For Richard Nixon, the fatal “third rail” was his secret tapes. For Trump, it may be his secret tax returns.

That issue will test the true resolve of Congress to show its independence. While they can’t jail the President, they can cite Mnuchin for contempt of Congress, and the courts have been sympathetic to that in the past.

A close parallel happened in 1982, after the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Anne Gorsuch Burford, refused to hand over documents related to the mismanagement of a $1.6 billion toxic waste superfund. When Congress passed a citation for contempt, the U.S. attorney refused to prosecute, asking a federal court to instead rule the citation unconstitutional. The court refused, so President Reagan’s team had to give up the documents to keep Burford out of jail.

I think we know that Trump will not follow Reagan’s example and give up the documents to keep Mnuchin out of jail, so hilarity should ensue! I think a little jail time for Mnuchin would be fun for everyone!

Well, maybe not everyone, but certainly for me!

To be fair, ol’ Munchkin didn’t actually say he would refuse the request. That’s just how people have interpreted his statement. He said, “We will examine the request and we will follow the law … and we will protect the president as we would protect any taxpayer.”

The vote was 420-0

This is not binding on anyone, really, but the fact that no Republican voted against it demonstrates the resolve of Congress to establish its oversight cred.

By the way:

“Four Republicans — Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Thomas Massie of Kentucky — voted ‘present.'”

The media kinda failed to see this coming, and so did I (because they did)

Up until the last minute, I kept reading that five Republicans would defect. I didn’t see a single “wise” pundit who predicted the number would be anywhere near the twelve who crossed over.

Now I’m starting to question one of my deeply-held beliefs, which is that there is no chance to get 67 senators to vote for conviction in an impeachment trial. The surprising tally of 59 in this vote is starting to get tantalizingly close. Maybe, and I stress that is still only a remote chance because our lawmakers rarely vote on conscience over political expedience, but maybe it is possible to get 67 votes to convict if there is a solid mass of evidence for some obstruction of justice charges. Although we cynics of the world are right almost all of the time, there’s still that pesky “almost” in the sentence. The Congress does occasionally fool me by doing the right thing.

Of course, the cynic in me thinks “Nah, they’re not doing the right thing. They’re just worried that some future Democratic president will use his emergency powers for something they don’t like that really is an emergency!”

That’s all? The New York DA combed through Manafort’s life and could only find 16 felonies? That guy is really just phoning it in.

Oh, wait, maybe that’s 16 per day.

These are not federal charges, and therefore not vulnerable to a Presidential pardon. (The President could choose to pardon Manafort on all the charges he has been already sentenced for.)