There is an impeachment trial in the Senate. A trial which seeks to prevent Mr Trump from ever holding office again.
A man demanded total loyalty from the GOP. Total loyalty from Mike Pence. And Mike Pence was the main target of the Trump mob.
Let’s be clear. Mr Trump spent months planning and setting the stage to overthrow the government. He knew he could not win a fair election. And unlike 2016, this time the US government was ready for the Russian shenanigans. He had no chance . He knew it.
So, on January 6 he incited the mob he had called to DC to “Stop the Steal”. There was only one way Mr Trump could stay in power. Decapitate the Congress, disrupt the counting of the votes and declare martial law. He would declare that he would stay in power “for the good of the country”.
That was the plan. And he tried to implement it.
So, this trial is a done deal. Trump is guilty. And he will be found not guilty. Again. Of course.
This is not really a trial of Donald Trump, however. It is the GOP that is on trial. It is the GOP that will vote . It is the GOP that will be judged.
The GOP has reached the end of the road. They have a choice. Vote for democracy or vote for fascism. The choice is clear. The GOP will embrace democracy or fascism. What will they decide?
In 2017 he was accused, and later convicted, of shoplifting. The prosecution claims he had hidden some dog toys … yes, DOG TOYS … in his girlfriend’s purse. Then they left the store without paying.
Well, they did have SOME evidence against him, to be sure. They never actually found the toys in his girlfriend’s purse. BUT. They had a video of him going to the car and bringing his girlfriend’s purse into the store. They had some empty dog toy shelves. Stuff like that.
To be clear, they didn’t catch him in the act. It was only a day later when some store employers noticed some empty packaging in the dog toy department that they investigated. Sure enough, the Sherlock-type sleuths discovered that his girlfriend had absconded with $ 186 worth of dog toys!
Some of you who do not own pets may wonder how anyone could stuff $186 worth of dog toys into a purse unnoticed. I mean, that sounds like a lot of Fido fun. Loads of doggy diversions. Now, those of you WITH pets might have a different view. I mean, where can you get a purse load of dog toys for ONLY $186? Must have been in the discount bin. Give me the address of that store. But I digress.
So, despite his pleas of innocence (his girlfriend took complete responsibility, the sweet thing) he was convicted and sentenced. To 2 to 23 months in jail. For pilfering dog toys. Well, I said he was convicted of shoplifting, but not exactly. Since he, himself, never stole any dog toys he was actually convicted of “conspiracy to commit retail theft”. YIKES. That’s sounds a lot worse than shoplifting. A conspiracy.
So poor Benjamin was convicted. But that was then. This is now.
After watching hours and hours of the impeachment trial of Donald Trump from his prison cell, Benjamin had second thoughts. The first thought was this. Being forced to watch hours and hours of the impeachment trial may be grounds for release on a “cruel and unusual punishment” claim.
Second, he wanted a new trial with Lamar Alexander as foreman of the jury.
You see, Lamar Alexander has stated, in writing, publicly that “yes”, the House managers did present a convincing case. In fact, according to Lamar, he is convinced that president Trump DID solicit (extort) the Ukrainian government to try to force them to present an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens. He had seen enough, but it was not enough to convict.
So Senator Alexander does not need any more proof. Trump is a criminal. The facts are clear. Undisputed. But, since Trump is a criminal Lamar has decided NOT to vote to remove him from office. Or to seek any more evidence which might even further prove the case already proven by the House managers. Because, after all, if we convicted criminals what would be next? Slippery slope.
Lamar’s statement: “…There is no need for more evidence to prove that the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; he said this on television on October 3, 2019, and during his July 25, 2019, telephone call with the president of Ukraine. There is no need for more evidence to conclude that the president withheld United States aid, at least in part, to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens; the House managers have proved this with what they call a ‘mountain of overwhelming evidence.’ There is no need to consider further the frivolous second article of impeachment that would remove the president for asserting his constitutional prerogative to protect confidential conversations with his close advisers.
“It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year’s ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate….”
When Benjamin saw this he leaped for joy. That is exactly the point he was trying to make. Just because he was found to have committed a crime does not mean he should be found GUILTY of committing a crime. Just because he was involved in a conspiracy, and that was proven by the prosecution, does not justify a GUILTY verdict. It was not really a crime, it was just “inappropriate” for him to conspire to shoplift. And, if we are to uphold what Senator Alexander calls “the principle of equal justice under the law” shouldn’t Benjamin go free?
Benjamin wants Senator Alexander on his jury. And Dershowitz as his lawyer. Mr Forsythe is hoping to call Donald Trump, Jr as his character witness. If he can afford the fee.
There is a new sheriff in town. His name is Lamar. His concept of the law: Some crimes are just not punishable. It all depends on who commits them.
