Democrats quietly debate expanding impeachment articles beyond Ukraine
The title’s from the Washington Post, via inquirer.com (not likely behind a paywall), Dec. 3, 2019, by Rachael Bade
“Members of the House Judiciary Committee and other more liberal-minded lawmakers and congressional aides have been privately discussing the possibility of drafting articles that include obstruction of justice or other “high crimes” they believe are clearly outlined in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report — or allegations that Trump has used his office to benefit his bottom line.
The idea, however, is running into resistance from some moderate Democrats wary of impeachment blowback in their GOP-leaning districts, as well as Democratic leaders who sought to keep impeachment narrowly focused on allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely.’
Bade writes that the discussion will play out this week in leadership and caucus meetings this week, given that the House Intelligence Committee is preparing to hand the Inquiry to the House Judiciary Committee, which will prepare that committee to work on writing articles of impeachment if they approve the former’s document.
“But the Judiciary Committee also has asked other investigative panels to send any findings of Trump-related misdeeds that they believe are impeachable. And many of the committee members are hoping articles will refer to and cite their own months-long investigation into the Mueller report, which described 10 possible instances of obstruction by the president.
The discussions heated up Monday as Trump lashed out at impeachment investigators as he left Washington for a NATO meeting in London, then aboard Air Force One promptly took to his favorite social media platform — Twitter — to declare “case over.” Trump inaccurately portrayed fresh comments by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky as proof that impeachment was unnecessary. Although Zelensky denied being engaged in a “quid pro quo,” he also questioned the fairness of Trump’s decision to freeze nearly $400 million in congressionally appropriated military aid when his country was at war with Russia.
“[Y]ou have to understand. We’re at war,” Zelensky said. “If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”
To whom did Zeenskkiy say that? I
Anhoo, it’s another nine yards of text demonstrating the major mind jockeying at play: bring four counts of impeachment, some approving just two (as with Bill Clinton) to cover their asses with their constituents while home over the holidays, which issues like emoluments and profiting by not divesting of his ma$$ive empire, expanding articles to include additional Trump controversies, such as his actions related to Mueller’s probe of Russian election interference in the 2016 election, etc.
“Some House Democrats worry that adding other charges could stretch out impeachment when many are desperate to finish before the holidays. The Intelligence Committee has spent the past two months articulating its case to the public in a series of blockbuster hearings in which more than a dozen current and former Trump officials testified and chided the president for his conduct on Ukraine. Democrats haven’t had a single hearing on the Mueller report since mid-September.
Democrats have a small window to decide on changing course. They still hope to draft articles of impeachment next week — and debate and vote in the full House the third week of December, leaving little time for deliberations.
On a slightly more serious note:
‘Dueling impeachment reports: Democrats claim ‘evidence’ of Trump misconduct, Republicans say there isn’t any (READ HERE), 3 Dec, 2019, RT.com
“Impeachment hearings have shown evidence that US President Donald Trump solicited election interference from Ukraine for personal gain, says a new report by the House Democrats. Republicans say that no such evidence was given.
House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-California) published a 300-page report on Tuesday, as part of the official impeachment inquiry authorized in October despite bipartisan opposition. The report claims that both the secret depositions and the public hearings held over the past month have shown evidence that Trump “solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection” by conditioning US aid to Kiev on “politically-motivated investigations” into Trump’s domestic political opponent Joe Biden.
“In doing so, the President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the US presidential election process, and endangered US national security,” he Schiff report asserts. [<that’s always been my favorite claim because: Russia!]
“Even though the Schiff report claims to represent the views of both Republicans and Democrats on the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, on Monday the GOP members of the Intelligence committee published their own minority report, dissenting from his assertions.
None of the evidence presented proves the Democrats’ allegations, nor have any witnesses testified to “bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” says the 123-page Republican document.
“The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is not the organic outgrowth of serious misconduct; it is an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system,” the minority report says, adding that the House majority is “trying to impeach a duly elected president based on the accusations and assumptions of unelected bureaucrats who disagreed with President Trump’s policy initiatives and processes.” [snip]
“While the mainstream press has embraced Schiff’s report with the same zeal as they’ve promoted ‘Russiagate,’ many skeptics on both sides of the political spectrum remain unconvinced.
