Balkinization  

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Tammany Hall on High Crimes and Misdemeanors

Gerard N. Magliocca

Josh Blackman has an op-ed in The New York Times explaining that just because someone obtains a political benefit from an official action does not mean that he has abused his office. I encourage you to read the op-ed, as Josh makes several good points.

What his op-ed brought to mind was the famous speech in 1905 by George Washington Plunkitt, a state senator from New York, on "Honest Graft vs. Dishonest Graft." One way of understanding the President's defense to the articles of impeachment is that he's saying that he committed an honest high crime and misdemeanor, not a dishonest one. For the benefit of those who have not read Plunkitt's speech, here is a link.

Comments:

Gerrard: One way of understanding the President's defense to the articles of impeachment is that he's saying that he committed an honest high crime and misdemeanor, not a dishonest one.

The text and history of the Impeachment Clauses expressly excluded "maladministration" as a ground for impeachment and removal. Because "abuse of power" is simply "maladministration" said another way, this article is not a high crime and misdemeanor, honest or dishonest.
 

I admit I'd never heard of Plunkitt before this, but it hardly surprises me that someone like Blackman would mine the Lochner Era for examples to support Trump.

The amazing thing is that even someone as corrupt as Plunkitt doesn't support what Trump did. According to Plunkitt, "dishonest graft" is doing something entirely for one's own benefit. That's what Trump did -- his request to announce an investigation of the Bidens benefited no one but himself.

"Honest graft", per Plunkitt, is doing something which may benefit you, but also benefits your state (read: country). That's NOT what Trump did. He held up aid to Ukraine in order to obtain a purely personal benefit. That aid had been voted by Congress, signed by Trump himself, and certified by the Pentagon. Refusing to disperse it ran directly contrary to US interests, which is why the career diplomats were so upset by it.
 

In order to credit Trump with "Honest graft" here, we need to accept that Trump honestly believed that his actions would spur a repudiation of corruption in the Ukraine, and that Biden was corrupt in his actions in the Burisma business.

Are delusional beliefs, even if honestly held, sufficient to justify actions that would otherwise be illegal? Does this mean that insanity as a plea prevents conviction under impeachment? Since his hand-picked (and constantly changing) cabinet seems unable to correct this, the 25th amendment is shown to be worthless.

But we have reason to doubt that Trump really believed there was any corruption in Biden's (Joe's, not necessarily Hunter's) Ukraine work. For one thing, remember that Trump, by all accounts, did not care that much whether a real investigation was performed. He instead wanted the announcement of an investigation.

For another, we know that Trump knew his withholding of the funds were illegitimate, because he released the funds as soon as he was caught. Had his actions been at all justifiable, he (or his surrogates) would have attempted to justify them somehow.

Did Lincoln's actions in any way violate any laws? That's not claimed. Were they justified on grounds that could be accepted by the man in the street? The issue of soldiers voting was a huge issue at the time, and it was not resolved without a lot of political bickering. But the idea that this is in any way equivalent to the current situation is very strained, to my mind.

As far as any "mousetraps" that will catch out any future politicians who act in their own self-interests -- as long as they do so in a manner consonant with the laws and customs we have all agreed to follow, the impeachment of them will simply rebound negatively on those who try. And I, for one, would like more limits on government bigwigs, not less. (Call me a libertarian, if you wish. Just smile when you do.)

In the case at hand, the impeachment will fail, by all accounts, and his support will continue in the mid-thirties. But in spite of failure, it appears that it has put Trump on warning that attempts to cook the election in his favor will be exposed. That's a positive result.
 

The concept of "honest graft", which I HAD heard of before, is a useful one in politics, but it really doesn't apply to this situation.

The notion of honest graft is the notion of the old big city political machine. Yes, it was corrupt. Yes, it perpetuated its own power. But part of the way it perpetuated its power was by performing the functions of government. So a firm connected to the mayor got the contract to build some big public works project. But the public works project benefitted the public, despite the kickbacks.

I don't really see how calling for an investigation of the Bidens fits within this framework.

Blackman's best point is that what Democrats are calling the "corrupt intent"- i.e., doing something to try to get reelected- is basically how all government works. Literally everything elected government does is littered with this intention. Sometimes, it is congruent with policy, of course- politicians have an incentive, for instance, to get the economy to grow, which is good for the public, because good growth and low unemployment help them get reelected.

But much of the time it isn't. EVERY President does all sorts of things based on political considerations. They find reasons to visit swing states. They time the release of good news and bad news. Even things that are supposed to be sacrosanct aren't- liberal administrations are more likely to use the DOJ to prosecute big corporations who contribute to Republicans, and conservative administrations are more likely to use it to go after interest groups that vote Democratic.

This is the way politics works.

Indeed, the very impeachment proceeding in which Democrats are asserting it is impeachable offense to do something for political reasons, is infested with decisions to do things for political reasons. Why didn't the House seek to compel witnesses? It wasn't because there was no process available to them. It was because they wanted the impeachment to happen right now, in the hopes it would do maximum damage to President Trump. Is that intention an impeachable offense? It certainly has nothing to do with the theoretical purposes of the impeachment clause that everyone is talking about on the floor of the Senate.

This whole thing consists of a bunch of dishonest liberals pretending to be shocked, SHOCKED, that people in Washington make their decisions based on electoral considerations, and applying a standard to this administration that they would never apply to themselves. And yes, dishonest conservatives who are pretending to be shocked, SHOCKED, that anyone might consider alleged abuses of power to be an impeachable offense, when they themselves held that position until the present Administration took power.

It's just sickening. We have an election coming up. The public will get to decide whether Trump stays or goes. And thankfully, in that process, people don't complain that it's political.
 

And here's a simple question if you think that last one was TL;DR.

Is a Senator who supports ethanol subsidies that he or she knows to be a bad idea because he or she plans to run for President in Iowa betraying the country and abusing his or her power?
 

"That's what Trump did -- his request to announce an investigation of the Bidens benefited no one but himself."

You are really having trouble distinguishing between, "That's what he did." and, "That's what he's accused of doing."

I don't see any "graft" here, 'honest' or 'dishonest'. Hunter Biden's job with Burisma stank on ice. People were making noises about it before Trump stuck his nose in, though they weren't reaching any kind of critical mass, because it's not an unusual arrangement for the son or daughter of a really important politician to enjoy.

But that's only to say that we've gotten used to having a very corrupt political class, to the point where we don't blink at naked criminality, and aren't shocked by law enforcement turning a blind eye to it.

It was entirely proper for Trump to urge an investigation, it was the prior LACK of such urging which was corrupt!

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 Democrats did Biden no favor by picking this particular excuse for impeaching Trump, though they might have seen it as having such horrifying implications for the usual way of things in Washington that it was advisable anyway.
 

Ilya Somin, at the Volokh Conspiracy, published a rejoinder to Blackman. https://reason.com/2020/01/23/is-impeaching-some-normal-politicians-too-high-a-price-to-pay-for-getting-rid-presidents-who-abuse-their-power-rejoinder-to-josh-blackman/

 

Dilan, since your question does not revolve around legal issues, I guess I'm qualified to answer.

Yes, he (or she) is abusing his (or her) power. But that's allowed in our republican mode of government. Else, McConnell would be a parking-lot attendant in Knoxville.

What is allowed for one of the Congress to do is, although basically corrupt and dishonest, perfectly legal (many states do not even have a mechanism for removing a Senator or Representative after being elected. The reason for the impeachment of a chief executive (or judge) is that they have a singular power which is otherwise without check or reproof.

 

I don't think there's no check. Elections are a check. Not even just presidential elections. You think the 2018 elections weren't a check on the President and his party?

And how about all the House investigations? Aren't they a check on the President?

Impeachment isn't about "checking" the President. It's about REMOVING the President. And the two are very different things. Removal is an extreme remedy that requires the sort of social consensus that would produce a 2/3 Senate majority.

And I think the notion that the public hasn't formed the consensus that removing the President for the ordinary, venal political sin of taking political considerations into account when engaging in foreign policy is a completely defensible one. Doesn't mean that the Democrats can't make an issue of it in the election, win, and lay down a marker that Presidents shouldn't do this in the future.
 

Dilan, except we have before us an example which proves that impeachment is not about removing a president. By your own analysis it's not even about truly trying to remove him, as you say if they had really wanted to, they'd have waited to make the case stronger.

