How Can We Impeach Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

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Trump Maladministration

A quick rundown …

Obstruction of Justice.  There’s a hell of an obstruction of justice case against Trump just based on what he’s done publicly. The obstruction of justice case was a slam dunk months ago, in fact. And he’s too stupid to stop digging that hole. So now it’s like a slam dunk and a whole bunch of free throws. One of his lawyers has put out the bizarre argument that presidents cannot obstruct justice. But Trump’s attorney general, Jeff “Stars and Bars” Sessions, is on record as having a different opinion. So good luck getting out of that one, Donny.

The Emoluments Clause. The Constitution says that U.S. officials may not may not accept money, gifts or titles of nobility from foreign governments, and that no monetary benefit (other than salary) should be derived by holding office.

But what happens when a president has businesses on the side with foreign governments? Trump had promised his business would not make new deals with foreign governments while he is in office, but he keeps breaking that promise. And we’re in new territory here.

Anita Kumar reported for McClatchy today that

A construction company owned in part by the governments of Saudi Arabia and South Korea plans to build a Trump-branded luxury resort development in Indonesia despite a vow from Donald Trump that his family business would not make any deals with foreign government entities while he serves as president. …

… McClatchy reported in September that a major construction company owned by the Chinese government was awarded a $32-million contract to build a six-lane road as part of the residential piece of the Trump World Golf Club Dubai project.

And this is a problem because …

Walter Shaub, who served as the director of the Office of Government Ethics until July, said it was a “foregone conclusion” that Trump would have numerous conflicts of interests after he made the decision to retain his business. “Just about every decision he makes puts him under cloud of suspicion,” Shaub said. “It became inevitable because he didn’t sell. It’s precisely why he should have divested.”

Now every time his company does business in a foreign country or with a foreign entity, Trump faces a fresh set of questions: Is a foreign government gaining access to him because of his business? Is the business deal a factor in U.S. foreign policy? Is a foreign government building goodwill with him because of his company? …

…Ethics experts, including those involved in three separate lawsuits accusing Trump of violating the so-called emoluments clause of the Constitution, say the latest agreements with Posco could violate the law depending on what kind of influence the foreign governments have on the company and whether the Trump Organization is receiving a benefit.

The Logan Act. No one has ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act, but it’s been on the books since 1799.

The Logan Act makes it a crime for a United States citizen, “without authority” from the federal government, to communicate with foreign officials in order to “influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government” in a dispute with the United States or “to defeat the measures of the United States.” A conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to three years. …

… The statute applies squarely to Mr. Flynn. According to court filings, a “very senior member” of the Trump transition team told Mr. Flynn on or about Dec. 22, 2016, to contact officials from Russia and other foreign governments regarding a resolution pending before the United Nations Security Council that condemned Israeli settlement activity. Mr. Flynn then asked the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, to delay a vote on the resolution or use Russia’s veto to prevent it from passing.

There appears to be a broad consensus now that the “very senior member” was Jared “Back Channel” Kushner, who has his own problems with Russians. But were other members of the transition team in the dark about what Kushner and Flynn were up to? That’s extremely doubtful.

Collusion. And, finally, we get to the old “did Russia help Trump win the election” question. Brian Beutler writes,

There is more than enough evidence to say definitively that the Trump administration colluded with Russia, and there is every reason to believe the plot encompassed criminal activity, even if that activity remains invisible for now. …

…We know that Russian spies approached the Trump campaign offering assistance in the election multiple times. At least twice, Russians dangled the lure of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including stolen emails, and both times, Trump campaign officials (George Papadopoulos and Donald Trump, Jr.) expressed interest. Trump, Jr. was particularly enthusiastic about the idea of cooperating with the Russians, and shortly after he welcomed Russian spies to Trump tower for a meeting about “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, he coordinated messaging with Wikileaks, which operated last summer and fall as a cutout for Russian hackers.

After repeatedly communicating to Russia (in public and in private) that they welcomed interference in the election, Trump and his aides cast public doubt on whether the saboteurs were Russians at all. When Trump went on to win the election after benefiting from this interference, members of his inner circle, through Michael Flynn, secretly connived with Russia to subvert the countermeasures the American government had undertaken as penalties for Russia’s interference. …

… Meanwhile, Trump’s pretense that Flynn did no wrong but to lie to Vice President Mike Pence is falling apart, as it becomes increasingly clear that Flynn was honest with the entire team about his communication with Russian agents, and they all agreed to tell lies about it to the public. Trump admitted on Saturday that he knew Flynn had repeated those lies to the FBI at the time he ousted Flynn, and at the time he beseeched FBI Director James Comey to let Flynn off the hook. The president is for this and a myriad other reasons the subject of an obstruction investigation.

At this point, to say collusion allegations remain unproven is materially misleading. Collusion has been conclusively proven; we are in the process of learning how extensive it was, and whether, in the course of it, American conspirators committed federal crimes.

I have argued several times that we don’t know if whatever the Russians did had any measurable effect on the election, but just attempting to use the help of a foreign government to win a presidential election is, um, bad.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 4, 2017 @8:17 pm

    GOP POV:

    Ho-hum…

    Look at CHILLary's e-mails and HELLary's crimes!  The FBI needs to investigate HELLary for HER Russian connections!  We hear that she and Bill had a RUSSKY nanny for Chelsea when she was very young.  They were indoctrinating their daughter with scary Socialist and Communist fairy tales, instead of the nice ones from The Brothers Grimm!

    President  Donald J. Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being we've ever known in our lives.

    How could a person like that lie, cheat, steal, obstruct, collude, and emolate… or whatever the word is. 

    ___________________________________

    Let's see how loyal they are to that orange POS after the ink dries on their "Tax Cuts for the Rich/DEATH TO THE POOR!!!) bill.

