Nel's New Day

January 31, 2020

‘We Don’t Want to Hear the Truth’

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said:

“If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost. If truth doesn’t matter, we’re lost. The framers couldn’t protect us from ourselves if right and truth don’t matter.”

On Friday, January 31, 2020 at 5:42 pm, Republicans cast 51 votes in favor of having a trial with no witnesses, no documents, and no debate. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) voted for witnesses; retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said he would vote against witnesses because he had heard enough. Like other Republicans, Alexander said that the actions of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) aren’t “impeachable.”

The entire world has now watched Republicans ignore the U.S. Constitution. Even Chief Justice John Roberts has come out as a loser. Despite his measured demeanor, his face fell when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked

“Does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court and the Constitution?”

Since the beginning of the impeachment inquiry, Democrats gave Republican lawmakers everything that they asked for the process. When Democrats met GOP requirements, Republicans changed their demands. By the end, Republicans resorted to the “so what” decision: DDT did what he was charged with, but his actions, which violated the U.S. Constitution, didn’t go beyond “inappropriate” or “improper.”

The possibility of former national security council adviser John Bolton being called as a witness frightened GOP senators. They wanted “first-hand witnesses” but rejected a person who was present when DDT issued his orders. Reporting has already provided enough information from Bolton’s forthcoming book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, to know that his testimony can make DDT look guilty.

According to Bolton, DDT did try to extort Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing a Biden investigation in exchange for DDT releasing congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine—and ordered Bolton to tell Zelensky to meet with DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to issue the threat last May. Bolton said he didn’t make the call, but his statement adds to the timeline of Ukraine’s knowledge about the withholding of aid. New reporting also cites the presence of acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and Giuliani in the room with Bolton and DDT when the order was given. All four of the officials with DDT would be “first-hand” witnesses.

If Bolton’s narrative is true, Cipollone could be disbarred because he took part as a lawyer in a proceedings where he was potentially a “fact witness,” having observed the events of the trial. The lawyer who is supposed to represent the office of the president and not the person in the Oval Office failed to disclose that he witnessed the crime from which he is defending DDT even after House Managers wrote Cipollone ten days ago demanding that he dislose all first-hand facts and information before the trial.

Bolton’s book has much more about DDT. He called DDT “mentally unstable” and said that DDT would pull the U.S. out of NATO if he is reelected. Bolton wrote about DDT giving favors to autocratic leaders like Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Xi Jinping of China. He also wrote that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo knew about the smear effort against Ambassador Yovanovitch, Giuliani’s claims about her being false, and Giuliani’s work on behalf of others. Last September, Bolton asked House Democrats to investigate DDT’s firing of former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in September before the impeachment inquiry, contrary to DDT’s claim that Bolton stayed quiet about his concerns regarding Ukraine.

DDT’s first attempt to shut up Bolton was to tweet about his “nasty & untrue book.” Joined by officials in danger of Bolton’s testimony such as Pompeo and Mulvaney, DDT described Bolton as a departed, disgruntled government employee. Former acting chief of staff John Kelly, however, disagrees: “If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton.” DDT’s next step was to block the book from its March 17 release on the basis of “classified information.” Defined broadly, the term could be making DDT’s “job very hard” if foreign leaders find out he doesn’t have a “positive” opinion of them. DDT thinks all information making him look bad is “classified.”

Before GOP senators denied all witnesses, Lev Parnas’ lawyer wrote Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) about Parnas’ evidence regarding DDT’s involvement with the Ukraine debacle: personal knowledge and evidence including text messages, phone records, documentary evidence, and travel records. Parnas’ information directly involves not only those cited by Bolton but also other top Republicans such as VP Mike Pence, AG Bill Barr, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Nunes’ adviser Derek Harvey, journalist John Solomon, attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, and pro-DDT super PAC America First.

In testimony about DDT’s pressure on Bolton to help push Zelensky into an announcement into investigating Biden, Parnas would testify to:

  • His trips to Ukraine “to directly convey the president’s alleged ‘quid pro quo.’”
  • Times and places where he overheard Giuliani talk to DDT along with Parnas’ direct interaction with DDT.
  • His meeting with a top Zelenskiy aide when Parnas communicated the conveyed the quid pro quo.
  • A conversation between Giuliani and then-Energy Secretary Rick Perry that communicated DDT’s arrangement
  • His trip with Giuliani to Madrid to meet with Zelenskiy aide Andrey Yermak.
  • Coordination during the UN General Assembly in September 2019 when Zelenskiy met with DDT.
  • The origins of his relationships with DDT and Giuliani.
  • His actions “at all times” “at the direction of Mr. Giuliani, on behalf of the president,” and with DDT’s knowledge about these demands on Ukraine.

Alan Dershowitz—Fox contributor, Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson lawyer, and member of DDT’s legal team, gave Republicans the reason that they will acquit DDT:

“Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. And 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 want to be elected. I think I’m a great president. I think I’m the greatest president there ever was. If I’m not elected the national interest will suffer greatly.’ That cannot be impeachable.”

Garry Kasparov, Chair of the Human Rights Foundation tweeted:

“Dershowitz is actually making the King Louis XIV argument right now! Trump is good for the country, so anything he does to stay in power is the national interest, even if corrupt or illegal. That’s the language of every king & dictator: I am the end and the means justify me.”

In an attempt for backup, Dershowitz frequently cited Harvard Law School professor Nikolas Bowie as agreeing with Dershowitz’s arguments. Bowie labels his arguments for acquitting DDT as “irresponsible and ludicrous.” Bowie said, “Abuse of power is a crime” and followed up by stating that people are convicted of this criminal offense. Dershowitz’s standard of “national interest” allows DDT to “order the military to start rounding up black people because he’s afraid of losing the next election.” Or a president could promise a federal job to a state election official who selectively suppresses the opponents’ votes or paying people to spread false information. Or withhold tax dollars for his personal gain to push a foreign country into helping him with his reelection.

Acquitting DDT, as GOP senators are wont to do, permits presidents to do all this and more because this trial sets that precedent—at least for DDT. Dershowitz claimed in his book The Case against Impeaching Trump that a president can give Alaska back to Russia without being impeached. A president could even allow Russia to annex the entire United States, according to Dershowitz’s standard.

Dershowitz protested the media coverage of his statements. He tweeted:

“They characterized my argument as if I had said that if a president believes that his reelection was in the national interest, he can do anything. I said nothing like that.”

He claimed that his absence from the trial on the day after his “national interest” speech was because of a prior commitment and that DDT’s legal team “begged me to stay.”

Even the editorial board of the conservative National Review disagrees with Dershowitz, stating “that the Framers did not intend to limit impeachable offenses to certain statutory crimes and their close kin.” With Dershowitz’s standard, “the president could subvert the Constitution itself,” something that the Constitution does not permit.

Senators are scheduled to vote on the two articles of impeachment against DDT on Wednesday, the day after he gives his State of the Union speech. Giuliani must be making plane reservations to Ukraine in order to continue his pressure on Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden. And DDT will be able to do anything he wants.

January 30, 2020

Health on Downward Slide under DDT

While many people fixate on the impeachment trial of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), he is further destroying health care while causing illnesses. After polling shows that Democrats received higher approval for healthcare than Republicans, DDT attacked his HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Then he tweeted:

“I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare. I will always protect your Pre-Existing Conditions, the Dems will not!”

DDT fought to take healthcare protections for people in his repeal-and-replace proposals and in his support for a federal lawsuit that removes pre-existing protections in healthcare. When DDT couldn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he moved to take Medicaid from millions of people by giving states block grants for Medicaid that caps federal funding for coverage. The badly named “Healthy Adult Opportunity” allows states to turn away qualified applicants, deprive people of needed medication, and limit health benefits. Medicare/Medicaid administrator Seema Verma, who wants to remove as many people as possible from Medicaid, said, “This policy is about helping people achieve the American Dream.” Her argument is that people who can’t get Medicaid is a “good outcome” because “they don’t need the program anymore.” DDT’s plan will force many people out of nursing homes.

The GOP and DDT hope that they can wait until after this year’s election to deal with the Affordable Care Act so people won’t know that they will lose their health care with no replacement by electing GOP control. A majority of the Supreme Court has helped by denying a request to expedite the challenge to the ACA from the House of Representatives and Democratic-led states. 

A serious problem with current healthcare in the U.S. is that it allows health insurance that provides little more than “thoughts and prayers”—and the purchasers don’t know that the companies may not pay for their medical costs. “Traditional” insurance has legal requirements because of the ACA, but “alternative” coverage doesn’t have these regulations, many of them from “faith-based” providers. This fake insurance will expand with DDT’s possible new rules with workplace Health Savings Accounts. Denial of payment can come from “lifestyle” choices, “preexisting conditions” prevented in traditional insurance, and caps in coverage. For example, the Aliera plan requiring purchasers to belong to a religious group and oppose abortion, appears to have coverage. One client, however, was told to “trust in God” when the company refused to pay the $200,000 for back surgery after it told the purchaser that the cost was covered. “Faith-based” healthcare sharing “ministries” take monthly contributions from over a million people and work like GoFundMe programs. These inexpensive plans use misleading—sometime fraudulent—advertising because DDT’s executive orders give them that permission.