But it is punishment, as Trump himself appears to believe.

As for elections, they are fine for Representatives, and, to a lesser extent, the Senate (one of the issues with the Senate which has been pointed out as anti-democratic, BTW.) Except for Moscow Mitch, the Senators have very little ability to do massive damage to the republic -- and there's an obvious remedy for McConnell, in that he can be removed by his fellow Senators...

 

If the impeachment is merely a punishment for President Trump, fine, All's fair in politics. I certainly don't see it as some sort of outrage that Democrats are trying to win the 2020 election or attain some historical condemnation for a President they don't like.

And I agree that this is what is really going on.

The problem is the rhetoric. The phony, hackish constitutional law arguments, as if anyone who votes to protect a President who is a political ally is committing some grave sin against Alexander Hamilton's grave or something. All the claims that this is somehow legally required, and any attempts by the White House to fight back, whether by coordinating with Senate Republicans, hiring lawyers and making defense arguments, opposing the calling of witnesses and wanting a fast trial, turning the focus onto Biden, etc., is some sort of outrage. It isn't.

It's a political contest, and nobody gets to push and not get a push back.

We should all put down the federalist papers, let the Republicans cast their inevitable vote to acquit the President, and, if the Democrats think this is a great issue, make it a part of their election pitch in the fall.
 

Democrats will make an issue of it in the election. Indeed, they impeached Trump primarily so that they COULD make an issue of it in the election, and just generally claim that it's illegitimate for him to exercise normal Presidential powers (Such as nominating a replacement for RBG should she resign/die on his watch.) despite the inevitable acquittal.

But should they win, they will NOT be laying down a marker that this sort of thing is unacceptable. They'll be shoving that stance down the old memory hole as fast as they can, and continuing business as usual.

Indeed, I think they did impeach him over urging Ukraine to investigate Hunter's dealings to lay down a marker: To make it clear that investigating the corrupt benefits relatives of politicians routinely enjoy is simply off the table, now and forever.

Very few members of Congress, and fewer who might aspire to the Presidency, could survive such an investigation unscathed.
 

Amazing, ridiculous, outrageous simply. That Senator, is advising or preaching how to make fortune from politics. The other one, explains to us, that seeking political goals, is not impeachable offense, yet, he does agree that: " An impeachable offense need not be criminal ". So, finally, we are more than bit confused here:

Both "respectable" authors, have no moral boundaries in fact, between right from wrong or what is public interest, and private interest ( the Senator there, dares even to ask: " why shouldn't X do the same in public life " ? ).

Well, let's start with it, that one elected president ( leaving aside the case of Trump right now) or one politician, have one goal:

To take care of the public interest. To manage public assets and resources for, and solely for the public interest ( public as a whole ). They can't seek their own narrow interest while on duty, while using and managing public assets. Those are public resources, not their own resources. The public must trust them, and blindly so. For, the public has no access, no control on those resources. That's it. They must set an example. They are chosen for it. Soldiers need to sacrifice their lives and die. What for ? based on decision of a corrupt person ? That may engage in war for example, for his own narrow interest. Both it seems, have never ever heard of that notion of: "public trust ". And when dealing with public trust, yes: appearance counts. Surly what is beyond it.

And models by the way, setting up models, aspirations,elevated goals, is not less important, than cynically, describing reality or common conduct, and legalizing it, or legitimizing it.

Simply shocking....

Thanks
 

While the Democrat impeachment circus drones on in the Senate, DoJ just took another largely unreported step opening the door to prosecuting the perpetrators of the Obama spy and dirty tricks operation against Trump by admitting to the FISA court that the surveillance of Carter Page was illegal and pledging to "sequester" the gathered intelligence.

After the Obama appointee in charge of the FISA Court appointed an FBI bureaucrat with a history of defending the spy operation to provide recommendations to "reform" the system, I suspect Barr decided in short order to head off whatever mischief they planned with a full admission of departmental guilt.

I suspect Durham will unseal felony indictments in the next few months and we will see what true abuse of power looks like.
 

I just walked out of a time machine! While back in 1999, I found a post from Brett. It's remarkably prescient!

"Republicans will make an issue of it in the election. Indeed, they impeached Clinton primarily so that they COULD make an issue of it in the election, and just generally claim that it's illegitimate for him to exercise normal Presidential powers (Such as choosing not to assassinate Bin Laden) despite the inevitable acquittal.

But should they win, they will NOT be laying down a marker that this sort of thing is unacceptable. They'll be shoving that stance down the old memory hole as fast as they can, and continuing business as usual."

It's great to see some consistency around here from our right-leaning friends.
 

Oh, and while I'm still focused on Brett's vision of reality, there's this:

"To make it clear that investigating the corrupt benefits relatives of politicians routinely enjoy is simply off the table, now and forever."

Brett doesn't sound terribly happy about this idea. Which, if true, would be good, since I think most of us would agree this it's a terrible idea. Of course, I tend to read Brett's posts so fast that I missed the one where he showed his disdain for any of Trump's offspring having paid positions in his administration. But I'm sure it's out there somewhere and I just missed it.

I'm also intrigued by his concept of "corrupt". By all accounts, Hunter Biden was being a vast amount of money for a mostly do-nothing job. That seems pretty bad, frankly, and I'd prefer this sort of thing didn't happen. But wait ... I've been around certain companies (no names, no pack drill) where you could say the same thing about most their directors. Is that corruption? Is it graft? Or is it just business as usual for the corporate world that Brett et al. generally view as acting in the public interest (at least in aggregate) ?
 

"As for elections, they are fine for Representatives, and, to a lesser extent, the Senate (one of the issues with the Senate which has been pointed out as anti-democratic, BTW.) Except for Moscow Mitch, the Senators have very little ability to do massive damage to the republic -- and there's an obvious remedy for McConnell, in that he can be removed by his fellow Senators..."

I would say this just a bit differently. We don't approve of corruption in members of a legislature, because an individual case in a large assembly won't matter much very often. We can afford to let a fair election process handle the matter. Though even here, note that both Houses have the ability to expel a Member and corruption would be a justifiable ground for doing so.

But the Executive is in a very different position. In his or her case, there are multiple considerations:

1. The Constitution expressly provides a remedy for a corrupt Executive: impeachment. The reason for that was explained at the time and has been obvious ever since, namely that the power vested in the Executive creates the potential for great harm before the next election. In this very case we have every reason to believe that Trump will continue to commit similar crimes (along with all his other crimes) because he did it before and has made it clear that he doesn't think he did anything wrong.

2. The "let the election decide" argument is particularly frivolous in this case because the *goal* of Trump's crimes was steal the election. An election to remove an official only makes sense if it is fair and free. Trump knows he can't win such an election, so he needs to cheat. This was one (probably not his only) attempt. The fact that he'll keep trying makes it imperative to at least attempt to remove him before he crimes again.
 

Oh come on. Everything you just typed is partisan hackery and wrong.

The Constitution provides for a 2/3 majority of the Senate for removal. That means it WASN'T intended to remove every criminal or every dangerous President. It is only intended to remove Presidents who the public wants removed immediately.

There is another provision of the Constitution that is about removing dangerous Presidents. It isn't this one.

And because that is true, if you think the only way to stop Trump's alleged criminality is with removal, sorry, you are SOL. The Constitution is clear he doesn't leave until after the election, and then only if he loses.

And no, that isn't a "frivolous" position. Because that is what the text of the Constitution says, and that text controls over Mark Field's opinions.

Finally, it is preposterous that Trump can't win without cheating. I wouldn't make him a favorite, but he can easily be reelected. Without cheating.

Nor is what he did with Ukraine "cheating" anyway. We don't even know if Biden is going to be his opponent, and we don't know if it has hurt Biden at all.
 

So apparently the "cheating" language- which, as I said, is a complete lie, both because there's no reason to think Trump's action affected the election AND because using a government position to help in reelection js literally done by every President and every member of Congress- was a talking point that the Democrats distributed today, and Mark repeated it for our benefit. Just sticking to the party line, as he always does.
 

It is only intended to remove Presidents who the public wants removed immediately.

# posted by Blogger Dilan : 11:17 PM


Current polling indicates that the majority of Americans want Drumpf removed. So it's not clear what your point is here.
 

