Saturday, May 25, 2019

Trump authorizes AG Barr to spy on the intelligence community - another reason to impeach now.

If we have learned nothing else from the Trump presidency, it is that there is no “bottom.” Trump’s disrespect for the rule of law just keeps getting worse, it seems, day by day.

On Thursday last, Trump Gives Attorney General Sweeping Power in Review of 2016 Campaign Inquiry reported Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt at the New York Times. The essence is this: “The directive gives Mr. Barr immense leverage over the intelligence community and enormous power over what the public learns about the roots of the Russia investigation.” Most disturbing is the poking about among foreign sources run by the CIA (for example).

One official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters, said previously that Mr. Barr wanted to know more about what foreign assets the C.I.A. had in Russia in 2016 and what those informants were telling the agency about how President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia sought to meddle in the 2016 election.

Once that information gets to Trump, and you know it will, it will certainly be relayed to Putin. Last night on the Rachel Maddow show, we learned that then President Obama confronted Putin about Putin’s plans for meddling in our election. The suspicion is that such knowledge came from a very high source in the Kremlin. If that individual’s identity is made public, the source is blown. That’s just one example of how dangerous is Barr’s mandate to “investigate the investigators”.

In a broader context, the AZ Blue Meanie reveals how Barr’s new powers are part of The plot to destroy American constitutional democracy. Barr now has the power to “potentially prosecute those who investigated his campaign’s multiple and repeated contacts with Russian operatives in the 2016 campaign”, in essence taking action against Trump’s political opponents.

Then there is Trump’s highly offensive attempt to redefine the meaning of “treason” to mean anyone in the chain of intelligence who investigated his campaign’s multiple and repeated contacts with Russian operatives in the 2016 campaign, i.e., the FBI, the intelligence agencies, the FISA courts, and up to and including President Obama. And Trump relishes the penalty for treason: death.

If Trump and his Republicans allies are successful in destroying our constitutional democracy and replacing it with a lawless authoritarian kleptocracy, like Russia, Trump will possess the autocratic power to redefine “treason” to mean whatever he wants it to mean, and use it to imprison and execute his political opponents and his perceived enemies — just as Vladimir Putin does in Russia. Trump is telegraphing that this is what he really wants to do. We should believe him because he has been so “transparent” about it.

If we do not resist and defend the Constitution and American democracy, we will surely lose it. And then the dark night of Trumpism, the new American fascism will descend upon the land.

One way to “resist and defend” is for Congress to do their constitutional duty and begin the impeachment inquiry immediately. Further strengthening the case for “impeach now”, Mrs. Scriber alerts us to this item in the Daily Kos recommended list: Former GOP Rep. Tom Coleman: Trump, Pence are illegitimate. Impeach them..

Here is the original guest commentary from the Kansas City Star: Former GOP Rep. Tom Coleman: Trump, Pence are illegitimate. Impeach them. This version is copied verbatim below.

Tom Coleman is a former Republican U.S. representative from Missouri. He has served as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and at American University.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- BEGIN QUOTE

According to the redacted Mueller report, candidate Donald Trump, along with members of his team, on multiple occasions welcomed Russian interference on his behalf during the 2016 presidential campaign. For example, the report details a meeting between the Trump campaign chairman and a Russian intelligence asset where polling information and campaign strategy were shared.

While Mueller did not find sufficient evidence that Trump or his campaign had violated a criminal statute, the net effect was that the Trump campaign encouraged a foreign adversary to use and misrepresent stolen information on social media platforms to defraud U.S. voters. Because the presidency was won in this way, the president’s election victory brought forth nothing less than an illegitimate presidency.

Mueller presents a strong case that in addition to receiving campaign help from Russian operatives, the president obstructed justice — a crime in itself. Mueller declined to charge the sitting president because of current Department of Justice regulations that prohibit it. That policy is wrong in my opinion, and must be changed in the future when reason and rationality return to our politics.

What should be done now? There are some Democratic members in the House majority who want to put off any discussion of impeachment until after the 2020 election. They believe it will only strengthen the hand of the president, who will claim he is a victim and will respond with his mantra of, “No collusion, no obstruction, case closed.” Other Democratic members of Congress want impeachment proceedings to begin.