The religious plans were exempted from the ACA individual mandate to get votes from Democratic senators representing conservative states, and DDT succeeded in repealing the individual mandate in 2017. He also took executive action to promote insurance with substandard coverage, and the plans flourished with little or no oversight. They can refuse any claim and define “pre-existing” any way they wish, such as a broken arm. Preventative and mental health care are also not covered. Their customers lack any recourse because of no regulations and the contracts they sign.

Even people with traditional insurance pay higher premiums than anticipated from the ACA because the law lost the individual mandate that everyone have health insurance. “Healthy” people decide to not get health insurance, with their assumption that they will never need it. When they need care, they go to emergency rooms and leave the costs to the hospitals or the government.

An increasing number of people with traditional health care can’t afford medical care such as visits to doctors and medication. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that more people in the U.S. lack funds for medical care than twenty years ago. Problems come from the rise of “narrow networks, high-deductible plans, and higher co-pays.” Between 1998 and 2017, the share of adults 18-64 unable to visit doctors increased from 11 percent to 16 percent, and those with health insurance, the share rose from seven percent to almost 12 percent. Adult Canadians reported only 1 percent of adults over 45 with a chronic disease unable to meet medical needs because of high costs compared to 18.7 percent in the U.S.

Last year, 25 percent of people in the U.S. said that they or a family member postponed treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because of cost, compared to 19 percent in the previous year. Another 8 percent reported a delay for a less serious condition, bringing the total to one-third of the U.S. population. The percentage tied that in 2014, the first year of complete ACA implementation.

Meanwhile, health insurance and drug industries make a huge profit. Insurance premiums increased 22 percent since 2014 and 54 percent in the past decade while wages remained largely flat. Deductibles increased by 36 percent since 2014 and 100 percent in the past decade. In 2018, people in the U.S. borrowed $88 billion for healthcare costs, and healthcare costs–the leading cause of bankruptcies–force 530,000 people to annually go into bankruptcy. 

Many people prefer for-profit “Medicare Advantage” plans because they get dental and eye coverage that people on traditional Medigap plans lack. This year, the program added even more “advantages” to help older people. Those who use these plans, however, may be unfamiliar with government audits showing that Medicare Advantage plans pose “an imminent and serious risk to the health of… enrollees” and overcharge taxpayers by $10 billion a year. Another report shows that the plans are not submitting accurate claims data, and they may be paid for services that they provide.  Last year, six senators described wrongdoings by several corporations including UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Cigna and Humana—tens of billions of dollars in overcharges, failure to cover required care, inaccurate provider directories, etc.

Conservatives argue against single-payer health care with two primary reasons—they want freedom to not have health care and the system costs too much. In just 2017, U.S. insurers and healthcare providers spent $812 billion on paperwork and other administrative activities, according to a study reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine. These costs are 34.2 percent of U.S. total national health expenditures in that year and twice what Canada spends on healthcare administration in the same year. U.S. insurers and providers pent $2,497 per person on healthcare administration in 2017 compared to Canada’s cost of $551 per capita. The study found that “Medicare for All” could save over $600 billion per year, just on bureaucracy.

While DDT removes healthcare from people, he makes health worse in the United States. For decades, health professional believe that exposure to radiation can cause cancer; now DDT wants to “relax” regulations for radiation in the U.S. to “have a positive effect on human health.” According to a witness at a congressional hearing, exposure to radiation and other carcinogen that stress the body makes people healthier by putting bodies’ repair mechanisms work better, like exercise and exposure to sunlight. DDT’s transition team member Steven Milloy, who supports this idea, also denies human-made climate change and any health risks from tobacco. Milloy, a Fox consultant, also supports the use of pesticide DDT and asbestos.

DDT makes people sick in other ways. Anxiety, depression, and anger are the highest since 2007. People in the U.S. have a 20 percent higher stress rate than most of the 143 countries in the 143 countries in the Gallup poll, including Venezuela and Rwanda. For the first time, counselors see patients in therapy because of politics.

A report from the New York University Law Schools State Energy and Environmental Impact projects that the rollback of about 100 environmental protection rules will cause, in the next decade, “1,630 more incidences of premature deaths, 120,000 additional asthma attacks, and 140,000 missed school days and 48,000 lost work days.” The EPA estimates an additional 300 to 1,500 human death each year from air pollution.

A 2019 study shows that fracking is tied to skin, genital, and urinary diseases. Researchers theorize that drilling activity may be related to risky sexual behaviors. Disruptions to buried bacteria and chemical exposures in drinking water may be an affect. Other studies show links to cardiovascular and respiratory issues such as asthma.

DDT has also scrapped regulations to define “organic” beef, pork, and chicken and loosened inspections for pork which can also affect health.

A major problem from DDT’s focus rejection of education about sexual and reproductive health is the spike in rates of STI (sexually transmitted infections) within the United States. For example, gonorrhea infections increased by 82.6 percent within a decade. Almost half the states lack both sex education and HIV education, and Title X funding has been taken from many health care providers. DDT’s administration increased the budget for abstinence-only programs by 67 percent although these programs don’t work.

Much less health care with increased illness. What can go wrong?

January 29, 2020

Israeli, DDT ‘Peace Plan’ Lose-Lose

In an attempt to avoid bad publicity from his impeachment trial, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has announced his “deal of the century” between Israel and Palestine that he claims will create peace between the long-time adversaries. The “deal,” supposedly written by DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner but covered with Israeli fingerprints, has these provisions:

Israel would annex 30 percent of the Palestinian West Bank occupied by Israel with illegal Jewish-only settlements since 1967, Arab East Jerusalem, and the Jordan Valley.

Palestinians would have limited autonomy in primarily urban enclaves surrounded by Israel acquisitions.

Israel would control Palestinian borders, immigration, security, airspace, and aquifers.

Jerusalem would be Israel’s “undivided” capital with a possible Palestinian capital to the northeast of Jerusalem.

Palestine would be compensated with desert land near Gaza that would be linked with the West Bank by high speed rail.

Palestine might receive a sort of statehood with no army and Israel control in some areas.

Hamas, which governs Gaza, would be dismantled before Palestinian independence.

Israeli citizenship may be stripped from tens of thousands of Arab Israelis who live in 10 border towns.

Palestinian refugees would have no “right of return” to homes lost to Israel in previous conflicts.

Resembling South Africa during its apartheid when it created “reserves” for blacks, the “deal” had no Palestinian input and violates UN resolutions forbidding nations from using military force to expand their territories. The Fourth Geneva Convention also bans occupying powers from moving civilian populations onto these territories taken by military force, and the UN has applied the Geneva ruling onto Israeli-occupied territories. The International Court of Justice does the same in a 2004 decision.

DDT’s plan also requires that Palestinians “dismiss all pending actions” in the International Criminal Court, meaning that the Israeli government cannot be held to account for anything. Jared Kushner’s solution for Palestinians who disagree is to “take a cold shower” so that they don’t “screw up” like with “every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.” The plan states that Palestinians must take “no action, and shall dismiss all pending actions, against the State of Israel, the United States, and any of their citizens before the International Criminal Court” and other tribunals.

Over a century ago, Palestinians were not consulted when Britain adopted the 1917 Balfour Declaration that gave geographical Palestine to the Jewish people for their “homeland.” DDT is following that pattern in drawing other nations’ borders and dictating political lives of people in foreign countries. He follows his pattern of subordinating “browns” to “whites,” as Israelis are largely regarding to people in the United States.

Ben Silverstein wrote:

“About 5 million stateless Palestinians live under Israeli military occupation (the Palestinian West Bank) or under Israeli military siege (the Gaza Strip). Some 400,000 stateless Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are from families that were expelled from the British Mandate of Palestine by militant Zionist militias. Another 400,000 stateless Palestinians in Syria are from families expelled from the British Mandate of Palestine by Zionist militias. About 40,000 stateless Palestinians in Jordan are from families . . . That is, About 6 million stateless Palestinians are being kept without basic human rights by Israel’s refusal to allow them to return to their homes and by Israel’s refusal to allow the Palestinians to establish a genuine state to which the refugees could return.”

War crimes in the plan:

A flood of 400,000 of Israeli citizens who have stolen Palestinian land on the West Bank attack Palestinian villages and sabotage Palestinian orchards and other agriculture in opposition to the Fourth Geneva Accord of 1949 to present war crimes like those by Nazi Germans.

The annexation of 30 percent of the West Bank is an act of aggression by Israel that is taking the land by calling these lands “annexed.”

Depriving Israeli citizens of Palestinian heritage is denaturalization into statelessness by giving them “citizenship” in an unrecognized “state” (aka a “reserve”) where they have no rights over their property.