"Because "abuse of power" is simply "maladministration" said another way, this article is not a high crime and misdemeanor, honest or dishonest."

Maladministration =/= abuse of power, but as to what constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors:

"The subjects of its [impeachments] 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." Hamilton, Federalist 65
 

I take it you're sucking down the Koolaid at FiveThirtyEight? Their polling aggregate shows less than half, but they've got a hand picked panel they've been working on for something like a year now that tells them what they want to hear, so they're ignoring their own polling aggregate.
 

"EVERY President does all sorts of things based on political considerations."

This is just silly nihilism wrapped in false equivalency. Sure, Presidents schedule meetings or visits or policy announcements with getting elected in mind, they don't hold up aid to an ally to get the ally to launch a investigation into their chief political opponent to use against them in the election. And the argument that it can't be bad because we can't be sure Biden will even be the nominee is laughable, it's like saying a runner who is worried about facing another runner has done nothing wrong if he, say tries to get him eliminated in the qualifying heat.
 

"But that's only to say that we've gotten used to having a very corrupt political class, to the point where we don't blink at naked criminality"

Indeed, some people don't blink at the abuse of power of selective targeting of political opponents for political retrenchment.

Remember, just lack week Bircher Brett did see a problem with the use of power for a perceived political hit: he and Bircher Bart decried a Bircherian scenario they had asserted whereby the prosecutions of Michael Cohen and Lev Parnas were being done *with the bad intent* of hurting Trump politically. Now, their scenario was, astheir Bircherism often is, laughably wrong because as it turns out those prosecutions are under a Trump appointed US attorney (who worked on Trump's transition team and donated thousands of dollars to his campaign), but it shows that at some lizard brain level even they recognize that an official using their power with the main intent of targeting someone for political reasons is bad (and bad even if those targeted were doing bad things-unless they'd care to argue multiple felon M Cohen was doing nothing wrong or that Lev. Parnas doesn't look to have done any wrong).

No, they see how bad this kind of thing is. But only when they think its their side on the receiving end. It's because their one principle is partisan incoherence.
 

"a talking point that the Democrats distributed today, and Mark repeated it for our benefit."

This is BS, all along people, including Mark here, have pointed to the overarching problem here being an attempt to elicit a foreign power in impacting the election. It's why impeachment is especially warranted here, the abuse itself strives to subvert the electoral process.

And your repeat assertion that it can't be seen as cheating because we don't know Biden will be the nominee or that it has hurt him is ludicrous. Abusing some power you have in trying to eliminate someone in the qualifying stage that you would have to face in the finals is something that would appeal to a cheater because people match up against various individuals differently (and indeed polls show that Biden does particularly well against Trump) and would still of course be cheating.
 

Right, let's change the rules to get rid of Trump. We should have changed them long ago, so it's OK.

Only, as soon as he's gone they'll change back. It's just TrumpLaw, only meant to apply to Trump, and will vanish the moment Trump isn't around anymore.

How can I tell it's just TrumpLaw? Who's it being applied to who isn't associated with Trump? Are Democrats saying, "Trump should go down for delaying that Ukraine funding, and Biden, too!"?

No, it's TrumpLaw, and TrumpLaw is only ever meant to be used against Trump.

Sure, change the rules: Prospectively. Not retrospectively, and only in regards to one guy.
 

The focus on Trump is because...he's the President! Biden can't be impeached for bribery because he's just a regular US citizen now. Of course there's more focus on Trump re impeachment, he's the sitting executive that's abusing his power for political retrenchment. That's not Trumplaw in the sense of just gunning for Trump per Trump.

As always with these people, every accusation is a confession, because what their interested in is 'Biden law,' Biden is such a corrupt, bad guy that it makes Trump's abuse of power in going after him ok. But of course even were Biden that bad guy it wouldn't make his selective targeting for political retrenchment justified, just as lawsuit against a cop who violated a person's fourth amendment rights under color of law isn't tossed because he may find something.

You'd think an ostensible libertarian would see that. But a partisan incoherent of course would not (unless if was his side on the bad end, of course!).
 

No, they can't impeach Biden, but they could show at least SOME sign of caring that he did the same. Pass a resolution of censure, talk about it, SOMETHING.

They have their tame GAO declare Trump violated the law by not paying Ukraine early. But the GAO declared Obama in violation of the law multiple times, and not a peep. They could say, "Every President commits these sorts of abuses, it's time it stopped!"

But they're not. They're pretending it's only Trump. They're not admitting to changing the rules to go after Trump, and proposing that the new rules apply to everybody going forward. They're pretending that Trump did something new, different, and the rules are unchanged. That's a recipe for keeping the status quo after he's gone.

They're showing no sign at all of wanting to change the culture in Washington. They just want to nail Trump, then things go back to normal.

It's TrumpLaw, and that's all it is. If it were anything more, they'd be doing things differently.

I would love to leverage their hatred of Trump into a permanent change in the rules, tightening up ethics, reducing Presidential power. But it's becoming perfectly obvious that's not in the cards, if anything the hatred of Trump comes from their fear that he MIGHT change the rules. And I'm not open to TrumpLaw.
 

Brett's fixation on Joe Biden is off in bizzaro land, but let's just remember the basic facts here:

1. US and European policy at the relevant time demanded that Ukraine clean up an undeniably corrupt system because they (the US and Europeans) were providing aid against Russian aggression. That aid was considered a US interest on a bipartisan basis.
2. US policy was set by Obama, not Joe Biden. Congressional Rs agreed with that policy and a number of them publicly approved Biden's visit to deliver US policy.
3. The policy included firing a notoriously corrupt prosecutor. Why was he corrupt? Because, among other things, he refused to investigate Burisma.
4. Thus, Joe Biden's allegedly corrupt action was to urge the firing of the guy who refused to investigate the company his son worked for. The whole point of this exercise was to get an investigation into that company.
5. Had Biden actually done anything wrong, there has been abundant opportunity to investigate his actions through proper channels. Rs have controlled the DOJ since Jan 20, 2017. For 2 years after that date they controlled both Houses of Congress. We heard nary a peep about Joe Biden's alleged corruption during that entire time. No, that only became a Trump talking point when poll numbers showed Biden leading among Democrats for the 2020 election.

The Trump Cultists accusations today make no sense (they rarely do) in light of these uncontestable facts. They also make no sense for lots of other reasons, but we can stop here for now.

And since it's apparently necessary to add this each time, Trump's behavior would be impeachable *even if* Joe Biden had done something corrupt.
 

"This is just silly nihilism wrapped in false equivalency."

There should be some handy pop culture reference to drive home this point. Hmm. Thinking, thinking.....
 

Standard for Impeachment: "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Textual Interpretation: When a law offers two or more specific items followed by a general catchall provision, the items included in the general provision are limited to the same class as the proceeding items. Eiusdem generis. Thus, the standard for impeachment is treason, bribery, or other crimes in the same class as treason and bribery. An expansive definition could include all violations of law.

Convention History (Madison's Notes):

The clause referring to the Senate, the trial of impeachments agst. the President, for Treason & bribery, was taken up.

Col. Mason. Why is the provision restrained to Treason & bribery only? Treason as defined in the Constitution will not reach many great and dangerous offences. Hastings is not guilty of Treason. Attempts to subvert the Constitution may not be Treason as above defined— As bills of attainder which have saved the British Constitution are forbidden, it is the more necessary to extend: the power of impeachments. He movd. to add after "bribery" "or maladministration". Mr. Gerry seconded him—

Mr Madison So vague a term will be equivalent to a tenure during pleasure of the Senate.

Mr Govr Morris, it will not be put in force &can do no harm— An election of every four years will prevent maladministration.


Col. Mason withdrew "maladministration" & substitutes "other high crimes & misdemeanors" (agst. the State")

On the question thus altered N. H— ay. Mas. ay— Ct. ay. (N. J. no) Pa no. Del. no. Md ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S. C. ay.* Geo. ay. [Ayes — 8; noes — 3.]


Hamilton's commentary in Federalist 65 attempting to sell the Senate as the proper body to conduct a removal trial does not contradict this evidence.
 

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Mark Field said...

1. US and European policy at the relevant time demanded that Ukraine clean up an undeniably corrupt system because they (the US and Europeans) were providing aid against Russian aggression. That aid was considered a US interest on a bipartisan basis.


