the Shadow Cabinet

I. “HOW DOES THIS END?” Trump on the Edge, July 1, 2017

Mark Green 

Now that Special Counsel Robert MuelIer has charged three Trump aides and 45 tweeted in response “NO COLLUSION!”, it’s worthwhile to step back from the blur of numbing headlines to visualize the most plausible outcomes of the Trump saga.

Norman Mailer called this neither fiction nor factual but “factional” since it’s speculation grounded in reality. So in a political version of ‘Create Your Own Adventure’, here are six likely inflection points based on the story to date…and based on both Trump’s history as well as American history.


1. Will he fire Robert Mueller? November 15, 2017. Trump has a quandry – do nothing and risk Mueller indicting family members/staff or fire him and generate a huge public backlash. “Hell, I’ve taken dozens of risks and my crazy base always sticks with me,” he confidently tells Steve Bannon. So he instructs the ranking DoJ official to fire Mueller for being too chummy with James Comey and having too many Democrats in his Special Counsel office.

Mueller immediately sues for “fraudulent termination” since these are not remotely “good causes” as required by law…and is reinstated a month later after an expedited process by a 6-3 Supreme Court. (Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch dissent: “The doctrine of ‘the unitary executive,’”, they conclude, means that ‘good cause’ is effectively whatever the President says it is.”)  Back to square one – with more indictments expected soon.

Polls favor impeachment by 51% to 38%.


2. Will Trump pardon everyone? December 23, 2017.  “Why the hell not?”, he rhetorically asks his White House Counsel. “I pulled it off with Arpaio plus Ford came back from the Nixon pardon to lose only by a point. And it’s Christmas.”

Late today Trump releases a no-cameras statement: “I am issuing a full and complete pardon covering everyone who have been or may be indicted by Mueller because it’s time this national witch hunt was over so we can get back to making America great. And the tradition that a pardon implies guilt should now end since these are all good people caught up in politics-as-usual. They’ve suffered enough.”

He includes himself in the blanket pardon.

There is a huge bi-partisan backlash. “This is not an administration but a junta,” concludes The Nation magazine, as its ideological opposite, the National Review, also dissents. “We cannot in good conscience elevate our agenda over the Rule-of-Law. We’re conservatives, not anarchists.”

This time a 5-4 Supreme Court splits the baby. “The Founders never intended for a President to pardon himself because of the Common Law understanding that no man can be a judge in his own case. As for other family and staff pardoned, we remand to a lower court to determine whether a defendant’s possible criminal conduct includes culpable behavior by the President.” His polls now fall to 28% favorable.


3. Will impeachment proceedings proceed in the Repuiblican 115thCongress? January 20, 2018. Speaker Paul Ryan publicly announces that “it would be unfair if there were impeachment proceedings contaminating the jury pools in the Special Counsel’s cases.” (Privately, he admits to his chief of staff,  “We’re screwed – can’t live with him or without him. I had to pick my poison.”)


4. If Democrats win the House majority in mid-terms, will he be impeached…and then convicted? November 6, 2018. An anti-Trump wave election elevates the 198 House Democratic Caucus to 230 seats and the majority.  On January 9, Speaker Pelosi announces that the Judiciary Committee under chair Jerry Nadler – a brainy and un-flamboyant House veteran — will initiate impeachment proceedings. After four weeks of revealing hearings, the panel votes 24-17 – and the full House later concurs 250-188 – to charge Trump with three Articles of Impeachment:

According to Chairman Nadler: “First, it’s beyond doubt that Trump did try to ‘Obstruct Justice’ by his own incriminating statements, actions, tweets and pardons – especially the firings of five prosecutors overseeing investigations into him [Bharara, Yates, Comey, Rosenstein, Mueller].”

“Second, he did profit from foreign emoluments by publicizing and maintaining ownership in properties run by his children that kept receiving discretionary benefits from foreign entities. His defense that ‘my sons are brilliant’ wasn’t taken literally by the Committee.”

“Third, it was ‘Dereliction-of-duty- and Abuse-of-power” when his administration failed to do anything significant after Russia interfered with the 2016 election – or even admit that it had; actively sabotaged Obamacare; persisted in undermining respect for major American institutions like the Judiciary and – consistently demeaning the First Amendment — the Media; lying voluminously on major issues; and ignored settled science on global warming, with catastrophic consequences.”

