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1/6/19 3:56 P

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Your article is correct, too, that Nixon was not impeached. From recent readings it is to my understanding that the House began a committee draft to be presented to the full House membership. It was Barry Goldwater that told Nixon days before his resignation that "it was over." The bigger issue at large in the Nixon case was not so much the embarassment of being impeached, but the possible, perhaps likely, followup for criminal prosecution as a private citizen. As things stand now, and as Sherri earlier pointed out, this is a very likely possibility for Trump as well. The new NY attorney general is looking into that scenario now.

Trump clearly is being bombarded from all sides, and it appears he is starting to realize that it will not be simply a matter of doubling down, recalcitrant as ever. And as such, he is starting to see, perhaps, that he is facing serious prison time as a private citizen. His family as well. It appears that he is weighing his options how to escape all this (yet) again. At 72 years of age, a long prison term is not something to look forward to.

Edited by: NUMD97 at: 1/6/2019 (16:55)
Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do.
~ Goethe

Dare to dream.
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1/6/19 3:21 P

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Malcolm Nance, in his book, "The Plot To Destroy Democracy", makes a similar argument.

As Phebess had stated earlier, they should get rid of the whole lot of them. I totally get her passion, but I do not think that is realistic.

In view of last week's events, if this path is pursued and the Republicans in the Senate (finally!) realize they have no other choice for their own political survival, they just may follow the House's lead should they choose to present Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, and jettison their support of Trump. Add to that the news that is just beginning to surface about "Who knew what and when?" Pence seemingly knew about the Russian interference with the 2016 election, so it seems to follow a similar path to Nixon's own dilemma: Nixon purportedly was not involved with the initial Watergate burglary (that was CREEP's doing - "The Committee To Re-Elect The President"), but with the following coverup. That appears to be Pence's issue as well. It is to my understanding that he has retained his own counsel, for the "just in case" scenario. He still so wants to be president.

All eyes are on Mueller now.

Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do.
~ Goethe

Dare to dream.
~ Me


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More from the Gray Lady, is a cogent column on the time for impeachment being now. Could have been ghost-written by our very own Nu.

***

Opinion
The People vs. Donald J. Trump
He is demonstrably unfit for office. What are we waiting for?

By David Leonhardt
Opinion Columnist

The presidential oath of office contains 35 words and one core promise: to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Since virtually the moment Donald J. Trump took that oath two years ago, he has been violating it.

He has repeatedly put his own interests above those of the country. He has used the presidency to promote his businesses. He has accepted financial gifts from foreign countries. He has lied to the American people about his relationship with a hostile foreign government. He has tolerated cabinet officials who use their position to enrich themselves.

To shield himself from accountability for all of this — and for his unscrupulous presidential campaign — he has set out to undermine the American system of checks and balances. He has called for the prosecution of his political enemies and the protection of his allies. He has attempted to obstruct justice. He has tried to shake the public’s confidence in one democratic institution after another, including the press, federal law enforcement and the federal judiciary.

The unrelenting chaos that Trump creates can sometimes obscure the big picture. But the big picture is simple: The United States has never had a president as demonstrably unfit for the office as Trump. And it’s becoming clear that 2019 is likely to be dominated by a single question: What are we going to do about it?

The easy answer is to wait — to allow the various investigations of Trump to run their course and ask voters to deliver a verdict in 2020. That answer has one great advantage. It would avoid the national trauma of overturning an election result. Ultimately, however, waiting is too dangerous. The cost of removing a president from office is smaller than the cost of allowing this president to remain.

He has already shown, repeatedly, that he will hurt the country in order to help himself. He will damage American interests around the world and damage vital parts of our constitutional system at home. The risks that he will cause much more harm are growing.

Some of the biggest moderating influences have recently left the administration. The defense secretary who defended our alliances with NATO and South Korea is gone. So is the attorney general who refused to let Trump subvert a federal investigation into himself. The administration is increasingly filled with lackeys and enablers. Trump has become freer to turn his whims into policy — like, say, shutting down the government on the advice of Fox News hosts or pulling troops from Syria on the advice of a Turkish autocrat.

The biggest risk may be that an external emergency — a war, a terrorist attack, a financial crisis, an immense natural disaster — will arise. By then, it will be too late to pretend that he is anything other than manifestly unfit to lead.

For the country’s sake, there is only one acceptable outcome, just as there was after Americans realized in 1974 that a criminal was occupying the Oval Office. The president must go.

