Whataboutism, Obfuscation, Preemptive Framing, and Misdirection

obfuscation

CBS News poll: Majority of Americans and Democrats approve of Trump impeachment inquiry

Sarah Longwell, Trump’s PR Meltdown:

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, this playbook worked for us the first time around with that whole Russia thing. A deft combination of whataboutism, obfuscation, preemptive framing, and misdirection is all we need to pull this off.”

Here’s the problem: Unlike the two-volume, 430-page Mueller report, the whistleblower report is 9 pages long. The central allegation is clear-cut and easy to understand. And it has already been proven true with the release of the call summary between Trump and Ukraine’s president.

You can try to spin the facts and fall back on process-arguments—but the battlespace is much smaller and the tempo is much faster than the Mueller wars. Most people will be able to read the report and anyone who doesn’t can clearly understand what happened: The president was acting like a mafia don by talking about the kind of “help” he could give Ukraine and then asking for “favors.” I mean, even Chris Christie understands that this is a problem: In an attempt to pre-spin all of this before the call summary was released, Christie insisted that it would only be bad for Trump if he said something blatantly extortive. Like, “do me a favor.”

Oops. Again.

Also, the Democrats and the media may be on to you. They’ve seen you run this play before and they’ve made adjustments. And the American people aren’t so sure anymore, either. In fact, a majority of them now back the impeachment inquiry. Including nearly 1-in-4 Republicans.

The Words on the Page

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David Frum, A Realist’s Guide to Impeachment: Trump should face the consequences of his misdeeds, but the road ahead is perilous.

Jeff Greenfield, 5 Ways Impeachment Could Play Out

Greg Sargent. Trump is cornered, and his ‘civil war’ threat stinks of panic

Jonathan Chait, Lindsey Graham Rests Entire Trump Defense on Word He Doesn’t Understand

The words on the paper that Trump released as an accurate account of his conversation with the president of Ukraine demonstrate a gross misuse of office.

The logical counter to the claim made in the previous sentence is to assert, “No, the words on the paper don’t show any such thing”—or, at the very least, to assert “The words on the paper are ambiguous, and there is a plausible implication that is different from your claim.”

It is Monday morning, Trump’s spokesbots have had a few days to think about their response, and their response is to run headlong away from the words on the paper Trump released. There is preliminary polling evidence that twenty percent of Republicans support the impeachment inquiry. Meanwhile, Trump is tweeting about inciting a civil war and arresting his accusers for treason.

In the piece cited above, Frum writes, “Nobody should have any illusions: Bringing anything like justice to President Trump will be neither easy nor safe. The exposure of Trump’s Ukraine extortion scheme forced impeachment on the country. It could not be ignored, and devices like censure are inadequate. But the days ahead are dark.” That seems a fair prognostication.

I think the four posts cited above are worth the reading, but please read for yourselves. I won’t discuss the substance of them. Instead, I want to set out some reflections on the first and second of Frum’s six suggestions, namely, “Keep the story simple” and “Be political, not legal.”

How to Defend Your Guy from Impeachment

There are four ways you can go.

One: he didn’t do it. In other words, you are drawing the wrong inference from the documents and testimony.

Two: he did it, but it was OK.

Three: he did it, and it wasn’t OK, but it wasn’t impeachable.

Four: stick your fingers in your ears and go “la la la la la.”

Defending Your Guy Against Impeachment—Some Examples

The Andrew Johnson impeachment illustrates argument two. He did violate the Tenure of Office Act, but the statute was unconstitutional. A rough analogy might be an article of impeachment based on Trump’s bogus “national emergency” declaration. It was illegal and wrong, but there’s enough legal confusion surrounding the issue to give Trump’s defenders a lot of wiggle room. So it would be a bad idea to include such a charge in the final articles of impeachment

The Clinton impeachment illustrates argument three. Yes, he lied under oath about sex, and yes, there might be some legitimate legal consequences that should flow from his perjury, but impeachment is not warranted. A rough analogy might be an article of impeachment based on Trump’s payment of hush money, just before the election, to a couple of well upholstered women of easy virtue. A lot of people would jump up and down charging the Democrats with hypocrisy for a sex-related allegation. So it would be a bad idea to. include such a charge.

As of this morning, it seems that some of Trump’s spokesbots are giving argument three a whirl, along the lines of, “there was nothing in the phone call that was impeachable.” But they’re coupling this argument with a manful refusal to face what was actually said in the call, as proved by the “transcript.” That would be the very same “transcript” Trump ordered released, in the delusion expectation that it would prove his innocence.

The Nixon near-impeachment illustrates the first argument. For quite a while, his defenders just tried to cover up the facts. But it didn’t work. And it never works—as long as there is an investigative body that is competent and determined.

OK, How Many Bad Acts Should be Charged in the Articles of Impeachment?

Good question. But it’s premature, so I won’t offer an answer. I will instead offer a blueprint on how to find the answer.

The key is to include only charges that can only be “refuted” by

  • denying the proven facts, or by
  • defending the indefensible.

The Ukraine scandal meets this test. Many others do not. Example: the charge of collusion with Russia in 2016 is factually complicated and murky. Example: the bogus “national emergency” to fund the Mexican wall is unconstitutional and contrary to our system of government. But the relevant statutory law is complicated, giving the Trump side the opportunity to make us all lose our way in the weeds. So leave it out.

The second key is to avoid accusing Trump of specific statutory crimes, and keep the focus on the overall concept of abuse of office. Impeachable offenses need not be statutory crimes, and statutory crimes need not be impeachable offenses.

What’s Left, Other Than Ukrainegate?

Three come to mind.

One, there is talk about how Trump may have actually said he was unconcerned about Russian electoral interference during his 2017 meeting with the Russian ambassador. If proved, I think that would fill the bill.

Two, if it can be proved by irrefutable evidence, misusing office for pecuniary gain would qualify.

Three, obstruction of Congress during the course of the impeachment inquiry would probably be on the list. (Prior numerous acts of obstruction should be impeachable in principle, but probably do not qualify for inclusion because of the legal quibbles that each obstructive act would engender. Keep it simple, stupid. Obstruction of the impeachment inquiry itself is a different breed of cat.)

So, How Many Articles Should There Be?

As many as meet the stringent tests I have laid out. If they fill the bill, put ‘em in. If not, leave ‘em out.