The Senate – which is split 50-50 and has never convicted an impeached president – fails to convict by 62-38 (2/3 being required) as 12 Republicans vote yes due to ”a Niagara of damning evidence,” says Sen. Corker.  Headlines everywhere blare “Pyrrhic Victory.”


5. ”The Terrorists are coming! The terrorists are coming!” January 20, 2019. There’s a horrible ISIS attack at LAX when a suicide bomber blows himself up at a terminal entrance killing 43. Three hours later, Trump commandeers all network and cable news to say: “Enough’s enough! We will not rest until we have won this Third World War. So I am today announcing a new National State of Emergency – as presidents Adams, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman and Bush43 did in their wars. Safety First! America First!”

His “Emergency Declaration” allows for pre-trial detention of up to a year, use of Armed Forces domestically to quell any “disturbances”, and the requirement that state laws possibly affecting immigration get DoJ clearance before enactment.

“He thinks he’s Bruce Willis in Siege,” tweets @NicholsUprising, adding “Political Correctness forbids me to use the words ‘Reichstag Fire.’”

While Trump was prepared, so were the ACLU and ProtectDemocracy, whose lawyers argue, “Commander-in-chief of the armed forces doesn’t mean Commander-in-chief of the Nation. Recall that the Constitution does make an exception for a domestic ‘rebellion,’ like the Civil War. But LAX was not a ‘rebellion’.” David Frum goes on @Lawrence: “The chance of an American being killed by ISIS on home soil is less than being killed by your flat screen TV falling on you. Yet we don’t have States of Emergency for Flat Screen TVs.”

Two weeks later the Supreme Court overturns it. “The so-called State of Emergency executive order is null-and-void,” writes Justice Ginsburg for the 5-4 majority, “because it has no basis in law, in the Constitution or in an actual threat level. As even an originalist reading of the Constitution shows, Americans elected a president, not a monarch.”


6. Run Again in 2020? February 15, 2020. With poll numbers stuck in the high-20s and significantly trailing possible Democratic nominees, Trump’s family pleads with him to bow out gracefully: “Daddy, you’ll always be the 45th president. Walk away before they make you crawl away. Pride should not require a 74 year old man run for re-election.”

The next day Trump appears at a Rose Garden press conference in front of an enlarged map of states that he won in red and that he lost in blue.”

“Look at my landslide last time and the record we’ve created – in jobs, spirit, respect around the world. But given some unexpected health concerns and obligations to my family’s world-wide holdings, I won’t be running in 2020 for reelection. I love this job but don’t need this job.”

Eight months later the ticket of Mike Pence and Nikki Haley – their posters read “America Luuvs Guvs” – lose in an electoral rout, 70 million to 54 million votes and 388 electoral votes to 150. The Senate goes Democratic 53-47 and the House Democratic majority grows from 228 to 240.

The next morning, the President-elect – who ran against ”Corrupt Don” and for “The Best America” — tells a room of delirious Democrats: “Plutocracy posing as patriotism has been decisively rejected.  No more stupid tweets about stupid feuds. We’ve won the American Future! We will…”

II. The Impeachment Papers: A Timeline (as of July 27, 2017)

January 21

#25. “So-called Justices think Terrorism is ok”, says POTUS of SCOTUS. 

January 21, 2019. Two weeks later, after yet another round of expedited proceedings, the Supreme Court overturns Trump’s executive order. “The so-called State of Emergency executive order is null-and-void,” writes Justice Kagan for the 6-3 majority, “because it has no basis in law, in the Constitution or in an actual threat level. Tragic as LAX was, where’s the evidence of a far wider threat? Chicken Little-ism doesn’t become policy merely because a President says so.  Americans elected a president, not a monarch.”

The three dissenters – again justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch – vote to sustain the Executive Order citing the 1920 Palmer Raids, SCOTUS’s 1944 Korematsu decision and citation to a book by historian Newt Gingrich.