The disarmed Palestinians will have no right of self-defense in opposition to Chapter 7, Article 51, of the UN that requires “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

Palestinians in Israeli-mandated enclaves will have no right to self-determination and be dependent on Israel’s goodwill for every part of their lives, including politics and building development.

With a third election looming and three criminal indictments, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised DDT’s “deal.” With no ratification of the “plan,” he announced that he will ask his cabinet for approval of the annexation this Sunday. He may lose a few votes, however, because the “peace plan” brought criticism from both the left and right wings in Israel. Although Palestinians lose 30 percent of their land, leaders of Israeli settler groups stated that they cannot support a plan that allows Palestinians 70 percent of the area. The settlers called the creation of a Palestinian state “an existential threat to the State of Israel.”

Emily Meyer, co-founder of the Jewish group If Not Now issued this statement:

“This is a political ploy by both leaders to distract from their abuse of power, designed to help Netanyahu win the election in less than six weeks. The plan itself is a plan for permanent Israeli military occupation and control, not a plan for peace. It is simply a continuation of Trump’s strategy since entering office: to disenfranchise Palestinians and deny their rights, their agency, and even their identity.”

Activist groups such as the Islamic Action Front called for a “mass protest” at the U.S. Embassy in Amman. Jordan, home to a large Palestinian population, stated its commitment to a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders and rejects any Israeli unilateral move such as immediate annexation. Both Egypt and the EU cautioned Israelis and Palestinians to carefully study the plan. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to promise Saudi commitment to Palestinian rights.  Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that DDT’s plan “will not serve peace and resolution” in the region and that it will “ignore the rights of the Palestinians and legitimize Israel’s occupation.”

Other Arab countries were disturbed that none of their representatives could see the final version of the plan before its unveiling. They will be even more upset if Netanyahu carries through with a plan for annexation this weekend before both parties support.

The UN supports pre-1967 borders. Most of the international community view the West Bank as the future Palestinian independent state and east Jerusalem as its capital while DDT sides only with Israel by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, closing Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington, and cutting funding to Palestinian aid programs.  

Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s competition for prime minister, said he will propose the plan for approval next week in the Knesset (Israeli parliament). Abbas dismissed the plan as “nonsense” and vowed to resist it through “peaceful, popular means.” Abbas added:

“We say 1,000 no’s to the Deal of the Century. We will not kneel and we will not surrender.”

Israeli settlers in the West Bank may be worse off with the proposed annexation. According to Ghaith al-Omari, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad were present at a meeting that Abbas convened, and both groups will push for violence in the West Bank, creating destabilization from terror and giving Hamas more power. Al-Omari surmises that DDT’s plan strengthens hardliners and weakens diplomats.

The plan that DDT hoped would bail him out of his impeachment problems is now seen as a “lose-lose” situation.

January 27, 2020

Impeachment Defense Concentrates on Revisionist History, Lies

Republicans have blocked former national security adviser John Bolton from testifying, but in his forthcoming book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, Bolton wrote that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told him he wanted to continue freezing military aid to Ukraine until their officials investigated Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Bolton’s book also implicates Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, AG Bill Barr, DOJ Secretary Mark Esper, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and DDT’s private secretary Rudy Giuliani. Because DDT’s defense team testified under oath before the Senate that there is no evidence of DDT’s tying Ukraine aid to investigations, they may be in jeopardy of criminal perjury charges or legal disciplinary actions because they knew what was in Bolton’ book since December 30. 

The White House received only one copy of Bolton’s book, but reports show that multiple copies are being passed around, resulting in multiple leaks. For example, Bolton told Barr about his concerns about DDT’s granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China.

Complaining about the impeachment, DDT tweets lies such as this one:

“The Democrat House would not give us lawyers, or not one witness, but now demand that the Republican Senate produce the witnesses that the House never sought, or even asked for? They had their chance, but pretended to rush. Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history!”

A headline from last month: “White House rejects House Democrats’ invitation to participate in impeachment process as Trump focuses on friendly Senate.” DDT has also provided no definition for “corrupt hearing.” Every time Republicans complain about “unfair,” the Democrats offer them involvement in the impeachment process, Republicans turn them down and continue to cry “unfair.”

DDT will be even unhappier with the Fox after it published an op-ed by its consultant Andrew Napolitano stating “ample” evidence exists to remove DDT from office, that DDT is wrong about his “hoax” defense:

“What is required for removal of the president? A demonstration of presidential commission of high crimes and misdemeanors, of which in Trump’s case the evidence is ample and uncontradicted.”

With no evidence to refute last week’s House presentation, DDT’s defense strategy began with anger at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), head of the prosecutorial House Managers, and lies from Russian propaganda and conspiracy theories. The defense team is so desperate that it used video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) handing out pens from her signing of the articles of impeachment as “evidence” of something. An analysis of today’s defense performance. Knowing that Bolton’s book is disastrous to the defense, the team spent much of Monday smearing Joe and Hunter Biden with misrepresentations of the Burisma affair and revisionist history before television personality channeled the Founding Fathers to explain why no one can impeach a president. One of the team did admit the July 25 telephone call between DDT and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky was less than “perfect” but moved on to say that DDT didn’t know any better and that it’s not impeachable. 

The defense team spent two hours on Saturday with its outline of lies:

  • He did not commit an “impeachable offense.” [Constitutional experts disagree.]
  • No witness has said the military aid was withheld to force an investigation of his political opponents. [DDT blocked any witnesses who might provide this information, but he did block aid. The defense supports an argument for witnesses.]
  • House managers are hiding evidence that exonerates DDT. [Again, no evidence.]

More Lies:  

Fiction: DDT released the “actual transcript” of the July 25 telephone call between DDT and Zelensky. Fact: The public has only a “memorandum of telephone conversation.” The “actual transcript” is concealed on the government’s highest security computer.

Fiction: DDT didn’t condition either security assistance or a meeting in the telephone call. Fact: The public doesn’t know because the complete transcript was not released.

Fiction: Zelensky didn’t state a quid pro quo. Fact: Zelensky had to be careful to not upset DDT, but a video shows DDT saying that he conditioned aid on the demand that Zelensky help him “investigate” Biden. DDT and his private lawyer Rudy Giuliani threatened to withhold a White House meeting from Zelensky to force him to announce investigations into Joe Biden when addressing Gordon Sondland’s claim that there was a “quid pro quo.” Sondland testified that he was acting on DDT’s behalf when he offered the trade of military aid for Zelensky’s announcement about an investigation into Biden.

Fiction: No witness testified that DDT said that there was any “connection between any investigation and security assistance, a presidential meeting, or anything else.” Fact: Several witnesses, including Sondland and Alexander Vindman, said that Trump had made a such a connection. DDT is blocking other witnesses who can testify about any “connection.”

Fiction: Ukraine made no announcement about investigations before the military aid was released on September 11. Fact: Aid was released after a whistleblower complaint “caught” DDT and the news went public.

Fiction: Zelensky didn’t know about the freeze on military aid until a month after the telephone call. Fact: The Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister said that Ukraine was aware of a U.S. freeze in military aid as early as July, and Zelensky discussed DDT’s reluctance to release the aid as early as May 7

Fiction: Democrats are trying to overturn the 2016 election. Fact: Impeachment doesn’t overturn an election.

Fiction: Democrats are trying to keep “the people” from electing DDT in 2020. Fact: Democrats are trying to keep foreign governments from election a president in 2020 the way that they did in 2016.

The brevity of defense  on Saturday allowed a larger audience when the team returned Monday. A few Republicans said that defense “shredded” the House managers’ arguments—but not how. In fact, the defense “shredded” the U.S. Constitution. As Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) stated in a press conference following the two hours that the defense is “trying to deflect, distract from, and distort the truth.” 

Another bogus GOP argument is that Democrats refuse to call Hunter and Joe Biden. One suggestion is that GOP senators will call a Democratic-chosen witness in exchange for calling Hunter Biden. With 53 votes, GOP Senators can do anything they want in the impeachment trial, including a subpoena for Hunter Biden, but Senate Majority Leader McConnell thus far convinced DDT that calling these witnesses could backfire on him.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is feeling the stress of the political climate. According to NPR correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, Pompeo said that he has defended “every State Department official” and then cut off the interview, leaving the room. An aide returned and took Kelly to Pompeo’s private living room where she said that he screamed and used the F word frequently. “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” After Kelly said she could find Ukraine on the map, in response to Pompeo’s question, he demanded she do so on a map with no writing. [He evidently keeps one with him.] Kelly followed his directions. Later she released information about the interaction because Pompeo did not say that it was off the record. 

Pompeo didn’t deny his behavior but issued a statement lambasting the media and claiming that Kelly lied about not being off the record. He concluded with “Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.” This statement may be a false insinuation that Kelly couldn’t identify Ukraine on an unmarked map—a juvenile demand—that adds to Pompeo’s many other lies. Kelly, a former national security reporter with a master’s degree in European Studies from Cambridge University, would not have selected a country (lower right) 3,000 miles from Ukraine (upper left). NPR is standing behind Kelly’s account of her exchange with Pompeo.

