William Barr has become one of the most polarizing figures in Washington, and the ongoing Ukraine scandal has further thrust the attorney general and his relationship with President Trump under
The White House refuses to send witnesses to the House inquiry. Talk of obstruction grows. Experts say a crisis is at hand
Was what he did really so bad? And even if it was bad – was it truly impeachable?
As Democrats hit the gas on impeachment this week, Donald Trump exhorted Republicans to defend him on the substance of his actions in the Ukraine scandal, instead of sniping about the process.
“Rupublicans [sic],” Trump tweeted “go with Substance and close it out!”
Trump’s misconduct, critics say, includes using the power of the presidency to solicit foreign intervention in the 2020 US election, by trying to force Ukraine to help conduct a political hit on Joe Biden.
Trump denies all wrongdoing and most of his defenders do too. But there is a (slightly) subtler version of Trump defense that Republicans are trying out which says that while Trump’s conduct has not been irreproachable, neither has it been impeachable.
The argument, according to constitutional experts and historians of impeachment, is not a strong one. In fact, Trump’s conduct, according to analysts interviewed by the Guardian, hews more closely than any previous conduct by any other president to what scholars conceive as a concrete example of impeachable behavior.
Frank O Bowman III, author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump and a professor at the University of Missouri school of law, said that Trump’s having extorted actions with no legitimate US national purpose from a foreign country that is “literally at risk of losing its political and territorial independence” without US support was impeachable.
“It’s plainly an abuse of power, and it’s plainly impeachable,” Bowman said.
“I think these are quite clearly, precisely the type of high crimes and misdemeanors that the founders not only feared but actually discussed at the constitutional convention,” said Jeffrey A Engel, co-author of Impeachment: An American History and director of the center for presidential history at Southern Methodist University.
“The high crime is the trade – give me dirt on Joe Biden and his son, and I’ll give you in return military aid and help with your economy – I think that is certainly impeachable,” said Corey Brettschneider, author of The Oath and the Office: A Guide to the Constitution for Future Presidents and a professor of constitutional law at Brown University.
Many are finding defending Trump difficult at the moment. Republican lawmakers spent Thursday fleeing reporters trying to ask the question, “Do you think it’s OK for the president to pressure foreign governments to interfere in our elections?”. One lawmaker even headbutted a camera rather than reply.
The reason Trump’s alleged conduct is plainly impeachable, historians say, has to do with US impeachment precedent and with what the authors of the US constitution meant when they provisioned impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors”.
“If we look at history both British and American – and it’s important to look at British history, because our Framers were of course rebel Englishmen and they adopted the phrase ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ in full recognition of the fact that that was a parliamentary term of art, and that therefore they were adopting to some degree, by reference, previous usages of that term – all of that leads to really the inescapable conclusion that one of the grounds for impeachment has always been abuse of power,” said Bowman.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney adopted a new approach to President Donald Trump’s war on impeachment in a Thursday press briefing: admitting a gigantic amount of wrongdoing in one sitting and daring Republicans to care.
The avalanche of confessions began in the White House briefing room, where Mulvaney revealed that the United States will host the upcoming G7 summit of world leaders at Trump National Doral in Miami, the president’s own Florida resort.
Mulvaney even admitted: “There’s plenty of other good places in this country to hold a large event. There’s no question.” And yet, they still chose absolutely the most corrupt place to do it.
New public opinion surveys show signs of trouble for President Trump in the fast-evolving impeachment inquiry unfolding just 13 months out from Election Day.
Polls out this week show independents and a growing share of Republicans warming to the inquiry or expressing concern about Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
While early shifts in support of impeachment appeared to be driven by Democrats, a Washington Post-Schar School poll released on Tuesday rocked Washington, finding that nearly 30 percent of Republicans support the impeachment investigation and nearly 20 percent support a Senate vote to remove the president if he is impeached in the House.
Since July, the poll found support for an impeachment inquiry has grown by 25 points among Democrats, 21 points among Republicans and 20 points among independents.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s average of polls, support for impeachment among Republicans has increased from 8 percent last month to 16.2 percent presently, while support among independents has leaped from 33.9 percent to 44.4 percent.
Some Democrats who were worried that impeachment would backfire are breathing a little bit easier now, confident that if they lay out the case for impeachment, public opinion will follow.
“This is becoming a serious liability for the president and for the Republicans who remain with him,” said Andrew Feldman, a Democratic strategist.
Still, there is debate among experts about the significance of the new polls, and not all Democrats are convinced that the impeachment gamble won’t come back to haunt them.
“Hillary Clinton was leading in the polls on Election Day,” said one Democratic fundraiser. “I want to see this poll again when we start having people testify over the course of a few months after Republicans stay on message and use Fox News to their advantage. If by then independents are still for it, ok. But I don’t see that happening.”
