December 22, 2019
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Madam Speaker:
I wrote you this past Tuesday to protest in the strongest possible terms the partisan impeachment charade you and your Democrat conspirators were about to perpetrate in the House of Representatives. Nevertheless, you persisted. I have now joined Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton in the ranks of impeachment infamy.
Now I would like to warn you not only about what is going to transpire, but why.
In a nutshell, I will be acquitted by the United States Senate. I would not be surprised if my GOP allies were unanimous in my exoneration. And while the Republicans on Capitol Hill will not abandon me, the ardor of my most fervent supporters will only be increased by my persecution. Seeing my victimhood as theirs, my MAGA base will turn out in massive numbers on Election Day 2020. All the while, the national media will predictably publish “both sides do it” stories with titles like “GOP, Dems Disagree on Merits of Impeachment Case” and “Impeachment’s Impact on the 2020 Horse Race” and “Claiming ‘He’s Like Us,’ Working Class Whites Vow to Support Trump ‘to the End.’”
Why am I so confident about this course of events? Why am I so certain that elected Republicans in Washington and across the nation will never turn their backs on me? Simply because they will pay no political price for doing so.
There will be no price to be paid because we Republicans have already successfully rigged the system. The GOP now has the United States trapped in an unbreakable “Iron Triangle.” Republican media, Republican voter suppression and unlimited Republican campaign cash together create an impregnable cage from which the objective truth and the will of the people are powerless to escape.
To be sure, by any objective standard I am guilty of the charges compiled against me. As the evidence contained in the House Impeachment Report overwhelmingly confirmed, I abused my power as president of the United States by illegally soliciting election interference from a foreign power and attempting to bribe that country’s leadership by withholding military aid appropriated by Congress. You don’t have to take Adam Schiff’s word for it; take mine. I confessed as much—twice. “The conversation I had [with Ukrainian President Zelensky] was largely congratulatory,” I explained on Sept. 22, adding, “It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to [sic] the corruption already in the Ukraine.” On Oct. 3, I asked Beijing to join Kyiv in investigating my likely 2020 opponent when I proclaimed, “China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.” My chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was speaking for me when he told the American people:
“We do that all the time with foreign policy,” he said when it was pointed out that he appeared to be describing a quid pro quo. He added: "I have news for everybody: Get over it.”
While a mountain of evidence proves my guilt of abuse of power as asserted in Article I, my obstruction of Congress as charged in Article II is self-evident. Obviously, I defied legal subpoenas to produce documents for and administrative officials to testify before congressional committees. While a federal judge may have rejected my claim that as president “absolute immunity” allows to prevent current and former administration officials from testifying, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has no issue with it. Neither he nor my leading Republican defenders like Senator Lindsey Graham want to hear from John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney or a long list of other White House figures because they have the confidence to admit they are not going to be impartial jurors in the Senate as required by the Constitution.
Madame Speaker, Senator McConnell, Senator Graham and I are doing these things because as Republicans we can. The vast majority of Republicans know they won’t face blowback from our voters. And unless authentic video surfaces showing me and Vice President Pence making sweet love, neither will I.
That is the power of the Iron Triangle.
1. Vote Suppression: We Win, You Lose.
When I say “our voters,” I mean it. Polling may show public support for my impeachment and removal from office and for key witnesses to be called during the Senate trial, but that will not be the public that goes to the polls on November 3, 2020. Over the past two decades, the GOP has seen to that.
Just recall the stories from this past week alone. In Wisconsin, which I won in 2016 by just 23,000 ballots in 2016, a judge ordered that the state must purge 200,000 voters from the rolls, with the vast majority in Democratic districts. In Georgia, the number was 300,000, reducing the pool of registered voters from 7.4 million to 7.1 million overnight.
In recent years, the GOP has been waging a largely successful campaign of voter suppression across the United States. Republicans have used a growing array of tactics to erect an increasingly robust set of barriers to ensure that the votes of lower-income and minority Americans (which is to say, Democrats) are not counted. Nationwide, we have disenfranchised millions of voters, not just in traditionally red states like Texas and Indiana, but in toss-up battlegrounds like Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. And we did it all by propagating the myth of vote fraud. And it is a myth. “Studies regularly conclude that fraud is exceedingly rare; a New York Times survey of 49 state election offices after the 2016 general election found no allegations of widespread fraud, and no fraud claims at all in 26 states.” As the Brennan Center for Justice reported last year:
Ahead of upcoming midterm elections, a new Brennan Center investigation has examined data for more than 6,600 jurisdictions that report purge rates to the Election Assistance Commission and calculated purge rates for 49 states.
We found that between 2014 and 2016, states removed almost 16 million voters from the rolls.
Think of all the ways the GOP immunizes itself from voters’ accountability in so many states. Thanks to barriers to registration, voter identification laws, disenfranchisement of felons (and even millions of registered voters), curbs on union fundraising, frequent redistricting, closing polling places and limiting voting days and hours, jaw-dropping gerrymandering and myriad other tactics of vote suppression, Republicans have manufactured a virtual lock on the House seats the GOP holds today. For the most part, GOP members of Congress fear only their primaries, not general elections. Madame Speaker, in 2018 you already won whatever GOP seats were there to be lost. You won’t be so lucky 2020.
