Balkinization  

Monday, January 27, 2020

In reply to Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr

Gerard N. Magliocca

I have one comment on today's presentations. As a preface, I do not believe that the House managers have met their burden of proof to establish the President's guilt. (Though I am interested in hearing what John Bolton has to say.) I believe, though, that both Professor Dershowitz and Judge Starr made a significant error in their legal arguments to the Senate.

Both men claimed today that the "weight of authority" supports their view that no abuse of power by the President (without a violation of law) can be an impeachable offense. Professor Dershowitz relied heavily on the argument of Benjamin Curtis, the distinguished ex-Supreme Court Justice, who argued that view to the Senate during President Johnson's impeachment trial. The problem is that none of the Senators who explained their votes in that trial accepted Justice Curtis's view. They issued self-styled written "opinions" at the end of the trial, which you can read here at pp. 417-524 of the Supplement to the Congressional Globe. If the weight of authority supported Justice Curtis's position as Professor Dershowitz and Judge Starr claim, then surely at least one Senator would have accepted that view in 1868. But none did, or at least none said that they did.

Professor Dershowitz invoked Senator James Grimes of Iowa several times in his presentation. Senator Grimes voted to acquit President Johnson. Professor Dershowitz implied that Senator Grimes supported the Curtis argument. But he did not. At pages 423-24 of the Globe, Grimes explained that he did not think that the President's alleged abuse of power was a high crime and misdemeanor due to the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech. He did not say that he thought that any abuse of power was invalid as a high crime and misdemeanor. Professor Dershowitz also quoted a comment from Senator William Pitt Fessenden implying that he endorsed Curtis's position in voting not guilty. But read his opinion at pp. 456-57. He did no such thing. Senator Fessenden instead said that he thought that that a President could be guilty of a high crime and misdemeanor for abusing his office by insulting the Constitution through words alone. He just said President Johnson had not done so.

The Senate is free to adopt Justice Curtis's arguments today. But this would set a new standard, not apply the one supported by the weight of authority.

Comments:

Bad argument not matched by text, history, structure and principle as well as not even relied on by those who voted against the Johnson removal (based on grounds a lot weaker than the Trump impeachment)? Charming.

I don't know what the "burden of proof" is supposed to be per the somewhat gratuitous ipse dixit at the beginning, but they met any reasonable ground to find guilt. The best one can hope for there was to push that even if he's guilty, on balance it is not worth removal. It is. What Bolton's testimony will add here is unclear to me.

But, any "jury" will involve members with idiosyncratic views on what is necessary including finding that silly op-ed comparing the impeachment to LBJ finding a way to put Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court worthwhile in any fashion.
 

As a practical matter, I don't see that there is a "burden of proof" in a Senate trial. Certainly there isn't any "appeal" which might determine that it failed as a matter of law. If the Senate's decision is unreviewable, then I don't see that it makes sense to speak of "burden of proof". In practical effect, the 2/3 vote requirement substitutes for that.

But that said, I'm frankly astonished at your statement. The existing evidence provided by the House proves the case by, at least, clear and convincing evidence, probably BARD. That's not to say that observing witness demeanor wouldn't be helpful to the finder of fact, nor that additional witnesses and documents might be found to reinforce the existing proof. But the outcome is fixed regardless, so all that's kind of a moot point.
 

Also, what Joe said.
 

Basically, "burden of proof" here is what is necessary for each individual senator to vote to convict. If we want to speak of some "objective" standard -- which some push back upon anyway -- that would be some level of reasonable determination. Senators and others have phrased that in various ways.

As I noted before, I found that op-ed rather bad. One of my comments in the thread directly engaged with it -- I did read it. But, GM was impressed with the whole thing. So, you know, different wavelengths. Such is how things are.
 

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Gerard: I do not believe that the House managers have met their burden of proof to establish the President's guilt.

Guilt of what? How would you know? The charge of "abuse of power" is meaningless.

Dershowitz should have begun and ended his analysis with the words the Constitutional Convention selected and rejected. The Constitutional Convention refused to add the synonymous term "maladministration" to treason and bribery as grounds for impeachment and removal because the term was meaningless and would grant Congress the discretion to set the term of the POTUS. Instead, the Convention added "or other high crimes and misdemeanors," implying other violations of law of the same gravity as treason and bribery.

To the extent Dershowitz explored practice, he should have avoided individual opinions and instead noted the acts of previous congresses.The Radical Republican Congress did not attempt to impeach and remove the Democrat Johnson for an "abuse of power." The GOP enacted unconstitutional statutes they knew Johnson would ignore to create the pretext of a violation of law. Subsequent Congresses threated to impeach Nixon and did impeach Clinton for felony crimes.

This is the weight of historical authority.

The Democrats' abuse of the impeachment power against Trump without evidence of a crime or violation of law has nothing to do with Constitution as written and previously practiced. The Donkeys are, instead, engaged in lawless political attack. As Jack observed earlier today: "Everything turns on whether one can successfully use the impeachment process to influence public opinion, and convince just enough people that the party in power cannot be trusted."

I suspect the party in power over at the House of Representatives has convinced more than enough voters in the upcoming election that they cannot be trusted.
 

It is, I regret, some years since I have looked at this blog. I am pleased to see that after all these years Mr. DeLong has lost none of his capacity for lunacy. See you again in five years.
 

DeLong?
 

? How and why can you possibly say the burden of proof was not met. What “burden” are you applying or referring to. But any sane view the proof is clear and convincing and certainly more likely than not. Are you applying a beyond reasonable doubt standard. Respectfully your failure of proof comment is a failure.
 

If Trump strangled a GOP senator (with witnesses) he would be acquitted by a 52-47 vote. So the "burden of proof" to convict him of anything is quite high. That must be what this is about. Otherwise it's just ridiculous nonsense.
 

I will take the common sense of a 10-year old over your definition of “burden of proof.” At least the historical corrections are of high value.

Oh, and the lame comments from trumpsters are proof we got them on the run.
 

The report by the Government Accountability Office does say Trump broke the law. He broke it trying to get a personal benefit for himself using congressional funds that were supposed to aid an ally. So that is bribery. Not understanding the problem with this.
 

I tend to agree that a particularly egregious case of abuse of power could be impeachable, even if no specific statutory violation could be identified. It would have to be an extreme outlier in terms of Presidential behavior, not run of the mill, and there would have to be a decide lack of any innocent rationale for the act.

That's the problem here:

1) No statutory violation. The money did get paid by the time it was due. It just didn't get paid early. Getting dual use out of foreign aid is perfectly ordinary, and the claim of seeking personal benefit is just an allegation, not an established fact. The House could have included this supposed crime in their bill of impeachment, and attempted to prove it. It's no accident they didn't, proving Trump's objective innocence on THIS count would have been a slam dunk.

2) Run of the mill behavior. If this is the threshold for impeaching, every President should be impeached. Yeah, maybe every President SHOULD have been impeached, but make that change prospectively. Not just for Trump, and then go back to historical practice once he's gone.

3) Availability of innocent motives. The Biden situation stank on ice, it would be perfectly reasonable to want it investigated, and being related to a possible Presidential candidate doesn't imply your actions are immune from review. You don't have to believe that WAS Trump's motive, it's sufficient that an innocent motive is available, and can't be ruled out. (Animus towards Trump doesn't constitute "ruling out.")

I don't even take it to be Dershowits' position that an impeachment must cite a criminal act. Rather, it's that it must cite a criminal act, or something closely resembling one. Not just "We wouldn't have done that in your position."
 

"The Constitutional Convention refused to add the synonymous term "maladministration""

Because that term includes mere inefficiency in governance. However, they were clear that impeachment was not limited to criminal law.

"The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself." Federalist 65
 

It's important to note that Bircher Brett is being dishonest and/or partisan here. He's concluded that, for example, the Biden's are guilty and (absurdly) that the prosecutor of Michael Cohen and Leve Parnas is guilty of abuse of power on *far less evidence* than exists for Trump abusing his power. He's just being dishonest or partisan in invoking his newfound metaphysical standard for what Trump might have been thinking all along.
 

"If Trump strangled a GOP senator (with witnesses) he would be acquitted by a 52-47 vote. So the "burden of proof" to convict him of anything is quite high. That must be what this is about. Otherwise it's just ridiculous nonsense."

Bart is on record here saying he would support Trump if he murdered someone. Brett is on record here saying that even if Trump purposely targeted Biden because he was a political rival that's fine. Trump presaged this level of sycophantic behavior in his supporters:

" The polls, they say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible," Trump said."
 

No, I haven't concluded that the Bidens are guilty. Merely that the situation, facially, stinks enough that an investigation is easily justified.

I think it likely that they're guilty, but that isn't necessary for Trump to be justified in calling for an investigation; Just enough basis to think them guilty that looking into the situation would be reasonable.

The Bidens being proven guilty would, of course, destroy the case against Trump.

"Brett is on record here saying that even if Trump purposely targeted Biden because he was a political rival that's fine."

Where did I say that? I think the fact that Biden was at the time a possible political rival simply didn't immunize his family against investigation, if an investigation could otherwise be justified. And, based on public information, it appears one could be.
 

"The Bidens being proven guilty would, of course, destroy the case against Trump."

This just shows that you misunderstand the nature of the charge: that the President asked a foreign government to investigate a particular American citizen. That, and nothing more, is an abuse of power, and it's incontestable because the MemCon Trump released of the July 25 call shows him asking for it. As it happens, there's a lot more Trump did wrong which I won't bother to repeat, but that's the essence right there. It's why talk of "burden of proof" makes no sense.

Btw, parroting Russian disinformation about the Bidens doesn't help your case. And I notice that you always lump them together, though Joe clearly did nothing wrong (unless you parrot Russian disinformation).
 

No, the charge is that he wrongly asked a foreign government to investigate a particular American citizen.

It isn't wrongful to ask that if there was reasonable cause for the investigation.

Yes, I lump them together, because if Joe was a nobody, Hunter almost certainly wouldn't have gotten that job. They were a package deal for Burisma.
 

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Brett: I tend to agree that a particularly egregious case of abuse of power could be impeachable, even if no specific statutory violation could be identified.

Would you care to make a stab at defining "abuse of power?"
 

By analogy, just as there are rights that were not enumerated because the Bill of Rights is finite, there are "crimes" that are not enumerated in the statute books because they, too, are finite. So you could have a crime-like act that is only legal because nobody got around to outlawing it. This is the sort of thing I'm talking about.

Such acts can't be subject to criminal penalties, (There's no criminal law counterpart to the 9th amendment, nor should there be one.) but impeachment isn't a criminal penalty.

So, let's say a President comes up with some novel offense that's only legal because it never occurred to anybody that it needed to be outlawed. He orders the military to increase live fire practice 10 fold because he's got stock in an ammo company, or what have you.
 

"No, the charge is that he wrongly asked a foreign government to investigate a particular American citizen."

Merely asking is wrong. Again, as I said, Trump went on to do other corrupt things in pursuance of his goal, but that alone is enough.

"if Joe was a nobody, Hunter almost certainly wouldn't have gotten that job. They were a package deal for Burisma."

Russian disinformation again. Loyal Americans don't repeat that shit. In any case, I hardly think you want to go down this road given Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka and their business dealings. To say nothing of Jared or of Trump's own corruption.
 

Brett: The Bidens being proven guilty would, of course, destroy the case against Trump.

Mark: This just shows that you misunderstand the nature of the charge: that the President asked a foreign government to investigate a particular American citizen. That, and nothing more, is an abuse of power, and it's incontestable because the MemCon Trump released of the July 25 call shows him asking for it.


(1) Law enforcement regularly requests domestic and foreign sister agencies to conduct investigations of American citizens. The question is whether law enforcement possesses evidence the citizen committed crimes in violation of domestic or foreign law. As previously noted, public evidence provides a prima facie case against the Bidens for bribery.

(2) Neither the call transcripts or any other personal observation of the POTUS is evidence of the Democrats' allegation Trump or his agents solicited Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and conditioned military aid on performance of the act. The double hearsay allegedly from a Bolton book manuscript which the NY Times is peddling also does not say this. The "bombshell" merely discusses an alleged Trump meeting with subordinates.
 

BD: Would you care to make a stab at defining "abuse of power?"

Brett: By analogy, just as there are rights that were not enumerated because the Bill of Rights is finite, there are "crimes" that are not enumerated in the statute books because they, too, are finite. So you could have a crime-like act that is only legal because nobody got around to outlawing it. This is the sort of thing I'm talking about.


You make a reasonable argument for reading high crimes and misdemeanors to include violations of the Constitution.

The Democrats are arguing impeachable "abuse of power" does not require a violation of law.
 

Former Florida AG Pam Bondi laid out most of the public facts against the Bidens before the Senate on Monday. If anything, Bondi is treading softly because she is addressing similarly corrupt Senate swamp creatures in the gallery.


 

"Merely asking is wrong."

No. It. Isn't.

And don't you get tired of calling anything you don't want to hear "Russian disinformation"?
 

"You make a reasonable argument for reading high crimes and misdemeanors to include violations of the Constitution."

That's not the case I was making. Rather, it was an analogy: Just as there are rights that aren't enumerated just because it didn't occur to the drafters that they needed to be, there are "crimes" that aren't in the statute books only because nobody ever thought to enact a law against them, but would have been if the subject had come up.