**

Greetings to today’s reader. The U.S. leads, followed in second place by Kenya, but with Canada in strong contention to overtake Kenya. Mauritius is in solid fourth place. Go Mauritius! Also in the running so far: Japan, Taiwan, the U.K., and Russia. HELLO VLADIMIR!

Do Not Read This Post, President Trump

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If I thought Trump might be reading this post, I would not put it up. Because I want to mention three things that might help him get his tits out of the wringer.

Trump has three big problems. They are quite different, but they are going to intersect and interact with each other over the coming months. Here is what he needs to do about each problem.

Throw Rudy Giuliani Under the Bus, Then Back Over Him Several Times

The whole Ukrainian mess had its origins with Rudy Giuliani’s madness. Trump should announce that Rudy deceived him, and he now regrets the whole thing. Wouldn’t make him look good. But I think it would slow down the impeachment train. Bigly.

Abjectly Surrender to the Chinese, and Then Proclaim a Huuuuuuge Victory

It would fool his most gullible followers, greatly relieve the plutocrats, and prevent his political troubles from playing out in a time of grave economic troubles.

Get Medical Help for His Deteriorating Mental State

‘Nuff said.

Of Gaslighting, the Mueller Report, and the Ukraine “Transcript”

Gaslighting

“Transcript” of the July 25 Ukraine call, as declassified and released by Trump, but with my highlight of words of solicitation and agreement

Gaslighting was, of course, the first instinct of Trump and his spokesbots. It worked pretty well on the Mueller Report, and for all I know it may work again. But several points are worth considering.

Trump is Bound Hand and Foot to the “Transcript”

Trump claims that the Mueller Report was written by his political enemies—“17 angry Democrats.” The “transcript” was prepared by people working directly for Trump.

Trump claims that the Mueller Report is full of lies. By contrast, he has endorsed, authenticated, and given his seal of approval to the “Transcript” as an accurate account of the words he used in speaking with the president of Ukraine and the words the Ukrainian president used in speaking to him.

Reading and Understanding the “Transcript” is Easy

The Mueller Report is 448 pages long. The “transcript” of the July 25 call is less than five pages long.

The Mueller Report is dense and requires close reading. The “transcript is easy to read. Perusing it only takes a few minutes, and understanding it is easy for anyone with a basic understanding of the English language.

The Context in Which the Conversation Occurred: Unexplained Holdup of Military Assistance

Trump cannot deny—and does not, to my knowledge, deny—that when the conversation occurred he was holding up several hundred million dollars in U.S. military assistance, recently mandated by Congress.

Trump cannot deny—and does not, to my knowledge, deny—that he has never offered any explanation for the holdup of the military aid, let alone a coherent or plausible explanation.

Trump cannot deny—and does not, to my knowledge, deny—that he only lifted his hold on military aid after the public learned of the whistleblower complaint.

Not only is there no explanation as to why the aid was held up in the first place, there is also no explanation as to why the ban was lifted, or as to why it was lifted when it was lifted, and not at some other time.

What the “Transcript” Says About Solicitation and Agreement

News accounts and talking heads speak of Trump asking for Ukrainian help in digging up dirt on (1) spurious reports of some kind of Ukraine-Democratic conspiracy in 2016 and (2) Joe Biden and his son. That is so, but the “transcript” actually discloses an agreement between the two presidents that Ukraine would provide these boons to Trump, or would at least try to do so. Look at the language I have highlighted, by clicking on the link at the top of this post.

The Legal, Moral, and Political Significance of Solicitation and Agreement

This solicitation and agreement may violate the campaign finance law, the anti-bribery law, and/or the federal anti-extortion law, though in each case there are potential legal technicalities.

It follows that an unqualified assertion that Trump violated one or more of these statutes invites a response based on legal pettifogging and obfuscation.

But an assertion that Trump grossly abused his power invites and demands a substantive debate about whether Trump’s behavior was “OK” or “not OK.”

First Aggravating Factor: An Agreement Coerced by Withholding Military Assistance to a Nation Under Attack

The solicitation and agreement, without more, probably violate three federal criminal statutes and are, in any event, a gross abuse of office.

It’s even worse if the agreement was coerced by Trump’s withholding of military aid and threating to keep on withholding aid unless the Ukrainians actually dish up the requested dirt.

The existence of such a coercive linkage is strongly suggested by

  • the language at the bottom of page 2 of the “transcript” and the top of page 3, and
  • the otherwise unexplained denial of needed military aid.

That said, I am unhappy with some of the rhetoric surrounding this matter, as my previous post indicates.

Second Aggravating Factor: Did Trump Knowingly Seek False Information on 2016 or on the Bidens?

It’s clear that sometimes Trump lies through his teeth and knows it; sometimes proclaims his delusions as fact; and sometimes throws claims around in the same way that Harry Potter used his wand—magically to change reality to his liking. It’s also clear that it’s often hard to tell which if these is going on.

And that, I believe, is the case here. Democrats should not make the validity of their arguments for impeachment turn in any on proof about Trump’s state of mind.

Of Mob Boss Behavior, Trump, and the Ukrainians

Trump Gangster

I believe it’s entirely legitimate to compare Trump’s behavior to that of a mob boss. But I also believe such language may not be helpful. Here is my reasoning.

If the intended audience is committed anti-Trumpers, the rhetoric is unnecessary.

If the intended audience is people previously committed to Trump, or inclined to sit on the fence, the rhetoric probably will not be helpful

The rhetoric demands that the hearers conflate three steps in the reasoning process. Step one is simply getting them to read the document and rub their noses in what was said—specifically the part where Zelinsky speaks of buying mobile anti-tank missiles and Trump turns immediately to asking for a “favor.”

The reader needs to understand that this is the language of reciprocity. The two topics are related, not unrelated. It’s not as if, during the course of a serious conversation, there was an idle aside at the Ukrainian team’s chances in World Cup competition.

And remember two things. First, the audience to whom you’re speaking is made up of people who like Trump or who are open to liking Trump. And, second, Trump released the damn “transcript” himself. It’s natural to assume that he would only release the “transcript” if he were convinced in exculpated him, not that it inculpated him. Why would you release a document that proved your guilt? Only a really stupid person would do such a thing.

