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.

 

October 20, 2016

Trump Keeps Supporters, Loses GOP Politicians

Last night’s presidential debate was a redux of earlier ones. My partner and I bet how long Donald Trump would keep his promise of staying high: I said 20 minutes, and she went for 40 minutes. I won. At the 20-minute report, he started downhill and kept on sliding, just like the last two times. When he wasn’t slinging mud, Trump engaged in what the late Justice Antonin Scalia classified as “argle-bargle” to sound as if he knew what he was talking about. He didn’t.

The biggest headlines about the debate are that Trump won’t promise to accept the results of the election. People should “tune in” on Election Night to see what he had to say, according to the showman in his attempt to take media notice from his sexual assaults. [Note: today Trump may be softening on his claim, but no one is ever sure of his position on anything.]

Some of Trump’s more bizarre statements between snarls of “wrong!” and other interruptions:

“Justice Ginsburg made some very, very inappropriate statements toward me and toward a tremendous number of people, many, many millions of people that I represent. And she was forced to apologize. And apologize she did. But these were statements that should never, ever have been made.” A Trump criterion for a Supreme Court Justice that they be nice to him and bragging about how he made one of them apologize—it’s all about Donald throughout the debate.

“We have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.” Trump’s immigration plan using derogatory terms for Hispanics.

“[Russian President Vladimir Putin would] rather have a puppet as president of the United States.” Clinton’s comment when Trump rejected intelligence that Russia is hacking emails to sway the presidential election. Trump’s response: “No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet.”

“I didn’t even apologize to my wife who is sitting right here because I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know any of these women. I didn’t see these women. These women, the woman on the plane, I think they want either fame or her campaign did it and I think it’s her campaign.” Too much protesting?

“Nobody has more respect for women that I do, nobody.” Laughter from the audience.

“She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. [Clinton] should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect I say it’s rigged.”

“I will look at [the election] at the time. I’m not looking at anything now.” Trump asked about accepting the election results. “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?” After asked a second time.

“Should have gotten it.” Trump’s interruption when Clinton said, “There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged.”

“I sat in my apartment today on a very beautiful hotel down the street known as Trump…” Trump’s interrupted attempt at an infomercial as part of the debate.

“[Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad] is a bad guy. But you may very well end up with worse than Assad …. If she did nothing, we’d be in much better shape…. He’s just much tougher and much smarter than her and Obama.” Trump’s typical admiration for dictators.

“[Aleppo] has fallen, I mean, from any standpoint. What do you need, a signed document? I mean, from any standpoint.” Trump’s falsehood about the city under heavy shelling.

“Such a nasty woman.” Trump’s parting shot at Clinton. [This last one will become a meme for independent women!]

“I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad,” last night’s moderator, Fox network Chris Wallace, said after the huge debacle of Matt Lauer’s town hall in September. Even Wallace’s questions need a fact-checker.

Wallace falsely claimed that “the biggest driver of our debt is entitlements” and  pushed candidates toward a decision on a “grand bargain” when the funds disappear. He wrongly equated the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) analyses of Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s tax and economic policy proposals with the purpose of pushing them toward a decision on a “grand bargain” when the funds disappear. [The CRFB is operated by billionaire Pete Peterson, a member of Nixon’s cabinet, and shows that Wallace was wrong in his question.] Craig Harrington fact-checks the moderator in Media Matter with this chart showing the difference between the two candidates’ plans. Other fact-checking is also available here.  

debt-chart

Wallace also used the Fox fantasy that the “stimulus” created a sluggish economic recovery. The real problem with the stimulus package, according to noted economists, is that it was too small and too focused on tax cuts instead of target spending—both GOP-forced positions.

Other ways that Wallace tried to help Trump:

  • Opening the debate with conservative wedge issues on which Trump failed to score—Supreme Court, guns, abortion, and illegal immigration.
  • Attacking Clinton first and leaving the Trump negatives for later in the debate after people may have tuned out while leading into Trump issues with Wikileaks.
  • Framing the sexual assault question by questioning the truth of the women’s allegations by asking “why would [the women] make up these stories?
  • Trying to bail out Trump after he said he wouldn’t accept the election results by explaining why that was a bad idea and then asking him a second time.
  • Ignoring the debate ground rules by eliminating closing statements.
  • Failing to address issues such as climate change, equal pay, education, lifting people out of poverty, helping the middle class, collective bargaining rights, corporate personhood, money in politics, Wall Street abuses, etc.,etc.