True. The US State Department and agencies of other western government were investigating Burisma.

Of note, recently released State Department documents show Bursima was dropping Hunter Biden's name to get the Obama State Department to drop its investigation.

2. US policy was set by Obama, not Joe Biden. Congressional Rs agreed with that policy and a number of them publicly approved Biden's visit to deliver US policy.

False. Obama gave the Ukraine portfolio to Biden. Biden proudly cites this as part of his VP resume.

3. The policy included firing a notoriously corrupt prosecutor. Why was he corrupt? Because, among other things, he refused to investigate Burisma.

When did Obama set such a policy?

What evidence is there Biden strong armed Ukraine into firing its prosecutor because he refused to investigate Bursima?

In his own version of events, Biden made no demand that Ukraine appoint a prosecutor who would investigate Bursima.

Ukraine did not restart the Bursima investigation until Zelensky was elected and fired the replacement prosecutor during the Trump administration.

 

The person "changing the rules" is Trump, the person alleged to have a "high school civics" view of the office, which apparently is "Art. II allows me to do anything."

The broad view of executive power, as with his view on going after people who criticize him including the media, his violations of the emoluments clauses, corrupt use of family (the constant need for Jared Kushner to update his security documentation alone) etc. would objectively bother some non-Democrats. As we have seen by a variety of conservatives, one of them in the House.

How can I tell it's just TrumpLaw? Who's it being applied to who isn't associated with Trump? Are Democrats saying, "Trump should go down for delaying that Ukraine funding, and Biden, too!"?

Biden isn't in the Oval Office. I put aside that facts cited by Mark, Mr. W. and others that the REPUBLICANS didn't go after Biden either when they had the chance. For good reason. Take Sen. Cruz (who is a natural born citizen) on HUNTER Biden. He apparently found it a gotcha that his only qualifications to be on the board is his knowledge of the language, relevant business experience and family connections. This is more than a lot more corporate board members have. But, he's singled out.

When did Trump? When Biden ran for POTUS and looked like he would be a top candidate. Plus, I figure Biden is the sort of candidate per se Trump would worry about as compared to someone like Elizabeth Warren, who he'd be more disdainful for. Plus, he didn't simply go after Biden. He did it in a way, consistently with past practice, that abused his office and (which will be covered more today) obstructed Congress. Republicans reported will expand on this by not hearing witnesses since Trump will declare it all covered by executive privilege.

That's TRUPMLAW. I'll say that once on this thread since others point it out already, including an extended examination by the House managers.
 

"his violations of the emoluments clauses"

There, you see: Trumplaw. Most Presidents, historically, have had business empires, and did not shut them down during their time in office. Putting your assets in a blind trust is a very recent development, which happened only because we started getting Presidents who were professional politicians, whose assets did not require personal management.

Ordinary business income has NEVER been viewed as an emoluments clause violation prior to Trump. It could be a laundered bribe, however, if you could establish that the income was not in the ordinary course of business. You'd have to actually make the case, though, not just assume it.

The House could have impeached Trump for violating the emoluments clause, or for bribery, and tried to prove the elements of the offense. They didn't, presumably because they knew they couldn't make the case. The emoluments complaint is a joke, not a serious charge. It's just part of the fog machine, meant to create a general impression of Trump being criminally corrupt, without having to prove any given charge.
 

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Okay skipping over he who shall not be named, let's look at that op-ed.

He early on phrases things in a misleading way: The House seeks to expel Mr. Trump because he acted “for his personal political benefit rather than for a legitimate policy purpose.” But, as a blog that me and Mark read might say, "the card says moops" guy (King v. Burwell) doing so is not surprising. This is also the guy who was on John Paul Stevens for "not really retiring" thus his public remarks on various issues was unethical. But, let's focus on the op-ed.

Simply acting for personal political benefit alone is not grounds for removal. It is the whole picture. People act for personal political benefit in various cases. Breaking a range of laws while holding back foreign aid to (for a second time) use foreign powers to interfere with an election and corruptly going after a political opponent while obstructing Congress in a major fashion (and bragging about it) is not just that.

He notes that "President Trump did not stand to receive any money or property from the Ukrainian president." The actions were done to promote Trump's re-election chances & that very well will benefit Trump even in that fashion. Even if that alone is what impeachment is about. As to not charging him with bribery, the overall abuse of power here included an allegation of a form of extortion.

What are the examples given? Lincoln encouraging generals to send soldiers back to vote? What law did that break? Oh, it is suggested that it interfered with military ends and somehow put them more at risk. I have read some civil war history. I'm not aware of any serious military threat here. The timing is apt to note too -- the limited number of Sherman's troops just were not a grave need at the time (this was during the March to the Sea where he faced nearly no opposition).

Again, we can judge each case in turn to see if it warrants impeachment. Did Lincoln do that before, by the way? Is there threat he would do it again? Some fear that he would send soldiers home in 1866 or something for mid-term elections? He also cites LBJ doing things to make sure there was a slot for Marshall on the Supreme Court.

This is asinine. I'm not sure what is impeachable about that. It might help if we phrase things in the ridiculous way he started off doing. The end point:

But our Constitution does not allow Congress to take a vote of “no confidence” for a president who pursues legal policies that members of the opposition party deem insufficiently publicly spirited.

That isn't all that is at stake here. The fact that GM thought that op-ed made good points is depressing.
 

Most Presidents, historically, have had business empires, and did not shut them down during their time in office.

"Most" presidents didn't have "business empires," especially one that so broadly touches upon the matters addressed by the emolument clauses, but merely having one or a business isn't the problem. Trump has businesses that directly involve foreign states as well as domestic state officials. It goes to the core of the concern of the emolument clauses. His family also directly financially benefits from such connections. Kushner's problems with security clearances should matter to people. Trumplaw involves handwaving that while the same people was all on Hillary Clinton during the Bill Clinton Administration for a lot less blatant stuff.

Ordinary business income has NEVER been viewed as an emoluments clause violation prior to Trump.

Ordinary business income is again not the only issue here. The violations have been spelled out others so I'm not going to re-litigate it here. It is not "Trump Law" and if someone not named Trump did the same thing, you would have litigation, including by individuals specifically harmed. To the degree rules change, that is the life of the law, and that too would factor into the litigation.

The House could have impeached Trump for violating the emoluments clause, or for bribery, and tried to prove the elements of the offense.

They could have went with an emolument clause violation and I think Congress should deal with emoluments though with Republicans controlling the Senate, legislation there would be a problem. But, they went with something more blatantly a threat. The abuse of power included a form of extortion.

A consistent concern for constitutional checks and balances would include respect for the emoluments provisions. "Trumplaw" is selecting favoring Trump.
 

"The actions were done to promote Trump's re-election chances"

And again you do it: Assuming the exact thing you have to prove!
 

Brett, sorry, but that's a conclusion based on the available information. Obviously, there can be no "proof" as we'd have to delve into Trump's motivations and expose them in order to "prove" it. And we can't do that. For one thing, Trump has not given any hint of his motivations that makes sense, merely his normal incoherent ramblings -- which do not settle anything, as he routinely speaks in tongues.

You can give your conclusion based on his actions if you wish. Oh -- and by the way: provide "proof" of your conclusions...else you are merely offering an alternative which we are free to laugh at as ridiculous.
 

Brett's theory of "proof" when it comes to Trump seems to mean "metaphysical certainty about Trump's unknowable inner motives". That's TrumpLaw: a standard meant to protect a single person, but never meant to apply to anyone else.
 

I'd like to see something more than just assuming he has bad motives any time an action even admits the possibility, that's true.

I'm curious: What do you suppose this country is going to be like in November and after, if Trump wins? Schiff as much as said such a win would be presumptively illegitimate.

What's your plan? Riots at the inauguration again? Impeaching him on a weekly basis?
 

And again you do it: Assuming the exact thing you have to prove!

The evidence has been spelled out. So, no.

The fact that someone who thinks Trump has a "high school civics view of presidential power" and is a strong Trump supporter including of his policies while repeatedly is shown to be wrong on this subject disagrees is duly noted. OTOH, even removal doesn't require unanimous approval. The 2/3 standard factors in the true believer caucus.