So, don’t assume that getting readers to accept an accurate interpretation of the words on the paper will be easy. But if you get there, the second step is to have a discussion about whether conditioning military aid on help against your political opponent is right or wrong.

Not legal or illegal. Right or wrong.

Once the hearer accepts what the words on the paper say, and accepts that the situation they describe is profoundly wrong, then you get to the question of what adjectives, adverbs, and analogies best describe the situation.

Articles of Impeachment Against William Jefferson Clinton

Bill Clinton

Articles Adopted by the House of Representatives

On December 11, 1998, the House Judiciary Committee passed four articles of impeachment, but the House of Representatives only adopted two, Articles I and III. The text of the two articles adopted by the full House of Representatives follows.

RESOLUTION  

Impeaching William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Resolved. That William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

Articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself and of the people of the United States of America, against William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against him for high crimes and misdemeanors.

ARTICLE I  

In his conduct while President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, 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 violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has willfully corrupted and manipulated the judicial process of the United States for his personal gain and exoneration, impeding the administration of justice, in that:

On August 17, 1998, William Jefferson Clinton swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth before a Federal grand jury of the United States. Contrary to that oath, William Jefferson Clinton willfully provided perjurious, false and misleading testimony to the grand jury concerning one or more of the following:

(1) the nature and details of his relationship with a subordinate Government employee;

(2) prior perjurious, false and misleading testimony he gave in a Federal civil rights action brought against him;

(3) prior false and misleading statements he allowed his attorney to make to a Federal judge in that civil rights action; and

(4) his corrupt efforts to influence the testimony of witnesses and to impede the discovery of evidence in that civil rights action.

In doing this, William Jefferson Clinton has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, William Jefferson Clinton, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.

ARTICLE III  

In his conduct while President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, 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 violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice, and has to that end engaged personally, and through his subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or scheme designed to delay, impede, cover up, and conceal the existence of evidence and testimony related to a Federal civil rights action brought against him in a duly instituted judicial proceeding.

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

(1) On or about December 17, 1997, William Jefferson Clinton corruptly encouraged a witness in a Federal civil rights action brought against him to execute a sworn affidavit in that proceeding that he knew to be perjurious, false and misleading.

(2) On or about December 17, 1997, William Jefferson Clinton corruptly encouraged a witness in a Federal civil rights action brought against him to give perjurious, false and misleading testimony if and when called to testify personally in that proceeding.

(3)On or about December 28, 1997, William Jefferson Clinton corruptly engaged in, encouraged, or supported a scheme to conceal evidence that had been subpoenaed in a Federal civil rights action brought against him.

(4)Beginning on or about December 7, 1997, and continuing through and including January 14, 1998, William Jefferson Clinton intensified and succeeded in an effort to secure job assistance to a witness in a Federal civil rights action brought against him in order to corruptly prevent the truthful testimony of that witness in that proceeding at a time when the truthful testimony of that witness would have been harmful to him.

(5) On January 17, 1998, at his deposition in a Federal civil rights action brought against him, William Jefferson Clinton corruptly allowed his attorney to make false and misleading statements to a Federal judge characterizing an affidavit, in order to prevent questioning deemed relevant by the judge. Such false and misleading statements were subsequently acknowledged by his attorney in a communication to that judge.

(6) On or about January 18 and January 20-21, 1998, William Jefferson Clinton related a false and misleading account of events relevant to a Federal civil rights action brought against him to a potential witness in that proceeding, in order to corruptly influence the testimony of that witness.

(7) On or about January 21, 23 and 26, 1998, William Jefferson Clinton made false and misleading statements to potential witnesses in a Federal grand jury proceeding in order to corruptly influence the testimony of those witnesses. The false and misleading statements made by William Jefferson Clinton were repeated by the witnesses to the grand jury, causing the grand jury to receive false and misleading information.

In all of this, William Jefferson Clinton has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, William Jefferson Clinton, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States. 

Articles NOT Adopted by the House of Representatives

Articles II and IV were not adopted. The text of these two rejected articles follows.

ARTICLE II 

In his conduct while President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, 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 violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has willfully corrupted and manipulated the judicial process of the United States for his personal gain and exoneration, impending the administration of justice, in that:

(1) On December 23, 1997, William Jefferson Clinton, in sworn answers to written questions asked as part of a Federal civil rights action brought against him, willfully provided perjurious, false and misleading testimony in response to questions deemed relevant by a Federal judge concerning conduct and proposed conduct with subordinate employees.

(2) On January 17, 1988, William Jefferson Clinton swore under oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in a deposition given as part of a Federal civil rights action brought against him. Contrary to that oath, William Jefferson Clinton willfully provided perjurious, false and misleading testimony in repose to questions deemed relevant by a Federal judge concerning the nature and details of his relationship with a subordinate government employee and his corrupt efforts to influence the testimony of that employee.

In all of this, William Jefferson Clinton has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, William Jefferson Clinton, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.

ARTICLE IV 

Using the powers and influence of the office of President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, 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 engaged in conduct that resulted in misuse and abuse of his high office, impaired the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, and contravened the authority of the legislative branch and the truth-seeking purpose of a coordinate investigative proceeding in that, as President, William Jefferson Clinton, refused and failed to respond to certain written requests for admission and willfully made perjurious, false and misleading sworn statements in response to certain written requests for admission propounded to him as part of the impeachment inquiry authorized by the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States.

William Jefferson Clinton, in refusing and failing to respond, and in making perjurious, false and misleading statements, assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives and exhibited contempt for the inquiry. 

In doing this, William Jefferson Clinton has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, William Jefferson Clinton, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States

 

 

 

 

Articles of Impeachment Against Richard M. Nixon

Nixon

Adopted by the House Judiciary Committee, July 27, 1974. The text follows.

RESOLVED, That Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanours, and that the following articles of impeachment to be exhibited to the Senate:

ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT EXHIBITED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN THE NAME OF ITSELF AND OF ALL OF THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AGAINST RICHARD M. NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT OF ITS IMPEACHMENT AGAINST HIM FOR HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOURS.

