Trump-Ukraine Scandal: Public Opinion

C-Span has a program called Washington Journal, which allows callers to give their opinions.  They must identify themselves as being either Democrats,  Republicans or Independents and it seems they try to get a good blend of callers from these three groups.   In this case, the moderator was completely neutral.

On the issue of the impeachment inquiry, a caller described it as a totally “made up” story.  And she had her facts.  Adam Schiff had talked to the whistle blower before the whistle blower had submitted a complaint.  Also,  Schiff denied he or anyone on his staff had contact with the whistle blower.  So, this proved to the caller that everyone was lying and what was going on was just a lot of dishonest people out to get the President.   The conspiracy idea was that Adam Schiff told the whistle blower what to report, so he could get the president impeached.   He then rounded up a few dozen traitors in the State Department and told them what to say.   He must have manufactured other evidence like text messages and emails.   The news media was either complicit or just went along with this giant  hoax.

One piece of this conspiracy  immediately begins to fall apart.  Adam Schiff did not have any contact with the whistle blower – but apparently someone on his staff did, but not at a detailed level of the issues.  The whistle blower was asking what the proper way to file a complaint under the whistle blower protection laws.   What this staff person told the whistle blower is you need to get an attorney and go through proper channels.  No short cuts permitted to the House Intelligence Committee.

The evidence is really mounting against President Trump of trying to get dirt on Biden in exchange for approved military aid.   I  think this is a crime of  extortion and an abuse of presidential power.   The first day of public hearings will be on Wednesday, November 13.   The current chargée d’affaires,  to Ukraine, Bill Taylor and the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of State, George Kent, will testify.  I believe Counsel for the Democrats and Republicans  will do the questioning for 45 minutes each.   There won’t be any surprises.   I can say this because both individuals have testified extensively in closed sessions and the transcripts have been released on the House Intelligence Committee website.   So this hearing is not likely to add to the House inquiry.   It is more to legitimize the inquiry to the public.

Trump said today (Nov 8)  that there should be no open impeachment inquiry.  Pretty amazing as  Trump and other Republicans were highly critical of the closed sessions.

I hope the C-Span caller will tune in along with many Americans who have doubted the process.  This is not a witch hunt, hoax or fake news.  It is real and extremely serious.    I have included the biographies of both Bill Taylor and George Kent below.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia:  William Taylor

Wikipedia:  George Kent

 

 

 

Impeachment Update + Climate Change Meeting + Say good-bye Rick

Thought I would add two quick items:

I continue to add links to the impeachment inquiry page as shown on the right side of this web site.  I particularly like the CNN Inquiry tracker.   There are currently 30 requests for testimony or documents and 24 subpoenas.  The joint committee, meeting behind closed doors, has heard from 16 witnesses, so the hearings in this phase, are far from being done.    I figure with 16 down and 54 to go, this marks the 30% done level.  Of course,  the requests and subpoenas could outpace the testimonies, so this % done statistic could go down.

Imagine inviting 20,000 of your friends over for Thanksgiving and given only a few weeks to prepare.  What Madrid did, in hosting the COP25 Meeting is pretty incredible.  It will be a conference filled with intense negotiations, as reducing carbon emissions calls for sacrifice, and each country has to do their share for the greater good of the planet.  Good words with no action are not helpful.    Unfortunately, the US and Brazil look to be the only two countries who see this  terrible crisis as an inconvenience to their nationalistic political agenda.  Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, seems to believe that Brazil is somehow not connected to the rest of the planet.  Yes, our house is on fire, in California and the Amazon.   Trump will become a permanent resident in Palm Beach, Florida, and may begin to take a real interest in rising sea levels.

Our Secretary of Energy Rick Perry will be leaving soon, stonewalling the House for documents and testimony related to the Trump-Ukraine scandal and really embracing the “Bob Murray” energy plan to push coal and do whatever is possible to discourage renewable energy sources.   Solar panels made in China got hit with 55% tariffs and inverters, I believe, are now taxed at 25%,.

Murray Coal got everything on their agenda list they sent to Mike Pence, (except his welfare plan for nuclear and coal)  which included rolling back of all initiatives taken during Obama’s administration, yet the Murray Coal still went bankrupt.    I hope I will never see again in my lifetime the owner of a coal company have so much sway over the Department of Energy and the EPA.   Money doesn’t talk, it swears (Bob Dylan).

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Madrid to host Cop25 climate talks in December after Chile withdraws

The Trump-Ukraine scandal: Basic accusation and overall scheme

“The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”  John Kennedy, 1962 Yale Commencement speech.