Trump and his allies have only just begun running millions of dollars worth of ads attacking Democrats for launching the impeachment inquiry.
Mad genius or sheer stupidity, I believe neither, for Trump all his life has believed that he and his family are invincible. Thinks appearing to be strong with am impressive Bank Balance, even though it may be only on paper or shear bluff will make him a winner every time.
He has used lying, strong arm tactics and disregard for Law and Order to get his way. He does not appear to fear bankruptcy for he has always used the US systems to come through. However, he can not comprehend that bringing the US down he will not be able to really on the systems for they may not be there.
Previously people would not cross Trump for if they did they would suffer, but in the heights of where he is now, there are many powerful people who will not succumb to his strong arm tactics and they will use the Law to counter Trump and they can not be bought.
Is Trump now close to meeting his match and if he is there will be no return, because his supposed powerful friends will not support a looser, for they then may loose themselves and this they will not wish to do.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Thursday blasted President Trump for asking China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, calling it a “fundamental breach” of presidential decorum and a threat to national security.
Emerging from a closed-door meeting in the Capitol basement, where lawmakers from three committees are interviewing a key witness as part of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Schiff said the comments are evidence that Trump has ignored the lessons from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference — and Mueller’s warnings of ongoing foreign influence over critical domestic affairs.
“To have the president of the United States suggesting — urging — a foreign country to interfere in our presidential elections is an illustration that this president, if he learned anything from the two years of the Mueller investigation, it’s that he feels he can do anything with impunity,” Schiff told a crowd of reporters staking out the meeting.
“The president of the United States encouraging a foreign nation to interfere again to help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of the presidential oath of office,” Schiff continued. “It endangers our elections; it endangers our national security. It ought to be condemned by every member of this body, Democrats and Republicans alike.”
Hours earlier, Trump raised plenty of eyebrows when he called on the leaders of China and Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
“I would think that if they were honest about it they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Trump is already under fire after the recent revelation, unveiled in an anonymous whistleblower complaint, that Trump had urged Ukraine’s president in July to investigate corruption allegations against the Bidens.
In response, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), after months tamping down the impeachment push, endorsed a formal inquiry. As part of the process, Democrats have subpoenaed administration documents related to the Ukraine affair, while seeking depositions from a handful of current and former State Department officials with knowledge of the episode.
Now it seems the House of Representatives is finally catching up with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump on Tuesday. The action comes after a whistleblower suggested that Trump tried to influence Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation on Joe Biden, who could possibly become Trump’s opponent in the 2020 U.S. presidential race.
The impeachment inquiry against Trump comes after years of shady business, withholding of information and alleged collusion with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Waters explained in her statement, “Special Counsel Robert Mueller identified at least 10 instances of obstruction of justice by the president of the United States during the 2016 presidential campaign and through the course of the Russia investigation, and he furthered the scope of what we know about collusion and coordination between the Trump campaign, Trump’s allies, and the Kremlin in their efforts to undermine our election systems on Trump’s behalf.”
By Robert A. Vella
A new CNN poll shows an increase in support for impeaching President Trump, but it also shows that Americans still resist impeachment even though they support the ongoing investigations of him by Democrats in the House of Representatives.
- President Trump’s approval rating remains steady at 43% approve, 52% disapprove.
- Support for impeachment increased over the last month to 41% predominantly among Democrats and college educated whites, while 54% oppose impeachment.
- The percentage of people who say Democrats are overreaching in their investigations of Trump decreased correspondingly to 40% over the same period, and 53% say that Trump isn’t doing enough to cooperate with those investigations.
- 47% agree that Democrats’ investigations of Trump are justified by the facts while 44% disagree.
- 67% want Robert Mueller to publicly testify before Congress.
- 66% believe that legislative cooperation between Congress and the White House is being negatively impacted…
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The myth of Donald Trump presents him as a man of authority, a leader loved and feared, a boss who demands loyalty – and gets it.
In fact, nobody much listens to what Trump says and that fact might have saved his presidency, according to one of the more startling passages in the 448-page report by special counsel Robert Mueller that was released on Thursday.
“The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful,” Mueller writes, describing potential criminal obstruction of justice, “but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”
If all the president’s men failed Richard Nixon by losing a grip on their conspiracy, this president’s men and women may have helped Trump by treating his conspiratorial orders as exactly what they were, invitations to likely criminal conduct, and duly ignoring them.
“It’s more than a little ironic, for all the talk of the ‘unitary executive’ and the ‘deep state conspiracy’, that the refusal by Trump’s own staffers and subordinates to do much of his bidding may have helped to insulate the president from a firmer conclusion about obstruction,” tweeted Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law.