ARTICLE 1

In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, 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 violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice, in that:

On June 17, 1972, and prior thereto, agents of the Committee for the Re-election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, District of Columbia, for the purpose of securing political intelligence. Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, 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 illegal entry; 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. making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;
  2. withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;
  3. approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling 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;
  4. interfering or endeavouring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees;
  5. approving, condoning, and acquiescing in, the surreptitious payment of substantial sums of money for the purpose of obtaining the silence or influencing the testimony of witnesses, potential witnesses or individuals who participated in such unlawful entry and other illegal activities;
  6. endeavouring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the United States;
  7. disseminating information received from officers of the Department of Justice of the United States to subjects of investigations conducted by lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States, for the purpose of aiding and assisting such subjects in their attempts to avoid criminal liability;
  8. 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 Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct: or
  9. endeavouring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favoured treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.

In all of this, Richard M. Nixon 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 Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

 

Article 2

Using the powers of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, 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 violating the constitutional rights of citizens, 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 purposed of these agencies.

This conduct has included one or more of the following:

  1. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.
  2. He misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance.
  3. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, authorized and permitted to be maintained a secret investigative unit within the office of the President, financed in part with money derived from campaign contributions, which unlawfully utilized the resources of the Central Intelligence Agency, engaged in covert and unlawful activities, and attempted to prejudice the constitutional right of an accused to a fair trial.
  4. 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 the unlawful entry into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, and the cover-up thereof, and concerning other unlawful activities including those relating to the confirmation of Richard Kleindienst as Attorney General of the United States, the electronic surveillance of private citizens, the break-in into the offices of Dr. Lewis Fielding, and the campaign financing practices of the Committee to Re-elect the President.
  5. In disregard of the rule of law, he knowingly misused the executive power by interfering with agencies of the executive branch, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Criminal Division, and the Office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, of the Department of Justice, and the Central Intelligence Agency, in violation of his duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

In all of this, Richard M. Nixon 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 Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

Article 3

In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, 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 11, 1974, May 15, 1974, May 30, 1974, and June 24, 1974, 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 Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the Presidency against the 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, Richard M. Nixon 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, Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

Articles of Impeachment Against Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson

The House of Representatives passed articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson on March 2, 1868 (after having already voted, on February 24 to impeach the President). The text follows.

ARTICLE 1. That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, on the 21st day of February, in the year of our Lord, 1868, at Washington, in the District of Columbia, unmindful of the high duties of his oath of office and of the requirements of the Constitution, that he should take care that the laws be faithfully executed, did unlawfully, in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States, issue an order in writing for the removal of Edwin M. Stanton from the office of Secretary of the Department of War, said Edwin M. Stanton having been, therefor, duly appointed and commissioned by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States as such Secretary; and said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, on the 12th day of August, in the year of our Lord 1867, and during the recess of said Senate, having suspended by his order Edwin M. Stanton from said office, and within twenty days after the first day of the next meeting of said Senate, on the 12th day of December, in the year last aforesaid, having reported to said Senate such suspension, with the evidence and reasons for his action in the case, and the name of the person designated to perform the duties of such office temporarily, until the next meeting of the Senate, and said Senate therafterwards, on the 13th day of January, in the year of our Lord 1868, having duly considered the evidence and reasons reported by said Andrew Johnson for said suspension, did refuse to concur in said suspension; whereby and by force of the provisions of an act entitled “an act regulating the tenure of civil officer,” passed March 2, 1867, said Edwin M. Stanton did forthwith resume the functions of his office, whereof the said Andrew Johnson had then and there notice, and the said Edwin M. Stanton, by reason of the premises, on said 21st day of February, was lawfully entitled to hold said office of Secretary for the Department of War, which said order for the removal of said Edwin M. Stanton is, in substance, as follows, that is to say:

Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., Feb. 21, 1868.

Sir: By virtue of the power and authority vested in me, as President, by the Constitution and laws of the United States, you are hereby removed from the office of Secretary for the Department of War and your functions as such will terminate upon receipt of their communication. You will transfer to Brevet Major-General L. Thomas, Adjutant-General of the Army, who has this day been authorized and empowered to act as Secretary of War ad interim, all books, paper and other public property now in your custody and charge. Respectfully, yours,

Andrew Johnson.

To the Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War

Which order was unlawfully issued, and with intent then are there to violate the act entitled “An act regulating the tenure of certain civil office,” passed March 2, 1867, and contrary to the provisions of said act, and in violation thereof, and contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and without the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States, the said Senate then and there being in session, to remove said E. M. Stanton from the office of Secretary for the Department of War, whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did then and there commit, and was guilty of a high misdemeanor in office.

ARTICLE 2.That on the 21st day of February, in the year of our Lord 1868, at Washington, in the District of Columbia, said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his oath of office, and in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and contrary to the provisions of an act entitled “An act regulating the tenure of certain civil office,” passed March 2, 1867, without the advice and consent of the Senate, then and there being in session, and without authority of law, did appoint one L. Thomas to be Secretary of War ad interim, by issuing to said Lorenzo Thomas a letter of authority, in substance as follows, that is to say:

Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., Feb. 21, 1868.

Sir: The Hon. Edwin M. Stanton having been this day removed from office as Secretary of the Department of War, you are hereby authorized and empowered to act as Secretary of War ad interim, and will immediately enter upon the discharge of the duties pertaining to that office. Mr. Stanton has been instructed to transfer to you all the records, books, papers and other public property now in his custody and charge. Respectfully yours,

Andrew Johnson.

To Brevet Major-General Lorenzo Thomas, Adjutant-General United States Army, Washington, D.C.

Whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did then and there commit, and was guilty of a high misdemeanor in office.

ARTICLE 3.That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, on the 21st day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight, at Washington in the District of Columbia, did commit, and was guilty of a high misdemeanor in office, in this: That without authority of law, while the Senate of the United States was then and there in session, he did appoint one Lorenzo Thomas to be Secretary for the Department of War, ad interim, without the advice and consent of the Senate, and in violation of the Constitution of the United States, no vacancy having happened in said office of Secretary for the Department of War during the recess of the Senate, and no vacancy existing in said office at the time, and which said appointment so made by Andrew Johnson of said Lorenzo Thomas is in substance as follows, that is to say:?

Executive Mansion, Washington, D.C., Feb. 21, 1868.

Sir: The Hon. E. M. Stanton having been this day removed from office as Secretary for the Department of War, you are hereby authorized and empowered to act as Secretary of War ad interim, and will immediately enter upon the discharge of the duties pertaining to that office. Mr. Stanton has been instructed to transfer to you all the records, books, papers and other public property now in his custody and charge. Respectfully yours,

Andrew Johnson

To Brevet Major-General L. Thomas, Adjutant-General

United States Army, Washington, D.C.

