Articles Of Impeachment Against Trump (Fictional)

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

ARTICLE I

The Russian government engaged in a sophisticated campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election. On May 17, 2017, a special counsel was appointed to investigate Russian interference, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. The special counsel was also given “the authority to investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the special counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses.” Subsequent thereto, Donald J. Trump, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede and obstruct the investigation of such Russian contacts and potential obstruction of justice; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.

The means used to implement this course of conduct or plan included one or more of the following:

  1. withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative employees of the United States, including congressional committees;
  2. approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and encouraging witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings;
  3. interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of the special counsel,and congressional committees;
  4. endeavoring to misuse the Department of Justice, an agency of the United States;
  5. making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Trump 2016 campaign, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct; or
  6. endeavoring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favored treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony or endeavoring to intimidate individuals who offered testimony.

In all of this, Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as president and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Donald J. Trump,by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

ARTICLE II

Using the powers of the office of president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purpose of these agencies.

This conduct has included one or more of the following:

  1. He misused the Department of Justice, and other executive personnel, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office.
  2. He has failed to take care that the laws were faithfully executed by failing to act when he knew or had reason to know that his close subordinates endeavoured to impede and frustrate lawful inquiries by duly constituted executive, judicial and legislative entities concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the cover-up thereof.
  3. In disregard of the rule of law, he knowingly misused the executive power by interfering with agencies of the executive branch, including the Department of Justice, in violation of his duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

In all of this, Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as president and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

ARTICLE III

In his conduct of the office of president of the United States, Donald J. Trump,contrary to his oath faithfully to execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives on April 19, 2019, April 22, 2019, and May 21, 2019; the Committee on Oversight and Reform of the House of Representatives on April 15, 2019; the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives on April 15, 2019; the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives on April 15, 2019, and May 8, 2019; and the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives on May 10, 2019,and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas. The subpoenaed papers and things were deemed necessary by the committee in order to resolve by direct evidence fundamental, factual questions relating to presidential direction, knowledge or approval of actions demonstrated by other evidence to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the president.In refusing to produce these papers and things Donald J. Trump, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.

In all of this, Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as president and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, Donald J. Trump by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

Source

After Brief Bump, Trump Goes Down In Polls

Ken AshfordElection 2020, Polls, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Gallup:

After rising to 46% in April, President Donald Trump’s job approval rating skidded in May, first dipping to 42% and now to 40%. His latest rating, from a May 15-30 Gallup poll, is similar to the 39% he received in March and matches his average since taking office.

Trump’s back-to-back ratings at the 45%-46% level in April represent his longest stretch to date at that level of approval from the American public. This occurred in the first few weeks after the release of the special counsel report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which found insufficient evidence that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian operatives. A stronger-than-expected jobs report in April may have helped keep Trump’s rating elevated that month.

Since then, as more details about the report have emerged and special counsel Robert Mueller himself has clarified that it was not within his legal purview to bring criminal charges against a sitting president, Democratic calls for Trump’s impeachment have mounted. At the same time, renewed talk about possible trade wars with China rattled Wall Street, sending stock markets down in May even as employment indicators remained strong.

Trump’s approval rating fell by an average of four percentage points between April and May, from 45% to 41%, based on combined data for the two polls conducted each month. The drop was fairly even across most demographic subgroups but showed more variation by party.

Here’s the graphic:

What is notable, and bad news for Trump, is that the dip comes largely from independents:

Trump’s stranglehold over Republicans remains strong, as does the hatred from Democrats. But if he is going to win re-election, he needs independents who are less anchored politically. He seems to be losing them.

Of course, Trump NEVER had a majority of Americans, even in the 2016 election, but he had enough independents — and in KEY STATES — to win the electoral college. Those states — Pennsylvania and midwestern states — are going to be a real hotsopt in 2020.

But if Michigan is any bellwether, Trump needs to be concerned:

While most Michigan voters don’t want Congress to impeach President Donald Trump, a majority said they would vote against him if the election were held today, according to a new statewide poll.

Both former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont showed 12-point margins over the first-term Republican incumbent in a Glengariff Group public opinion survey of 600 likely voters released to The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (Local 4). Three other Democrats included in the poll were preferred over Trump by less substantial margins.

Three years after he became the first Republican to win the state since 1988, fewer than 36% percent of Michigan voters say they would vote to re-elect Trump, compared with more than 51% who said they plan to vote for someone new.

Michigan’s 16 electoral college votes went to Trump by 10,704 votes in 2016, the thinnest margin of any state. Two Democratic presidential candidates visited Michigan on Tuesday, a sign of its critical role in the 2020 election.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (6 points), U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (4 points) and Kamala Harris of California (3 points) polled ahead of the president in the Glengariff poll, but the advantages of Warren and Harris were within the 4-percentage-point margin of error.