As more interviews are conducted and documents collected, sometimes it’s best to focus on the core allegation against Donald Trump, which is abuse of power.

Trump assume Joe Biden would be the Democratic candidate for president.  He had a plan to show Joe Biden was corrupt by using his power as Vice President to enable his son to become wealthy.  To support this claim, Trump wanted the newly elected President Zelenskiy to make a public statement that there was an ongoing investigation into the Biden’s activities in the Ukraine.   In particular, an investigation focused on Hunter Biden’s consulting work and Joe Biden’s efforts to get the prosecutor at the time in the Ukraine fired.   There is a lot more to this story which is laid out in the Wikipedia link below.

In return for the public statement made by the President, he would in turn, release the 400 million dollars in military aid approved by Congress.  President Zelenskiy would be invited to the White House.  This seems the basis of the deal.

In sum, it was a business deal,   The President had attached conditions to the military aid.  This didn’t work.  The Ukraine got its military aid without  making any public statement of an investigation.   There has been no suggestion of re-opening an investigation which ended years ago.

Trump’s election strategy was to  show the American people that Biden did not care about the US and could not be trusted.  It went far beyond this claim.   Trump wanted to tell the people he was the anti-corruption president and the Obama-Biden administration was the corrupt one.   So,  the 2020 election strategy was a lot like the 2016, except of chanting “Lock her up” it would be “Lock them up”  to include the Democratic Party.

Unfortunately, as subpoenas are ignored and court cases increase, the rhetoric and innuendo from Trump’s cabinet will soar.   Mike Pompeo stated yesterday to the New York Post, “This is the administration that actually provided defensive weapons systems [to Ukraine]. I could not tell you why the Obama administration chose not to [arm Ukraine]. Was it because of Hunter Biden? I don’t know!”

Gee, I do, (Pompeo knows also by the way).  From the Washington Post:

“U.S. assistance (and the threat of withholding it) has played a role in efforts to root out corruption and promote transparency in a country that has long grappled with cronyism.  Viktor Yanukovych, the country’s notoriously corrupt president from 2010 to 2014, was convicted of treason by a Ukrainian court and sentenced in absentia in January to 13 years in prison. While in power, Yanukovych was widely seen as a pro-Russian puppet: The court ruled that he called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine and that he violently quashed pro-Western democracy protests in Kiev.” (September 25, Washington Post)

Trump’s 2020 re-election strategy is to use the authority of the President to go dirt hunting along with the Department of Justice and US Attorney Durham and possibly the missing Maltese Professor Joseph Mifsud.   We will soon pass two years since Mifsud went missing.  Anything that will undermine the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Russian investigation in 2016 are fair game.  Particularly juicy are claims that the Obama administration was spying on the Trump’s campaign to help Clinton.  Please read again the JFK quote.  This is all stuff which has a tiny element of truth, covered with a whole pile of s***.    I’m stopping here but I’ve included some links on these topics for anyone who enjoys this nitty-gritty.   My spell checker wants to change nitty to nutty, and I believe it has a point.

Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump%E2%80%93Ukraine_scandal

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-barr-mifsud-explainer/explainer-the-missing-maltese-academic-at-the-heart-of-washington-intrigue-idUSKBN1WO1BX

https://nypost.com/2019/10/30/pompeo-forcefully-defends-trumps-ukraine-phone-call-takes-shot-at-hunter-biden/

 

 

The Kupperman case

Dr. Kupperman is a private citizen.  He was briefly the National Security Adviser, after John Bolton was abruptly fired.  He has been subpoened to appear at the impeachment inquiry on Monday.  His testimony is important to the Ukraine scandal.  He has been notified by the White House that he should not testify, because he has “Constitutional Immunity,”  the impeachment inquiry is illegal and  his testimony could harm the national security.    His attorney has filed in Federal court, stating that he is unable to comply with both the subpoena and the request from the White House, not to testify.   I guess he has the option of appearing and refusing to answer the questions.

Adam Schiff has responded as follows (Politico):

Democrats, though, cited Howell’s ruling in a Saturday letter to Kupperman blasting his decision to turn to the courts, which they claimed was done in coordination with the White House.

“Dr. Kupperman’s lawsuit—lacking in legal merit and apparently coordinated with the White House—is an obvious and desperate tactic by the President to delay and obstruct the lawful constitutional functions of Congress and conceal evidence about his conduct from the impeachment inquiry,” wrote Reps. Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Carolyn Maloney, the three chairs leading the impeachment inquiry.

“Notwithstanding this attempted obstruction, the duly authorized subpoena remains in full force and Dr. Kupperman remains legally obligated to appear for the deposition on Monday.”