The political calculus not to pursue impeachment is understandable. Current polls show a majority of voters do not favor it. But critical times require exceptional leadership. Lawmakers of both parties should not blindly follow the polls but instead follow the evidence and their conscience. Politics should not rule the day. Partisan politics is what got us to this dangerous place — so dangerous, I believe, that the survival of our democracy is at risk.

Contemplate the possible behavioral problems of a Trump untethered from the law and who is frequently untethered from reality. Would we be surprised if he were to repeatedly brandish his get out of jail card while breaking, at will, democratic norms, presidential precedents and criminal statutes? Trump said early in his campaign that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” Are we now at that point?

Because DOJ regulations put a president above the law while in office, I believe the only viable option available is for the House of Representatives, under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, to open its own investigation, hold public hearings and then determine if they should pursue removal of the president through impeachment. There is a trove of evidence in the Mueller report indicating Trump has committed multiple impeachable offenses, including abuse of power and lying to the American public. Both were part of the articles of impeachment brought against President Richard Nixon. This process would allow a full public review of wrongdoing, while providing Americans an opportunity to obtain a better understanding of the consequences to our national security and the lingering threat to our democracy.

If this process leads to impeaching Trump in the House of Representatives and also results in convicting him in the Senate, his illegitimacy would survive through Vice President Mike Pence’s succession to the presidency. Because the misdeeds were conducted to assure the entire Trump-Pence ticket was elected, both former candidates — Pence as well as Trump — have been disgraced and discredited. To hand the presidency to an illegitimate vice president would be to approve and reward the wrongdoing while the lingering stench of corruption would trail any Pence administration, guaranteeing an untenable presidency. If Trump is impeached, then Pence should not be allowed to become president. The vice president should resign or be impeached as well if for no other reason that he has been the chief enabler for this illegitimate president.

Alternatively, the 25th Amendment to the Constitution provides for the removal of a president. It sets forth a cumbersome procedure requiring the vice president to convince a majority of the Cabinet to recommend removal to Congress because the president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office. By a two-thirds vote, Congress could then end a presidency. The removal of the president and replacement with the vice president would have the same result as if the president had been impeached. The vice president would succeed to the presidency.

In addition to these constitutional provisions, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 sets the order of officials who are in line to succeed a president, regardless of the reason. The first three officials listed are the vice president, the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate. If the vice president were unable to ascend to the presidency for whatever reason — for example resignation or impeachment — then the speaker would become president. Today that individual is Rep. Nancy Pelosi. It is unknown whether she would agree to serve as president or that the majority of the House would want her to do so.

The Constitution does not require the speaker of the House actually to be a member of the House of Representatives. Under these circumstances, with the specter of a national crisis looming over the vacancy of the presidency and vice presidency simultaneously, consideration should be given by House members to draft a nationally-known individual for speaker who would appeal to the vast majority of Americans. That person, after being sworn in as speaker, would ascend to the highest office in the land. Under the provisions of the 25th Amendment, the new president would nominate a vice president, who would take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both chambers of Congress.

What if House Democrats decide not to embark on impeachment? If that were the case, I believe the public would conclude Democrats are no better than the Republicans who have enabled Trump for the past two years, putting party above country. It could hand Trump a second term. Failure to pursue impeachment is to condone wrongdoing. To condone wrongdoing is to encourage more of it. To encourage wrongdoing is to give up on the rule of law and our democracy. To give up on the rule of law and democracy invites autocracy and eventually dictatorship. History has taught us this outcome. In my lifetime, it has occurred in other places including the Soviet Union and Germany, as well as in Russia and Venezuela today.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- END QUOTE

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Follow-up on Trump hiding his finances - IRS says tax returns must be given to Congress.

In yet another legal loss for Trump, the Washington Post, among other sources, reports that a Confidential draft IRS memo says tax returns must be given to Congress unless president invokes executive privilege.

But let’s begin by debunking part of that headline, the exception for executive privilege.

Executive privilege is the power of the President of the United States and other members of the executive branch of the United States Government to resist certain subpoenas and other interventions by the legislative and judicial branches of government in pursuit of information or personnel relating to confidential communications that would impair governmental functions. …

Since when do tax returns merit such protection? Are Trump’s personal tax records and other financial documents now “confidential communications”? Read on for answers.

The AZ Blue Meanie, “an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, …” weighs in on that IRS legal memo contradicts bogus assertions by Treasury Secretary.

… according to the IRS memo, which has not been previously reported, the disclosure of tax returns to the committee “is mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns, and return information, requested by the tax-writing Chairs.”