Watching Alan Dershowitz make his arguments for presidential power was certainly mind numbing. Now, I can understand why Trump would have Dershowitz on his team. He has a long history of effectively defending people who might have otherwise been convicted based solely on evidence. OJ Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein, Claus von Bulow and others. Also, his connections with Fox “news” and his connections with the same sex ring that Trump and Clinton seemed to be part of what made him a good choice.
Nevertheless, despite his person flaws and general lack of integrity aside, let’s look at his arguments. Remember, no other Constitutional scholar was willing to sit on the president’s team. Not even Jonathon Turley who the Republicans brought in to testify to the House inquiry. So, Alan stands alone as the expert on the Constitution for Trump.
His basic argument has been this.
If the president did something illegal, but he did it for good reasons, then that is not impeachable.
Furthermore, if the president THINKS that his own re-election is in the public interest, anything he does to secure his own re-election is not impeachable. As long as the president believes his re-election is what is best for the country he may take any actions to assure that re-election and , according to Dershowitz, that would not be an abuse of power.
Here are his own words: “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest and, mostly, you’re right — your election is in the public interest,” Dershowitz said. “If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.“
I taught European history for many years when it was part of the old New York State curriculum. Since then European history has been subsumed into a more comprehensive Global Studies curriculum.
Back in the day we spent a bit of time on the French Revolution and the historical basis for that event. The long term developments leading to the Revolution are rooted in the old monarchical system. In the 17th century there was a power struggle in France.
On one hand we had the monarch and on the other the nobles. The majority (98%) of the people could just pound sand. They really did not count.
In order to centralize his power Louis XIV decided that he needed to move against the nobles . Now, the power of the nobles was in the great city of Paris (Washington, DC). To eliminate that power center Louis decided to build a new power center, near the small village outside of Paris. A day’s ride from Paris. So he built Versailles (Mar -a – Lago). There he could control the nobles.
I have been to Versailles. It is mind boggling in both size and luxury. Especially when you consider it was built in the 17th century. A short train ride from Paris today, but in Louis’s time it was isolated from Paris. If a noble wanted to be part of the power structure he had to travel to Versailles. He had to genuflect to Louis. And so Louis was able to slowly bring the nobles under his control.
Most famously a quote attributed to Louis (whether he said it or not, he certainly acted as though he did) was : L’etat C’est Moi. I am the state.
What does that mean? There is no distinction between the interests of the state and the interest of the king. There is no division between what is good for the king and what is good for the state. I am the state. What is good for Mr Trump is, by definition good for the United States.
Now, if we accept this argument, then the following logically follows.
In November of 2020 Mr Trump believes that the election of his opponent is not in the best interests of the nation. However, he honestly believes that his own election is in the best interests of the nation. That being the case, on election night, the results are in.
Mr Trump’s opponent has won. But wait. The election of his opponent is not in the best interests of the nation. So, Mr Trump simply invalidates the election.
He asks Attorney General Barr offer his legal opinion and Mr Barr concurs. It is within the power of the president to annul the election because there is nothing in the Constitution that specifically states a president CANNOT nullify an election.
But wait, Congress can step and overturn the decision. No. According to the legal opinion of the Justice Department the president has unlimited power, as long as he is acting in what he (and he alone) considers is best for the country. The Congress cannot review any decision made by the president. He is above the law. The imperial presidency.
The impeachment trial of Donald Trump started last week. The House managers presented a very thorough case. Now it is the time for the defenders of the president to speak. Fair enough.
So, what should they say? Well, let’s look at what the House has presented and see how they can respond.
The House case focuses first on the withholding of aid to Ukraine and the withholding of a meeting in the Oval Office with the president of the Ukraine. Both are important to the Ukraine for what should be obvious reasons. Ukraine is partially occupied and is at war with Putin’s Russia. Not to belabor the point but again. Ukraine is partially occupied and at war with Putin’s Russia.
So, the Ukraine desperately needs military help. Which the Congress and the president have given them.They also just as desperately need Putin to understand that the US stands with Ukraine against his illegal occupation and aggression. So, both the military and political aid are essential.
It is a fact that the Department of Defense was ready to start to distribute the military aid to Ukraine on June 18, 2019. From the DOD website:
The DOD does not release any military aid unless a thorough review has been done to make sure the country is meeting the requirements for fighting corruption, insuring human rights, etc.
So, for the president’s Defense Team. The first point they need to address is why the military aid was withheld. What information came to light between June 18 and the hold on the aid? There may be legitimate reasons for withholding aid, if so, what were they? And why was the very process for withholding aid taken out of the usual channels and handed over to a political appointee, rather than a career official?