Such unenumerated "crimes" can't rightfully be prosecuted by the legal system, but that doesn't mean Congress has to ignore them when considering impeachment. They're crime-like enough to be a proper basis for impeachment.

So, no, impeachment doesn't require a violation of the law, (A violation of the Constitution IS a violation of the "law", the Constitution is the highest law of the land.) but it does require some offense which is similar in nature to a criminal act. Not just a disagreement over policy.
 

"And don't you get tired of calling anything you don't want to hear "Russian disinformation"?"

The sworn testimony* of US officials is that this is Russian disinformation. If you don't want to be tagged with that, then there's a simple solution: stop.

*Strictly speaking, all testimony is sworn, but redundancy sometimes prevents misunderstandings.
 

Brett: So, no, impeachment doesn't require a violation of the law, (A violation of the Constitution IS a violation of the "law", the Constitution is the highest law of the land.) but it does require some offense which is similar in nature to a criminal act. Not just a disagreement over policy.

Can you give us some examples of impeachable acts of "abuse of power" which are neither crimes, violations of Constitution or disagreements over policy?

Not seeing it.
 

Former Florida AG Pam Bondi laid out most of the public facts against the Bidens before the Senate on Monday. If anything, Bondi is treading softly because she is addressing similarly corrupt Senate swamp creatures in the gallery.

This is the same Pam Bondi who killed an investigation of Trump University in exchange for a $25,000 campaign contribution from Trump. She's lecturing about corruption. She's a character out of a Carl Hiassen novel, except the character in the novel would be more subtle.

What a ridiculous joke the Trump defense is.


 

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The money did get paid by the time it was due.

This is a laughable argument.

The guard foiled the robbery before the culprit got away with the money, so the would-be robber is perfectly innocent. Is that how it works?
 

BD: Former Florida AG Pam Bondi laid out most of the public facts against the Bidens before the Senate on Monday. If anything, Bondi is treading softly because she is addressing similarly corrupt Senate swamp creatures in the gallery.

bymotov: This is the same Pam Bondi who killed an investigation of Trump University in exchange for a $25,000 campaign contribution from Trump.


Do Democrats teach their kids to kill the messenger from the time they can walk?

Bondi is simply noting the media reports on the Biden pay to plea operation in Ukraine and China.
 

So, you think that the statute books already cover every single act that ought to be a crime. Wow, I had no idea our laws were so comprehensively complete. Congress should just go home, their work is done.

I gave an example up above, but, here's another: Somebody who's a thorn in Trump's side develops a medical problem creating an acute need for an organ transplant. A heart transplant, say.

A donor is located, a brain dead accident victim on life support. The family's consent is required. Trump pays them to refuse the consent.

This would, at once, be both legal, and a demonstration of extreme moral turpitude bringing his fitness to be President into question.

I'm sure it's possible to imagine other scenarios.
 

""Brett is on record here saying that even if Trump purposely targeted Biden because he was a political rival that's fine."

Where did I say that? "

It's likely common for a partisan incoherent to be unaware of what he might have said yesterday or the day before or whatever, because inherent in being a partisan incoherent is saying whatever you think the moment calls for. Here's some of Brett's doozies on selective prosecutions:


"I'll agree that Trump shouldn't single out one Democrat. It should be all out warfare on multiple fronts.

I want both parties to go at each other's throats in exposing every scrap of corruption on the part of the other, in an orgy of mutually assured destruction."

"Would he gain somewhat politically if that investigation uncovered actionable criminality? Sure, and what of it? Democracy depends on making doing the right thing politically beneficial. "

"The complaint of selective prosecution has never much impressed me, unless coupled with evidence that the prosecution was not just selective, but objectively unjustified. If you're guilty as Hell, and the offense really is something that should be illegal, the injustice is the people NOT being prosecuted, not that you didn't skate, too."
 

"No, I haven't concluded that the Bidens are guilty."

And yet Bircher Brett called for Congress to censure him earlier this week, citing the lack of this as proof of bad faith on the Democrats part!

So, here's Brett in a nutshell: not sure Biden did anything wrong, he should be censured. Not sure Trump did anything wrong, it's awful he's being impeached!
 

"The guard foiled the robbery before the culprit got away with the money, so the would-be robber is perfectly innocent. Is that how it works?"

Your argument relies on it being established that a bank robbery was in progress. But in the Ukraine case, delaying payment is in no way a crime if the payment occurs by the time it is due, and there are multiple potential legitimate reasons for delaying it in that timeframe.
 

" Law enforcement regularly requests domestic and foreign sister agencies to conduct investigations of American citizens. The question is whether law enforcement possesses evidence the citizen committed crimes in violation of domestic or foreign law."

Proof Bircher Bart at a fundamental level doesn't understand and/or is unwilling to acknowledge the real charge, which is that the investigation was selective for political gain.

Remember, Bircher Bart was howling that the prosecutions of Michael Cohen and Lev Parnas were political hits (laughably because the prosecutor there is a Trump appointee who worked on Trump's transition team and donated thousands of dollars to Trump). He knows selective prosecution is wrong when it impacts his team.
 

"public evidence provides a prima facie case against the Bidens for bribery."

Notice Bircher Bart here.

With Biden the only 'public evidence' is this: his son took a position with Burisma, he pushed for the ouster of the prosecutor investigating, among other things, Burisma.

He says this establishes a prima facie case that Biden pushed for the ouster for illegitimate reasons.

But look at Trump's situation: he held up aid to Ukraine while asking Ukraine to investigate his political rival.

And then Bircher Bart says: zero evidence of wrongdoing!

This is not a serious man.
 

"Former Florida AG Pam Bondi laid out most of the public facts against the Bidens before the Senate on Monday."

Trump's defense team is so overdetermined. Dersh is credibly implicated in the Epstein case; Starr in the Baylor scandal. Bondi:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pam_Bondi#Fundraising_controversies

These people are perfect to defend Trump, they've a history of looking the other way at misconduct.
 

BD: Can you give us some examples of impeachable acts of "abuse of power" which are neither crimes, violations of Constitution or disagreements over policy?

Brett: I gave an example up above, but, here's another: Somebody who's a thorn in Trump's side develops a medical problem creating an acute need for an organ transplant. A heart transplant, say. A donor is located, a brain dead accident victim on life support. The family's consent is required. Trump pays them to refuse the consent. This would, at once, be both legal, and a demonstration of extreme moral turpitude bringing his fitness to be President into question.


When did personal moral turpitude become an "abuse of power," nevertheless a high crime and misdemeanor? Even the lawless Democrats have not gone that far.

Your good faith struggles to define "abuse of power" are proving my point.
 

Mista Whiskas, no contradiction there. I don't think Trump should target anybody because they're his political foe. But I don't think that they're his political foe should immunize them if there are legitimate reasons for going after them; In that case it's just a virtuous confluence of motives.

I don't want Biden targeted, I want an all out war on corruption in government. Biden is just a small down payment on that.

And I'd LOVE it if Trump went after Republican corruption, too. Not reasonable to expect, any more than expecting Obama to go after corrupt Democrats; Even setting partisanship aside, you've got to retain SOME allies if you're going to accomplish something.

But my ideal scenario is Trump going after Democratic corruption, and the Democrats exposing Republican corruption in retaliation, and the whole stinking edifice comes crashing down.

And, yes, if the Democrats were serious about these charges, they WOULD censure Biden, too, because he's, facially, at least as guilty of the exact same act: Delaying delivery of foreign aid to achieve some extraneous goal. Firing a supposedly corrupt prosecutor, investigating an apparently corrupt son of an American politician, what's the dif? If you take them at face value, they're both 'diversion' of funds in the same sense.
 

"Can you give us some examples of impeachable acts of "abuse of power" which are neither crimes, violations of Constitution or disagreements over policy?

Not seeing it."

The eminent legal scholar Charles Black has provided us with examples for Bircher Bart, such as:

Suppose a president were to move to Saudi Arabia, so he could have four wives, and were to propose to conduct the office of the presidency by mail and wireless from there. This would not be a crime, provided his passport were in order. Is it possible that such gross and wanton neglect of duty could not be grounds for impeachment and removal?

Suppose a president were to announce and follow a policy of granting full pardons, in advance of indictment or trial, to all federal agents or police who killed anybody in line of duty, in the District of Columbia, whatever the circumstances and however unnecessary the killing...Could anybody doubt that such conduct would be impeachable?

But of course, we don't need such examples, we can just use what Trump is alleged to have done to come up with our own:

Suppose a president ordered the justice department to stop all current investigations and re-focus all resources on investigating every Democrat (or Republican) federal level politician or candidate and if they found any evidence for a prosecution whatsoever to announce it publicly, leaking only that which they found which may incriminate. This would effectively be the use of office for political entrenchment, but Bircher Bart would have you think it is not impeachable. What, pray tell, is supposed to be the remedy for this? One can't with a straight face say elections because that's exactly what such a President would be subverting.

But absurd conclusions is kind of Bircher Bart's thing.
 

If Trump really believed that Joe Biden acted unethically or illegally in Ukraine, or that Hunter Biden did, he could have asked his AG to consider starting an investigation. In confidence, just to see if there was any there there. (Perhaps he did. We'll likely never know.)

Of course, the result of that we already know: there's never been anything but an apparent conflict of interest, and no evidence that that conflict of interest in any way changed Joe Biden's tasked job. And so the investigation would have gone nowhere, and produced nothing.

But that's not what Trump so obviously wanted. He didn't want an investigation that would uncover the truth, he wanted a public announcement of an investigation. This is amply proven by the fact that he asked Zelensky to make the announcement. Trump claimed that Ukraine was corrupt, and that that is why he withheld funding.

Does it make any sense to ask the president of a corrupt country to announce an investigation? All that will do is allow the rats to scurry for cover and manufacture whatever "evidence" needed to cover their tracks.

To miss this is to ignore the obvious.

I notice that Bart still apparently has not heard of the Parnas video and audio bombshell. One wonders what other potentially damaging recordings are out there, available for blackmailing a chief executive or for bargaining for a deal with the prosecution, and how long it will take them to trickle out.

But I recognize that Bart, through his incredibly well developed powers of selective perception -- and selective interpretation -- will thread his way through the morass of evident corruption to reach his fore-ordained conclusion.

No remotely unbiased individual could possibly be in any doubt at this point. I've read fantasy and science fiction since a small child, and I stand behind no one in my ability to suspend disbelief, but I cannot for an instant believe that Trump was not behaving like a mafia don in this affair.

 

"Do Democrats teach their kids to kill the messenger from the time they can walk?"

Do Republicans teach their kids to trust hypocrites when they appeal to principles they violated from the time they can walk?
 

"Firing a supposedly corrupt prosecutor, investigating an apparently corrupt son of an American politician, what's the dif?"

There's the Russian disinformation again. Joe Biden was tasked to get Shokin fired because Shokin was NOT investigating Burisma. That is, Joe did exactly the opposite of what Brett is accusing him of doing.
 

"I don't think Trump should target anybody because they're his political foe"

Interestingly, in his 'perfect' phone call Trump *never* mentions corruption or Bursima, just the *Bidens.*

"But my ideal scenario is Trump going after Democratic corruption, and the Democrats exposing Republican corruption in retaliation"

So, as I said initially, Bircher Brett is *fine* with selective investigations and prosecutions. This is a man arguing in bad faith/partisan incoherent.

"if the Democrats were serious about these charges, they WOULD censure Biden, too, because he's, facially, at least as guilty of the exact same act: Delaying delivery of foreign aid to achieve some extraneous goal"

This is a telling concession here, Bircher Brett concedes (as he must logically) that on it's face that there is no more or less case against Biden than Trump, the two on their face are structurally the same* (credit to Bircher Brett in that Bircher Brett continues to deny/not recognize this). Yet notice that Bircher Brett incoherently calls for Biden's censure but opposes Trump's impeachment!

Partisan incoherent.

*I should note, even though structurally the same, it's incoherent to focus on the Biden issue over the Trump one if you're worried about government abuse because *Trump is in power* and Biden is not. This makes Bircher Brett's inconsistency all the more incoherent given his ostensible libertarian leanings.

 

"If Trump really believed that Joe Biden acted unethically or illegally in Ukraine"

Let's note that at the time of all the 'public evidence' that Bircher Bart says establishes a 'prima facie case' of bribery/corruption, *the GOP was in charge of Congress.* Those Congresscritters now bring up Biden's alleged corruption as a weird defense of Trump's selective prosecution, but if it was so obviously bad *why didn't they investigate it themselves?* Hold hearings, subpoena witnesses, etc.? They only mention it when Trump is caught trying to use the situation to his political advantage.

Look, I'm fine with looking into the Biden thing. On it's face it strikes me as not-ideal at best. But Trump and the GOP show every sign of only looking into it because Biden is currently beating Trump in polls. And that is what really, really stinks and is dangerous.
 

Joe clearly did nothing wrong.

Well, that isn't totally accurate. But, thanks for defending me.
 

