I’ve noticed that discussion of politics is even less rational than religion. I have ruined relationships with several dear friends and family members over their being absorbed into the Trump cult. Yes, each of these people are religious, but they could always tolerate my atheism. It’s just that I cannot worship their orange god.
So, now that the spineless Senate majority have acquitted their Conspirator In Chief, I see family and friends crowing about his alleged innocence. Most of them will not discuss this topic with me at all anymore. One of the few who still will is now an elected official and a Republican Party Delegate. So maybe he’s only talking to me as a matter of professional obligation. I don’t know. But we just had an exchange on some hidden sub-thread that will be forgotten or impossible to find tomorrow, and I fear that no one, maybe not even my friend will read it where it is, but I know this will keep coming up, and that others might want to share this information. So I will share what I said to him here too.
It amazes me that you would ask “why didn’t the House Dems include any reference to a crime?”, but of course they did, twice. Since you didn’t catch the answer to this the first time I gave it, I’ll be a bit more explicit this time.
First of all, a ‘crime’ is “an action or omission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law.” Both of the articles of impeachment issued against “Teflon Don” are crimes.
The first was “abuse of power”. According to Reuters, “The abuse of power cited in the House articles of impeachment included Trump’s withholding of $391 million in security aid for Ukraine, which Democrats have said was aimed at pressuring Kiev into investigating political rival Joe Biden, the president’s possible Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 election.”
A report from the Government Accountability Office said that “the Trump Administration Broke the Law in Withholding Ukraine Aid”. Thus we see that according to a legislative agency serving Congress, the first article of impeachment is a crime.
Again quoting Reuters, “Democrats have also charged Trump with obstruction of Congress based on his stonewalling of the House’s impeachment inquiry. The White House has refused to provide documents to congressional investigators and has instructed top advisers and government officials to defy subpoenas and refuse to testify.
A similar charge, contempt of Congress, was one of the articles of impeachment against Nixon, who had defied subpoenas for incriminating tape recordings. CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS IS A MISDEMEANOR CRIME UNDER U.S. LAW, which defines the offense as willfully failing to provide testimony or documents to Congress.”
There you have it, one high crime and one misdemeanor. If that is still confusing for you somehow, perhaps it will make more sense to you if you hear it explained by a fellow Republican.
My friend replied with a disappointing list of eloquently-phrased but feeble excuses. One being that the declaration by the G.A.O. was somehow negated because they made their public statement after the House had already issued their Articles of Impeachment against the President. I don’t know why he thought that was even relevant. He also said that “the GAO didn’t find the President “abused his power”–they specifically found that he did not send written notification to Congress within the statutorily required [45 days]”. Although that is an abuse of power, my friend said it is only “akin to failing to register your pet with the city in the required amount of time, which calls for a $50 fine, but they just throw you in prison instead.” Although he did not phrase it this way, my friend said that months of withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in allocated military aid to a country currently under attack by a hostile and powerful enemy—and for the purpose of cheating in an election—was only “an incredibly minor infraction which doesn’t rise to the Constitutional standard for impeachment”. He also said the “most alarming” thing I had said to him was my questionable definition of ‘crime’, which he said was only semantic. So I replied again:
Dictionaries are not always sufficiently specific, but whenever possible, I try to use the most common language to avoid equivocation. The definition I used here was the first one that comes up when you google “crime definition”. If you want, I could use the second “legal” definition, that a crime is “an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society, or the state…[and is] forbidden and punishable by law. I haven’t seen any definition of a crime that doesn’t apply to what Trump has done, and I don’t think any of them are only “semantic”, as you alleged. Nor is my reasoning “flawed” like you said, certainly not compared to yours on this topic.
It doesn’t matter that the Government Accountability Office declared Trump a criminal after the House issued their articles of impeachment. What matters is that he actually did break laws that were already on the books before he was impeached for breaking them.
There is the caveat that “high crime” is not synonymous with felony. According to Constitution dot org, “It refers to those punishable offenses that only apply to high persons, that is, to public officials, those who, because of their official status, are under special obligations that ordinary persons are not under, and which could not be meaningfully applied or justly punished if committed by ordinary persons.”
You asked which law Trump broke. The high crime in this case is the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. It was a response to Nixon’s “executive overreach”, and was intended to stop future presidents from abusing their power in like fashion, but Trump did it anyway, because he is a crook.
So he illegally blocked funds without consent of Congress. You may try to minimize that, as if it’s no worse than neglecting to get a dog license, but you know that’s both inaccurate and inappropriate. We’re talking about a very serious offense which is not only grossly unethical but it also cost several human lives, as Ukrainian soldiers faced Russian forces without our promised aid. Trump knew that would be the case when he asked how long Ukraine could hold out without our help. That’s extortion, a definite felony.
You’re just minimizing why it’s not such a bad thing to break some laws; like when Trump broke campaign finance laws when paying off the porn star he cheated on his wife with, using campaign funds instead of the billions of dollars he pretends to be worth. That sort of thing is enough to send his lawyers and advisers to prison on felony charges, but Teflon Don is never held responsible for any wrong he’s done himself. We tried to sue him for that too, but the case was dismissed because he has already replaced 25% of the judiciary with biased judges who—like their senatorial counterparts—refuse to even hear a case against their Führer.