Along the same lines, the defense may argue that the president can unilaterally withhold aid for any reason. In fact, the aid was held up 9 different times, with no explanation. However, the Government Accounting Office relayed a decision that what Trump did was break the law. A law that requires him to notify Congress with reasons for any hold up in aid:
“In the summer of 2019, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) withheld from obligation funds appropriated to the Department of Defense (DOD) for security assistance to Ukraine. In order to withhold the funds, OMB issued a series of nine apportionment schedules with footnotes that made all unobligated balances unavailable for obligation. Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law. OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act (ICA). The withholding was not a programmatic delay. Therefore, we conclude that OMB violated the ICA….”
So, the president or his staff broke the law. Period. His defense team needs to explain that and justify the hold on military aid. Why did the president think it was essential to break the law? Perhaps he had good reason.Legal reasons. What were they? And why was Congress never notified?
Furthermore, since aid was eventually released they need to answer another question. What happened to make the president change his mind and lift the hold? What new evidence emerged? Did he discover it was illegal or was there a change in Ukraine? What specific reason was there for all of a sudden releasing most of the aid?
The second charge on impeachment brought by the House managers was the obstruction of Congress. Now, it is pretty obvious that Congress was obstructed since the president refused to provide and documents or witnesses to help in the investigation. The question is, was that obstruction legal?
On Saturday the president’s team argued that the entire impeachment proceeding was illegal. So, since the proceeding was illegal they had no requirement to cooperate. Of course, this argument does have a major hole.
The position presupposes that the executive branch alone can decide for the House of Representatives what it can and cannot investigate. In other words, although the Constitution gives the sole power of impeachment to the House, the executive branch can overrule that power. The position falls flat on two levels. First, it disregards the specific language of the Constitution.
Article 1, Section 2: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
Of course it makes no sense legally or logically for the object of an impeachment or investigation to have the power to end an impeachment or investigation.
Along the same lines the president’s defense claimed that the House violated their own rules, so therefore the very impeachment itself is illegal. Yet, here we are. The Senate, controlled by Mitch McConnell, recognized the legality of impeachment. The Supreme Court, along with Chief Justice Roberts, recognizes the legality of the impeachment. We are having a trial precisely because the House acted legally. So, once again we have the president, alone, making claims that no other branch of government agrees with.
Now, it is legal for the president to, in certain circumstances, invoke “executive privilege”. However, invoking that privilege means the president has to make a case, before a court, that the documents or testimony being withheld is being done for legitimate national security concerns. So far, Mr Trump has made no such claim.
His lawyers, however, have taken the position that he can claim executive privilege without making a formal claim of executive privilege. In their words, he can hide anything he wants for any reason he wants. In other words, the chief executive is supreme and cannot be investigated or impeached. Trump has taken this position publicly:
“…Trump was giving a speech at a Turning Point USA conference, where he predictably veered off into a tirade about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and how, as president, Trump could’ve stopped it.
“I have an Article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” Trump said. “But I don’t even talk about that because they did a report and there was no obstruction.”…”
“…During a pre-taped one-on-one interview with ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos, Trump argued that “a lot of great lawyers” agree that Article 2 of the Constitution means that the President can’t obstruct justice.
“So a president can’t obstruct justice?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“A president can run the country,” Trump responded. “And that’s what happened, George. I run the country and I run it well.”
“When the President does it, it’s not illegal?” Stephanopoulos asked….”
“I’m just saying a president under Article 2–it’s very strong, read it,” Trump said. “Do you have Article 2? Read it.”
(To be clear, executive privilege is not mentioned in the Constitution)
So, the president’s defense team will have to find a justification that he has refused to cooperate with Congress. While they may rightly point to very specific instances where other president’s have attempted (successfully or unsuccessfully) to invoke “executive privilege”, they will have to justify an unbridled power of the president to hide all his actions and documents.
Now, will the defense team address these issues raised by the House managers? Will they respond to the facts and evidence in the charges? Will they talk about how the Democrats have hated Trump from day one? Will they talk about Adam Schiff? Will they talk about the Mueller Report being a hoax? Will they claim the entire procedure is a “witch hunt”? Or will they talk about how corrupt the Biden’s are? Benghazi Redux?
In other words, will they address the points the Hose manager have made, or will they deflect ? Isn’t the answer obvious?
My good friend Bobo the Clown was indicted for murder.
The prosecutor had a video of Bobo walking into the bank. Shots were heard. Bobo left the bank with big bag.
The police were called. One bank teller was dead on the floor. Shot three times. In addition thousands of dollars were missing from the bank.
Bobo was arrested. He plead not guilty.
Bobo’s lawyer said it was a witch hunt. The police hated clowns. They were singling out Bobo because he was a clown.
So, the evidence was clear. But wait. just before the trial began 3 witnesses came forward. They all knew Bobo. They all said they saw Bobo with a gun and a bag of money. One of them even drove Bobo’s getaway car. A clown car.
