Patterico's Pontifications

12/20/2019

Ramesh Ponnuru Dismantles the Arguments Against Impeachment and Removal

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:51 am



To the extent that facts and logic matter, which is very little, Ramesh Ponnuru breaks down the arguments for and against impeachment. It’s a great piece and you should read the whole thing.

Ponnuru begins with the concept that impeachment is appropriate only when facts show an impeachable “abuse of power or dereliction of duty” by the president, such that removing him is prudent.

Diehard Trump defenders advance the argument that Trump was truly concerned with corruption in Ukraine as a matter of a U.S. national interest. Ponnuru takes this argument head-on, and demonstrates convincingly that Trump’s concerns were purely petty and self-serving:

The argument requires a willful suspension of disbelief. Gordon Sondland, the Trump-appointed ambassador to the European Union, has testified that Trump “didn’t want to hear about” Ukrainian efforts against corruption and that concerns over corruption had not led to the withholding of aid from any other country within his portfolio. The Department of Defense had certified that Ukraine was taking steps against corruption before the administration withheld aid to it.

Fighting corruption would not have required Trump to encourage Zelensky to work with Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, who has said that he was working in Ukraine to advance his client’s personal interests; it would have counseled against Trump’s doing that. Nor would the effort have required the secrecy with which it was conducted, or have required dropping around the same time it was starting to attract publicity. Kurt Volker, Trump’s envoy to Ukraine, has testified that Giuliani said that official Ukrainian statements against corruption were insufficient unless they specifically mentioned the investigations touching on the Bidens and on the 2016 campaign.

There is essentially no evidence that either investigation is worth conducting. The theory that Joe Biden acted corruptly holds that he leaned on the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor who was looking into a company that had his son on the board. That prosecutor’s former deputy has said that there was no active investigation, and the Obama administration was on record urging the prosecutor to assist a British legal action against the company’s owner.

Ponnuru’s piece is also valuable for debunking the notion that we must be presented with evidence of a statutory crime to impeach a president. Not so. Yes, James Madison argued against the notion of “maladministration” being impeachable.

Madison also said, though, that impeachment is the constitutional protection against a president who would abuse his power to pardon criminals, and that it was an appropriate remedy for “wanton removal of meritorious officers” by the president. . . . Congress has impeached many officials for misconduct not involving statutory crimes, and included non-crimes in its efforts to impeach Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Clinton.

Ponnuru acknowledges that Trump can’t be removed over the objections of half the country. But:

There are better questions. Would it be good for the country if a large majority of Americans were to be persuaded that it is unacceptable for a president to use his office to encourage foreign governments to investigate his political opponents? Assuming that the necessary level of support to remove a president from office for that offense will not be reached, should we prefer that more elected officials go on record that it is unacceptable — or that fewer do?

FRUSTRATED POSTSCRIPT: This is a post that uses reason and evidence and logic to make an argument about something that 1) people have already made up their mind about, and 2) often can’t discuss rationally as a general rule. So why bother?

Why bother indeed. Arguing politics carries with it the immense frustration of having otherwise sensible and smart people look you straight in the eye and say laughable things that they would recognize as laughable in any other context. I opened this blog post with the words “[t]o the extent that facts and logic matter” while implicitly recognizing that to many, they matter not at all. I’m already pre-irritated by the fact that there are commenters, whom I won’t name (but we all know who they are, and they will identify themselves shortly by behaving in the way I am about to describe) who will read/half read a post like this and treat the arguments therein a nothing more than a springboard for some flippant remark, generally in the form of a whatabout, that they believe is clever. These people continually show that they could not care less about the facts, arguments, and logic offered. Such things are mere foils to make dopey and tired partisan points.

And yet, we have nothing but facts, reason, logic, and argument to fall back on. The alternatives are violence, or rabble-rousing displays of emotion — which the Smart Crowd will patiently explain to you is the only real persuasive tool, and they will attempt to justify that position with … facts, reason, logic, and argument.

I can’t endorse violence, even when people seem to like it, as in Nazi-punching. I leave persuasion through emotive gestures to others. It’s not my strong suit. I am left with reason. I’ll continue to apply it. I’ll continue to mostly ignore and occasionally snap back at people who demonstrate they won’t listen to reason, and I’ll continue to make the reasoned case for my positions to the tiny handful of you for whom such tools are effective.

146 Responses to “Ramesh Ponnuru Dismantles the Arguments Against Impeachment and Removal”

  1. Hi Munroe. Hi rcoeaan. Please grace us with your thoughtless whatabouts now.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  2. I can’t endorse violence, even when people seem to like it, as in Nazi-punching. I leave persuasion through emotive gestures to others. It’s not my strong suit. I am left with reason. I’ll continue to apply it.

    Good luck, Pat. I think you’ll need it.

    Gryph (08c844)

  3. ”And yet, we have nothing but facts, reason, logic, and argument to fall back on. The alternatives are violence, or rabble-rousing displays of emotion…”

    No. The alternative is elections.

    BTW, one coming up in less than a year. Did you notice?

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  4. 3. So cute that you think elections matter. If you haven’t been disabused of that notion yet, you’re hopeless.

    Gryph (08c844)

  5. ”And yet, we have nothing but facts, reason, logic, and argument to fall back on. The alternatives are violence, or rabble-rousing displays of emotion…”

    No. The alternative is elections.

    BTW, one coming up in less than a year. Did you notice?

    So, question: How far away from an upcoming election should impeachment be allowed to make it “fair”?
    And if rushing to judgment is an issue, then taking the time to do it right is important. How long is should that take?
    2 years? 18 months?
    You can’t rush – but you can’t get to close to the upcoming election.
    So it seems to me that the “The alternative is elections” is a bogus catch 22.

    You can’t impeach right out of the box (people are claiming the Dems wanted to, but that’s not the same thing), because the POTUS hasn’t had time to do anything impeachable, but when he does (if he does), it’s too close to another election.

    Nice racket.

    Tom M (347d19)

  6. I am excited for the Democrat convention. Should be a blast.

    mg (8cbc69)

  7. Diehard Trump defenders advance the argument that Trump was truly concerned with corruption in Ukraine as a matter of a U.S. national interest. Ponnuru takes this argument head-on

    He’s knocking down a straw man. I don’t think that argument is advanced, except by people who want to say that Trump did absolutely nothing wrong. That was not the argument made by House Republicans who argued against impeachment.

    Jim Jordan had it that Trump wanted to know if this guy Zelensky is OK. That is not true.

    But another argument is that it was legitimate to want to know the truth about what Joe Biden did, and that that was not simply a way of asking Ukraine for help in an election, but a completely legitimate thing to do, and furthermore he didn’t have any intention to coerce Ukraine into doing this.

    Sammy Finkelman (329d95)

  8. ‘So, question: How far away from an upcoming election should impeachment be allowed to make it “fair”?‘
    Tom M (347d19) — 12/20/2019 @ 8:18 am

    As if fairness is the issue.

    If there is an overwhelming sentiment that the President needs to go, impeachment is a perfectly legal (and necessary) method of booting him without having to wait for the next election. (Nixon and Clinton didn’t even have a next election to consider.)

    There is no such overwhelming sentiment, except among the Smart Crowd that our good host Mr. P references. If there’s one central theme the Founders espoused, it was having government checked by the electorate — not the Smart Crowd.

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  9. 8. Hold on a minute, bucko. The government was designed to check itself. You know, with veto power (exec over electorate) and veto overrides (congress over Exec), Etc. The voters don’t have the final say; they are one piece of the puzzle, one variable in a complex equation.

    Gryph (08c844)

  10. “ He’s knocking down a straw man.”

    Pretty much.

    And are these the same sort of facts and logic that determined Nunes to be a lying hack about the FISA warrant?
    _

    harkin (15bd84)

  11. The real impeachment scandal

    “ The Democrats are always guilty of what they accuse Trump of

    One of the curious ironies about the impeachment pseudo-scandal (well, it is a scandal, but not because Donald Trump has done anything wrong) attached itself also to the whole Trump-Russia hoax. It is this: that the Dems were themselves guilty of what they were accusing Donald Trump of. Worried about ‘Russian influence’ on the 2016? How about the so-called Steele dossier, a putrid pile of Russian disinformation fed to Steele by Russians eager to bollocks up the American election process and then paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign as opposition ‘research’ that was surreptitiously fed to the FISA Court to spy on American citizens and provide justification for the investigation of Trump’s campaign. The mind boggles, or at least it should.

    In this case, the real Ukraine scandal is the Biden family scandal. Yet somehow Joe and Hunter Biden’s corruption got transmuted in supposed wrongdoing by Donald Trump. How does that work? ‘How Did the Bidens’ Corruption Become Trump’s Scandal?‘ It’s the special alchemy at which Democrats excel.”

    https://spectator.us/nancy-pelosi-dull-impeachment-spectacle/
    _

    harkin (15bd84)

  12. Put me in whichever category you want but reason and evidence and logic would apply to similar situations when they clearly don’t. The invention of whataboutism provides the perfect shield against that. Ad hominem and confirmation bias cover the rest.

    The fact that so many otherwise reasonable people can see the same facts and come to a different opinion should indicate that a position isn’t an obvious slam dunk. A conclusion can be based on reason and evidence and logic and still allow room for other conclusions. It’s possible for reasonable people to see the same facts and disagree.

    For example, the petty and self-serving conclusion quoted above relies on the idea that since another plausible alternative to rooting out corruption can be articulated the path Trump took must have had some other motive. That isn’t true and requires some baked-in assumptions. For example, baked in is the assumption that Trump can’t do anything for other than selfish reasons. This is why arguments on this issue are usually accompanied by arguments that investigating the Biden’s aren’t worth conducting for anything but partisan reasons. Because if any ground is given there this issue starts to unravel. But many of the same people will also argue that the allegations against Trump in the dossier had to be investigated because the American people had to have a conclusive answer and they will still argue that even given what we now know.

    Somehow it’s more reasonable and logical that Trump is a long term sleeper agent for Putin than it is that the Biden’s are profiting from their influence and positions.

    frosty (f27e97)

  13. Somehow it’s more reasonable and logical that Trump is a long term sleeper agent for Putin than it is that the Biden’s are profiting from their influence and positions.

    All those words just to conclude that it’s not possible both political parties have crooks in it. Gotta be either the democrat or the republican for some (dumb) reason.

    Frosty, we realize Biden and Hillary and all those guys were profiting from their positions. That is a very weak claim and does nothing to defend Trump from what’s been proven (yes proven) about his extraordinary misconduct. It’s not like he asked for a favor to investigate corruption in general. He asked for a favor to investigate his primary political opponent, specifically, on condition of funds of the US Taxpayer. After all the obstruction and hiding of Putin’s screwing with our elections, he’s doing it again for 2020.

    The idea that good Americans have to accept either Biden or Trump’s innocence and greatness is just a symptom of the Trump disease. This idea that if we criticize Trump we must be disloyal or evil, perhaps should get in trouble (all those calls to arrest Pelosi yesterday, for example). It’s tyranny.

    And what’s hilarious is the same gasbags will insist, in a few years, that Trump was an anomaly. That the GOP’s insistence on uniform support for corruption doesn’t mean anything.

    Dustin (cafb36)

  14. As I have said repeatedly, the Founders intended impeachment as a remedy for bad behavior, not just statutory crimes. Anything that would lead sane, apolitical people to consider assassination in its absence. The less drastic remedy would have the benefit of also allowing the accused to exonerate himself. Ben Franklin was a leading proponent of this view.