The 10-page document says the law “does not allow the Secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met” and directly rejects the reason Mnuchin has cited for withholding the information.

“[T]he Secretary’s obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee . . . to state a reason for the request,” it says. It adds that the “only basis the agency’s refusal to comply with a committee’s subpoena would be the invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege.”

Excuuuse me? On what basis could the president assert executive privilege, which only applies to confidential communications for the purpose of obtaining advice? This is plainly inapplicable to tax forms to comply with income tax filing requirements.

Getting beyond that, the Post reports:

... according to the IRS memo, which has not been previously reported, the disclosure of tax returns to the committee “is mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns, and return information, requested by the tax-writing Chairs.”

The 10-page document says the law “does not allow the Secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met” and directly rejects the reason Mnuchin has cited for withholding the information.

So what could be in those financial documents, including tax returns, so damaging that Trump fears their disclosure?

Catherine Rampell speculates about that in this morning’s Daily Star: We don’t know what Trump’s tax returns are hiding. But the hints are troubling.

When you look at the short span of President Trump’s political career, one question jumps out: How much of his craziest and norm-violating behavior is motivated by a desire to keep his financial arrangements secret?

It began with Trump’s bizarre refusal to release his tax returns, in defiance of both a nearly half-century practice and Trump’s own promise that he’d do so.

Then there was his refusal to divest from his sprawling empire, or even put it into a blind trust — either of which would have forced at least some information disclosure to a third party.

There were also the interviews and tweetstorms calling journalists who report on his finances “enemies of the people,” and suggestions that federal officials who audit him are anti-Christian.

Also, his curious personnel priorities. Once it became clear that House Democrats would exercise their explicit statutory authority to get Trump’s tax returns from the IRS, Trump asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to prioritize confirmation of Trump’s IRS general counsel nominee ahead of confirmation of a new attorney general. This IRS general counsel pick also happened to have previously advised the Trump Organization on tax issues.

Trump’s treasury secretary has also been spending so much time safeguarding Trump’s tax returns, in violation of that explicit statute, that the activity is reportedly crowding out his day job.

All of which raises the question: Why exactly is Trump (and his administration) expending so much energy and political capital to keep these documents hidden? What could possibly be so disturbing or incriminating to justify such an effort?

One theory is that if Trump’s tax returns or other financial records become public, his supporters would learn that he’s not nearly as rich as he says. Another is that his finances are not exactly on the up and up. Of course, both explanations could be true.

Thanks to reporting from The New York Times, we know that Trump lost more than $1 billion over a decade beginning in 1985. We know that he inherited a fortune from his father but frittered much of that fortune away.

We also know, thanks to other matters of public record — including testimony from the president’s own former attorney, as well as a sworn deposition from Trump himself — that Trump has inflated his net worth when it suited him.

So yes, whatever info Trump’s financial documents reveal about his actual net worth could potentially undermine the core tenet of his sales pitch to his voters.

All of the above could reduce to Trump’s narcissism, his need to be seen as the super businessman. But there are other more sinister financial dealings that might be lurking in his records.

But what he might be a wee bit more worried about relates to the other red flags raised over the years.

Issues such as: Why international transactions involving multiple Deutsche Bank accounts controlled by Trump set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect money laundering , as the Times reported Sunday.

Or why Trump purchased a house for $40 million and flipped it for more than twice that amount in a sale to a Russian oligarch.

Or why, about a decade ago, the self-proclaimed “King of Debt” suddenly began making huge. Debt is highly tax-advantaged in real estate finance. The fact that Trump went on a cash spending spree while interest rates were near zero is fishy at best. Not least because a golf reporter said Trump’s son Eric told him that the organization wasn’t borrowing from banks because it had “all the funding we need out of Russia.” (Eric Trump later denied making the statement.)

We don’t know what Trump is working so hard to hide, but we have a lot of hints. They’re all troubling. Which is precisely why it’s so important that Congress — as part of its constitutionally mandated oversight duties — conduct a forensic audit of Trump’s worldwide financial dealings. That means learning whom he’s been getting money from, whom he owes money to, and what individuals or entities could be using financial influence to exert pressure over policy.

Almost as troubling as whatever it is Trump is trying to hide: Why do all those supposed national security hawks in Trump’s party exhibit so little curiosity about the answers?

