The Impeachment of Donald J. Trump

Not long after the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, some friends were over for Passover. We talked about what we were looking to improve on in the next year, and I said, “I really don’t want to go through life thinking that half the country is racist or sexist and loves what this President is doing. I want to know what they were thinking and approach them as rational human beings. And I want to make sure I stay involved.”

I did for a time, scheduling Fridays as my time to call my US Rep or Senators, donated to a mayoral campaign and held a house party, and donated to my governing board member’s reelection campaign for our local community college. But most of my politics became about reading more, a lot more.

I, like many, didn’t know any people from the other side; my Friends’ list was people who supported the same issues that I did. Other than my little sister, I didn’t even know anyone who voted for Trump until much later, and my parents (!) finally admitted that voting for him was a big mistake. I suspected there were others but think their support was, at best, lukewarm driven by the community they lived in.

My sister is a Denver cop and my parents live in Greeley, Colorado so I suspect their support was more about a sense of shared values and who was in their daily circle. At family get togethers (about 2–3 times a year), I’d drop some snarky comment to see if any of my immediately family would take the bait. It didn’t take long for my parents to admit that their vote for him was mostly motivated by how much they didn’t like Clinton. My little sister rarely took the bait, and I don’t think she saw Trump as the sort of existential evil that many of my friends saw.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Trump is a terrible President. He is honestly really bad at this job. But, in the big picture, is he any worse than George W. Bush? Bush presided over the 9–11 attacks, the beginnings of the War in Afghanistan, the deliberate falsehoods that led us into the War in Iraq, and the Great Recession. Bush is really a much worse President (thus far).

While I liked Obama, he screwed up on a lot too, and I don’t want to give him a free pass even though I like him. There were things he did that really betrayed what he ran on. Why weren’t any of the banks that led to the Great Recession really punished? Why didn’t we find our way out of Afghanistan? Why did our foreign policy seem so milquetost (the red line in Syria, the strained relationship with Israel, the Russian invasion of Crimea, the Russian interference in our election), but Obama is fundamentally a decent guy. He’s exactly the kind of guy I’d want to share a beer with, shoot the shit at a basketball game with, or go on long road trips with.

But Trump. I didn’t get it. Every alarm bell I had said this guy was fundamentally corrupt, a con-man, a liar.

And then came the election in 2018. We elected a new Democratic rep in our district because our old Democratic rep became the new governor, our one lone Republican NM seat flipped blue, and our freshman Democratic senator got reelected. At least the house would be able to put the breaks on some of Trump’s odious agenda.

But then there came the phone call. I remember listening to the story on NPR and being a bit confused. Were they really going to bat for violating election law? I know there’s a history of Trump being willing to accept any sort of help he can get, but was this the scandal (after so many of them)? So I started paying attention.

I reconnected with ______________ through a friend from high school when I responded to his comment on her post that every time he tries to talk to someone from the left they just don’t know the facts and will quote MSNBC. I told him that that was funny because that was my experience with Trump supporters and their using of Fox News as their news source. And I started to engage with him and now know he is a die hard Trump supporter. We started posting on each other’s posts, arguing, but neither of us gave up.

As a result, since roughly the end of September, I have been researching and posting on my FB account using sources and a lot of snarky commentary. Sometimes I post as much as three times a day. He’d comment on one post and we’d go back and forth for a bit (not included below) and I’d try to figure out where he got his information and find conservative sources that really disagreed with him. I wasn’t going to convince him using the same sources that most of my friends used. As the Impeachment has dragged on, I’m not entirely sure any statement of facts, contrary views is going to change his position. He’s dug in. But I also noticed that a lot of my friends were reading my posts too. So to that end, I thought I’d collect all the posts I’ve made and continue to make as this story unfolds.

Here’s the complete picture. These are not all the FB posts I’ve made but the ones that for the most part collect my thoughts and research regarding impeachment. On my posts, I include my thoughts, sometimes a quote from the source I’m linking to, and then the source itself (if there is one). Here, however, its going to be a bit different. Instead of showing the URL, I’ve embedded it so you can just click it and go right to the source. Here, I also italicize certain key phrases and unless I state otherwise, the added emphasis is always mine.

September 29, 2019

“We know Trump solicited the head of a foreign government to meddle in the presidential race. We know he tried to cover it up. We know throughout his term he has used his office to enrich himself and his family with no regard for the public good. We know he used the power of his office to protect himself from investigation. We know he used his influence to incite racial and religious hatred against his fellow Americans. We know, in other words, that Trump is not fit to be president./ Democrats don’t actually have a choice…”

Jamell Bouie

September 30, 2019

Not the whole transcript, but Rupert Murdoch’s (FoxNews) owned Wall Street Journal has a 5 minute primer on the conversation….

He is asking the Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

October 2, 2019

ARTICLE 10.That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his high office and the dignity and proprieties thereof, and of the harmony and courtesies which ought to exist and be maintained between the executive and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, designing and intending to set aside the rightful authorities and powers of Congress, did attempt to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States, and the several branches thereof, to impair and destroy the regard and respect of all the good people of the United States for the Congress and the legislative power thereof, which all officers of the government ought inviolably to preserve and maintain, and to excite the odium and resentment of all good people of the United States against Congress and the laws by it duly and constitutionally enacted; and in pursuance of his said design and intent, openly and publicly and before divers assemblages of citizens of the United States, convened in divers parts thereof, to meet and receive said Andrew Johnson as the Chief Magistrate of the United States, did, on the eighteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, and on divers other days and times, as well before as afterwards, make and declare, with a loud voice, certain intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues, and therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces, as well against Congress as the laws of the United States duly enacted thereby, amid the cries, jeers and laughter of the multitudes then assembled in hearing, which are set forth in the several specifications hereinafter written, in substance and effect, that it to say:…

October 7, 2019

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. CLC is adamantly nonpartisan, holding candidates and government officials accountable regardless of political affiliation.

Let’s add this as an additional article:

October 9, 2019

The Constitution actually says nothing about the process the House is supposed to follow when it comes to impeachment inquiries other than that it eventually has to approve articles of impeachment before sending the matter to the Senate. There is historical precedent in two of the prior cases involving presidents for that kind of vote.”

So now we’re supposed to believe he cares about historical precedent?

The same President that Forbes said, “The problem for the country is that if Trump is allowed to get away with this fictional declaration, it risks leading to further erosions and incursions of the Constitution’s checks and balances and a further slide towards autocracy and an undermining of the rule of law.”

Why don’t we let Congress do what the founding fathers laid out as one of their jobs…You may not like that they are doing their job, but elections have consequences…

And why aren’t we demanding that the President do his job…and why are people giving him a pass?

“I think he has got you guys all spun up,” Jordan told Stephanopoulos. “I don’t think he really meant, ‘Go investigate.’ Do you think China is going to investigate [the Bidens]?”

Talking and steering the country and government through speech is literally his job…remember the bully pulpit? What a President says matters.

A new indictment charges that Russians tried to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails on July 27, 2016 — the same day that Donald Trump publicly asked them to do so.

I’m sorry…words matter and having a bullshit artist as President is a really bad idea…

October 10, 2019

So why would he press another country to investigate his political rival when he has the Justice Department, the FBI, etc. at his disposal? Why not demand that Barr investigate it?

Black propaganda attempts to conceal the true source of information so that the target (in this case, the American public) cannot accurately assess the credibility of the message or the motives of the source behind it. By having the information emanate from a separate and more credible outlet, the target audience is more likely to believe it.

Basically, he doesn’t necessarily care if the Biden’s did anything wrong, he just wants to be able to announce that they are being investigated by Ukraine even though it was his political operation (Rudy) that urged the investigation (and used the military aid and meeting at the WH to get it). This is not an investigation trying to find the truth but an investigation trying to publicize another country digging up dirt. It doesn’t matter if there is actually any dirt…

We’re being played…

*****

Nothing to see here…move along….