I'm curious: What do you suppose this country is going to be like in November and after, if Trump wins? Schiff as much as said such a win would be presumptively illegitimate.

There weren't "riots at the inauguration" except for some tiny fraction of a large number of protesters causing some damage. The sort of "riots" that deserve that name over our history makes application of that word there rather dubious.

But, if the election does occur in a illegitimate fashion -- imagine if Hillary Clinton became President after she and her key campaign staff [later prosecuted]/own family members interacted with foreign trolls as in 2016 and then threatened a foreign country's leader to corruptly interfere with the next one -- that sort of thing wouldn't be shocking. Cf. the violence over our history starting before the revolutionary war.

After that minimal amount of damage, Trump would then go along in power. Impeaching him on a weekly basis? Unlikely. Note again after the Dems gained control of the House in 2019, it took them a while before they impeached & did so for less reasons than the evidence readily opened up.

Just what happens after power is obtained twice by corrupt means will be left to history. Call it a black vulture sort of event, if it occurs.
 

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3. The policy included firing a notoriously corrupt prosecutor. Why was he corrupt? Because, among other things, he refused to investigate Burisma.

[Alanis Morissette sings]

A clarification. The March to the Sea did not start until mid-November. Either way, this was after the fall of Atlanta & there was not some an extreme need for troops that sending troops home to vote (if that was necessary per state law) was not some serious concern. This would factor in when judging the need to impeach.

This also factors in with the judgment call, especially given the control of the Senate, what to impeach over. There were many things that would have been reasonably a matter of impeachment. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/08/opinion/donald-trump-impeachment.html

But, as is true in a civil and criminal matter, judgment calls are made with everything factored in. This includes the need of getting a majority in the House, not just some raw majority party will out there or even some faction in the Democratic caucus. That is an attempt to make a helpful point arising out of a bad op-ed.
 

So Brett cannot offer an alternative. We don't have to assume bad motives when so many people have testified to the facts and the facts really only admit the theory we have. Cue Sherlock Holmes (paraphrasing): When all but one theory has been shown unsupportable, the only one that remains must be accepted.

As for impeaching weekly. Obviously ridiculous. It takes months. I'd say do it quarterly. Trump, being Trump, will always provide the ammo.

But I have a feeling that even the people who today say they'll vote for Trump in November will find it difficult, and he'll do somewhat worse than the last time. The polling is remarkably stable in saying he'll lose -- and I, for one, believe in statistics. I think even an "October surprise" will not get him through the hoops this time, as that well has been used too often.

 

Brett: And again you do it: Assuming the exact thing you have to prove!

Joe: The evidence has been spelled out. So, no.


Seriously, what evidence of what allegation?

Article I of the Democrat Articles of Impeachment alleges in pertinent part:

(1) President Trump — acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government — corruptly solicited the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into —

(A) a political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.; and

(B) a discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine — rather than Russia — interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.

(2) With the same corrupt motives, President Trump — acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government — conditioned two official acts on the public announcements that he had requested —

(A) the release of $391 million of United States taxpayer funds that Congress had appropriated on a bipartisan basis for the purpose of providing vital military and security assistance to Ukraine to oppose Russian aggression and which President Trump had ordered suspended; and

(B) a head of state meeting at the White House, which the President of Ukraine sought to demonstrate continued United States support for the Government of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.


What witness personally observed Trump or his agents (1) solicit "the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into...a political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr" and (2) condition "the release of $391 million of United States taxpayer funds" and "a head of state meeting at the White House" on "the public announcements that he had requested."

Hearsay, speculation, "I assumed," or "everyone knew" does not prove a damned thing.

Where's the beef!
 

The answer to Bart's question, as we see in the news today, is -- people who are willing to make a deal in exchange for immunity -- or perhaps for a pardon...
 

"hatred of Trump into a permanent change in the rules"

Opposition to Nixon did help lead to ethics reforms in the 1970s.

It is natural to have strong emotions against bad things though this attempt to make it all some irrational emotional thing here seems like transference. But, over our history, there were moments in time where things did seem to go so out of whack that big changes occurred. After Trumpism saw how far things would be taken, can see it occurring.

As is, the rules are being followed. The person who people were told would get things done w/o too much concern for the rules and on that "was a man of his word" is being pushed back on. That's how the rules are supposed to work. A supporter is upset. Also, not too surprising.
 

C2H5OH:

Not seeing the "news."

Who is offering to lie in exchange for a get out of jail free card?
 

Bart, you seem to have forgotten how trials work.

Prosecution presents evidence, makes a case.
Defense contests evidence, offers counter-evidence, disputes construction of case.
Jury decides if prosecution or defense did a better job.

In this case, prosecution presents evidence to the extent made possible by whitehouse stance on witnesses and documents (yes, they could have pushed harder in the courts, but chose not to do so, a decision reasonable people could disagree about). That includes people who personally observed portions of the president's behavior cited in the articles. Then the prosecution makes a case for what their observations indicate/imply/suggest.

Presumably the defense will argue one or both of (1) these people did not observe what the prosecution claims they observed (something along the lines of "yes, the president may have used those words but they did not mean what the prosecution claims they mean") (2) the conclusions drawn by the prosecution, their connecting the dots and filling in the gaps, are incorrect.

There's no mystery here about how this works. Countless trials take place in which the prosecution cannot present a witness to testify to every detail of what the prosecution claims took place. You don't throw out a murder trial because the prosecution, having established that the defendant got into their car, and that their car was found at the scene, on the basis that "they have no witness that ever saw the defendant driving the car". Sure, the defense will argue that, but that's not how the jury decides. The jury will have heard two stories ("the defendant got in their car, drove to the house and killed the victim, then left the car at the scene" / "the defendant got in their car, when to the store, where the car was stolen. they never were at the house, and nobody has testified otherwise"). The jury gets to decide which of these makes more sense given all the evidence. If the defendant can indeed show a transaction at the store at around the time of the murder, if there is evidence of someone else having been in the vehicle, then the jury might decide that the prosecution's case is weak and will acquit. If the defendant doesn't show up on store cameras, can show no evidence of a transaction, and had clear motives for wanting to kill the victim, they may decide that the lack of a witness to the defendant actually driving to the scene makes no difference, and vote to convict.

So what we have here is an admittedly slightly incomplete set of evidence (thanks to the position of the whitehouse combined with the refusal to seek judicial input by the house) that nevertheless tells a story.

What's your position? That Trump never did what is claimed? Or that he did do it but it doesn't matter? Or that he had the conversations, meetings, communications as described, but they have been misinterpreted? Or what?


 

PaulDavisTheFirst: Bart, you seem to have forgotten how trials work.

Prosecution presents evidence, makes a case.
Defense contests evidence, offers counter-evidence, disputes construction of case.
Jury decides if prosecution or defense did a better job...
Countless trials take place in which the prosecution cannot present a witness to testify to every detail of what the prosecution claims took place.


No.

The prosecution must offer admissible evidence proving each and every element of a crime beyond any reasonable doubt.

The defendant does not need to prove a damned thing, although they may offer contrary or rebuttal evidence.

The Democrat prosecutors are offering a quasi-bribery case alleging the facts I noted above. They cannot offer a single witness who has personal knowledge of the alleged solicitations and contingencies. The hearsay, speculation, opinion and irrelevant evidence the Dems are offering would be prohibited in any court of law.

What's your position? That Trump never did what is claimed? Or that he did do it but it doesn't matter?

Both.

There is no substantive evidence to support the factual allegations in the abuse of power allegation.

Even if the Dems could prove their factual allegations, the charged "offenses" amount to perfectly legal foreign policy, politics and the exercise of attorney/client and executive privileges. None come remotely close a "high crime and misdemeanor" in the same class as bribery or treason, as I noted above.

If this were a criminal case, it would be thrown out on a motion to dismiss or, at worst, a motion for judgment of acquittal after the prosecution rested its case.


 

The prosecution must offer admissible evidence proving each and every element of a crime beyond any reasonable doubt.

It is for the jury to decide whether or not they have done that. There is no objective standard for this. The prosecution does their best (or not, as the case may be). The defense pokes holes. The jury decides. There's no umpire to turn to with a plea for "but your honor, they didn't even have a witness that the defendant was in the car!". You get to say that to the jury as a defense lawyer, and hope they buy it.

I never stated that the defendant has to prove anything.