The only downside, according to the Michigan poll, is the “enthusiasm gap”. Republican voters are “all in” for Trump, and that cannot be said for the Democratic candidates. On the other hand, as the nationwide Gallup survey suggests, Dems seem to have the upper hand when it comes to swaying independents.

Also…

White House Orders Hicks Not To Comply With House Subpoena

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Hope Hicks has been instructed by the White House not to comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena, but the former aide to President Trump has begun turning over some of the requested documents, according to Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY).

The documents she is producing are related to the Trump campaign, according to Nadler, and therefore not necessarily in defiance of the White House’s instruction, which reportedly objected to her production of documents from her time in the administration.

Nonetheless, Nadler thanked Hicks for “that show of good faith” in a statement Tuesday, that still stressed that, “Federal law makes clear that the documents we requested—documents that left the White House months ago—are no longer covered by executive privilege, if they ever were.”

Additionally, Ann Donaldson — a former aide to ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn who copious notes that played prominently in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report — has also been instructed by the White House not to comply with the committee’s document subpoena, Nadler said.

“The President has no lawful basis for preventing these witnesses from complying with our request,” Nadler said. “We will continue to seek reasonable accommodation on these and all our discovery requests and intend to press these issues when we obtain the testimony of both Ms. Hicks and Ms. Donaldson.”

London Trolling

Ken AshfordTrump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Breaking: House Judiciary Committee To Hold Hearings On Mueller Report

Ken AshfordCongress, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

WaPo:

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week on the Mueller report — but the report’s author will not attend.

The panel announced Monday that it will convene on June 10 for a hearing titled “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes.”

Former U.S. attorneys and legal experts are expected to attend, as is John W. Dean III, the former White House counsel under President Richard M. Nixon who accused Nixon of being directly involved in the Watergate coverup and later served four months in prison for obstruction of justice.

But Robert S. Mueller III, the now-former special counsel who led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, is not expected to testify, according to the committee.

“Given the threat posed by the president’s alleged misconduct, our first hearing will focus on President Trump’s most overt acts of obstruction. In the coming weeks, other hearings will focus on other important aspects of the Mueller report,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

John Dean? That’s great for history buffs like me, but it really doesn’t move the ball. Having the hearings on the Mueller Report without Mueller is like…. having hearings on the Mueller Report without Mueller.

Get him in there!

On the other hand, having hearings will continue to enlighten a rather stupid unengaged public:

Related sorta kinda:

A key witness in former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian election interference has been indicted by federal officials on child pornography charges, according to court documents.

George Nader, who had a previous criminal record on such charges, was charged in federal court in Virginia, and is expected to make an initial court appearance in New York.

Nader played an unusual role as a kind of liaison between Trump supporters, Middle East leaders, and Russians interested in making contact with the incoming administration in early 2017.

Nader was known to Trump associates as someone with political connections in the Middle East who could help them navigate the diplomacy of the region.

He helped arrange a meeting in the Seychelles in January 2017 between Erik Prince, a Trump supporter who founded the private security firm Blackwater, and a Russian official close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. The purpose of the meeting was of particular interest to Mueller’s investigators, and some questions about it remain unanswered, even after Mueller issued a 448-page report on his findings.

A Lebanese American businessman, Nader was stopped by federal agents when he arrived at Dulles International Airport in January 2018. He was served with a subpoena, and eventually cooperated with authorities, providing grand jury testimony about his interactions with Trump supporters, according to people familiar with the matter.
Prince has insisted, both publicly and to Congress, that his meeting in the Seychelles with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of a Russian government-controlled wealth fund, was a chance encounter that occurred because he happened to be meeting with United Arab Emirates officials at a luxury hotel in the Indian Ocean nation.

At the time, Nader had been working for years as an adviser to the UAE. Nader told investigators it was a meeting planned in advance, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Nader was convicted 28 years ago of transporting child pornography, a case in which he received a reduced sentence after influential figures argued privately to the court that he was playing a valuable role in national security affairs — trying to free U.S. hostages then held in Lebanon.

The Right’s Grifter Problem

Ken AshfordRepublicans, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

God help me. I’m linking to National Review

Back in 2013, Conservative StrikeForce PAC raised $2.2 million in funds vowing to support Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor in Virginia. Court filings and FEC records showed that the PAC only contributed $10,000 to Cuccinelli’s effort.

Back in 2014, Politico researched 33 political action committees that claimed to be affiliated with the Tea Party and courted small donors with email and direct-mail appeals and found that they “raised $43 million — 74 percent of which came from small donors.