October 11, 2019

Pretty sure he’ll appeal to the whole appeals court and when he loses there, the Supreme Court. One thing we know for sure besides the 1% getting richer, the deficit exploding, etc. is that a whole bunch of lawyers are making a lot, a lot of money off this administration (and I bet his donors are footing the bill for his defense) while we are footing the bill for getting his records. Save the taxpayers money Trump, release everything Congress wants…If you got nothing to hide…then it shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s all picking up steam now…

“ — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. “It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.

October 24, 2019

Here are the 12 who are putting their desire to protect the President above House rules, who willingly participated in a publicity stunt. Kinda think they should be forced to account for how seriously they take their job-as members of congress vs. henchmen for the President.

Paul Gosar, Arizona; Mark Green, Tennessee; Jody Hice, Georgia; Jim Jordan, Ohio; Fred Keller, Pennsylvania; Carol Miller, West Virginia; Ralph Norman, South Carolina; Mark Meadows, North Carolina; Scott Perry, Pennsylvania; Steve Watkins, Kansas; Ron Wright, Texas; Lee Zeldin, New York

*****

I guess Judge Napolitano didn’t get the memo:

October 25, 2019

So let’s get this out there:

1. The New York Times broke this story and put it as the lead story on their website. Yes, they acknowledge what a lot on the left have been saying, “The opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies” but they are not burying the story.

2. Fox News even quotes the NY Times, “The New York Times reported Thursday that Durham’s criminal review has prompted some CIA officials to obtain criminal legal counsel in anticipation of being interviewed.”

So can we drop the narrative that everything the NYTimes reports is Fake News? They may not be neutral, but they work pretty diligently to report the facts. Yes, facts can be spun, can be highlighted or downplayed, but they still are reporting facts.

3. Does it mean that the FBI acted illegally in opening the Russia/Trump campaign story? Not necessarily. Going from an administrative review to a criminal review means, “The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury and to file criminal charges.” That is strangely similar to moving all the disparate investigations in Congress to a singular Impeachment Inquiry. The committee has more leverage to get witnesses to cooperate.

Maybe we should be storming the AG offices in Connecticut and demanding that the AG open the investigation? Arguing that they are not getting due process? Arguing for access to the records? Shouldn’t all of Congress be able to see how the investigation is being handled?

Yes, I know an impeachment inquiry is different than a criminal investigation. Maybe if the AG wants to appear somewhat fair, he should also open a criminal investigation into the Ukraine affair? Here’s the quote from the relevant statutes, “It shall be unlawful for-

(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make-

(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;”

Wait, still no investigation…um wonder why that is.

5. Perhaps if they want interview Clapper or Brennan and they refuse (which they probably won’t), the Justice Department would slap them with an Obstruction of Justice charge.

In right speak, that is just a “process” crime, so it doesn’t mean they’ve done anything wrong. Regardless, you can still be charged with Obstruction even if you didn’t commit the underlying crime. If they were to be charged, it would point out the blatant hypocrisy of not understanding the nature of obstruction in regards to the Mueller investigation. A possible remedy then would be to highlight that and then add the obstruction of justices charges to the articles of impeachment. “If it’s good for the goose….”

6. The charge that the President is using the Justice Department to conduct a politically motivated investigation is a concern, but frankly, I’m not sure that’s too far afield from what the Justice Department has always done. Was Bobby Kennedy’s investigation into the mob politically motivated? Was the AG’s investigation into AIM or the Black Panthers politically motivated? Absolutely. We may not agree with Trump’s priorities but let’s not pretend the AG, the FBI, etc. have never been used for political purposes.

7. If the FBI acted illegally against the Trump Campaign does that change the findings that Russia interfered with our election in favor of Donald Trump? No. It may mean that Poppadopalous gets out. Does it exonerate Manafort? Nope…he was charged with financial crimes. MIchael Flynn? Who knows.

The FBI used numerous illegal tactics in tracking down the Weather Underground. The FBI is not on our side. We may applaud them for investigating Trump, but we should also keep in mind what they did to Clinton by reopening the investigation into her emails in October of 2016. They are not on “our” side.

So is this a significant development? Sure. Frankly, it doesn’t change the fact that the President appears to have broken the law (see above) nor does it change the fact that Russia interfered in our election in favor of Donald Trump. You may not think either of those things are a big deal…but I do.

*****

Just putting this up here for now.

October 27, 2019

Putting this here:

The connected children thread.

Trump’s kids.

Biden’s kids.

Fact Check.

November 3, 2019

Just an observation. If you really want to make the case that this is a partisan witch hunt, you might want to let at least one member of your caucus vote with the opposition and to open the inquiry. They can still vote against the articles but at least it shows that you aren’t just sticking with the President out of blind loyalty. Maybe the President won’t like it, but aren’t you trying to say the impeachment is a nothing burger?

November 6, 2019

Allegory #1

Every day after school, your son and your neighbor’s son hang out in the neighborhood until dinner. Lately, they’ve been wandering over to the new development nearby and poking around.

One day, you come home to see a security firm truck parked out front. You get out of the car, and are greeted by the security guard. He explains that he’s guarding the development down the street, and caught your son throwing rocks at the newest house and breaking windows that they just put in. He doesn’t want to report your son to the police, but he needs him to steer clear of the development.

You go in and confront your son.

He explains that they (your son and the neighbor’s kid) were just goofing around. They just wondered if they could hit the house with a rock from the fence line. The neighbor’s kid threw first and hit the house and broke a window but nothing else happened. So your son threw a rock and not only hit the house, but broke a window and got caught by the security guard.

What do you do? He wasn’t the only one who threw the rock, but he was the one who got caught.

*****

Allegory #2

At work, you have a certain amount of sidework you have to do before you can go home. When your shift is over, you do your sidework and then go up to the manager (who does the weekly schedule) to check out.

He looks at you, looks at a couple of things you did then says, “Looks good. Do me a favor though? Do you see those boxes and trash by the back door? Can you throw those out for me?”

What do you do? Do you say that’s someone else’s job? Do you refuse to do it knowing that he does the schedule every week and could essentially not schedule you at all? Or do you just throw the boxes away.

*****

Allegory #3

Same job as before only this time, you are hanging out with your bosses after work.

One of the bosses asks the scheduling boss who he got to take out the boxes and trash at shift change.

The scheduling boss smiles and points to you.

The other boss says, “Great. That’s not normally part of the sidework. Did you feel pressured to do it?”

You smile, and say, ….

November 7, 2019

Fox news….

Though a friend of mine says that Napolitano has an axe to grind…

November 13, 2019

Under Obama, the federal government started the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which sent other kinds of U.S. military equipment to the country…

May not have been “lethal” weapons, but it was definitely more than blankets.

*****

Oh…here you go. Here’s the lethal assistance you want…but can you store them over here?

Under the conditions of the foreign military sale, the Trump administration stipulates that the Javelins must be stored in western Ukraine — hundreds of miles from the battlefield.

Kind of like storing your gun in a gun safe in the locked basement when someone is trying to break into your second floor bedroom window.

November 14, 2019

Some observations:

“For Republicans, the key fact is that Ukraine received the money, regardless of any request from Trump for an investigation of Joe Biden or the 2016 U.S. elections.”

Thus the beginning of the narrative, the “No harm, no foul” defense.

Questions:

1) If person A tries to bribe person B and person B refuses to take the bribe, isn’t the act of person A trying to bribe still illegal?

Likewise, the “No harm, no foul” is a variation of the defense the Republican’s used with the Mueller report. He can’t be guilty of obstruction if there is no underlying crime. Of course that’s not how it works.

2) Brought up by many Republicans is the fact that the Ukrainians got the aid and didn’t do the investigation, so what’s the big deal?

*****

The facts:

“AUGUST

Catherine Croft, the special adviser for Ukraine at the State Department, says two Ukrainians reach out to her to ask about the status of the military assistance. She told lawmakers she couldn’t recall the exact dates, but believes the outreach took place before the Aug. 28 publication of a Politico article detailing the hold.