Contrary to your claims, the Democrats have offered several witnesses all of whom believe that they have personal knowledge of the president or his personal representatives engaging in the "alleged soliciations and contingencies". It's not hearsay, or speculation, or opinion, and it would not automatically be prohibited in a court of law. You are free to tell us, as a member of the jury-public, that you don't find the evidence convincing, or sufficient. That's fine.

But you're attempting to dismiss evidence with the claim "it's not evidence". That isn't fine. I don't have a problem with anyone saying they don't find the evidence presented to be compelling proof that the president was deliberately abusing his power for personal gain. I think they're pretty stupid if that's how they feel, but I recognize it as a legitimate assessment of what evidence has been collected thus far. What's not legitimate is to somehow claim that what has been collected/presented isn't evidence at all.

You go beyond this, far beyond it, claiming that not only is there no actual evidence. but that even if there was, it would only show entirely legitimate activity on the part of the president. Once again, this is why there's a trial going on in the Senate. You are welcome to your opinion that nothing he did was wrong, but that isn't settled law (and never will be, because this is impeachment). There's a trial going on, even if the outcome is more or less a foregone conclusion given the pre-announced positions of so many republican senators, precisely to decide if the charged "offenses" do in fact amount to "a perfectly legal foreign policy".

I don't why you find it so necessary to state your opinions as if they are established fact. "If I was a judge I would throw this out" is fine. "If this was a criminal case, it would be thrown out" is just bullshit.
 

"Just what happens after power is obtained twice by corrupt means will be left to history."

This is BS. President Trump was elected because my party decided that the Rust Belt could go screw itself. And we paid for it. There's nothing corrupt about that.

And if President Trump is reelected, it will be because he convinces enough Americans to vote for him rather than the Dems.

The standard of too many people in this thread is "any election where the public votes for the other party must be illegitimate". And yes, Bart and Brett did this with Obama too.

Trump is the President of the United States, and will continue in that position until at least January of this year. My party needs to stop whining and figure out how to beat him.
 

January of next year I mean
 

"There should be some handy pop culture reference to drive home this point. Hmm. Thinking, thinking....."

At least I am intellectually honest. You think the Constitution requires whatever the current Democratic talking point is.
 

"And your repeat assertion that it can't be seen as cheating because we don't know Biden will be the nominee or that it has hurt him is ludicrous. Abusing some power you have in trying to eliminate someone in the qualifying stage that you would have to face in the finals is something that would appeal to a cheater because people match up against various individuals differently (and indeed polls show that Biden does particularly well against Trump) and would still of course be cheating."

You are ignoring that Mark said Trump's reelection would be DUE to cheating. How does he know that? How does he know that this will have any effect at all? It's a complete lie.
 

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BD: The prosecution must offer admissible evidence proving each and every element of a crime beyond any reasonable doubt.

PaulDavisTheFirst: It is for the jury to decide whether or not they have done that. There is no objective standard for this.


Every criminal judge provides the jury with extensive jury instructions defining every relevant term and concept, including reasonable doubt.

You go beyond this, far beyond it, claiming that not only is there no actual evidence.

We are not discussing the credibility of admissible evidence, like the personal observations of convicted liar Michael Cohen.

We are discussing testimony which our law considers per se unreliable, prejudicial and thus inadmissible - hearsay, speculation, opinion and irrelevant subject matter.

There's no umpire to turn to with a plea for "but your honor, they didn't even have a witness that the defendant was in the car!"

Every criminal trial, including the senate removal trial, has such an umpire - the judge.

Crimes requiring agreements like bribery are difficult charges to prove because the prosecution must generally offer a recording of or a witness to the agreement. Proving an agreement through circumstantial evidence alone is extremely difficult. If the prosecutor offered a witness who merely claimed he and everyone else believed the defendant entered into the agreement, any competent judge will first sustain the objection to the speculation and then grant a motion of acquittal after the prosecution rests because no substantive evidence exists for a reasonable jury to find the defendant guilty.

Given the Democrat impeachment circus is both a pre-election attack on the POTUS and his party, the GOP Senate caucus will not dismiss this farce at the outset, but will instead sit and play on their phones pretending to listen to the "trial" to appear fair to the voters, before they all and a couple Dems vote against removal.
 

No trial lawyer would appeal to the judge about missing evidence, unless the opposing side claimed that such evidence existed and had been introduced. If the opposing side has presented fact A and fact C, and gone on to draw conclusion B that links them, you do not appeal to the judge, you would appeal to the jury.

The judge may indeed rule on the admissability of evidence. Perhaps you actually believe that the testimony taken during the House proceedings is "hearsay, speculation, opinion and irrelevant subject matter". And perhaps the Senate will agree with you (though we will likely never actually have a specific verdict on that aspect of the impeachment). But plenty of sharp legal minds do not agree with your assessment. And the judge is an umpire regarding legal process, but not regarding the story constructed and presented to the jury. You do not, as legal counsel, get to turn to the judge and say "your honor, that's just ridiculous".

Your assessment of the bribery related aspects are also off-base. Nobody, not even the president has denied saying the things he has been reported as saying the the president of Ukraine (or to anyone of his staff). The denial is that the president's interactions, despite taking place and consisting of the reported words and deeds, were not in fact bribery. In the end, this is a "state of mind" case: the president's defense (so far) has not offered any denial of the facts, merely that "these actions do not indicate that the president was attempting to bribe, pressure or force action by the Ukrainians". That's a judgement for the Senate to make, not a matter of case law. "state of mind" cases are always hard, especially when are prevented from calling the accused or their closest associates to the stand.

I'm genuinely curious what details of the president's behavior would have to change for your opinion of it? What things could he have said (and to whom) that would make it at least inappropriate, if not actually impeachable?

 

"So vague a term will be equivalent to a tenure during pleasure of the Senate."

Yes the Founders rejected maladministration because it's too broad a term-it includes simply inefficient administration as well as corrupt (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/maladministration)

But that doesn't mean they didn't include corrupt non-criminal acts as Hamilton clearly argued in the Federalist.
 

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""There should be some handy pop culture reference to drive home this point. Hmm. Thinking, thinking....."

At least I am intellectually honest."

Dilan, your end thread rant built on a foundation of ignorance of where the quote Mark used came from was one of the best own goals I've seen on here in a while that didn't have 'Bart DePalma said...' preceding it. You may take it as a moment to check yourself as the kids say.
 

Bircher Brett and Bircher Bart display their bad faith and/partisan dishonestly very clearly here.

Note that they are all too happy to conclude, without evidence in the case of Biden and against reason in the case of the Cohen and Parnas prosecutions, bad motive on the part of an official, but, as Mark says, they defend Trump with 'you can't jump to the conclusion hd had a bad motive!' They're all too willing to decry the use of official power for political hits and to conclude bad intent sans direct verbal or written expression of it-but only for those on the 'side' they don't like (and heck, in the Parnas/Cohen case the ignorantly assumed it for someone who turns out is on their 'side' after all!). It's just pathetic.
 

It's really amazing how completely and neatly Bircher Brett and Bart have tied themselves in the proverbial Gordian knot.

Notice how parallel the Biden case, in their telling, is to the charge against Trump. It's really quite amazing that they don't see this as the tie the knot tighter.

Both allegations are built on the prima facie appearance of a quid pro quo. In the Biden case there's not doubt that 1. H.Biden was given a position with Burisma and 2. J. Biden pushed to have the prosecutor looking into a case involving Bursima ousted.

With Trump there's no doubt that 1. Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden and 2. Trump held up the aid meant for Zelensky's nation.

Bircher Brett and Bart are *at the same time* arguing that 1. it's safe to conclude the first scenario demonstrates a 'prima facie case' of corruption and 2. it's safe to conclude the second scenario demonstrates 'zero evidence' of corruption.

You couldn't demonstrate the double standard here better if you used sock puppets.

Now, this double standard is damning enough. But let's go further. Bircher Brett, at least, is ostensibly a libertarian and wary of government and politicians in general. If this were actually true it makes Bircher Brett's double standard here all the more remarkable: because if you were going to deviate in the direction of skepticism rather than faith in two cases of politicians, wouldn't you do it *for the one that is currently in power?* Of course you would.

But a partisan incoherent would not.
 