More importantly, the reason WHY Trump blocked those funds. As multiple witnesses have attested, he meant to use it as leverage to involve foreign meddling in our elections again. The Department of Justice and our combined intelligence agencies have already confirmed and publicly announced that is how Trump got elected, with aid from Russian media infiltration—at his invitation.
However, the GOP propaganda machine just tells more lies about that. Now they’re pretending that the 2016 election was influenced by Ukraine rather than Russia, and that the Mueller report was just a “witch hunt” that ultimately found nothing wrong. Let’s not forget that the Mueller investigation actually resulted in the indictment of 13 Russian nationalists, another dozen Russian military officers, and another of Paul Manafor’s associates, in addition to the CONVICTION of at least five of Trump’s own staff (so far) plus a couple of their associates too.
Remember that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, his consultant Roger Stone, his campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and campaign adviser George Papadopoulos were all convicted of lying to investigators—at the president’s direction. Trump’s successive press secretaries and media pundits are notorious liars as well, which in their case is merely unethical rather than criminal.
So it’s no surprise that Attorney General Bill Barr deliberately misrepresented the Mueller report to pretend that it exonerated Trump. Mueller testified that it did NOT exonerate him; instead Mueller implied that the only reason the Department of Justice didn’t indict Trump was because of their policy not to indict a sitting president, that Congress was supposed to take the evidence the D.O.J. provided indicating the president’s criminality and convict him themselves.
But the Senate didn’t want a trial. They wanted a cover-up, admitting in advance that they would shirk their own oaths, refusing to be impartial jurors, which is an act of perjury. So they disallowed evidence or witnesses, knowing that Bolton’s testimony would prove Trump’s guilt so well—and so publicly—that none of them would have plausible deniability if they let Bolton testify.
So we have a number of Republican senators like Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana, Susan Collins of Maine, and of course Mitt Romney of Utah collectively admitting on television that they’ve already seen enough to know that Trump definitely did what he was accused of doing, that the House made their case to prove that, but all of but one of the GOP senators are afraid that Teflon Don will again beat the rap and retaliate, as he has always done. Because we elected a crime-boss.
That’s why Trump obstructed justice by demanding that every witnesses with first-hand information ignore Congressional subpoenas. This is already in violation of 2 U.S. Code § 192, but also 18 U.S. Code § 872, which he fulfilled with his vengeful purge of government employees who testified against him. That’s why he’s trying to block Bolton from publishing his tell-all book. Because everything Trump does is crooked and has to be covered-up.
Trump is a fraud. That’s why he threatened his former schools to prevent them from releasing his transcripts. Remember, he has already had to pay tens of millions of dollars in damages for running a fraudulent college and then again for running a fraudulent charity too. But Teflon Don settles most things out of court to avoid conviction. That’s why he illegally used campaign funds to hide multiple affairs, and to shut up dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct. That’s why he has to repeatedly block public release of his taxes, because he knows they will incriminate him.
Bill Clinton complied and testified and was impeached for obstruction and for perjury. Trump’s legal council admitted that the reason they didn’t want Trump to testify is because he would certainly have perjured himself too. Because he is on record having lied over 16,000 times, an average of more than a dozen lies for every single day of his first three years as president. So Trump refused to cooperate or participate in his own impeachment. Instead he abused his power some more, obstructing justice and Congress, but he gets a free pass? There’s that entirely partisan double-standard again.
Remember that ‘malpractice’ is also listed as an impeachable offense, as is treason, bribery and corruption, all of which are indicated in this case. Trump tried to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into declaring an investigation into the Bidens, not because of any real concern of corruption there. He didn’t even want an actual investigation, just the announcement of one, another lie intended to hurt Joe Biden as a political opponent. Thus the charge of extortion also breeches 18 U.S. Code § 610 against coercion for political activity.
There are a handful of other felonies we could have stacked against him if he were still a private citizen, (I could list them if you want) and the State of New York is expected to indict him on violations of their own state laws (which the next president cannot pardon) once Trump’s term is over. But because this was an impeachment of a president, it would be better to bundle all these related felonies, high crimes and misdemeanors into one succinct charge of “abuse of power”, and you’re still pretending there was no actual crime was committed.
Y’all say that what he did is not really a crime,
and if it is, it’s not a big crime,
and if it is, it’s not impeachable,
and if it is, we’re just not going to do it. We’re not going to convict and remove a Republican president, especially not in an election year, and it doesn’t matter that he’s the most corrupt, crooked and incapable president ever.
What haven’t Republicans lied about here? They said they weren’t allowed in meetings to which they were actually invited, and that Trump was denied an opportunity to defend himself, when that too was invited but he repeatedly refused. Now they refuse to convict a wanna-be dictator, even when they know for sure that he’s guilty. He’s also dangerously ignorant and incompetent, which should matter too, but that is another topic.
I don’t expect this conversation to go much further, at least not productively. I don’t expect my friend or any of his followers in that thread to acknowledge any misjudgment on their own part. Instead they just pretend that I’m clueless. They ignore all the evidence I presented as if nothing from any news source is real, as if I am only trolling; anything to avoid admitting what is really going on and how they’re responsible for their part in encouraging all these lies and corrupt criminality to continue—to our collective ruination.