The WAPO fact checker summary of Joe Biden's activities in Ukraine is here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/04/gop-tries-connect-dots-biden-ukraine-comes-up-short/

I need to correct one thing I said earlier about sworn testimony. Off memory, I thought Fiona Hill had described the Biden accusations as Russian disinformation. Instead she described the accusation of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election that way:

“In the course of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interest. As Republicans and Democrats have agreed for decades, Ukraine is a valued partner of the United States and it plays an important role in our national security. And as I told the committee last month, I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is a U.S. adversary – and that the Ukraine, not Russia, attacked us in 2016.”

Hill added, “Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps somehow for some reason Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.” http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/impeachment-witness-gop-stop-echoing-russian-propaganda

Two additional comments. First, though Hill was not the one who said it, it remains true that the Joe Biden corruption story is Russian disinformation. Second, while the Ukrainian government did not interfere in the 2016 election, individual Ukrainians did so as part of the Russian operation to aid Trump. That's basically why Paul Manafort is in prison right now.
 

"Joe Biden was tasked to get Shokin fired because Shokin was NOT investigating Burisma. That is, Joe did exactly the opposite of what Brett is accusing him of doing."

Yes, this is correct re everything I've read on the subject.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/9/23/20879611/joe-biden-hunter-biden-ukraine-corruption-prosecutor-burisma-donald-trump-whistleblower-complaint

But for me, it's irrelevant. A suit against a deputy that did an unreasonable search and seizure is not thrown out because he found something incriminating, Trump wouldn't be exonerated even if the Bidens were show to be running a Pizzagate style sex ring.
 

Brett,

But in the Ukraine case, delaying payment is in no way a crime if the payment occurs by the time it is due, and there are multiple potential legitimate reasons for delaying it in that timeframe.

"multiple potential reasons? You mean like the robber had a gun and a paper bag and a note, and was wearing a ski mask, but now says he was going in to open an account?

Besides, there is no evidence that any of the "potential reasons" now being advanced were in fact Trump's motivation, and plenty of evidence that they weren't.

Mark Field:

Joe Biden was tasked to get Shokin fired because Shokin was NOT investigating Burisma. That is, Joe did exactly the opposite of what Brett is accusing him of doing.

Of course. But this has been repeated thousands of times, yet makes no dent in the beliefs of the Trump worshipers. It's frightening, really.

Bart,

Giving Bondi the limelight plainly demonstrates that the Republicans don't give a tinker's dam about corruption, at least by Republicans.


 

BD: Can you give us some examples of impeachable acts of "abuse of power" which are neither crimes, violations of Constitution or disagreements over policy? Not seeing it.

Mr. W: Suppose a president were to move to Saudi Arabia, so he could have four wives, and were to propose to conduct the office of the presidency by mail and wireless from there. This would not be a crime, provided his passport were in order. Is it possible that such gross and wanton neglect of duty could not be grounds for impeachment and removal?


Yes. Putting aside the fact that the hypo does not describe a neglect of duty, but rather a change in residence, when did neglect of duty become a high crime and misdemeanor like treason or bribery? Many POTUSes neglected many of their duties over the years. Congress never thought to impeach them for neglect.

Suppose a president were to announce and follow a policy of granting full pardons, in advance of indictment or trial, to all federal agents or police who killed anybody in line of duty, in the District of Columbia, whatever the circumstances and however unnecessary the killing...Could anybody doubt that such conduct would be impeachable?

No. We all enjoy rights to life, liberty and property, which limit the government powers granted by the Constitution. This exercise of power is very arguably an abridgment of our right to life and a violation of the Constitution.

Suppose a president ordered the justice department to stop all current investigations and re-focus all resources on investigating every Democrat (or Republican) federal level politician or candidate and if they found any evidence for a prosecution whatsoever to announce it publicly, leaking only that which they found which may incriminate. This would effectively be the use of office for political entrenchment, but Bircher Bart would have you think it is not impeachable.

Actually, this policy would violate various laws, policies and arguably the 4th Amendment protections against investigations without evidence of a crime and disclosing evidence gathered when no charges are filed. You know, like the Obama spy and dirty tricks operation against Trump.
 

""multiple potential reasons? You mean like the robber had a gun and a paper bag and a note, and was wearing a ski mask, but now says he was going in to open an account?"

Yes, multiple potential reasons. Where you have an offense that is defined by motive, not merely objective conduct, the existence of potential innocent motives is exculpatory, you have to prove the guilty motive, not just assert it. Whereas if there were no innocent motives possible for the conduct, your burden of proof would be lessened.

This is in no way similar to your example, because you haven't demonstrated the gun, paper bag, mask, or holdup note. You've just demonstrated that somebody entered a bank and then left.
 

"particularly egregious case of abuse of power could be impeachable"

The only somewhat egregious high misdemeanor is okay. Maybe not for judges, I guess.

As to that, good summary: https://www.politico.com/amp/news/magazine/2020/01/24/dershowitz-misdemeanors-high-crimes-impeachment-constitution-104073

No statutory violation.

First, you don't need a statutory violation.

Second, statutory violations were alleged as part of the abuse of power count. Receipt of the aid is more of the "attempted crimes don't count" business as well. The whole process (which is cited as a pattern; past acts also are at issue) is a problem.

Part of this subsection also says this: "the claim of seeking personal benefit is just an allegation, not an established fact. The House could have included this supposed crime in their bill of impeachment." It was in the articles of impeachment. Yes, the whole impeachment is an "allegation." But, they did provide evidence showing it occurred.

Run of the mill behavior.

It isn't run of the mill behavior, including the breadth of obstruction in the second count. Richard Nixon, e.g., didn't obstruct Congress to that extent. Again, evidence was provided (particularly last Friday) on the point. The claim that aid regularly is held up ignores the specifics of the current offense, including (for a second time) interference of a national election. Extended argument was provided to show the problems in this specific case.

There is also the talk of "prospectively" making impeachment tougher. That is the path to never getting more strict since the first person always will claim unfair treatment. But, that's more of an aside.

Availability of innocent motives.

Repeat behavior here was a basic part of the impeachment including why removal and the more serious permanent bar from federal office was used. It wasn't a one-off. It was a continual, repeated series of corrupt use of the office. Various things done are simply wrong. But, either way, the evidence as a whole shows a pattern that is not innocent. Thus, unlike other Republican presidents, this one specifically was impeached and a people of a range of ideologies think he is clearly guilty.

The specifics as to Hunter Biden and Joe Biden has been detailed, including how Republicans when they were in power did not see it as some special problem warranting attention. As phrased by a comment at Volokh Conspiracy:

"Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire prosecutor Shokin. But that was by order of Obama, per the publicly-announced policy of the State Department, for policy aims of the U.S. government, with bipartisan support from Congress, following the wishes of the European Union, and in conjunction with similar pressure from the World Bank, IMF, & European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Biden’s pressure was cheered by all reform and anti-corruption groups in Ukraine, who applauded it’s success. The contrast with Trump couldn’t be greater."

Then, there is Hunter Biden. A person who knows the language and has a background in the field is chosen along with others partially for his name. This is typical for boards. There was nothing particularly special about him. Why was he singled out?

Furthermore, the timing and method (as Mark notes; maybe someone with a "high school view of the office" doesn't understand -- as was noted by at least one witness in the House hearings -- that the chief executive isn't supposed to target people like this ... there is a normal process that is used to investigate people & even there, you don't ask foreign leaders to investigate American citizens like this) used is problematic.
 

"You know, like the Obama spy and dirty tricks operation against Trump."

Remember Bircher Bart crowed and crowed about the coming IG report about this, and when it came it was the usual nothingburger that Bircher Bart salivates over. No political bias found at all. Yet he continues with his propaganda because that's what a Bircher Bart does. This is not a serious man.

Any nitwit could note that there's nothing to the line of 'Obama spy and dirty tricks operation against Trump' if only because *nothing about the investigation was released to the public while Trump ran and won the Presidency.* Some spy and dirty tricks operation, that! Meanwhile there were leaks and public announcements (contrary to policy) aplenty re the nothingburger that was the Clinton investigation.
 

"Where you have an offense that is defined by motive, not merely objective conduct, the existence of potential innocent motives is exculpatory, you have to prove the guilty motive, not just assert it. "

And yet Bircher Brett calls for censure of the Bidens...And condemns the GOP appointed prosecutor of Cohen and Parnas.

Partisan incoherent.

This is not a serious person.
 

"This exercise of power is very arguably an abridgment of our right to life and a violation of the Constitution."

Bircher Bart's position, parroting that of the POTUS's defenders, is that impeachment can only occur for an enumerated crime.

Perhaps he can cite the relevant penal code for this situation (note how he's built in the escape hatch 'very arguably,' pathetic).
 

Here's the impeachment counts:

https://judiciary.house.gov/sites/democrats.judiciary.house.gov/files/documents/articles%20of%20impeachment.pdf

It is only nine pages long and has certain depth of detail that simplistic summary might miss. For instance, receipt of the money ["faced with public revelation" ... penalties are in part applied to deter in the future those who fear revelation, not only those caught] didn't end matters.

The impeachment articles alleges that he "persisted" in his corrupt acts and that is a prime concern of Adam Schiff particularly. He used it as a reason to argue why removal now is important unlike say someone looking at Andrew Johnson and thinking "oh well, he's not running for re-election & will be gone soon, plus I don't like that Benjamin Wade guy who will replace him, so I'll vote to acquit."

Trump and his team repeatedly acted in ways to corruptly act with foreign powers to interfere with presidential elections. It is naive to think he will stop now. The argument "well they got the money" -- along with other things -- simply misunderstands the breadth of basic impeachment issues.
 

This is in no way similar to your example, because you haven't demonstrated the gun, paper bag, mask, or holdup note. You've just demonstrated that somebody entered a bank and then left.

Actually, all but the mask. The gun is the aid withheld - which Ukraine knew about, so don't try that one - the paper bag is the announcement - "put the money here" - and the holdup note was the "perfect" call.

But you don't buy it. Sort of like you're not really sure Obama was born in Hawaii because you weren't in the delivery room.

The standard of proof you set for things you don't like is absolute epistemological certainty. Nothing short of that suffices. For things you want to believe it's, "Hey, some guy said so."
 

"The standard of proof you set for things you don't like is absolute epistemological certainty. Nothing short of that suffices. For things you want to believe it's, "Hey, some guy said so."

This is Bircher Brett to a T. His partisan incoherent gullibility for those he favors is matched only by his partisan incoherent assumptions for those he dislikes.

Again, this is a 'man' who thinks Biden should be censured despite the fact that he admits the facts are structurally the same as that for Trump, whose impeachment he opposes. And this is a 'man' who jumped to condemn the prosecutors of Parnas and Cohen even though 1. the evidence of their wrongdoing is greater than anything we're talking about and 2. the prosecutor is actually a Trump functionary!

This is not a serious man.
 

This just shows that you misunderstand the nature of the charge: that the President asked a foreign government to investigate a particular American citizen. That, and nothing more, is an abuse of power

No, it isn't. Let's say President Trump receives information that an American celebrity was involved in the rape of a teenage prostitute in Bangkok. The authorities are dragging their feet, perhaps because they are worried about the fallout, perhaps because he has powerful associates pressuring them.

President Trump decides to ask the Thai government to investigate the case. Is that an abuse of power?

Heck, let's say that President Trump holds up (but does not ultimately withhold) aid to Thailand for some period of time to try and get them to investigate. Is that an abuse of power?

I mean, you CAN get to arguments as to why what the President did was an abuse of power, but you need to argue that he was doing it to benefit his own reelection.

And the problem with those arguments is that every first term President, at all times, is making policy decisions and using government resources in all sorts of ways to achieve their own reelection. So you are basically saying that ordinary politics is an abuse of power.
 

Is the celebrity selected because he is the main domestic political rival?
 

BD: This exercise of power is very arguably an abridgment of our right to life and a violation of the Constitution."

Mr. W: Bircher Bart's position, parroting that of the POTUS's defenders, is that impeachment can only occur for an enumerated crime.


What? Such a violation of the Constitution is not an enumerated crime.

In any case, I have not watched a minute of the Democrat impeachment circus and have no idea what the POTUS defenders are arguing. This morning, I had to google whether they offered the Biden evidence and came up with the Bondi video.

I would be unsurprised if Trump's stellar legal team offered the same self-evident defenses I have posted here for months. This is a very easy defense case.

 

Because that's what we're talking about, and your eliding that fact is interesting.
 

"Such a violation of the Constitution is not an enumerated crime."

So Bircher Bart admits the hypo is not an enumerated crime?

Of course, let's note that Bircher Bart has argued recently that *there is zero evidence that Trump asked Ukraine's president to investigate the Bidens.* That's how pathetic he is.
 

"And the problem with those arguments is that every first term President, at all times, is making policy decisions and using government resources in all sorts of ways to achieve their own reelection. So you are basically saying that ordinary politics is an abuse of power."

Silly nihilism wrapped in cynicism.

Presidents may plan official visits to battleground states to announce policy initiatives politically favorable in that area.

But pushing a foreign government to announce investigations into a political rival is different.
 

Is the celebrity selected because he is the main domestic political rival?

That's my point, though. What makes it an abuse of power, if it is one, has got to be the fact that Trump is seeing an electoral benefit in asking for the investigation. It isn't an abuse of power, ipso facto, to ask a foreign government to investigate an American citizen. It has to be an electoral opponent for the argument to even work.

And once you get to that point, you have a problem, because every first term President does all sorts of crap, small and large, to benefit electorally. Indeed, every politician does this.