As of now, it appears that a judicial branch making decisions based on precedent and facts is proving a far more effective check-and-balance than a Congress paralyzed by party-ology over evidence and pushed by a President who usually makes stuff up.  

January 10

#24. Resignations in Protest.  

January 10, 2019Days later, generals Mattis and McMaster, as well as Tillerson, shock the White House by publicly resigning – the first such high-level resignations-on-principle since Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in 1980. “We have been trained to follow orders,” write the generals in a joint statement, “but cannot in good conscience follow unlawful orders and those that risk needless war. Since our oath pledged to uphold the Constitution and not a particular president, we must choose resignation. We cannot continue as silent accomplices.”


In response, WH spokesperson Kellyanne Conway tells Fox & Friends, “The big news here of course is the very big majority of all the Cabinet secretaries who chose NOT to resign. While we respect the history of service of both men, they have apparently forgotten the idea of civilian control of the military. There are plenty of generals but only one Donald Trump who has the big picture in his head.”

January 9

#23. State of Emergency II.

January 9, 2019. While Trump was prepared, so were the ACLU and ProtectDemocracy, whose lawyers immediate seek an injunction to stop “nothing short of a coup against the Constitution. The Bill of Rights may have been added later but they ARE in the Constitution. Commander-in-chief of the armed forces doesn’t mean Commander-in-chief of the Nation. Recall that the Constitution does make an exception for a ‘rebellion,’ like the Civil War. This is not a Civil War.”

David Frum goes on @Lawrence: “ISIS is a threat but the chance of an American being killed on home soil is less than being killed by your flat screen TV falling on you. Yet we don’t have States of Emergency for Flat Screen TVs. If Trump keeps this up, he’ll make the 2006 satire Idiocracy seem like a documentary.”

January 7

© Peter Kuper
Instagram: kuperart


January 5

January 4

#22. “A State of Emergency now exists. ”

January 4, 2019. There is a coordinated attack by ISIS at LAX when a suicide bomber blows himself up at a terminal entrance killing 23 Americans and a passenger on an arriving flight from the UK at that same time tries to detonate a bomb from material in his laptop…but passengers subdue him first. President Trump learns about it from Fox News during his afternoon cable show time. He calls Bannon and says, “It’s time for The Plan.”


“Enough’s enough!”, he reads with brio from his teleprompter in a live 6p broadcast on all TV networks and channels. “We will not rest until we have won this Third World War. So I am today announcing a new National State of Emergency – as presidents Adams, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman and Bush43 did in their wars — where we must pause some liberties for essential security. Safety First! America First!”


The Exec Order allows for mass preventive detention for up to 6 months, a “temporary” federal takeover of so-called sanctuary cities and pre-clearance of all state laws “that may potentially conflict with federal immigration policies or procedures.”
December 15

#21. The Missiles of December.

December 15, 2018. Having lost the mid-terms,Trump retreats to what critics call his “Reichstag Fire” option to escape from the polling basement: he meets with his family to discuss a secret chemical arms plant near the major Syrian airport and asks, “Time for preemptive strike to avoid more dead babies?” All agree.


He tells Mattis to conduct a strike and doesn’t care when his Defense Secretary worries about such an action without some overt act or provocation. “Just do itso long as it’s at night when the visuals are best.”


While Kelly/Mattis/McMaster/Tillerson are uncomfortable, they agree that at least it provides Trump the political space to keep re-certifying the Iranian Nuclear Deal.A total of 89 are launched the next evening. The Russians protest, 45 puts on a flak jacket to speak to troops on the Intrepid, his polls rise 3 points, then fall back to 30% five days later. After 16 years of war in the Middle East, the public appears to shrug,  “been-there-done-that.”
November 6

#20. Election Day, 2018

November 6, 2018With Trump still stuck at about 30% after the indictments & pardons –and the generic House ballot showing a steady 12 point Dem advantage — Republicans keep their game face on throughout afternoon TV interviews. Off-camera, one mutters to a Democratic colleague as they exit a studio, “Thanks Donald Junior.” His colleague replies; “Junior? You guys nominated and elected Trump, so this is on YOU.”