Trump's latest tantrum - 3 minutes after 3 losses

Here is a tidbit from 538’s significant digits email.

3 minutes
President Trump walked out of a meeting with the Democratic congressional leadership yesterday after roughly three minutes, upset that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had accused him of a “cover-up.” Trump then went to the Rose Garden, “bristling with anger,” where he demanded to assembled reporters that the Democrats “get these phony investigations over with.” If only all office meetings lasted three minutes, am I right? [The New York Times]

Scriber knows of two explanations for this tantrum. One is that it was a staged event. He had a podium prepared in advance with his new slogans: “No collusion” and“No obstruction.” That is credible given everything we know about Trump the con-artist and showman, The second explanation is that by the time of that meeting, in as many days, he had suffered three losses in court cases about his financial records (including tax returns). On this account, the heat is getting to The Donald and presupposes him to emotional outbursts. Take your pick.

Multiple rulings against Trump on release of his financial records

The New York Times reports on three Trump losses in as many days in federal and state rulings permitting or mandating the release of his financial records.

Accounting firm must turn over Trump financial records

This last Monday Trump’s legal battle against House subpoenas for his financial records lost reports the NY Times in Trump’s Secrecy Fight Escalates as Judge Rules for Congress in Early Test.

In the first court test of Mr. Trump’s vow to resist “all” subpoenas by House Democrats, a judge ruled that his accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over his financial records to Congress — rejecting his lawyers’ argument that lawmakers had no legitimate power to demand the files.

Democrats have said they need the records because they are examining whether ethics and disclosure laws need to be strengthened. In a 41-page ruling, Judge Amit P. Mehta of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, an appointee of President Barack Obama, said that justification was sufficient to make the subpoena valid.

“These are facially valid legislative purposes, and it is not for the court to question whether the committee’s actions are truly motivated by political considerations,” he wrote. “Accordingly, the court will enter judgment in favor of the Oversight Committee.”

[Trump’s lawyer] Mr. Consovoy had asked Judge Mehta, were he to rule against Mr. Trump, to stay his ruling until an appeals court completed its review. But the judge declined.

While Mr. Consovoy is now likely to ask an appeals court to stay the ruling anyway, Judge Mehta called the Trump arguments too thin to raise a “serious legal question” and said that delaying the subpoena further would unjustifiably interfere with the constitutional powers of Congress.

“The court is well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the president of the United States,” he wrote. “But on the question of whether to grant a stay pending appeal, the president is subject to the same legal standard as any other litigant that does not prevail.”

Deutsche Bank can release Trump records

In the second instance on Wedneday, we learn that Deutsche Bank Can Release Trump Records to Congress, Judge Rules.

A federal judge on Wednesday rejected President Trump’s request to block his longtime lender, Deutsche Bank, from complying with congressional subpoenas.

Judge Edgardo Ramos of United States District Court in Manhattan issued his ruling after hearing arguments from lawyers for Mr. Trump and his family, as well as two Democratic-controlled congressional committees. “I will not enjoin enforcement of the subpoenas,” Mr. Ramos said, and added that he thought it was unlikely Mr. Trump and his family would win in a trial.

NY legislature OKs release of Trump’s NY state tax returns

Hit #3: New York Passes Bill Giving Congress a Way to Get Trump’s State Tax Returns.

Tax officials would be authorized to hand over his state returns to any one of three congressional committees, opening a new front in a heated battle.

The bill, which is expected to be signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat and regular critic of Mr. Trump’s policies and behavior, will authorize state tax officials to release the president’s state returns to any one of three congressional committees.

The returns — filed in New York, the president’s home state and business headquarters — would likely contain much of the same information as the contested federal returns, though it remained unclear whether those congressional committees would use such new power in their investigations.

How sweet it is - maybe

Here is more on the Monday decision. Trump’s financial records appeal will go to court … Merrick Garland’s court reports Joan McCarter of the Daily Kos Staff.

On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the House has every legal right within its constitutional powers to review 10 years of Donald Trump’s financial records. U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta also declined to stay that decision pending Trump’s appeal because he doesn’t think they have a case that could prevail on appeal.

That appeal is coming, says Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s personal attorneys. He told Politico “We will be filing a timely notice of appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.” Here’s where it gets fun. The chief judge of that court is none other than Merrick Garland.