“The deposition will begin on time and, should your client defy the subpoena, his absence will constitute evidence that may be used against him in a contempt proceeding,” they added.

What Schiff is saying makes sense.   The White House can suggest but not demand that Dr. Kupperman not appear and this would be an act of civil disobedience.  We’ll know on Monday what will happen.  Being it is a closed door deposition, it stands to reason that any information that could harm the national security would not be released to the public.  I think Schiff recognizes that there will be a number of  contempt of Congress proceedings, which could bog down the inquiry.  There are many other subpoenas related to documents, which are in non-compliance.  These requests were made to Mike Esper, Mike Pompeo, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pence.  The list of subpoenas will grow.   I hope Dr. Kupperman appears on Monday as it will be harder for John Bolton to avoid his subpoena.

See my new page on the impeachment inquiry documents.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/25/charles-kupperman-bolton-impeachment-058254

Another Brick in the Wall

The Trump administration lost badly in the District Circuit Court of Washington, D.C. on obtaining the redacted portions of the Mueller Report on grounds that it related to Grand Jury testimony.   The DOJ argued that the impeachment inquiry was illegal.  The judge issued a scathing opinion, ordering the Justice Department to comply with the Subpoena from the House inquiry as follows:

“Even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry,” Howell wrote.

The DOJ will appeal the ruling.    Judge Howell has legitimize the impeachment inquiry and given it powers reserved for the judicial branch.   The DOJ knows that if the appellate court rules against them, this will set a precedent and make it much easier to get compliance on a subpoena.  The ruling elevates the inquiry  beyond normal Congressional investigations, giving subpoenas the same weight as in court cases.  Judge Howell states:

“(A)n impeachment trial is an exercise of judicial power,” Howell wrote. “Contrary to (the Justice Department’s) position — and as historical practice, the Federalist Papers, the text of the Constitution, and Supreme Court precedent all make clear — impeachment trials are judicial in nature and constitute judicial proceedings.”

What happens when subpoena are ignored?  It is rare, but there is precedent when Attorney General Eric Holder defied an subpoena from Congress.  Holder was found in Contempt of Congress in June 2012 for refusal to turn over documents in regards to the Fast and Furious scandal.  The documents were sought to show Holder had knowledge of the program earlier than what he stated in his testimony.   Presidential Candidate Rick Perry called on Holder to resign.   The Obama administration and the Department of Justice declined to prosecute citing executive privilege.  (see links)

However, Howell’s ruling, if allowed to stand, makes the subpoena battle between the Executive and Judiciary branches.  so the Holder precedent doesn’t apply.   The Watergate tape case seems applicable, and when the Supreme Court ruled against Nixon, he complied.

What House Majority leader, Nancy Pelosi move in structuring the inquiry is brilliant.  Keep the committee chairmen out of the limelight and allow the depositions to go forward as quickly as possible  with 3 committees meeting together.  This means a group of 100 representatives, nearly a quarter of all representatives in Congress.

Intelligence – Chaired by Adam Schiff
Foreign Affairs – Chaired by Eliot Engel
Oversight and Reform – Carolyn Maloney (currently acting chair due to the passing of Elijah Cummings).

According to Wikipedia, “The Intelligence Committee will focus on the contents of the whistleblower complaint and whether the complaint may have been wrongfully hidden from Congress, while the Foreign Affairs Committee will focus on interactions the State Department may have had with the President’s personal attorney Giuliani, and the Oversight and Reform Committee will investigate whether White House classification systems were used to secure potentially damaging records of phone calls between the President and leaders of various countries around the world.”

To help with compliance of the subpoenas,  the depositions to date have been taken in closed door sessions.  What he has not done, is to exclude all Republican members (47 in total) from participating in the sessions.  Of course, without the media coverage, I’m certain many pass on this opportunity.

How much more is there to the inquiry?  Good question.  There are a total of 51 requests and subpoenas, of which 11 individuals have testified.  So, on this basis, we have a long ways to go.   There’s a lot of good links summarizing what has taken place.  I will begin a special web page for the documents related to the impeachment.  For a running unbiased summary, I particularly like Wikipedia.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

howell ruling (pdf file) 75 pages

Wikipedia:  Impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump 

Judge says impeachment inquiry is legal and justifies disclosing grand jury material

Trump impeachment tracker: Following all the action in Congress

Pompeo subpoenaed by House committees for failure to produce Ukraine documents

Key Witness in Impeachment Inquiry Asks Federal Court to Rule Over Testifying

Mr, Charles Kupperman’s case is interesting because he is really trying to know whether “Constitutional Immunity” exists before disregarding a subpoena.   My guess is the Federal Court will not help out Mr. Kupperman, because there is no case (violation of law)  in front of them.   They may wait until the “Don McGahn case” (he refused to testify) is resolved.   A lot of gears in motion!