At 11:37p, MSNBC’s Steve Kornecki announces that, based on all results tabulated, “the Democrats will be the majority Party in the 116th Congress with some 228 Members, a swing of 34 seats and a 10 seat margin.” Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell acknowledges two seats lost, giving the GOP still a 50-50 majority due to VP Pence’s tie-breaking vote.


A frustrated McConnell aide anonymously unloads to NYT reporter @GlennThrush, “It’s amazing we kept the majority despite a shallow bully who cares more about tweets than laws.”
October 28

#19. The rule of law is “winning.”

October 28, 2018. Adding to White House pre-election angst is the Court of Appeals ruling that the AGs of Maryland and D. C. plaintiffs in their Emoluments case had a right to obtain his long-hidden tax returns (which Mueller already has received though hasn’t released).  Now they’re disclosed, showing numerous instances of tax evasion and a total of $300 million in loans still owed to Russian banks.

”If he had released this in the campaign as all other nominees in modern history did,” concludes @DavidCayJ, Pulitzer-Prize winning author and Trump biographer, “he would have been blown out in 2016. Probably couldn’t have even run. To voters, the details of the Iran-Nuke deal is one thing, being a pirate another.”

October 1

#18. The House GOP refuses to consider Impeachment.  

September 20, 2018. With surveys the public favoring impeachment by 51 to 37%, Speaker Paul Ryan nixes the idea. “The country should now move ahead, not look back in a partisan way.” But @Dr_CMGreer, “Shadow Secretary of Democracy” and Fordham political science professor schools the Speaker, “Constitutional history is clear: impeachment was not only a legal but also a political process, otherwise the Founders would have turned it over to the Supreme Court.”
Congressman John Lewis is less polite: “Let me ask my Republican colleagues: if all the evidence produced by the Special Counsel were about President Hillary Clinton, what would they be saying today? We know the answer based on what they did say when they impeached her husband. The Speaker should be ashamed of himself. Do. Your. Job!”
In fact, Ryan is somewhat ashamed and confides to a close aide that, as a political leader, he has no choice.  “We can’t live with him or without him.  If Trump stays, our party’s brand sinks. If he leaves, so do millions of die-hard Trumpians in our congressional base. We’ve gotta play for time, for doubt, for confusion – and hope for the best.”

The LA Times runs a scathing editorial titled “Paging Howard Baker.” “He was a respected and stalwart Republican who turned against Nixon after hearing the undeniable evidence of the Watergate hearings. Since it’s today’s GOP who nominated and in effect elected Trump, where are the Bakers of today? We thought most Republicans were ‘constitutional conservatives.’”
September 22

#17. Indictments and Pardons

#17. Indictments and Pardons

September 22, 2018. The reinstated Special Counsel moves more quickly than the President anticipated. At a noon press conference before 200 reporters, Mueller announces the indictment of seven Trump associates— Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. — on a variety of charges, including: obstructing of justice, perjury, lying to the FBI, money-laundering, extortion, and violations of the Campaign Finance Law and Computer Privacy Act.

President Trump is not indicted, yet, “because the law is unsettled on whether a sitting president can be criminally charged,” says Mueller. But @JeffToobin writes in The New Yorker, “it would be odd if a sitting President can be sued civilly, as Paula Jones v. Clinton decided, but not a criminal charge on more serious public matters.”

His Mueller gamble having failed, Trump reaches for what he sees as his only available option: pardons for all, including himself, “for any crimes they may be accused of from their service to my White House. They’re all good people caught up in the nasty business of politics. They’ve suffered enough.”

April 7

#16. Trump tells Mueller, “You’re Fired!”

Comey Fired

#16. July 18, 2018. @CostaReports of the Washington Post publishes a bombshell. “Trump feels cornered with only bad options. 1. Allow Mueller to stay and likely indict some of his family. 2. Issue preemptory pardons that’ll inflict real political damage. 3. Do nothing and risk one of his family being convicted and imprisoned. In the words of one White House aide, ‘3 ain’t happening.’”

“Since the House GOP hasn’t broken with me yet, I’m betting they still won’t over Mueller,” he confides to Steve Bannon that morning. Two hours later he orders Deputy AG Rosenstein to fire Mueller; he refuses and is fired himself. Then 45 immediately calls Rachel Brand — next in line of authority — to demand that she do it “because of all the Democrats on Mueller’s staff.” A standard party loyalist, she quickly agrees.

