Nel's New Day

December 11, 2019

Impeachment on Its Way

Well, the House Judiciary Committee really did it. They really prepared articles of impeachment against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The two articles seem brief, but they are clear—representing his corruption since his inauguration.

Article One charges DDT with abuse of power because he “solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election .. through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage.” The charge added that DDT tried to pressure Ukraine “for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit … and compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process.”  The charge proceeds with specific details about DDT’s corrupt actions and includes Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign to elect DDT.

Article Two charges DDT with obstruction of Congress after he “directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with … subpoenas [to testify]” and refused to provide documents requested through subpoenas despite the U.S. Constitution giving the House “the sole Power of Impeachment.” Both Nixon and Clinton impeachments used the argument and this defiance is an impeachable offense. According to the charge:

“In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’ This abuse of office served to cover up the President’s own repeated misconduct and to seize and control the power of impeachment — and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.”

Bribery was not included because the criminal charge would end up in debate about statutory elements and judicial precedents. Impeachment does not require a specific crime.

Republicans have called for dragging out the impeachment, but House Intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff stated that time is of the essence to keep DDT from continuing his calls for 2020 election interference.

The impeachment inquiry came four days after the release of the second House impeachment inquiry report, this one 52 pages, from the Judiciary Committee. Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) tweeted:

Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) tweeted:

“President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment.”

After the report was released, the White House counsel told House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) to “end this [impeachment] inquiry now,” indicating that he thinks the executive branch is in charge of impeachment. DDT also refused to send lawyers to the committee hearings.

Two days later both Democratic and Republican lawyers testified and answered questions before the Judiciary Committee. Monday’s hearing was a lot of hot air with Republicans focusing on process because they had no defense against the substance of DDT’s corruption. The GOP lawyer, Stephen Castor, used Russian propaganda to push the conspiracy theory about Ukraine meddling in DDT’s election and referred only on the July 25 telephone call, ignoring the senior federal officials who testified about a quid pro quo. Castor could only claim that Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky’s said that he felt no pressure. Zelensky was actually pressured into saying what he did because DDT holds the winning hand in a “power disparity.” Castor also claimed that Joe Biden isn’t a legitimate political opponent for DDT and implied that DDT was too incompetent to carry out corruption of foreign policy, an earlier GOP talking point. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) argued that people in the U.S. are doing fine so there should be no impeachment inquiry. 

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), rabid DDT supporter, may be breaking with him. About DDT’s private secretary Rudy Giuliani traveling to Ukraine this week to find “dirt” on the Bidens, Gaetz said:

It’s weird that he’s over there. It would seem odd having him over there at this time.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper avoided answering Chris Wallace’s question about whether military aid to Ukraine was held up because of political reasons. Sounds like a yes—from DDT’s GOP appointee.

According to Daniel Larison in The American Conservative, “The Case for Impeachment Is Overwhelming.” He concluded:

“Members of the House have been given a simple test of their fidelity to the Constitution. Are they enablers of presidential abuse of power and corruption, or will they do what their oaths of office require of them and hold a corrupt president in check?”

The ultra-conservative caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) keeps sticking with DDT by claiming that Giuliani is “over there [in Ukraine] as a citizen” and that Giuliani should bring anything “inappropriate” to Congress. DDT, who claims he didn’t tell Giuliani to go to Ukraine, has already said that he wants Giuliani to take his discoveries to the House. On CNN, host Dana Bash cut down Meadows’ Russian propaganda after 15 minutes. Meadows also pushed the argument that DDT accidentally named his political rival’s son, Hunter Biden.

DDT said that Giuliani got “a lot of good information” on Biden during his trip to Ukraine, and Giuliani said DDT told him to brief Congress. Barr has told DDT that Giuliani is a liability for him.  One of Giuliani’s meetings in Kyiv was with Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker, formerly a pro-Russian party member and son of a KGB officer. Derkach attended the Dzerzhinsky Higher School of the KGB in Moscow.

Zelensky is doing exactly that DDT said that he wanted—wiping out corruption. One of the at least 569 prosecutors who Zelensky plans to fire is Kostiantyn H. Kulyk, who gave Giuliani ammunition in the form of false information. Zelensky’s new prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, is auditing former investigations into the owner of Burisma, the energy company employing Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Anti-corruption activists believe that the probe will not show any corruption on the part of Hunter Biden because the alleged self-dealing of Burisma’s owner predates Hunter Biden’s relationship with the company. 