Trump complained that Chris Wallace rigged the debate, but Trump couldn’t even handle the softballs that Wallace tossed him. Jason Easley called Wallace “the most lenient debate moderator towards Trump of the 2016 campaign.”

Last night may have been the first appearance of “Trump TV” when the GOP candidate livestreamed his debate coverage on his Facebook page, complete with advertising and commentary from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Other guests included faithful surrogate Rudy Giuliani. Rumors of a Trump network emerged after a Financial Times report. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has supposedly “informally” approached investment bank LionTree about creating a television network after the election. Variety said that LionTree was not interested, and Trump would likely suffer from a lack of advertising.

GOP Trump-supporting candidates may lose their elections because of Trump’s performance—which was indeed just a performance. I believe that Trump doesn’t want to win the election: he wants to gather followers for his next television show. To him, the last 17 months have been preparation for the next big media deal, and winning the White House would ruin those plans. Trump may be a man without control, but last night he purposefully ruined chances of picking up more votes, his MO throughout his entire campaign. He doesn’t care that he’s bamboozled all those faithful supporters—including the white supremacists—who look to him as a leader into white nationalism and may incite violent riots throughout the country.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer described Trump’s behavior last night as “political suicide.” My partner said Trump did it out of stupidity; I said that he’s trying to throw his chances at the presidency. We’ll never know which of us is right, but in 20 days we’ll know whether we have to bow to King Trump. It comes down to the voters of the United States.

Those who have not had enough of the mud-wrestling presidential campaign can watch the two of them roast each other at the Al Smith Catholic charities dinner.

October 18, 2016

What Direction for Last Presidential Debate

The third presidential debate is scheduled for tomorrow night, and Donald Trump has many issues to address. A major one is the multiple accusations of sexual assault that have dominated the media during the past week, especially with support for the victims. Melania Trump, however, think that people should ignore what her presidential candidate husband, Donald, said because he is a 70-year-old “boy” who was “led on” into “naughty … boy talk” when he was 59 years old. This is her explanation for the person who wants to be leader of a major power in the world.

Melania Trump also doesn’t approve of cyberbullying although her husband is a master of cyberbullying tweets. Melania’s position that all “boys” talk this way about a woman’s “p***y” shows that men aren’t the only gender who promote the country’s rape culture. Despite claims that revelations about Trump’s sexual assault have been released only to destroy his chances at the presidency, this is not the first time that women have described Trump’s sexual attacks on them. It’s just the first time that the media paid much attention.

Donald Trump’s attempt to humiliate someone tomorrow is to invite President Obama’s estranged half-brother and Trump supporter to the debate. Trump has done this as retribution for the president’s request that the presidential candidate quit whining about a rigged election. It is also a way to pander to the people who believe that President Obama was not eligible for that position because he wasn’t born in the U.S.

Then there’s Trump’s accusation that “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.” He claims that the Clintons control the press. He may not have noticed that the media has spent over three decades trying to keep both Clintons from being elected, and this election cycle is no different. Yet Trump received almost $3 billion in free media advertising during the primaries. Even Fox reporter Carl Cameron ridiculed him for the global conspiracy theory.

About that “rigged” election. Mike Roman, known for his promotion of a video regarding “voter intimidation” by New Black Panthers, is in charge to Donald Trump’s poll-watching project. In 2008, two Panthers stood outside a polling place; one Panther, who politely opened the door for people, was there in 2012 and accused of “thuggery.” Roman hasn’t said anything about Virginia resident Daniel Parks, who stood outside Jane Dittmar’s Palmyra (VA-05) congressional campaign office. The white man was there for 12 hours, staring into the office and showing his gun whenever anyone looked at him. Parks claimed to be “a voice for someone who might be a closet supporter of trump.” In the past, Roman ran the Koch network’s internal intelligence agency.

What about Russia? Trump said that he would meet with Vladimir Putin before the inauguration—while Barack Obama is still president. His friendliness with Putin may have gotten him information available only from the Russian controlled agency, Sputnik, a Russian propaganda outlet. The dribble of stolen Clinton-connected emails from her campaign manager John Podesta by Russian government hackers may stop, however, because Julian Assange has lost access to the internet at the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought sanctuary four years ago in order to avoid a rape charge in Sweden. It’s sad that an effort to create transparency has eroded into Assange’s attempt to keep Clinton from the White House.