    Pence can do the same damage, only without the psychopathic panache.

    The base LOOVES all of tRUMP's faults.  He pours bigoted spices on every thing he dishes out.

    Pence may be too cottage cheese for the t-RUMP-A-LOONpas.

  2. Swami  •  Dec 5, 2017 @12:26 am

    The thought that occupies my mind is the idea that no matter how much it can be proven that Trump colluded with the Russians and committed all of the listed illegal offenses that eventually will be leveled against him. They won't mean a thing unless our representatives in Congress find the moral courage to act in defense of the preservation of our democracy.  

    It's really scary to think that a bunch of self serving Repuglican't sycophants are entrusted to safeguard our democracy and uphold a level of acceptability for the conduct of the President of the United States. I'm praying that God intervenes by giving Trump a massive fucking brain hemorrhage or puts some serious conviction upon the hearts those reprobate repuglicans who delight in the antics that are destroying America.

     

  3. Doug  •  Dec 5, 2017 @1:14 am

    It’s getting interesting. Mueller is in no hurry -he’s building this one brick at a time.

    Flynn is telling all he knows – Trump knows that’s enough for obstruction of justice. Thus today his early statement of sympathy for Flynn who is being ruined by the FBI. When Trump’s lawyer declared Trump can’t be found guilty of obstruction, i was convinced. They got obstruction.

    Don’t expect Trump to be arrested. He’d have to be impeached, and that’s not likely – yet. Impeachment is a political act – not a criminal prosecution. Trump can do anything he wants as long as Trump’s poll numbers are high.

    If the democrats take the House in 2018, the GOP has to decide if they want Trump at the top of the ticket in 2020. Trump’s a vindictive bastard- if the GOP leadership moves against him, he will start a third party to ruin the GOP by splitting the base.

    What if Pence is in on it – what if Flynn can testify Pence sat in on the meetings about paying back the favor of Russian interference? A double-impeachment by the House democrats in 2019 – which would not succeed in the Senate – not if Trump’s numbers are up.

    If Trump is nailed by the investigation and he survives impeachment, the GOP is screwed in 2020. Trump will insist on running and he’ll lose.

    It looks like Manifort stepped on his own crank. If the judge tosses him in jail with no bail, we will have out next witness for the prosecution. Anybody…. like Kushner that Manifort and Flynn can prove committed a crime will have to turn or pay the full ticket price.

    This will be fun t watch. I hope the country survives.

  4. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Dec 5, 2017 @1:51 am

    The collusion's most likely crime is accepting help in the election from a foreigner. Guessing, I'm betting they decided to "launder" part of the donations through Wikileaks; and other parts by pretending they were just free speech actions by some concerned Russians who wanted to buy ads on Facebook (for example).

    But if someone from Russia, or Cambridge Analytica were to end up at risk, and rolled on "sure, Trump's microtargting was handed over, and the Russians bought ads based upon it" that would be it… collusion and violation of campaign finance. I sincerely doubt the Russians paid for the analysis and targeting; and Cambridge might try to color it to look good ("they just wanted to purchase data we'd already collected, so we sold it at a discount") but I doubt they'll have the records to support that, because they never thought they'd be caught.

    The only question is, as it always was, "can Fox and the rightwing media noise machine convince enough people that up is down?"

  5. priscianus jr  •  Dec 5, 2017 @3:14 am

    I keep seeing statements in the press that this is "as big as Watergate." Occasionally they add, "… if not bigger."

    I've got new for you. This is WAAAY bigger than Watergate.

  6. csm  •  Dec 5, 2017 @12:46 pm

    Attempting to rob a bank but failing is not only bad, its still a crime.  And whether any of the tangible benefits the Trump campaign realized from Russian interference can be shown to have made a difference in the election, or not, it doesn't matter. 

    What's key is what has now been clearly demonstrated as fact: attempts by Russia to intercede, solicitation on the part of Trump campaign surrogates to engage them in offers to help Trump win, and efforts to cover it up.  Each of which, incredibly, have been publicly admitted to, directly or inadvertently, by those involved, including  the great mentalist Trump himself.   

    If you drew this out as an org chart with those three areas at the top, the crimes would cascade down from there, reaching across many in the campaign, and even some in the GOP.  Another reason why I believe Trump will never be impeached, no matter what Mueller finds and charges him and those around him with, and no matter who in his inner circle is convicted.  If Trump goes down, they go with him.

    Forget "collusion."  This should be referred to henceforth as what this has now been clearly demonstrated to be: a criminal conspiracy engaged in to commit criminal acts.  That it involves the President and subversion of the Constitution and the will of the voters makes this all the more serious.  Watergate doesn't come close.

    If Trump is charged and the GOP doesn't impeach, as President can he be arrested and booked?  That's still an open question that the impeachment process is there to avoid.  But if the GOP doesn't pull that constitutional lever, then what?

    Worse still, after all that we know now, and all that is likely to be exposed, if in the end Trump, with GOP help, gets away scot free, America is over.

  7. Swami  •  Dec 5, 2017 @1:04 pm

    I just read the statement by Flynn admitting how he lied. It renewed an anger in me that was more intense than the original anger I felt when I heard about Trump's comment to the Russian ambassador in the oval office where he gleefully boasted about getting rid of that "nutjob"
    Comey. I can't express how much I want to see that arrogance and total disdain for decency punished. I'm hoping and praying that the values that have guided and sustained our nation for over two hundred years can withstand the onslaught of fraud and  deception that Trump and his sycophantic circle of co-conspirators have perpetrated upon our nation. Trump is the swamp. 

     I long for the day when that big bloated bag of shit has a reckoning with justice.

    Thanks for the morning therapy. smiley

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