The PACs spent only $3 million on ads and contributions to boost the long-shot candidates often touted in the appeals, compared to $39.5 million on operating expenses, including $6 million to firms owned or managed by the operatives who run the PACs.”

Back in 2015, RightWingNews reviewed the financial filings of 21 prominent conservative PACs and found the ten 10 groups at the bottom of their list spent $54.3 million only paid out $3.6 million to help get Republicans elected.

Back in 2016, campaign finance lawyer Paul H. Jossey detailed how some of the PACs operated and lamented, “the Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered — and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.”

In 2016, Roger Stone founded the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness. It raised $587,000 and spent $16,000 on independent expenditures supporting Trump.
In 2016, Great America PAC raised $28.6 million from donors. They donated $30,125 to federal candidates. In 2018, Great America PAC raised $8.3 million from donors.

They donated $31,840 to federal candidates.

In 2017, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said that despite the actions of a PAC that claimed to be raising money for a Clarke bid for U.S. Senate, he was not running. That PAC raised $2 million.

In 2018, a federal indictment declared grassroots conservatives across the country gave  $23 million to scam PACs run by William and Robert Tierney from 2014 to 2018, believing they were supporting conservative groups like “Republican Majority Campaign PAC,” “Americans for Law Enforcement PAC,” and “Rightmarch.com PAC.” Only $109,000 went to candidates.

In the 2018 cycle, Tea Party Majority Fund raised $1.67 million and donated $35,000 to federal candidates. That cycle, Conservative Majority Fund raised just over $1 million and donated $7,500 to federal candidates. Conservative Strikeforce raised $258,376 and donated nothing to federal candidates.

Put Vets First PAC raised $3.9 million in the 2018 cycle; they gave $9,000 to federal candidates.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that David Bossie’s group, Presidential Coalition, had raised $18.5 million in 2017 and 2018 to support state and local candidates in furtherance of the Trump agenda. Only $425,442, or 3 percent, went to direct political activity.

Not every non-donation expense is illegitimate; legit political action committees have to pay for rent, electricity, computers, the phone bill, etcetera. But when such an exceptionally small portion of the money they raise goes to the candidates they’re allegedly designed to support or measurable efforts on their behalf, one can fairly ask what the true purpose of the organization is.

Politico didn’t specify which 33 PACs they reviewed; if their list overlaps entirely with the RightWingNews list, then the total sum listed above would be $127 million; if they don’t overlap at all, it would be $177 million. That is money that could have gone directly to candidates’ campaigns or other actions that would have advanced the conservative cause in recent cycles. But instead it went into more fundraising expenses, more overhead costs, or into the pockets of those running these PACs.

The column actually is a defense of columnist David French, but it also points out how the GOP is a party of grift, and that the victims of the grift are often Republicans themselves.

What French ignores, of course, is Jon Chait’s critique:

An unstated irony behind Geraghty’s complaint is that there is an agency tasked with overseeing the kind of misconduct he denounces: the IRS. When the first wave of tea-party scam PACs appeared, the IRS did look into them. Republicans insisted the agency was “targeting” the right for political reasons, probably at the behest of the Obama administration. While they spent years investigating the agency and making wild charges, a series of investigations by the agency’s inspector general, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Department of Justice refuted all their claims. The Obama administration had no involvement in the IRS’s enforcement priorities, and the agency was not even targeting the right at all — its criteria for regulating donors included keywords to search for activists on the left as well as the right.

But the grift goes all the way to the Trump Administration, as a new NY Times article says:

Public Slowly Warms To Impeachment… But Is There A Tipping Point?

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, PollsLeave a Comment

CNN poll

Democrats are increasingly in support of impeaching President Donald Trumpand removing him from office but the majority of Americans remain opposed to the prospect, a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS shows.

Trump’s approval rating, meanwhile, holds exactly even with where it was in late April — 43% approve and 52% disapprove of the President, according to the poll. That’s the case even as support for impeachment rose slightly from 37% last month to 41% now.
Similarly, those backing impeachment hit 43% in December, down from CNN’s previous high mark of this question with 47% in September 2018. The new poll finds 54% are against impeachment.

The shift on impeachment stems mostly from a rebound in support for it among Democrats — 76% favor it currently, up from 69% in April. Whites who hold college degrees have also increased their support for impeachment. In surveys in April and March, fewer than 3 in 10 in that group favored proceedings, but that number has now climbed to 41%.

CNN’s poll has trump’s approval a little bit higher than most of the others. (538’s average has him at 41.5) But the movement on impeachment is significant. And it’s not because the facts have changed. Its because more and more Democratic leaders are standing up. Leadership matters. 

Also, the Democratic party should probably pay a little bit more attention to their own base on this. 76% of Democrats favor impeachment! And a whole bunch of college-educated white people, many of whom used to vote Republican, are also on board. This is not a static opinion. 