AUG. 12: The complaint

A whistleblower files a formal complaint addressed to Congress that details concerns over the July 25 phone call and the hold placed on the military aid. The complaint is withheld from Congress until Sept. 25.

AUG. 28: The article

Politico publishes details that the military aid to Ukraine is on hold, setting off a scramble among diplomats in Ukraine and the United States.

AUG. 29 AND AFTER: Ukraine’s desperation

William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testified that he did not know the aid had been withheld until after the Politico article appeared, when he started receiving “desperate” calls from Ukrainian officials.

“The minister of defense came to me,” he said. “I would use the word ‘desperate,’ to try to figure out why the assistance was held.”

Taylor said the minister thought if he spoke to Congress, or the White House, he could find out the reason and reassure them of whatever was necessary to get the aid. If the money wasn’t provided by Sept. 30, it would be lost.

SEPT. 9: The investigations begin

Three House committees launch a wide-ranging investigation into the allegations that Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and possibly others, tried to pressure the Ukrainian government to help the president’s reelection campaign by digging up dirt on a political rival.

SEPT. 11: The aid is released

The funds are suddenly released. Senate Republicans said that happened in part because Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, threatened to block $5 billion in Pentagon spending for 2020 if the aid wasn’t given to Ukraine. They said the aid was held up while Trump looked into whether Zelenskiy was serious about fighting corruption. Taylor and other diplomats involved in Ukraine were not given a reason for the aid being released.”

3) Ukraine didn’t ultimately announce that they were going to do the investigation and didn’t even know the aid had been held up. The “you can’t have a “quid pro quo” without the “quo” argument.”

Did Ukraine know before the Politico article that the aid was being held up?

November 18, 2019

In this survey conducted on Saturday & Sunday, November 16–17…58% of Americans say they are following the hearings very or somewhat closely. Additionally, 51% of Americans say that “President Trump’s actions were wrong and he should be impeached by the House and removed from office by the Senate.” Nineteen percent of Americans say President Trump’s actions were wrong but he should not be removed from office and 25% say President Trump did nothing wrong.

Do the math: 70% believe what the President did was wrong.

Maybe not a “perfect call” afterall?

Cue the defense, “The polls predicted Hillary would win too…”

Of course, HIllary did win the popular vote, just not the electoral vote-so they weren’t exactly wrong.

November 19, 2019

John Solomon, who Devin Nunes cites in his opening statement today, is not a journalist; he’s an opinion writer. But, because of impeachment, his work is being scrutinized. It sure would nice if other media outlets would scrutinize their columnists-because some people get their news from the opinion shows, not the news section.

*****

Analysis…so by definition a spin (or interpretation).

Since a complaint from a whistleblower from the CIA — the agency where I used to work — first became public in September, we’ve heard about dirty money from foreign sources meant to influence U.S. policy. We’ve seen reports that Trump asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to do a favor for Trump’s lawyer by getting the Department of Justice to drop a criminal case against a Turkish gold trader. And we’ve seen enter on scene two characters straight out of Little Odessa central casting, with connections to a Ukrainian oligarch the FBI believes is in cahoots with the Russian mafia and who have been working with Trump’s personal lawyer. Trump — and lately his congressional supporters — have used threats and intimidation, attempting to stymie investigators and scare off witnesses, and made others complicit in his actions.

In short, he has tried to transform the U.S. government into his own mafia “family.”

*****

Apparently Nunes doesn’t want to do the research to find out if his sourcing, John Solomon, is credible because he likes to bend the facts to his narrative too.

Similarly, reporters who worked under Solomon as an editor — seven of whom were interviewed for this article — say he often pressured them to mold the truth to his vision of the story. “He had this sort of thesis or idea of what the story was,” says one Center staff member. “Facts be damned.

From an old story in the Columbia Journalism Review.

November 20, 2019

Ken Starr, lead prosecutor in Clinton impeachment hearings: “There is now proof that the President (Trump) committed the crime of bribery…This has been one of those bombshell days.” [Starr doesn’t believe this; he is just summarizing what Schiff is thinking].

*****

In case you didn’t see this…this is our President’s actual talking points for his short visit with the press.

Okay songwriters, here’s verse one. I was thinking maybe to the tune of “I Feel Pretty” from Westside story…but what about you?

*****

Just putting this out there…”Morrison said he never asked his Ukrainian counterparts to investigate the Bidens because “it was not a policy objective.” This from a Republican called witness yesterday, so if they want to complain about the President being interested in “rooting out corruption,” his own guys didn’t think it was a policy.

*****

Throwing this out there… “They understood, as he did, that there was a quid pro quo linking a White House meeting for President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to a promise by him to announce investigations into Mr. Trump’s political rivals, he said.

Zelensky wanted a WHITE HOUSE meeting. He didn’t do the investigation and he still hasn’t gotten his WHITE HOUSE meeting. Yes, he got the aid; yes he had a sit down with the President, but he wanted a WHITE HOUSE meeting, which has still not happened.

So, techinically, President Trump hasn’t kept up his part of the “quid pro quo,” and Zelensky didn’t keep up his part either. Just sayin’ So the defense he got the aid, mischaracterizes what Zelensky wanted. Zelensky may have indeed really wanted the aid but as long as he got the aid, he’d not buckle to the “quid pro quo.”

November 21, 2019

Indeed:

Nunes knew that his intended audience would not bother to review the history as you and I just did. Nunes is not interested in talking with anyone who is interested in checking claims, or verifying statements. He is talking only with people locked into a closed and sealed knowledge system.

This closed knowledge system entraps millions of Americans in a universe of untruth, in which Trump is a victim and the allegations against him are “fake news.” The prisoners and victims of this system live in a dreamworld of lies. Yet it would not quite be accurate to describe them as uninformed. They are disinformed, and on a huge scale. The false-knowledge system supported by Nunes is closed and sealed, but also vast and intricate.”

The world is complicated; if you are just using one source to draw your beliefs from you are doing yourself a disservice. Do your research, read sources that don’t agree with you, verify their information, read more then post. And don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong or fooled; there’s no shame in being open minded.

*****

Do I feel that the Democrats made a strong case for impeachment? Yes. Absolutely.

Impeachment, however, is a political process and as such the burden of proof is not on whether they made their case but whether they can sway public opinion to their side.

Sadly, I don’t think they did. So what do they do about a President who clearly abused his power by trying to get a foreign government to interfere in domestic politics? That, I know, is the milquetoast phrasing of what this was.

Yes, there are many on the left who think the only remedy is impeachment and removal. I dislike Trump as much, if not more, than most of the country, yet I don’t think impeachment and removal is the correct recourse.

No. I think they should censure him. Censure him for using his office for personal political ends; censure him for disrespecting the will of congress; censure him for obstruction of justice. Go on record as saying that

Call the oppositions’ bluff. Legislate. Negotiate with Moscow Mitch that if he wants government funding for his projects (The House of Representative’s controls the purse) he needs to move on legislation that the house has already passed. Write and publicize their own budget. Investigate where necessary, support a free and fair election and pass legislation to ensure it. Beat the opposition, which I think we should call them “the loyal opposition” in the election.

Introduce legislation that mandates that redistricting must be done by bi-partisan commissions, reintroduce the Fairness Doctrine and expand it to include social media as well as traditional media. Then demand that the FCC enforce it; demand that the IRS open investigations into charitable organizations that interfere in politics and if found guilty lose their tax-exempt status. Direct their constituents’ ire into creating the country we want as opposed to just holding back the damn of negativity and raw partisanship. We had our run at it, and I do think our elected representative’s made a very compelling case for removal…but not in these times. This is not 1974.

Of course, I am free to change my mind, and if my elected Representative were to vote to impeach, I would support her decision. I voted for her not expecting she will vote my way every time but that she will exercise her judgement and make an informed decision in all her constituents’ interests. We are a republic.

Okay. I’m changing my mind. The President should be impeached and removed.