Now, Bobo’s lawyer claims that these witnesses should not be allowed to testify. They are too late. They should have come forward earlier.
As it happens, the chairman of the jury, Moscow Mitch, agrees. Moscow Mitch , in addition to being chairman of the jury is a long time clown friend of Bobo. In addition Moscow Mitch decides what evidence can be presented at the trial. They go back a long way. He doesn’t want to hear anything else.
A Republican congressman made this statement during the debate on the impeachment of Donald Trump.
“Before you take this historic vote today, one week before Christmas, keep this in mind,” Loudermilk exclaimed. “When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers.”
“During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats afforded this president in this process,” he concluded…..
And so it goes. The finest man ever to don the robes of the presidency of the US has been impeached. Unfairly. Crucified. Beaten. Handed a crown of thorns. Just like Jesus.
Some may claim that the comparisons between Jesus and Trump are unfair. After all, the Christ guy never won the popular vote in an election. Other than that, the parallels in the lives of these two men…er, gods…is pretty telling.
Until recently we knew little about Jesus outside of the gospels, but a recent discovery of scrolls in a cave in Israel has shed more light on the life of the Chosen One. (I mean Jesus). The actual trial transcript of the trial of Jesus has now emerged.
The title of the document: The Roman Empire versus Jesu bin Joseph, AD 31. It is a blockbuster.
The transcript outlines how Jesus sent his lawyer, Matthew the younger, to Sumeria to dig up dirt on John the Baptist. In return, Jesus implied he would send some magic loaves and fishes to help the King of Sumeria deal with the famine. He was explicit, however, that there was no “quid pro quo”. (Since people back then spoke Latin they actually knew what what meant.)
Lawyer Matthew also paid off Mary Magdelane to keep her mouth shut about her “contacts” with the Chosen One. Twenty five silver coins and a jar of holy water, turned into a mild chablis. That did the trick.
At the trial Jesus refused to let any of his disciples testify. He invoked the highest executive privilege. He claimed that God the Father himself refused to allow any testimony. In fact, he claimed that God the Father Himself wrote a legal opinion that Jesus could not be indicted. Even if he used his slingshot and killed a Samaritan on the road to Jerusalem. Above the law.
Now, the prosecutors claimed that Jesus had defiled the temple by throwing out the money changers, a clear case of assault and battery. And obvious socialism. He worked on the Sabbath, which was against union rules. He turned water into wine and served it to minors. He even gave end of life care to Lazarus, and never left an invoice.
Worst of all, he gave out free food and free health care to the poor. And some of the poor were illegal immigrants from Egypt. Not even Roman citizens. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Jerusalem was not happy. They were losing plenty of denarii on their prescription rider charges.
Since the transcript is incomplete we will never know how the trial turned out. But, I suspect with a jury foreman like Mitch McConnell it was an easy acquittal.
Like Jesus before him, let us hope that Mr Trump, the new son of the GOP gods, has the same fate as the first Jesus. If so, it would be a miracle.
If only Jeffrey Dahmer were still alive. His unjust conviction and sentencing would certainly be overturned. All he needed was a defense team led by Jim Jordan, Congressman from Ohio and Devin Nunes from California.
For those who may not know, Mr Dahmer was convicted of a number of crimes. Murder. Sexual assault. Rape. Necrophilia. But if he had the Republican defense team, and more importantly a Republican jury, he would be a free man today.
The arguments for his conviction would have been something like this. Evidence of his murder of Steven Hicks consisted of dental evidence, buried in Dahmer’s yard. Evidence of his attempted murder of Tracy Edward’s by his own testimony (the only victim able to escape). The 57 gallon drum of chemicals in his bed room. And, to quote Wikipedia……
“A more detailed search of the apartment, conducted by the Criminal Investigation Bureau, revealed a total of four severed heads in Dahmer’s kitchen. A total of seven skulls—some painted, some bleached—were found in Dahmer’s bedroom and inside a closet. In addition, investigators discovered collected blood drippings upon a tray at the bottom of Dahmer’s refrigerator, plus two human hearts and a portion of arm muscle, each wrapped inside plastic bags upon the shelves. In Dahmer’s freezer, investigators discovered an entire torso, plus a bag of human organs and flesh stuck to the ice at the bottom.
Elsewhere in Apartment 213, investigators discovered two entire skeletons, a pair of severed hands, two severed and preserved penises, a mummified scalp and, in the 57-gallon drum, three further dismembered torsos dissolving in the acid solution. A total of 74 Polaroid pictures detailing the dismemberment of Dahmer’s victims were found. In reference to the recovery of body parts and artifacts at 924 North 25th Street, the chief medical examiner later stated: “It was more like dismantling someone’s museum than an actual crime scene.”