I'll give you an example I care about. One reason we have badly underfunded Amtrak service on busy passenger rail corridors is because we spend a ton of money on long distance trains that serve tiny communities and which run at a substantial loss. Why do we do this? Because presidential administrations use those routes as a payoff to congressmen to vote for Amtrak funding.

Now, are those congressmen "abusing their power" when they say "keep the train running in my district or I will kill Amtrak"?

I mean, this is simply the way politics works.
 

Let's just get down to it Dilan. Unlike our Birchers I respect you enough to address you directly.

Do you think it is unimpeachable if a President uses their office to inflict a political 'hit' on a political opponent? Say they ask ever foreign government they deal with to investigate only politicians and relatives of said politicians from the opposing party? If they did that would you say 'well, politics is politics!'

If not (and heck, even Bircher Brett recognizes the problem with that), then we're just talking about this particular case, so don't pronounce such goofy generalities.
 

Silly nihilism wrapped in cynicism.

Presidents may plan official visits to battleground states to announce policy initiatives politically favorable in that area.

But pushing a foreign government to announce investigations into a political rival is different.


You know, I am really sick of this "nihilism" stuff. Recognizing political realities is not "nihilism".

Indeed, as a matter of idealism, I would like to see more honest politicians. One reason I supported Obama, twice, was because I thought he was honest. One reason I disliked Bill Clinton is because I thought he wasn't.

So I think honesty is important, and it is something to consider when voting. Indeed, I wish our system would care about it more.

But the reality is, you can't set your impeachment standard at some level where no President would survive it.

The fact that we tolerate politicians pulling various public policy levers to benefit themselves electorally isn't nihilism- it's an accurate description of how the system really works.

And no, it isn't just holding events in various places. I have another good example, involving Obama, who, again, I really liked.

Obama bailed out the automobile industry. He didn't bail out a lot of other businesses who were devastated in 2008. Are you going to tell me that the electoral significance of Michigan is unrelated to that decision? Because if you believe that, you don't know very much about politics.

Indeed, I bet the electoral significance of Michigan WAS SPECIFICALLY DISCUSSED. As is the electoral significance of the farm belt when farm subsidies are considered. (I know for a fact it was discussed in the Clinton Administration- it's in Michael Waldman's and George Stephanopoulos' books.)

You know Bill Clinton executed a mentally ill Ricky Ray Rector to show he was tough on crime and get elected President?

This ain't nihilism. I am simply saying that "no President can work the levers of public policy for electoral benefit" is an unworkable standard.
 

Do you think it is unimpeachable if a President uses their office to inflict a political 'hit' on a political opponent? Say they ask ever foreign government they deal with to investigate only politicians and relatives of said politicians from the opposing party?

My answer is probably going to surprise you.

I think it is potentially impeachable. I think a lot of things are potentially impeachable.

But for it to be impeachable, the American public would have to decide that they have had enough of this sort of thing. The way they eventually did with Nixon.

I mean, I can imagine a world where a more pacifist public impeaches Presidents for bombing countries without Congressional authorization or a UN resolution. And I'd like to live in that world. But it isn't the world we live in now.

Similarly, in the world we live in now, the use of government resources to attack political opponents does not appear to be an offense that generates the overwhelming majority of the public necessary to remove a President. It doesn't mean such conduct is right, or ethical. But it does mean that enough people see it as part of "normal politics".
 

Normal politics...Can you cite an example of another President using the office to produce investigations into chief domestic political rivals?

And can you see how that might subvert the electoral response?
 

The Kennedy Administration tapped Martin Luther King Jr.'s phones looking for compromising information to discredit him.

Nixon did a lot of this stuff.

As for "subverting an electoral response", I think the point you are making proves too much. For instance, Presidents press the Federal Reserve to allow interest rates to go down in advance of elections. Presidents engage in cover ups in part to win the next election.

Presidents also use litigation to slow up investigations. Obviously the current administration does that, but did you know Clinton did it as well. The whole point of the basically made-up-out-of-whole-cloth argument in Clinton v. Jones was to push Paula Jones past 1996, and Bob Bennett admitted that fact. (Of course, it backfired on Clinton. :) But he did get reelected.)

There's just a million things politicians do to manipulate the electorate. Why is the Bush campaign engaging in sub silentio coordination with the Swift Boaters to spread lies about John Kerry's military service different than this.

Elections are important, people try to win them, and there's no way to police every underhanded tactic. I know that answer is unsatisfying, but it's the truth.
 

MLK wasn't running for office...So you have nothing...
 

My more general point about all of this is that impeachment and removal requires a real social consensus. You don't necessarily have to convince the Bart's or Brett's of the world, but you kind of have to convince enough ordinary Republicans. (Or on the flip side, Republicans had to convince enough ordinary Democrats about Clinton.)

Now maybe because of polarization that is impossible. But I actually doubt that. I suspect, for instance, that a tape of a President actually taking an explicit monetary bribe might force a resignation. Concededly, though, the bar is very high.

When you don't have that consensus, you just have to go to the public and win the next election. That's unsatisfying, I suspect, for psychological reasons. Because even if you beat an incumbent President, it "normalizes" his behavior. But I don't think it does, if it is made into a voting issue in the campaign. If Hypothetical Democratic Nominee runs on a message of "Trump is corrupt" and wins, that will get the attention of future presidents and presidential candidates.

But you have to accept the other side of this as well. The public has the right to not think this is a particularly big deal as well. They have the right to say "we care more about our health care, or our security, or whatever, than we do about incumbent Presidents using some underhanded tactics to try and win the next election".

In a democracy, the public gets to say that. And impeachment doesn't work as an end run around that.
 

MLK wasn't running for office...So you have nothing...

You said "a domestic political opponent". MLK, who led mass protests against the Kennedy Administration in 1963, was certainly that.

At any rate, are you really saying that it would be totally OK for President Trump to use the mechanisms of government against any particular political opponent, just not against Biden? Because that would seem to slice the salami thin.
 

"Do you think it is unimpeachable if a President uses their office to inflict a political 'hit' on a political opponent? Say they ask ever foreign government they deal with to investigate only politicians and relatives of said politicians from the opposing party? If they did that would you say 'well, politics is politics!'"

Dilan, your answer?
 

I think it is potentially impeachable, if there is a groundswell of public support for removal.

On the other hand, I think the public has the right to come to two other conclusions:

1. It is not impeachable, but it is a voting issue in an election.

2. It is not impeachable, and is comparatively unimportant as opposed to substantive issues like health care, trade, national defense, immigration, civil rights, etc.
 

"Where you have an offense that is defined by motive, not merely objective conduct, the existence of potential innocent motives is exculpatory, you have to prove the guilty motive, not just assert it. Whereas if there were no innocent motives possible for the conduct, your burden of proof would be lessened."

This misunderstands the way "intent" gets proved in legal proceedings. It's exceedingly rare to have direct evidence of intent (e.g., "Of course I meant to kill that MF'er"). The vast majority of the time we *infer* intent from the totality of the circumstances. In this particular case the impeachment evidence details multiple reasons why Trump's intent was culpable, as Joe has pointed out, and Trump has offered nothing but debunked conspiracy theories in defense. Well, when he offers a defense at all; mostly he just declares his phone call "perfect".

I guess there's also the Mick Mulvaney nihilist theory: "we do this all the time, get over it". It's false when applied to others, but sadly true for Trump.
 

Hunter's not running for office, either.

I think we're not terribly far apart, Dilan. I think it would be great if standards genuinely changed to make the sort of routine dodgy conduct Trump does impeachable. I've often said that every President in living memory, (Except *maybe* Carter, he was mostly feckless.) has done something that a society that really valued the Constitution and the rule of law would have impeached them for.

But that's not what is going on here. We're not seeing some sort of great awakening to the endemic corruption in our government, and a determination to clean it up. All we're seeing is an effort to temporarily move the goal posts until Trump is gone, and then life will go on as usual.

Far from an awakening against corruption, the corruption is attempting to rid itself of a potential threat, and restore the status quo.
 

Dilan, so in this you're essentially a Sophist.
 

Whatever the public finds is the correct response.
 

"Whatever the public finds is the correct response."

That's a bit vague, but polling does show roughly 50% of Americans wanted Trump impeached and that a plurality supports his removal from office. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-the-latest-polling-on-trumps-removal-does-and-doesnt-mean/
 

I don't think there is a conceivable process for impeachment that would be insulated from politics. Give it to SCOTUS and you get Bush v. Gore.

Ultimately the public in a democracy has to decide how much they care about this stuff.

That's not sophist.
 

Dilan,

When you don't have that consensus, you just have to go to the public and win the next election.

So second-term Presidents are immune?

And what of first-term Presidents whose re-election prospects look dim, so that only some Hail Mary tactic can bring victory?
 

"And what of first-term Presidents whose re-election prospects look dim, so that only some Hail Mary tactic can bring victory?"

Or presidents whose purpose is to cheat the election? And to withhold the evidence that would allow voters to make an informed decision?
 

The discussion dovetails with the "legitimate graft" discussion of a few days ago.

Take the hypothetical of a POTUS suspecting that a fellow candidate -- yes, even a potential competitor -- has committed wrongdoing overseas. What should that POTUS do and what can they do that is allowable?

Answer: they can have a secret investigation. They can even prod other countries to perform this investigation (as long as they do it through proper channels so that their hands are clean. That means through the diplomatic channels. This failed in the Biden/Burisma case, because there's simply nothing there, and it was obvious to everyone (except Trump and a few people whose wishful thinking overwhelms their grasp on reality.)

But that's not what Trump did. In fact, there's indications that he didn't (and doesn't) care about an actual finding of fact and uncovering of truth in the Biden-Burisma mess. What he wanted (and got) was the announcement of investigations, of a big discussion of Biden/Burisma. Of course, he'd have preferred it to appear to have come from Ukraine, not as a result of his form of pseudo-bribery, but ...

Frankly, I'm one of those people who doesn't think Trump should be removed from office. I think he should stay if for no other reason than as a warning to voters just how vile and corrupt the entire Republican power structure has become. Why, it makes the Democrats appear honest! But absolutely, impeachment in the face of his actions were proper. (Impeachment leaves us with a third-string theocrat in the WH, with a federal government in shambles at the top after three years of Trump; it's going to take months for the next president-elect to have a decent transition, and Pence is simply not up to the task.)


 

And the problem with Mark's 50 percent stat is that in a polarized country, that really just means Democrats want to remove the President.

And that's what elections are for.

Impeachment is the safety valve for when overwhelming bipartisan majorities feel we can't wait.
 

And the "cheating" argument depends on defining the ordinary behavior of politicians (using public policy to win the next election) as "cheating".

It isn't.

I mean, I can imagine actual "cheating", such as changing ballots or misprogramming voting machines, that, if ordered by the President, would be seen as the public as impeachable. But none of that happened here.

One other point- if people honestly thought this was cheating, they wouldn't want to impeach and remove, because Pence is on the same ticket and would benefit from the removal. You would never argue "take person 1 who benefitted from cheating out and put in person 2 who was on the same ticket".

You would much rather go to the electorate and scream "they cheated! throw them out!".
 

"So second-term Presidents are immune?"


Not if they do something the public feels warrants removal.
 

And since we are talking about "cheating", let me tell you about something that has gone on for more than 200 years, is done by both parties, and comes much closer to the definition of "cheating" than trying to get the Ukrainians to do something politically helpful to the President.

Both parties gerrymander congressional districts. They use their powers in state legislatures to draw districts to maximize the number of Republicans and Democrats in Congress. And this gerrymandering- wait for it!- also substantially alters the electoral college. As a result of it, certain votes count a lot and other votes count not at all in the Presidential election. It literally has the same effect as if you programmed voting machines to not count votes.

And yet- does anyone consider any part of the partisan gerrymandering machine impeachable. I get that some people consider it UNCONSTITUTIONAL, but in a sense, that makes my argument even stronger. Here's something people consider to be a violation of the Constitution, as well as something that clearly alters the vote counts in Presidential elections. And yet, nobody is proposing any politicians be impeached for gerrymandering districts. Why is that?

And i would suggest to you that the reason that is, is because allegations of cheating are not actually some argument stopper that obviate the need for overwhelming public opinion to remove politicians from office outside of the normal electoral process. They just aren't.

The reality is that gerrymandering's effect in terms of fixing elections is far bigger than any of the stuff that we have been talking about here. And, as I said, you can argue that the courts- a different check on electoral branches- should have come in and fixed it, although that would have carried its own costs (like causing a whole bunch of black congressmen and women to lose their elections in favor of white moderates). But we take for granted the idea that gerrymandering isn't some great betrayal of the oath of office, even though it's clearly fixing elections in a much more literal sense than any calls to Ukraine.

Why is that? Because at the end of the day, we expect politicians to try to win elections. And we expect them to try and screw their opponents. And the sort of goody-two-shoes conception of politics where no politicians do these things is inconsistent with any reality of how the world works.
 

"And the problem with Mark's 50 percent stat is that in a polarized country, that really just means Democrats want to remove the President."

Exactly. I think we've now arrived at a point where, on election day, long before a new President has done anything, there will be a significant level of support for their being impeached.

This support for their impeachment will be rationalized on one basis or another, but it will really just stem from their not being of the same party as the people who want them impeached.

