately over lies. He made Colin Powell go address the UN based on lies that was a blatant drummed up war to feed the military industrial complex to be Dick Cheney's Halliburton, all of it, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were murdered and hundreds of thousands of more were traumatized by what George W. Bush did. And that opened up a Pandora's box, which gave birth to ISIS which tied the hands of Obama who came after him, who had us prioritize fighting ISIS at a time when the Kremlin aggression was reemerging.
Andrea: 00:54:35 Okay. So it's like, yes, Nancy Pelosi like stop bragging about the fact that you did not hold war criminal George W. Bush accountable as any sort of precedent for why you shouldn't hold Russian mafia asset Donald Trump accountable. It just makes no sense. So Nancy Pelosi on this whole issue of impeachment has been producing one self own after another and it's so easy to fact check. It's so easy to ungaslight. It's so sad that we have to not only work in the grassroots to expose this arguably the most corrupt White House in our history, but also we have to organize against the side giving away power and the gas lighting in our own party. It's really sad that we have to fight on these two fronts. And the thing that Sarah and I talk about is we feel more betrayed when it's the people who were supposed to be protecting us, who don't. We expect the worst from Trump and his family. It cuts so much deeper when Nancy Pelosi turns her back on us based on shallow, thin positions that are easily fact checked and exposed. I want to ask Tom Steyer, he is this incredibly prominent advocates for holding Trump accountable and he has launched his own impeachment initiative. Are you at all in touch with Tom Steyer's group? He was the founder of NextGen America and Need to Impeach.
Alexandra: 00:56:06 Yeah. From the beginning we've been really clear. We don't think it's really going to be necessary in order for this fight to be a winnable one, there’s going to be lots of different groups who are throwing down in lots of different ways. We have a different strategy then Need to Impeach, Tom Steyer's effort around impeachment. They’re more so focused on some of the inside game of politics in some ways, which is around like traditional lobbying. And I think that he's played a pretty big role in the Democratic Party for quite a few years and is leveraging his power, influenced and relationships internally because he's very dedicated and thinks that Donald Trump needs to get impeached. And so I think that the work that they're doing around that is ultimately good. I'm glad that you know, he's a part of this fight. Our group is definitely holding down a different piece, which was a little bit more confrontational and it's really holding down actually the part of the American public that we think we actually need to be out in public taking action in a pretty bold and confrontational way. And that what's also going to be necessary for this fight to be winnable and for people, for our different members of Congress to do their job is going to be direct pressure from us that is like out in public and visible.
Alexandra: 00:57:30 And so we kind of hold a different role in the ecology compared to Tom Steyer's group Need to Impeach. But I think that it's good that that he is using the capital that he has in order to try and make this fight winnable.
Andrea: 00:57:45 So there is a loosely based coalition around this that loosely coordinates what the other groups are doing.
Alexandra: 00:57:54 Yeah, it's pretty recent. I mean lots of different progressive groups have been in conversation and in coordination the last couple of years around the Mueller report, there's actually like a very robust coordination around like almost, I feel like every big progressive group around the Mueller report and as they're preparing for this moment right now, but their demand is really central on accountability and transparency. But the groups are active in calling for impeachment. I think that in some ways we've been inviting the other groups to join us in taking a stand and hope that many other groups do.
Alexandra: 00:58:31 And also I think that some of the hesitancy that we see from members of Congress and in particular Democrats who haven't taken a stand around impeachment. We've also seen that with some of the progressive institutions and groups of the same fears and political calculations. And so instead focused on calls for transparency. There's a small but actually growing number of groups who are calling for impeachment. We've been in coordination and conversation to some extent that's growing as the number of groups are finally calling for impeachment are growing.
Andrea: 00:59:05 And where does MoveOn stand in this? Because they are excellent at sort firing up demonstrations and getting things going.
Alexandra: 00:59:15 Yeah. MoveOn does have a stance in support of impeachment, although they're not actively around that. They’ve had a stance for a couple of years now that they support impeaching Donald Trump. But, um, it's a passive support. So it's not something that they are organizing or are actively directing their members to take action on and have instead really been focusing in leading in a lot of ways the fight around getting the Mueller report to be public, which I do think is important, but as us you don't think that the Mueller report, we already know enough that Donald Trump has committed offenses. We don't need that in order to begin impeachment proceedings. And so MoveOn has been really focused on transparency and getting the report public. I hope that when, if and when that happens or if and when the movement for impeachment grows and reaches a critical point that we'll see all of those groups including MoveOn really join us and throwing down in a big way around impeachment.