In addition, Dahmer confessed to numerous other murders and crimes, as well.
If this seems like an open and shut case I am afraid you have not seen the Republican defense team at work. So, let’s see what happens when Dahmer calls Jim Jordan to the rescue!!
Mr Jordan: This case is all about hate. Hatred for Jeffrey Dahmer. As soon as the police identified him as a potential murderer they have gone out of their way to convict him. Outrageous! A massive hoax with no fact. All hearsay. The facts twisted to fit their hatred of Dahmer and his kind.
Jordan continues: Let us see what the police actually have presented. All they have presented are numerous skulls and body parts. Were those body parts and skulls found in Dahmer’s apartment? Yes. So what? Does that prove anything? The only answer is : NO! Is it possible that someone else sneaked into Dahmer’s apartment and planted that evidence? Just like the OJ frame up? Furthermore, did the police have a search warrant to search for 7 skulls ? NO. they did not. So that evidence should be thrown out of court.
Jordan continues: Now, the prosecution will claim that Dahmer confessed to these crimes when he was caught. But those are only his WORDS. Are we going to convict a man based on his OWN WORDS? My god, what a railroad job. Just because he was able to identify the skulls and tell the police what happened, does that make him guilty? No. Never.
Jordan: Now regarding the so-called “evidence” of the polaroid photos of dismembered bodies. Yes, these were found in Dahmer’s desk. But should they be used as evidence of a crime? Definitely not. These were his PERSONAL photos taken for his own enjoyment. They fall under executive privilege. He classified them as top secret. So no one has the right to look at them. Period. This privilege is perfect. No one except Dahmer and his lawyers are allowed to see them. Hoax. Hoax. Illegal!!
Jordan: Now, I ask the jury to use their common sense. If Dahmer had killed all these people and used acid to remove the skin from their skulls would he have kept that acid in a 57 gallon tank in his bedroom? If he had buried the bodies would it not be because he wanted to give these strangers a Christian burial? If he did take photos of mutilated corpses are they not his private property and no one else’s business.
Jordan: This entire case is based on just two pillars. Circumstantial evidence and Dahmer’s own words. No one, absolutely no one, says they witnessed Dahmer kill, mutilate or rape anyone. The prosecution has not been able to produce a single witness to the actual crime. There is no DIRECT testimony. NO DIRECT evidence, only his admission and the skulls. And the 57 gallon tank. And the body parts in the frig. And the blood. No DIRECT evidence. For that reason, you must acquit.
The Republican jury deliberates for 15 minutes and the returns smiling with a verdict.
Judge: Will the clerk read the verdict?
Clerk: We, the Republican jury find Mr Dahmer NOT GUILTY on all counts…… PS. We also think you should “Lock Her Up”.
At the defense table, high fives all around. Dahmer, in his excitement , invites Jim Jordan to join him for “dinner”. Jordan scampers way quickly and yells back: “Not a chance”.
Watching the first Judiciary Committee hearing concerning the impeachment of Donald Trump was a somewhat educational event. Now, as someone who taught government for over 20 years I really did not learn much that I didn’t already know (he humbly admitted). The facts and law are pretty clear.
At the start of the hearings the Republican, as expected, tried to slow down the process and gum up the works. All legal. They used parliamentary tactics to attempt to disrupt. One thing they did was demand a roll call vote on issues usually passed by a voice vote.
The legal parliamentary move was striking to me. I watched the roll call vote and it was instructive. Each congressman or woman had to be called by name and have their vote counted. As they voted the camera focused on each one. It was telling.
Taking a count, it looked like this. 24 Democrats voting yes and 17 Republicans voting no. One by one they voted. The visual was stunning.
On the Democrat side the members were a real cross section of America. There were 13 men and 11 women. There were 13 white faces. 7 African -American faces. Four faces of other ethnic groups. A real reflection of America.
On the Republican side the contrast was sharp. 15 white men. 2 white women. Not a single African-American. Not a single person of any non-white ethic group.
Nothing demonstrates the differences between the Republicans and Democrats more than how each party attracts and supports their “constituencies”. The contrast is astounding.
The impeachment is coming. The Democrats are going to call a number of witnesses who claim that Mr Trump, Giuliani and others were involved in the extortion attempt of Ukraine.
According to the rules of the hearings the Republicans will be able to call their own witnesses. Witnesses for the defense. Witnesses who can describe, under oath, how Mr Trump and Giuliani dd nothing wrong.
So, let’s see who the Republicans call to defend Trump.
My suggestions are pretty straightforward. Let those who are accused defend themselves. Let the witnesses for the defense testify under oath.
Rudy Giuliani. He can testify that he never attempted to influence Ukrainian policy at the behest of Donald Trump.