Tonight the House Judiciary Committee met to “markup”—in short, to address—the articles. The event was quieter than the earlier ones, but the same defense kept appearing. A popular GOP defense of DDT beyond conspiracy theories is not sending military aid to countries with corruption. Yet DDT hasn’t blocked military aid to Iraq and Afghanistan, countries receiving tens of billions of dollars in the 21st century. The research group Security Assistance Monitor reported that, in its examination of 36 countries receiving U.S. counterterrorism, 24 of them “posed serious corruption risks.” None of them has faced investigation—perhaps because they are not connected to any of DDT’s political opponents.

President Obama was concerned about providing military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to oppose Russian attacks. With his departure, DDT requested, and Congress complied, providing anti-tank missiles in addition to security aid to protect themselves from Russia. DDT did not concern himself with corruption. Last spring, two months before DDT suspended aid and talked about corruption to Ukraine, the Pentagon praised Ukraine’s “substantial” progress in tackling corruption. U.S. provides military aid to a avoid sending large forces overseas. DDT froze the $391 million to Ukraine for his personal benefit.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney won’t testify, but he’s still giving media interviews. This week, he said that “politics can and should influence foreign policy.”

Over 522 prestigious legal scholars have signed an open letter stating that DDT committed “impeachable conduct” and lawmakers would be justified in voting to remove him from office. The letter also stated:

“Conduct need not be criminal to be impeachable. Impeachment is a remedy for grave abuses of the public trust.”

The latest “reason” to close down the impeachment is that it will “hurt people’s Christmas experience.” Former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and former acting AG Matthew Whitaker have been spreading this concern through state TV (aka Fox). Gingrich may have forgotten that, as House Speaker, he led his party through a 14-hour debate before passing two impeachment charges against Bill Clinton—on December 19, 1998, a Saturday. The votes were largely partisan with some GOP defectors: perjury (228-206) and obstruction (221-212). Gingrich, involved in an extramarital affair while pushing Clinton’s impeachment for an extramarital affair, resigned because Democrats picked up five seats. He supported Dennis Hastert (R-IL) for House Speaker who was later convicted for evading bank reporting requirements while bribing the men who he had sexually molested when they were teenagers.   

The members of the House Judiciary Committee return tomorrow for debate. If they vote in favor of the articles, the entire House could vote as early as next week–maybe in time for the 21st anniversary of the vote to impeach Bill Clinton.

 

December 3, 2019

Impeachment Inquiry Report Has New Findings

Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony about impeachment from four constitutional academicians—three selected by the Democrats and one brought by the Republicans, Jonathan Turley, who has already come out against the impeachment of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Today, the House Intelligence Committee revealed more findings in the 300-page report that will be sent to the House Judiciary Committee. In a press release, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the Intelligence Committee, began with a succinct summary of the findings: 

“The evidence is clear that President Trump used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and a debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election. These investigations were designed to benefit his 2020 presidential reelection campaign.”

The Intelligence Committee has 100 hours of depositions from 17 witnesses along with 30 hours of public testimony from 12 of those 17—belying the false GOP accusation of unfair secrecy. Other witnesses, unlike these 17, refused to comply with subpoenas or deliver documents to the House because DDT told everyone, those now employed and others gone from the government, to illegally deny their appearance in the impeachment inquiry. House Democrats will proceed with the case from the information that they have, sending the report to the House Judiciary Committee for review and crafting articles of impeachment. A vote on these articles may be taken before the end of the year.

The articles of impeachment will undoubtedly pursue “abuse of power.” “Obstruction” and the high crime of “bribery” are also being considered. Those who claim to be confused can easily understand the findings, especially with the executive report

“President Trump’s scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign. The President demanded that the newly-elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, publicly announce investigations into a political rival that he apparently feared the most, former Vice President Joe Biden, and into a discredited theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 presidential election. To compel the Ukrainian President to do his political bidding, President Trump conditioned two official acts on the public announcement of the investigations: a coveted White House visit and critical U.S. military assistance Ukraine needed to fight its Russian adversary.”

The report further explains that DDT used multiple allies, both in and outside his administration, for the pressure that he put on Zelensky. The conclusion cites how DDT’s “scheme intentionally bypassed many career personnel [but] it was undertaken with the knowledge and approval of senior Administration officials, including the President’s Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.” These and “other senior White House and Executive Branch officials … facilitated and furthered the President’s scheme, and withheld information about the scheme from the Congress and the American public.” The report describes Mulvaney publicly acknowledgement that DDT “directly tied the hold on military aid to his desire to get Ukraine to conduct a political investigation.” Mulvaney told concerned people to “get over it.” After DDT was discovered to be withholding this aid and extorting Zelensky, DDT then released the aid.