    The real debates on impeachment had to do with “who decides?” and it was thought that the Senate, being elected by State governments, would be the most insulated from the President. But we fixed that.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  15. Since neither charge is statutory though (and the second charge is merely an unresolved legal dispute), one is left to decide if the charge is sufficient to justify removal. Despite Ramesh’s argument, this remains subjective. In both the Nixon and Clinton cases there were statutory charges as well — including serious charges of active obstruction (e.g. witness tampering) that are not alleged here.

    If Clinton could get off because his party and the press (birm) spun it all into “lying about sex”, then the subjective charge here (the 2nd article is a mere legal dispute) are even more easily spun.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  16. @13 I didn’t conclude that it’s not possible both political parties have crooks in it. I’ve got some straw I’ll sell you though. You seem like you might need a steady supply.

    If you are agreeing that Biden is corrupt are you referring to this specific situation? Because the accusation against Biden is that he used funds of the US Taxpayer for a favor that benefited himself, or his son, personally.

    The last two paragraphs have nothing to do with my post but you are burning through straw at an alarming rate. At least have some sympathy for the cows and supply pressure you are putting on farmers everywhere.

    frosty (f27e97)

  17. Trump is/was an anomaly.

    In particular, he was the only person on stage, in either party, saying what a large portion of the electorate longed to hear — that the federal government and both parties had lost the plot.

    The messenger may have been an opportunist crook, but he was the only one around. So they voted for him.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  18. 12. frosty (f27e97) — 12/20/2019 @ 9:10 am

    This is why arguments on this issue are usually accompanied by arguments that investigating the Biden’s aren’t worth conducting for anything but partisan reasons.

    That woudl be true is either or all of the following are true:

    1) Trump knew that Joe Biden did nothing wrong.

    2) Trump was looking for Ukraine to find something corrupt with Joe Biden, true or false

    3) Trump was interested only in Ukraine announcing an investigation – that he didn’t care of they actually did any investigation.

    The latter is exactly what is charged in the Articles of Impeachment. Also, the articles have been written in such a way so that it doesn’t matter if any of his suspicions about the Bidens are true or not, well founded or not. plausible or not, or sincerely believed possible or not.

    And not going through regular channels proves ill intent. But are they saying that Sondland, for instance, had ill intent? No, only maybe Giuliani.

    Sammy Finkelman (329d95)

  19. When I was at The University, I took a course on logic. One of the texts was What Is the Name of This Book?: The Riddle of Dracula and Other Logic Puzzles, by Raymond Sullivan. It’s very educational and entertaining, because logic puzzles are fun.

    On the Island of Knights and Knaves, a knight will always only tell the truth and a knave will always only tell a lie. But they look alike, so you can’t distinguish between them, except by analyzing what they say.

    You’re on this island, and you come across three individuals. So you ask, “Are you a knight or a knave?”

    The first one says, “I’m a . (His helmet visor falls over his face, and you can’t hear his answer.)

    The second one says, “He said he’s a knight, and he is. I’m a knight too.”

    The third one says, “He’s lying. They’re both knaves. I’m a knight.”

    Now, who is a knight and who is a knave? The only way to know is through logic.

    What is the only answer to the primary question, “Are you a knight or a knave?”? A knight would tell the truth and say, “I’m a knight.” A knave would tell a lie and say, “I’m a knight.” Therefore that must be what the first one said. When the second one says, “he said he a knight,” that’s the truth, so obviously he’s a knight. When the third one says, “he’s lying,” that’s a lie, because it cannot be true, so obviously he’s a knave. Thus, logically, the first two are knights and the third is a knave.

    What Is the Name of This Book? will really make you think, as the logic puzzles become increasingly more complicated, especially when you begin to encounter normals, who sometimes tell the truth and sometimes tell a lie. Knights, knaves and normals, who is who? The only way to know is through logic.

    Another fun read is The Annotated Alice, edited by Martin Gardner. We’ve all read Lewis Carroll, but often without understanding. Gardner’s edition contains liner notes and marginalia that explains Carroll’s symbolisms and analogies. Alice in Wonderland is full of logic puzzles. Alice Through the Looking Glass is actually a chess game, which you can play out on a chess board, if you know how to read it. Really fun stuff.

    I highly recommend these two books in support of Patterico’s position. Facts, logic and reason matter, a lot, but so few employ them, mainly because they haven’t been taught how or don’t care to. This world is full of knights, knaves and normals, and Wonderland is one logic puzzle after another, while the Looking Glass is a chess game.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  20. 18

    And not going through regular channels proves ill intent. But are they saying that Sondland, for instance, had ill intent? No, only maybe Giuliani.

    Sammy Finkelman (329d95) — 12/20/2019 @ 9:44 am

    I’m not sure I agree with that.

    History is replete with examples of these sort of “back channel” efforts by previous administrations.

    whembly (fd57f6)

  21. Now, if you want something to fear, consider an exonerated acquitted, re-elected Trump with control of both Houses and a 7-2 majority on the Court. THat’s assuming that the man is vindictive, of course.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  22. When the second one says, “he said he a knight,” that’s the truth, so obviously he’s a knight.

    No, he said “He said he’s a knight, and he is. I’m a knight too.” Does a lie have to be monolithic? All this proves is that the second knight might be a GOOD liar, since he avoided an obvious lie in the first assertion.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  23. I agree that Trump’s propensity for self-dealing at the expense of the public interest shouod be the main focus, but few seem to care. I am convinced they have lost faith in government and ethics.

    I agree that reason and logic should matter more than emotions and partisanship, but few seem to care. I am convinced they have lost the will to engage in analysis and discussion. For the most part, I know I have.

    DRJ (15874d)

  24. Then he will be impeached again, 21, and with no re-election chance his support in the GOP may suffer.

    DRJ (15874d)

  25. Reasonable people disagree. See every 5-4 Supreme Court decision. If reason was pure, they’d all be 9-0, so something else must be at play in the human mind.
    I think it is bias confirmation. Personally speaking, people like Comey, Amash, Mitt, they make my skin crawl. They remind me of people like this guy:
    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/joao-teixeira-de-faria-john-of-god-rape_n_5c7ec996e4b06ff26ba30b19

    You’d probably see John of God as having more kinship with Trump and I’d be understanding of where your point intersects with Trumps salesman style, but I’d reject the attribution of evil.
    I think Amash and Mitt are craven, crusading as brave standard bearers, Comey is evil.
    All my internal klaxons go off around them.
    There’s an old saying about never getting between a politician and a microphone and if you’ve been unfortunate enough to ever have been trampled then thrown under the bus by politicians scrambling for credit, you’d begin to learn and heed some hard earned warning signs.
    Trump, Comey, Mitt, Amash at their cores don’t care about me. They care about themselves. The question I ask myself is whether or not their brand of love of self benefits me also.

    Laugh all you want, Trump has benefited me economically, protected me from regulators, and protected my civil rights in ways Hillary never would have. He’s given us energy independence which lets us leave others to depend on middle east oil.

    In 2016 my vote in CA was like spit in a rainstorm, but I did my little part because I did not want to be reading for 4 years about “HILLARY”S MANDATE TO TRANSFORM AMERICA” and realize I’d been so self important to make a grand empty gesture.

    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

    steveg (354706)

  26. Now, if you want something to fear, consider an exonerated acquitted, re-elected Trump with control of both Houses and a 7-2 majority on the Court. THat’s assuming that the man is vindictive, of course.

    Kevin M (19357e) — 12/20/2019 @ 9:51 am

    I’m sure our allies facing tyrants and dictators are indeed afraid of that. Their families could very well lose their lives, so you do make a good point.

    Dustin (cafb36)

  27. In 2016 my vote in CA was like spit in a rainstorm

    As was mine. I chose to spit on both parties.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  28. What’s the practical difference between Trump’s vindictiveness and his good nature? He’s a soulless swamp leech under any and all circumstances, and his metric is: “What can I eat? What can I f**k? Will I get away with it?” He’s kind of like a deer that way.

    nk (dbc370)

  29. Then he will be impeached again

    I doubt it. The original alternative would be more likely.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  30. It’s not just Trump’s impeachable offenses to date, it’s about the likelihood that he’ll re-offend, which I believe is better than 50-50. He didn’t learn his lesson from the Mueller investigation, and I doubt he’ll learn a damn thing from the impeachment and trial.

    Paul Montagu (e1b5a7)

  31. @18 I think we might be going in different directions on this. I wasn’t trying to make any sort of truth statement about whether Biden was corrupt or what Trump knew. I’m just saying that the quote in the post relies on the assumption that there are no non-corrupt reasons for Trump wanting any investigations and the “not worth considering” argument for the Biden investigation is a fellow traveler.

    I’m criticizing the “there is only one explanation for this” argument and I’m especially critical of the “there is only one logical and reasonable and evidence-based” argument. I’m not attempting in that post to make any counterclaims.

    I didn’t understand that the impeachment articles don’t care whether there was a valid predicate for Trump’s action. I think that further undermines that charge. However, our host and Ponnuru do care.

    frosty (f27e97)

  32. It’s not just Trump’s impeachable offenses to date, it’s about the likelihood that he’ll re-offend, which I believe is better than 50-50

    So, impeach for pre-crime? I agree that the charges made are incomplete, but impeaching him for prospectively doing more of the things they DIDN’T charge him for this time seems, well, odd.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  33. @27 I really wish people wouldn’t do this but I understand it’s a rational play. However, when someone points to the vote count as an indicator of the will of the people they are usually forgetting that those numbers aren’t valid for that purpose.

    frosty (f27e97)

  34. 32

    It’s not just Trump’s impeachable offenses to date, it’s about the likelihood that he’ll re-offend, which I believe is better than 50-50

    So, impeach for pre-crime? I agree that the charges made are incomplete, but impeaching him for prospectively doing more of the things they DIDN’T charge him for this time seems, well, odd.

    Kevin M (19357e) — 12/20/2019 @ 10:35 am

    Impeach for pre-crime? Yeah, I think that’s where we are now, whenever the opposition party holds the house, this seems like the precedent where we’re heading…

    whembly (fd57f6)

  35. #31: I don’t believe that Trump went after the Bidens for a love of honest government, but there are other spins on the events that are less damning.

    For example: Trump went after the Biden role in Ukraine, not because he saw Biden as his opponent, but because Biden kept calling him a crook and he wanted to get even, irrespective of whether Biden might get the nomination. In this light, it is not to influence and election, or even for “personal gain” but as a plain old FU.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  36. No. The alternative is elections.

    And yet, knowing this, the Founders included this Impeachment clause. Dumb founders!

    Kevin M (19357e)

  37. As I’ve said regarding Article 2, the DC Circuit Court is also wondering how those charges, and Impeachment in general, affect its docket:

    Now that the impeachment proceedings have concluded in the House, the Democrats should explain whether they still seek to compel McGahn’s testimony and, if so, whether it would be “in furtherance” of an impeachment inquiry or as a matter of “legislative oversight,” the first D.C. Circuit order stated. It was signed by George H.W. Bush appointee Karen Henderson, George W. Bush appointee Thomas Griffith, and Clinton appointee Judith Rogers.

    Impeaching him for something that is in active legal dispute makes it all so complicated.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  38. So, impeach for pre-crime?

    Um, no. He already showed once that he didn’t learn from his mistakes. This goes to his general cognitive dysfunction and lack of morality.

    Paul Montagu (e1b5a7)

  39. (Impeached and disgraced) Trump keeps compromising the integrity of our elections, and working with bad guys like Putin. Basically despots. He will proudly keep doing it if the GOP shows him it supports destroying our nation’s most critical institution.

    The GOP’s reputation will be determined by how cowardly its Senators are in January. I’m grateful Pelosi gave them a few weeks to think about it.