November 25, 2019

Just a little light reading to get you up to speed before the next election.

Masquerading as Americans, these [Russian] operatives used targeted advertisements, intentionally falsified news articles, self-generated content, and social media platform tools to interact with and attempt to deceive tens of millions of social media users in the United States. This campaign sought to polarize Americans on the basis of societal, ideological, and racial differences, provoked real world events, and was part of a foreign government’s covert support of Russia’s favored candidate in the U.S. presidential election…”

This is from Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the 2016 election. The Senate Intelligence Committee is chaired by Richard Burr (R-NC) with Mark Warner (D-VI) as the minority ranking member.

Fiona HIll, “We need to be together again in 2020 so that the American people can make a choice about the future and … make their vote in a presidential election without any fear that this is being interfered in from any quarter whatsoever,”

November 26, 2019

Basically, the strategy is to get your narrative out there before anybody else-and ideological “news” services are willing to do just that while ethical news services try to get the facts right before publishing. Thus, if you get the news out first, you control the narrative. We saw this in Barr’s announcement of the findings of the Mueller probe.

It’s at play again in the supposed “fact” of the Clinton campaign initiating the Steele Dossier. The Steele Dossier was commissioned by a Republican (never Trumper), not Clinton. Yes, Clinton did pick up the opposition research after the GOP donor dropped out, but they did not approach Fusion GPS.

Here’s a quote from the New Yorker article:
After firing off a quick e-mail to a big conservative donor they knew who disliked Trump, they were hired. They don’t identify that donor but note, helpfully, that he arranged for them to contract their opposition-research assignment through the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative Web site known to be funded by Paul Singer, a New York hedge-fund magnate. Once Trump secured the nomination, however, the G.O.P. donor fled.”

*****

Nice summation of the defenses for Trump and whether they hold up. Just in time for Thanksgiving!

Part 1 (of 4):

“Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.”

Long complicated read…but from what I gathered most of it concerns Manafort’s relationship with Putin ally, Yanukovitch, and his subsequent joining of the Trump campaign. They indeed helped Clinton, but they, from what I’ve read, didn’t stoop to the same level as the Russians (trolling, bots, compromised accounts, false narratives), rather they just backed the wrong horse.

Part 2:

And what happens after that Politico article (see prior post) gets picked up by conservatives.

Alina Polyakova, a director and fellow at the Brookings Institute, told BuzzFeed News that the Politico piece was likely the beginning of the Ukrainian collusion narrative. “To me, this is the origin story of that narrative,” she said. “We’ve seen now Giuliani and people around him pull data points [from the piece] that in a conspiratorial mind look connected but aren’t.”

For the record, the two reporters on the Politico article left Politico and now work at the NY Times (Vogel) and the Washington Post (Stern).

Yet this one source is spinning a narrative that is disputed. “The Ukrainian Embassy disputes Telizhenko’s version of events. And Chalupa wrote of the article on Facebook at the time, “The title and theme are nonsense.” She went on to say that, “In my experience, the Embassy of Ukraine was always very careful throughout the U.S. election to stay neutral and tried to engage both campaigns. They were always professional and upfront about not getting involved, even where Manafort was concerned.”

So he starts pushing the narrative, it gets picked up and is used to do what?

“It looks as if his efforts to curry favor with Trump’s inner circle by members of the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office were actually part of a larger plan to oust Marie Yovanovitch, the US ambassador to Ukraine and a vocal anti-corruption critic. The Trump administration recalled Yovanovitch in May.”

The real questions then are if this is the origin story of Ukrainian interference, are there more sources to back up Telizhenko’s story about DNC corruption? Even Politico suggests that their involvement, “…in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.”

Straining diplomatic protocol is not the same as interfering.

Part 3:

The question is, “what do they really want?”

As Giuliani was pushing specious claims about Ukrainian wrongdoing, a group of businesspeople and Republican donors connected to him and Trump were working to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company, Naftogaz. According to an investigation by the Associated Press, a group of Americans — including US Energy Secretary Rick Perry — spent March through May trying to install new leadership at Naftogaz in hopes of steering lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies. Yovanovitch’s ouster was a key part of that plan, according to the Associated Press.”

Seems to me that this is an argument for a President who reads, checks sources, doesn’t just rely on his gut, and doesn’t have a touch of paranoia, and only surrounds himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear.

Part 4:

My conclusions are that Republican operatives pushed a phony conspiracy plan to get Trump to remove an honorable Ambassador who was advocating for US interests that stood in their way. I want to know Perry, Giuliani, Trump, and Pompeo’s interest in SigmaBleyzer and Aspect Holdings LLC.

In the process, Giuliani fed the President’s natural inclinations (remember the birther phenomenon) and he used his powers (with no one in his staff to tell him it would be a bad idea) to hold up Congressionally mandated aid to get something out of the Ukrainians.

Giuliani convinced him of this plan by suggesting that he could get the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens (he could’ve done that all of 2017 and 2018 but didn’t), which would benefit him in the 2020 race by hamstringing what was, at the time, his strongest rival-Joe Biden.

The lesson for Trump from the Mueller report was not that he shouldn’t get foreign help to win an election, but that as long as he didn’t conspire to make it happen he’d be okay. That’s why he wanted the Ukrainians to announce the investigations themselves-”they should want to do it.”

Unfortunately, the whistle-blower and other ethical actors in the State Department didn’t get the memo. It’s the news cycle, not the investigations. Trump wants to use a similar tactic (“but what about her emails”) to drive the election cycle again. Only this time, if Joe Biden is the nominee, it’ll be (and probably still will be) what about Hunter Biden and Burisma? Trump politically doesn’t really want Hunter and Burisma investigated. He just wants the cloud of investigation hanging over the entire election.

Now, setting aside the above, is what the President did impeachable?

November 27, 2019

Okay, this is not being talked about much. Congress through the National Defense Authorization Act in August 13, 2018 allocated funds for Ukraine. Under the Impoundment Control Act, Trump has 45 days to either release the funds or ask Congress to rescind them-(I can’t find when the clock starts and am pretty sure it doesn’t start right when the bill is passed-maybe FY 2018–19, which would be October 1st, 2018).

He can’t just sit on the funds. The funds were ultimately released in September 11, 2019. Trump held up the aid for 363 days (?) and didn’t ask Congress to rescind it.

That is a violation of the law.

Is it an impeachable offense?

*****

Um…this is interesting. So the aid was released Sept. 11th, most of it was spent and with continuing resolution the aid that wasn’t released could be spent beyond September 30th (FY), but this $35 million still hasn’t been released. Strange.

Still trying to wrap my head around the timing.

August 13th, 2018-Congress passes the NDAA, which includes aid to Ukraine

February 28th, 2019-Trump administration notifies Congress its going to release aid.

May 23rd, 2019-Trump administration notifies Congress its going to release aid, but doesn’t explain why there has been a delay up until then.

June 19th, 2019-Pentagon announces that Ukrainian aid to be released.

July 12th, 2019-Mulvaney notifies OMB of the hold on aid

July 18th, 2019-OMB notifies other Agencies that hold had been placed on aid by the President.

July 25th, 2019-President’s conversation with Zelensky

Sometime before August 12th-Whistleblower contacts Schiff’s office on how to file a complaint.

August 12th, 2019-Whistleblower submits complaint to Michael Atkinson.

Late August-Trump learns of Whisteblower complaint

September 9th-Sondland talks with President and President insists there is “no quid pro quo.”

September 11th, 2019-Aid is finally released.

September 25th, 2019-Whistleblower complaint officially goes to Congress.

October 9th-Trump releases “transcript”

Some questions…that there are answers for out there.

Why did Trump insist that Sondland emphasize that there was “no quid pro quo” when Sondland knew there was? Sondland testified in congress, under oath that there would be no oval office meeting if the Ukrainians didn’t announce an investigation of Burisma and the Bidens.

Did the Ukrainians know the aid was being held up? Laura Cooper testified that the Ukrainians knew the aid was being held up in July.