Progressive journalist Aaron Mate, for example, pointed out [on Twitter] that while Schiff’s report contains multiple mentions of Ambassador Gordon Sondland, not once does it reflect his testimony that he “presumed” the aid to Ukraine was conditioned on investigations.” [snip]
“Will Chamberlain, lawyer and publisher of the conservative journal Human Events, went a step further and argued that Schiff’s report actually exonerates Trump. By noting that the president’s view of Ukraine as corrupt was based on discussions with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, the report actually gives evidence that Trump’s actions were based on policy concerns – which would make them perfectly in line with his authority as president, Chamberlain argued on Twitter.
Not that any of this matters for the further course of the impeachment inquiry. The publication of Schiff’s report was a mere formality, as House Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler (D-New York) had scheduled the first of his own impeachment hearings for Wednesday.”
‘House Democrats begin next phase of impeachment drive’, By Patrick Martin, 3 December 2019, wsws.org
“The Democratic Party effort to impeach President Trump for withholding military aid to Ukraine moves into its next stage Wednesday [today], with the first formal hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, which is expected to draw up articles of impeachment for a vote by the full House before the end of the month.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, in a five-page letter sent Sunday to Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, denounced the hearing and said Trump would not send a legal representative or otherwise participate.
Wednesday’s hearing will review the legal and constitutional requirements for impeachment, without any testimony on the nature of the charges being brought against Trump. Late Monday, Nadler released the names of the four witnesses. All are law school professors, including three called by the Democrats—Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School, Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School, and Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina School of Law—and one called by the Republicans, Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School.’ [snip]
“In order to compel new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to make the announcement—thus boosting Trump politically at the expense of a major Democratic opponent—Trump offered both a carrot (a White House meeting for Zelensky) and a stick (the cutoff of $391 million in US military aid). Both were discussed in the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky that remains the focal point of the impeachment inquiry.
It was the protracted delay in military aid, disrupting and potentially endangering one of the most important foreign operations of American imperialism—the build-up of Ukraine as a base of operations against Russia—that touched off the impeachment drive.
Democrats such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had long opposed any effort to impeach Trump over crimes such as forced separation of immigrant parents and children or the illegal diversion of funds to build his wall along the US-Mexico border. But when a CIA “whistleblower” [not-Ciaramela] came forward with an official complaint to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, in what was clearly a provocation orchestrated by the military-intelligence apparatus over longstanding foreign policy differences with Trump, the Democratic leadership abruptly changed course.” [large snip]
“Republicans have demanded that at least three witnesses appear before the Judiciary Committee whose testimony was barred by Schiff in the two weeks of public hearings before the Intelligence Committee. These are the CIA “whistleblower,” Hunter Biden and Schiff himself, who would be asked about his role in directing the “whistleblower” to file a formal complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence agencies.
Judiciary Committee Chair Nadler is expected to rebuff demands for these witnesses, but if Trump is indeed impeached, they could be summoned to testify during a Senate trial, where the Republican majority in the Senate, not the Democrats, would control the proceedings.
Nadler has given the White House until 5 pm Friday, December 6 to say whether Trump plans to mount a defense against impeachment by calling witnesses and introducing evidence. Under the procedures laid down by the House Democratic leadership, however, Trump will be able to do so only if he agrees to lift his order against any executive branch cooperation with the impeachment inquiry. This has included a ban on testimony—largely ignored by State Department and other officials after they received congressional subpoenas—and a ban on supplying government documents, which has been far more effective.”
‘Adam Schiff’s Capacious Definition of Bribery Was Tried in 1787’, by jonathanturley.org, apparently Dec. 2 or 3, 2019
“In the push for a December impeachment vote, House Democrats appear poised to make history. It will be the shortest investigation producing the thinnest record of wrongdoing for the narrowest impeachment in history. There is, however, a precedent for the Democrats’ expansive interpretations of bribery and impeachment: the trial of Warren Hastings, 230 years ago in Britain. But Hastings’ tale is a cautionary one that nobody should aim to repeat.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has “corroborated evidence of bribery.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff agrees, explaining that, “As the founders understood bribery, it was not as we understand it in law today. It was much broader. It connoted the breach of the public trust in a way where you’re offering official acts for some personal or political reason, not in the nation’s interest.”