    Dustin (cafb36)

  40. @35 The plain old FU also weakens the argument for impeachment. There are numerous examples of presidents doing the plain of FU both foreign and domestic. Ask people in states that didn’t vote for LBJ what happened. There are numerous examples of foreign policy decisions made in light of how it would improve election possibilities. I don’t know of many of those that were at the time, or are now, considered impeachable.

    frosty (f27e97)

  41. @40 So, you’re still all-in on Russiagate then? You should up the ante and start pushing the Horowitz is a russian mole meme. You know I heard that Comey’s non-reversal reversal is just part of Putin’s plan to undercuts the FBI and support Trump. I also heard that Putin personally developed the algorithm that is allowing the russians to manipulate polling data, especially CNN’s.

    frosty (f27e97)

  42. If what Trump is accused of – using the threat of withholding foreign aid for personal benefit – rises to the level of impeachment, then what Biden BRAGGED about doing is certainly worth investigating. They are very similar offenses, although Biden’s seems worse to me because the words from Biden’s own mouth but the quid-pro-quo together and it involves cash in his family’s pockets.

    But if Biden’s actions are worthy of investigation, then there is a non-personal potential motive for Trump’s actions.

    I think it is very clear that the US has an interest in knowing if a potential US president used the office of the Vice President corruptly for the financial benefit of his family.

    Mike S (4125f8)

  43. ”And yet, knowing this, the Founders included this Impeachment clause. Dumb founders!”
    Kevin M (19357e) — 12/20/2019 @ 10:47 am

    Well gee, I guess “violence, or rabble-rousing displays of emotion” really are our only alternatives then. Man, that sucks.

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  44. When the second one says the first said, “I’m a knight,” that is a true statement. Thus, when he continues with “and he is,” that also must be a true statement. When the third one says the second one is lying, that cannot be a true statement, therefore it must be a lie.

    It’s conditional to the logic puzzle. Knights can only tell the truth; knaves can only tell a lie. Since normals have not been introduced yet, they are irrelevant to this puzzle.

    A statement cannot be both true and false at the same time. A statement that is partially true and partially false is something a normal would say, since he sometimes tells the truth and sometimes tells a lie.

    Truth is that which does not contradict itself. A falsehood does, or rather contradicts the truth. Sullivan guides you through a series of increasingly complex puzzles in order to illustrate how logic is the only way to distinguish between what is true and what is false. What Is the Name of This Book? teaches you how to think.

    Can a statement that is partially true and partially false be a true statement? No, because it contradicts itself. Does that make it a false statement? Not necessarily, but only logic can distinguish between which parts are true and which are false.

    Those parts that contradict those that are true do not make them not true. They only make those that are false false. A statement cannot be both true and false at the same time, any more than a positive can be a negative at the same time. It’s either one or the other. Jumble them together and it leads to confusion, which only logic can sort out.

    Facts and reason matter. Distinguishing between the truth and a lie matter. Logic dictates which is which.

    Think of it this way. Patterico is a knight. Trump is a knave. Some commenters are normals, who are confused, unable to distinguish between true and false, and often desperately try to combine the two, because they lack logic, or simply don’t care. They will repeat falsehoods, while occasionally inserting a truth, as if they knew the difference. Their jumbled minds are too confused, so everything they say must be taken with more than a grain of salt.

    It goes to belief perseverance and contradiction denial, which is the foundation of the long con. Once people are led or begin to believe something, they will look for any evidence, not matter how flimsy, to continue to believe in it, and will ignore all evidence, no matter how concrete, that contradicts it. Thus, the mark always praises the con man, even after he has been robbed ov everything.

    That’s exactly what Trump (a lifelong Democrat), who is a total fraud, has done to the GOP, now known as the Grand Obsequious Party. That’s what Trump, who is an inveterate sinner, had done to the Evangelical community. All principles and ethics are tossed away, because belief perseverance requires contradiction denial.

    Ignore the facts, don’t use reason, and forget logic. This is a cult of worship. Drink the Kool Aid.

    Patterico knows where I’m coming from; although his perspective is mostly legal and mine is mostly literary, the two combine in the search for truth and logic.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  45. So, you’re still all-in on Russiagate then?

    I’ll ignore your rambling about Comey. You’re deflecting.

    Did Trump interfere with our election? Yep. Did he do it to help Trump? Yep. Did Trump help obstruct any effort to shut this down or investigate? Yep. Was Trump caught, red-handed, obstructing justice? Yep. Would anyone other than Trump be in prison for it? Yep. Did Trump learn, from the cowardice of congress, he could get away with it, and then start doing it again with this Ukraine bribe? Absolutely.

    what Biden BRAGGED about doing is certainly worth investigating.

    Yes I heard Rush say this basically verbatim. Good job being brain washed.

    Also that prosecutor was corrupt. Obviously the whole effing free world wanted him fired. That wasn’t just Biden’s doing. Twisting the facts like a pretzel gives you some shred of a basis for Trump’s corruption, but he didn’t have the power to bribe Ukraine for dirt on Biden as a “favor”. That’s not how it works.

    Viktor Shokin was not pursuing investigations of powerful politicians. He was a Putin stooge, like Trump, and was removed by Ukraine’s parliament. Who the hell is Trump to demand an investigation of parliament’s decision? The international monetary fund, many western leaders, and yes, Joe Biden, described that prosecutor’s alliance with corruption as a “Cancer”.

    It’s absolutely true that Biden’s kiddo got a plum job he didn’t deserve and that Putin’s used that as a disinformation campaign about Putin’s corruption in this part of the world, but that’s a truly dishonest twist of the facts. It isn’t intended to win in any courts. It’s meant only to persuade dumbasses on facebook and politics blogs that ‘their side’ has some kind of winning argument. But you don’t.

    It is the firing of David Sakvarelidze that should be investigated. Who fired him and why?

    Impeached disgraced, and disloyal Trump’s illegal bribery and efforts to promote Putin’s agenda in Ukraine (like many other places) is unlawful and he must be removed from office.

    Dustin (cafb36)

  46. I agree with Ponnaru that “impeachment is appropriate only when facts show an impeachable “abuse of power or dereliction of duty” by the president, such that removing him is prudent.” I also agree that Trump was not truly concerned with Ukraine corruption.

    But I don’t believe the facts justify impeachment of President Trump. Ukraine got the aid and a presidential meeting and did not conduct or announce an investigation of Joseph or Hunter Biden. I realize that in a legal proceeding that might not matter. But impeachment is a political not a legal proceeding. The accusers can make arguments that would not be admissible as evidence in a law court. The same applies to Trump. If, as Democrats contend, Biden did nothing wrong, an investigation would enhance his candidacy rather than help Trump.

    Stu707 (52fdfe)

  47. @46 Actually what I heard was that Trump personally ordered the NSA to give Don Jr. special access to the secret alien supercluster and that Don Jr. and Putin pair programmed like best buds. And now we’ve can’t trust polling data. But I heard that from someone I’m pretty sure is a Chinese troll since he goes on and on and never shuts up about how everything is part of some plan by Putin.

    frosty (f27e97)

  48. Trump’s propensity for self-dealing at the expense of the public interest should be the main focus, but few seem to care.

    He was hailed as the one candidate who couldn’t conceivably be a self-dealer in office because “He’s already rich” and supposedly made a huge personal sacrifice to be president. Some loyalists are still clinging to the notion that he’s the only person in DC with purely patriotic motives and is resolutely “draining the swamp.” Others simply say “They’re all crooks! So what? Grow up!”

    It’s not just Trump’s impeachable offenses to date, it’s about the likelihood that he’ll re-offend, which I believe is better than 50-50.

    More like 95-5, given Trump’s obvious belief that nothing he does is ever really wrong. That is the main reason he should not have been given so much power in the first place. (There are plenty of other reasons too.)

    Radegunda (39c35f)

  49. Ukraine got the aid and a presidential meeting and did not conduct or announce an investigation of Joseph or Hunter Biden.

    Because they got caught!

    Anyway, Trump has been impeached. The legal standard was met, and it’s simple. The representatives who were elected by popular vote (unlike Trump) say impeach Trump. Trump’s impeached.

    We’re at the stage where the GOP can decide if it cares. Obviously there will be tremendous pressure from partisans to let it slide. That will almost certainly work but I hope to be proven wrong. What Trump did is far more serious than anything another president has been accused of. It makes Clinton’s perjury seem like a molehill.

    If, as Democrats contend, Biden did nothing wrong, an investigation would enhance his candidacy rather than help Trump.

    The president doesn’t get to just investigate what Putin tells him to, only against specific people who just happen to be his opponent. Screwing with our elections is unacceptable.

    But again, whether Biden did something wrong is not really relevant. It’s a deflection. It’s what Putin wants you to focus on. The idea that Ukraine’s proscutors should take orders from Putin and fire the good prosecutors (which I realize gets complicated enough that partisans stop paying attention) is totally unacceptable. Why did Trump want to restore a corrupt prosecutor who took orders from Putin?

    Dustin (cafb36)

  50. Ah hell, the pious pimps at NR could gin up “rational” ‘high crime and misdemeanor’ arguments for impeaching plenty of presidents if they tried real hard; Reagan for trading arms for hostages; Dubya for lying about WMD; LBJ and Nixon [Watergate aside] for the deceptions about Vietnam; Obama for excessive use of EOs; Ike for fibbing about Powers, the U2 and ruining the Oval’s floor w/his golf shoes; FDR for trying to pack SCOTUS; Truman for swearing; JFK for skirt chasing, etc., etc., etc.

    Keep in mind those weak and out-of-favor conservative ideologues, like those nestled in the bowels of NR and the AEI, opposed Trump from the get-go, still do [the Lincoln Project;] are desperate to regain relevancy and fuel any and all efforts to dump him and discredit his supporters by labelling them ‘cultists.’ [Which, of course, Reagan worshippers actually are w/t push to replace the FDR dime w/Ronnie; to airports, etc., and dreams of Mt. Rushmore.]

    They just don’t get it, or been living in the echo chamber of their own media outlets: aka “whine caves.”

    If Dead Daddy Fred, several wives, military school, a few NYC mayors, Wall Street bankers, TeeVee network execs and even Merv Griffin couldn’t discipline Trump– the pipsqueaks in Congress certainly aren’t. He’s channelling Roy Cohn. Impeachment- partial or otherwise, may sting but won’t hurt for long– they’ve cheapened its cache w/t Clinton effort [thank conservative Newtie for that.]

    Just three days ago, the House “argument” was urgency – instead, Nancy balks and they go home until January. She who hesitates has lost. Congress blew any chance of establishing guard rails w/Trump when they failed to smack his snout and initiate censure proceedings the day after Helsinki. It’s not about ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ w/this guy– it’s about discipline.

    JR got shot in season 3 — and survived for 11 seasons. Trump will do 8. He’s the bad boy everybody loves or loves to hate. Because Americans don’t want to be governed, they wish to be entertained. And so far, it’s been one helluva show.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  51. The Democrat representatives (some who’ve called and/or laid the groundwork for impeachment since 2017) say impeach Trump. Trump’s impeached.

    Fyp

    harkin (15bd84)

  52. 22. Kevin M (19357e) — 12/20/2019 @ 9:56 am

    e second knight might be a GOOD liar, since he avoided an obvious lie in the first assertion.

    In this logic puzzle, they’re all strict liars or strict truthtellers, and Monty Hall in the Monty Hall problem asks people to switch doors on random occasions.

    Sammy Finkelman (329d95)

  53. 50

    “Because they got caught!”

    That’s possible. It is also possible that pressure from a bipartisan group of Senators was instrumental. There could be some other reason. Whatever the motivation, the fact is Ukraine got the aid and the meeting and did not conduct or announce an investigation.

    The President did not investigate. He asked Zelensky to investigate. Ukraine and Russia are enemies. I doubt Putin carries desires are a factor in Zelensky’s actions or decisions.