And in all of this we have been ably assisted by the Supreme Court under the wise leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts. In 2008, the court upheld Indiana’s voter identification law. In 2013, Chief Justice Roberts realized his lifelong dream of gutting the Voting Rights Act, overturning the pre-clearance provisions that barred southern states from perpetuating the worst disenfranchisement measures of the Jim Crow era. And it was only in July that Justice Roberts ruled that federal courts have no role in evaluating partisan gerrymandering by the states.
One man, one vote … one big joke.
2. Unlimited Money in Politics: More Money Means More Power for Republicans
When Republicans aren’t rigging who gets to vote when and in which states, we’re fixing the rules regarding whose voice gets heard, how loudly, and how often. The GOP has long had a cash advantage over you Democrats. But here, too, the Supreme Court has long been our side.
While the conservative post-Civil War Supreme Court frequently ruled that the 14th Amendment’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of law didn’t apply to actual humans, corporations were another matter altogether. It was the 1886 case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. which established the principal that “corporations are people,” my friend. In 1976, Buckley v. Valeo elevated “money equals speech” to a constitutional standard by proclaiming “that limiting political spending improperly restricts speech because it restricts the quantity of expression.” The Citizens United decision in 2010 took the next major step, concluding not just that political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, but the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections.
Now, corporations and the wealthy have usually ensured that Republican candidates and conservative causes enjoy a large cash advantage over our foes on the Left. Nevertheless, big labor unions—most them representing public sector employers—could still raise substantial amounts of money to counter corporate advocacy. Until, that is, the 2018 case of Janus v. AFSCME. Nonunion workers can no longer be forced to pay so-called agency fees to fund the work of public sector unions. Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion overturned 42 years of precedent to make sure public sector unions would lose members and cash in their fight against corporate political power. (While the top 10 public employee unions lost around 310,000 of the so-called “fair share payers” within a year of the Janus ruling, many had been able to maintain their money on hand through successful new membership drives.) As I tweeted on June 27, 2018:
Supreme Court rules in favor of non-union workers who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!
That loss is good news for me. After all, my $368 million campaign got outspent by Hillary Clinton’s ($768 million) by a two-to-one margin in 2016. (That was more than offset by my huge advantage in free media coverage, estimated by OpenSecrets at $5.9 billion versus $2.8 billion for Crooked Hillary. And in 2018, Republicans even got outspent by Democrats in a midterm election that cost a staggering $5.7 billion, compared to just $3.8 billion in 2014. But in 2020, everything will be different. As in 2014, Super PACs and dark money will be with the Republicans. By this October, various Trump committees had already spent $531 million toward the 2020 election, compared to just $63 million by May 2016. As the Washington Post described it two months ago:
Now, Trump has a roaring reelection apparatus. There are six main committees working to secure his second term, including the official campaign, the Republican National Committee and a super PAC. Together, they have already raised over $736 million — more than any previous presidential candidate at this point in the campaign.
In 2016, I ran against the Republican Party establishment. Now, I am the Republican Party. It’s no wonder, Madame Speaker, Politico warned, “Democrats shudder at Trump’s money machine.” You should be afraid, too. Very afraid.
3. Media Self-Selection Means There Is No Objective Truth
The GOP’s vote suppression operation and its money machine are two of the necessary conditions to beating back the objective truth of my abuses of power. Necessary, that is, but not sufficient. For that, Americans need to choose for themselves which sources of news they’ll turn to—and believe. And when that happens, as it has been for some time, the very notion of objective truth is no longer operative.
Think back to August 2018. Everyone made fun of my personal attorney, America’s mayor and greatest crime fighter Rudy Giuliani when he explained to Meet the Press host Chuck Todd why I would not testify before special counsel Robert Mueller.
GIULIANI: And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth ...
TODD: Truth is truth. I don’t mean to go like ―
GIULIANI: No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth.
Todd mocked Rudy by saying, “This is going to be a bad meme.” But Rudy was on to something. He knows what I know, which is something most of the American media and most Democrats apparently do not know: This is not 1974 and I am not Richard Nixon. For all intents and purposes, in American politics there is no longer such a thing as “objective truth.” By now, it should be no mystery as to why.
In the 1970s, the U.S. media landscape largely consisted of three national news networks and a handful of newspapers of record. CBS News’ Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America. With Chet Huntley and David Brinkley of NBC News, and Frank Reynold and Howard K. Smith of ABC News, the three evening news broadcasts delivered the truth—one truth—through Americans’ television screens every night. Run as loss-leaders and governed by the Fairness Doctrine, network news broadcasts were viewed by their owners as a public trust. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Baltimore Sun brought it to their front doors every morning. Richard Nixon’s fall was certain only when a national consensus over the sheer weight of his crimes became an irresistible force in the late spring of 1974.
But that was before Rush Limbaugh and right-wing radio, the internet, social media, and cable news. As Watergate figure John Dean recently put it:
“Nixon might have survived if he had Fox News and the conservative media that exists today.”