ARTICLE 4.That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his office, and of his oath of office, in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States, on the 21st day of February, in the year of our Lord 1868, at Washington, in the District of Columbia, did unlawfully conspire with one Lorenzo Thomas, and with other persons to the House of Representatives unknown, with intent, by intimidation and threats, to hinder and prevent Edwin M. Stanton, then and there, the Secretary for the Department of War, duly appointed under the laws of the United States, from holding said office of Secretary for the Department of War, contrary to and in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and of the provisions of an act entitled “An act to define and punish certain conspiracies,” approved July 31, 1861, whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did then and there commit and was guilty of high crime in office.

ARTICLE 5.That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his office and of his oath of office, on the 21st of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight, and on divers other days and time in said year before the 28th day of said February, at Washington, in the District of Columbia, did unlawfully conspire with one Lorenzo Thomas, and with other persons in the House of Representatives unknown, by force to prevent and hinder the execution of an act entitled “An act regulating the tenure of certain civil office,” passed March 2, 1867, and in pursuance of said conspiracy, did attempt to prevent E. M. Stanton, then and there being Secretary for the Department of War, duly appointed and commissioned under the laws of the United States, from holding said office, whereby the said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did then and there commit and was guilty of high misdemeanor in office.

ARTICLE 6. That Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the duties of his high office and of his oath of office, on the 21st day of February, in the year of our Lord 1868, at Washington, in the District of Columbia, did unlawfully conspire with one Lorenzo Thomas, by force to seize, take and possess the property of the United Sates at the War Department, contrary to the provisions of an act entitled “An act to define and punish certain conspiracies,” approved July 31, 1861, and with intent to violate and disregard an act entitled “An act regulating the tenure of certain civil offices,” passed March 2, 1867, whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did then and there commit a high crime in office.

ARTICLE 7.That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his office, and of his oath of office, on the 21st day of February, in the year of our Lord 1868, and on divers other days in said year, before the 28th day of said February, at Washington, in the District of Columbia, did unlawfully conspire with one Lorenzo Thomas to prevent and hinder the execution of an act of the United States, entitled “An act regulating the tenure of certain civil office,” passed March 2, 1867, and in pursuance of said conspiracy, did unlawfully attempt to prevent Edwin M. Stanton, then and there being Secretary for the Department of War, under the laws of the United States, from holding said office to which he had been duly appointed and commissioned, whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did there and then commit and was guilty of a high misdemeanor in office.

ARTICLE 8.That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his office, and of his oath of office, on the 21st day of February, in the year of our Lord, 1868, at Washington, in the District of Columbia, did unlawfully conspire with one Lorenzo Thomas, to seize, take and possess the property of the United States in the War Department, with intent to violate and disregard the act entitled “An act regulating the tenure of certain civil office,” passed March 2, 1867, whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did then and there commit a high misdemeanor in office.

ARTICLE 9.That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, on the 22nd day of February, in the year of our Lord 1868, at Washington, in the District of Columbia, in disregard of the Constitution and the law of Congress duly enacted, as Commander-in-Chief, did bring before himself, then and there, William H. Emory, a Major-General by brevet in the Army of the United States, actually in command of the Department of Washington, and the military forces therefor, and did and there, as Commander-in-Chief, declare to, and instruct said Emory, that part of the law of the United States, passed March 2, 1867, entitled “an act for making appropriations for the support of the army for the year ending June 30, 1868, and for other purposes,” especially the second section thereof, which provides, among other things, that all orders and instructions relating to military operations issued by the President and Secretary of War, shall be issued through the General of the Army, and in case of his inability, through the next in rank was unconstitutional, and in contravention of the commission of Emory, and therefore not binding on him, as an officer in the Army of the United States, which said provisions of law had been therefore duly and legally promulgated by General Order for the government and direction of the Army of the United States, as the said Andrew Johnson then and there well knew, with intent thereby to induce said Emory, in his official capacity as Commander of the Department of Washington, to violate the provisions of said act, and to take and receive, act upon and obey such orders as he, the said Andrew Johnson, might make and give, and which should not be issued through the General of the Army of the United States, according to the provisions of said act, whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did then and there commit, and was guilty of a high misdemeanor in office; and the House of Representatives, by protestation, saving to themselves the liberty of exhibition, at any time hereafter, any further articles of their accusation or impeachment against the said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, and also or replying to his answers, which will make up the articles herein preferred against him, and of offering proof to the same and every part thereof, and to all and every other article, accusation or impeachment which shall be exhibited by them as the case shall require, do demand that the said Andrew Johnson may be put to answer the high crimes and misdemeanors in office herein charged against him, and that such proceedings, examinations, trials and judgments may be thereupon had and given had and given as may be agreeable to law and justice.

ARTICLE 10.That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his high office and the dignity and proprieties thereof, and of the harmony and courtesies which ought to exist and be maintained between the executive and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, designing and intending to set aside the rightful authorities and powers of Congress, did attempt to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States, and the several branches thereof, to impair and destroy the regard and respect of all the good people of the United States for the Congress and the legislative power thereof, which all officers of the government ought inviolably to preserve and maintain, and to excite the odium and resentment of all good people of the United States against Congress and the laws by it duly and constitutionally enacted; and in pursuance of his said design and intent, openly and publicly and before divers assemblages of citizens of the United States, convened in divers parts thereof, to meet and receive said Andrew Johnson as the Chief Magistrate of the United States, did, on the eighteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, and on divers other days and times, as well before as afterwards, make and declare, with a loud voice, certain intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues, and therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces, as well against Congress as the laws of the United States duly enacted thereby, amid the cries, jeers and laughter of the multitudes then assembled in hearing, which are set forth in the several specifications hereinafter written, in substance and effect, that it to say: 

“Specification First. In this, that at Washington, in the District of Columbia, In the Executive Mansion, to a committee of citizens who called upon the President of the United States, speaking of and concerning the Congress of the United States, heretofore, to wit: On the 18th day of August, in the year of our Lord, 1866, in a loud voice, declare in substance and effect, among other things, that is to say:

“So far as the Executive Department of the government is concerned, the effort has been made to restore the Union, to heal the breach, to pour oil into the wounds which were consequent upon the struggle, and, to speak in a common phrase, to prepare, as the learned and wise physician would, a plaster healing in character and co-extensive with the wound. We thought and we think that we had partially succeeded, but as the work progresses, as reconstruction seemed to be taking place, and the country was becoming reunited, we found a disturbing and moving element opposing it. In alluding to that element it shall go no further than your Convention, and the distinguished gentleman who has delivered the report of the proceedings, I shall make no reference that I do not believe, and the time and the occasion justify. We have witnessed in one department of the government every endeavor to prevent the restoration of peace, harmony and union. We have seen hanging upon the verge of the government, as it were, a body called or which assumes to be the Congress of the United States, while in fact it is a Congress of only part of the States. We have seen this Congress pretend to be for the Union, when its every step and act tended to perpetuate disunion and make a disruption of States inevitable. We have seen Congress gradually encroach, step by step, upon constitutional rights, and violate day after day, and month after month, fundamental principles of the government. We have seen a Congress that seemed to forget that there was a limit to the sphere and scope of legislation. We have seen a Congress in a minority assume to exercise power which, if allowed to be consummated, would result in despotism or monarchy itself.”

“Specification Second. In this, that at Cleveland, in the State of Ohio, heretofore to wit: On the third day of September, in the year of our Lord, 1866, before a public assemblage of citizens and others, said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, speaking of and concerning the Congress of the United States, did, in a loud voice, declare in substance and effect, among other things, that is to say:

“I will tell you what I did do? I called upon your Congress that is trying to break up the government. In conclusion, beside that Congress had taken much pains to poison the constituents against him, what has Congress done? Have they done anything to restore the union of the States? No. On the contrary, they had done everything to prevent it: and because he stood now where he did when the Rebellion commenced, he had been denounced as a traitor, Who had run greater risks or made greater sacrifices than himself? But Congress, factions and domineering, had undertaken to poison the minds of the American people.”

“Specification Third. In this case, that at St. Louis, in the State of Missouri, heretofore to wit: On the 8th day of September, in the year of our Lord 1866, before a public assemblage of citizens and others, said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, speaking of acts concerning the Congress of the United States, did, in a loud voice, declare in substance and effect, among other things, that is to say:?

“Go on; perhaps if you had a word or two on the subject of New Orleans you might understand more about it than you do, and if you will go back and ascertain the cause of the riot at New Orleans, perhaps you will not be so prompt in calling out “New Orleans.” If you will take up the riot of New Orleans and trace it back to its source and its immediate cause, you will find out who was responsible for the blood that was shed there. If you will take up the riot at New Orleans and trace it back to the Radical Congress, you will find that the riot at New Orleans was substantially planned. If you will take up the proceedings in their caucuses you will understand that they knew that a convention was to be called which was extinct by its powers having expired; that it was said that the intention was that a new government was to be organized, and on the organization of that government the intention was to enfranchise one portion of the population, called the colored population, and who had been emancipated, and at the same time disfranchise white men. When you design to talk about New Orleans you ought to understand what you are talking about. When you read the speeches that were made, and take up the facts on the Friday and Saturday before that convention sat, you will find that speeches were made incendiary in their character, exciting that portion of the population, the black population, to arm themselves and prepare for the shedding of blood. You will also find that convention did assemble in violation of law, and the intention of that convention was to supersede the organized authorities in the State of Louisiana, which had been organized by the government of the United States, and every man engaged in that rebellion, in the convention, with the intention of superseding and upturning the civil government which had been recognized by the Government of the United States, I say that he was a traitor to the Constitution of the United States, and hence you find that another rebellion was commenced, having its origin in the Radical Congress. So much for the New Orleans riot. And there was the cause and the origin of the blood that was shed, and every drop of blood that was shed is upon their skirts and they are responsible. I could test this thing a little closer, but will not do it here to-night. But when you talk about the causes and consequences that resulted from proceedings of that kind, perhaps, as I have been introduced here and you have provoked questions of this kind, though it does not provoke me, I will tell you a few wholesome things that have been done by this Radical Congress in connection with New Orleans and the extension of the elective franchise. I know that I have been traduced and abused. I know it has come in advance of me here, as elsewhere, that I have attempted to exercise an arbitrary power in resisting laws that were intended to be forced upon the government; that I had exercised that power; that I had abandoned the party that elected me, and that I was a traitor, because I exercised the veto power in attempting, and did arrest for a time, that which was called a “Freedmen’s Bureau” bill. Yes, that I was a traitor. And I have been traduced; I have been slandered; I have been maligned; I have been called Judas Iscariot, and all that. Now, my countrymen, here to-night, it is very easy to indulge in epithets; it is easy to call a man a Judas, and cry out traitor, but when he is called upon to give arguments and facts he is very often found wanting. Judas Iscariot? Judas! There was a Judas, and he was one of the twelve Apostles. O, yes, the twelve Apostles had a Christ, and he never could have had a Judas unless he had twelve Apostles. If I have played the Judas who has been my Christ that I have played the Judas with? Was it Thad. Stevens? Was it Wendell Phillips? Was it Charles Sumner? They are the men that stop and compare themselves with the Savior, and everybody that differs with them in opinion, and tries to stay and arrest their diabolical and nefarious policy is to be denounced as a Judas. Well, let me say to you, if you will stand by me in this action, if you will stand by me in trying to give the people a fair chance, soldiers and citizens, to participate in these office, God be willing, I will kick them out. I will kick them out just as fast as I can. Let me say to you, in concluding, that what I have said is what I intended to say; I was not provoked into this, and care not for their menaces, the taunts and the jeers. I care not for threats, I do not intend to be bullied by enemies, nor overawed by my friends. But, God willing, with your help, I will veto their measures whenever any of them come to me.”

“Which said utterances, declarations, threats and harangues, highly censurable in any, are peculiarly indecent and unbecoming in the Chief Magistrate of the United States, by means whereof the said Andrew Johnson has brought the high office of the President of the United States into contempt, ridicule and disgrace, to the great scandal of all good citizens, whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did commit, and was then and there guilty of a high misdemeanor in office.