    Stu707 (52fdfe)

  54. 51. DCSCA (797bc0) — 12/20/2019 @ 12:37 pm

    Just three days ago, the House “argument” was urgency

    Any intelligent person, to cite a phrase Donald Trump used (was it his words?) knew that the argument for urgency was a lie, but now they revealed it to be a lie, unless it suddenly hot them that they were going nowhere.

    Because Americans don’t want to be governed, they wish to be entertained. And so far, it’s been one helluva show.

    I figure this is more like a novel. It’s too complicated for a movie. It’s a book, like “The People’s Choice” and there’s one I remember from 1968 actually it was, by Russell Baker.

    I guess it could be a multi-episode serial.

    Sammy Finkelman (329d95)

  55. No. The alternative is elections.

    BTW, one coming up in less than a year. Did you notice?

    The one Trump tried to recruit a foreign government to interfere with? Yes, that’s addressed in the linked piece that I predicted you would not read and that you did not read.

    Thanks for making my prediction come true. That said, it wasn’t hard.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  56. There is no such overwhelming sentiment, except among the Smart Crowd that our good host Mr. P references. If there’s one central theme the Founders espoused, it was having government checked by the electorate — not the Smart Crowd.

    That’s why they declined to write impeachment into the Constitution. They knew the voters could address any corruption by the president.

    Patterico (115b1f)

  57. Well gee, I guess “violence, or rabble-rousing displays of emotion” really are our only alternatives then. Man, that sucks.

    Well, gee, you wouldn’t be taking my comments about to effect change (argument, emotion, or violence) and misapplying it to pretend I was describing the specific mechanism by which a President is removed? Because that would display either dishonesty or lack of reading comprehension. (With you, Munroe, it’s tough to tell which.)

    Patterico (115b1f)

  58. 58. Could be both.

    Gryph (08c844)

  59. Political parties in America.

    There are two.

    Trump

    Not Trump.

    The rest is commentary.

    Echo (e92c55)

  60. 57. ZING-POW! 😉

    Gryph (08c844)

  61. What happens if RBG’s time runs out before Pelosi sends this over to the senate? What are the odds that Pelosi sits on it until such a rainy day?

    Even better, what are the chances Pelosi sits on it until the election thinking the public won’t re-elect with impeachment hanging over him? Are all of the people now saying this isn’t about letting the people decide sure this won’t play out like that? You’re sure this is all going to get resolved in January? Just yesterday there was some discussion here about holding this over to the next Senate hoping it would be D controlled? Isn’t that just another way of saying let the voters decide (although not all of the voters as some pretend, just the ones that swap out enough R senators for D’s)?

    frosty (f27e97)

  62. The Democrat representatives (some who’ve called and/or laid the groundwork for impeachment since 2017) say impeach Trump. Trump’s impeached.

    Fyp

    harkin (15bd84) — 12/20/2019 @ 12:58 pm

    Indeed they were elected after making clear what they would do. Seems that your point defeats… your point.

    Political parties in America.

    There are two.

    Trump

    Not Trump.

    The rest is commentary.

    Echo (e92c55) — 12/20/2019 @ 1:42 pm

    This is where I have sympathy for Trump’s fans. They are being used. They aren’t going to get the immigration reform they want, they aren’t getting Obamacare repealed. They damn sure aren’t draining the swamp. Munroe’s upset about a smart crowd or something… we aren’t defeating elitism with gilded Trump and his family who think they are better than our veterans.

    We do not have to settle for one political party, and there is no reason for someone who isn’t getting rich in politics to demand we do that. Hillary and Trump wouldn’t have happened if the parties weren’t so fixed on how bad the other party is.

    Munroe likes to be hilariously selected, but remind me again what our founders thought of your political parties?

    Dustin (cafb36)

  63. With the Liberal judge saying it has to go to the senate to be an impeachment, I can’t wait to read all the retractions from the media.

    mg (8cbc69)

  64. “That’s why they declined to write impeachment into the Constitution. They knew the voters could address any corruption by the president.”
    Patterico (115b1f) — 12/20/2019 @ 1:18 pm

    So, while you accuse me of not reading the linked piece (BTW, sorry but I did — the whole torturous thing), you either didn’t read the other half of my comment, or decided to snip it out.

    And BTW, the author brings up the same point made in the part snipped out. He inexplicably dismisses it. I don’t.

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  65. Munroe,

    Please explain what you think everyone is missing about your comments. You rely on bitter sarcasm so much that your point isn’t always clear to me.

    DRJ (15874d)

  66. @63

    We do not have to settle for one political party, and there is no reason for someone who isn’t getting rich in politics to demand we do that. Hillary and Trump wouldn’t have happened if the parties weren’t so fixed on how bad the other party is.

    Munroe likes to be hilariously selected, but remind me again what our founders thought of your political parties?

    Do you mean like Federalist No. 10? The one that argues against direct democracy and factionalism. You’ve been citing the validity of the popular vote over the electoral college. Do you think, being concerned about an interested and overbearing majority, Madison would be someone who went around complaining about the popular vote?

    frosty (f27e97)

  67. 67. Our founding fathers feared and mistrusted democracy. We are a far more democratic nation (in the small-d sense) than they ever intended. A federal electorate was viewed as a necessary evil to get buy-in from the representatives at the constitutional convention. And even there, it was of limited success. Only 55 of the 74 chosen delegates showed up at all, and of the 55 that did show, only 39 signed the constitution away for ratification.

    Gryph (08c844)

  68. Pelosi is playing it smart. She held back on holding impeachment hearings until the majority of the Democratic caucus supported them. She’s now holding back on a vote to name impeachment managers until the Senate announces trial procedures. This so that she can know who to nominate and call to a vote for as impeachment managers in the House. If the Senate does not want to play along, that’s on them.

    While it is true that the president has not been impeached until the House transmits articles of impeachment to the Senate, what would be the point if it’s a rigged trial? McConnell and Graham have already declared they will not be impartial, in violation of their pre-sworn oath.

    Talk about hypocrisy. The Democrats are proceeding according to the Constitution, and the Republicans are publicly stating they will violate their oaths, their own personal integrity, to defend an ingrate accused of multiple high crimes and misdemeanors, including numerous statutory crimes for which he has previously found guilty, or pleaded out. Yeah, he always settles, despite his proclamations to the contrary. He has no choice, when confronted with the facts in court.

    But he can swing his lies to the polity, who ignorantly believe every word he says, to their ignorance. Trump does love the uneducated, and they love him.

    This is not how our republic was intended to be structured.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  69. Both Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping agree that Mr. President Trump should not have been impeached. So take that you Smart Crowd who think you’re smarter than two world leaders!

    nk (dbc370)

  70. @70. Meh. The ‘bankers’ have spoken: his ‘credit’ is good. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  71. Hey Munroe, when they were investigating Trump early in his term didn’t you say Dem’s were trying to nullify the election? Now that it’s late in his term you say they’re trying to prevent an election.

    In your mind when is the allowable time for an impeachment? Is it only in the 2nd term? Is it ever OK to impeach a president in their first term?

    Also, if the crime in question pertains to the election itself does that change your calculus?

    Time123 (d54166)

  72. In 1789, property qualifications were the norm for obtaining the right to vote. It varied from state to state, of course, but universal suffrage for white dudes came well after the Constitution
    [From Wikipedia]

    1792–1856: Abolition of property qualifications for white men, from 1792 (Kentucky) to 1856 (North Carolina) during the periods of Jeffersonian and Jacksonian democracy.[1]
    In the 1820 election, there were 108,359 ballots cast. Most older states with property restrictions dropped them by the mid-1820s, except for Rhode Island, Virginia and North Carolina. No new states had property qualifications although three had adopted tax-paying qualifications – Ohio, Louisiana, and Mississippi, of which only in Louisiana were these significant and long lasting.[2]
    The 1828 presidential election was the first in which non-property-holding white males could vote in the vast majority of states. By the end of the 1820s, attitudes and state laws had shifted in favor of universal white male suffrage.[3]
    Voter turnout soared during the 1830s, reaching about 80% of adult white male population in the 1840 presidential election.[4] 2,412,694 ballots were cast, an increase that far outstripped natural population growth, making poor voters a huge part of the electorate. There were few nations in the world that had a similar level of suffrage for white males at this time. The process was peaceful and widely supported, except in the state of Rhode Island where the Dorr Rebellion of the 1840s demonstrated that the demand for equal suffrage was broad and strong, although the subsequent reform included a significant property requirement for anyone resident but born outside of the United States.
    The last state to abolish property qualification was North Carolina in 1856 resulting in a close approximation to universal white male suffrage. However, tax-paying qualifications remained in five states in 1860 – Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware and North Carolina. They survived in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island until the 20th century.[5] In addition, many poor whites were later disenfranchised.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_voting_rights_in_the_United_States

    Kishnevi (1f8073)

  73. Stu707, I don’t agree with your conclusions. But I understand clearly where you’re coming from and it seems like a reasoned and defensible position. Do you think that impeachment followed by censure is appropriate? Is there any lesser consequence that you would support? Because it seems we agree on Trump was trying to do but disagree that removal would be appropriate.

    Time123 (d54166)

  74. @69 translation: If the senate looks like it’s going to play along with her game she’ll bestow the gift of being an impeachment manager on a member who knows how the quid pro quo works. Otherwise, she’ll need to name members who are already set to retire, will get voted out anyway, etc. Some call this craven political scheming but we all know it’s bravery of the highest sort. Or maybe she’ll just hold it like a wise king Solomon who has been enlightened from above.

    When you’ve decided impeachment means whatever you can get enough house members to vote for it’s not hard to proceed according to the Constitution.

    It’s a shame they didn’t focus on the numerous statutory crimes you so clearly articulated instead of making it so easy to frame this as vague abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

    frosty (f27e97)

  75. Frosty, I will ask this as a general, theoretical question: if a POTUS abuses the powers of his office, what is the appropriate response? Isn’t the appropriate response impeachment?

    Kishnevi (1f8073)

  76. Time123 (d54166) — 12/20/2019 @ 4:47 pm

    I thought I answered that @8.

    You should impeach anytime the overwhelming national sentiment says you should. Do you think you have that now? A portion of the sentiment will be guided by proximity to an election, or do you disagree? To illustrate, you can certainly try to impeach and convict a week before the election, but I doubt the people would be cool with that.

    Also, if the crime in question pertains to the election itself does that change your calculus?

    If there was a crime, then certainly. Are you asserting a crime was committed?

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  77. You should impeach anytime the overwhelming national sentiment says you should.

    But then impeachment really is just an attempt to undo an election because national sentiment has changed, right? Isn’t the main point that national sentiment changes because of Presidential misconduct?

    DRJ (15874d)

  78. Imagine, if you can, a nation in which the elite ruling class consists of far too many corrupt buffoons, who are empowered in their folly and wickedness by a systematically and selectively incurious Fourth Estate. Would it not be imperative that a leader of such a nation take steps to bring corruption by the ruling class under close scrutiny? If the (manifestly flawed) Orange Man believed that Biden was shaking down foreign governments, or that Biden wanted foreign governments to enrich his family members under their expectation (true or not) that money funneled to Bidenland was a good insurance policy for more friendly US treatment, wouldn’t that be something that should be exposed to the public? Immediately? Does Orange Man and the rest of us have to wait for Robert Caro to write the Joe Biden bio that explains all this, or does he have the right to get foreign governments to investigate their citizens’ influence peddling operations directed toward the US?

    V. Francis Cox (43656d)

  79. Mr Cox, the Big Orange has an Attorney General heading a very large department of the government whom he can direct to investigate, publicize, and if possible prosecute such things, seeing they are crimes under US law.

    He did not. He chose instead to try to force a foreign government very dependent on his good will to say it was doing so, and use a very unofficial channel to do so.