Mick Mulvaney. He can testify that he never put a hold on military aid. He can also explain his statement to the press that the administration does “quid pro quo” regularly. And we should “get over it”.
Lev Parnas. He claims to be working on Trump’s legal team. He can explain how his company, with no income, was able to pay Rudy Giuliani, his boss, about $500,000. His ability to make money appear from nowhere might be valuable in our attempts to balance the budget.
Mike Pompeo. He can testify as to what was on the phone call. He can also testify that he has the right to tell his employees to defy Congressional subpoenas. He can explain how he has the right to defy the law.
And finally…We would all like to hear from…..
Donald Trump. this poor man has been vilified by the Lugenpresse. He has been castigated by the Deep State. All those terrible accusations and he has no way to defend himself. Until now.
Under oath. In public testimony. Mr Trump DESERVES his day in court. Doesn’t he deserve the chance to set the record straight? To explain that he did nothing wrong? To show America that he is being persecuted and prosecuted?
So, Republicans. This is your chance to get at the truth. Call your witnesses.
No quid pro quo. So goes the latest talking point in the pretzel logic of the GOP. Let’s start at the beginning.
First, Trump did nothing wrong. Some crazy whistleblower without any first hand knowledge of the phone call to Zelensky reported it.
Hearsay. The whistleblower never heard the call, so he or she could not know what was on the call. So, nothing to see here.
Then we learned that the Inspector General looked at the case. He did some investigating, as he is supposed to. And he found that there was some substance to the whistleblower complaint.
But Mr Trump did nothing wrong, so he released the perfect transcript of the call. Well, not exactly the transcript, but a partial transcript with some parts missing. But it was perfect. See. Just another plot by the Dems to get Trump.
Then we read the partial transcript and OOPS. In it Mr Trump is clearly asking for a “favor” from Zelensky. The “favor”, it turns out , is to investigate “corruption” And he specifically mentions the Bidens.
No problem, says the Trump supporters. He never specifically tied any conditions to this request. Just asking and not getting what you want is not a crime. Trump never did anything to coerce the Ukraine.
Next, we learn that there was a months long attempt by Giuliani to get Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. And Sondland was involved. And Pence was involved. And Pompeo was involved. And Perry. And Volker. And Lev. And Igor. An entire parallel universe trying their hardest to get the Ukrainians to make up stuff about the Bidens. IF they wanted the military aid they deserved.
But then… it is learned that the military aid to the Ukraine was put on hold. Ukraine, in the middle of a border war with Putin. Ukraine, which badly needs military help and Congress voted to help. And the Pentagon is ready to deliver. Then a hold is placed on the aid. By the White House. No one knows why. But, no problem. As Kelly Anne Conway says: Just a coincidence!
So, no quid pro quo.
Now quid pro quo usually means that I will give you something and then you give me something. These “somethings” have value. And they are “somethings” I would not normally get. “Somethings” I may not even deserve.
So, does Ukraine get “something” they did not deserve? Nope. Eventually, after the whistleblower complaint became public, Mr Trump released the military aid. But this was aid they DESERVED. It was not a “quid pro quo” because it already supposed to go to the Ukraine.
Trump did not offer the Ukraine anything new of value. They already had a right, under the law, to the military aid. Did I mention they were fighting Putin? So any weapons Trump sent to the Ukraine might be used to kill Russian soldiers or lackeys. Putin was not happy.
So, there was no quid pro quo. The GOP is correct.
What we are seeing is a perfect phone call and a perfect set up. For extortion. Trump tried to EXTORT the government of Ukraine by withholding much needed military aid. Aid they had a right to . To force them to publicly state they were investigating the Bidens. Now, Ukraine did not need to investigate the Bidens, which would be a waste of time. No. Just announce, on TV, that you are investigating the Bidens.
Just give Mr Trump a political TV ad so he can call the Bidens crooks. Don’t worry about finding anything, the announcement is enough.Then Fox “news” can spend every day talking about the criminal Bidens. Every hour. Every minute.
Do it OR ELSE. OR ELSE you don’t get your military aid. You don’t get the photo op with the US president. Do it OR ELSE you will lose even more countrymen to the Putin invasion. 13,000 casualties already.
That is not a quid pro quo. It is extortion.
Extortion:the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats.
So we now have the entire Republican party standing behind a man who has used extortion on an ally who is trying to survive the attacks by Putin. The GOP saying it seems ok to them. Extort an ally? Is that wrong? Is that an impeachable offense? Undermining the 2020 election? Is that wrong?
The stench of the GOP grows daily. Extortion is not a problem. What next? Perhaps an open murder on 5th Avenue?
“…Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office….”
The key phrase, of course, is that the president is no longer able to discharge his duties.
This allows the president’s cabinet to relieve him of his duties, temporarily, until such time as they agree he is once again able to function.