A corrupt process is not an all or nothing affair. It is a taint that might not even be determinant. A bribed jury might not convict anyway.

OTOH, the very close election of the 2016 variety very well opens up a troubled situation where corruption makes the official winner tainted in particular. There is no way to prove just what effect such and such had. There was both official and non-official study made on the range of illicit things that affected the 2016 election. The final answer here is open to some reasonable debate.

The standard for too many people is to speak in too conclusive tones when calling out 'b.s.' or some comparable allegedly tainted adjective. I said it was a corrupt means. It was. The evidence is out there. How exactly that affected the final result did not say.

The standard of too many people in this thread is "any election where the public votes for the other party must be illegitimate".

So some local election? I don't know enough the views of people here to think any local election that doesn't go their way would lead to that. Seems like hyperbole.

Maybe that means presidential elections. Seems like hyperbole too. I myself don't think the various presidential elections that didn't go my way "must be illegitimate." 2000 stood out for me because that specifically was tainted. I realize how tainted is greatly debated. And, even there, I wouldn't really say Bush was "corrupt" (a few activists were probably in trying to stop the count). 2004? No. etc.

There is something specific about Trump and the 2016 elections. Debatable, I realize. Not any Republican candidate. A specific person. Too often people online speak in hyperbole and/or without proper nuance.

 

Mista, I have no patience for hacks. Mark is one.

I have no patience for racists. Mark is one.

I am not scoring any own goals. I can go to bed each night knowing that there are things more important than whether the Democratic Party gets the best talking points out. I would rather be me than be him.
 

BTW Schiff is right about this:

https://news.yahoo.com/schiff-lobbies-chief-justice-roberts-to-rule-on-questions-of-executive-privilege-221935684.html
 

"There is something specific about Trump and the 2016 elections. Debatable, I realize."

What? What did Trump do, exactly, that you contend was outcome determinative?

And how can anything possibly be said about 2020 yet?
 

Reference was made earlier to the differences between members of Congress and the executive. One difference is the whole power to prosecute. The Vice President can be prosecuted (see Burr and Agnew). One person alone is different here though how absolute the no prosecution during the term rule should apply is somewhat debated. But, that is mostly academic. Impeachment is specifically a tool left open for that reason too.

I also referenced emoluments. Note I put it in among various things (such as Kushner), not just something for impeachment. There is a range of debate regarding emoluments. For instance, some think it is a political question and the court challenges should be dismissed on that ground. There also is a range of concerns there. For instance, in litigation regarding trying to obtain financial documentation, the House in part flagged emoluments concerns. Also, specific emoluments might be particularly problematic, including some minimal amount being deemed to trivial for too much concern. And, concern for disclosure (such as tax records) can factor in here.

So, I understand not using that for impeachment though I thought it should have be investigated more & perhaps (depending on the results) a vote offered.
 

"OTOH, the very close election of the 2016 variety very well opens up a troubled situation where corruption makes the official winner tainted in particular. There is no way to prove just what effect such and such had. There was both official and non-official study made on the range of illicit things that affected the 2016 election. The final answer here is open to some reasonable debate."

When an election is that close (in the EC, anyway; it wasn't close in the popular vote), any of several factors could have been decisive. Or maybe all in combination. Nate Silver says Comey's last minute letter was most likely the cause of Trump's win. Others might point to the media's shocking irresponsibility with respect to Clinton's non-scandals and Trump's obvious ones. Maybe it was Trump's conspiracy with the Russians. Or maybe it was all those things plus some voter suppression.

But what we can see pretty obviously is that Trump believes that the aid he solicited and got from Russia was important. Why else try to repeat the trick? He got away more or less cleanly from the first effort, in the sense that we all know he did it but we can't (yet) do much about it. So why take the chance on a similar crime again? For the obvious reason that he believes he needs that help.

I didn't answer Brett's question earlier about the legitimacy of the 2020 election because it's all speculative. It'll depend on the facts and the results. That doesn't change the fact that Trump cheated last time, has tried to cheat again, and will probably not stop there. Maybe the election will put an end to that, but it's worth the effort to stop him in his tracks now.
 

The Mueller Report alone discussed various things Trump and his team did that affected the election. I specifically said it cannot be said just what effect. A corrupted process does not require success though in a very close case it is more likely.

As to 2020, the ongoing impeachment argument provides evidence that at least "possibly" shows that Trump is doing or reasonably given past practice can be expected to do interfere with 2020. On the latter, maybe this time Lucy won't move the football.

I'm not going to belabor the point and won't go further on it. Taking everything into consideration, Trump's corruption is shown and the concern it will continue (as it is) and taint the 2020 election some more is quite reasonable. That is fact is a major reason why Schiff said impeachment was necessary now -- I would note that this is not just about November but also the primary/caucus stage. As seen with Nixon.
 

Dilan,

With all due respect, it's goofy to attribute racism to Mark for his comment which was a quote from the movie The Big Lebowski riffing off another quote I used for an earlier comment. The Big Lebowski is a comedy, and the quotes come from a character who is kind of a Falstaff figure, no fan takes the quotes as something like literal assertions of facts (though they do, like some jokes, contain potential interesting philosophical ideas, like that nihilists are *the worst*).

I think your comment epitomizes something very strange I find about your commenting history here. Does Mark lean left? I guess so. Could that lean influence his conclusions? Sure. But here's the thing: Mark's left leaning and any influence of it is a fraction, a scintilla, of that found in our resident Birchers. His answers are tenfold more nuanced and careful. It seems passing strange that you have such unbridled ire for him compared to our Birchers. In theory you say you are from the same party of Mark, yet you find his much more careful and nuanced comments favoring that party to be so much more intolerable than the literal equivalent of Birchers from the other party? That's weird.
 

"What? What did Trump do, exactly, that you contend was outcome determinative?"

It doesn't necessarily have to be something Trump 'did.' The complaint is that he benefited from Russian interference. Now, that's not automatically to his fault, but he did say some strangely pro-Russia things and his team was involved in some strangely pro-Russia things that kind of invites that kind of speculation. I don't think anything much has been determined conclusively as to Trump himself, but some high ranking campaign officials were clearly Russian tools, and the intelligence consensus of our many intelligence agencies and other national agencies is that Russia worked to favor Trump's chances.

Again, notice how much more careful someone like joe is discussing this than our resident Birchers would be if the shoe were on the other foot. They'd be going ballistic, and your attraction to take joe rather than them to task kind of speaks volumes.
 

PaulDavisTheFirst said... If the opposing side has presented fact A and fact C, and gone on to draw conclusion B that links them, you do not appeal to the judge, you would appeal to the jury.

If evidence proving facts A and C is circumstantial evidence of B, then you do indeed bring you argument to the jury.

If there is no admissible evidence of facts A, B or C (nevertheless all the alleged facts, as in the Democrat impeachment case), then you do indeed move for a judgment of acquittal. That is the purpose of the Rule 29 JoA.

Perhaps you actually believe that the testimony taken during the House proceedings is "hearsay, speculation, opinion and irrelevant subject matter"...But plenty of sharp legal minds do not agree with your assessment.

Who? The GOP lawyer Congress critters and Dem Alan Dershowitz have repeatedly shredded the Democrat testimony in detail concerning these shortfalls. The Dem and Dem media lawyers and Congress critters studiously avoid the subject.

You do not, as legal counsel, get to turn to the judge and say "your honor, that's just ridiculous".

The proper technique goes something like this:

Schiff: What did you believe the POTUS was saying to Ukraine?

Me: Objection, your honor, the prosecutor is asking the witness to speculate.

Judge: Mr. Schiff, does the witness have any personal knowledge of the POTUS's communications with Ukraine?

Schiff: Let me ask, your honor. Mr. Witness, did you overhear any of the POTUS's conversations with Ukraine?

Mr. Witness: No.

Judge: Move along Mr. Schiff.

Nobody, not even the president has denied saying the things he has been reported as saying the the president of Ukraine (or to anyone of his staff). The denial is that the president's interactions, despite taking place and consisting of the reported words and deeds, were not in fact bribery.

Do you get your news from a comedian? Trump and every single Republican have repeatedly and loudly denied the slander offered as the first article of impeachment I quoted above.

I'm genuinely curious what details of the president's behavior would have to change for your opinion of it? What things could he have said (and to whom) that would make it at least inappropriate, if not actually impeachable?