Wikipedia Contempt of Congress

Wikipedia Eric Holder

New York Times:  Subpoenas and Requests

White House Letter:  Advising Laura Cooper not to testify:

white house blocking testimony

 

What happens next in the Impeachment process

There is little doubt in my mind, that the evidence is strong enough to impeach Trump.   Ambassador Taylor provided more details on the what the Ukrainian President had to deliver before receiving 391 million dollars in aid.  He had to announce in public that an investigation into Biden’s son prior work in Ukraine  was being undertaken.   This would be linked to Vice President Biden efforts to get the Ukrainian Chief Prosecutor fired.

Trump will lose in the House.  I predict a vote taken in the House in late December or early January.  Then the matter goes to the Senate.  A vote along party lines  mean that Trump will win.  How can Republicans vote to find Trump innocent can be answered in several ways.  First, that this deal never went through.   The Ukrainian President never announced an investigation of any kind.   Second,  people like Ambassador Taylor was not in constant contact with the President, and at any time Trump could change his mind.   Finally, the charges against him (Articles of Impeachment) do not rise to the level of misconduct to send Trump packing.

At present, the Republicans are arguing that the impeachment inquiry is illegal because the House has not passed a resolution to begin the inquiry.   It doesn’t need to.  The inquiry is legal.  The Fox News has yet to present on legal scholar which will say otherwise.  The inquiry can take place behind closed doors.  Both Republicans and Democrats take part in the questioning.

So, what is the final outcome?  I believe Trump will not be found guilty by a 2/3 vote and will immediately claim victory.  Maybe I’m wrong,    We shall see.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Impeachment inquiry

Just want to make a few points.  First, the impeachment inquiry is valid.  Trump’s actions really put it over the top.   Legal experts  agree that Congress does not have to pass a resolution in front of the full house, before proceeding with an inquiry.

The inquiry will examine the evidence of wrong doing by Trump.  It will be highly contentious.  No way to get around that.

Finally, I like Representative Adam Schiff.  He’s the right man to lead the inquiry.   He is intelligent, patient and does not engage in name calling like some people we know.

I suggested previously that this will end in the Senate with a vote of not guilty on all articles, with the voting split along party line.  For this reason, I wish the whole impeachment process can be concluded rapidly  and we can resume looking at who would be the best next president.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

 

 

 

 

 

Still against impeaching Trump

If you are a Democrat, you’re supposed to be wildly enthusiastic about impeaching Trump and if you’re a Republican, you call it a coup.  So call me a Republican, who cares! I don’t support impeaching Trump.  I support letting the voters decide in November 2020.

Impeachment will end  badly with the Senate voting down every article of impeachment, and Trump will declare he prevented an illegal coup.  This is the hard cold reality of impeachment.  The two times in our nation’s history that the Senate has voted on articles of impeachment, it has been in a highly partisan manner, No president has ever been thrown out of office by impeachment.  Nixon resign, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson both won.    There just are not enough Republicans in the Senate that will vote to convict.

Secondly, a recent article in the Washington Post (yes, the Washington Post that Trump hates)  makes excellent arguments why there really is no legal obligation for Congress to impeach a president for what they consider impeachable offenses.  It is really time some members of Congress get off their high horse, and see that impeachment is a radical solution, overturning the results of an election.  The US Constitution only states that our Congress has the sole authority to impeach elected officials for high crimes and misdemeanors and conviction means they are removed from office.

Congress need not vote to impeach.  They can stop after the inquiry, and simply say for the good of the country,  let Trump complete his last 6 months in office, in deference to the electorate that put him there.    Congress is not a law enforcement agency, but should act in what is best for the country.     Further, the trial of impeachment is not a fair trial with an unbiased jury.  It is just the opposite, a highly emotional and partisan trial.  Every American has the right to a fair trial except the President in the removal of office.  The question will be not whether Trump actions  were wrong,  but whether they rise to the level of impeachable offenses?

The inquiry will get bogged down with a long list of subpoenas and nuances about who said what.  It is going to be difficult to have a simple clear summary of the offenses.   Trump will claim that the Democrats are inventing their own facts and  grandstanding.     Sure,  there are important  questions here related to the Mueller report and  the whistleblower scandal.  At the end of the day,   Democrats will cry guilty on all accounts, and Republicans will cry innocent.   Trump has recently added to his international dirt finding mission, by enlisting Australia and China’s help.  Yes, things are getting nutsy at the White House as Trump tries to the old “distract and deflect” tactics over his reckless actions.   One commentator opined that Trump is trying to normalize recklessness and hubris.