ARTICLE 11.That the said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his office and his oath of office, and in disregard of the Constitution and laws of the United States, did, heretofore, to wit: On the 18th day of August, 1866, at the city of Washington, and in the District of Columbia, by public speech, declare and affirm in substance, that the Thirty-ninth Congress of the United States was not a Congress of the United States authorized by the Constitution to exercise legislative power under the same, but on the contrary, was a Congress of only part of the States, thereby denying and intending to deny, that the legislation of said Congress was valid or obligatory upon him, the said Andrew Johnson, except in so far as he saw fit to approve the same, and also thereby denying the power of the said Thirty-ninth Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States. And in pursuance of said declaration, the said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, afterwards, to wit: On the 21st day of February 1868, at the city of Washington, D.C., did, unlawfully and in disregard of the requirements of the Constitution that he should take care that the laws be faithfully executed, attempt to prevent the execution of an act entitled “An act regulating the tenure of certain civil office,” passed March 2, 1867, by unlawfully devising and contriving and attempting to devise and contrive means by which he should prevent Edwin M. Stanton from forthwith resuming the functions of the office of Secretary for the Department of War, notwithstanding the refusal of the Senate to concur in the suspension theretofore made by the said Andrew Johnson of said Edwin M. Stanton from said office of Secretary for the Department of War; and also by further unlawfully devising and contriving, and attempting to devise and contrive means then and there to prevent the execution of an act entitled “An act making appropriations for the support of the army for the fiscal year ending June 30,1868, and for other purposes,” approved March 20, 1867. And also to prevent the execution of an act entitled “An act to provide for the more efficient government of the Rebel States,” passed March 2, 1867. Whereby the said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did then, to wit, on the 21st day of February, 1868, at the city of Washington, commit and was guilty of a high misdemeanor in office.

 

The Wall Street Journal Would Like You to Know that Trump Encouraged Russian Interference

sprung a leak

They are leaking like a sieve. Last evening, the Wall Street Journal, the mouthpiece of plutocracy, but where the journalists still do journalism, reported this little nugget:

President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter.

Don’t you love the smell of napalm in the morning?

The Difference Between the Two Favors

Memorandum of telephone conversation between Presidents Trump and Zelensky, July 25

Tim Miller, About That ‘Favor’ Trump Wanted From Ukraine: It might not be the most impeachable thing in the memo, but it’s still bonkers.

During the conversation Trump asked for two favors. The second requested favor was for Ukrainian authorities to cooperate with Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr in investigating Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. The other requested favor is described in this language from the memorandum.

The First Favor

The paragraph at the bottom of page 2 is an eight sentence paragraph paraphrasing Zelinsky. The Ukrainian president begins by fulsomely agreeing with Trump that the United States is a much better friend to Ukraine than those folks in the European Union. He then cuts to the chase in the last two sentences, which read as follows:

I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

Javelins, BTW, are portable antitank missiles. They come in handy if your country is being invaded by Russian tanks.

Immediately after the material quoted above, Trump speaks as follows, at the top of page 3 of the memorandum:

I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible. [paragraph quoted in full, ellipses in original memorandum]

President Zelensky, who probably thinks he has just heard a message from Planet Krypton, responds in the next paragraph with fulsome but general promises of cooperation with the United States.

Well, Duh!!

You will immediately note two things: that this is the usual incoherent word salad, exemplifying Trump’s continuing slide into Alka Seltzer disease; and second, that he is asking for a quid pro quo. If you have a gun and I want to buy it and you say, “Fine, but as a favor to me, please investigate my enemy,” you are asking for a quid pro quo.

Duh.

But Exactly WHAT is the First Favor That Trump Requested?

In the post cited above, Mr. Miller—who badly needs a better headline writer—explains. Please read for yourself, but I will summarize.

CrowdStrike is an American cybersecurity firm. Trump thinks it’s located in Ukraine, not California.

One of CrowdStrike’s founders was Dmitri Alperovich, who lives in California but was born in Russia. Trump thinks he’s a Ukrainian still living in Ukraine.

When the Democratic National Committee was hacked, the DNC retained CrowdStrike to determine what had happened—an assignment like the company performs for many other organizations.

Trump thinks what really happened was that a DNC staffer did the hack, that the Clintons subsequently murdered the hacker, and that CrowdStrike covered up the whole thing.

Mr. Miller summarizes it this way;

Given that background, it seems likely that the favor Trump asked for on the call was for the Ukrainian president to look into an American company, with a non-existent Ukranian CEO, to verify a conspiracy theory — one that has been debunked by his own intelligence agencies and Department of Justice — which would reveal that the Russians didn’t actually hack the DNC, that the leaked emails came from a midlevel staffer who was then murdered by the Clintons.

And that bonkers, insane request would end up being the less damning of the two requests Trump made of the newly elected president while delaying military aide to the country.

The Difference Between the Two Favor

Favor Two—cooperate in investigating the Bidens, and even maybe make up some dirt on them—lay within the power of President Zelinsky to carry out, if he chose to do so.

Favor One, however, was not within Zelinsky’s power, any more than he could prove that Hillary Clinton had sex with Bigfoot while riding a unicorn.

A Difference of Opinion

Both commentators made important points, but I thought one key issue was missing. Impeachment proceedings may do something to deter Trump and, maybe of equal importance, to deter his enablers, from pissing on the Constitution more than, say, once a week. Undeterred, he would probably do it several times a day.

The impeachment process also helps to remind the enablers about what happened to Nixon’s posse. Remember John Mitchell, and where he spent 19 months following the end of his government service.

And a word about Shields’ and Brooks’ respective prognostications of how Republican voters and Republican senators will or won’t evolve over the coming months. Do, please, remember that as the House issues subpoenas, holds hearings, and otherwise goes about its business, Trump’s mental deterioration seems to be accelerating. There will come a time when even his supporters will grasp that the man has lost it. When they finally see that the elevator is no longer going all the way to the top floor.

I am reminded of the emperor and his new clothes. it’s not as if our emperor is naked. It’s as if he’s doing a striptease before our eyes.

By the time he gets to the point where he’s about to divest himself of his jockeys, some of the Republican pols may rethink whether they really want to keep hitching their wagon to his star.

Et Tu, Drudge

shipshape

Washington Post, Matt Drudge played a major role in the Clinton impeachment. Now he’s back for another round. WaPo reports,

But there’s one conspicuous exception [to wingnut Trump support]: the legendary Drudge Report has for the last three days been spewing ALL CAPS, bolded, underlined, and sometimes bright-red headlines that sound terribly grim for the president.