DDT is now threatening to do away with NPR to protect Pompeo. Pompeo’s lying, cursing, and abuse of the media appears to exemplify evangelical Christian values; he will give the commencement speech for Liberty University on May 9.

As Pelosi said, “All roads lead to Putin.” DDT’s acceptance of foreign election aid from Russia that has been made public:

June 9, 2016: Secret meeting between a Russian emissary and Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort seeking “dirt” on DDT’s opponent Hillary Clinton.

June 14, 2016: Russian government hackers gained access to DNC email and chat traffic; DDT echoed Russian denial of being the perpetrators and accused the DNC of trying to “distract.”

July 22, 2016: WikiLeaks dumped tens of thousands of stolen emails and documents, and DDT again denied that Russia did the hacking.

July 27, 2016: DDT calls on Russia to find Clinton’s “missing” emails, and five hours later Russian government hackers tried to break into emails tied to Clinton and her personal office.

Summer 2016: DDT’s campaign attempted a secret connection with the Russian government after cybersecurity experts and U.S. intelligence agencies identified Russia as responsible into the DNC hacking.

Early August 2016: Manafort shared internal campaign polling data with a Russian asset and discussed a pro-Putin peace plan for Ukraine.

Mid-August 2016: DDT received federal intelligence about Russian hacking but publicly and repeatedly denied that it happened, parroting Vladimir Putin’s false claims. DDT also lied about having no business in Russia.

October 2016: Immediately after the release of the “pussy grabbing” video, Wikileaks daily released hacked emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, and DDT repeatedly declared he “loved” WikiLeaks with its foreign intervention in the election. The recent trial of DDT’s adviser Roger Stone shows DDT tried to use him as a contact with WikiLeaks.

Since his election, DDT continuously denies any Russian involvement based on Putin’s disavowals, asks for China’s help in investigating political opponent Biden, and states that he would see no problem in getting damaging information on candidates from foreign governments.

In supreme irony, DDT, the man with the motto “America First,” is being impeached because he won’t put the United States first.

January 25, 2020

DDT: Week 157 – Outside the Impeachment Bubble

Historic anniversaries this week:

January 21: Inauguration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in 2016.

January 22: Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade permitting women to have abortions up the third month and in danger of being overturned.

January 23: Supreme Court decision in Citizens United that gave candidates $2.9 billion of dark money from Super PACs to influence elections with unlimited funds

This week DDT also announced he plans to cut Medicare and Social Security if he is re-elected because of his “great economy”:

“We have tremendous growth, we’re going to have tremendous growth. Next year, it will be towards the end of the year, the growth is going to be incredible….”

On the same day, the Dow dropped over 150 points. Economic growth is far below DDT’s projections for his tax cuts benefiting the wealthy and big business—not yet 3 percent–and the deficit spiked to $1 trillion. For next year, the Chicago Federal Reserve projects 1.9 percent economic growth, but DDT hopes to cut taxes again for more personal benefit. 

White House officials prompted DDT to cover up his statement that alienates his older voters, and DDT came out with the falsehood that Democrats will “destroy your Social Security” and that he will “save it!” Democrats created the program and spent almost a century protecting it. DDT already proposed tens of billions of dollars in Social Security cuts, and Republicans believe that “saving” Social Security can be done by “cutting” Social Security.

In his speech at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), DDT called climate scientists “foolish fortune tellers,” “alarmists,” who want “absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives.” After basing his two campaigns for president on fear, he said, “Fear and doubt is not a good thought process.” Then he repeated his lie that the U.S., which has seen worsening air quality, has “the cleanest air in the world.” DDT spoke an hour after 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, at a conference concerned with climate change. He dodged an onstage question-and-answer session after the speech.

The conference focus was on climate change.

Although red states in the South won’t acknowledge the existence of climate change, they will receive billions of dollars for “natural” disasters made far worse by the human-caused changes in climate. These states need a reason to get the money so they use terms such as “changing coastal conditions” and the “destabilizing effects and unpredictability” of being hit by multiple storms in a short time. A $16 billion fund will be distributed to prepare for future natural disasters in states most affected by disasters from 2015 to 2017—GOP-oriented states along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Of the eight states fitting the criterion, only California didn’t vote for DDT. Half the money was assigned to Puerto Rico, but DDT withheld the funding because of “corruption.”

In support for DDT’s climate denial, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that activist Greta Thunberg should go to college to learn about economics after she called for investors to take their money out of fossil fuel stocks. Mnuchin, known as the “foreclosure king,” made his money from unethical mortgage practices. Climate economist Gernot Wagner, who has gone to “college”—Harvard and Stanford—presented a letter from Larry Fink, chief executive of Blackrock, the world’s largest asset management firm. Fink announced his company’s divestment of companies centered on fossil fuels and contribute to climate change. Wagner said that this decision came from the “scenario of having fossil fuels go the way of tobacco that makes fossil fuel execs the most nervous.” Divestment is economics, not politics.  

In his continued assault on the environment and people’s health, DDT has overturned or begun overturning 95 environmental regulations and is especially fixated on building pipelines. The oldest environmental law, created during Richard Nixon’s first year in the presidency as a response to the Santa Barbara Oil Spill, has been called the Magna Carta of environmental law. NEPA helps guarantee that the government considers development affects on climate and the affected local community by covering infrastructure such as highways and fossil fuel exploration. DDT’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposes horrific changes to NEPA after working for 2 years with those it considers is stakeholders, industry groups like electrical utilities, the American Petroleum Institute, and the American Gas Association. New rules eliminate considering climate change in environmental impact reports, allow companies to conduct their own reviews, and limit public input. The rule changes, like all others, has a time for public comment, and like all other DDT rule changes, all public comments will be ignored if they disagree with DDT’s plans to help big business.

In another environmental change, DDT plans to pollute 60 percent of waterways in the United States by removing protections for streams, wetlands, and groundwater. Winners are real estate developers (including golf courses), fossil fuel producers, and farmers; losers are the rest of the people in the nation. His changes affect not only smaller bodies of water but also the Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River, and the Puget Sound. Not only is protection set up by President Obama in 2015 rescinded but also protections from the 1972 Clean Water Act are also eliminated. The chemical discharged into all these bodies of water will then move into larger and larger bodies of water. Wetlands can no longer perform their jobs of filtering surface water, protecting against floods, and providing wildlife habitat.

Even DDT-appointed scientists disagree. The EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board determined that DDT’s rule ignores science with “no scientific justification” for the devastating impact on the health of all water systems—and people.

DDT’s earlier deregulations have been on everything from chemicals in drinking and shower water to sprays on food and into the air. One Indiana town already experienced an outbreak of childhood cancers from chemicals. His rule changes also block the production of food. In 2018, the EPA allowed “emergency” approvals to spray the insecticide sulfoxaflor, highly toxic to bees, on over 16 million acres of crops that attract bees, vital to pollinating one-third of the food supply as well as other plants that animals need. The last decade has shown a drastic loss in the bee population.

Also at Davos, DDT tried to cover up his statement that “no Americans were harmed” when Iran retaliated to DDT’s assassination of Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani by firing over a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi air bases where U.S. forces were housed. To avoid combat, DDT said that he wouldn’t counter-attack Iran because “we suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.” Yet 11 U.S. service members were sent to hospitals for treatment for concussions because of the strike, and more troops were transported out of Iraq for medical treatment and evaluations in Germany. The Pentagon said that more military members may need to be transported from Iraq in the next few days. Caught in his lies, DDT said that he “heard they had headaches and a couple of other things … not very serious.” To DDT, brain damage is far less severe than missing limbs. Thus far, 34 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with concussions and traumatic brain injuries after the airstrikes; 17 are back on active duty, according to the Pentagon.

In a speech to his donors at Mar-a-Lago, DDT admitted Soleimani presented no “imminent” threat to the U.S. and killed him because he said “bad things” about the U.S. DDT had planned to kill Soleimani months earlier because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton wanted a push-back against Iran. Once the murder was a fait accompli, White House, State Department, and Pentagon officials struggled to justify what DDT had ordered while other officials and the president daily changed the rationale to hide DDT’s sole concern about the killing’s impact on his election. Based on all the available intelligence, DDT’s “presentation” to private citizens, one he has not made to lawmakers, deserted his “rationale” for killing Soleimani of “imminent” threats on four U.S. embassies to just his being a “bad person.  

Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are so afraid of DDT that they asked Senate and House Intelligence committees to stop public hearings on the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment. DDT has prevented these hearings since he moved into the Oval Office.

DDT also threatened Iraq that it could lose access to its central bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York if U.S. troops were expelled from U.S.-occupied Iraq. That account is used for oil revenue and payment for government salaries and contracts. He also threatened to end waivers allowing Iraq to purchase Iranian gas for generators supplying much of Iraq’s power.

At Davos, DDT said that “we have to protect Thomas Edison—we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the light bulb, and the wheel.” The message was that these inventors are still alive and that someone from the U.S. invented the wheel.

