If You’re Good, You Only Need One: The Al Capone Strategy

By

Leonard Zwelling

One of my great guilty pleasures of all time is the movie The Untouchables by Brian DiPalma, starring Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness. It’s a fictional account of how a small band of government agents fought the Chicago mob and the corrupt Chicago Police Department during Prohibition to bring down the crime king pin Al Capone (a plump Robert De Niro) on tax evasion charges. That was how they got Capone. Not for murder, bribery, extortion, corruption, or bootlegging. For tax evasion. As I understand it, one count.

Why is this relevant now?

There are many on the left today who are gleeful about the official beginning of the Trump impeachment hearings. They wish to dredge up all the old grudges and resentments against Mr. Trump and how he has conducted himself while campaigning for office and after having been inaugurated. He lies, he’s a womanizer, he is an egomaniac and he has no principles. He sought dirt on his opponents in 2016 from Russians. All may be true and all don’t matter. Neither does his appointments of two very conservative Supreme Court justices nor his ridiculous tax cut for the wealthy. The wall is irrelevant, too. If you want to get Trump, it has to be for an action so blatant, so obviously wrong, and so clearly documented that even his staunchest supporters have to admit he broke the law. Now is that moment.

As was obvious from the hearings on Capitol Hill on Thursday, September 26, when Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified, Trump broke the law. He traded political favors for $400 million in military aid with the President of the Ukraine. Then his DNI (Maguire) did not report the whistleblower’s accusations out to the Intelligence Committees in Congress within 7 days as is mandated by law. He cleared it with the very White House being accused of wrongdoing and the Justice Department. How smart was that? Furthermore, it now appears that there was an elaborate attempt to cover-up the contents of the phone call in which Mr. Trump was extorting the Ukrainian president by placing the transcript (and a recording?) on the most secure of servers inappropriately. There is also the issue of whether or not Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, should be conducting foreign policy. And then there’s Attorney General William Barr who may have tried to prevent the whistleblower’s report from getting to Congress. In this one incident alone, there is more than enough factual information to impeach, try, and convict Mr. Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors. There is no need to invoke anything else he may have done while in office.

The Democrats need to create a select committee on impeachment in the House (not six separate ones) and focus on this one count. He broke the law that says he must keep his personal issues and his domestic political ones out of his foreign policy negotiations. He put his own political interests above those of the country. That’s a betrayal of his oath of office and more than enough to send the case for trial to the Senate.

But most importantly, this one is easy to understand. Trump was trading military aid to a foreign ally for help with his re-election. Anyone can understand that. It’s neither complex nor surprising.

So Democrats in the House, get on with it. You have 224 members now who favor impeachment. That’s more than the needed 218. Draw up the article—one article. Have the hearings. Take the vote and put the pressure on the Senate to say that what the president did was not a high crime or misdemeanor.

If the Senate Republicans want to let him go free, so be it, but put the pressure on them to say that selling the country out to get dirt on Joe Biden is not a crime.

Like I said, one count is enough. Don’t bother with the rest of it. Get him like Eliot Ness and the feds got Capone. One count. That’s all it will take. A Pence Warren presidential contest will be fun!

Leonard Zwelling