There’s indeed a huge bi-partisan backlash…but Speaker Ryan continues to resist pressure for impeachment, though he says that “firing Mueller is deeply concerning.”

Mueller, however, sues seeking reinstatement for “fraudulent termination.” In a 6-3 Supreme Court decision only a month later, Chief Justice Roberts writes that “This Court concludes that the termination fails because there was no ‘good cause,’ party affiliation of investigators not being one.” Justices Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch dissent: “The doctrine of ‘the unitary executive,’ means that ‘good cause’ is effectively whatever the President says it is.”

Gallup’s daily tracking poll puts Trump’s at 28% after the decision.

January 18

#15: Hack-the-Vote?

January 20, 2018. Reuters reports that the Department of Homeland Security is sitting on a study showing that, in fact, Russian hackers did penetrate the voting machines in 41 congressional districts in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. The leaked document from its Cyber Security Division concludes: “This is not merely hacking into voter registration files but actual voting machines and tallies. We can’t be sure yet if it involves dozens, hundreds or thousands in any location…Will we have to go back to paper ballots to assure electoral integrity?”

President Trump pauses at the eighth hole at his NJ golf club to tweet a response to the Post story. “More malarkey from the Deep State explaining away their traumatic loss. I don’t have to read the whole thing to see Fake News for what it is.”

Responds @BillKristol: “Here we have the greatest invasion of America since Pearl Harbor and the President just keeps golfing. Why is he so weak and feckless about Russian infiltration?” @JoshTPM wonders “how come Russia gets two presidents and we get none? What the hell does Putin have on Trump?”

December 20

#14: “The Refugees are Coming! The Refugees are coming!”

#14: “The Refugees are Coming! The Refugees are coming!”

December 31, 2017. Today @realDonaldTrump tweets about “the horrible shooting to death of two wonderful, great Americans in Wichita by a Muslim yelling ‘Allahu Akbar.’ We must PROTECT OURSELVES!”

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the Bush43 administration arrested some 5000 Muslim Americans…but ended up charging and convicting none with any terror-related crimes.

Lacking such a horrific, galvanizing mass casualty, Trump instead spotlights about every alleged attack by a Muslim in the U.S. “in order to prepare the country for his ‘Wag the Dog moment’”, predicts @Markos (Moulitsas) of the Daily Kos. It turns out that there were apparently seven separate attacks on American soil in the U. S. this past calendar year by Islamic extremists causing 13 deaths vs. 127 deaths by White Nationalist terrorists – not to mention the 33,000 killed by gunfire (murders and suicides). The President has tweeted about those deaths from right-wing terrorists and guns zero times.

Comic by © Peter Kuper
Twitter: @PKuperArtI
Instagram: kuperart

September 1

#13: CAN “It Happen Here”?

#13: CAN “It Happen Here”?

September 1, 2017. For the first time in decades, there is talk of “authoritarianism” separate and apart from infamous fascists in WWII.
Timothy Snyder writes a popular book, On Tyranny, telling CNN that “of 20 traits of tyranny, Trump displays 17 – such as grotesque narcissism, attacks on the media and judiciary, rallies with large numbers of agitated attendees, hints of violence, attacks on foreigners and ‘others”, enrichment of family, lawlessness, disinformation.
Masha Gessen, a highly regarded Russian-born, American journalist and close observer of Putin, writes “The Reichstag Fire Next Time” in Harpers. She tallies up specific anti-democratic actions by Trump, as well as the presence of self-proclaimed “alt-right’ leader Steve Bannon in the WH and 45’s constant praise of dictators (Sisi, Erdogan, Putin, Duterte). She concludes that he may try to stay permanently as president.
Few go that far, although many established publications start including the word “authoritarian” in the context of the 45th president. #ThisIsNotNormal becomes a thing.

On Tyranny Timothy Snyder


The Atlantic: How to Build an Autocracy by David Frum

July 17

#12: Trumpcare RIP

trumpcare RIP

July 27, 2017. Previously, @ShadowingTrump asked, “Can a 17% favored bill based on proven lies opposed by all health groups and pushed by a 37% President elected by Putin get enacted into law?”