Achieving this outcome won’t be easy. It will require honorable people who have served in the Trump administration to share, publicly, what they have seen and what they believe. (At this point, anonymous leaks are not sufficient.) It will require congressional Republicans to acknowledge that they let a con man take over their party and then defended that con man. It will require Democrats and progressive activists to understand that a rushed impeachment may actually help Trump remain in office.

But if removing him will not be easy, it’s not as unlikely as it may sometimes seem. From the beginning, Trump has been an unusually weak president, as political scientists have pointed out. Although members of Congress have not done nearly enough to constrain him, no other recent president has faced nearly so much public criticism or private disdain from his own party.

Since the midterm election showed the political costs that Trump inflicts on Republicans, this criticism seems to be growing. They have broken with him on foreign policy (in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syria) and are anxious about the government shutdown. Trump is vulnerable to any erosion in his already weak approval rating, be it from an economic downturn, more Russia revelations or simply the defection of a few key allies. When support for an unpopular leader starts to crack, it can crumble.

Before we get to the how of Trump’s removal, though, I want to spend a little more time on the why — because even talking about the ouster of an elected president should happen only under extreme circumstances. Unfortunately, the country is now so polarized that such talk instead occurs with every president. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama were subjected to reckless calls for their impeachment, from members of Congress no less.

So let’s be clear. Trump’s ideology is not an impeachable offense. However much you may disagree with Trump’s tax policy — and I disagree vehemently — it is not a reason to remove him from office. Nor are his efforts to cut government health insurance or to deport undocumented immigrants. Such issues, among others, are legitimate matters of democratic struggle, to be decided by elections, legislative debates, protests and the other normal tools of democracy. These issues are not the “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” that the founders intended impeachment to address.

Yet the founders also did not intend for the removal of a president to be impossible. They insisted on including an impeachment clause in the Constitution because they understood that an incompetent or corrupt person was nonetheless likely to attain high office every so often. And they understood how much harm such a person could do. The country needed a way to address what Alexander Hamilton called “the abuse or violation of some public trust” and James Madison called the “incapacity, negligence or perfidy” of a president.

The negligence and perfidy of President Trump — his high crimes and misdemeanors — can be separated into four categories. This list is conservative. It does not include the possibility that his campaign coordinated strategy with Russia, which remains uncertain. It also does not include his lazy approach to the job, like his refusal to read briefing books or the many empty hours on his schedule. It instead focuses on demonstrable ways that he has broken the law or violated his constitutional oath.

1. Trump has used the presidency for personal enrichment. - Regardless of party, Trump’s predecessors took elaborate steps to separate their personal financial interests from their governing responsibilities. They released their tax returns, so that any potential conflicts would be public. They placed their assets in a blind trust, to avoid knowing how their policies might affect their own investments.

Trump has instead treated the presidency as a branding opportunity. He has continued to own and promote the Trump Organization. He has spent more than 200 days at one of his properties and billed taxpayers for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If this pattern were merely petty corruption, without damage to the national interest, it might not warrant removal from office. But Trump’s focus on personal profit certainly appears to be affecting policy. Most worrisome, foreign officials and others have realized they can curry favor with the president by spending money at one of his properties.

Saudi Arabia has showered the Trump Organization with business, and Trump has stood by the Saudis despite their brutal war in Yemen and their assassination of a prominent critic. A Chinese government-owned company reportedly gave a $500 million loan to a Trump-backed project in Indonesia; two days later, Trump announced that he was lifting sanctions on another well-connected Chinese company.

These examples, and many more, flout Article 1 of the Constitution, which bans federal officeholders from accepting “emoluments” from any foreign country unless Congress approves the arrangement. Madison, when making the case for an impeachment clause, spoke of a president who “might betray his trust to foreign powers.”

Then, of course, there is Russia. Even before Robert Mueller, the special counsel, completes his investigation, the known facts are damning enough in at least one way. Trump lied to the American people during the 2016 campaign about business negotiations between his company and Vladimir Putin’s government. As president, Trump has taken steps — in Europe and Syria — that benefit Putin. To put it succinctly: The president of the United States lied to the country about his commercial relationship with a hostile foreign government toward which he has a strangely accommodating policy.