"And i would suggest to you that the reason that is, is because allegations of cheating are not actually some argument stopper that obviate the need for overwhelming public opinion to remove politicians from office outside of the normal electoral process. They just aren't."

The current allegations of cheating are more about de-legitimizing the outcome of the 2020 election in advance, in case Trump wins, than any actual expectation of "cheating".
 

"I think we've now arrived at a point where, on election day, long before a new President has done anything, there will be a significant level of support for their being impeached."

Maybe. Nihilism is widespread, so it's hard to predict. But in Trump's case the polls clearly shifted from a majority opposing impeachment to majority support. And it wasn't just Dems -- Independents (whoever they are these days) were needed to get support over 50%.

So if impeachment should be determined by "voter support" (NB: I don't think so), then that test has been met.
 

Here's another thought experiment for impeachment supporters.

Let's say you have a really close Presidential election. Polls are tied.

And the stakes are enormous. Supreme Court seats are up for grabs. Roe v. Wade might get overturned. The Republican candidate is proposing to gut the welfare state.

Your candidate has the opportunity to obtain aid from a foreign government, who is willing to announce a phony corruption investigation against his or her opponent in October. The candidate's pollsters tell the candidate that corruption is an issue and the announcement may tip the election.

They are ready to do it if your candidate says the word. Would you prefer that your candidate says "no", and loses the election, thereby gutting the welfare state and allowing abortion bans to take effect in much of the country? Or would you prefer your candidate says "yes", and does what is necessary to win?

My point isn't to condemn anyone who says "no". I think "no" is an admirable answer. It's simply to point out that a lot of Americans would say "yes". And if you flipped sides and I did a Republican hypothetical, a different but similarly large set of Americans would say "yes" to that one as well.

The reason why people try to win elections is not simply a matter of personal ambition, though obviously it is that. Politicians do love power. But politicians are also representatives of ideological coalitions who believe the stakes are extremely high in every presidential election and who expect their candidates to fight hard and sometimes even to fight dirty. They want to win, not to be too pure and lose, because they believe that terrible things will happen to America if their side loses.

And if y'all wonder why you haven't convinced enough of the public of President Trump's wrongdoing to make removal a political possibility, this point has a lot to do with it.
 

So if impeachment should be determined by "voter support" (NB: I don't think so)

It's not a should, Mark, It's an "is".

Let's say that you had a President who took an explicit monetary payoff. We all agree that bribery is impeachable, right? Specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

Let's say that the President was also beloved by the public, with an 80 percent approval rating, and 85 percent of the public opposed impeachment and removal.

Do you really believe that you could remove him? Even though you and I might agree that in some Platonic sense where politics didn't enter into it, that President should be removed.

Doesn't that point prove that in the end, public opinion is crucial to this process, no matter what the "high crimes and misdemeanors" that are alleged?
 

"But in Trump's case the polls clearly shifted from a majority opposing impeachment to majority support."

I'm looking at 538's polling aggregate right now. They're at 48.5% support for removal, and the numbers have barely twitched in the last 3 months. This number is driven by over 80% of Democrats favoring removal. (A majority of Democrats have favored impeaching and removing Trump since a couple weeks after the inauguration, before any charges could be identified.)

It looks to me as though all the impeachment hearings changed nobody's mind.
 

Maybe. Nihilism is widespread, so it's hard to predict. But in Trump's case the polls clearly shifted from a majority opposing impeachment to majority support. And it wasn't just Dems -- Independents (whoever they are these days) were needed to get support over 50%.

50 percent isn't enough in a system where you need a 2/3'ds majority in the Senate. And another way of rewording your point is to say "they haven't persuaded any Republicans".

Now, "persuading the independents" is a great argument IN AN ELECTION. Really, you persuade the independents, you win. But it's not a great argument in a removal proceeding, where you have to persuade the other side.

And that makes perfect sense as a matter of political theory. You don't need as many people on board to elect a President every 4 years as you would need to engage in an extra-electoral act to remove one.
 

I'm one of those people who doesn't think Trump should be removed from office. I think he should stay if for no other reason than as a warning to voters just how vile and corrupt the entire Republican power structure has become. Why, it makes the Democrats appear honest! But absolutely, impeachment in the face of his actions were proper. (Impeachment leaves us with a third-string theocrat in the WH, with a federal government in shambles at the top after three years of Trump; it's going to take months for the next president-elect to have a decent transition, and Pence is simply not up to the task.)

This prudential prosecutorial discretion sort of approach is as I have noted credible if something I disagree with on the merits. I think the public has had repeated notice regarding the Republican power structure, down to the Kavanaugh seat on the Supreme Court. I don't think it is a horrible thing if the Republicans finally draw a line here. Pence isn't Trump. He is part of the whole scheme in some fashion probably but in certain respects he is minimally credible at least to serve as a placeholder until the next election.

If you don't remove Trump, the "third-string theocrat" just acts behind the scenes and the Republican powers are just more emboldened. They also learn they simply have no obligations here. Even minimal things like not stacking the deck, openly, will be not deemed an obligation except maybe for "moderates."

If Pence (who actually was a governor and from what I can tell was competent if not ideologically pleasant) is not there, who will be in charge of the transition? Trump! At least with Pence, you have more of a chance things will go somewhat normally. Pence is also less likely to interfere with the 2020 elections.

The prudential call not to impeach and/or remove needs a stronger case.

 


If you don't remove Trump, the "third-string theocrat" just acts behind the scenes and the Republican powers are just more emboldened.


That makes little sense. If the Democrats make an issue of Ukraine in the election and win, with exit polls showing Ukraine was a central issue, that would have a far greater deterrent effect than a removal. Because the Republicans would lose everything. Heck, they might even lose the Senate. Remember how Democrats won elections after Watergate? It had a seismic effect.

Whereas even if Dems did theoretically remove President Trump, Republicans would probably find that they got many of their same policy proposals through with Pence as President.

If your political strategy here is maximum deterrence, really, only an election gets you that.
 

And yet- does anyone consider any part of the partisan gerrymandering machine impeachable. I get that some people consider it UNCONSTITUTIONAL, but in a sense, that makes my argument even stronger. Here's something people consider to be a violation of the Constitution, as well as something that clearly alters the vote counts in Presidential elections. And yet, nobody is proposing any politicians be impeached for gerrymandering districts. Why is that?

Good question. Here are some answers:

1. There's no one person to impeach. The districts are drawn by the legislature.

2. The prospective impeachees are also the prospective impeachors. The legislature that draws the districts would have to impeach itself.

So impeachment is not a useful remedy. Not all Constitutional violations are best dealt with through impeachment.
 

Dilan:

Let's rewrite your supra comment so it is no longer a hypo:

Your candidate has the opportunity to have allies in the law enforcement and intelligence agencies execute a phony investigation against his or her opponent during the campaign and leak the results to allies in the media. The candidate's pollsters tell the candidate that corruption is an issue and the leaks may tip the election. They are ready to do it if your candidate says the word.

Would you prefer that your candidate says "no", and loses the election, thereby gutting the welfare state and allowing abortion bans to take effect in much of the country?

Or would you prefer your candidate says "yes", and does what is necessary to win?

I have yet to find a Democrat who would say "no." Every single one here and elsewhere defends the Obama administration's spy and dirty tricks campaign in coordination with the Clinton campaign against Trump.
 

byomtov:

Actually, the current President is a participant:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/24/us/politics/trump-pennsylvania-gerrymandering.html

The Clinton Justice Department pushed for maximum gerrymandering as a requirement of the Voting Rights Act in the 1990's too. Walter Dellinger was a big proponent of this.

These examples aren't unique. Many, many Presidents have supported partisan gerrymandering in various ways. Not once has this been viewed as impeachable.

And as for impeachees being impeachors, that makes my point about politics being unavoidable in impeachment fights. :)
 

This support for their impeachment will be rationalized on one basis or another, but it will really just stem from their not being of the same party as the people who want them impeached.

Trump specifically -- not Ford, Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush, McCain or Romney -- was at an early point flagged as committing wrongdoing that was worthy of impeachment.

Trump specifically. A former head of the FBI, appointed by a Republican, a lifetime Republican, Vietnam vet, had a report that spelled out part of the reason. If someone else was the nominee (Ted Cruz, let's say), this wouldn't have been the case from what I can tell. Clinton also was flagged (she was a "felon" after all) and I don't think Sanders was seen in a comparable light though who knows.

The current allegations of cheating are more about de-legitimizing the outcome of the 2020 election in advance, in case Trump wins, than any actual expectation of "cheating".

There has been a range of evidence submitted, including from non-Democratic sources, to show how Trump specifically committed wrongs including but not limited to cheating. Plus, that he specifically, not any Republican, is particularly unfit. This is not about "any non-Democrat winning will be illegitimate."

We have been in a partisan era for quite some time now. Trump specifically is the problem to this degree. The fact that keeping him in place is likely to taint the upcoming election (to what degree is unclear) is on the wrongdoing and their enablers. That being Trump and his enablers.
 

February 2nd, 2017: After 2 Weeks, Voters Yearn For Obama

"Raleigh, N.C. –
Less than 2 weeks into Donald Trump's tenure as President, 40% of voters already want to impeach him. That's up from 35% of voters who wanted to impeach him a week ago. Only 48% of voters say that they would be opposed to Trump's impeachment."

A February 24th poll had Democratic support for impeachment at 58%. So far as I can tell, it never dropped below 50%.

Democrats decided that Trump needed to be impeached as soon as he took office. Possibly before that, those are the earliest polls I found. Then they just went looking for an excuse to do it.

But that Trump would be impeached was foreordained on election day, when he won, because the real impeachable offense was not losing the election.
 

The fact that keeping him in place is likely to taint the upcoming election (to what degree is unclear) is on the wrongdoing and their enablers.

"Likely to taint" is a ridiculous claim.

The cheating alleged is that the President pushed for an investigation that wasn't actually announced, and temporarily withheld aid that was ultimately paid out.

In other words, it's an attempt crime. Now to be clear, I don't think anything relating to the impeachment clause prohibits Congress from going after attempts as well as completed actions. That's not my point. Attempts are potentially impeachable.

My point is, there's no way whatsoever anyone can look at what occurred here and say that this is going to alter the result of the 2020 election. It was an attempt that didn't go through. And at any rate, we don't even know yet that Biden is going to be nominated.

If someone attempts to "cheat" but fails to actually complete the "cheating", it's complete madness to say that is "likely to" affect the election.
 

"There has been a range of evidence submitted, including from non-Democratic sources, to show how Trump specifically committed wrongs including but not limited to cheating."

Define "cheating". Let's be specific. Is he having voting machines reprogrammed? Engaging in ballot harvesting and absentee ballot fraud? Setting things up to make sure ballot boxes are misplaced or "found" in key precincts? Details, please.

"The fact that keeping him in place is likely to taint the upcoming election "

His simply being the candidate taints the election? Could you be any more outcome oriented if you actively tried?
 

"The districts are drawn by the legislature."

Mostly, in fact, by *state* legislatures. To which the federal impeachment clause has no application whatsoever.

"Less than 2 weeks into Donald Trump's tenure as President, 40% of voters already want to impeach him. That's up from 35% of voters who wanted to impeach him a week ago."

To be fair, Trump was committing impeachable offenses before he was even elected, and has been committing them regularly -- I'm tempted to say daily -- ever since.
 

That makes little sense.

Usual strident language.

If the Democrats make an issue of Ukraine in the election and win

Which they still can. If Trump was removed, Pence also would be tainted -- there already is evidence he was somehow involved. Other members of the Administration will also be tainted as they are for other things. Will they pick someone else to be the nominee? Very well might be like 2008 -- people would want to move on generally even with a fairly decent nominee & this can also even possibly help in the Senate races.

Whereas even if Dems did theoretically remove President Trump, Republicans would probably find that they got many of their same policy proposals through with Pence as President.

I'm not concerned about policy proposals as such here as much as Trump and his team doing a range of things including involving foreign governments in the corruption of our elections. Among other things. Parties win and lose elections. Trump, unlike the garden variety Republican, is problematic for special reasons. Removal also can deter Republicans, since it shows there are limits, including some minimum obligation to check Trump's excesses.

Net, one can argue impeachment will help less than an alternative, but not seeing the little sense. I see some difference of opinion that doesn't even address some of what I'm talking about. At some point, this makes it hard to engage.
 

Mostly, in fact, by *state* legislatures. To which the federal impeachment clause has no application whatsoever.

Except:

1. State governments have impeachment and/or recall procedures, and yet nobody calls for those against gerrymandering legislators.

2. Federal officials, including several Presidents, have lent material support for gerrymandering. (So have judges and justices, BTW.) This includes the current President. But even though there have been any number of Articles of Impeachment proposed, nobody has called to impeach a President for supporting gerrymandering.

The fact that we all see the support of gerrymandering, which literally fixes elections, to be a non-impeachable offense, no matter how we feel about the practice, is very telling about the "cheating" talking point.
 

Usual strident language.

"Makes little sense" is strident language? In an internet full of people calling each other idiots and History's Greatest Monster?