“HILL ROCKED”

“REPUBLICAN CRACKS EMERGE”

“AMERICA BRACES FOR IMPEACHMENT”

**

Kenya is now in second place, but the Canadians are still in the running for second place today.

An End to Understanding? An End to Gullibility?

Infinite Gullibility, World Without End?

I understand why some believe in the unending, infinite gullibility of the Trump base—and why some are willing to place all their chips on continued, endless, world without end, gullibility. The evidence is abundant and compelling. And they may be right, and I may be wrong.

But human experience tells me that people who are gullible about thing A are not necessarily gullible about thing B. And that people do crash out of cults, at least sometimes. And when they crash out, they tend to crash out hard.

These sorts of concerns may underlie  Sean Hannity’s reported doubts.

With those thoughts in mind, let me address the current state of the Trump defense.

“The Whistleblower’s Complaint Was Based on Hearsay”

And so it was. But it was powerfully corroborated by the document that Trump himself released. And in any event, the obvious course of action is to call the first hand witnesses and put them on the stand, so they can tell us what they heard and saw. Which leads to more investigation. Which is fine and dandy if more investigation provides more proof of your innocence. But which is not good if more investigation will just uncover more proof of your guilt.

“There Was No Quid Pro Quo”

The letter that Trump released proves that military aid was to be exchanged for cooperation in investigating his political enemies. It is not proof by a preponderance of the evidence. it is not proof by clear and convincing evidence. It is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Some of Trump’s lackeys, having placed their bets on the infinite, eternal, unmitigated gullibility of Trump’s base, are trying to raise unreasonable doubts.

I’ve seen it done in the courtroom: trying to get the jury to believe a key document doesn’t mean what the document says. Advocacywise, it’s an act of utter desperation. It makes the judge and jury really mad. And if you can do it and get away without being disbarred, consider yourself lucky.

“Fine, But It was OK to Offer Military Assistance in Exchange for Dirt on His Rivals”

Mark my words. That is the fallback argument they will fall back on, and that right quickly. It has the merit of recognizing reality rather than trying to fight reality. It rests, not on gullibility, but on tribalism. Those who believe it also believe that Democrats and city dwellers are evil, and that any means necessary to defeat them—any means at all—are justified.

We will see how many such people there are in this country.

My guess is that it will turn out to be about 29 percent of the population. The others, I think, will, in the foreseeable future, find that they have reached the end of understanding and forgiving.

**

Greetings to new readers today from Austria, Finland, and South Korea. My US readership today has now surpassed the Canadians. Kenya, I am happy to say, is in strong third place.

Not Looking Good

wheels on the bus

Sean Hannity

An unimpeachable source reports that, “This morning, Sean Hannity told friends the whistle-blower’s allegations are ‘really bad,’ a person briefed on Hannity’s conversations told me. (Hannity did not respond to a request for comment).”

Paul Ryan

The same unimpeachable source also reports,

Among the powerful voices advising Lachlan [Murdoch] that Fox should decisively break with the president is former House speaker Paul Ryan, who joined the Fox board in March. “Paul is embarrassed about Trump and now he has the power to do something about it,” an executive who’s spoken with Ryan told me. (Ryan did not return a call seeking comment.) But a person more sympathetic to Trump has told Lachlan that Fox should remain loyal to Trump’s supporters, even if the network has to break from the man. “We need to represent our viewers,” the source said. “Fox is about defending our viewers from the people who hate them. That’s where our power comes from. It’s not about Trump.”

John Bolton

Mr. Bolton and his mustache are also likely to make an appearance on Fox soon. Mr. Bolton and his moustache know a lot about Ukrainegate. And they do not like Trump.

 

What Do These 13 People Have in Common?

see no evil

The 13 people of whom I speak are

  • Tim Scott
  • Todd Young
  • Mitt Romney
  • Lamar Alexander
  • Jim Risch
  • Rob Portman
  • Martha McSally
  • Lisa Murkowski
  • Mike Crapo
  • Mike Braun
  • James Lankford
  • John Hoeven
  • Joni Ernst

And they have three things in common.

One, they are Republicans.

Two, they are senators.

Three, as of 11AM this morning, they have not read the whistleblower report.

It Was a Beautiful, Perfectly Appropriate Conversation and the Person Who Leaked It Should be Executed for High Treason

**

This morning, Canadians are my most numerous readers. Y’all must be having a good laugh, up there. Other readers come from France, Germany, Iceland, India, Kenya, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States, and, yes, from Mauritius.

A Statement by 300+ National Security Professionals, From Republican and Democratic Administrations

The full statement, identifying the signers, will be found here. The text of the statement follows.

September 27, 2019

As national security professionals, many of us have long been concerned with President Trump’s actions and their implications for our safety and security. Some of us have spoken out, but many of us have eschewed politics throughout our careers and, as a result, have not weighed in publicly.

The revelations of recent days, however, demand a response. Specifically, all of us recognize the imperative of formal impeachment proceedings to ascertain additional facts and weigh the consequences of what we have learned and what may yet still emerge. We applaud those Members of Congress, including Speaker Pelosi, who have now started us down that necessary path.

President Trump appears to have leveraged the authority and resources of the highest office in the land to invite additional foreign interference into our democratic processes. That would constitute an unconscionable abuse of power. It also would represent an effort to subordinate America’s national interests—and those of our closest allies and partners—to the President’s personal political interest.

Having worked across administrations of both parties to uphold and advance those national interests, we consider the President’s actions to be a profound national security concern. Our relations with the rest of the world and our policies on the global stage must be based solely on what is in the national interest. The introduction of any other considerations of the President debases our democracy, has the potential to make us more vulnerable to threats, and sends a message to leaders around the world that America’s foreign policy can be dangerously corrupted by catering to a single individual. If we fail to speak up—and act—now our foreign policy and national security will officially be on offer to those who can most effectively fulfill the President’s personal prerogatives.

To be clear, we do not wish to prejudge the totality of the facts or Congress’ deliberative process. At the same time, there is no escaping that what we already know is serious enough to merit impeachment proceedings. From there, the facts—and nothing but the facts—should dictate how Congress holds the President to account and signals to the world that our foreign policy and national security are not for sale.