If the Donald and Don Jr. had done what we know Joe and Hunter did in Ukraine, I would be leading the impeachment parade for the actual high crime of bribery.
 

"any of several factors could have been decisive"

Yes you flag multiple concerns.

A basic concern here is not to do things to worsen a basic trust in the integrity of the process. Schiff flagged that concern with Trump advancing Putin/Russian conspiracy theories over U.S. investigatory personnel findings.

I agree with the gist of Mark's remarks. This allows me an out if anything is wrong.
 

Let me ask this question: should the Democrats in the House have just censured Trump? I think his offense warrants impeachment, but as a political reality impeachment was just going to deliver this to a Senate that is deranged, determined to defend Trump no matter what he's done (Trump predicted that his supporters would be so depraved they would defend him even if he committed murder in broad daylight, our resident Bircher Bart has displayed his moral degredation in this area by saying on record here he would support Trump even if he knew he was a murderer). As a *political* matter, would it have been better to just censure, putting Trump 'on notice' that his egregious behavior was recognized but not playing into the hands of the non-principled GOP senate majority? Or would it just have further emboldened this boorish, immoral executive? As a long time third party volunteer I admit my political calculus is not that good ;) but I wonder other's opinion about the matter.
 

I also think Mr. W.'s comment is well phrased. Pair of Jeopardy champions.

If how I exactly phrase it bothers someone, I need not rest on it. Some things are so easy to prove that you can grant a lot and still get where you want to go.

The person who shall not be named actually agreed with me a few times. Once "1000x" or something vs something Mark wrote. Maybe, I'm just a big disappointment. I kid.
 

"Nobody, not even the president has denied saying the things he has been reported as saying the the president of Ukraine...

Do you get your news from a comedian? Trump and every single Republican have repeatedly and loudly denied the slander offered as the first article of impeachment"

Bart is actually on record here saying that there is zero evidence that *Trump asked Zelensky to look into Biden*. That's how intellectually degraded he is at this point.

Here is quote: "there is zero evidence to support the second analogy that the Trump sheriff suggested the Ukrainian sheriff investigate the Biden former deputy sheriff's crimes in Ukraine."

This is not a serious man.
 

"This allows me an out if anything is wrong."

Lol.

"should the Democrats in the House have just censured Trump?"

That's pretty ineffective. It was tried with Andrew Jackson, when the Whig-controlled Congress censured him (for refusal to produce documents!). A couple of years later the Dems re-took control of the Senate and they voted to expunge the censure. Not content with the resolution of expungement, they literally took a knife to the Congressional records and ripped out the pages. So no, censure is not a useful remedy. Later on, Jackson expressed that his one regret in life was being unable to shoot Henry Clay (who introduced the censure).
 

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I'd also like to highlight that Bircher Brett has in the conversation over the past couple days both 1. argued that it was fine, great in fact (political system properly incentivizing) investigations/prosecutions based on political animus/calculation and 2. argued Trump's efforts can't be read as such. This is a profoundly dishonest man arguing in bad faith (or one so partisan incoherent he doesn't see it). He was at the beginning, and is now, *totally fine* with Trump's intent to target the Bidens specifically for political gain, he is because he assumes the Bidens are bad (in ways that make his defense of Trump look ridiculous). Of course, if the shoe were on the other foot he'd be hollering and crying (see his comments on the Parnas/Cohen prosecutions). Bircher Brett is plainly either full of it in his protestations about how wrong it is to read bad intent to Trump's actions here or he's being the partisan incoherent he usually is.
 

I prefer going all the way including arguing in front of the Senate. Yes, you can think the senators are "deranged" but going all the way in a constitutional sense and forcing them to bluntly show that is part of why I think impeachment was appropriate. Censure (to me, it is too much like a finger wag) also was more handwavable plus there apparently was no real chance a few Republicans would have signed on. If some were, I would be a tad more open to the idea.

I'd add that old fashion rules of civility made a censure somewhat more effective at least in theory. There was (see, e.g., Joanne B. Freeman's works) a complicated variety of ways to address dishonorable acts. Even then, as Mark said, limited value. The person who tweaked Jackson's nose (as I recall) once might have served a tougher blow.
 

Let me be clear: I think Trump is a boorish, terrible, foolish man. But lots of important people are that. I actually liked his inaugural speech. It is to the Democrats discredit that they let him co-opt the 'America First' idea, which I support. I think the 'free trade' mantras are silly and immigration should be reigned in. I benefited from his tax cut.

But the arguments re impeachment by Trump supporters have been literally pathetic: they just offer palpable double standards, hand waving, false equivalencies, etc.

As I said, there was at the beginning a good argument Trump supporters could have made. They could have thrown Guliani and other under the bus. They could have said, 'hey, Trump is politically naive, he didn't know how reasonably bad the call would look, he was misadvised and informed by those close to him who wanted to cook up an advantageous situation for his reeelction. He's sorry, his actions were imprudent possibly, but he's going to cut loose those rogues and be better, impeachment is too drastic and divisive.

But they didn't. They doubled down into silliness.
 

The Yahoo story on Schiff is interesting.


 

Bircher Bart, the tool, fool and coward, tends to wait until comments won't be accepted here to comment.

Look for him to do it here.
 

"Bart is actually on record here saying that there is zero evidence that *Trump asked Zelensky to look into Biden*. That's how intellectually degraded he is at this point.

Here is quote: "there is zero evidence to support the second analogy that the Trump sheriff suggested the Ukrainian sheriff investigate the Biden former deputy sheriff's crimes in Ukraine."

Answer! Or leave, skulking like the pathetic propagandist you are.
 

"Does Mark lean left?"

I'm pretty sure that my substantive politics are to the left of anyone who comments or posts here. I do tend to be process-conservative though.
 

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What if the Democrats held an impeachment and almost nobody watched?

Don't fret, though. I imagine the small fraction of Dems who tuned in to see Schiff's circus will likely find other things to do when the Trump defense team gets on the flat screen and leave the elephant show with even lower ratings. Moral victory.
 

Of course, obtaining a political benefit from an official act is NOT evidence that abuse of power has NOT been committed by said official. So why are we indulging in this abstracted, unlikely somewhat-possible scenario when real facts with real acts of abuse of power are at-hand and evidence is in-hand
 

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Schiff and Nadler’s closing statements gave the RINOs the cover they needed for vote against the Democrat impeachment circus.
 

" So why are we indulging in this abstracted, unlikely somewhat-possible scenario when real facts with real acts of abuse of power are at-hand and evidence is in-hand"

Because it only looks like that to partisans who have already drank the Koolaid, and those whose superficial understanding comes exclusively from news accounts that are written from the starting point that he's guilty.
 

Re Nadler's statement, the Democrats know they won't get a conviction, and stand a good chance of not even reaching 50% on either charge. They're not in this to remove Trump, they're in it to smear him.

From that perspective, planting the idea that the coming acquittal is itself corrupt is worth losing a couple votes over. They have to minimize the degree to which his being acquitted repairs his reputation.
 

. So why are we indulging in this abstracted, unlikely somewhat-possible scenario when real facts with real acts of abuse of power are at-hand and evidence is in-hand.

When you have a bad hand, you have to reach.

As Mr. W. on this very thread suggests, there is a better argument, however weak it is taking everything into consideration. But, a more "all in" approach is favored.

It reminds me of the argument against protecting same sex marriage in the federal courts. The best approach was probably a conservative, we need more time for the matter to develop socially, legally and politically, though yes same sex couples deserve certain basic equality (such as not criminalizing their basic intimacy).

But, that wasn't strong enough so we had bits about how marriage was merely about men and women having children by having sex. This was pretty asinine. A five year old could cite their grandmother getting married or someone who couldn't have children. It seemed very convincing to some though.
 

"Because it only looks like that to partisans who have already drank the Koolaid, and those whose superficial understanding comes exclusively from news accounts that are written from the starting point that he's guilty."

Rich coming from Bircher Brett, a partisan who assumed the Bidens are guilty in less evidence, that the prosecutor of M Cohen and Lev Parnas are acting illegitimately not only on less evidence but absurdly as the man is a Trump appointee who worked on and gave to his campaign. Bircher Brett is the Assumer in Chief, but only in a partisan incoherent way.
 

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