Many hold up the fact that they finally got their aid as evidence of Trump not soliciting a bribe…but the Ukrainians have apparently given up on wanting a “White House meeting.” It wasn’t a meeting at the UN that they wanted…they wanted a meeting at the White House.

*****

“In the latest case, the occupancy rate of the Trump Tower’s commercial space was listed, over three consecutive years, as 11, 16 and 16 percentage points higher in filings to a lender than in reports to city tax officials, records show.”

Another law broken by the Trump organization-just Fraud.

*****

This came out yesterday…I’m right there with it.

As the House impeachment inquiry continues to uncover substantial evidence of Trump’s abuses of power, one thing has become clear: President Donald Trump illegally withheld military aid to Ukraine.

“But the Clinton campaign did it too!” Or so the story goes.

But…

*****

“So, according to American intelligence agencies, the Kremlin shaped and directed the email hacking of Democrats and subsequent distribution. In contrast, a variety of actors on the Ukrainian side responded to American queries and provided public documents.

Which leads to the other big distinction: The Russians got their materials through cyber-attacks, while the only telling document revealed by a Ukrainian lawmaker was the product of an official investigation.

“There’s a difference between dealing with the embassy and dealing with a covert intelligence operation,” Wittes said. “Are you dealing with government records, or are you dealing in stolen dirt?”

To be clear, we do not know if the hacked emails had any ties to contacts the Trump campaign did or didn’t have with Russians. But hacked emails are different from the results of a public investigation.

Taking that difference one step further, there was nothing inherently illegal in the quest for information on Manafort and how that might link Donald Trump to Russia. Wittes noted that from a research perspective, since Manafort’s work took place in Ukraine, “you pretty much have to go to the Ukrainians to get that.”

Other details also separate the two narratives.

Ukraine is seen as an ally to the United States, while Russia is at best a competitor and often called an enemy.”

December 1, 2019

Not “our” corruption, their’s.

Zelensky’s new prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka — “100 percent my person,” Zelensky told Trump in July — last week gave a dismissal notice to Kulyk, a key player in the effort to provide Giuliani with political ammunition of dubious accuracy. Kulyk denies meeting Giuliani, but former associates say he prepared a seven-page dossier that his boss later passed along to the former New York mayor. Kulyk did not respond to a request for comment.”

*****

Republicans on Sunday signaled that they will seek to delegitimize the process, accusing Democrats of rushing the proceedings as the White House debates whether to participate at all.

Well…at least they are settling on one strategy: the impeachment is illegitimate.

Imagine…”The Kansas City Chiefs will not play the Denver Broncos in Denver because its unfair….”

Snowflakes…

December 2, 2019

Hey business owners,

What does it mean when you have very high turnover?

Asking for a friend….

“…Trump’s rate of change has surpassed that of “all of his predecessors who served four-year terms.”

*****

Ukraine does not have the server, the FBI did not need physical possession to investigate, CrowdStrike was not founded by a Ukrainian, and it is not a Ukrainian company.”

So why does he keep saying it? Because people don’t read the fine print. He can just say it and Fox news will either parrot it or just act incredulous rather than correct him. His supporters will just hear the initial clam. To say the least, he knows how propaganda works for low information voters.

December 3, 2019

Gosh darn it. Why aren’t Ukrainians reading our talking points? The “no harm, no foul” defense only works if there is actually “no harm, no foul.”

KYIV, Ukraine — As deputy foreign minister, it was Olena Zerkal’s job to read incoming diplomatic cables from embassies around the world. One from Washington caught her eye back in July, she recalled: It said the Trump administration had frozen military aid for Ukraine.

*****

Some light reading for you.

The Republican report.

The Majority’s Report.

*****

I’m wondering…”The damage the President has done to our relationship with a key strategic partner will be remedied over time, and Ukraine continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress….”

I’m wondering if Putin just got out played by Zelensky? Look at it this way…Democrats become even stronger supporters of Ukraine because they want to reward them for not bowing to Nunes, Giuliani, Trump, et al. And Republicans become stronger supporters of Ukraine because they can’t be seen punishing them in any way or it upends Trump’s impeachment defense? Now would be the time to renegotiate the defense cooperation deal imo.

December 4, 2019

Had an interesting discussion about sourcing in my posts about the Impeachment. So, I decided to see which outlets I’ve been posting and how many times.

I have linked the following sources (in no particular order). [This post has not been updated since I posted it].

Washington Post X 6

Wall Street Journal X 3

Democratic Intelligence Committee Report

Republican Intelligence Committee Report

New York Times X 4

Brookings Institute

Politifact.com X 2

Justsecurity.org

Propublica.org X 2

Washington Examiner

Los Angeles Times

Buzzfeed News X 2

Politico X 2

Legal Eagle (Youtube Channel)

New Yorker

Senate Intelligence Committee Report

The Atlantic Monthly X 2

Columbia Journalism Review

Center for Public Integrity

AP News

Foreignpolicy.com

Fox News X 2

Whitehouse.gov

Newsweek

Law.cornell.edu

Business Insider X 2

The Hill

Lawfare Blog

Medium.com

Senate.gov

I’ve linked to 47 sources since September 29th, which is when I first started posting about it. Prior to that I was writing longer essays and posting them on my Medium page: https://medium.com/@donmciver. Some are only tangentially related.

Note, there are several sources that I didn’t include here because they were posted on other people’s statuses and I’ve been talking Impeachment with a lot of people and frequently use outside sources in my discussions.

Some of the pieces are opinion pieces and some are journalism pieces, but I’m not going to break that out. Nor despite my mild OCD wanting me to, am I going to create a full blown Work Cited page.

I am always interested in varying my sources because I really want to be informed about this process and know what I think about it.

December 5, 2019

Oh good. The slippery-slope argument.

“In a slippery slope argument, a course of action is rejected because, with little or no evidence, one insists that it will lead to a chain reaction resulting in an undesirable end or ends. The slippery slope involves an acceptance of a succession of events without direct evidence that this course of events will happen.”

For the record, the opposition party has controlled the House of Representatives 3 times since the Clinton Impeachment. We may see more impeachments; we may not. To say the least, we need to elect more representatives who put country over party.

We’ve been getting increasingly more partisan, imo, for a while now. This is just what partisanship gets you and is not an argument for Democrats doing what they think is right. But if you are electing people because they hate what you hate, then you are doing it wrong. Elect people that will work for you and support your values. If we continue down this road, we might as well create a parliamentary system. At least there we can be as partisan as we want, but that is not our system now.

*****

Yesterday, the House Republican’s put up a board with a quoted paragraph from Neal Katyal’s new book:

The paragraph deliberately left out some things (though they did note that with an ellipsis).

I wonder why they didn’t include the whole quote in their presentation?

Here’s the whole paragraph:

“Is what Hunter Biden did wrong? Absolutely. Hunter Biden had no real experience in the energy sector, which made him wholly unqualified to sit on the board of Burisma. The only logical reason the company could have had for appointing him was his ties to Vice President Biden. This kind of nepotism isn’t only wrong; it is a potential danger to our country, since it makes it easier for foreign powers to buy influence. The thing is it is not illegal. That’s why Hunter Biden didn’t hide his involvement in Burisma. And it’s why President Trump’s children — Ivanka, Don Junior, and Eric — continue to conduct business around the world with impunity. As does President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who works in the White House. No politician, from either party, should allow a foreign power to conduct this kind of influence peddling with their family members.”

*****

My questions to you:

1) Does Congress have the legitimate authority to investigate the President?

2) If not, why?

3) If so, then if the Trump administration does not abide by subpoenas, does not surrender documents, does not cooperate is that a good thing?

4) Do you think the Constitution with its co-equal branches of government is worth preserving?

December 6, 2019

Where’s the Republican server?

December 8, 2019

And, perhaps most alarmingly, that impeachment — once reserved for the gravest of situations — is now just another tool to inflict damage on their political opponents.”

A little light reading courtesy of CNN.