January 24, 2020

A Potpourri of Impeachment Quotations

Filed under: impeachment,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 4:11 PM
Tags: , ,

“Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”—Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) reportedly at a private dinner about then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in a conversation with Lev Parnas (who DDT said he didn’t know) and Igor Fruman. [A president has the power to “fire” anyone in an open, civilized manner without sounding like a mob leader.]

“It was all about 2020, to make sure [Trump] had another four years.”—Lev Parnas describing the Ukrainian scandal which he observed from the inside.

“One good thing about surrounding yourself with tawdry gangsters and grifters is that if they flip on you, you can claim they have no credibility because they’re criminals.”—Michelle Goldberg, writing about Lev Parnas’ statements about DDT. She also cited Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rudy Giuliani, and Robert Hyde who texted about surveilling Marie Yovanovitch when she was U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

“Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.”—a warning for Republican Senators during the impeachment trial.

“All I can tell you is from the president’s point of view, he did nothing wrong in his mind.”—Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chair of the Judiciary Committee, about DDT’s actions.

“How has the president largely avoided the consequences of his corruption? By employing the methods of his mentor Roy Cohn. Admit nothing. Stonewall investigators. Defy subpoenas. Viciously attack opponents. Flood the zone with exculpatory lies. Feel no shame. Show no mercy. Claim anything short of prison to be complete exoneration.”—Michael Gerson.

“So far what [head impeachment manager Adam Schiff] has said we’ve heard before.”—Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) after he voted multiple time for no new information.

“With me, there’s no lying.”—DDT, before he gave 14 more falsehoods.

“That’s not a crime…. We felt that in that episode the government would not be able to establish obstruction… To be obstruction of justice the lie has to be tied to impairing the evidence in a particular proceeding.”—AG Bill Barr about DDT telling former White House counsel Don McGahn to lie to investigators about Trump instructing him to remove Mueller.

“The Constitution is not a suicide pact. It does not leave us stuck with presidents who abuse their power in unforeseen ways that threaten our security and democracy.”—Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY). [In 1803, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us.”]

“Impeachment is the Constitution’s final answer to a president who mistakes himself as a king.”–Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).

“Donald Trump must be convicted and removed from office. Because he will always choose his own personal interest over our national interest. Because in America, right matters. Truth matters. If not, no Constitution can protect us. If not, we are lost.”—Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) in his closing statements at the end of the impeachment trial’s Day Three

“President Trump’s arguments in the impeachment trial contradict DOJ’s assertion in this case that the Committee may not seek to enforce its subpoenas in court.”— House Counsel Douglas Letter to an appeals court regarding Jay Sekulow’s argument that the House should have gotten witnesses before the trial. [Despite a court order to the contrary, the DOJ blocked the testimony of former White House counsel McGahn, arguing that federal judges should stay out of disputes between Congress and the executive branch.]

“There was all this discussion about why the President was suspicious of some of his intelligence information, some of the leaders he was dealing with within his own government. Well, the No. 3 at the Department of Justice, his wife was working for a firm that was working on a dossier against the sitting President of the United States … we’re concerned about it.”—Jay Sekulow, showing that DDT’s defense will be procedural rather than based on any evidence that DDT is innocent of the charges. [The DOJ inspector general said reported that “No. 3” had nothing to do with the FBI opening an investigation into the connection between DDT’s campaign and Russia.]

“You seem fixated on this storyline about this inquiry.”—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when questioned about his lack of support for State Department employee Yovanovitch

The United States has had 15 full impeachment trials in the Senate, two of them for presidents. All of them had witnesses. The Senate heard from seven witnesses at Walter Nixon’s trial who had not testified before the House; three at Clinton’s trial who also had not testified before the House; and 17 at Porteous’s trial who had not testified before the House.

People have protested the Electoral College because a minority of people in the United States, 63 million, put DDT in the Oval Office over the wishes of the majority, 66 million people. The same situation exists in the Senate. The 53 senators who defeated amendments to have witnesses, subpoena first-hand witnesses, and present new information represent only 153 million people while the outvoted 47 senators represent 168 million people. These 53 senators oppose the majority of people in the U.S. who want witnesses to testify in the Senate’s impeachment trial. In 2018, Democratic Senate candidates won the popular vote by eight points, 54 to 46 percent, but Republicans picked up two additional seats in the Senate. The reason for this imbalance of power comes from the Founding Father who protected slave-owner states when they wrote the Constitution. The 34 senators who can block DDT’s removal from the Oval Office can represent only seven percent of the nation’s population. Seven percent of the U.S. population can keep a corrupt president who believes that he has the right to seek foreign aid to be elected.

DDT’s legal team is scheduled to begin its 24 hours of presentation on Saturday after the 24-hour allotment for House managers. Former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) surmised that DDT’s lawyers will wait until Monday because Fox viewers watch less on the weekend. She was almost right: DDT’s defense plans about two hours on Saturday and wait until Monday for a longer presentation. DDT called Saturday, “Death Valley in T.V.” After the defense team closes, senators have 16 hours for questions before a vote on additional witnesses and evidence. McConnell will undoubtedly keep his caucus to his personal schedule, acquitting DDT before his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, February 4.

Schiff said that if DDT were not stopped, he would continue his corruption and extortion. Schiff was right, for example DDT’s threat to withhold federal funding from California unless the state drops its requirement that private insurers cover abortions. This is money allocated to the state that was sent to the federal government in taxes. Five other states have the same requirement as California for insurers.

Opinion favoring impeachment of DDT, his removal from office, and need for witnesses in a trial have slowly crept higher, but polarization has remained between the two sides. A study from Pew Research purports that opinions come from media that people watch. Research used 30 news sources running the gamut from Rush Limbaugh to the New York Times. The few news outlets that Republican trust were on the list of those that Democrats distrust, including Fox network and radio programs from Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. In the November 2019 survey, at least one-third of Republicans received political or election news from only Fox network, but one-third of Democrats got the same news from five different sources—CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC.

Almost two-thirds of Republicans and leaner trust Fox as a source, and 60 percent found political or election news from that source in the previous week. Among Democrats and leaners, 67 percent trust CNN, and 53 percent got news from that source. The difference in news outlet trust is even higher among conservative Republican and liberal Democrats, and the partisan divides grew in the past five years although the Democrats’ levels of trust and distrust has changed much less that those of Republicans. The report has a wealth of information.

Fox promised gavel-to-gavel video of the impeachment trial, but last night, it ran the trial in a small box at the corner without audio while Tucker Carlson smeared Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a U.S. patriot who testified to what he heard on DDT’s so-called “perfect” telephone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 when he extorted Zelensky for an investigation into DDT’s political rival, Joe Biden. Sean Hannity played a few clips of Schiff which he called “mindless rambling.” To Fox, gavel-to-gavel means about 22 seconds during prime time. And that’s all that most Republicans know about the impeachment trial.

January 22, 2020

Dems Begin Impeachment Case

Filed under: Immigration,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:56 PM
Tags: , ,

As the impeachment trial started yesterday with an exhausting 13-hour session, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) crowed about the way that his Senate minions also obstructed justice. His most revealing statement—thus far—was when he bragged:

“Honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.”

DDT couldn’t have been talking about the “material” that his legal team had because they had no defense to the evidence presented by the House managers as they passed motions, including requests for “first-hand” documents and witnesses. All ten motions were tabled, nine of them by 53 votes, the number of GOP senators. One motion, the one to have live testimony instead of videotaped depositions, received one GOP vote, that from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), but was still tabled.

The lack of materials on DDT’s legal team table [top center] compared to the piles of papers in front of House managers [center] indicates the lack of evidence. These are some of the lies told by Pat Cipollone, Jay Sekolow, and minor DDT team members:

False Claim: Republicans didn’t have access to key information during House impeachment inquiry because they weren’t allowed into the secure facility where congressional member review classified information about the impeachment inquiry. Fact: GOP House members not only had access to the area, but many of them also used it. The dozens of House Republicans who stormed the area were among 48 members of one of the three committees taking part in the process of inquiry. 

False Claim: Rep. Adam Schiff “manufactured” DDT’s comments during the July 25 call to Zelensky. Fact: For dramatic effect, Schiff was clearly paraphrasing the call transcript that had already been made public and said that his summary was “shorn of its rambling character and in not so many words.”

False Claim: House Democrats delayed the delivery of articles of impeachment longer than they did. Fact: McConnell postponed the trial until January.

False Claim: DDT “was denied the right to cross-examine witnesses” during the House inquiry. Fact: DDT was invited to himself or assign lawyers question witnesses during the open hearing of the impeachment inquiry. The person who made this false claim was invited to question House witnesses.

False Claim: DDT denied all subpoenas because of executive privilege, his right that he can keep his sensitive conversations with staff secret. Fact: DDT has never invoked executive privilege. 

False Claim: The transcript for DDT’s phone call to Zelensky was released. Fact: DDT’s version of the transcript was released; the real transcript is hidden in a highly secure computer server.