Well, I do have Fox News. And I have Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, too. And that doesn’t just mean, as the failing New York Times put it last month, “No one believes anything.” And as the Pew Research Center found in 2018, “Republicans and Democrats agree: They can’t agree on basic facts.”
About eight-in-ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (81%) say Republican and Democratic voters disagree on basic facts of issues. A similar – albeit slightly smaller – share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (76%) say the same. Just 18% of Republicans and 23% of Democrats say that voters of the two parties can agree on basic facts even if they disagree over policies and plans.
Think about that. The entire American intelligence community is in agreement that Russia intervened in the 2016 election with the purpose of aiding me at the expense of Hillary Clinton. Even the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee led by Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina concurred with that assessment. Nevertheless, I have repeatedly told the American people, most famously on a stage in Helsinki, Finland, that I had no reason to doubt the disavowals of President Vladimir Putin. And just one day after National Security Council Ukraine expert Fiona Hill authoritatively rejected the “fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” I still told Fox & Friends, “A lot of it had to do, they say, with Ukraine.”
John Dean was right. Chris Wallace of Fox News asked Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, “Who do you believe was responsible for hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign computers, their emails— was it Russia, or Ukraine?” Kennedy’s response? “I don’t know. Nor do you. Nor do any of us.” The very same Richard Burr, whose own committee looked into and rejected allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, regurgitated my long-debunked talking point.
"Every elected official in the Ukraine was for Hillary Clinton. Is that very different than the Russians being for Donald Trump?"
Now, you know that’s not true and so do Sens. Kennedy and Burr. But thanks to the Fox effect, lots of Americans believe my “Ukraine did it” hoax. A FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos survey released in early December showed that only 30% believed Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, while some 71% believed Russia did so. But as FiveThirtyEight also explained:
There is one group, though, where a substantial chunk of respondents do believe Ukraine interfered in 2016: Fox News viewers. More than 4 in 10 respondents who say they predominantly watch Fox News say that Ukraine did interfere in the 2016 election, a higher share than among respondents who get their news from other networks. Fox News viewers were also less likely than other respondents to believe that Russia interfered with the last presidential election.
By now, no one should be surprised by that finding. After all, Pew found that during the 2016 election 40% of my supporters said Fox News was their “main news source” compared to only 3% for Hillary’s voters and 19% overall. While online news sources are now number one for Americans under age 50, TV is still the dominant source for those over 50 (and especially over 65). These findings were in keeping with those a 2014 Pew survey which found that 47% of conservatives are “tightly clustered” around one news source—Fox News—and are “more likely like to hear political opinions similar to their own on Facebook.” In stark contrast, liberals turned to a diversity of sources (CNN 15%, NPR 13%, MSNBC 12%, and New York Times 10%). And that’s not all. While liberals said they trusted more than they distrusted 28 of 36 news sources listed for them, among consistent conservatives, by contrast, there are 24 sources that draw more distrust than trust.
By May 2017, these different preferences resulted a shocking change in how American viewed “the watchdog role of the media.” After nearly identical three-quarters majorities of each party supported that watchdog role in February of Barack Obama’s last year in office, within a little over a year a staggering gap of 47 points had emerged:
Today, in the early days of the Trump administration, roughly nine-in-ten Democrats (89%) say news media criticism keeps leaders in line (sometimes called the news media’s “watchdog role”), while only about four-in-ten Republicans (42%) say the same.
Taken together, what does this mean for my future and yours, Madame Speaker?
For starters, it means that Kellyanne Conway was right: In American politics, for all intents and purposes, there are “alternate facts.” It means that a fair number of my supporters believe that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election. When Tucker Carlson earlier this month that “I think we should probably take the side of Russia if we have to choose between Russia and Ukraine,” polling showed that some 45% of Republicans agreed with him. Other polling shows a similar impact within the U.S. military, 46% said they viewed Russia as ally! Then again, in 2016—five years after he released his long-form birth certificate—72% of Republicans surveyed doubted that Barack Obama was a U.S. citizen. At the end of the day, Republicans in Congress know they will be rewarded for extremism and punished for moderation.
So, buckle up, Madame Speaker. As the Senate takes up the matter of my removal from office, I can guarantee you there will be no replay of Fred Thompson asking Alexander Butterfield, “Are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?” The American people will not be treated to a 21st century version of a Senator Howard Baker pondering “what did the president know and when did he know it?” And if you’re wondering when a reincarnated Republican Senator Barry Goldwater will make the journey to the White House to tell me my defense is “hopeless,” here’s my answer.
Never. Republicans are not afraid of paying any price with the electorate. They, like me, are protected by the New Iron Triangle*. Our money, our voter manipulation, and our media simply won’t allow it.
See you in November.
* I say “New Iron Triangle” because American political analysts have an older one. Among others, Theodore Lowi in his 1969 book The End of Liberalism described how the revolving door between special interest groups, congressional oversight committees, and executive branch agencies leads federal bureaucracies to produce public policy outcomes at odds with the will of the voters.