I want to actually argue. Define elite for me? If it is people who went to Yale, Harvard, etc. only? Or is anybody who went to college, got a degree part of this elite? Is it trust fund babies, investment bankers, business CEOs or just lawyers, doctors, professors? Is this “partisan” impeachment any different than the “partisan” impeachment that the Republicans did to Bill Clinton (who was born in Arkansas and raised by a single mother) versus Donald Trump (who’s father gave him $413 million dollars-in today’s dollars)?

If you are buying the idea that Donald Trump is somehow not elite and his Republican handlers are not elite then you need to do a little more research. And doing research is not a bad thing…the world is complicated. Sometimes people actually do read everything they can because they’ve been asked to testify before Congress. I would hope that anybody asked to testify would take it seriously. I would ask that anybody who argues this is some sort of “coup” read the Constitution. You may not like that the Democratically controlled House is trying to impeach Trump, but elections matter. It wasn’t a “coup” when they impeached Clinton and it’s not a “coup” now.

December 9,. 2019

It’s not going to clean things up enough to dismiss all the conspiracy theorists, but hey what’s a lengthy government report without a wildly speculative and improbable conspiracy?

A long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general to be released on Monday is expected to criticize aspects of the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation but essentially exonerate former bureau leaders of President Trump’s accusations that they engaged in a politicized conspiracy to sabotage him.”

*****

Here’s a tool when reading the news on this internet thingy.

So there’s a couple of extensions you can add from this site: 1) for your FB feed, where it will put a left to right bar of the source and then a factual credibility judgement based on the sources actual reporting, and 2) at the top of the address bar in Chrome where you can see the same functionality if you are looking at sites outside of FB.

For example, for judicialwatch.org, it says it uses Questionable Sources and is Low on fact based reporting. For Propublica.org, it says Left Leaning and Very High on fact based reporting. For thehill.com it is Right Center bias and mostly factual. For thewashingtonexaminer.com it says, Right biased and Mixed fact reporting. On their website, they talk about their methodology on rating that as well. From what I’ve seen only the AP seems to win the Least Biased and Very High fact based.

*****

So there wasn’t a deep state?

Probably still not gonna matter to the guy who brought us this, “ “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.”

December 10, 2019

Trump will meet at the White House with Lavrov… “

Strange…he invites the Russian Foreign Minister to the White House, but still has not met with the Ukrainian President at the White House. Not alleging anything improper, but, if I was a conspiracy theorist, the optics on this look really bad…especially today.

*****

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

They swear an oath to the Constitution, not the President, not their party. Do your job.

The articles of impeachment are quick read…9 pages.

December 11, 2019

Weird.

“The American Conservative is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) organization that presents a measured, pertinent, principled conservatism for our time. We believe in constitutional government, fiscal prudence, sound monetary policy, clearly delineated borders, protection of civil liberties, authentically free markets, and restraint in foreign policy mixed with diplomatic acuity. We adhere closely to our institutional maxim: ideas over ideology; principles over party.”

December 12, 2019

Wait…Lev Parnas was paid $1,000, 000 by the Russians and in turn he paid Rudy Giuliani $500,000..so in essence Giuliani is being paid by the Russians (he doesn’t get paid by Trump).

Rudy has worked as Trump’s lawyer for “free,” but Parnas paid him half a million dollars for his work. If Parnas himself was being paid by Russian sources, this means the Russians were essentially subsidizing Trump, paying for the work themselves so he didn’t have to lay out a dime of his own money.”

Okay…Mr. President, you are being duped.

*****

I believe President Trump is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history

— Chris Wallace, Fox News.

I thought the President was supposed to preserve and protect the Constitution (which includes the 1st Amendment)? So Chris Wallace thinks the President is violating his oath of office?

December 13, 2019

Some right-wing media claim that a CIA detailed analyst is the whisteblower. In their stories they cite his/her work under the Obama administration and his/her political affiliation in college as evidence that he/she is biased against Trump.

What they don’t mention is that he/she was a brought onto the NSC as a Russia/Ukraine specialist, was detailed to H.R. McMaster too, (Trump’s first NSC Head) and that Trump’s Inspector General Michael Atkinson wrote, “Further although the ICIG’s preliminary reviewed identified some indicia of bias of an arguable political bias on the part of the complainant in favor of a rival political candidate, such evidence did not change my determination that the complaint relating to the urgent concern ‘appears credible’ particularly given the other information the ICIG obtained during its preliminary review.”

So Trump’s own guy thinks that whistleblower’s complaint was an “urgent concern” and “credible.”

Atkinson also was confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate and decided to go into public service after 9–11.

When you are convinced that there is a deep-state conspiracy to undermine Trump you’ll grasp at whatever straw you can. It’s that same weakness that undermines all American’s safety, security, and belief that our government can do its job. All public servants take the oath of office to uphold the Constitution.

Now if you really want to know who they think he/she is so you can spread it as a false media conspiracy or are just have some sort of puerile interest I can’t stop you. But those that have already started peddling a lot of misinformation are doing Putin’s job. Way to go!

Here’s Atkinson’s opening statement before the Senate on his confirmation.

*****

I thought this was a partisan thing…(maybe in the house only?)

I’m sure if they wanted to testify the House would let them.

December 15, 2019

When the Justice Department’s Inspector General finds significant concerns regarding flawed surveillance applications concerning the president’s campaign advisors, it is clear that this regime lacks basic safeguards and is in need of serious reform. While the report found that there wasn’t an improper purpose or initiation of the investigation, it also found significant problems that are alarming from a civil liberties perspective.”

Let’s not go right to the conspiracies just yet. But, yes, the FISA process was ripe for abuse, and it was abused. We don’t know how many other abuses and unjustified surveillance the FBI has employed since the program was started (2001?). There are multiple conclusions you can draw that cut both ways. 1) The investigation into possible Russia collusion was started appropriately and was not a deep state conspiracy or politically motivated, 2) the process to spy on Trump advisor, Carter Page, was a travesty and a violation of American values, 3) Russia still engaged in trying to undermine the confidence in our election, and 4) the Trump campaign did not collude/conspire with the Russians. All of that can be held together without surrendering some key positions.

We were too quick in surrendering our civil liberties after 9–11 to the surveillance state (the expanded role of the surveillance state is largely credited to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was created in 1978 but amended and expanded numerous times (5 times post 9–11)), and, now, after Trump’s push back we are aware of how bad the current system is and in need of reform. So, we have the President to thank for exposing this very flawed system. That can be held at the same time as acknowledging, “Based on what the IC knows about Russia’s operating procedures and intentions more broadly, the IC assesses that Russia’s activities against U.S. election infrastructure likely sought to further their overarching goal; undermining the integrity of elections and American confidence in democracy.”

None of the above is mutually exclusive and in these hyperpartisan times we tend to downplay one conclusion in favor of another. What has happened to this country since 9–11 (in my opinion) and the rise of the internet is a need for some sort of easy clarity.

There is none. All of these stories from both sides have a grain of truth in them but because of how divided we are we can’t seem to acknowledge that. What we get, as a result, is imo exactly what the Russian state wants-a divided America incapable of solving complex problems. And these are complex problems and complex times.

December 16, 2019

A long read.

“Just Security is an online forum for the rigorous analysis of U.S. national security law and policy. We aim to promote principled and pragmatic solutions to national security problems that decision-makers face. Our Board of Editors includes individuals with significant government experience, civil society attorneys, academics, and other leading voices. Just Security is based at the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law.

We are grateful for support from the Open Society Foundations, Atlantic Philanthropies, New York University School of Law, and individual donors.

The views expressed on this site are attributable to their individual authors writing in their personal capacity only, and not to any other author, the editors, or any other person, organization or institution with which the author might be affiliated or whom the author may advise or represent in legal proceedings.”

Now to put the conspiracy out there, the Open Society Foundation is supported by George Soros-so cue the arguments for not paying attention to the information. That’s why the 3rd paragraph is so important. This is the views of the individual authors-that just happen to be lawyers.