False Claim: Security assistance funds were not mentioned in the July 25 call between DDT and President Zelensky. Fact: Zelensky thanked DDT for the Javelin antitank weapons and wants to order more. DDT responded, “I have a favor to ask, though.”

False Claim: House Democrats have done nothing but attack DDT. Fact: The House has sent over 400 bills, 275 of them bipartisan, to the Senate, bills that Majority Leader McConnell refused to forward to the floor of the Senate. It has also passed a budget and a trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

False Claim: House Democrats started trying to impeach DDT from the day that they came to Congress in 2018. Fact: A few Democrats talked about impeachment last year, but the impeachment inquiry did not start until a whistleblower reported that people reported DDT was trying to extort Ukraine for his personal election gain.

False Claim: Other presidents have withheld aid for foreign countries just as DDT did. Fact: DDT withheld aid for his personal political benefit not for the good of the country.

As Schiff pointed out, DDT’s legal team has no argument on the merits so they “attack the House managers” for distraction. Regarding the GOP vote against demanding that DDT comply with subpoenas, Schiff pointed out that a vote for DDT means that Congress can never again demand subpoenas from any president for any issue.

Even the lawyer called by Republicans to defend their case in the House Judiciary Committee won’t support DDT’s current legal team’s statements. Jonathan Turley refused to swallow the myth that “abuse of power” is not actually an impeachable offense. He said that DDT and his defenders are making a “mistake by reducing the definition of impeachable conduct to the criminal code. It is an argument that is as politically unwise as it is constitutionally shortsighted.”

Despite her accusation that impeachment is a conflict of interest for senators running for president, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) illegally left the Senate trial to appear on the Fox network. One of the rules, set by Republicans, is that “Senators should plan to be in attendance at all times during the proceedings.” Breaking the rules is “punishable by imprisonment.” Blackburn said that the House should have heard from more witnesses in its proceedings if they wanted, ignoring the fact that DDT blocked their appearances even when some of them were subpoenaed.

To show how warped Blackburn’s reasoning is, DDT refuses to release 20 emails between Mick Mulvaney’s top aide Robert Blair and member of the OMB Michael Duffey about the freeze on the Ukrainian military aid package despite a court order that he do so. Blair and Duffey are two key witnesses with first-hand knowledge of the extortion along with chief-of-staff Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.

Today, even more GOP Senators broke McConnell’s rules: about 21, one-third of the total, wandered in and out walked out of the chamber during Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) presented arguments, and others chatted during Rep. Jason Crow’s (D-CO) arguments. Some GOP senators, all jurors, said they left because they were bored. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) disagreed with how much his colleague know, saying that they are “hearing the prosecution’s case for the first time.” Not only can they not “do impartial justice,” they can’t even be courteous enough to stay to hear the information. Meanwhile 11 million people in the U.S. are watching the trial. 

Adding to the GOP arguments against impeachment such as “no crime,” so what, and “things happen,” law professors Richard W. Painter and Bandy X. Lee listed a fourth reason in an op-ed for Law & Crime:

“We believe that Donald John Trump should not, and cannot, be tried for impeachable offenses, as set forth by the House of Representatives, because of his apparent mental incapacities.” 

Lee is a Yale University professor in law and forensic psychiatry; Painter, who teaches law at the University of Minnesota, was the chief White House ethics counsel for George W. Bush. They cited DDT’s saying he didn’t know Lev Parnas when “mountains of evidence” show that he does and “Sharpiegate,” in which invented erroneous information on the path of Hurricane Dorian instead of admitting he made a mistake.

According to the authors, DDT’s “Twitter storms” demonstrate a “serious level of dysfunction.” The data shows that DDT’s state of mind makes it “unfathomably dangerous” for him to be “authorized to order the use of nuclear weapons.” In that mental state, he should be “temporarily removed from office under the 25th Amendment”—not subjected to an impeachment trial, “unless he is found to be mentally competent to stand trial under the principles of justice well established in the United States…. Until there is an evaluation, the determination that he is competent to stand trial cannot be made nor assumed.”

A CNN survey shows that 69 percent of respondents want witnesses who did not testify before the House impeachment inquiry in the Senate trial. A plurality of Republicans, 48 percent, agree. Seventy percent think that DDT acted unethically, and 63 percent believe he probably broke the law. Of voters, 58 percent say DDT abused the powers of his office to benefit himself politically, and 57 percent say he obstructed the House impeachment inquiry. And 22 GOP senators are up for re-election this year.

DDT’s anxiety ratcheted up as he left the cocoon at Davos (Switzerland) and returned to non-stop media attention on his impeachment trial. His reason for preventing John Bolton from testifying is fear. Before he flew home, DDT said, “You don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms.” Trump said at a news conference before departing from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “And that was due to me, not him.” DDT’s 140 tweets today was a record for one day. The Republicans will acquit the man who Schiff compared to a “despot,” meaning the mentally-imbalanced George III, but the impeachment process has already damaged DDT’s legacy.

January 20, 2020

Will Trade Deals Overcome Impeachment?

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has gloated about how good he is at making business deals; he even hired a writer for The Art of the Deal with his name as author. Last week, Congress signed a “replacement” for NAFTA, and DDT signed “phase one” in a trade deal with China. 

Former White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn said DDT’s tariffs “hurt the U.S.” and didn’t help trade deal negotiation. The steel and aluminum tariffs didn’t help the economy, said DDT’s former appointee, partly the reason he left his job. Cohn also said that tariffs didn’t help DDT pass either trade deal.

DDT maintained that China promised to make huge purchases of U.S. goods, including soybeans and pork, but the agreement has a loophole for China about “market conditions.” Skepticism about the deal caused soybean prices to fall, and tariffs on U.S. farm exports worth billions of dollars remain. U.S. farm goods sales to China in 2018 were $9.1 billion, a 50 percent drop from a year earlier and much lower than the peak of $26 billion in 2012. They have a long way to go.

The China deal failed to fulfill DDT’s campaign promise, to force China into changing its economic policies, the ones that DDT said disadvantaged workers and companies. Missing are any changes to China’s huge subsidies to Chinese companies which has greatly benefited the family of Elaine Choe, Transportation Secretary and wife to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the agreement keeps some tariffs that cost U.S. consumers.

China also reinstated semiannual talks about reform and disputes that DDT had discontinued. Marc Busch, professor of international business diplomacy at Georgetown University, called the deal “more a cessation of hostilities, phase one, coupled with some barter” instead of a trade agreement. Other experts doubted whether DDT will achieve a “phase two.” Scott Kennedy, senior adviser and trustee chair of Chinese business and economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, called it a “very narrow deal. It’s far short of the administration’s original goals, and the US and the international community has paid a very large price for what is a relatively modest deal.” The next time around, DDT may not say that trade wars are good and easy to win as he swivels his focus to tariffs on France and Germany.

In the meantime, the “deal” that DDT made with China returns it to the status quo before he was inaugurated.

The number of DDT’s lies and misleading claims have spiked since he was inaugurated. Of the 16,241 falsehoods during his first three years, 1,999 (six a day) were in 2017, 5,689 (almost 16 a day) in 2018, and the remaining 8,155 (over 22 a day) were in 2019. Here’s a breakdown.

Many of these lies were in his speech to the Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention last Sunday in Austin (TX). DDT claimed that farmer income fell under President Obama when it topped out at the highest it’s ever been in 2013. Taking credit for the $30 billion increase in net farm income, he didn’t point out the $22.4 billion were government subsidies. Last year, farm subsidies hit their highest levels–$22.4 billion and one-fifth of farmer’s money—in over a decade during George W. Bush’s second term, bailouts going primarily to corporate farms. Farmer suicides increased under DDT, and equipment costs went up while farmers with smaller farm lost money.

DDT told farmers that he had also provided “unprecedented support” to the ethanol industry, but he had to change his policy after protests from Midwestern lawmakers and lobbying groups. The visa program also doesn’t allow for enough farmworkers. He falsely suggested that Canadian dairy tariffs were eliminated and that the deal with Japan to reduce tariffs on $7 billion of farm products was a “$40 billion deal.” 

DDT bragged at the conference that the GOP had never been stronger, a claim negated by shifts to Democrats since his inauguration. An awkward part of his speech came from his claim that he fought for farmers’ water rights and ability to control their own usage. DDT is presently suing to take land from ranchers and farmers to build his wall—some of the land owned since before Texas became a state.

DDT’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada keeps almost 90 percent of its predecessor, NAFTA, which DDT proclaimed “the worst trade deal ever made.” The other ten percent comes from the Trans-Pacific Partnership which DDT called a “disaster” and a “rape of our country.” The trade agreement raises auto prices and hurts the U.S. auto industry, according to a federal government analysis.