If I were in Congress, I wouldn’t support impeachment.   Impeachment means months will be wasted ignoring very important issues:  climate change, China trade wars,  the stalled out talks with North Korea, and the worsening relations with Iran, potentially putting them back on to developing nuclear weapons.   Domestic issues are important and our immigration problems are not solved just by wll construction.   Yes, I’d like elections to be called right now, but this isn’t Britain.

I have no confidence in Trump and want voters to show him the door in November 2020.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

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Trump’s impeachment

Do I dare go there?  There is some excellent coverage already, and I just can’t see adding much.  I believe this scenario:  House will vote in favor of impeachment.  Trump and his supporters will immediately claim they did because they knew that they’ll never win at the polls in 2020, and will stop at nothing to throw him out.   The Senate will fail to get the 2/3 needed and the rest is history.

I’ll let others figure out how this affects Trump’s popularity.   So far Gallup polls don’t show much change up or down.  I would like the time spent discussing other important issues.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

 

Trump should not be impeached

No one would travel down a blocked road.  They would turn back once they knew the road was blocked.

If the House  passes articles of impeachment, it would then go to the Senate, and the Republican majority would vote against impeachment.   So, Trump would win and declare victory.  After all, he has said that the Russian investigation was a big hoax.  The Mueller report did not exonerate the President on obstruction of justice.   Democrats are right that there is a lot of evidence to support impeachment proceedings.

Trump will have some excellent lawyers come to his defense the moment the House Judiciary Committee begins hearings.   One of them is renown legal expert Alan Dershowitz who wrote a book, “The Case Against Impeaching Trump” which I have not read, but got the essence of his arguments from numerous appearances on cable television, mainly Fox network.   The legal defense will begin with there is no evidence that the President directly interfered with the Mueller probe.  Trump really went through others in an effort to impede the investigation.  Secondly, any obstruction attempt  was unsuccessful.   Finally, his lawyers will charges against him do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses.

It should be difficult to impeach a President, because the President is chosen by the electorate.   A trial of impeachment is never a fair trial.  The argument for maintaining a high threshold for impeachment, is that the legislature, in a political trial, is overturning the decision of the electorate.   I can see why civil libertarians  like Alan Dershowitz  will side with the president.  The  right to vote becomes much less important if the legislature can easily remove a sitting president.  Impeachment has none of the safeguards of protecting the rights of the accused, to be innocent until proven guilty.

We have only two precedents on the Senate impeachment trials, Bill Clinton (1999) and Andrew Johnson (1868).  Both trials failed to get the two-thirds vote necessary to remove the president.  Voting in both trials coincided with  party lines, clearly demonstrating the partisan nature of the trial.  In Clinton’s case.  the Senators deliberations were conducted in a closed door session.

Thus, in these  critical months before the election,  the real issues take not center stage, as they should.  The only proper and successful way to remove Donald Trump from office is through the ballot box based on the fact that there are better candidates to lead our country.  Anything else is a distraction.   My cable news station has 3 channels which are strongly Republican (2 on Fox and OAN) and they will be lambasting the impeachment hearings every minute they can.   All Democrats will be doing is creating political theater, likely to turn off voters.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

No impeachment of Trump

Sometimes Fareed Zakaria gets things so right, there is little for me to add.  Anything extra would simply cloud the issue.

It is right of Congress to remove an elected president who has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors”  however 2/3 of the Senate must find the president guilty.    The trial of Bill Clinton in the Senate didn’t come close to this.  The vote for obstruction of justice was 50 guilty votes and 50 votes not guilty votes.  Voting was along party lines.

Trial by impeachment is direct opposite of a legal trial under our judicial system.   Our legal system provides numerous protections to the accused, to ensure a fair trial.   If the protections have not been afforded to the accused, then there can be justice at the appellate level.   Impeachment begins with a deeply partisan jury,  the US Senate.  The Senate is controlled by Republicans, and there is absolutely no doubt of acquittal, if it ever got to this stage.

The “high crimes and misdemeanors” criteria has been discussed many times and it is still controversial what the founders meant by this clause.  However,  the “high” is not used to mean a serious or severe crime, but rather one that is done by a “high official”  in his official capacity.

There’s nothing wrong with investigation, to keep us informed our president.  I know we can do better, in 2020.

Trump will fight back for sure.

Read Fareed Zakaria’s comments:

Impeachment Would Only Increase The “Class Resentment That Feeds Support For Trump”

Stay tuned,

Dave