From readily available sources and following the news, this has been obvious long before the Russian collusion investigation. Yes, the system is ripe for abuse and was abused to obtain a wiretap on an American, Carter Page, but it’s pretty much a done deal to get one. Thus in isolation it looks like a conspiracy, but is really just another example of government dysfunction and Congress not doing its job (for years) across both parties.

*****

Civil libertarians for years have called the surveillance court a rubber stamp because it only rarely rejects wiretap applications. Out of 1,080 requests by the government in 2018, for example, government records showed that the court fully denied only one.

December 17, 2019

Now that the semester is over and before I head home for the holidays I’ve been able to really dive into some varied sources trying to piece together the “two truths” that the Impeachment has exposed.

As is quite often the case, the Ukraine scandal at its root is about money.

*****

And who is this former Prosecutor-General that is working with Giuliani, Devin Nunes, John Solomon, Lev Parnas?

*****

Finally, pay attention to the last bit about the new parliament.

*****

Follow the money.

“It’s unclear if Perry’s attempts to replace board members at Naftogaz were coordinated with the Giuliani allies pushing for a similar outcome, and no one has alleged that there is criminal activity in any of these efforts.”

This may have initially started off as legitimate business deal, but when the process didn’t move as quickly as they liked they resorted to less scrupulous practices including removing an anti-corruption US ambassador. As many stories make clear Yushchenko, Yanukovych, Poroshenko were all corrupt, connected to rich Russian and/or Ukrainian oligarchs but things sort of went south when Zelensky was elected (May 2019) and solidified his hold on power with his political party winning an overwhelming majority (July 2019). He ran on an anti-corruption platform.

In a private meeting with Zelenskiy, Perry pressed the Ukrainian president to fire members of the Naftogaz advisory board…Perry wanted to replace the American representative, Amos Hochstein…who served in the Obama administration, with someone “reputable in Republican circles,” according to someone who was in the room.

*****

Follow the money, part 2.

The Naftogaz supervisory board is supposed to be selected by the Ukrainian president’s Cabinet in consultation with international institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, the United States and the European Union. It must be approved by the Ukrainian Cabinet. Ukrainian officials perceived Perry’s push to swap out the board as circumventing that established process, according to the person in the room.

Again, things take too long and the Trump Presidency doesn’t like working within existing structures to get things done. This, by itself, is not surprising: Trump is a private businessman who is used to saying things and having them enacted. He was elected to be the President and through several actions has demonstrated that he didn’t understand how the process was supposed to work: 1) it took 3 tries to get the Travel ban right, 2) he is quick to employ tariff’s as a tool because that is a tool that the President can use unilaterally, 3) his decision to rescind DACA is tied up in court not because he doesn’t have the authority but because he didn’t follow the rules, 4) he could’ve gotten funding out of a friendly Congress for the wall but didn’t know how to do that, so when he did decide he had lost his majority in the house, and 5) the impeachment is a prime example of how his business impulses lead him astray. If he wanted to investigate the Biden’s there are processes he could’ve utilized to acheive that end that would not have led to his possible impeachment, but he didn’t know that and didn’t surround himself with people who knew that.

Or if you just want a summary of the AP’s investigation:

****

So the White House just released a 4 page letter on what it thinks is going on.

December 18, 2019

Here’s a fact check of Trump’s letter courtesy of the NYTimes.

****

I’ve been pouring over the ICIG report on the Russian collusion investigation. I’ll link a few articles, but in the mix it’s important to look at 4 separate incidents and what they mean.

Let’s start at the beginning:

1) George Papadopoulos. “During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

This lead to the opening of a FBI investigation. In examining this, Horowitz states, “The decision to open an FBI nvestigation on July 31, 2016 known as “Crossfire Hurricane” and four individual cases on current and former members of the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn; the early investigative steps taken; and whether the openings and early steps complied with DOJ and FBI policies (Chapter 3)…

So the investigation was started within FBI guidelines.

2) The creation of the Mueller Investigation.

March 2, 2017, after disclosure that AG Jeff Sessions had met Sergey Kislyak in September of 2018, recuses himself from the investigation.

March 17, 2017, FBI Director, James Comey, discloses there is an FBI investigation into Russian ties to the Trump campaign.

May 9, 2017, James Comey is fired.

May 17, 2017, Assistant Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein appoints Robert Mueller.

3) The Carter Page investigation. This is the most controversial and troubling aspect of this whole story. As has been reported there were many mistakes the FBI made in requesting a FISA warrant. To date, there is no evidence that any people at the top (Comey and/or McCabe) knew about those shortcomings before they signed on. In examining whether that makes sense, factor in how many actual investigations the FBI takes on a routine basis and how common FISA approval is. Is it reasonable to believe that Comey and/or McCabe did not know about the problems with the FISA applications? I think yes, but many people will argue that due to the sensitive nature of the investigation they had to have known “something.” But, as the ICIG makes clear…that can not be factually substantiated.

Here is a redacted version of the Carter Page FISA request:

In Republican talking points about the Russian investigation, there are two main objections:

A) The FISA request was riddled with mistakes and thus the FISA request was granted without proper safeguards. Thus, if the FBI had followed its processes the Carter Page surveillance would’ve never been granted.

That’s a purely hypothetical leap. Statistically, since the FISA court approves 98.7% of the FBI requests, it is actually more reasonable to assume that had the court had a complete picture they would’ve granted the request anyway. But that’s an assumption. So we can’t draw a conclusion either way,

B) Without approval of the Carter Page surveillance, the Russian Investigation would not have happened.

That is factually not correct. As stated above, the Russian Investigation was started because of George Papadopoulos.

What we actually have is 3 separate and intersecting investigations. In reality, imo, the most troubling one is the Michael Flynn investigation.

4) Michael Flynn investigation. The Hill has an opinion piece that points out some of the problems with the Flynn investigation.

In the Michael Flynn investigation, three actors that the Republicans have zeroed in are involved. Here’s a quote, “But “legal” doesn’t mean it was proper. McCabe dispatched Peter Strzok and another agent to do the interview. Pause a moment: Comey, McCabe, Strzok. All three subsequently were fired for cause…It is fair to question their motivations for seeking out Flynn the way they did. Their actions were unprecedented for senior-most leadership of the FBI … yes, odd.”

Remember Flynn plead guilty to lying to the FBI and the court didn’t buy his defense of the FBI tricking him. According to the judge, “And it is undisputed that Mr. Flynn not only made those false statements to the FBI agents, but he also made the same false statements to the Vice President and senior White House officials, who, in turn, repeated Mr. Flynn’s false statements to the American people on national television.”

Yes, the investigation was odd but it was not a conspiracy to trap Flynn especially since he also lied to the VP and White House officials. And, as the National Review states, the transition from the Obama administration was anything but smooth,

Obama’s sanctions weren’t undertaken in a cooperative spirit — in fact, the opposite. As the New York Times reported at the time, it appeared Obama “intended to box in President-elect Trump, who will now have to decide whether to lift the sanctions on Russian intelligence agencies when he takes office next month.’

Flynn’s resulting communications with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, wouldn’t be considered an outrage in a less poisonous political environment.””

So the real question that still hasn’t been satisfactorlity answered is why did Flynn lie?

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Kind of lost in the news yesterday was the sentencing of Manafort associate Rick Gates. While many argue his sentence of, “…45 days of weekend jail time and three years of probation” was way too lenient. Let’s take a look at what else Judge Amy Berman Jackson said, ““Gates’ information alone warranted, indeed demanded, further investigation from the standpoint of our national security, the integrity of our elections and the enforcement of our criminal laws,” Jackson said Tuesday. Gates’ debriefings with U.S. authorities, Jackson said, “are a reminder that there was an ample basis for decision-makers at the highest level at the United States Department of Justice — the United States Department of Justice of this administration — to authorize and pursue a law enforcement investigation into whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the known foreign interference in the election, as well as into whether there had been any attempt to obstruct that investigation and to leave no stone unturned.”