Mr. Schiff’s sudden transformation into an originalist may be short-lived. The Framers did not, in fact, view bribery as some overarching concept of corruption. At the Constitutional Convention, George Mason objected to listing only “treason” and “bribery” as impeachable offenses because they were too narrow and limited. He suggested a broader term, “maladministration,” citing the still-unfolding Hastings case, which was based on interpretations of bribery and corruption that would soon be exposed as dubious.” [snip]
“Since then, politicians have often sought to adopt expansive interpretations to make impeachment easier. When I served as lead defense counsel in the Senate impeachment trial of federal Judge Thomas Porteous, the lead House manager sought to convict my client on the novel theory that even conduct before taking office could be impeachable. That impeachment manager was Adam Schiff.
There is much that is worthy of investigation in the Ukraine scandal, and it is true that impeachment doesn’t require a crime. But the Framers expressly warned against lowering the impeachment standard to a mere discretionary option for any party that happens to control the Senate. That’s what interpreting bribery to include any action viewed as “offering public acts for some personal or political purposes” would do.
All politicians are self-dealers who use their offices to advance themselves politically. That doesn’t make their acts criminal or impeachable. Just ask Warren Hastings.”
‘TURLEY TESTIFIES AT TRUMP IMPEACHMENT HEARING’, Dec. 4, 2019, jonathanturley.org
“It has been roughly 20 years since I testified at the same hearing in the impeachment of President William J. Clinton and roughly 10 years since I was lead counsel at the last Senate impeachment trial (with my co-lead counsel Daniel Schwartz).” [snip]
Here is my testimony:
‘The House Will Not Vote On Impeachment. It Will Censure Trump, b at moonofalabama.org Nov. 26, 2019:
“Nadler will write up articles of impeachment which will be referred to the whole House to vote on them. No Republican is likely to vote for impeaching Trump. It would be political suicide to do so. The Democrats have 233 Representatives and need 218 votes for a majority decision. They can afford a few abstentions but not too many.
At least one House Democrat, Brenda Lawrence from the swing state Michigan, has said that she will no longer support impeachment but that she prefers to censure the president instead of impeaching him. A censure is a formal reprimand by a majority vote that has no further consequences.
More are likely to follow that path as several recent polls show that impeachment is no longer en vogue:
The latest national poll from Emerson College finds 45 percent oppose impeaching President Trump, against 43 percent who support it. That’s a 6-point swing in support from October, when 48 percent of voters supported impeachment and only 44 percent opposed.
More importantly, the poll shows more independents now oppose impeachment than support it, a significant change from Emerson’s polling in October. The new poll found 49 percent oppose impeachment compared to 34 percent who support it. In October, 48 percent of independents polled supported impeachment, against 39 percent who opposed.
Since October, Emerson has found Trump’s job approval rating jump by 5 points, from 43 percent to 48 percent.
This is the second poll this week to show voters are increasingly likely to oppose impeachment.
Even Democrats are losing interest in the issue There is also this curious issue:
Josh Jordan @NumbersMuncher – 13:32 UTC · Nov 26, 2019
CNN Poll: There is a *forty* point gender gap with regards to impeaching and removing Trump.
Men oppose impeachment 40-53 while women favor it 61-34.
That’s a pretty stunning contrast.”
Pollsters rarely ask ‘why’, but could that gender gap reflect the Pink Pussy Hat factor? Also, given that the blockbuster televised hearings haven’t moved to dial toward Impeachment part of what’s driving the ‘debate expanding impeachment articles beyond Ukraine?
I hope you’ll understand that while the actual lyrics don’t really fit, when I read the WaPo’s title piece, I kept hearing Blondie’s ‘One way or another…I’m gonna getcha getcha…one way or another..
(cross-posted from Café Babylon)