Saturday, May 25, 2019

Impeachment: are we there yet?

Here is why Pelosi is putting the brakes on impeachment. From the article:

"As the drumbeat for impeachment grows within her caucus, she can argue that what they’re doing is already working. Trump clearly doesn’t know how to respond to the barrage of Democratic investigations; they’re winning in the courts and he’s throwing fits. So why bother with impeachment, especially when Democrats know that a GOP-run Senate isn’t going to remove him from office?"

Updated: June 1 2019
 Per 900 bipartisan prosecuting attorneys, there was plenty of probable cause for criminal charging obstruction of justice...except as Mueller said, DOJ rules precluded going the criminal route and he referred the matter to Congress. However, much of Trump's wrongdoing may have been aiding and abetting Russian interference in the election..not a crime but certainly, a possible article of impeachment since Congress can define whatever that is. However, I am inclined not to proceed with impeachment inquiries so long as the courts uphold the subpoenas for Mueller and McGahn are upheld.

Updated June 2, 2019: Two arguments against impeachment from the right are indeed worthy of a response. Here was mine. "One was what is the big deal of obstruction of justice, which Mueller addressed as being fundamental for law enforcement to be able to investigate and prosecute, and the other is, so what was so wrong about Russians interfering in our elections.both obstruction of justice was the main article of impeachment against Nixon and it was another article against Clinton. It is in the federal criminal statutes. The definition of conspiracy is a narrow one requiring the parties to get together and plan and plot together. To convict takes proof of intent and the proof has to be beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no term or word of collusion in the federal criminal statutes, and Mueller did not investigate that That Trump and his campaign staff did aid, abet, permit, and encourage is not disputed by the Mueller report. He identified Well over 100 contacts with Russian officials and GRU and friends of Putin, "Russia if you are listening, find the emails", a sharing of secret polling data with the Russians, 3 secret meetings with Putin, a foreign policy that support's Russian national interests are not in American interests. If it is OK with you that the Russian propaganda machine was widespread and actively involved hurting Clinton so Trump would be elected, it is not OK with me..nor should it be even if it helps your guy get elected.. ..Elections should be determined by Americans, not by Russian psychological warfare nor by being able to get into voting machines to 1) change the outcome and 2) destroy American confidence in the accuracy of the vote. The latter. Russians have demonstrated their capability, though they have not executed actually changing voter outcome in 2016."

Continuing with the original message:

There are two reasons for putting on the brakes on impeachment: while Democrats are chomping at the bits to impeach, the rest of the country is not: A recent poll, Harvard/Harris found 60% of the country opposes it and the group Democrats need to win in 2020 are the swing voters, who opposed impeachment.  The other reason: what is the purpose of impeachment? It certainly is not to remove the president from office since it requires 2/3 of the Senate to do that. If the purpose is to damage the president enough to pave the way for his defeat in 2020, impeachment may not be the only way to do it. If the purpose is to dramatize the Mueller report to those who have been confused by the distortions put out by AG Barr, and who have not read the report themselves, then if at least Mueller or Don McGahn can testify publicly and the bank records and tax returns can be exposed, then public opinion may swing the Democrat's way.  Mueller has agreed to testify but only in private. That is better than nothing if the transcripts are released, but it is not nearly good enough to hit the voters in the eye. Compelling former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify is in the courts.  It appears that one way or the other, courts will support the House getting Trump's tax returns and they are already compelling Trump's banking and accounting firms to provide information.   

Here are the questions and demands the House committees should put to witnesses bluntly.
To McGahn: repeat what was in the Mueller report about your witnessing Trump obstructing justice. Was what Mueller reported correct?

To Mueller: Did you or did you not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice? Why did you come to that conclusion?  Caution flag:: even then, obstruction of justice may not be the factor that moves voters, even though it was the main article of impeachment against Nixon.  It is a difficult legal concept for voters to grasp and there may not be a smoking gun as there was in the Nixon tapes.  
To Mueller: did you investigate "collusion"? Is collusion a crime?  What is the difference between "conspiracy" and "collusion"; Why did you exonerate Trump of conspiracy. Did you exonerate him of "collusion".. Caution flag:  Even this distinction seems like a nitpicking technical issue, one of semantics, to voters.  It assumes they understand the criminal code, burden of proof, and the fine points of determining intent needed to convict someone of a crime. 
Here is where the Democrats may be on to something:  Trump's financial records and potential financial crimes were not included in the Mueller report.  The House committees may uncover some damning information.  How to frame this is the challenge, but Trump's attempt to stonewall these findings are some indication of the guilt of something he knows and we do not. Pelosi was brilliant in bringing the phrase of "coverup" to public attention since it implies Trump has committed a crime and he does not want voters to know about it; therefore he is stonewalling disclosure of his finances. 

Essential questions the House need to be answered about the banking and finance documents:  Did Trump engage in money laundering through Deutsche Bank? To whom does Trump owe money?  Is there evidence the Russians know dirt about Trump's financial maneuvers that they could or can now blackmail him to dance to their tunes?

So long as the courts keep ruling against the Trump stonewalling and the House committees are able to get witnesses to testify and documents produced, so the inquiries paint Trump in a bad light before the 2020 elections, this strategy will work to cause Trump to lose in 2020. This also assumes the Democrats do not blow it by nominating a candidate who cannot win.

Are the Democrats winning in the courts? 

Yes,  at least in two cases so far, judges have ruled against  Trump stonewalling to keep records from the House.: All of these are rulings are subject to appeal. If the President hopes the process will drag out until after 2020, he may be in for a disappointment since, given the importance of the cases for public information, judges so far have given their hearing and decisions fast tracks.  Yet to be decided in the courts if Trump can be compelled to turn over his tax returns.
One ruling was requiring Deutsche Bank to turn over their records to the House. Another was requiring Trump's accounting firm Mazars to turn over their records to the House. The one regarding Mazars is setting the tone and arguments for all other judges to consider in other cases of stonewalling.

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