But to throw a bone to the conspiracy theorists, she was nominated by President Obama but confirmed on a 97–0 vote in 2011.

So…a federal judge felt there was enough information to open an investigation. Hindsight is 20/20.

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Trump was Impeached tonight. There were only 2 Democratic defections on the first article and 3 on the second. Justin Amash, a one time Republican who left the party, voted for both articles.

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Here’s the next battleground.

“Though the House adopted two articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of congressional investigations, it must pass a second resolution formally naming impeachment managers to present the case in the Senate. That second vehicle triggers the official transmission of articles to the Senate.

“By delaying passage of that resolution, Pelosi and top Democrats retain control of the articles and hope to put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to adopt trial procedures they consider bipartisan.”

If you are not sure what this is referencing google Graham and McConnell’s comments on impeachment. It would be rich indeed if the Republicans who used the mantra of the process being unfair for the better of the last 3 months were now suddenly engaging in a process that Democrats say is unfair. I’m not sure what that says about our political discourse right now..

January 22nd, 2020

So here’s the spin. The Democrats and the 66 million Clinton voters have been out to get Trump since day one. And basically, they are impeaching him for something Obama did (see Post article).

A couple of observations:

1) what would you call it if a congress impeached a president because he was trying to hide an affair? Didn’t the Republican Congress impeach Clinton for lying even though they couldn’t find that he did anything wrong with Whitewater and Vince Fosters’s suicide?

2) How many criminal referrals did the Republican Congress make over Benghazi?

3) What about Hillary’s emails? Didn’t the FBI just close that investigation without making any charges?

4) How many indictments and convictions came as a result of the Mueller investigation?

From my partisan chair, it seems like what Trump is really guilty of is surrounding himself with people who simply don’t say, “You can’t do that that way.” As the Washington Post article points out, there are ways to do what he wanted to do without breaking the law (Obama did it) or inviting an impeachment investigation. Like the 3 tries on the Travel Ban, the failure to get the Republican controlled house (1st two years) to pass funding for the wall, the elimination of DACA, etc. etc. Those are all things he could’ve done without all the drama that we’ve been witness to for three years.

Now I’ll help my Republican friends. Instead of upending our system of checks and balances and running the risk of portraying every branch of government as a sort of partisan entity, just hang your defense of Trump on “maladministration.” Basically, like every new employee says to frustrated customers, “I’m new here. I don’t know how this is supposed to work, but I’m learning. I’ll get better at this President thing.”

Of course, he’d never say that. So what Clinton voters see is a President who can’t admit he’s ever made a mistake (he’s never ever apologized or admitted he was wrong in his full page ad calling for the death penalty of the Central Park 5). He can parse it anyway he wants (oh and he’s good at that), but, at the time, there were 5 young boys who stood accused and didn’t commit the crime. He never rolled back his statements on the objective of the travel ban (banning Muslims) even though his ban doesn’t explicitly say that. What Clinton voters see is a President who doesn’t believe he is accountable to anybody. He also routinely calls his opponents names like “Shifty Schiff,” “Nervous Nancy,” libtards, snowflakes, disloyal, unamerican. What Clinton voters see is a President who is more concerned with stirring up division to “trigger the libs” than one who is governing for all Americans.

Now, you may think that is okay. That essentially neither party has been particularly effective at governing for all Americans. And I would agree with you, but after a while when your anger wears out, we’re still going to have to figure out how to live together. And like you, there are many of us in liberal enclaves who aren’t going anywhere (most of us can’t).

January 25th, 2020

Following the impeachment is very taxing.

Though there were many accolades for the house managers’ presentations, I think the defense is going to rest on a few key points.

Let’s take a look.

1) The Democrats have been out to impeach Trump since day one.

Indeed, many of the 66 million who didn’t vote for Trump felt disenfranchised by the system our founders created. This is the second election in recent memory where the Electoral College results didn’t match what the “will of the people” wanted. Yes, I know, the people are concentrated in urban areas…and electing President by popular vote would disenfranchise people in rural or smaller states.

So, yes, many Democrats have been out to get him since day one.

It’s important to remember that the loyal opposition wants us to remember that not all of their base are racists, white supremacists and certainly bristle at that charge. So, I’d ask for the same courtesy. Not all of us wanted to impeach him from day one, but we were certainly disappointed in the 2016 election results. So, I’d ask that the loyal opposition extend us the same courtesy they are asking us to extend to them in regards to some of Trump’s supporters.

2) Trump is an unorthodox politician and may do things in unorthodox ways. Yes, that has been a refrain from day one and a defense that suggests we give him some slack. I suspect the Republicans in the Senate are going to hang their acquittal on this key point.

What the Democrats in the House impeached Trump on is not that he attempted election interference and violated laws on how aid is supposed to be held up, but more evidence of this fact: he’s an unorthodox politician and doesn’t know or act in ways that his predecessors have.

So what the Democrats essentially are doing is impeaching him over a policy difference. Like the tariff’s, the travel ban, the reversal of DACA, he’s willing to buck how things have been done to enact his agenda. This includes Trump being willing to hold up aid to an ally to ensure that the other NATO allies contribute their fare share. He ran on the platform of believing that America was being taken advantage of and holding back congressionally mandated aid is one way he’s going to achieve that. That so many in his administration didn’t understand that is, essentially, not his fault. He’s an unorthodox politician.

The above argument is the key to understanding the “perfect phone call” defense. It’s a perfect phone call because he is doing what he was elected to do…stopping allies from taking advantage of us.

That’s it. My prediction for how the Senate Republicans will acquit Trump on the Abuse of Power article is point two.

They will acquit him, however, on the Obstructing Congress article with the “defense” of point one.

What’s troubling me is not so much point two. While we may think that he was clearly trying to orchestrate a publicity stunt (an announcement of an investigation) to smear a political rival, they’ll clearly paint this as a policy difference. And to prove that he was doing otherwise is, frankly, asking the Republicans to abandon one of their highest values: loyalty.

As for Article two, this is the one that I think should be hammered the hardest. Not allowing anyone to testify because the Democrats have been out to get him since day one is NOT a defense.

It’s akin to the complaint many students lodge at their composition professors, “I got a bad grade because she doesn’t like me.” Quite often, the student can’t make the case on why they should receive a better grade. Professors can show them the rubric, explain the nuances of how grading is done, etc. but if the student believes that it is really hard to convince them otherwise. At the end of the day, it may require the student having other professors say the same thing before they move on from this complaint.

Yet snubbing the will of Congress because you think they are “out to get” you is not how our system is supposed to work. That so many of his own party are willing to let him degrade the institution of the Congress, and the Presidency I would add, is very troubling.

At its best, the founders created the three branches to work against each other to prevent any one of them from becoming too powerful and thus acting in interests that may run counter to all American interests. And like it or not, a majority of Americans elected a Democratic house because they felt that the Congress was not doing enough to protect their interests.

So, when the vote to acquit on Article two comes down, I hope that the House continues with the investigation, subpoenas administration officials, demand documents, works to subvert the tendency of this administration (and any future administration) from enacting on their impulses alone.

Finally, while the loyal opposition will continue to portray this whole sordid affair as a partisan action, we owe it to the American people to make sure we return to shared governance as the founders intended. We also need to push back on the unorthodox President doing things in unorthodox ways. There are laws that he is violating because he’s not steeped in the how government is supposed to work and hurdles (laws) that have been enacted over time. If the loyal opposition really wants to help this President then they should be demanding he surround himself with the “best people.” That so many positions are filled with “acting” Secretaries, etc. is only leading to more gridlock and dysfunction because there is no one who can say, “Mr. President you can’t do it that way. But here’s how you can do it.”

Will they do that? Probably not. But for the country’s sake, I hope they do.

Poet, writer, producer, monologist, rhetor, Dudeist Priest.

Poet, writer, producer, monologist, rhetor, Dudeist Priest.