As impeachment looms, Trump turns to his
trusty phalanx of Irish Americans for cover
BY PETER F. STEVENS
Political predictions are all too often a fool’s errand. A month or two ago in this space, I asserted that President Trump would never be impeached, thinking that Democratic spinelessness and GOP fealty to, and fear of, the president would allow the administration of Donald Trump to profess his successful mantra to his cowed or irate foes: What are you —meaning Democratic leaders and many in the media—going to do about it?
Up until now, the Dems’ answer has always been to scream and then hold their breath until they turn blue. Always, just as Trump counted on, the final response was a meek “nothing.
That was until the president’s hubris, narcissism, and belief that he is above any law or Constitutional edict forced the reluctant speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, to act. Donald J. Trump will be impeached by the Democratic-controlled House, and he has no one to blame but himself and the words that came out of his own autocratic-driven mouth during his “perfect” call with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Even the president’s lock-step defenders such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have offered stammering, stumbling, preposterous denials that Donald Trump’s own words are the issue. Instead, they say, the real problem is Joe and Hunter Biden and that it is Trump who is ferreting out corruption.
In truth, it is Trump and his legions of corrupt followers who have crossed the Rubicon/Potomac. The summary – not an actual transcript, as so many partisans and lazy media “experts” claim – of Trump’s strong-arming of Zelensky reads as if had been lifted from the scripts of “The Godfather” and “Goodfellas.” The president, having ordered Mick Mulvaney, his Irish-American lackey and acting chief of staff, to hold back approved military aid to the Ukraine and to lie to Congress about the ploy, then he solicited “a favor” from Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden, his possible rival in the 2020 presidential election. In short, the president violated his oath of office by using the power of that office in a scantily coded extortion scheme with international trappings.
Doubling and tripling down, the president has begun to threaten the “whistleblower” who brought his alleged violations of the presidential oath to light, denouncing the person as a “spy” or a traitor worthy of how “we used to” deal with them, i.e., execution. No one should have any illusions about what the president and his sycophants will do in an attempt to out the whistleblower and bludgeon him into silence out of fear for personal and family safety.
For all that, who will Donald Trump employ to extricate himself from his self-imposed mess? The answer, in large measure, is his Irish-American underlings including Mulvaney, McCarthy, and, for goodness sake, William Barr, the US attorney general.
It’s time to place Barr’s name in the forefront of Trump’s Irish-American Hall of Shame. This personal presidential counsel masquerading as the nation’s attorney general is the son of Mary Margaret Ahern (married name Barr) whose ancestry is that of the old sod. Now, her son is truly Trump’s “Roy Cohn,” laboring daily to buttress Trump’s belief that a president stands above the law and the Constitution and that nothing he or she does can even be investigated.
Barr’s maternal antecedents hailed from a land where the Crown, Westminster, and an Anglo-Irish ascendancy trampled those who dared raise their voices against the powerful. Every day, Barr, McCarthy, and Mulvaney aid and abet a man who is stomping on laws and constitutional, legal, financial, cultural, racial, religious, political, and moral norms. Every day, that sorry Irish-American troika sneers at the words of Daniel O’Connell, “The Liberator,” one of the greatest human-rights leaders Ireland has ever produced: “Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong.”
For Donald Trump and his Irish-American enablers, facts pose the gravest threat to their corruption and the offices they hold so poorly. In 1770, just a few years before the British colonists in North America proclaimed their independence from King George III, a Massachusetts attorney named John Adams risked his reputation and his personal safety to defend the British soldiers charged with murder in the infamous Boston Massacre. At a pivotal juncture of the trial, he said: “I will enlarge no more on the evidence, but submit it to you, gentleman [that] facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence...”
The fact is that Donald Trump did pressure the Ukrainian president to unearth “corruption”—fabricated or not— so he could hang onto the White House next year. The fact is that Trump violated his oath and perhaps the law. Out of his own mouth, he spilled the words that will ensure his impeachment. How do we know that? We know, because the president himself released the excerpts of that explosive phone call. And once again, he said to his opponents: What are you going to do about it? This time, the answer was – an impeachment inquiry. He never expected that.
The president’s acolytes often level the term “Trump Derangement Syndrome” against his critics. For sure, some of those critics truly are blinded by hatred of Donald Trump and anything he says or does. There is, however, another strain of Trump Derangement Syndrome, the one that has infected followers who believe that everything he does can be justified—politically and morally. In the coming months, the nation will learn whether a president impeached by the opposing party’s House but “excused” by his Senate can win reelection.
As is the case with Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton (Nixon resigned before impeachment), the scarlet letter of “I” for impeached could forever stain Donald Trump’s reputation. Another “I” should similarly sully the records and sorry legacies of Mick Mulvaney, Kevin McCarthy, and William Barr—a crimson “I” denoting powerful Irish-Americans who placed a president above their country and their families’ heritages.
Perhaps Daniel O’Connell’s admonition that morality must supersede politics still has some meaning even in a nation and a world as fractured as ours. The looming impeachment proceedings and the 2020 election will reveal the answer to that timeless question.