You remember Garland, the eminently qualified and totally noncontroversial judge whose nomination to the Supreme Court was blockaded by Republicans, most refusing to even have a courtesy meeting him, just because he was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill the seat vacated when Justice Antonin Scalia died. Yeah, that Merrick Garland.

Stay tuned for this. Judges are assigned randomly so Garland may not be part of the decision on the Sekulow appeal.

The three judges to hear the appeal will be randomly assigned, so Garland might not hear the appeal, not unless their decision ends up being reviewed by the full court. But chances are those three judges will have some thoughts about the situation, having witnessed one of their own fall victim to the hyper-partisan destruction of norms and traditions that pretty much brought Trump to the White House.

UPDATE: [On Tuesday] “Trump’s lawyers have just formally submitted their appeal of Judge Amit Mehta’s ruling that requires his accounting firm turn over his personal financial records to the House.”

Caveat

I share your pain, a symptom being eyes glazed over by volumes of legalese (e.g., the appeal linked in the update above). But be advised: nothing is as simple as in the three items posted here so buckle up. It will get worse when more subpoenas and appeals hit the air waves.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Case for Impeaching Now

Storm clouds
The storm over America

New White House stonewalling intensifies impeachment push reports Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog). Former White House Counsel Don McGahn, under orders from President Trump, did not honor the subpoena from congress yesterday. As it stands now, important information is being denied to congress by a president whose sole interest is in self protection. Trump is ruling by decree.

… as the special counsel’s findings made clear, the former White House counsel very nearly resigned because the president directed him to “do crazy s**t,” including an incident in which, according to McGahn, Trump pressed the lawyer to push the Justice Department to derail the investigation by getting rid of Mueller and creating a false document to cover that up.

And that’s just one of several instances of obstruction committed by Trump.

McGahn is not, however, expected to did not show up on Capitol Hill [yesterday].

President Donald Trump has directed former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a congressional subpoena and not testify Tuesday, current White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Monday.

In a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Cipollone wrote that the Justice Department “has advised me that Mr. McGahn is absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters occurring during his service as a senior adviser to the President.”

The next question, of course, is what’s likely to happen next.

We can expect a few fairly obvious developments. McGahn, for example, is likely to be held in contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena. It’s also a safe bet that the dispute will soon move to the courts.

And while it may take a while for the matter to be adjudicated – the delay is almost certainly a key part of the White House’s strategy – Team Trump’s stonewalling will probably fall short eventually.

But there’s another angle to this that’s worth watching: as NBC News reported, the president’s latest efforts have pushed some congressional Democrats to the breaking point on impeachment.

Several Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee pressed Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Monday evening to move forward with an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump as one of his former White House aides planned to defy a congressional subpoena Tuesday.

During a weekly Democratic leadership meeting in Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill, Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Joe Neguse, D-Colo., all argued for launching an impeachment inquiry if former White House counsel Don McGahn failed to testify. […]

It’s worth emphasizing that for some House Democrats, the point of initiating impeachment proceeding is not necessarily to impeach the president, but rather, to use an official inquiry to gain access to information that’s currently being withheld.

Or put another way, an impeachment inquiry, some proponents argue, could effectively be used as a key to unlock a closed box. Congress needs access to the box’s contents, and if official impeachment proceedings are the only way to get the information, so be it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), at least for now, continues to oppose the idea, and last night, she and some of her top allies pushed back against the Dems leading the impeachment charge.

Impeachment was also raised at a separate weekly meeting Monday evening among Democratic leaders and committee chairs, including by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., another member of the Judiciary Committee.

Will a Michigan Republican be the 2020 Ralph Nader?

The push for impeachment got a boost from Michigan Republican Representative Justin Amash. The LA Times reported in How Justin Amash could become Trump’s Michigan nemesis.

Who is this guy, Democrats want to know this week. Are there more like him in the Republican Party? Could he help us win back Michigan?

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) threw a turd in the punchbowl of predictable two-party politics Saturday when he became the first of the GOP’s 197-member caucus to declare that “President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.” Now the Grand Rapids libertarian is getting the “strange new respect” treatment from the likes of Mark Hamill, while journalists puzzle over how an alleged former “gadfly” could suddenly seem so resistance-y and the Libertarian Party damn near begs for him to switch teams.

… the first thing to know about Amash is that, whether you agree with his conclusions on impeachment or authorizations of military force, he takes his job with a seriousness that has almost vanished from the legislative branch. He holds the modern day congressional record for most consecutive votes not missed, 4,289 over six-plus years, and reportedly wept when he accidentally missed one.