Which they still can. If Trump was removed, Pence also would be tainted -- there already is evidence he was somehow involved. Other members of the Administration will also be tainted as they are for other things. Will they pick someone else to be the nominee? Very well might be like 2008 -- people would want to move on generally even with a fairly decent nominee & this can also even possibly help in the Senate races.

But you aren't going to impeach Pence. If you really thought that he was the beneficiary of "cheating", you would, right? You wouldn't hand the Presidency over to someone who benefitted from the same "cheating"?

You see, I think you know that "cheating" was a cute talking point that Democrats came up with, not an accurate description of what happened here. Because if you saw real "cheating", your response would be very different, as would Democrats'.

I'm not concerned about policy proposals as such here as much as Trump and his team doing a range of things including involving foreign governments in the corruption of our elections. Among other things. Parties win and lose elections. Trump, unlike the garden variety Republican, is problematic for special reasons. Removal also can deter Republicans, since it shows there are limits, including some minimum obligation to check Trump's excesses.

Net, one can argue impeachment will help less than an alternative, but not seeing the little sense. I see some difference of opinion that doesn't even address some of what I'm talking about. At some point, this makes it hard to engage.


The little sense is referring to the fact that an election is just a much more powerful repudiation of a party than an impeachment is, because an election removes the entire executive branch and an impeachment just removes a President.

I mean, you can't seriously argue that, can you?

Now, if you are just trying to put a "stain" on President Trump, that's a different argument. But in terms of deterrence, parties are deterred by being swept out of power. Changing the President just isn't going to have the same effect.
 

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Define "cheating". Let's be specific.

The facts have been cited including but not limited to the impeachment counts. The Mueller Report provides further details, including regarding his overall team which he oversaw and ultimately has responsibility over. Violating the rules is a form of cheating. The census ruling is another example. Another lifelong Republican, Chief Justice Roberts, said the rules were broken there. And, the overall motivation as has been shown by the evidence was electoral in nature. A strong Trump supporter disagrees. Duly noted.

His simply being the candidate taints the election? Could you be any more outcome oriented if you actively tried?

First, I said "likely to."

Second, yes, given the evidence in place regarded his repeated actions over time, he being the candidate is likely to taint the election, including per his past behavior that there is little reason to think will not continue in some related form.

Replace a presidential candidate with any number of things and the person has repeatedly did things to taint things because of their wrongdoing. The likelihood that they will suddenly not taint the process is akin to thinking "hey! this time Lucy will not move the football."

Again, it is not because he is not a Democrat. It is because of his past actions and the rather rational belief that he will not suddenly stop doing the things he has been doing.
 

re: he who shall not be named ...

It's duly noted that you didn't call me a "racist" and so forth, but yes, it was strident. It is like the whole "all elections" and so forth.

No, you don't impeach or arrest or punish or whatever each person who did something wrong. You factor in various things and determine if it is worth it, especially something very big or something that will be very hard to successfully accomplish. So, even if Pence cheated etc. impeachment very well might not be warranted. I also noted there was "evidence" -- I didn't say there was crystal clear evidence. Yet another reason why impeachment would be less appropriate.

Yes, I can argue with it, because impeachment/removal specifically is doesn't just 'repudiate' an administration, which can be merely for run of the mill policy reasons. What impeachment and removal is about -- moving past the special penalty possible of a lifetime ban from office -- is that the person removed committed a basic offense against the public at large requiring removal. And, if the Republicans agreed to remove him, they would show some line needs to be drawn even for their own party.

I noted how the removal can very well help the Democrats in the upcoming elections. Anyway, simply beating them at the polls, particularly by a close vote, is a short term thing. Impeachment and removal is also about more than policy but wrongs against the public. It provides an additional level of deterrence etc. there.
 

Violating the rules is a form of cheating.

This is actually an important point. I think "cheating" implies far more than just a violation of rules. Clinton violated a ton of campaign finance rules. I wouldn't say he "cheated", any more than LeBron James "cheats" when he commits traveling. "Cheating" is some sort of action far worse than simply violating the rules.

I don't think that any of our resident Democrats would say that any violation of electoral rules was a form of cheating if a Democratic President was facing impeachment.

The census ruling is another example.

You are moving the goal posts. The Census ruling went through lawful channels. The Trump administration lost. They changed the Census back. That's not cheating. That's exactly how the legal process is supposed to work. (At any event, studies have since shown that the effect of the citizenship question was overblown, which goes to your argument about the cheating being "likely" to affect the election.)

The likelihood that they will suddenly not taint the process is akin to thinking "hey! this time Lucy will not move the football."

Your use of "taint the process" strikes me as delibrately slippery. It allows you to assert based on nothing that this will affect the 2020 election, without explaining how any of it WILL. And worse, you then call it all "cheating".

So by refusing to be specific, and to define your terms, you avoid having to explain how any specific act of Trump constitutes "cheating" and how that "cheating" will specifically impact the 2020 election.

And that's important. You are talking about REMOVING A PRESIDENT. This is very strong medicine. Especially when we have an election coming up where the public can do the same thing. It's not enough to talk about "cheating" and "likely taints". Show us the mechanism by which an action by President Trump will affect the vote count in 2020.
 

What impeachment and removal is about -- moving past the special penalty possible of a lifetime ban from office -- is that the person removed committed a basic offense against the public at large requiring removal.

It can't possibly be just about that, because you need 2/3rds of the Senate to agree, and that doesn't happen in the vast majority of cases of a "basic offense against the public".

Look, bombing Cambodia and bombing Kosovo were both "basic offenses against the public". They were. What can be worse than waging offensive war without congressional authorization and in clear violation of the UN Charter? And yet, the reason we don't impeach Presidents over them is because the public doesn't want that to happen.

Perjury is also a "basic offense against the public". And yet we had a President who beyond any doubt perjured himself twice, and we didn't remove him.

I would reword what you said this way: impeachment is about "an offense that the public is so basically offended by that removal can't wait until the next election". That definition is, unlike yours, consistent with historical practice.
 

@Dilan "But we take for granted the idea that gerrymandering isn't some great betrayal of the oath of office,"

Speak for yourself on that one.
 

@DIlan: "And that's important. You are talking about REMOVING A PRESIDENT. This is very strong medicine. Especially when we have an election coming up where the public can do the same thing. "

Without an impeachment process, how do you imagine that the public, in general and at large, would be informed enough to "do the same thing" ?
 

Speak for yourself on that one.

I don't mean it isn't. I mean that what we think of as "customary" and "politics as usual" has a large influence in what the public sees as impeachable. My war examples also show that. Really, violating the Congressional war powers in the Constitution, in many ways, should be the ultimate impeachable offense. Lots of people are murdered by the bombs that we drop and the missiles that we fire.

You can't just say "this is an abuse of power" in a vacuum. Public opinion matters. If the public is broadly accepting of politicians doing all sorts of stuff to get reelected (and I think it is fair to say they are), it just doesn't work to start defining that as an impeachable offense.

Without an impeachment process, how do you imagine that the public, in general and at large, would be informed enough to "do the same thing" ?

The premise of democracy is either that (a) the public is smart or (b) even if the public is not smart, it has the right to get what it wants.

Either way, in a democracy, an extra-electoral removal of a President requires a public mandate. If the public is "too stupid to be persuaded", then either hire better persuaders or accept their judgment. We don't have Platonic guardians or benevolent dictators here. If the public chooses to be rationally ignorant about politics, that is their right too.

But I think, honestly, that there's probably a set of things that would persuade the public, if the President did them. It's probably a fairly small set, but it's not a null set. And when you see that public opinion shift overwhelmingly against a President, that's when you invoke impeachment.
 

Your candidate has the opportunity to have allies in the law enforcement and intelligence agencies execute a phony investigation against his or her opponent during the campaign and leak the results to allies in the media. The candidate's pollsters tell the candidate that corruption is an issue and the leaks may tip the election. They are ready to do it if your candidate says the word.

Nothing phony about it, as the IG report shows. I am glad you didn't talk about "spying," so I guess you have more integrity than Barr. Were results leaked? No.

The fact is that the candidate damaged by improper statements by law enforcement was Clinton.
 

@dilan "If the public is broadly accepting of politicians doing all sorts of stuff to get reelected (and I think it is fair to say they are), it just doesn't work to start defining that as an impeachable offense.

...

The premise of democracy is either that (a) the public is smart or (b) even if the public is not smart, it has the right to get what it wants.


You're writing as if decades or centuries worth of work on propaganda is just irrelevant, and as though we can just ignore the centuries-old association between education and democracy. I'm not sure that your (b) clause is actually widely accepted, certainly not without dispute.

I have no idea how many citizens in my old state of PA were even aware of gerrymandering before a major state wide campaign to fight it started up. Is it surprising that most of them were "broadly accepting" of it at that time? Furthermore, even how you ask the question matters. "Do you think it is appropriate that elected members of the state government are responsible for drawing the lines of their own districts?" is way less likely to meet with disapproval than "Do you think it is appropriate that elected members of the state government construct arbitray, convoluted and unfair-by-most-metric districts in order to maximise the chances of their own re-election?" Both are legitimate descriptions of what was going on in PA (and elsewhere). One of them produces generates mild assent, the other major dissent.

"Hire better persuaders"

Are you completely credulous of the notion of a free press? Who do you think hires the persuaders that most of the public gets to see? Yes, no platonic guardians or benevolent dictators ... but we do have systems, and those systems can either promote or demote public understanding and knowledge. Who controls those systems? How do they operate? Well what do you know? Just the stuff of politics ....

Your threshold strikes me as understandable but absurd. "A deliberately misinformed and underinformed public's instantaneous reaction to a possible wrong-doing is the only arbiter of whether or not we can invoke impeachment." I'm paraphrasing, but I don't think I'm far off the actual real-world implication.
 

You're writing as if decades or centuries worth of work on propaganda is just irrelevant,

If your model is that people have been propagandized for centuries and nobody knows the truth, well, then you probably shouldn't support democracy.

But that is not my model. I think the American public is fairly good at making judgments despite the propaganda. I certainly don't subscribe to the theory that the media acts as the puppet master, directing the opinions of ordinary Americans and manipulating them to serve the ends of our masters. That just doesn't describe reality.

But, as I said, if that's what you believe happens, then you probably should just give up on democracy. Because this impeachment proceeding isn't going to change the media climate one bit.
 

"A deliberately misinformed and underinformed public's instantaneous reaction to a possible wrong-doing is the only arbiter of whether or not we can invoke impeachment."

And this ties into Joe's point that Trump is still, today, attempting to steal the election by putting out misinformation. His defense to the impeachment is incoherent, but that's a combination of the lack of a real defense and the political advantage of spreading confusion.

In a legitimate election process, Trump would admit that he asked for an investigation into Joe Biden (he actually has admitted that, but he has plenty of defenders who don't); admit that he held up aid for that purpose, as the evidence shows (but which again his defenders deny); admit that he has no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden (as the evidence shows, but his defenders deny); and release all the relevant documents and testimony. Then, and only then, could he stand before the public and ask it to validate what he did. Who knows? The Rs are so corrupt these days they may well go for it.

But even this corrupts democracy. We don't conduct our affairs by plebiscite. And merely because a majority approves of conduct does not make it consistent with democracy. After all, a majority could vote Trump as a dictator but that just means we'd no longer be a democracy.
 

And this ties into Joe's point that Trump is still, today, attempting to steal the election by putting out misinformation.

So now LYING is "stealing the election"? Wow, you guys have moved the goal posts all the way over onto a nearby hockey rink.

I hate to break it to you, but every presidential candidate you have ever voted for lied to you. Every one. They all do. They all put out misinformation.

Is that a justification? No. Lying to the electorate is always or almost always wrong. But if that's the standard, every single elected President stole the election.

In a legitimate election process, Trump would admit that he asked for an investigation into Joe Biden (he actually has admitted that, but he has plenty of defenders who don't); admit that he held up aid for that purpose, as the evidence shows (but which again his defenders deny); admit that he has no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden (as the evidence shows, but his defenders deny); and release all the relevant documents and testimony. Then, and only then, could he stand before the public and ask it to validate what he did.

More ridiculousness. Let's say he's lying. Why can't the Democrats can't argue "he's lying!". Is there some disease that prevents Democrats from calling out alleged dishonesty by their opponents?

And why can't the public, WHOM WE TRUST TO SERVE ON JURIES AND EXECUTE MURDERERS, evaluate whether President Trump is being honest or not? Isn't that well within their competence?

But even this corrupts democracy. We don't conduct our affairs by plebiscite.

In other words, if the public hears about this and concludes that they want President Trump anyway, that "corrupts democracy".

Ladies and gentleman, Mark Field wants to be dictator. If the public rejects his position, screw the public. We don't conduct our affairs by plebiscite. He said it, right there. He wants all of us to bow to whatever he thinks the election result to be. We have no right to reject his preferences, or decide that we want someone who offends him.

That's un-American. It's antithetical to everything anyone should believe in.
 

After all, a majority could vote Trump as a dictator but that just means we'd no longer be a democracy.

No, they couldn't. You see, Mark, we still have a Constitution, and that prohibits that. And we still have a court system. And we still have separation of powers and a legislature.

The public can vote President Trump in for a second term. And they can vote for a more supportive Congress for him. They can also do the opposite.

And, importantly, they can influence whether Senators vote to remove him from office.