    Which means Big Orange either knew the alleged criminality did not happen, or had no real interest in finding out if it did happen.

    Kishnevi (1f8073)

  80. DRJ (15874d) — 12/20/2019 @ 5:04 pm

    I don’t understand the distinction you’re trying to draw.

    National sentiment was not with Nixon. He would’ve been impeached and convicted, and the nation would’ve had no issue. He resigned knowing this, we didn’t have to wait for the end of his term, and the nation recovered.

    That wasn’t the case with Clinton, and we know the result. It was a failure, Clinton recovered, and the same failure is being replicated now.

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  81. Nixon liked to mix ketchup with cottage cheese. Arguably a case of ‘presidential misconduct.’ Impeach!!

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  82. @76 Speaking generally. The phrase abuses the powers of his office begs the question. My understanding is there are three general options, vote out, impeach, or censure (technically there are four but listing do nothing is just being pedantic). Which of those is appropriate depends on the situation. For my definition of abuse of office, it would be impeachment but I suspect there would be some disagreement over the particulars of abuse, powers, office, and maybe even ‘of’ considering how hyperpartisan everything is. I think the executive has broad latitude in foreign policy.

    However, there are limits. Again, speaking generally, I would like Congress to exercise vigorous oversight of the executive branch including the president.

    But I still think you are begging the question. Can you reword it in such a way that it isn’t easily translated into “if POTUS does something impeachable shouldn’t he be impeached”?

    frosty (f27e97)

  83. Munroe, you did articulate a clear principle in 8 and I missed it. Sorry about that and thank you for explaining again.

    But based on your decision point, it would make sense to push impeachment and try to use the proceedings to change national sentiment. Which is what the Dems are trying (and failing) to do.

    Regarding your question; I do believe a crime was committed. IANAL but I think refusing to carry out your sworn duties unless a personal payment is delivered is solicitation of a bribe. In this case the personal payment was the investigation of Hunter/Joe Biden and the official duty was the disbursement of aid. So far no one has presenting any evidence, testimony or documents that there was a legitimate reason for the request. If some is provided I’ll revise my thinking.

    To use a crude analogy.

    Zoning commissioner: I like you business proposal. But good lot development is very important.
    Builder: I agree and have a good excavation company.
    Zoning Commissioner: I’m glad to hear that. My son has a excavation company. He tells me all the time how important it is to do it right at our board meetings. I’m a partner in the company.
    Builder: That’s good to know, I might ask him for advice.
    ZC: He’s a great guy.
    B: Thank you for the referral. Everyone knows how good your contacts are.
    ZC: I’m glad you’ll have good lot development.

    Nothing approved for months. The building tries to find out what’s going on and a friend of the zoning commissioner reminds him that good lot development is important and there’s a guy he should talk to. The builder contracts the son and suddenly the zoning is approved.

    This seems wrong to me, and should probably be a crime. I’ll let the lawyers here tell me if this looks criminal to them.

    Time123 (69b2fc)

  84. Hmm…I am not sure I can reword the question. To me, if it is an abuse of power, it is impeachable. The only question would be, is the abuse serious enough to justify removal from office.

    But I think abuse of power has two categories
    1) using the office of President to benefit himself. The attempt to locate the G7 summit at a motel he owns would be a good example there.
    2) attempting to do something under the guise of Presidential power the Constitution does not allow the President to do. That’s something every President in my lifetime, and probably well before, has been guilty of…and successive Congresses have been gutless enough to allow them to get away with those abuses.

    Kishnevi (1f8073)

  85. ”This seems wrong to me, and should probably be a crime. I’ll let the lawyers here tell me if this looks criminal to them.”
    Time123 (69b2fc) — 12/20/2019 @ 6:13 pm

    Absolutely, it’s a crime. IANAL

    It’s not analogous to Trump’s actions though. It’s actually more analogous to what Biden did.

    A president gets (and should get) much more leeway in the foreign policy realm than a ZC has in his realm.

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  86. *85 Then I would suggest you are asking the wrong question. You should be asking simply is this an action that is impeachable. If yes, then it was an abuse of the office and if no then it wasn’t.

    frosty (f27e97)

  87. @84

    So far no one has presented any evidence, testimony or documents that there was a legitimate reason for the request that I’m willing to accept.

    I think this is a more accurate statement. I’ve seen some legitimate reasons given in previous posts. But you’ve clearly taken the position that there are no legitimate reasons that you are willing to accept because Trump.

    frosty (f27e97)

  88. @86, I take your point.

    Time123 (69b2fc)

  89. Permissible inference.
    The defendant was standing over a dead body with a smoking gun in his hand.
    There is a permissible inference that he shot the deceased.
    If you believe that inference beyond a reasonable doubt, you must vote guilty.
    If there is further evidence that the defendant is just the kind of person who would shoot someone (“because Trump”), that just goes to reasonable doubt.

    nk (dbc370)

  90. Thanks NK, I assumed there were some rules around common sense.

    Time123 (ea2b98)

  91. I’ve seen some legitimate reasons given in previous posts. But you’ve clearly taken the position that there are no legitimate reasons that you are willing to accept because Trump.

    There are no legitimate reasons because no one has produced any shred of evidence that Joe Biden did anything unethical, much less illegal, regarding Ukraine.

    There’s not even any evidence of actual wrongdoing by Hunter.

    Kishnevi (1f8073)

  92. I agree regarding your national sentiment analysis in the impeachment of Clinton and Nixon’s resignation, but my point was only that is the beginning of the analysis. Sentiment is not enough by itself. I figure you agree but there must also be allegation(s) of a crime, misconduct or abuse of power to justify impeachment.

    DRJ (15874d)

  93. 82, that’s not so much an example of presidential misconduct as it is a begrudging acceptance of circumstances that occur on a lunar cycle. Which I believe is spoken ill of in the Bible.

    urbanleftbehind (337122)

  94. Times123 at 74

    On the face of it, I think Trump was trying to persuade Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. I think it was an abuse of his power to conduct foreign relations. But I don’t believe his actions amount to a high crime or misdemeanor justifying impeachment, conviction and removal from office. For this and other actions, he deserves to be voted out of office. The problem there is that that none of the candidates who have a chance to win the Democratic nomination are credible as President.

    I don’t think censure is provided for in the Constitution, but neither is it proscribed. I think it would be a meaningless gesture.

    Stu707 (52fdfe)

  95. I’m pretty sure that “impeachment” became much harder wrt the president the moment Senators were popularly elected.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  96. Logic and reason.

    Politics has nothing to do with logic and reason. This is a political event. To lend it more heft, is just more political spin.

    President Trump is winning politics. Just like Obama won politics, just like BJ Clinton won politics.

    The corrective action is at the polls. Voter took corrective action in 2016. The slate of Democrat candidates shows the people see no need for corrective action.

    iowan2 (8d44d6)

  97. Back to reason and logic, if you dare.

    We know Clinton violated the law when classified information resided on devices not secured to hold them. Thats fact. We know Clinton spent considerable time, effort, and money setting up the proccess to accomplish this. We know Comey (outside his jurisdiction) determined no corrupt intent existed, despite the fact that no sanctioned reasons could be defined as to why she would create her own e mail system.

    We also know that evidence of the FBI motivations for spying on a political campaign could no be determined. No legally defined reasons, but no corrupt reasons either.

    In both of these examples our “experts” we are supposed to defer to, explained proving intent is critical.

    With President Trump, the standard is opposite. Extensive proof of using the power of the office, while present, falls short of providing adequate predicate for his actions.

    iowan2 (8d44d6)

  98. Even when the fix is in, you still have to give the judge something to hang his hat on for political and public relations cover. You can’t make it look too blatant. (Think of the “affluenza” case in Texas.) So all these arguments that Trump dinduffin wrong serve as political and public relations cover for McConnell, Graham, Cornyn, Cruz, ad nauseum, and don’t think they don’t appreciate it.

    nk (dbc370)

  99. I leave persuasion through emotive gestures to others. It’s not my strong suit. I am left with reason. I’ll continue to apply it. I’ll continue to mostly ignore and occasionally snap back at people who demonstrate they won’t listen to reason, and I’ll continue to make the reasoned case for my positions to the tiny handful of you for whom such tools are effective.

    Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1

    Emotive argument beats logic every time.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  100. Politics has nothing to do with logic and reason. This is a political event.

    This is not a political event. It has played out as a partisan event. The political event happens next November.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  101. Back to reason and logic, if you dare.

    We know Clinton violated the law when classified information resided on devices not secured to hold them. Thats fact. We know Clinton spent considerable time, effort, and money setting up the process to accomplish this. We know Comey (outside his jurisdiction) determined no corrupt intent existed, despite the fact that no sanctioned reasons could be defined as to why she would create her own e mail system.

    We also know that after 2+ years the Trump administration hasn’t addressed this. From this fact it’s reasonable to infer that Comey’s determination was not incorrect.

    We also know that evidence of the FBI motivations for spying on a political campaign could no be determined. No legally defined reasons, but no corrupt reasons either.

    This is incorrect. They opened Crossfire Hurricane based on tip from a foreign government.

    From the IG report:

    As we describe in Chapter Three, the FBI
    opened Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016, just days
    after its receipt of information from a Friendly Foreign
    Government
    (FFG) reporting that, in May 2016, during
    a meeting with the FFG, then Trump campaign foreign
    policy advisor George Papadopoulos “suggested the
    Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from
    Russia that it could assist this process with the
    anonymous release of information during the campaign
    that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President
    Obama).

    We did not find information in FBI or
    Department ECs, emails, or other documents, or
    through witness testimony, indicating that any
    information other than the FFG information was relied
    upon to predicate the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane
    investigation.

    Crossfire Hurricane was opened as a Full
    Investigation and all of the senior FBI officials who
    participated in discussions about whether to open a
    case told us the information warranted opening it
    . For
    example, then Counterintelligence Division (CD)
    Assistant Director (AD) E.W. “Bill” Priestap, who
    approved the case opening, told us that
    t he
    combination of the FFG information and the FBI’s
    ongoing cyber intrusion investigation of the July 2016
    hacks of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC)
    emails, created a counterintelligence concern that the
    FBI was “obligated” to investigate.

    iowan2 (8d44d6) — 12/21/2019 @ 7:53 am

    Time123 (ea2b98)

  102. You should impeach anytime the overwhelming national sentiment says you should.

    I’m not seeing that anywhere in the Constitution. If that were the actual barometer, an investigation into Nixon would’ve never started, and to hell with actual crimes committed.

    Paul Montagu (e1b5a7)

  103. Does Orange Man and the rest of us have to wait for Robert Caro to write the Joe Biden bio that explains all this, or does he have the right to get foreign governments to investigate their citizens’ influence peddling operations directed toward the US?

    This presumes facts not in evidence. Under law, the president does not the have the unfettered right to enlist foreign governments to investigate corruption. When the target is his chief political rival, it is illegal under the US Code. And let’s not forget that Trump is now a central of that elite ruling class that “consists of far too many corrupt buffoons”.

    Paul Montagu (e1b5a7)

  104. So, while you accuse me of not reading the linked piece (BTW, sorry but I did — the whole torturous thing), you either didn’t read the other half of my comment, or decided to snip it out.

    And BTW, the author brings up the same point made in the part snipped out. He inexplicably dismisses it. I don’t.

    The other part of your comment makes no sense given this:

    If there’s one central theme the Founders espoused, it was having government checked by the electorate — not the Smart Crowd.

    Impeachment is not decided by the electorate. It is decided by the Senate.

    Also:

    And BTW, the author brings up the same point made in the part snipped out. He inexplicably dismisses it.

    That’s not how I read his argument.