“Few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report; their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation — and it showed,” Amash tweeted during his Saturday thread, and even fewer serious people in Washington would disagree. (Note: Donald Trump is not a serious person.)

… this latest impeachment jag is hardly the first time Amash has gone out on a limb to oppose the president. He condemned Trump’s initial travel ban of residents from predominantly Muslim countries, helped scotch Republican efforts to repeal/replace Obamacare (drawing a call from Trump’s social media director to “defeat” Amash in a primary).

He also opposed the president’s emergency declaration along the southern border, called Trump’s comments about murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi “repugnant,” and was one of the only Republicans on Capitol Hill to support setting up a special counsel investigation after the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey.

… He’s anti-abortion, more anti-interventionist than the average Democrat, and when bills add to the federal government’s vast ocean of red ink, he votes no.

In other words, Amash sounds a lot like… a Libertarian (abortion stance notwithstanding). He has been publicly mulling a third-party run at the White House all year; the Libertarian presidential field thus far has failed to impress, and even two years ago Amash was saying things like, “Hopefully, over time, these two parties start to fall apart.”

If Amash were to seek and win the Libertarian nomination — which isn’t decided until May 2020 — he almost certainly wouldn’t become president, but it’s possible he’d affect the outcome by throwing up a Michigan-sized roadblock to the president’s reelection. In a state Trump won by just 10,704 votes, Amash in 2016 received 203,545, or more in just one district than Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson won statewide.

Unlike Johnson, Amash is all too familiar with the pronunciation of the word “Aleppo,” what with his father being a Syrian immigrant and his mother a Palestinian refugee. And unlike Trump, Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, Amash is not a septuagenarian shaking his fist at clouds, but a 39-year-old fitness enthusiast who actually grasps basic technology and market economics.

There are rumors that there are more Republicans in the House who agree with Amash, They need to join him, support the rule of law, and publicly denounce Trump and Trumpism.

Blue Meanie: Impeach the Senate Republicans

We shouldn’t stop with impeaching Trump, argues the AZ Blue Meanie, but explaining that [The problem is we cannot impeach the Republican Party along with their ‘Dear Leader’]. Here is just a little part of his case.

As I have argued, “What we have right now is the entire Republican Party in lock-step with the Trump crime family. It is acting as a criminal enterprise, using the control of government to undermine the Department of Justice, the Congress and the rule of law to prevent the fair administration of justice and to prevent holding anyone accountable.”

Republicans in Congress are co-conspirators and accessories aiding and abetting the Trump crime family in the obstruction of justice. They are equally culpable at law for their own misconduct.

Trump’s extended “crime family,” Republicans in Congress, sit on congressional committees where they can engage in obstruction of Congress on his behalf, and they would sit on the “jury” in the Senate in any impeachment trial.

What Trump’s extended “crime family” in the Senate would do is engage in Jury Nullification, the jury’s knowing and deliberate rejection of the evidence or refusal to apply the law.

Unlike in court proceedings, there is no jury selection process or voire dire of potential jury members in the Senate. These co-conspirators and accessories who are aiding and abetting the Trump crime family, sitting on the jury, would acquit the president in any impeachment trial because they would also be acquitting their own equally culpable criminal misconduct. “We’re all good.”

The Blue Meanie concludes:

The problem is we cannot impeach the Republican Party along with their “Dear Leader.” They must suffer an overwhelming electoral defeat, a complete rejection by the American people.

Yes, but: Scriber has become persuaded that we (Dems) cannot afford to wait for the 2020 election. If you want to consider political consequences, imagine that Trump wins reelection in 2020 with the congressional Democrats still stymied by his stone-walling. That would paint the Democrats as gutless and of weak moral character. The evidence for obstruction of justice is is out there. The House must impeach now.

Monday, May 20, 2019

On this Mournday Mourning fact is fiction and fiction is fact

GOP in your body
And you thought your body was your property?

“Trump’s ‘great patriot’ farmers stick with him” even as he sticks it to them. The quote was the title of the Daily Star’s print edition version of this story. So they will vote for Trump because he promises them aid welfare payments (aka bribes).

Here are the rest of themes, schemes, memes, and falemes in this edition of the Illustrated Gnus (aka cartoons from AZ Blue Meanie at Blog for Arizona).

