Sunday, November 17, 2019

A time line for everything you need to know about the Ukraine bribery scandal

Cinco amigos
The cinco amigos:
those who Trump never met

The AZ Blue Meanie at Blog for Arizona provides a lengthy time line covering Everything you need to know about the Ukraine scandal and impeachment. Here is just a small part of it covering the definition of bribery and as practiced by Trump, Giuliani, and the others shown in this photo. (Top level block quotes are suppressed. Following is quoted from the Blue Meanie’s post.)

The other insane talking point coming from Republicans and Trump TV is that extortion is not in the constitution and neither is attempted bribery (as grounds for impeachment), and in any case, Trump never received the payoff he asked for. Laura Ingraham: “Attempted bribery isn’t in the Constitution”.

Bribery is expressly stated as grounds for impeachment in the Constitution, and it is the solicitation of a bribe that is the offense, one does not have to actually receive anything in return. The Founders Would Have Called Out Trump for Bribery:

The bribery charge sticks to Trump whether one looks to federal law or to the understanding of bribery in the era of the Framers.

Aaron Blake reports on current law at The Washington Post:

The federal bribery statute says someone has committed bribery if he or she is a “public official” who “directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally … in return for … being influenced in the performance of any official act.” The argument here would be that Trump sought politically helpful investigations from Ukraine in exchange for releasing military aid and/or granting a much-sought Oval Office meeting for its president, Volodymyr Zelensky. To date, six officials have said there was some kind of quid pro quo there.

As for bribery as the Framers understood it, a trio of attorneys writing at Lawfare quote 18th- and early–19th-century legal treatises to show that the constitutional understanding was even broader than what federal law now prohibits––put simply, bribery was “understood as an officeholder’s abuse of the power of an office to obtain a private benefit rather than for the public interest.”

They go on to explain:

The understanding of bribery at the Founding maps perfectly onto Trump’s conduct in his call with Zelensky. As noted above, Trump made clear to Zelensky that he was asking him for a “favor”—not a favor to benefit the United States as a whole or the public interest, but a favor that would accrue to the personal benefit of Trump by harming his political rival. Trump’s request that Zelensky work with his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, underscores that Trump was seeking a private benefit. And Trump was not seeking this “undue reward” (to quote “Russell on Crimes” and the Delaware statute) as a mere aside unrelated to the president’s official role. Rather, he did so in the course of an official diplomatic conversation with a head-of-state.

In fact, Rudy Giuliani has since stated, “The investigation I conducted concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption, was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges, that kept changing as one after another were disproven,” characterizing his own actions as something not done to benefit the American people, but done “solely” to benefit Trump.

The Lawfare authors continue:

The transcript makes clear that Trump tied together the request for a personal favor with the delivery of military aid. But even if he had not made such a direct connection, this sort of corrupt use of public office to obtain a private benefit fits squarely within the definition of bribery when the Constitution was written.

Moreover, given the specifics of the allegations against President Trump, it is noteworthy that nothing worried the Founders more than the possibility that the president would be corrupted by a foreign power. As Gouverneur Morris said about impeachment during the Constitutional Convention, “[The President] may be bribed by a greater interest to betray his trust; and no one would say that we ought to expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate in foreign pay without being able to guard [against] it by displacing him.”

In reference to other Trump scandals, a debate about what constitutes “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” [abuse of power] may be necessary. But on the Ukraine matter, that debate doesn’t matter. What matters is whether Trump is guilty of “Bribery” as it is used in the Constitution. It would appear that he is.

(Scriber: See the original post from the Blue Meanie for citations.)

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