    The strongest arguments against removing Trump fall under the heading of prudence. They hold that while he abused his power, it would be better to let voters judge that abuse in the upcoming election than for Congress to remove him; that his removal would be bitterly divisive; that it would set a dangerous precedent, encouraging Congress to strike against presidents over trivial disagreements. Like a nuclear weapon, in short, impeachment should be deployed extremely sparingly if at all.

    The analogy is common but inapt. It is a nuclear weapon that replaces the president with his own handpicked ally, making it less potentially devastating in that respect than a general election. It also can’t be deployed unless the public has a much larger level of support for it than it has mustered for any presidential candidate in decades. Only once in U.S. history has a president left office because Congress was going to remove him. The possibility of impeachment is a weak check on the presidency and cannot be made into a strong one.

    It might be possible to regard Trump’s Ukraine misadventure as a lapse of judgment, with little harm done, if he showed any repentance or even understanding of what he has done wrong. Instead it looks more like a window into tendencies of his that are incompatible with performing the functions of his office.

    Whether Trump should be removed from office over the objections of nearly half the country is not an important question. He can’t be. There are better questions. Would it be good for the country if a large majority of Americans were to be persuaded that it is unacceptable for a president to use his office to encourage foreign governments to investigate his political opponents? Assuming that the necessary level of support to remove a president from office for that offense will not be reached, should we prefer that more elected officials go on record that it is unacceptable — or that fewer do?

    I’ll let readers decide for themselves if this passage amounts to “inexplicably dismissing” the argument for leaving the matter to an election — an election, I remind you, that Trump tried to have improperly influence by abusing his office to coerce a foreign government into announcing an invesigation of his opponent.

    If he is going to abuse his powers to gain an edge in the election, the election can’t be the only solution. “Let the voters decide in an election that Trump has rigged” is an argument that appeals only to brain-dead Trumpers.

    Patterico (2e1e5e)

  105. I’m pretty sure that “impeachment” became much harder wrt the president the moment Senators were popularly elected.

    Kevin M (19357e) — 12/21/2019 @ 12:34 am

    Intelligent and interesting observation.

    Really it’s a joke of a process. I wouldn’t want 51% of non-elected people to be able to undo an election either. What we need is for some aspects of law enforcement to be independent of the executive branch, and perhaps accountable directly to the states. After all, Mueller would have happily charged (and probably won) on obstruction charges, but he can’t.

    Dustin (cafb36)

  106. 50. Dustin (cafb36) — 12/20/2019 @ 12:16 pm

    The president doesn’t get to just investigate what Putin tells him to, only against specific people who just happen to be his opponent.

    I don’t think Putin wanted anyone investigated. The distorted spin about Niden’s anecdote was just ahook to interest Giuliani – and eventually Trump. An investigation would make the story fall apart. (it was a clever lie, because Biden cannot explain what he was really doing, since that whole thing never really happened He is forced to deny it obliquely.

    It was just a hook to get Trump to listen to Putin’s Ukrainian agents, as was the story about what Ukraine supposedly did in the 2016 election. His real goal was either 1) to get honest people fired or 2) To stimulate distrust between the United States president and the Ukrainian government, and diminish the backing the U.S. was giving Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

    Screwing with our elections is unacceptable.

    That wasn’t what was really going on. How much could any of this affect the election?

    And we see in his letter to Nancy Pelosi that Trump doesn’t even understand what the accusation is. He thinks it means outright asking Ukraine for help in the election, stated that way.

    But again, whether Biden did something wrong is not really relevant. It’s a deflection. It’s what Putin wants you to focus on.

    It is relevantm and it is not even whether Biden did anything wrong.

    It is whether Trump had a plausible (to him) basis for making a preliminary inquiry to the Ukrainian government as to whether Biden has caused the firing of a prosecutor in order to stop an investigation that would impact his son. If he did, his motive was not corrupt. What? Would it better for him to make the charge without trying to verify it? If true, this would be of public interest, not just of interest to his campaign, and the value it wold have to is campaign would be because of the public interest.

    On the other hand, if it was false, and Trump knew it was false, then of course anything along those lines would be only of interest to his campaign.

    So it makes a great deal of difference in judging whether this was malfeasance in office if the allegation was true or false; or probable, possible or not possible at all.

    The problem here was that Ukraine was afraid to tell Trump he’s wrong.

    Sammy Finkelman (329d95)

  107. 50. Dustin (cafb36) — 12/20/2019 @ 12:16 pm

    The idea that Ukraine’s prosecutors should take orders from Putin and fire the good prosecutors (which I realize gets complicated enough that partisans stop paying attention)

    There were only bad prosecutors at this point.

    Yuriy Lutsenko, the prosecutor who replaced Viktor Shokin, and was also a Giuliani source (the WB complaint tries to make him almost the only one) was also a bad prosecutor, even though he had spent some time in jail under the Yanukovych regime until Yanukovych pardoned him. Biden, in his speech to the council on Foreign Relations on January 23, 2018, says the prosecutor who replaced Shokin was “someone who was solid at the time.” (boldface mine) This indicates that Lutsenko had a generally recgonized bad reputation by the beginning of 2018.

    Note that Biden doesn’t say “someone who was thought to be solid at the time.”

    Biden is not going to say that appointing Lutsenko, or accepting that as reform, was an error in judgment.

    Why did Trump want to restore a corrupt prosecutor who took orders from Putin?

    He didn’t, he didn’t, he didn’t. This is totally untrue. And fact checking site that ignore or tread lightly on this glaring error in the whistleblower complaint, like this one from CNN, are biased and can’t quite be trusted.

    In 2019, after the victory of his party in the Parliamentary election, Zelensky was going to replace the prosecutor anyway. The whistleblower complaint asserts that Trump, in the July 25, 2019 telephone call, Donald Trump praised Lutsenko and suggested that maybe Zelensky might want to keep him in his position but this is totally untrue, in spite of Democrats trying to find words in the transcript that support that interpretation, even going to the point maybe of seeking help from Ukraine by asking if they had a recording of the call. (Trump was saying a nameless prosecutor had already been fired at some point in the past.. At the time of the call, Lutsenko still had his job and was lobbying to continue. In the call Zelensky announces to Trump that he’s going to replace the prosecutor, apparently with the idea that Trump would be happy to hear that news, and Trump raises no objection.)

    Sammy Finkelman (329d95)

  108. That wasn’t what was really going on. How much could any of this affect the election?

    This is really the point. Rather than tremble at Putin’s expensive attempts to sway the populace, we should roll on the floor laughing at his wasteful stupidity.

    Massive perspective loss considering the power of the US news media to effect opinion. If you want to worry about something foreign, worry about Carlos Slim and his investment in the NY Times.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  109. 98. iowan2 (8d44d6) — 12/21/2019 @ 7:53 am

    We know Clinton violated the law when classified information resided on devices not secured to hold them. Thats fact. We know Clinton spent considerable time, effort, and money setting up the process to accomplish this.

    That’s about the one thing she didn’t intend to do.

    Her server replaced her email in the State Department’s unclassified state.gov system.

    Now actually, it turns out it’s virtually impossible to separate classified and non classified email. She was the on;y person who got audited because she requested that all of her non-deleted email be made public. She wouldn’t have done that if she thought any of the remaining email was classified.

    It was supposed to be impossible to send classified information on the unclassified system. But some things can be considered classified at birth.

    She did maybe have classified faxes sent to her private home, where they were handled by her maid, who didn’t have a security clearance (but had something better, a Clinton loyalty clearance)

    She also had newly installed anti-phishing capability on state.gov disabled in 2011 for awhile until she could get hdr22@clintonemail.com surreptitiously whitelisted by Bryan Pagliano, (I assume – he took the 5th amendment) the State Department IT specialist who also managed Hillary Clinton’s server (not to be confused with the SYSOP of clintonemail.com. Justin Cooper, who was back in New York.)

    And of course she might have sent anything to people who bribed her, as attachments, or shown it to them while they were in her office, or communicated verbally over the phone.

    We know Comey (outside his jurisdiction) determined no corrupt intent existed, despite the fact that no sanctioned reasons could be defined as to why she would create her own e mail system.

    Obviously, to run the State Department without leaving any written trace of what she had done, or to avoid leaving anything incriminating information in government records.

    If she had had both a personal and a state.gov account she might have sent something incriminating by mistake using he state.gov system, or someone might have sent something too revealing to her.
    This way, by not having a state.gov account, there was no possibility of mistakes. Everything would be protected, not just from hackers but also from subpoenas, FISA warrants, you name it.

    The scheme fell apart when the House committee investigating Benghazi subpoenaed email about Libya from and to her and got email from other accounts but not anything that came from her account. The State Department, before responding to the subpoena, got email from her (they were not satisfied with her first submission) and got all email sent to and from her involving state.gov (it came printed out on paper, but by 2015 this could, with some trouble, be scanned into searchable electronic files and it was) and allowed her to delete the rest, all before informing the committee.

    We also know that evidence of the FBI motivations for spying on a political campaign could no be determined. No legally defined reasons, but no corrupt reasons either.

    I don;t think it was so much electoral reasons as satisfying important people reasons. Harry Reid wanted some investigation, and he seems to have wanted Carter Page eavesdropped on, and after Comey announced the re-opening (temporarily) of the Clinton investigation, he wanted the FBI to announce they were investigating Trump links to Russia.

    Sounds like what Trump has been accused of, except that in Trump’s case it’s a less credible institution than the FBI that would have announced an investigation involving a presidential candidate.

    Sammy Finkelman (329d95)

  110. 43. Mike S (4125f8) — 12/20/2019 @ 11:34 am

    If what Trump is accused of – using the threat of withholding foreign aid for personal benefit – rises to the level of impeachment, then what Biden BRAGGED about doing is certainly worth investigating.

    Biden didn’t brag about doing it for his, or his son’s personal benefit, and the idea that it in fact was for his personal benefit, seems to be the spin of Giuliani’s informants.

    Now what’s interesting about this is that Biden probably made the whole story up. You cannot place it on a timeline. You can only place Biden’s claim of getting the prosecutor fired on a timeline.

    Biden’s seems worse to me because the words from Biden’s own mouth but the quid-pro-quo together and it involves cash in his family’s pockets. But if Biden’s actions are worthy of investigation, then there is a non-personal potential motive for Trump’s actions.

    Of course, of course, of course.

    It’s non-personal even if there is no plausibility to the story that Biden (all by himself?) coerced Ukraine into dismissing a prosecutor for his or his son’s personal benefit, because Trump didn’t know that!

    Sammy Finkelman (329d95)

  111. Two completely random unconnected comments…
    (1) I’d love to ask Tina Fey what it was like when Mayhem licked her face.
    (2) Facebook and the internet can do some good. Here’s the story:
    Mrs. Montagu’s older sister is widowed, 60 years old, has cerebral palsy, and is raising a challenging middle-school aged daughter. Her CP is chronically painful and her balance is badly affected, so she’s really unstable, like break-a-hip unstable. When Mrs. Montagu asked Sister-in-Law what she wanted for Christmas, instead of “nothing” like she usually says, it was an Alinker Walking Bike, priced at a cool $1,977 plus tax, but which would tremendously help with her mobility. Despite our high-falutin’ French-sounding last name (newsflash, it’s not our real last name), the Montagu household isn’t rich. We have a Christmas budget that we’d rather not blow up.
    After a little thought and prayer, Mrs. Montagu thought that a Facebook GoFundMe pitch would work and we figured we’d cover the shortfall. Twelve hours later, the GoFundMe mini-campaign was fulfilled and a struggling mom’s Christmas wish was granted, and we have Zuckerberg and his minions to thank for it. So, in our neck of the woods, the Christmas Spirit is alive and well, and we hope yours is, too.

    Paul Montagu (e1b5a7)

  112. Not only disconnected, but in the wrong thread, should’ve been in the open one.

    Paul Montagu (e1b5a7)

  113. @105. ‘It [impeachment] is decided by the Senate.’