I have read arguments on both sides of the issue. Some experts claim that the 25th Amendment would not apply to Trump, others say it would.
Initially the Amendment (which also includes the method of selecting a vice president) was designed as a short term solution to a temporarily disabled POTUS. For example, he has an operation . Or he is very sick and cannot function for awhile. It allowed a legal way for the Vice President to take over, temporarily. It was not intended to be a method for permanently removing a POTUS from office.
But, on the other hand, the WORDs are clear. If a POTUS is unable to be a POTUS. It does not give any guidelines for making that decision. It is left solely with the Vice President and the majority of the cabinet. It does not stipulate mental or physical disorder. It does ask “why”? It allows the cabinet to define what the word “unable” means.
So, the 25th Amendment, no matter what the intent, is a viable solution to the Trump problem. It allows the GOP to remove him from office without going through an impeachment process. It is a more painless way to take power from an obviously unfit human being. Of course, since his cabinet is composed of a cadre of sycophants any attempt to use the 25th would probably fail. Their lips are firmly attached to Donald’s hindquarters, like zebra mussels on an intake valve. (Ironically zebra mussels originated from Russia and the Ukraine)
Unless. Unless Trump continues to act nuttier and nuttier every day. If he were to call for a whistleblower to be treated as a spy. Or if he were to call for a member of Congress to be tried for treason . Or if he were to publicly ask another nation to investigate his domestic opponents. Or if he were to start using vulgarities in public. Or if he tweeted that a Civil War might erupt unless his crimes are allowed to stand. Unless. Unless. Unless.
Of course the 25th will not be used. But it should be. If ever there was a POTUS who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the presidency it is Donald Trump. He has demonstrated that on a regular basis. From day one.
A new poll came out from Monmouth University this week. It reported that 40% of Republicans believe that Mr Trump , in his call to the President of the Ukraine, asked for help in finding dirt on Biden. That means that 60% of Republicans do not believe that Trump asked about Biden. 60%
This is from the WHITE HOUSE release of the transcript of the call:
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” Trump said. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
So, the White House says that Trump referred to Biden in the call. And asked for an investigation.
The Whistleblower, supported by the Inspector General, was concerned that Trump was making a deal to help himself in 2020 by pressuring the Ukraine to “investigate” the Bidens.
From the Whistleblower complaint:
“…Multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call informed me that, after an initial exchange of pleasantries, the President used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests. Namely, he sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid. According to the White House officials who had direct knowledge of the call, the President pressured Mr. Zelenskyy to, inter alia:
initiate or continue an investigation2 into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden;….”
A number of members of Trump’s staff evidently told this to the whistleblower, which cause d him to blow the whistle in the first place.
Various news outlets have been reporting on the story, including the exact words of the transcript.
So, everyone right up through the White House says that, yes, Trump asked the president of the Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. I mean, it is there in black and white.
Yet, despite this, 60% of Republicans do not believe that Trump said what he said. Hopeless. Hopeless. Hopeless.
Here is why. So far, even with all the “redacted” sections of the plea deals with Cohen , Manafort and Flynn, we see a lot of evidence. Also, various dependable news sources, the New York Times, Washington Post, McClatchy, Mother Jones and the Rolling Stone have all run plenty of stories with evidence of wrongdoing by the Trump associates.
So, the noose is tightening around Mr Trump and his family. Here are some of the strands in the noose.
1. Firing the head of the FBI who refused to drop the investigation of Flynn for criminal activities. Flynn subsequently pleaded guilty to crimes. He is now cooperating with the investigation. He knows a lot.
2. The Trump Tower NYC meeting between Putin agents and the highest levels of the Trump campaign. First, according to Trump, it never happened. Then it happened but it was about “adoptions”. Now, we know it happened and was about coordination with Russia and “dirt” on Clinton. (The “dirt” never existed).
3. Michael Cohen pleading guilty to a variety of illegal activities, including campaign finance fraud. He did this, according to his under oath plea, at the direction of Mr Trump. Mr Trump first denied any knowledge. Then said he may have known, but it was not his money. Then said it was his money but nothing was wrong with it. So, why did Cohen plead guilty to a crime that, according to Mr Trump, does not exist?
4.The connections between Jared Kushner and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia bailed out Kushner on his debt ridden building in NYC, while Kushner was working in the White House. Now, the US has a massive arms deal with the Saudis and is refusing to condemn the murder of Kashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was living in the US. Even though the CIA maintains that the Saudis killed him.
5. The hundreds of thousands of dollars spent at Trump properties by foreign governments while he is in the White House. A violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
6. The connections between the NRA and the Russian government, via Maria Butina, in the moving of millions of dollars in campaign funds to support the Trump campaign. The NRA spent a record $30,000,000 supporting the Trump election effort, much of it untraceable until now. Did the typical, honest member of the NRA know it was working in cahoots with the Russians? Nope.