But they can't make him a dictator. At least not without a sort of overwhelming groundswell to amend the Constitution, just like it would take an overwhelming groundswell to remove him.

Impeachment is left to the "political branches", as the court cases go. That means political considerations are made, and the public gets a say. Other things are withdrawn from those branches for the judiciary to decide.

And what's truly amazing is that you spend a lot of time pontificating about the Constitution and yet you make comments that evince complete ignorance of that distinction.
 

The only definition of democracy that seems to make sense to me is "the conviction that more than half the people are right more than half the time". I certainly believe in that, even if my brother has spent many hours/days trying to convince me that it is way too narrow of a definition of "real democracy".

I believe in democracy, but I'm also not blind to the weaknesses of the concept. The fact that more than the half the people are for something is not, in and of itself, evidence of the correctness of that choice. One needs to ask more questions, such as why are people in favor of it, where and how did they learn about it? You have to ask such questions because we have great titans of industry whose success has been reliant on the well-documented inadequacies of human psychology and perception. You have to overcome those weaknesses with well designed civic institutions and laws that make it harder to "fool all the people all of the time". It's not as if the Greeks didn't know about this (and likely other cultures before them).

I too think that the American public is fairly good at making judgements. But only when they have actually had the true case put before them, since there is precious little evidence that they will seek it out en masse. There are many things about which a large number of Americans hold demonstrably false beliefs. I'm not willing to sweep that under the rug with some homily about the wisdom of regular folk. The public can make the call, but to do so, the public needs to see the storie(s).

Impeachment is, in part, the process of putting the stories before the public.

There's another dimension to your reliance on "the public". Already polls are indicating that a majority think this, and a plurality think that. From your posts that I've read here, you don't find these particularly persuasive. What does "the public" have to do to have "its" opinion considered seriously and (at least temporarily) definitive? Marches in the streets? Twitter storms? Letters to editors of small town newspapers (do we have them anymore)? Re-elect the impeached one? Just what action(s) on the part of "the public" are construed as evidence of what the public thinks, and by whom?
 

"Democracy is the worst system conceived, except for all the others."

To be clear, if the purpose of this week is to put the story before the public, you won't see me objecting. Impeachment is a political process- setting up a run in the fall on the Ukraine issue is perfectly within the Democrats' prerogative.

My objection is only to some of the arguments being made, which I find to be faintly ridiculous, and to the notion that we should remove a President in a 50-50 situation. We shouldn't.
 

I agree, Dilan -- we should not remove a President just because a trifle more than 50 percent of the population wants to.

The only problem is that we don't live in a democracy, as our friends on the right like to tell us whenever that helps their argument of the moment.

And the thing about a "representative democracy" is that the levers of power are a ways removed from being moved directly by the will of the people. Hence the ability of a minority to control a majority of the government. Hence the observed and statistically demonstrable fact that our government is more responsive to the wishes and goals of the top 1 percent than to the other 99 percent of us.

This is exacerbated by the party system, which is how white supremacists and the NRA wield a power in the Republican party which is vastly greater than their numbers would suggest.

If enough of the Democratic base feels strongly enough that Trump needs to be impeached and removed from office, then the Democrats in Congress have to cater to them or risk losing primaries. Since the gerrymandering of America is basically complete, that means they lose their chances of re-election.

And since enough of the Republican base doesn't give a rat's patoot about the Constitution (except ol' #2 in the BoR and Article 2, because they're basically royalists, no matter what they claim) -- Trump will not be convicted.

The only real question is whether the Senate Republicans will give in on witnesses (which can only destroy further the hopes of Trump to carry any of the independent voters, and as a side effect possibly hurt Joe Biden's chances of a clean win in the primaries) -- or if they won't, in which case, the Senate may very well be up for grabs come fall.

 

And the thing about a "representative democracy" is that the levers of power are a ways removed from being moved directly by the will of the people.

There's a difference between this, which is true, and saying there is, should be, or must be no link at all, which is wrong.

If enough of the Democratic base feels strongly enough that Trump needs to be impeached and removed from office, then the Democrats in Congress have to cater to them or risk losing primaries.

And since impeachment is a political process, there's nothing wrong with them doing so.
 

What's been missing here is any evidence that the case for impeachment could persuade anyone who didn't already dislike Trump.

I've pointed out that polls immediately after Trump took office showed a solid majority of Democrats and Democrat leaning independents wanted Trump impeached only a couple weeks after he took office. I think this proves that most of the support for impeachment is based on nothing more than Trump not being the Democratic candidate in that election.

Then the people who wanted him removed went looking for an excuse, and after three years of coming up empty, they finally lowered their standards enough that they didn't care if their case for impeachment would make anybody who liked Trump laugh in their faces.

So he's going to be acquitted because you haven't got a case that persuades people who like Trump. You've got a weak case that critically relies on people wanting to be won over.

And we're not going to convict a President for the offense of winning the election. That's the bottom line.
 

What's been missing here is any evidence that the case for impeachment could persuade anyone who didn't already dislike Trump.

Right. Now they are entitled to try. The Democrats eventually did persuade a critical mass of Republicans about Nixon.

The fundamental problem here is people are arguing that even if they fail at such persuasion, the President should be removed anyway. And that argument depends on pretending the 2/3rds majority of the Senate requirement doesn't exist.

And the offensive thing is that we get lectures on what the Constitution supposedly means from people who completely ignore the 2/3rds of the Senate requirement and its its implications for what is and isn't removable.
 

"The Democrats eventually did persuade a critical mass of Republicans about Nixon."

That's because Nixon actually was involved in criminal acts. (Just as Clinton was.) Democrats weren't just groping around for an excuse to remove him, until the Plumbers got caught in that break in in the Watergate, and the critical few minutes of Nixon's recordings came up blank, I don't think there was any talk at all about impeaching him. They didn't like Nixon, but they didn't view merely not liking him as a proper cause for impeachment. Today they DO view not liking a President as sufficient cause. That's what that 58% support for impeachment in February 2017 means: Just not being a Democrat is enough to make Democrats think you should be impeached. It takes nothing more.

The thing is, if there's no case against Trump, you can't magically make one appear by just trying really hard. All you can do by trying really hard is warp your own judgement to the point where a laughable case looks sufficient.

I have to admit to being somewhat shocked myself: Three years of investigations, including fraudulently obtained wiretaps, and this is the best they could find? I would have thought that much in the way of resources deployed against almost anyone in Washington would uncover a felony or two. Trump is cleaner than I ever would have guessed.
 

It's deeply ironic to have someone say, after all the convictions and guilty pleas by everyone around Trump that he's clean.

This is willful blindness of an order almost impossible to believe...but, since I cannot ignore what I don't like to see (unlike others) ... I have to recognize that there are still people who, after being lied to tens of thousands of times, still don't "dislike" Trump.

So Trump will get to continue his lies another year. And, if the Democratic candidate stumbles (or is pushed) maybe another 5. The magnitude of a criminal act or catastrophe caused by Trump that would convince his cheering section that maybe, just maybe, their dear leader is not the godsend they thought is something that worries me.
 

Trump was also involved in criminal acts. Multiple members of his campaign team have been prosecuted. There is a difference in that the Mueller Investigation was limited in scope and a more open-ended investigation of his administration did not result in criminal indictments as compared to numerous in the Nixon era.

Two basic reasons was involved there. (1) It wasn't the same Republican Party. (It wasn't the same Democratic Party either as seen by Southern segregationists still around either.) (2) With the smoking gun tapes, there simply was a determination Nixon would not survive. And, shades of #1, Nixon himself was willing to accept resignation.

All the same, even then, there were loyalists. Without the smoking gun tape, it very well might have been possible -- if Nixon wanted to fight it -- that he would not be removed. And, it would turn on a few Republian senators. The party being different today, Trump has much more of a cushion of party loyalists.

A Trump loyalist disagrees that Trump is guilty both of criminal acts & impeachable offenses or even is really different than any other occupant of the office. He in fact argues Trump might be BETTER than various recent ones. Not exactly a surprising reaction. A person of his sentiment would have been a Nixon loyalist. Today, you can find lots of Republican partisans who think Nixon was unjustly removed too.

No one here, btw, is not aware of the 2/3 requirement. A mere majority to pass legislation (aside from the filibuster making it harder) blocked even minor civil rights legislation for decades. People pushed the idea that it was a basic wrong that this wasn't happening. They realized they had to deal with the reality of numbers in Congress. Anyway, the Constitution sets the people in Congress as our representatives and they ultimately have to follow their counsel.

When Republicans controlled the House, they had a majority of the majority rule that repeatedly blocked what a majority of the population might if polled thought good policy. The filibuster repeatedly blocked stuff the House and a majority of the Senate (maybe even in the high 50s, representing a supermajority of the population) supported. Such was the power of Congress.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to impeach and remove. If a majority disagrees with them and doesn't like it, they can do various things in response, including at the polls.
 

So, you're a firm believer in guilt by association, then?

You throw a huge amount of resources into it, and you manage to nail a few people around Trump on things unrelated to Trump himself, and you think that proves he's corrupt? Seriously?

I think conviction is pretty much certainly not going to happen, there's an excellent chance there won't even be 50 votes to convict.

And while his reelection is by no means as certain, it's quite plausible.

And then Democrats will declare the election stolen because Trump was the winning candidate, and his actually campaigning constitutes "fraud". Because you can't accept it as legitimate for somebody else to win elections.

I think what worries you is that you're never going to find that criminal act, that there won't be any catastrophe, and people might actually think Republicans can also legitimately win elections.
 

Joe:

The fact that other things were stopped in Congress by extra constitutional means is irrelevant here. The Constitution requires a 2/3 majority precisely to prevent impeachments when the Joes and Marks of the world failed to persuade members of the other faction.

Saying "but but I really think Trump did bad things and Republicans are being unreasonable" is not an answer to that.
 

The charges against Trump include criminal acts: violation of The Impoundment Control Act, extortion/bribery, obstruction of Congress (yes, that's a crime), and others.

If Rs can legitimately win elections, perhaps they should prove it by stopping the cheating. No more gerrymanders, no more voter suppression, no more foreign interference. They do those things because they know they'd get crushed if they didn't.
 

It's worth noting that none of those alleged criminal charges are in the impeachment articles.

In other words Congressional Dems thought that these claims were so weak that they would hurt the case for impeachment.
 

Everything they accuse Trump of lingers on as an established fact in the minds of people like Mark. He doubtless thinks Trump colluded with Russia, too.

Hey, Mark: If Democrats thing they can legitimately win elections, they should prove it by stopping the cheating: Clean the voter rolls, ban ballot harvesting, implement voter ID.
 

In case anyone cares to actually read the House report discussing Trump's crimes (beginning at p. 117), it's available at https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/CRPT-116hrpt346.pdf

Note that this was prepared before the IG report concluded that Trump also violated The Impoundment Control Act.
 

Honestly, I don't think any of this is good election messaging. Dems do well when they talk about health care, education, jobs, and civil rights. Voting rights are a part of that last one, but in general, whining about the other side cheating is the province of losers on the internet.
 

And yet, Mark, the House Judiciary Committee concluded that NONE of that stuff would go into the Aricles of Impeachment.

I am not impressed with prosecutors who make charges they are afraid to try to prove. That usually means the prosecutors are abusing their power and lying.
 

"Hey, Mark: If Democrats thing they can legitimately win elections, they should prove it by stopping the cheating: Clean the voter rolls, ban ballot harvesting, implement voter ID."

Cleaning voter rolls is itself a cheat -- doing so is not necessary to prevent fraud and it's used by Rs to reduce the number of legitimate voters. Voter ID is basically a poll tax and numerous studies have shown that in-person voter fraud is effectively non-existent. See, e.g., http://voterfraudfacts.com/ and https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/debunking-voter-fraud-myth

Ballot harvesting is perfectly legitimate, though it does need some controls. There's no evidence that it has affected the outcome of any election, and certainly not any presidential election.
 

Actually every nonpartisan expert says that SOME clearing of rolls is necessary. Purges sometimes go too far and yes, that's vote suppression.

But the notion that there should be no purges at all is rejected by wvery major NGO that monitors elections.
 

I personally think that the main reason that the rest of Trump's malfeasance wasn't the basis for impeachment is that Pelosi (and others) calculated this that stuff really did fall into the realm that Trump's lawyers have been trying to paint the Ukraine situation as being: basically, a different sort of president with a different approach to policy. I think that the reasoning was that as odious as many Americans (sure, mostly Democrats) have found his (at least) skirting with the emoluments clause and numerous other statutes and conventions, it seemed hard to make the case that any of them really went over the line in a way that would meet the sort of test Dilan thinks should be met in terms of "public opinion".

Then Ukraine came along, and I think that to Pelosi in particular, this looked entirely different. This was just such an open and shut clear case of Trump shaking down a foreign government that she (and others) felt that it landed in different territory from the rest of Trump's behavior. It turns out that she was wrong in the sense that the behavior was not not sufficient to rouse many (any?) Republicans from their lapdog support of Trump. But I think the calculus was this was just a totally different class of impeachable behavior, one that could have (but apparently has not) led to bipartisan support for removal.
 

Mark:

Dozens of blue counties have more registered than eligible voters.

Photo ID is necessary for nearly every interaction with the government to prevent fraud and the Democrats do not claim anyone is being unfairly denied government benefits.