    Isn’t ‘impeachment’ actually decided by the House– conviction or acquittal is decided by the Senate trial. No matter how the Senate goes, Trump will have been ‘impeached.’

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  114. @112. If memory series, ‘Mayhem’ did much worse to ‘ Liz Lemon’ when playing her b/f on ’30 Rock.’ 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  115. A good story in any thread, Paul. Thank you for sharing. Also, I am going to look up walking bike.

    nk (dbc370)

  116. Dustin @46

    I didn’t know the name David Sakvarelidze

    Searching for his name led me to a short Wikipedia article that led to me this:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/12/the-money-machine-how-a-high-profile-corruption-investigation-fell-apart

    It sounds like a very good article (from 2017)

    So many people are writing about this without going back to more contemporary sources. Maybe we could figure it out, or at least get closer to the truth, if we knew some more. So muuch writing on this has so much easily detectable wrong with it.

    That Guardian article doesn’t have anything about David Sakvarelidze being fired, but the Wikipedia biography article indicates that he was fired at about the time that Viktor shokin was fired (march, 2016)

    Here is some from the Guardian article:

    On 8 March 2015, David Sakvarelidze, then Ukraine’s first deputy general prosecutor, appeared on a Ukrainian news programme and made a dramatic accusation – that Ukrainian prosecutors had taken a bribe to help Zlochevsky.

    The source for Sakvarelidze’s claim was an unnamed foreign consultant working within Ukrainian law enforcement. “A high-ranking official in the prosecutors’ office told him [the consultant] he suspected that one official had taken a bribe of $7m,” Sakvarelidze alleged in his television appearance. “It’s shameful of course. People like that should not represent this country.” (Sakvarelidze did not respond to interview requests. The allegation has not been proven, but it is the subject of an investigation by the newly established National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine.)

    You have to be careful here. That might be a red herring. (as to how things were arranged.)

    By the way, has anyone thought that Hunter Biden might have been hired just to give the appearance that the fix was in with the Administration in Washington, which would discourage anyone from trying to do anything about Burisma? Give people the idea that you have more important “friends” than you do.

    Sammy Finkelman (329d95)

  117. Sammy, interesting rabbit hole to go into. I do believe these fortunate son hirings are absurdly corrupt. Chelsea on the TV, Hunter in the boardroom, or all of Trump’s family. All those people are laughably weak and soft. I can only imagine the clout Burisma got by hiring the VP’s kid. Same as the effect as, say, Trump Towers Instanbul when it’s time to slaughter some Kurds.

    Neither party really cares when their side does it, but it very upset when the other side does.

    Paul, that was a great story. Politics aside, there are a lot of reasons why we’re fortunate to live today with a lot of the ways the internet brings people together.

    Dustin (cafb36)

  118. Uni party could care less that they’ve already blown 32 million on the KGB style impeachment. We have been played far too long. Round zem up and put em on a sturdy oak branch.

    mg (8cbc69)

  119. #112

    Thanks for the story, Paul. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family.

    Stu707 (52fdfe)

  120. ‘I’ll let readers decide for themselves if this passage amounts to “inexplicably dismissing” the argument for leaving the matter to an election — an election, I remind you, that Trump tried to have improperly influence by abusing his office to coerce a foreign government into announcing an invesigation of his opponent.’
    Patterico (2e1e5e) — 12/21/2019 @ 12:21 pm

    The specific part I was referring to was this:

    It also can’t be deployed unless the public has a much larger level of support for it than it has mustered for any presidential candidate in decades.

    Whether Trump should be removed from office over the objections of nearly half the country is not an important question. He can’t be.

    This seems to jibe with what was argued in the part of my comment @8 that was snipped out, no? And, that it is “not an important question” seems to be dismissive, no?

    Mr. P again: ”I remind you, that Trump tried to have improperly influence by abusing his office to coerce a foreign government into announcing an invesigation of his opponent.”

    Improper? Perhaps. It’s within his powers, given great leeway we offer presidents in foreign affairs. Improperly using investigations to influence elections is perhaps something he’s learned from his opponents the past three plus years. Maybe we can call that out at some point.

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  121. 121. Gotta hand it to you, Mun. You sound much more intelligent and you are much more pedantic than Donald J. Trump could ever hope to be. He’ll be fortunate to have bootlickers like yourself to vote for him in 2020.

    Gryph (08c844)

  122. Ramesh Ponnuro:

    Kurt Volker, Trump’s envoy to Ukraine, has testified that Giuliani said that official Ukrainian statements against corruption were insufficient unless they specifically mentioned the investigations touching on the Bidens and on the 2016 campaign.

    Because Giuliani was interested in an actual investigation taking place, not an announcement of one, as the impeachment article charges. He wanted to box them in.

    There is essentially no evidence that either investigation is worth conducting. The theory that Joe Biden acted corruptly holds that he leaned on the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor who was looking into a company that had his son on the board. That prosecutor’s former deputy has said that there was no active investigation,

    Too many people, including President Trump in his letter to Nancy Pelosi, keep on repeating that it was (Trump even said that Nancy Pelosi knew it was so) and this idea appeared in a wrap up I read in the current issue of the Jewish weekly Yated Nee’man.

    Sammy Finkelman (9966eb)

  123. Ramesh Ponnuru

    Fighting corruption would not have required Trump to encourage Zelensky to work with Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer,

    Guiliani was the person who had uncovered the allegations! He is the one who could describe them. He’s the one who had the “evidence.”

    Giuliani has said he felt it was better for him to work outside the State Department because that way he could avoid an accusation of trying to use political influence on the U.S. government to get an investigation started. There would be less of an accusation of pressure on the Ukrainian government.

    who has said that he was working in Ukraine to advance his client’s personal interests; it would have counseled against Trump’s doing that. Nor would the effort have required the secrecy with which it was conducted,

    It’s not clear who ordered the secrecyon the hold – it seems to have been Mulvaney or other high level white House aides rather than Trump, who was not aware of details like that..

    The reason for te secrecy imposed on the hold would be that Mulvaney knew the allegations were wrongheaded, but didn’t feel he could tell that to Trump, and get believed. Mulvaney probably hoped he could somehow resolve the situation before it was necessary to make it public.

    They had managed to sort of hide from Trump that a large amount of financial aid was soon scheduled to go to Ukraine – but then on June 19, he read an article in the Washington Examiner about it:

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/defense-national-security/pentagon-to-send-250m-in-weapons-to-ukraine

    …and began asking questions.

    The withholding of the aid – probably because of general hostility to Ukraine – was even more wrongheaded than the requests to Ukraine to look into things but one was not the reason for the other. They didn’t even tell Ukraine about it, although Ukraine found out, but they didn’t know that they knew until August 28.

    I think part of the reason Trump froze the aid may have been an idea that he could negotiate an end to the conflict quickly. Putin was stringing him along. It would be interesting to find out if Putin made a request to Trump that he not send the aid, promising that the conflict could be resolved quickly if he did.

    required dropping around the same time it was starting to attract publicity.

    He eliminated the freeze. He didn’t lose interest in Ukraianian investigations though, and as matter of fact, suggested publicly that China ought to investigate why it did what it did for Hunter Biden as well. Of course that would have amounted to Xi Jinping investigating himself! (Since he was already in charge of China when it happened.)

    Sammy Finkelman (9966eb)

  124. Timeline by a pro-impeachment (or pro Trump-did-it) source that cannot place anywhere the events Joe Biden narrated in the Jan 23, 2018 speech:

    https://www.justsecurity.org/66271/timeline-trump-giuliani-bidens-and-ukrainegate

    Johnn Solomon thinks he undercits some of what Joe Biden said:

    https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/463307-solomon-these-once-secret-memos-cast-doubt-on-joe-bidens-ukraine-story

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  125. The Democrats are trying to make up a story that there’s new evidence – and that the hold might have beeN put right after the call, even though we know FOR SURE that the hold was put in place before July 18, and there’s nothIng in the call transcript that would give anyone any reason foR supposing that Donald Trump, just then, decided to put pressure on, or took a dislike, toward the Ukrainian government.

    Sammy Finkelman (845007)

  126. “the call transcript”

    It’s not a transcript.

    Davethulhu (fe4242)

  127. No it wasn’t a transcript. Barr’s reading of the Mueller report didn’t exonerate anybody of anything. You just can’t believe anything you hear from the administration or the GOP these days.

    Does anyone else find it pretty obvious that whatever they are blackmailing Trump with came from Epstein and was truly dark? His whole world came crashing down, but his buddy seems well protected. And there’s a real push from the same people who push any Putin propaganda to say Epstein is solely a democrat scandal.

    It’s going to be an interesting October.

    Dustin (cafb36)

  128. Wild on Twitter, Mr. President is. Nancy Pelosi has his number. He’s yellow. Mitch and Lindsay can promise him all they want that the fix is in, but he won’t get a good afternoon’s “executive time” until all the votes are counted.

    Some questions are simple, though. High crimes and misdemeanors aside, should a President who calls the Speaker of the House “Crazy Nancy”, on Twitter or anywhere else in public, remain President? I say NO! Hell no! He should go be sent back to his old reality show.

    nk (dbc370)

  129. 129. I gotta admit, when I first heard that Trump was going to run in 2016, I figured feared there was a pretty good chance that he could go all the way. I really do believe that Trump’s most significant only skillset of any real significance is his ability to play the media like a harp.

    Gryph (08c844)

  130. 128. Dustin (cafb36) — 12/23/2019 @ 7:22 pm

    No it wasn’t a transcript.

    Apparently the system the White House used for converting voice to text was not as good as the best available commercially, as is to e expected by the government. But it was still pretty good, and there were peole listening in. And they had some opportunity to make corrections, and give the corrrect spelling and names of people and places. Even here.

    Nobody noticed anything threats on the call, and Trump seemed satisfied with what he got from Ukraine.

    The Democrats are now trying to create an impressions (and certainly spinning) that something happened as a result of the call – and what they are trying to get people to infer doesn’t even jibe with the rest of the evidence.

    Of course, the White House cannot be fully truthful, merely saying that this was a coincidence, instead of pointing out that that a lot of people were told already that the aid was on hold on July 18, so no decision was made on July 25.

    At least Amy Klobuchar, who has made herself amenable to pushing wrong spin (at the Kavanagh hearings she had CBF agree that psychiatrists notes were good evidence – when in fact the notes contradicted what she said but the committee didn’t have them.. Amy Klobuchar, on Face the Nation, would only cite the request/instruction in the July 25 email that they should keep the hold secret – which was probably not the first time it was made.

    He reason for keeping it secret was onbiously that Mulvaney oped he coudl reverse that decision. It was kept secret from Ukraine also, although Ukraine actually did find out (but not any reason) but the people talking to Ukraine did not know that they knew and very bit of evidnece indicates that until early September, Gordon sondland was on;y tying a Whote House meeting to investigations.

    Barr’s reading of the Mueller report didn’t exonerate anybody of anything. You just can’t believe anything you hear from the administration or the GOP these days.

    Barr treated it quite fairly although he drew a conclusion that Mueller didn’t want. He didn’t say Mueller exonerated him – he and Rosenstein did.

    Yes you can;t trust the White House – even to defend itself, because they want to assert or imply that Trump makes no errors in judgment.

    Does anyone else find it pretty obvious that whatever they are blackmailing Trump with came from Epstein and was truly dark? His whole world came crashing down, but his buddy seems well protected. And there’s a real push from the same people who push any Putin propaganda to say Epstein is solely a democrat scandal.