Rumors are also circulating that long-time Trump supporter Roger Stone may divulge information about the Trump/Russia connection to save his own neck although he’s still denying it.

Another question for the debate is is how many times Trump will lie during the debate. After the 2016 presidential candidate town hall, Toronto Star’s Washington correspondent Daniel Dale found 33 lies in 40 minutes of his talking—one every 1.2 minutes. The data didn’t indicate whether repetition of lies was counted. [You can find some of Trump’s lies here.] The fact that Trump lies five times as much as Clinton gives him five times the media coverage.

Will Trump’s missing tax returns emerge during the debate? Media concern that Trump hasn’t paid federal taxes for two decades because of a massive $916 million declared loss in 1996 disappeared after Trump admitted sexually assaulting women. Trump’s not paying anything to the government, means that taxpayers are paying for services to him, for example the $1.6 million he was paid to fly U.S. Secret Service agents on a plane that he owns. That doesn’t include the money Trump gets from the government to house the agents at his own hotels and the $8.2 million that the Trump campaign—funded by his supporters—has also given to Trump-owned facilities for “rental.”

“Press conferences” in places such as his golf courses and his new hotel in Washington, D.C. are infomercials for his businesses as are sales for his products such as water and steaks. Donald Trump may be right in saying he could be the first presidential candidate to “run and make money on it.”

Will Trump keep sniffing tomorrow night? And whine about not getting to talk as much as Clinton although he had an extra minute—while he whined about not getting as much time?

“I’m a gentleman.” That may be the biggest lie that Donald Trump has told. Before the October 9, 2016 town hall with Hillary Clinton, he had a “press conference” with three women accusing Clinton’s husband of sexual assault and then sat them beside his family during the town hall. He followed that performance by stalking Clinton around the stage while he skulked, brooded, and invaded her space. After the questioning about his professed sexual assaults, Trump said, “I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”

trump-stalk

Clinton responded:

“What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women, what he thinks about women, what he does to women…. We have seen him insult women. We’ve seen him rate women on their appearance, ranking them from one to 10”, as well as his targeting of “immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, POWs and Muslims.”

Trump responded by claiming that nobody “in the history of politics in this nation [has] been so abusive to women [as Bill Clinton]…. Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.” He finished by saying that “Hillary … should be ashamed of herself, if you want to know the truth.” Clinton told him that his “facts” were wrong and quoted Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.”

Trump followed his comments about Clinton’s emails by saying that she would be in jail if he were “in charge of the law in our country” and continued by decrying the country’s foreign policy. For the upcoming debate, Trump brags about being “unshackled” and promises “scorched earth” tactics. His goal in the town hall was to humiliate Clinton because she overwhelmingly won the first debate and was moving ahead in the polls, particularly with women. She’s much farther ahead in all these polls than on October 9, giving a prediction of even worse behavior from Trump than in the town hall.

What the candidates say, however, won’t make any difference to most of the people watching because they already know their “facts.” According to a Pew Research Center, over 80 percent of people in the United States believe that partisans disagree on “basic facts.” That percentage is the same for both Clinton and Trump supporters. Trump is able to persuade people of his “facts” because 25 percent of the people, 48 percent of Trump supporters and 5 percent of Clinton supporters, “completely distrust the economic data reported by the federal government, including statistics like the unemployment rate, the number of jobs added, and the amount of consumer spending.”

In the real world, the unemployment rate has sharply dropped and the budget deficit has shrunk during President Obama’s two terms. Government spending has leveled off, and murder rates are down. Border security has also tightened, and the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the nation has declined. And voter fraud is extremely rare throughout the country. As one Trump backer said to me, these are just numbers, and you can’t believe them. To conservatives, independent media outlets are untrustworthy, and official government data are a conspiracy.

People claim that the bar is lower for Trump because he is inexperienced in politics. In fact, there is no bar for Trump. The bar isn’t even lying on the ground; it’s been removed.

People who can’t watch tomorrow’s debate might want to tune into the Al Smith charity event on Thursday evening. Since this annual happening—actually a roast—was created in 1945, only two presidents, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton, have not spoken at the dinner. In the past, presidents or candidates have not appeared because of conflicts with the Catholic Church, the sponsor and benefactor of the function. This year the question is whether the two candidates who bitterly oppose each other will be speakers. Tune in Thursday.

 

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