Both these deals increase trade barriers rather than removing them—and without providing great benefits. Instead of the GOP’s philosophy of anti-tax and pro-market, the Chinese deal does both. Tariffs (aka taxes) remain on $360 billion of Chinese goods, taxes that are paid by U.S. consumers, raise costs for U.S. companies to do business, and risk U.S. jobs. DDT’s tariffs tax products that U.S. manufacturers use to make their goods, and manufacturing has reacted by being in a recession for almost half a year. Despite farm subsidies that were double the amount of the 2009 auto bailout (which DDT constantly criticized), farmer bankruptcies went up 24 percent last year. And the auto industry paid back the loans they received.

Catherine Rampell described the effect of DDT’s trade wars after two years:

“They’ve fractured our international alliances, imposed tens of billions of dollars of new taxes on Americans, resulted in two expensive agricultural bailouts, multiplied farmer bankruptcies and landed the manufacturing sector in a recession.”

This week, DDT is spending another $3.4 million of taxpayer money to give a speech at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. To help spend the $1 million for lodging, some members of the White House entourage will be staying at the Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère, a historic luxury hotel near the city center. The Secret Service will pay more than $400,000 for agents to stay at the Bad Ragaz, a five-star resort featuring indoor and outdoor thermal spas. Costs on top of the $3.4 million are security expenses, salaries, and another $2.2 million for the Air Force round trip between the U.S. and Zurich and the Marine One helicopter between Zurich and Davos.

DDT landed at the resort today and then flies out after his speech (watch for more lies!) before the meeting does its business, working on the problem of climate change. His company includes Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer, Labor secretary Eugene Scalia, and Transportation secretary Elaine Chao along with daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. Last year, DDT canceled his appearance at the last minute because of the government shutdown, but still cost taxpayers $3.2 million in unused hotel rooms and rental cars.

His keynote speech tomorrow is on the opening day of his impeachment trial in the Senate. Republicans have a new defense for DDT beyond denial and the “so-what” response: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) came up with “things happen.” In one interview, he moved from DDT didn’t seek foreign election assistance to he did do that but it wasn’t important, and finished by calling DDT’s actions a “mistake” but who cares.

In “Is the Oath a Joke,” conservatives William Kristol and Jeffrey K. Tulis wrote about GOP senators who declared their votes in favor of DDT before they swore under oath to “do impartial justice”:

“Human beings will still be fallible, opinionated, even prejudiced. Indeed our Founders expected no less. But there is a big difference between lamentably falling short of the highest standard and actively scorning it. Might citizens press their Senators to summon up some buried residue of decency and a modicum of impartiality?”

The impeachment trial begins tomorrow at 1:00 EST, beginning with procedural questions. Senate Majority Leader McConnell issued draconian rules today that will likely be debated, for example 24 hours for each side over two days. The possibility of witnesses is still up in the air. Every dissension requires a vote with a simple majority for passing the proposals. The Senate has 47 Democrats and Independents. The vote on accepting witnesses comes after open argument from each side and 16 hours set aside for written questions from senators, according to McConnell. Schumer said that the rules “don’t even allow the simple, basic step of admitting the House record into evidence at the trial.”

The Senate controls the videoing of the trial which means limited views, and the setting will appear more like a courtroom than a legislative assembly. Reporters are permitted in seats above the central rostrum but cannot bring cameras, laptops, cell phones, or any other electronic devices. No cameras or media are allowed in closed session for Senate debate. TV correspondent are on the first floor of the Senate side. Outside the chamber, reporters are penned off behind a velvet rope. C-SPAN and the Fox network plan gavel-to-gavel coverage, and CNN will stream the proceedings online. PBS will cover the proceedings and return to it after the nightly NewsHour broadcast. Senators are not allowed to talk, tweet, or text. Questions must be written and handed to Roberts.

McConnell is desperately trying to get the trial over before DDT’s State of the Union speech on February 4. It is not unprecedented for a president to give that speech while tried for impeachment—Bill Clinton did it in 1999—but DDT lacks the self-control of Bill Clinton. DDT has already demonstrated an inordinate degree of fury and unreasonableness, far more than any other person occupying the Oval Office.

The next few days will not be peaceful ones in the Senate, and Chief Justice John Roberts may struggle with his judicial leadership.

January 17, 2020

DDT: Week 156 – ‘Trump Knew … What Was Going On’

Another busy, frustrating week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), that Kerry Eleveld called a “five-alarm fire” for the White House.

  1. The Government Accountability Office reported that DDT’s administration broke the law freezing congressionally-allocated funding for Ukraine.
  2. Rachel Maddow’s interview with Lev Parnas, associate of DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, revealed the unethical and possibly illegal machinations of DDT, his administrations, and his shadow associates in Ukraine.
  3. Ukraine started a criminal investigation into DDT’s allies.
  4. Seven House “managers” took two articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.
  5. GOP senators who vociferously claimed to exonerate DDT swore under oath to “do impartial justice.” Many of the 22 GOP senators up for re-election this year, including appointed Martha McSally from Arizona, search for exists from their dilemma such as lying, avoid facts, and smearing the media.

1. On the same morning that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swore in all the senators for DDT’s impeachment trial—senators who may have lied under oath when they swore they would “do impartial justice,”—the non-partisan federal GAO ruled that DDT violated the law in withholding aid designated for Ukraine. The Impoundment Control Act mandates that the Executive Branch cannot make funding changes without asking Congress to reconsider its allocations. Congressional members weren’t even notified of DDT’s decision.

The OMB claimed the freeze was “to determine the best use of such funds” and “necessary to ensure that the funds were not spent ‘in a manner that could conflict with the president’s foreign policy.'” The GAO called that reasoning “impermissible” because the president cannot “substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law.” The OMB’s claim of the hold being a “programmatic delay” has “no basis in law,” according to the GAO decision.

2. MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow show devoted almost two hours to Maddow’s interview with Parnas as he explained how DDT, Giuliani, and AG Bill Barr directed the extortion of Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky to force him into an announcement of an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter for DDT’s political benefit. Parnas has enough texts, documents, and notes to make many of his statements ring true, especially when members of the State Department, such as Gordon Sonderland, made the same testimony. Parnas said:

“President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all of my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani [DDT’s personal secretary] or the president.”

Like DDT’s comments about other people who give damaging information about him, he kept declaring that he doesn’t know Parnas—nine times in two minutes. Multiple photographs of Parnas and DDT together have long been on the internet, and a video of them has also surfaced. Parnas’ phone records also have contacts with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who played a key part in defending DDT on the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment inquiry. A month ago, Nunes couldn’t “recall” Parnas’ name but regained his memory this week although he claimed they were “talking about random things.” [Newly-released documents show extensive contact between Parnas and a Nunes aide to obtain damaging material from Ukrainian prosecutors about Joe Biden.] Despite photographs to the contrary, DDT’s White House aide Kellyanne Conway suffers from the same amnesia as does House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Parnas also gave information about VP Mike Pence’s involvement in the Ukrainian scheme, for example, when Pence went to Poland on DDT’s behalf to meet with Zelensky.

Knowing about Parnas’ actions, Barr refused to release Parnas’ documents for three months to the House for its impeachment inquiry. Parnas told Maddow that the DOJ would make corruption charges against Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash disappear if he would provide damaging information against Joe Biden and that Barr knew about the potential deal. Firtash gave Parnas $1 million, and Parnas retained Giuliani’s firm while working for Giuliani to give attorney-client confidentiality to DDT because Giuliani represented both him and Parnas. Barr ultimately did not intervene in Firtash’s case but met with his lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova. The DOJ refused to answer questions from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) about why Firtash has not been extradited.

Parnas told Maddow that he is being open about the events to protect himself from Barr. He said:

“[Officials in the Justice Department are] trying to scare me into not talking. My wife is scared. My kids are nervous.”

After claiming that she was putting together a “small” group of senators to vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) accused the House of doing “an incomplete job” by not addressing evidence from Parnas until after the impeachment articles were released. Information that Barr was suppressing. Since her vote for the tax cuts for the wealthy and Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, Collins, up for re-election this year, has gone from the most popular GOP senator at 82 percent to the least popular at 42 percent, even below that of the generally-hated Mitch McConnell. Collins walks a very fine line between pleasing DDT to get money from him for her campaign and getting votes from dissatisfied constituents.

3. According to texts from Robert Hyde on Parnas’ phone, the DDT donor was tracking former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch last March.  A few of his statements:

“They know she’s a political puppet. They will let me know when she’s on the move… They are willing to help if you/we would like a price.”

“Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money… what I was told.”

These statements fit with DDT’s comments to Zelensky in the July 25 telephone call about Yovanovitch:

“Well, she’s going to go through some things.”

Robert Hyde is a member of conspiracy-theory ridden QAnon, designated by the FBI as a possible domestic terrorism threat.

Yovanovitch’s anti-corruption work threatened pro-Russians working with Parnas, Giuliani, and others. The U.S. ambassador escaped Ukraine last spring after she was notified by a superior during an important ceremony to “get on the next plane to the U.S.” She immediately left the country. After this information became public, Pompeo cancelled a classified congressional briefing about embassy security, a mandatory monthly event.