    What are you talking about with Trump and Epstein. Trump was just one of many people he befriended or connected with, without quite letting them know his predelictions. At some point Epstein got kicked out of Mar-0-Lago (not Trump’s personal doing but his manager) because he tried to get the daughter of one of the members there to work for him as a masseuse . But they probably didn’t know what that was intended by Epstein to lead up to. Which in certain circumstances could even be rape. Rape rape as Oprah Winfrey said. Sometimes only rape rape, and,, especially after his conviction, after the age of consent.

    It’s going to be an interesting October.

    Could be yes yes. If the Democrats succeed in preventing Donald Trump from putting Joe Biden on trial in the Senate.

    Sammy Finkelman (845007)

  131. 129. nk (dbc370) — 12/23/2019 @ 7:48 pm

    High crimes and misdemeanors aside, should a President who calls the Speaker of the House “Crazy Nancy”, on Twitter or anywhere else in public, remain President? I say NO! Hell no! He should go be sent back to his old reality show.

    But how?

    Sammy Finkelman (845007)

  132. Meatloaf and chocolate cake on the menu every day in the studio cafeteria?

    nk (dbc370)

  133. I gotta admit, when I first heard that Trump was going to run in 2016, I figured feared there was a pretty good chance that he could go all the way. I really do believe that Trump’s most significant only skillset of any real significance is his ability to play the media like a harp.

    So the fantastic peace, the fantastic prosperity, and the fantastic judicial appointments all slipped right by you, eh?

    G Joubert (ef8666)

  134. Fantastic in the sense of fantasy, perhaps…

    Kishnevi (1b4366)

  135. The fantastic judicial appointments are the scariest. If they’re as fantastic as the administrative appointments, we’re in big trouble. You can’t fire fantastic judges after six months.

    nk (dbc370)

  136. 134. Is that why we’re still in Afghanistan and college graduates are swimming in unprecedented levels of student loan debt? I guess peace and prosperity is easy to see through those rose-colored glasses.

    Gryph (08c844)

  137. Ramesh Ponnuru:

    It also can’t be deployed unless the public has a much larger level of support for it than it has mustered for any presidential candidate in decades

    ???

    Shouldn’t that be:

    It also can’t be successfully deployed unless the public has a much larger level of support for it than it has mustered for any presidential candidate in decades

    I think he’s arguing that you don’t have to worry about this being a precedent, since a president can’t be removed without a 2/3 majority in the Senate agreeing to that.

    And that that won’t happen until at least 62% of the public at large is for his removal (and his replacement with his own handpicked ally (a caveat must be added: Usually. And that’s when the partisan balance is tilted against him. I suppose he’s postulating a necessary range of at least 62% but in many circumstances 75% or 80% might be needed.

    Is he arguing that the attempt should be made even if it doomed to failure?

    It seems like he’s saying like this:

    Assuming that the necessary level of support to remove a president from office for that offense will not be reached, should we prefer that more elected officials go on record that it is unacceptable — or that fewer do?

    He wants to put politicians on record.

    Now as far as unacceptable is concerned I think this thing of which the following is an example is the most unaccceptable thing he has done and needs to be called out:

    https://www.rev.com/blog/donald-trump-hershey-pennsylvania-rally-transcript-december-10-2019

    Thanks to Democrat immigration policies, innocent Americans in all 50 states are being brutalized and murdered by illegal alien criminals. Last summer, at least 19 illegal aliens were charged in connection with grizzly homicides, including hacking victims to death and ripping out, in two cases, their hearts.

    This is morally undisguishable from racism, and racism of the worst kind. It is NOT racism. It is morally similar. (It is geographicalism and is in defiance of the principle of equal justice under law.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  138. 134. G Joubert (ef8666) — 12/24/2019 @ 8:01 pm

    the fantastic judicial appointments all slipped right by you, eh?

    It didn’t slip by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who just issued a delayed veto (a New York gimmick) of a totally noncontroversial bill that passed 61-1 in the New York State Senate and had only two votes cast against it in the 150-member New York State Assembly (of course that’s the way it is with almost all bills in New York State)

    It would have allowed federal judges whose jurisdiction was outside New York State to officiate at weddings. (those whose areas of jurisdiction already included any part of New York State already could.)

    He gave as his reason:

    “I cannot in good conscience support legislation that would authorize such actions by federal judges who are appointed by this federal administration. President Trump does not embody who we are as New Yorkers. The cornerstones that built our great state are diversity, toleranxe and inclusion. Based on these reasons I must veto this bill. Based on these reasons I must veto this bill.”

    He said it twice. (that last sentence)

    https://twitter.com/mahoneyw/status/1208395355915800581

    This is probably like the way a lot of other things are with Governor Andrew Cuomo: His stated reasons are probably not his real reasons. This doesn’t make any sense.

    I suppose he must have been lobbied. But who lobbied him? And why?

    The sponsor of the bill was a very liberal Manhattan State Senator: Liz Krueger. The reason she sponsored the bill was that she had two homosexual friends who wanted to get married and they had a friend who was a federal judge outside New York State (who by the way was not appointed by President Trump.)

    Governor Andrew Cuomo took so long to deal with this bill (which was passed in June) that they got married some other way in the meantime.

    The sponsor of the bill herself doesn’t like some of Trump’s appointees as federal judges particularly because of their position on immigration. But this veto, of course, makes no sense on its own terms. She won’t introduce it again unless Governor Cuomo indicates he would sign it. (and the original case that prompted it is moot)

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  139. 138. Worth noting, Finkelman…

    The Senate wasn’t supposed to be popularly elected. And wasn’t until well into the 20th century. So there’s that. If we were doing it as the framers intended, state legislatures would be picking the senators instead.

    Gryph (08c844)

  140. Can’t even imagine the Senators the CA legislature would be appointing

    steveg (354706)

  141. CA would probably have the exact same 2 u.s. senators you have now. Working backwards there would have been stretches during the Wilson and Schrzeneggar admins were it would have been 2 Rs at the same time. A lot depends on the degree to which the appointment is not a sole autocratic decision by the governor and also whether the decision cycle has lame duck timing e.g. a Schwarneggar appointing a Senator to fill a seat in late 2010 as he exited office to serve in the upcoming 112th congress beginning Jan 3 2011.

    urbanleftbehind (0be1ef)

  142. I retract, not realizing approval by state legislature was the primary mechanism of nomination of U.S. senators pre 17th amendment.

    urbanleftbehind (0be1ef)

  143. 140. Although the Senators come from states of different populations, The Senate tends more or less to reflect national public opinion in such a matter as whether their constituents feel a president should be impeached, because there is no gerrymandering (except at the creation of a state like the separation of West Virginia from Virginia in 1863 (because Virginia had seceded it was deemed to have given consent or what exactly was the legal justification for that?), the creation of Nevada in 1864 and the separation of Norrh Dakota and South Dakota into two separate states in 1889.,

    142. urbanleftbehind (0be1ef) — 12/25/2019 @ 2:38 pm

    a Schwarneggar appointing a Senator to fill a seat in late 2010 as he exited office to serve in the upcoming 112th congress beginning Jan 3 2011.

    Under the original constitution, an appointment by a Governor could only last until the next meeting of the legislature, and that would mean the beginning, not till they filled the vacancy. Now in Texas, that could be a year and a half.

    After the 17th amendment, Governors got more power to name Senators. In New York, Governor Nelson Rockefeller named Charles Goodell in August 1968 to replace Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in June, 1968, and he served all the way through the next Congress till his term expired on January 3, 1971.

    The legislature could also select someone for a new term considerably in advance. I don’t think that was ever more than about half a year because people just didn’t want to decide so far in advance.

    Or was it longer? Could be a year in advance. I recall something about John Quincy Adams knowing his term would not be extended. No, that selection was held on June 2, 1808 for the term beginning March 4, 1809. At that time, by the way, Massachusetts included what is now Maine. The borders of Maine with Canada by the way were not fixed until 1842.

    There was a problem with bribery and in the beginning of the 1900’s many states popularly chose recommendations and no legislature in such a case dared to disregard it.

    In 1858, when Lincoln and Douglas were running for the Senate seat from Illinois, that was really a campaign for seats in the state legislature.

    Lincoln’s Republicans actually won the popular vote with a percentage of 50.6, by 3,402 votes (says Wikipedia and I don’t know if it means the state senate only or the state House or both combined.)

    The districts were drawn to favor the Democrats, it says, and they won 40 seats in the state House of Representatives to Republican’s 35. In the State Senate, Republicans held 11 seats and Democrats held 14. Douglas was re-elected by the legislature 54–46, voting in a combined session.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  144. 143. If you want to really set America on the path to reclaiming past glory, repealing the 16th and 17th amendments both would be a good starting point. Screw the corrupt bastards in DC. We need to start at home.

    Gryph (08c844)

  145. Donald Trump defends himself against the impeachment: They only had one piece of evidence against him against him, and it’s a misquotation: (by the way, not once does he use thw word “sir” here

    https://www.rev.com/blog/donald-trump-michigan-rally-transcript-trump-holds-a-rally-in-battle-creek-during-impeachment

    `

    So yesterday I sent Pelosi a letter denouncing and condemning her party’s outrageous abusive power. That’s what it is. They have nothing. They’re the ones that should be impeached, every one of them. I mean you got this guy, Schiff. He makes up a statement, and he goes in front of Congress where he has immunity, and he makes up a statement from me that’s totally fictitious, totally out of thin air. The worst statement I’ve ever heard. Many people saw it. I had a person two weeks ago that said, “I didn’t love the statement you made. I said, “Really? Didn’t you read the transcripts?” I always say, “Read the transcript. But didn’t you read it”

    Donald Trump: (49:18)
    “No, no. I heard it on television. I watched Adam Schiff.” He made it up. I then sent him the transcript. He said, “Oh, now I feel better. That’s perfect.” I call it perfect. He called it perfect. Everyone calls it, if you read it. But here’s the thing. He makes up this statement, and it finished. Didn’t he have eight quid pro quos? Eight. Could you imagine, you’re dealing with a country, and you say eight times that you’ve got to do something. The first time they say, “Well.” The second time they say, “That’s strange.” Third time they say, “What’s wrong?” You said eight times? Eight times. They’d have you arrested. They’d have you put into an insane asylum. But he actually said … I think he said eight, not seven, eight. And then he finished with, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” Can you imagine? The President of the United States, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”
    …..

    …. They did this big report. I was totally exonerated. They didn’t even bring it up at the impeachment, because I was totally exonerated. If they saw one little kernel, one little quarter of a sentence … look what they did with one word. Remember this, what did I do? Why did I do? It’s us. But they don’t say it that way. They say, “I.” They read it totally different, Schiff and his band of thieves, they read it.

    Donald Trump: (01:02:41)
    Now I say basically, very simple, do us a favor, our country. Do us! Do us! Not me! Our country! And then what do I say? I say, “The United States Attorney General, Attorney General of the United States could speak to you, it would be great,” okay? Because it’s known for major corruption. In fact, the new leader of Ukraine got in on a construction … on a platform where he looks for all of the problems of dishonesty, and everything that was going on in Ukraine, right? He looked for it, that’s how he got into office. He got into office that way.

    Donald Trump: (01:03:23)
    So we take it and they repeat it a thousand times, and they never say with the right [word] … so I go wild, and we start. And the Republicans have got it right. Now we always correct him, but I use the word us. Us is the United States, our country. And then it actually says, I think, “Comma, country,” but they don’t say that. They say, “Do me a favor.” How many times have you heard it? Where they say in a speech? “And then the president said, do me a favor.” Well, that’s not what I said. I said, “Do us a favor, our country.” And then I said, the Attorney General of the United States, I didn’t say my campaign-

    Donald Trump: (01:04:03)
    I said the Attorney General of the United States, I didn’t say my campaign manager. Okay? I said the attorney … And these people want to impeach the President of the United States for that?

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)


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