7. The Trump organization money laundering of Russian money through their hotels , not only in the US, but in Scotland and possibly other countries. Trumps’ kid bragged about getting Russian money when US banks refused to lend money to the Trump family . (Why not? Too many bad deals where the lenders were screwed). Trump’s tax returns, which he refused to release not only before the election but even today, hold the key.
8. And, last but not least, all the other stuff Mueller has on the Trump kids and Trump organization. Information we will learn about when Mueller makes his final report.
So, Mueller must be fired. The partial, fragmentary evidence is already overwhelming. Mueller must be fired while the GOP still controls the government. Once the Democrats take over in the House of Representatives it will be too late for Trump. The truth will all come out. In detail.
Expect a 2 AM tweet sometime soon:
“Fake Mueller WICH HUNT must END. For guud of the cuntry. Mueeller must go. NO COLLISION! President found NOT GUILTY !!!! Muller…Your FIRED ! (@ real Donald Trump).”
“In the beginning was the word…” so begins the Bible followed by both Christians and Jews. In Hindu mythology, the word “Om or Aum” is the first sound of creation. The Qu’ran is thought to be the word of Allah by Muslims. Members of the Church of Later Day Saints believe that Joseph Smith of upstate New York was given the words of god on golden tablets.
Words are important. Of all the species still on Earth, it is homo sapiens alone that uses speech to communicate sophisticated ideas. Other animals use sounds to express fear and danger and affection and contentment. Chimps use signs and sounds. Bonobos have been taught to use symbolic language to express complete ideas. Some other primates even use sign language to communicate when hunting in groups. There is something in the DNA of primates that demands communication. We are all social animals.
Words are important.
Primates use body language and words to communicate. The key word is “communicate”. Communication does not necessarily mean that a human or other primate is interested in communicating the truth.
For example, we have evidence that when some Rhesus monkeys see food they call out to others and share it. Once in awhile, however, a monkey will keep quiet or even give a false predator warning cry to distract from the food source. They lie. They communicate something which is false. Then they sneak the food for themselves.
We depend on words. When someone lies to us it becomes very difficult to trust them again. When someone misuses words (that is lies) under oath, we consider them criminals. Even presidents. Bill Clinton was impeached by the Republican Congress for lying.
He was not impeached for having an affair. He was not impeached for any illegal financial dealings. The 4 year long investigation of Bill Clinton and his wife’s finances (Whitewater) found nothing illegal. The Starr investigation after spending mllions of dollars found no criminal behavior based on the original mandate, which was to look at the Clinton land deals.
Both articles of impeachment against Clinton dealt not with any financial wrongdoing, but the fact that he lied about his sex life when under oath. You may wonder why the Starr investigation was expanded into his sex life, but that is another matter. A corruption charge was never supported, but his lies about his sex life were considered important enough to expel him from the presidency. So, he was impeached for words he said.
Our current president has , according to the factchecker at the Washington Post, told over 2,000 lies and misstatements in less than his first year in office. Over 2,000 documented examples of intentional miscommunication. Since he is not under oath, none of those lies are actionable under the law. But that degree of miscommunication may be one reason why he has an approval rating below 40% in most polls.
When words are used for miscommunication then the very idea of language becomes damaged. Language is supposed to be a positive force through which we convey ideas and beliefs and emotions in an honest way. When language is exploited regularly to miscommunicate it leads to a general distrust of any communication. When words are used as weapons, rather than tools of honest communication, all language becomes suspect.
We see attacks on the press, attempting to delegitimize the one institution which is based on words. Honest words. ( I deal with this in another post a year ago: https://josephurban.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/lugenpresse-testing-the-waters/)
Politicians, of course, depend completely on words. When they lie by misstatements or omission to intentionally deceive people it is especially disturbing. We see them lie most often when the facts and evidence do not support their assertions. A good example is the reemergence of the supply side economics which failed miserably under Mr Bush. Tax breaks for the wealthy to boost jobs. It just does not happen, but that does not stop the lying.
My own Congressman, Tom Reed, NY 29 is especially adept at the half truth and miscommunication. He miscommunicated not only his own views (as seen by his actions) but impugns his political opponents by lying about their views as well. And he is very good at it. So he gets re-elected.
So, while “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is true on the playground, it is not true in politics. Words are the core of politics because they are used to convince others to act.
We currently live in an era where those with the most political power are determined to stay in power through miscommunication. Not by the power of their ideas. Not by the benefits to the people derived by their actions. But by miscommunicating to such an extent that even 2,000 lies a year does not bother them.
Next time I will look at the variety and scope of the miscommunication, the misuse of words, by those currently in power.