The report has new revelations beyond news about witnesses’ testimony and documents, one of them the damning involvement of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) in the scheme. As the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes played a large part in the questioning of witnesses and his insertion of baseless lies into the record. He was evidently highly complicit in the extortion and tried to cover up this complicity with the hearings.

From telephone records, the finding show phone calls connecting Nunes, DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani, indicted Giuliani associate and plot participant Lev Parnas, Nunes’s staff member Derek Harvey, and Nunes’s former staff member Kashyap “Kash” Patel. Phone contacts between Giuliani, Parnas, Nunes, and John Solomon indicated Nunes’ involvement in creating the false story of Ukraine meddling that now-discredited Solomon wrote for The Hill. Parnas was also instrumental in Parnas’ waging a smear campaign against then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and claimed DDT sent him on a “mission” to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Nunes is already suing CNN for reporting Parnas’ claims the Nunes met with former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin in Vienna and that Nunes talked about investigating the Bidens and the Ukraine meddling conspiracy theory.

The report describes DDT’s troubles beyond pressuring Ukraine:

DDT obstructed justice by blocking access to witnesses, documents and testimony. The report lists a dozen current or former administration officials, ten of them refusing subpoenas, declining to testify because of DDT’s orders. Despite subpoenas, the White House, Office of Management and Budget and the State, and Defense and Energy departments refused to produce documents to the House. [In a ruling mandating that former WH counsel Don McGahn testify before the House, U.S. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson stated that the House and the public will be harmed without McGahn’s live testimony. She wrote that “the DOJ has already harmed the Committee’s interests by successfully delaying its access to other materials.”]

DDT may have broken federal criminal laws by attacking and intimidating witnesses. The report cites four specific examples when DDT tweeted threats against people called to testify before the House committee and the whistleblower who was subjected to over 100 public statements from DDT during a two-month period.

DDT is described in the report as the first president ever “to seek to completely obstruct an impeachment inquiry undertaken by the House.” According to the report, “even President Richard Nixon—who obstructed Congress by refusing to turn over key evidence—accepted the authority of Congress to conduct an impeachment inquiry and permitted his aides and advisors to produce documents and testify to Congressional committees.”

DDT may fail in his attempts to use Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony that first claimed DDT said he didn’t want a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine. Sondland later recanted his earlier testimony which is “at odds with the weight of the evidence and not backed up by any records the White House was willing to provide Ambassador Sondland.” The White House also has no record for the September 9 call which may have occurred two days earlier.

DDT’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky occurred the day after Robert Mueller testified to the House about the Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. Mueller talked about Giuliani’s attempts to hurt the special counsel probe with his false conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the election instead of Russia.

Phone calls between Solomon and Parnas cast doubt on his Solomon’s column from May 2018 referencing a letter from then-Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) Pompeo accusing Yovanovitch of disparaging the DDT administration, a smear campaign designed to undermine and then fire her as ambassador to Ukraine. Tweets and comments from DDT, Giuliani, and Donald Trump Jr in the days after Solomon’s publication article was published built on his allegations and added new “conspiracy theories” connected to Joe and Hunter Biden.

The report makes two important points: The impeachment inquiry is still investigating, and impeachment is necessary to avoid danger:

“Given the proximate threat of further presidential attempts to solicit foreign interference in our next election, we cannot wait to make a referral until our efforts to obtain additional testimony and documents wind their way through the courts. The damage to our system of checks and balances, and to the balance of power within our three branches of government, will be long-lasting and potentially irrevocable if the president’s ability to stonewall Congress goes unchecked. Any future president will feel empowered to resist an investigation into their own wrongdoing, malfeasance, or corruption, and the result will be a nation at far greater risk of all three.”

DDT won’t be taking part in the impeachment inquiry—at least for now. Pat A. Cipollone sent a five-page letter, much of it whining about unfairness, to tell Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) will not be participating in the Judiciary Committee hearings regarding the impeachment inquiry. Cipollone signed the letter “Counsel to the President,” although his position is not legally DDT’s personal lawyer.  DDT’s take on the current impeachment inquiry: It’s totally unfair that I can’t take part in the process, and no, I won’t take part in the process.

DDT followed up his refusal to participate in tomorrow’s hearing by wailing about the Democrats deliberately picking the time of his trip to NATO for the impeachment inquiry. He hates NATO, but he claimed that “this is one of the most important journeys that we make as president.” Last year, he threatened to pull out of the 70-year-old alliance. He grows more unhinged by the day.

The complete report is here.

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