Andrea: 01:00:17 Okay great. And you're just mind blowing me cause there's also Democrats like the former Obama White House lawyer, Greg Craig, who got caught through the Mueller probe in providing false statements in that investigation for his part in coordinating with Kremlin forces in Ukraine. And then you have of course, Tad Devine, Bernie's chief strategist, who's worked with Manafort, for Yanukovych and communicating with Kilimnik, communicating with Yanukovych's team, even after Russia had annexed Crimea and it was very clear for anybody paying attention that Yanukovych, which was a puppet of the Kremlin. It unites both parties. It's like we need to flush out the corruption, people who think it's okay to take blood money in their work. We need to flush all of that out and sunlight is the best disinfectant and that's why impeachment hearings are not a Democrat issue, not a Republican issue, they're an American issue and, and they’re a constitutional issues and they're required. And so I really love what you're doing and we will continue to some people to your site. Tell us what are the, what are the steps it, how should people get involved?
Alexandra: 01:01:36 Definitely, if you go to our website bytheppl.us, sign up, we'll invite you to join a Webinar, which will give an orientation training for everyone to join this fight and then we'll direct you to a local action team. I think that a lot of what it's going to look like for us to really engage in a successful way in this fight is going to be having to organize locally within our communities and in a coordinated way across the country that we need people in every part of the country, rural areas, urban areas, blue, red, purple states to be organizing locally. And a big part of what we're offering and want to be in relationship with folks around this is to join us and to be supported and trained on how to do that. So when you sign up, you'll get an invitation to join one of our webinars and we'll share with you more in detail about the strategy and the direct ways in which we can start to organize locally in your community. And in the coming weeks we're going to be actually making probably next week, a big announcement around a coordinated national day of action. It's going to be coming up around really demanding that Congress stop waiting and take action now around impeachment, in order to put pressure on them. So sign up online and we're excited to have you be part of this fight with us.
Andrea: 01:02:49 That's fantastic. And when is that day of action?
Alexandra: 01:02:52 We're actually locking in the dates around it. Unfortunately I don't have the date quite yet, but I will definitely let you all know as soon as we decide. As long as you sign up, you'll be the first to find out.
Andrea: 01:03:03 Okay, fantastic. Well thank you so much for all the work that you do and continue to keep us updated. We're really, really grateful because we know that saving the world is a grind. Fending off authoritarianism is a grind and you are doing the all important grind and we're so grateful for that.
Alexandra: 01:03:21 Thank you so, so much. I really appreciate the work that you all doing here. Yeah. Thank you for having me.
Andrea: 01:03:28 Gaslit Nation is produced by Andrea Chalupa and Sarah Kendzior. If you like what we do, leave us a review on iTunes. It helps us reach more listeners and check out our Patreon. It helps keep us going. Our editor for this was Karlyn Daigle. Original music in Gaslit Nation is produced by David Whitehead, Martin Visenberg, Nick Farr, Damian Arriaga and Karlyn Daigle. Our phenomenal logo was designed by the genius that is Hamish Smith at the New York based design firm Order. Thank you so much Hamish. Gaslit Nation would like to thank our supporters at the producer level on Patreon. Allen Lew, Page Harrington, Adam Levine, Alexandria Elaine Detweiler, David Porter, A.W. Nicholson, Lena De Guzman. Jared Lombardo, Jason Bainbridge, Jody Dewitt, John Ripley, Kate Cotton. Kelly Ranson. Kevin M Garnette, Lorene W Todd, Phyllis Schroeder, Stephanie Brant, MD. Terry Brady, Zachary Lemon, Anne Marshall, Atila Malsby, Brian Tejuden, Carolyn Friend, Catherine Anderson Carina, Cathy Cavenaugh, Karina Guardia, Ethan Mann. Jason Rita, Jennifer Slavic, Yans Astrop Gudmunsen, John Danverough. John Keane, Kenshiro Nakagawa, Kevin Christie, Kim Mellon, Christy Vetol, Lawrence Graham, Luke Stranded, Margaret Mo, Matthew Copeland, Marine Murphy, Michelle Dash, Mike Beat Matheran, Mike Trimaco, Rhonda White, Rich Cross. Sonja Bogdanovic, Ted Gary Mitchell, Thomas Burns, Victoria Olsen, and Zach Brandauer. Thank you all so much for your help. We could not make this show without you.