Combine Trump’s actions with his tolerance for unethical cabinet officials — including ones who have made shady stock trades, accepted lavish perks or used government to promote their own companies or those of their friends — and the Trump administration is almost certainly the most corrupt in American history. It makes Warren G. Harding’s Teapot Dome scandal look like, well, a tempest in a teapot.

2. Trump has violated campaign finance law. - A Watergate grand jury famously described Richard Nixon as “an unindicted co-conspirator.” Trump now has his own indictment tag: “Individual-1.”

Federal prosecutors in New York filed papers last month alleging that Trump — identified as Individual-1 — directed a criminal plan to evade campaign finance laws. It happened during the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, when he instructed his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay a combined $280,000 in hush money to two women with whom Trump evidently had affairs. Trump and his campaign did not disclose these payments, as required by law. In the two years since, Trump has lied publicly about them — initially saying he did not know about the payments, only to change his story later.

It’s worth acknowledging that most campaign finance violations do not warrant removal from office. But these payments were not most campaign finance violations. They involved large, secret payoffs in the final weeks of a presidential campaign that, prosecutors said, “deceived the voting public.” The seriousness of the deception is presumably the reason that the prosecutors filed criminal charges against Cohen, rather than the more common penalty of civil fines for campaign finance violations.

What should happen to a president who won office with help from criminal behavior? The founders specifically considered this possibility during their debates at the Constitutional Convention. The most direct answer came from George Mason: A president who “practiced corruption and by that means procured his appointment in the first instance” should be subject to impeachment.

3. Trump has obstructed justice. - Whatever Mueller ultimately reveals about the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump has obstructed justice to keep Mueller — and others — from getting to the truth.

Again and again, Trump has interfered with the investigation in ways that may violate the law and clearly do violate decades-old standards of presidential conduct. He pressured James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, to let up on the Russia investigation, as a political favor. When Comey refused, Trump fired him. Trump also repeatedly pressured Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, to halt the investigation and ultimately forced Sessions to resign for not doing so. Trump has also publicly hounded several of the government’s top experts on Russian organized crime, including Andrew McCabe and Bruce Ohr.

And Trump has repeatedly lied to the American people. He has claimed, outrageously, that the Justice Department tells witnesses to lie in exchange for leniency. He has rejected, with no factual basis, the findings of multiple intelligence agencies about Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign. He reportedly helped his son Donald Trump Jr. draft a false statement about a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer.

Obstruction of justice is certainly grounds for the removal of a president. It was the subject of the first Nixon article of impeachment passed by the House Judiciary Committee. Among other things, that article accused him of making “false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.”

4. Trump has subverted democracy. - The Constitution that Trump swore to uphold revolves around checks and balances. It depends on the idea that the president is not a monarch. He is a citizen to whom, like all other citizens, the country’s laws apply. Trump rejects this principle. He has instead tried to undermine the credibility of any independent source of power or information that does not serve his interests.

It’s much more than just the Russia investigation. He has tried to delegitimize federal judges based on their ethnicity or on the president who appointed them, drawing a rare rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts. Trump has criticized the Justice Department for indicting Republican politicians during an election year. He has called for Comey, Hillary Clinton and other political opponents of his to be jailed.

Trump has described journalists as “the enemy of the people” — an insult usually leveled by autocrats. He has rejected basic factual findings from the C.I.A., the Congressional Budget Office, research scientists and others. He has told bald lies about election fraud.

Individually, these sins may not seem to deserve removal from office. Collectively, though, they exact a terrible toll on American society. They cause people to lose the faith on which a democracy depends — faith in elections, in the justice system, in the basic notion of truth.

No other president since Nixon has engaged in behavior remotely like Trump’s. To accept it without sanction is ultimately to endorse it. Unpleasant though it is to remove a president, the costs and the risks of a continued Trump presidency are worse.

What now?
The most relevant precedent for the removal of Trump is Nixon, the only American president to be forced from office because of his conduct. And two aspects of Nixon’s departure tend to get overlooked today. One, he was never impeached. Two, most Republicans — both voters and elites — stuck by him until almost the very end. His approval rating among Republicans was still about 50 percent when, realizing in the summer of 1974 that he was doomed, he resigned.

The current political dynamics have some similarities. Whether the House of Representatives, under Democratic control, impeaches Trump is not the big question. The question is whether he loses the support of a meaningful slice of Republicans.

I know that many of Trump’s critics have given up hoping that he ever will. They assume that Republican senators will go on occasionally criticizing him without confronting him. But it is a mistake to give up. The stakes are too large — and the chances of success are too real.