Ukraine’s national police has asked the FBI for assistance in its new investigation regarding these illegal activities.  According to Ukrainian authorities, an ambassador possibly being “under illegal surveillance and her electronic gadgets … interfered [with] by the private persons at the request of the US citizen” can be a violation of both Ukrainian laws and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which protects diplomats on foreign soil.

4. The seven managers from the House to prosecute DDT in the impeachment trial in the Senate delivered two articles of impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi selected these prosecutors with an emphasis on litigators, comfortable in the courtroom. Six are lawyers; the seventh, Val Deming, served as the first female chief of the Orlando (FL) Police Department. Leaders are Committee Intelligence Chair Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) and Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Pelosi also achieved diversity in her selection: three of the seven (Deming, Garcia, and California’s Zoe Lofgren) are women; Demings and Hakeem Jeffries (NY) are black; and Sylvia Garcia (TX) is Latina. Jason Crow (CO) and Garcia not only provide geographic diversity but also represent the freshmen House class.  

5. The GOP senators have presented two defenses for DDT: what he did wasn’t illegal and so what–known as the “what about it” response. 

DDT first wanted a big show for the trial but now wants the trial dismissed. GOP senators rejected the idea. McConnell first claimed he had enough votes to keep any witnesses or documents from the trial, but a few GOP senators consider joining Democrats to vote for a real trial with witnesses instead of a sham. McConnell plans keep the trial from media reporting and block the trial from being filmed although the House hearings were available for public viewing. He also wants to block media access to senators as they come and go from the chamber and deny access to reporters to and in the elevators.

The “imminent” trial is unhinging DDT. He kept a student audience waiting for an hour to hear about prayer so that he could watch senators sign their oath. After reporters’ questions, he whined and exaggerated his trade deals and furiously talked about the impeaching being a “hoax,” over and over again. Then he shouted in a tweet, “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!” Following that, he begged retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to vote against witnesses in the trial. His meeting with aides also focused on impeachment. During his ceremony for national champion LSU football team, DDT devolved into swearing about an attempt to impeach him. (He’s already impeached.) Why is he so afraid if he’s done nothing wrong?

The Senate convenes for opening arguments in DDT’s impeachment trial at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

January 12, 2020

The Messiah Keeps Failing

Televangelist Jim Bakker told his audience that “Trump is a test whether you’re even saved. Only saved people can love Trump.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has now been raised to the level of Jesus. Here are a few of this week’s actions connected to the evangelists’ new Messiah.

Taxpayers have funded the DOJ for over two years to investigate the conspiracy theory regarding corrupt in the Clinton Foundation The inquiry to satisfy conservatives is over. The investigation found nothing in contrast to the discovery of massive corruption in DDT’s “charity” foundation. It’s the 1990s all over—nothing there. Now DDT is hoping for “better” results from the DOJ investigation into the origins of the FBI’s 2016 examination into a tie between DDT’ campaign and Russia.

DDT’s fixer, AG Bill Barr, may be the subject of an investigation after the New York City Bar Association asked Congress to investigate Barr for making the DOJ and its prosecutors as “political partisans willing to use the levers of government to empower certain groups over others.” Barr has spoken about the progressives’ “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order” and promised to use the DOJ to resist “forces of secularization.” He criticized DAs from large cities “who style themselves as ‘social justice’ reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook, and refusing to enforce the law,” according to a letter from 450 450 former federal prosecutors working in GOP and Democratic administrations.” Barr also misrepresented DOJ reports to protect DDT and manipulated the agency for the same end.

After DDT gave states permission to take Medicaid coverage from people who don’t meet work requirements, several red states took advantage of another way to punish the poor. Now, six states—Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, and Virginia—have reversed or suspended these increased restrictions because of legal challenges and coverage losses. Maine governor Janet Mills said that more people were uninsured with no greater participation in the workforce. Arizona cited “the evolving national landscape.” Kentucky has a new Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, who campaign against the new work plan, protecting health coverage for almost 100,000 low-income state residents. Michigan’s new Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, urged a reversal of the work requirement which could cause up to 183,000 Michiganders to lose coverage because of its highly restrictive statute. Arkansas may be take coverage from people who should be exempt by their law because almost 25 percent of the target population lost coverage in the first seven months and work requirements haven’t helped people find jobs. Federal courts have already vacated work requirement waivers in three states because they fail to meet the central objective of Medicaid.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants to keep hiding how taxpayer money is being spend on DDT when he leaves the White House and on DDT’s family—at least after the 2020 election. This agreement with Congress is connected to Mnuchin’s attempt to move the Secret Service DHS to Treasury. DDT complained about the $96 million cost for President Obama’s travel in eight years, an amount possibly equaled during DDT’s first year. The White House has refused to divulge any travel expenses for over two years.

DDT may have been able to pardon possible war criminal retired Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn before his murder trial, but Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations, won’t reinstate Goldsteyn’s Special Forces tab. The decision now goes to an administrative panel who will also consider reinstatement of Golsteyn’s Distinguished Service Cross.

E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against DDT after his insults about her charges of sexual assault may continue, and a judge okayed the discovery process. DDT had said he was innocent because Carroll isn’t his “type.”

Gerrymandering is one of the reasons that Republicans have taken over the majority of states and then elected DDT through the Electoral College. Although the Supreme Court sometimes blocks gerrymandering if it’s based on racial reasons, the conservative justices will support gerrymandering if Republicans rig the system for the GOP. One person proving the lengths to which Republicans go has released a cache of computer information to show how her deceased father, Thomas Hofeller, drew a vast quantity of maps to make all districts easier for Republicans to win, often to take voting rights from minorities. Stephanie Hofeller has now posted all the files she has on the website thehofellerfiles.com, linking to a Google Drive of Hofeller’s emails and documents tied to his gerrymandering work.

Some of the files went public earlier through court filings and news reports, and Stephanie Hofeller already released a document connected to DDT’s failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census, another method of trying to add GOP districts to control states’ legislatures, House membership, and the presidential election. Hofeller’s 2015 studies shows that adding the question “would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” That discovery caused justices to block the question on the Census.

After Stephanie Hofeller discovered her father had died, she collected his belongings, including hard drives and USB sticks. She gave them to the government watchdog Common Cause that used the information in a North Carolina case about the state illegally drawing districts to favor Republicans. 

Common Cause won its case last fall, a case that may influence anti-gerrymandering lawsuits in other states. Thirteen state Constitutions require elections to be “free and equal,” five more require them to be “free and open,” and eleven others require them to be “free,” offering significant opportunities for other state Constitutional challenges to partisan.” North Carolina legislature is required to redistrict much of the state Senate and House maps with the requirements that they have fairly equal populations, be contiguous and compact, and stick to county groupings. In addition, districts must consider existing municipal boundaries and not consider race. The ruling also mandates compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.  

Unfortunately, the court told the GOP General Assembly to draw new maps which were still biased for Republicans. Soon after, the Wake County Superior Court ordered the start of candidate filing. Because dates for the primary elections could not be changed, the current gerrymandered districts be used for the 2020 elections.

Losing a question about citizenship on the Census, DDT has persuaded DHS to share government data so that the Census Bureau can get this information for everyone in the U.S. His goal is to redraw districts based on the number of eligible voters instead of residents, as required by the Constitution. This method would also benefit Republicans and non-Hispanic white people. DHS is releasing information that cannot be obtained with the person’s consent or a waiver from the DHS secretary. Latinx community groups are suing the administration because of DDT’s new plan. Another reason for lawsuits is that the process may not produce accurate data.

DDT is still on the campaign trail, and his speeches keep getting longer with more lies. At over two hours, the December 18 speech had 120 fact-free declarations, 67 percent of the total statements. In his most recent speech, DDT focused on lies about Iran and Ohio’s economy. He’s still calling for the audience to chant “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton, apparently not understanding that she is not a 2020 presidential candidate.

DDT is refusing to comply with a court order to release 40 pages of emails between Robert Blair, top aide to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and a member of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, about the freeze on Ukraine’s congressionally mandated military aid package. The 300 pages of emails already released show the growing tension between the Pentagon and the White House in late August and early September.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is calling for changes to the Senate impeachment rules, a pattern that the Republicans have used for all their wins when they are in the majority. Chances of changes are unlikely because 67 votes are necessary for revising rules amenable to Republicans. By now DDT wants to cancel the impeachment trial. His tweets today show that he’s increasingly obsessed with impeachment, moving closer to panic.

Disappointment at the low December job increase of 145,000 caused the stock markets to drop. The average monthly jobs gains for 2019 were 176,000, a drop from 223,000 in 2018. Average hourly earnings rose by a mere 0.1 percent in December to make the annual increase 2.9 percent. This increase is approximately equivalent to inflation, and much of it comes from minimum wage increases in a few states. Economists say wages are not growing as fast as they should be, especially for those who aren’t seeing a boost from state and local minimum wage increases.

More jobs were created in the last 34 months of the Obama Administration (7.7 million or 227,000/month on average) than the first 34 months of the Trump Administration (6.1 million or 178,000/month on average through November 2019. This total is the smallest since 2011.

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