Today, as Trumpcare’s “Skinny” version fails 49-51, the answer appears to be “no”.

July 10

#11: Putin and Don Junior, II.

#11: Putin and Don Junior, II.

Team Trump encounters a string of NYTimes articles about a June 3, 2016 email thread documenting that Donald Junior was eager to receive dirt on Clinton even though informed it is “a part of Russia… government’s support for Mr. Trump.” “I love it,” writes the younger Trump. The actual June 9 meeting in Trump Tower, admits Junior, includes him, Kushner, campaign manager Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer…later it’s disclosed that also present was a former Soviet intelligence officer and Russian banker seen by US as a money-launderer.


There is a revulsive public reaction consuming several news cycles, as exemplified by Time magazine’s cover photo of the son with the headline, “RED HANDED.” Do the admitted topics — dirt on Clinton and the U.S. Magnitsky Act (sanctions) – constitute a criminal quid pro quo, asks Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe?


Limbaugh/Hannity et. al. offer versions of nothing-burgerliberal media, Hillary’s done worse, there’s no crime etc*. But Shep Smith on Fox doesn’t play along. “if there’s nothing wrong…why all these mind-boggling lies?” John Oliver asks “when did collusion with the Russians become a partisan issue?”


*[Ed. Note: No need to take the italics literally. Given his audience, Hannity only needs to toss any word salad in a rising voice w/rhetorical Qs knowing that credulous listeners will  retreat to their safe animosities.]



The New Yorker Donald Trump Jr

July 9

#10: Putin & Don Junior, I

#10: Putin & Don Junior, I

July 9-10, 2017.  At the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Trump is asked: “Will you once and for all, yes or no, definitively say that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.” His answer: “Well, I think it was Russia and I think it could’ve been other people and other countries.” The next day, Trump meets Putin for the first time for some three hours of talks in two meetings.


Afterwards, 45 asserts that he twice confronted Putin with questions about hacking and Putin later claims that 45 accepted his denials. The WH reports that Trump-Tillerson decide to “agree-to-disagree” with the Russian leader and move on. Former US Attorney Preet Bharara tweets: “When pursuing a corrupt politician, mobster or murderer on strong FBI evidence, if he ‘vehemently denied it,’ we just dropped it usually.”

July 1

#9: Trump’s personal tweets thrill 1/3 of the country, offend 2/3.

#9: Trump’s personal tweets thrill 1/3 of the country, offend 2/3.

July 1, 2017 Three months ago 45 tweeted that 44 had illegally wiretapped him while at Trump Tower, for which the President is widely rebuked.Todaythe President attacks Mika Brezinski & Joe Scarborough in a repugnant personal tweet and then retweets a WWE tape that suggests violence against CNN. Politico’s Annie Karni says “people who wanted a fighter thought he’d be fighting North Korea, not a morning TV show.”


Trump’s twitter followers balloon to over 33 million.


He also appears this evening at a Faith Rally at the Kennedy Center and brings the crowd of rapturous supporters to its feet. “The ‘fake media’ tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I’m president and they’re not!” Yet fewer people now support him than want to impeach him – by 37% to 46%, according to the Pew poll.

June 20

#8: Backlash Tremors?

June 20, 2017. Trump’s Gallup/AP/CBS poll numbers all fall to 37-38%, lowest in polling history for a president at this point in his term. [Edit. Note: Over the next 12 months, whether he’s enjoyed good pictures from abroad or endured another sensational disclosure, he stays at 36-40% favorable, no more or less – a one-fifth decline from the 46% he won last November.]


Over the past month, right-wing candidates for leadership in Netherlands, France and UK all under-perform based on, say local analysts, negative public perceptions of Trump in America. A Pew Research Center poll says that 64% of people around the world would trust Obama to do the right thing versus 22% for Trump. (In Sweden, it’s 92% for Obama, 10% for Trump.)


If Democrats pick up 24 seats in 2018, they take control of the House. The average loss in a first mid-term election since Reagan is 34 seats.


Make your voice heard! Get the attention of President Razzle Dazzle as he scours Twitter at 6am…