Consider the following descriptions of Trump: “terribly unfit;” “erratic;” “reckless;” “impetuous;” “unstable;” “a pathological liar;” “dangerous to a democracy;” a concern to “anyone who cares about our nation.” Every one of these descriptions comes from a Republican member of Congress or of Trump’s own administration.

They know. They know he is unfit for office. They do not need to be persuaded of the truth. They need to be persuaded to act on it.

Democrats won’t persuade them by impeaching Trump. Doing so would probably rally the president’s supporters. It would shift the focus from Trump’s behavior toward a group of Democratic leaders whom Republicans are never going to like. A smarter approach is a series of sober-minded hearings to highlight Trump’s misconduct. Democrats should focus on easily understandable issues most likely to bother Trump’s supporters, like corruption.

If this approach works at all — or if Mueller’s findings shift opinion, or if a separate problem arises, like the economy — Trump’s Republican allies will find themselves in a very difficult spot. At his current approval rating of about 40 percent, Republicans were thumped in the midterms. Were his rating to fall further, a significant number of congressional Republicans would be facing long re-election odds in 2020.

Two examples are Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine, senators who, not coincidentally, have shown tentative signs of breaking with Trump on the government shutdown. The recent criticism from Mitt Romney — who alternates between critical and sycophantic, depending on his own political interests — is another sign of Trump’s weakness.

For now, most Republicans worry that a full break with Trump will cause them to lose a primary, and it might. But sticking by him is no free lunch. Just ask the 27 Republican incumbents who were defeated last year and are now former members of Congress. By wide margins, suburban voters and younger voters find Trump abhorrent. The Republican Party needs to hold its own among these voters, starting in 2020.

It’s not only that Trump is unfit to be president and that Republicans know it. It also may be the case that they will soon have a political self-interest in abandoning him. If they did, the end could come swiftly. The House could then impeach Trump, knowing the Senate might act to convict. Or negotiations could begin over whether Trump deserves to trade resignation for some version of immunity.

Finally, there is the hope — naďve though it may seem — that some Republicans will choose to act on principle. There now exists a small club of former Trump administration officials who were widely respected before joining the administration and whom Trump has sullied, to greater or lesser degrees. It includes Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster and Jim Mattis. Imagine if one of them gave a television interview and told the truth about Trump. Doing so would be a service to their country at a time of national need. It would be an illustration of duty.

Throughout his career, Trump has worked hard to invent his own reality, and largely succeeded. It has made him very rich and, against all odds, elected him president. But whatever happens in 2019, his false version of reality will not survive history, just as Nixon’s did not. Which side of that history do today’s Republicans want to be on?

Edited by: BOSS61 at: 1/6/2019 (19:00)
"Some day we will look back on this, and it will all seem funny" - Bruce Springsteen (The real BOSS, as opposed to me.)





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1/6/19 8:16 A

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Would not matter what they think as long as it is legal. They are not strong enough in base to alter things. It was the interference of the Russians that elected Trump. That was made very clear by numerous sources that I have read lately. And Comey, for all his "mea culpa", is not a person I respect at all. I found his book very self-serving. He had the analysts check out those so-called missing emails and they did not think that they could have the results ready in time for the election. They discovered a super computer program that could handle the data in a very short period of time and finished the results of their analyses by Sunday night. And in the end, they found nothing that was sensitive in terms of possible careless inclusion of top-secret government documents on Clinton's personal computer. That being said, why the heck didn't Comey bring that to the public's attention the following day, Monday, or even early Tuesday morning the day of the election? He did not offer Clinton the same evenhandedness that he gave to Trump. And to actually ask the question in his book, "Did [he] have a role in altering the election?" is incredibly disingenuous.

Edited by: NUMD97 at: 1/6/2019 (08:29)
Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do.
~ Goethe

Dare to dream.
~ Me


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1/6/19 8:06 A

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We won't get a do-over. Even James Comey recently opined against impeachment, because the one-third of the country who continues to drink the MAGA kool-aid will view the effort as an illegitimate hijacking. The only way the MAGA crew gets its cumuppance is at the polls in 2020, per Comey. He is not wrong.

Edited by: BOSS61 at: 1/6/2019 (08:06)
"Some day we will look back on this, and it will all seem funny" - Bruce Springsteen (The real BOSS, as opposed to me.)