The Democrats vigorously oppose every attempt to investigate voter fraud in order to keep proof of such fraud from the public. In the handful of GOP led investigations, they find fraud.

The Justice Department badly needs to perform an investigation of the CA rolls, provisional ballots and vote harvesting. The place reeks like the Chicago and Tammany Hall.
 

Paul:

I think you are right about the calculation of Dems.

But since the issue is Ukraine, these sorts of broad claims of alleged Trump perfidy don't strengthen the case for removal. If Democrats thought they would have helped, they could have easily included them.
 

Look for the GOP to allow only three of the four defections necessary to call witnesses and/or offer a witness bill calling Bolton and Hunter Biden which Dems will not support to end the witness gambit and vote to acquit on Friday.
 

Sure, Brett -- all those people who worked on behalf of Trump, committing crimes in his organizations, often reporting directly to Trump, are merely "associates" of Trump who happened to get caught...

Riiiiight.

Where does the buck stop in your organizations?
 

My guess is that the Dems are going to get Bolton and the Republicans will subpoena the Bidens.
 

"Sure, Brett -- all those people who worked on behalf of Trump, committing crimes in his organizations, often reporting directly to Trump, are merely "associates" of Trump who happened to get caught..."

Game recognizes game.

 

You throw a huge amount of resources into it, and you manage to nail a few people around Trump on things unrelated to Trump himself, and you think that proves he's corrupt? Seriously?

"So you are saying." Yet again, the online fallacy pops up. When you see something like this (the sneer in the "seriously?" is often implied; or "you can't argue with this, surely!" type comments when it is very arguable), be on guard.

Top people in the Trump team were "nailed" including for interfering in the very investigation while Trump himself did things to interfere with the investigation (it's in the Report, which I have read, and the conservative nature of that enterprise only makes the case stronger). They were not merely "unrelated" to Trump himself. Manafort's Ukraine connections are all rather notable in itself. This isn't all "how coincidental" except for those who want it to be.

Trump repeatedly was shown to have a role here, including regarding his personal lawyer. Plus, over and over and over and over again Trump's own actions were addressed. Guilt by association? Nope.

OTOH, yes, the principle of the superior being liable, especially when there is lots of evidence for their involvement, kicks in here.
 

In the criminal law, there is no respondeat superior. You aren't responsible for your subordinates' acts without personal involvement or at least some sort of assistance.

But this is an area where "this isn't a criminal case" cuts in favor of the Dems. The Senate, in theory, could remove a President for running an unethical administration even without personal involvement.

Of course a supermajority of the public would need to be persuaded, which hasn't happened.
 

"They were not merely "unrelated" to Trump himself. Manafort's Ukraine connections are all rather notable in itself."

As multiple people have pointed out, Trump's wacko Crowdstrike theory and his fixation on the Bidens are both related to Manafort. Manafort was getting paid by the corrupt, Russia-supporting Ukrainian oligarchs who used to run Ukraine, and are now feeding these conspiracy theories to Trump/Giuliani. Trump and Giuliani want to show that the case against Manafort was a "lie" and the "real truth" is that it wasn't Russia which interfered with the 2016 election, but "Ukraine". This is the perfect conspiracy for them -- they get to absolve Manafort (and indirectly Trump) while blaming the Bidens. The trifecta is that the whole nutty theory undercuts US policy towards Ukraine and benefits Russia, for which Trump is a stooge.


 

"OTOH, yes, the principle of the superior being liable, especially when there is lots of evidence for their involvement, kicks in here."

Plus the liability/guilt of co-conspirators in both civil and criminal cases.
 

Co-conspirator liability doesn't work based on assertion. You have to prove the existence of a conspiracy and overt acts by the defendant. Really, there is nothing close to that here.

Again, I don't think removal turns on stuff like this, but there's a reason the Dems didn't put this sort of tinfoil hat stuff in their Articles.
 

Two things regarding Nixon.

First, the tapes again was a key factor here. The Supreme Court accelerated the process, handing down the ruling at the end of July. Not quite as fast as the Pentagon Paper Cases (a couple weeks) but it took about two months.

Compare this to the financial documents covered in cases that the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in March. They held the lower court cases (with strong opinions against privilege) in mid-December. The House let them know they needed the material in part for impeachment related investigations as well as to address ongoing threats to the international financial system as well as for election security in a presidential election year. It was in other words time sensitive.

But, it is being slow walked. The Roberts Courts very easily could have let the Nixon tapes case follow normal scheduling and it might not even been decided until 1975.

How about public support? In AUGUST 1974, there was a 58% support for impeachment. And, that is just impeachment. Removal is quite another thing. A majority support for it did not occur much sooner than that. But, even key Republicans told Nixon he had to go. At 58%, which is not even the supermajority necessary for removal.

Impeachment is not a "no confidence" vote alone. If the members of Congress per their duty think it is necessary, they have the power and fwiw in various cases the good cause to use it even if the people are firmly in support. If Congress removes a popular traitor,* the people can respond at the polls, if they wish.

Trump warrants removal and in another time perhaps enough Republicans would have the good judgment to accept that. Or, at least, be less compliant enablers even regarding their own congressional privileges being violated. So it goes.

----

* I'm using an easy hypothetical case. "I'm not saying" Trump is a traitor, using the constitutional definition.
 

"Trump warrants removal and in another time perhaps enough Republicans would have the good judgment to accept that. Or, at least, be less compliant enablers even regarding their own congressional privileges being violated. So it goes."

There's an important sense in which impeachment wasn't about Trump -- the fix is in. The real test is of the R officeholders. They've flunked.
 

"The real test is of the R officeholders. They've flunked."

Yes, that's exactly it: The real test was whether the Republican officeholders would do the bidding of the Democratic party, rather than their own voters. And they "flunked" by going with the people who'd elected them.

It always comes back to that: The test of legitimacy for Democrats is whether you are, functionally, a Democrat. And nothing more.
 

"And they "flunked" by going with the people who'd elected them."

They flunked because they swore an oath to do something quite different: ”I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of ____, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God.”

But if you're a nihilist, then I suppose that violating that oath for partisan reasons doesn't really matter.
 

By that standard, Mark, the Democrats failed, because they're committed to convict regardless of the facts.

The bottom line here is that you've gotten yourself into a corner where the only test of legitimacy anymore is whether you get your way. If you win, it was legitimate. If you lose, illegitimate.
 

"The bottom line here is that you've gotten yourself into a corner where the only test of legitimacy anymore is whether you get your way. If you win, it was legitimate. If you lose, illegitimate."

Mirror theory.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

The real test was whether the Republican officeholders would do the bidding of the Democratic party, rather than their own voters. And they "flunked" by going with the people who'd elected them.

Even on its own terms, this is overblown. The people who voted for Republicans did so for a variety of ways. It is not shown that in each and every case that the voters on the whole would warrant the submission to Trump shown. More oversight or choosing any number of other replacements to Kavanaugh or whatever would not run counter to the views of many Republican voters.

And, Republicans swore/affirmed an oath of office. They have obligations above and beyond what their voters wish. They in fact represent everyone in their districts and states. Not just their voters. To the extend the "bidding" of anyone is wrong in some specific case, it is still wrong if understandable for various reasons.

It always comes back to that: The test of legitimacy for Democrats is whether you are, functionally, a Democrat. And nothing more.

This is bot talk.

Meanwhile, Republican after Republican do not have their legitimacy challenged by Democrats. TRUMP in particular as well as SPECIFIC people are challenged. And, not just by Democrats.
 

Then, there is a general concern that Republicans in Congress are "flunking."

The facts are there for the world. But, even there, it is not just "doing bidding" of Democrats. It's doing basic things.
 

There is a long list of misdemeanors that can justify Trump's impeachment, I'm not bothered that the House decided just to focus on the blackmail and the obstruction charges.

Apparently a boatload of emails, documents, direct witness testimony and Trump's voice blaring all over the Senate chamber isn't enough for Magliocca in a "preponderance of the evidence" scenario. Citing Josh Blackman's NYT screed with approval says something.

This comment has not been and will not be removed by the author.
 

Clinton v. Jones was a slow walk too, Joe. Bob Bennett admitted his purpose was to push it past 1996.

If you think Presidents tying things up in litigation is some terrible thing, you need to be consistent.
 

Mark, most of the Dem Senators have made up their minds to vote guilty because their constiuents want them to. Every time there is a hint of a not guilty vote, they get hundreds of calls, as DiFi did yesterday after the false LA Times report.

And you have the gall to lecture us about the Republicans' oaths?
 

The Republicans are doing THE EXACT SAME THING the Democrats did in 1999. In both cases, had their constituents been outraged, the Senators would have listened.

Republican voters and Senators are doing their duties just fine. This is America, and they have an absolute right to disagree with Joe and Mark, just as Democrats breached no duties by not agreeing with Republicans about Clinton's removal.
 

The matter there was not as compelling as a national concern. It generally involved a personal lawsuit and there was not a similar argument for speed.

I didn't make some general statement that any time Presidents tie things up in litigation that it is problematic. I don't recall agreeing with the delays in Clinton v. Jones either. If was "slow walked" more so than any comparable litigation, I wouldn't think it good policy. Not that the two situations are quite the same thing.

I don't see any inconsistency.
 

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This comment has been removed by the author.
 

One last thing. When Joe says politicians have obligations above what their voters want, while at one level that is a truism (e.g., they shouldn't vote to ban flag burning just because their voters want it), at another level it is complete naive idiotic good government bulls**t that no politician, Republican or Democrat, actually believe.

In the real world, Presidents are party leaders with enormous amounts of power to punish and reward. And they have vocal supporters and opponents who consider the President's fate to be central. And ALL Senators know this. The Constitution does not ask them, and can't ask them, to ignore this.

To pretend this isn't true just because you want an argument to defeat Trump is just massively intellectually dishonest. And to construe oaths of office to mean that Senators are these empty vessels that only care about strictly applying the law to the facts without consideration of political realities including the views of their constituents is a completely anti-Constitutional view.

The Senate has this decision PRECISELY because the views of constituents do matter. And even if that weren't true, you can't repeal the laws of politics and just claim that politicians have to not act like politicians.
 

Joe: The people who voted for Republicans did so for a variety of ways. It is not shown that in each and every case that the voters on the whole would warrant the submission to Trump shown.

For the answer, you Democrats need to look past the sound and fury of the your media's slander campaign against Trump and it's propaganda polling confirmation bias to the politics on the ground.

When folks poll actual voters in swing states and districts, the Democrat impeachment circus is deeply unpopular.

Far from being forced on the defensive, Trump is using the circus as a central message of his reelection campaign - the swamp is working to impeach his voters to prevent them from interfering with the 2020 by reelecting the POTUS.

Trump's mega rallies in swing states are routinely drawing 30,000 to 50,000, thousands of whom wait in freezing temperatures for over a day to secure a seat in the auditorium or happily watch their idol on giant TV screens in the overflow parking lots.

Team Trump is taking a page from Team Obama by using the data from online registration and attendance at these mega-rallies to follow up with massive social media campaign ad and fund raising blitzes.

Both Trump and the GOP are raising record setting amounts of small donations, a source the Democrats had largely cornered.

When they took a break from flogging their Bolton "bombshell," the NY Times relayed Democrat panic over Trump's social media superiority.

Trump mega rally data is also fascinating for demographics of his fan boys and girls. Campaign manager Brad Parscale gushed to Townhall:

Out of more than 20,000 identified voters who came to a recent Trump rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 57.9 percent did not have a history of voting for Republicans. Remarkably, 4,413 attendees didn’t even vote in the last election — a clear indication that President Trump is energizing Americans who were previously not engaged in politics...

Nearly 22 percent of identified supporters at President Trump’s rally in Toledo, Ohio, were Democrats, and another 21 percent were independents. An astounding 15 percent of identified voters who saw the president speak in Battle Creek, Michigan, has not voted in any of the last four elections. In Hershey, Pennsylvania, just over 20 percent of identified voters at the rally were Democrats, and 18 percent were non-white.


The Washington Examiner noted results were the same when Trump ventured into deep blue New Jersey yesterday:

Attendance at Trump’s rally in Wildwood, New Jersey, on Tuesday consisted of over 25% Democrats and over 10% people who did not vote in 2016. Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted that there were "158,632 Requested Tickets (92,841 distinct signups)" and "73,482 Voters Identified," calling the statistics "mind boggling."

THIS is why Trump commands the loyalty of congressional Republicans.
 

Joe:

Clinton v. Jones raised a clearly meritless argument for the purpose of allowing Clinton to run in 1996 without the voters knowing he was a sexual harasser.

That certainly compares to any allegation of slow walking here.
 

And just to gild the lily- I don't think any Democrat can credibly argue that allegations of sexual harassment are irrelevant and shouldn't be aired before a President's reelection.
 

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There’s a certain sense in which I actually feel sorry for the nihilists/Schmittians in this thread. They’re incapable of seeing things in any way other than a sordid competition for power. Values like patriotism, honor, sacrifice, integrity, these are foreign to them because they don’t experience them themselves. It’s like trying to explain “orange” to someone who’s color blind. And rather than acknowledge that other people might have such values and even act on them, they cynically snicker and deny their very existence. Just like their compatriots on the R side of the Senate whom they cheer.
 

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