  • Do Alabama women prefer subservience? (Just thought I’d ask given their opposition to women’s rights.)
  • New ending line for marriage ceremonies in red states: “Congratulations: You may kiss the uterus support system.”
  • “Q: What’s the difference between Donald Trump and a plague of locusts?” Trick question - they both destroy the family farm.
  • Trump protects American consumer from China. (Chuckles here.)
  • Trump is the largest loser - 1.17 billion in business losses.
  • King Donald declares Constitution null and void - which means he does not have to answer to anyone else.
  • “Little Lindsey”, the Graham Cracker of Republican politics, used to think that Trump was crazy and unfit for office. That was before Graham’s ethical support system died. (John McCain, that is.)
  • John Bolton snookered Dubya into attacking Iraq. That worked out so well he’s snookering Dumpf into attacking Iran.
  • The 1968 Republican would rather be red than dead. The 2020 Repoublican would rather be a Russian than a Democrat. Oh, come on. Did you really expect principles?

Parting Thought: A new theme song for our age: Extinction is Forever sung to the tune of the theme song from Diamonds are forever.
Extinction is forever, it’s all I need to please us
Dead animals cannot tease us
When they leave in the night
We’ve no worries when they desert us…

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Trump's pardon for war crimes would send the nation a dark message.

The NY Times reports that Trump May Be Preparing Pardons for Servicemen Accused of War Crimes. Scriber thinks that is all about making Memorial Day all about Trump. Snippets follow.

President Trump has indicated that he is considering pardons for several American military members accused or convicted of war crimes, including high-profile cases of murder, attempted murder and desecration of a corpse, according to two United States officials.

The officials said that the Trump administration had made expedited requests this week for paperwork needed to pardon the troops on or around Memorial Day.

While the requests for pardon files are a strong sign of the president’s plans, Mr. Trump has been known to change his mind and it is not clear what the impetus was for the requests. But most of the troops who are positioned for a pardon have been championed by conservative lawmakers and media organizations, such as Fox News, which have portrayed them as being unfairly punished for trying to do their job. Many have pushed for the president to intervene. The White House declined to comment.

Pardoning several accused and convicted war criminals at once, including some who have not yet gone to trial, has not been done in recent history, legal experts said. Some worried that it could erode the legitimacy of military law and undercut good order and discipline in the ranks.

Navy SEALs who served with Chief Gallagher told authorities he indiscriminately shot at civilians, gunning down a young woman in a flowered hijab and an unarmed old man. They also said he stabbed a teenage captive, then bragged about it in text messages. His trial is set to start at the end of this month. If convicted, he faces life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all charges.

Major Golsteyn is charged with killing an Afghan man that he and other soldiers said had bomb-making materials. After an interrogation, the soldiers let the man go. Fearing that the man would return to making improvised explosives, which had already killed two Marines in the area, Major Golsteyn later said he killed the man.

Mr. Trump has singled both men out on Twitter, calling Major Golsteyn a “U.S. Military hero,” and praising Chief Gallagher for his service to the country.

The Blackwater contractor, Nicholas A. Slatten, is one of several Blackwater contractors charged in the killing of 17 Iraqis and the wounding of 20 more on a Baghdad street. After a number of mistrials and other delays, he is the only one who has been convicted.

The Marines charged in urinating on the corpse of a Taliban fighter were caught after a video of the act was found.

The fact that the requests were sent from the White House to the Justice Department, instead of the other way around, is a reversal of long-established practices, said Margaret Love, who served as the United States pardon attorney during the first Bush administration and part of the Clinton administration.

Long ago, presidents wielded clemency power directly, Ms. Love said, but that changed at the end of the Civil War when President Lincoln delegated review of clemency requests to his attorney general. Since then, cases have generally been vetted by Justice Department lawyers before being sent to the president.

President Trump has upended that practice, often issuing pardons with little or no notice to the Justice Department, she said, adding that the fact the department is requesting files on men like Chief Gallagher at all suggests that Attorney General William P. Barr is trying to re-exert some authority over the process.

Process aside, she said that pardoning the men would be an abrupt departure from the past.

“Presidents use pardons to send messages. They recognize when a process wasn’t just or when punishments were too extreme, like for some nonviolent drug cases,” she said. “If this president is planning to pardon a bunch of people charged with war crimes, he will use the pardon power to send a far darker message.”