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1/6/19 7:46 A

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First, for those outside the NYC area, "AOC" is not a political action commitee (though that could be argued), but the latest representative out of NYC: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is hell-bent on making a name for herself from Day One of the newly elected Congress.

I am so glad that Pelosi was gunning for her thankless job as Speaker of the House (I certainly would not want it). Trump has given the new Congress a multitude of issues they can sink their teeth into. Mark has pointed out one, though I doubt it will be top of their agenda.

They first have to bring the 800,000 federal employees who are currently on so-called "furlough" back to work. I am sure that that thousand dollars cited in the article below would sure come in handy right about now, to pay for the most basic of essentials: Food, clothing, shelter.

If I could ask the president, "While you had two years to effectuate this so-called wall of yours with a most supportive and consenting Congress, rubber-stamping many of your whims, why on earth did you wait till the end of last year to raise this spectre? Or is this merely a means to shore up your base, as you begin the notion of going about your re-election campaign?"

Last night I finished Malcolm Nance's book, "The Plot To Destroy Democracy." This has got to be one of the most frightening books I have ever read. One of the last comments he made in the Epilogue was the fact that the Founding Fathers realized the possibility of a traitorous president, for which reason they built in the other two strong branches of government to serve as "checks and balances" in the nascent republic, but they never ever considered the possibility that a president would be so corrupt and the Congress so deep in collusion with him, that the Congress would merely rubberstamp all his desires to further line his pockets and support his continual raping of America (there really is no other way to put that). And here I always marvelled at just how incredibly prescient our Constitution was that it stood the tests of time for over 200 years. Until now.

I really worry for our present circumstances, and feel utterly helpless to help alter its current course. Jews have a prayer for the government. We really have to continue praying that the new Congress will have the wisdom, the wherewithal, to get us out of our current morass. And I honestly do not believe that impeachment or a "do-over" is the answer.

Edited by: NUMD97 at: 1/6/2019 (17:06)
Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do.
~ Goethe

Dare to dream.
~ Me


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1/6/19 7:09 A

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Good morning and Happy Sunday, Sisterhood plus one. Predawn Sunday hours find me reading the news online, drinking too much coffee, and exercicing not so terribly much (Sparky stuff now out of the way).

I even read the "Gray Lady", putting aside my eschew of NYC enough to do so. (I figure if we survive the present political maelstrom, the economic health of the Times and Post will play a role, so I am doing my part. Money spent on the digital subscription does more than if given to any candidate or party. My rationalization anyway. I also feel bad about my defeat-the-paywall-at-all-costs skills. Yes, I am growing up a little.

This morning the TImes is full of stories of our new progressive champion, AOC. Conservatives are apoplectic at her suggestion that the ultra-wealthy should be taxed at some 70% or 80%. This interesting column by Paul Krugman suggests there is cogent basis and historic precedent for such a notion:

"... The controversy of the moment involves AOC’s advocacy of a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes, which is obviously crazy, right? I mean, who thinks that makes sense? ... And it’s a policy nobody has every implemented, aside from … the United States, for 35 years after World War II — including the most successful period of economic growth in our history.

"To be more specific, ... Emmanuel Saez — one of our leading experts on inequality — estimated the optimal top tax rate to be 73 percent. Some put it higher: Christina Romer, top macroeconomist and former head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, estimates it at more than 80 percent.

"...Where do these numbers come from? Underlying the Diamond-Saez analysis are two propositions: Diminishing marginal utility and competitive markets.

"...Diminishing marginal utility is the common-sense notion that an extra dollar is worth a lot less in satisfaction to people with very high incomes than to those with low incomes. Give a family with an annual income of $20,000 an extra $1,000 and it will make a big difference to their lives. Give a guy who makes $1 million an extra thousand and he’ll barely notice it.

"...What this implies for economic policy is that we shouldn’t care what a policy does to the incomes of the very rich. A policy that makes the rich a bit poorer will affect only a handful of people, and will barely affect their life satisfaction, since they will still be able to buy whatever they want."

To me, this thinking is long overdue and a breath of fresh air. Only a matter of time until the crazy Trumpian tax break for the ultra-wealthy is rolled back. The crazier he gets, the sooner that happens. One can only hope.

"Some day we will look back on this, and it will all seem funny" - Bruce Springsteen (The real BOSS, as opposed to me.)





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