Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Abuse of power: another article of impeachment?

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News, June 13-14, 2018

A new term is creeping into the impeachment vocabulary thanks to recent media focus.  It is abuse of power , the  second article of impeachment against Nixon in the Watergate scandal. Reminders of this are  good reasons to  take a  deeper dive into where we stand today on impeachment and what articles of impeachment could be brought  if Donald Trump were to be the subject.
 First, impeachment of Trump is unlikely but possible. What is different from Watergate  is that Democrats held the majority In both House and Senate and  controlled the House impeachment process when GOP Nixon was president.  Today, President Trump’s party is the majority in both House and Senate. Even then, it would take a vote of 2/3 of the Senate to convict even if  the  House of Representatives  turns blue in 2018 and begins the impeachment process.  Chances are slim  that Donald Trump would be impeached while the Senate is likely to be still  too closely divided to convict. The House or Senate  could gain a Democratic majority in 2018, and do damage to the GOP/Trump in 2020 by holding hearings, though.   A  damning report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller or Trump’s firing of the investigators investigating him  might even  give a GOP Congress  enough of  a backbone to proceed. So far Trump has been told by Mueller  he is a subject, but not the target of his criminal  investigations, yet. Impeachment articles are as the House defines them.  Much could  fall under the Constitution’s   high crimes and misdemeanors clause.
 Nixon resigned  before impeachment.  We still have the articles of impeachment to compare and contrast.  The  first article of impeachment against Nixon was obstruction of justice. White House tapes showed he lied about his part in the coverup.  In Trump’s case , Mueller must show  Donald Trump’s criminal intent was to obstruct the Russian investigation when he fired  FBI Director James Comey. Impeachment articles do not need  a prosecution’s criminal findings, though.  In December Trump wanted to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the chief investigator investigating him, and Mueller’s boss, Rod Rosenstein, before they have made their final report. He claims often they are on a witch hunt. He has  backed off when GOP senators said that would be obvious evidence of  intent to obstruct  justice. Some witches have been found already in Trumps immediate circle and some are  Russians. Many  are under Mueller’s gun, some  already charged, indicted,  pleaded, out on bond,  or in jail
 Other possible impeachment articles authorized  in the Constitution are bribery and   treason, neither in Nixon’s articles. Treason could  be  more politely defined  as (collusion)  conspiring with a foreign government (Russia)  to help his  election and their national interests, a major focus of the Mueller investigation.  Connections between the Trump business organization and Trump himself benefiting from recent real estate loan deals with China coinciding with lifting sanctions on a Chinese telecom are raising eyebrows, not to mention violation of Constitutional emoluments clauses.
  In the Nixon case the abuse of power charge was based on his ordering  the IRS  to go after those on his enemies list, including the LA Times and their owners.  Trump’s repeated  demands  of  the semi autonomous  postmaster  to increase postal rates on Amazon, is suspected abuse  because its owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post, Trump’ chief media critic. Trump  has tried to argue Amazon pays   too low  postal rates which causes USPS deficits, but obvious evidence is  that deficit is caused by pension funding. Trump’s role in the denial of the Time Warner ATT merger that would have helped CNN is once again under scrutiny.  To be subject to impeachment and  prosecution,  the threat does not need to be carried out. Update June 12, 2018  Courts OK Time Warner ATT merger:https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/12/att-time-warner-merger-approved-642333
 To write this blog, I drew on so many source and documents, and my own research for prior posts on the impeachment procedure,  there are too many to list. However, I am particularly indebted for MSNBC’s  Rachel Maddow’s calling thoroughly documented  attention to the history of the Nixon impeachment’s article 2 in a recent broadcast and the implication of Trump’s demand on the US Postal Service

An update: Trump refuses to provide information about how he has  persoally profited during his tenure...another example of both abuse of power and thumbing his nose at the emoluments clause:

BBC reports Cohen took Ukraine bribe money to arrange meeting with Trump http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44215656


Articles of impeachment against Nixon regarding abuse of power: . repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice in the conduct of lawful inquiries, of contravening the law of governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposes of these agencies. ...”   
As I noted in a prior Facebook posting that this threat against Amazon shipping rates  is really  stupid  on Trump’s part. Amazon can switch to Fed Ex and UPS with which they already have contracts avoiding the Post Office and this will spur Amazon’s stated plans to short cut all of these services by moving up the time line in establishing their own delivery service, already in the works. The only people punished by this will be us consumers and million customers of Amazon who will pay higher shipping rates or they will be absorbed by Amazon until their own service is on line or they use UPS and Fed Ex instead.  The financial loss will be USPS’.
  Full disclosure: I am the owner of a small cosmetic company which is an Amazon seller and I am a customer, too.  I live  an hour and a half way from major retailers so I depend on ecommerce.  Even when my own web ecommerce site sells the same items at a lower price also  including shipping, customers prefer to order the same ones offered  on Amazon because they trust their guarantees and policies made to Prime customers and prefer  the user friendliness  of their technology.  I imagine  Donald Trump is neither an Amazon  seller nor a customer so he has no clue other than  thinking this is a way to punish a media outlet owner by trying to damage his  other business’ investors’ stock prices. This action if implemented  is likely to end up in civil court anyway over  contract matters.

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