I don’t know if the leadership has some grand plan to wait for support to rise before they impeach. But Pelosi insists that she wants to know in advance that the Senate would convict, which means she doesn’t care if 100% of Democrats and Independents back impeachment, Republicans must be there too. Maybe she’ll change her mind. I hope so. 

Perhaps this map, from a Civiqs poll, shows the concern:

The Civiqs poll has a 46/46 approve/disapprove on impeachment, which is actually a tick up for them:

So now let’s look at what happened with Nixon in that regard. Gallup provides with this breakdown of four of its national polls on impeachment (the question wording shifts midway through):

As you can see, among Republicans, support for impeachment or removal moved from 6 percent in June of 1973, to 31 percent in August 1974.

Among independents, those numbers moved from 18 percent to 55 percent. And among Democrats, they moved from 27 percent to 71 percent.

In some ways, this offers more grist for believing that public opinion can be shifted again. Note that the shift was more substantial among independents, eventually amounting to a solid majority, than it was among Republicans.

Right now, independents are a key reason public support for impeachment is low. A recent Post-ABC News poll, which found that only 37 percent of Americans support beginning impeachment proceedings while 56 percent oppose it, also found that among independents, those numbers are 36 percent to 59 percent.

The Gallup numbers on Nixon suggest that big shifts among independents are possible and show that a substantially larger percentage of independents now support impeachment hearings than at the outset in Nixon’s day.

In other words, it might be possible to build majority support for an impeachment inquiry on Trump, even if Republican voters don’t ever move much on this question.

Princeton historian Julian Zelizer, the co-author of a new book on U.S. history, points out that the jumps in support for impeaching Nixon came after high-profile events.

For instance, Zelizer noted, the jump in July 1974 didn’t come until after the House Judiciary Committee launched impeachment hearings in May 1974, and the subsequent jump in August 1974 came after the Committee approved articles of impeachment in July of that year.

“It’s clear from the data that impeachment proceedings provided the jolt that shook the public, among independents in particular,” Zelizer told me. “An independent by nature is not going to make a quick decision. Impeachment proceedings and then the approval of articles of impeachment are what ended up moving independents.”

“This wasn’t Congress waiting on the public,” Zelizer added. “It was the other way around — Congress provided guidance to the public.”

Democratic leaders insist an impeachment inquiry must have bipartisan support, meaning Republicans must come around. If that doesn’t happen, goes this argument, the Senate will acquit, so an impeachment inquiry will rip the country apart and potentially alienate swing voters while resulting in no serious consequences for Trump.

But if anything, this new data casts doubt on that approach. It raises the possibility that public opinion can be shifted in the middle regardless of whether Republicans ever support an inquiry in large percentages. What’s more, note that Republican support for impeaching Nixon never even reached one-third even at the end of the process.

And given current realities — deep partisan polarization, and the massive media propaganda apparatus Trump enjoys that Nixon never had — it’s plausible that Republicans could never come around in even those numbers. “Republican voters might be much less movable than in 1974,” Zelizer noted.

But take a look. Here’s Gallup’s data on Nixon’s approval over the same period:

Try to imagine Trump’s approval among Republicans falling to 50 percent, and you get the idea.

It’s possible that because of this polarization, Republican-leaning independents might also be less movable, but we cannot know this in advance. And it’s also true that in Nixon’s day, there was far more time in advance of the next election to build support, but that perhaps argues for more prompt action now.

The bottom line is that insisting that even an impeachment inquiry can’t happen until Republicans support one might be tantamount to giving Republican intransigence — and Trump’s disinformation network — total veto power over whether our political system ever even considers the question of whether Trump’s corruption and misconduct amount to the high crimes and misdemeanors that merit removal.

That is likely tantamount to saying it can never happen at all. If that’s the real point, Democratic leaders should say so.

In fairness, Democratic leaders argue that pushing forward with oversight outside impeachment will shed light on Trump’s misdeeds, and that if this builds support for an inquiry, it might then be appropriate.

Look: If Democrats score multiple oversight wins in court, and new light is being shed on Trump’s corruption, it would be somewhat understandable if they then refrained from an inquiry, though the case for one has already been strong for many months.

But as many legal experts have pointed out, an inquiry would strengthen Democrats’ hands in these very same oversight battles, making success more likely. And if Democrats lose a bunch of them, and we find ourselves in the fall, and Democrats don’t want to launch one due to the looming election, then what?

If you oppose an inquiry, but also want Trump held accountable, you should at least engage with the risks embedded in this scenario — and with the fact that the current conduct of Democrats could dramatically influence public opinion on the impeachment question. It’s not enough to simply declare that opinion tilts against an inquiry. Democrats don’t lack agency here.