House Releases Its Impeachment Report (Link)

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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13:Democratic Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff (C) awaits charge d'Affaires at the US embassy in Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia George Kent to testify before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald J. Trump, on Capitol Hill November 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. In the first public impeachment hearings in more than two decades, House Democrats are trying to build a case that President Donald Trump committed extortion, bribery or coercion by trying to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rival in exchange for military aide and a White House meeting that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky sought with Trump.(Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)

Despite lacking the testimony of key witnesses, the Democrats continue to push forward. Today, the Select Committee on intelligence released its report on evidence obtained to this point, found here.

This report will be broken-down over the next few news cycles, but I will highlight some aspects that appear critical to me. One is the tone, regretful but forceful. The House Democrats are SICK of foreign interference in our elections, and highlight that this is an ongoing theme with Trump:

In making the decision to move forward, we were struck by the fact that the President’s misconduct was not an isolated occurrence, nor was it the product of a naïve president.  Instead, the efforts to involve Ukraine in our 2020 presidential election were undertaken by a President who himself was elected in 2016 with the benefit of an unprecedented and sweeping campaign of election interference undertaken by Russia in his favor, and which the President welcomed and utilized. 

With this backdrop, the solicitation of new foreign intervention was the act of a president unbound, not one chastened by experience.  It was the act of a president who viewed himself as unaccountable and determined to use his vast official powers to secure his reelection.

“Unbound” – is the real fear. Trump doesn’t acknowledge or respect any limitations put upon him by law or custom. The Democrats are looking for some means to legally pin Trump to the constraints of law.

By doubling down on his misconduct and declaring that his July 25 call with President Zelensky was “perfect,” President Trump has shown a continued willingness to use the power of his office to seek foreign intervention in our next election.  His Acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, in the course of admitting that the President had linked security assistance to Ukraine to the announcement of one of his desired investigations, told the American people to “get over it.” In these statements and actions, the President became the author of his own impeachment inquiry.

They were left without a choice in a very real sense. It is true, if they did not impeach Trump for this, there was nothing Trump couldn’t get away with. “Get over it” is not a defense to breaking the law.

Congress was not fooled by Sondland’s “September 9th” second phone call and note that it is highly unlikely that such a call occurred.

Both Ambassador Taylor and Mr. Morrison, relying on their contemporaneous notes, testified that the call between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump occurred on September 7, which is further confirmed by Ambassador Sondland’s own text message on September 8 in which he wrote that he had “multiple convos” with President Zelensky and President Trump.  A call on September 9, which would have occurred in the middle of the night, is at odds with the weight of the evidence and not backed up by any records the White House was willing to provide Ambassador Sondland.  Regardless of the date, Ambassador Sondland did not contest telling both Mr. Morrison and Ambassador Taylor of a conversation he had with the President in which the President reaffirmed Ambassador Sondland’s understanding of the quid pro quo for the military aid.

As Ambassador Sondland acknowledged bluntly in his conversation with Mr. Holmes, President Trump’s sole interest with respect to Ukraine was the “big stuff” that benefited him personally, such as the investigations into former Vice President Biden, and not President Zelensky’s promises of transparency and reform.

It really wouldn’t matter if the September 9th call did occur, but the fact that Sondland continued to lie about it is taken against Sondland and Trump. A need to lie leads to an inference that the truth hurts. The truth is that Trump is only interested in “the big stuff,” the stuff that impacts Trump personally, not matters of state and security.

On MSNBC they are referencing a table that shows Devin Nunes taking a call from Lev Parnas. Interesting that Devin Nunes, a California congressman is “talking to” the same person arrested for felony campaign activities and associated with Rudy Giuliani in his Ukraine escapades.

Update: Devin will be going through some things:

The House is also going to attempt to hold Trump accountable for his obstruction – finally, since Trump got away with unheard of obstruction with respect to Mueller. The House calls the level of obstruction “unprecedented.” They are, quite obviously, sick of Trump’s shit:

President Trump ordered federal agencies and officials to disregard all voluntary requests for documents and defy all duly authorized subpoenas for records.  He also directed all federal officials in the Executive Branch not to testify—even when compelled.

No other President has flouted the Constitution and power of Congress to conduct oversight to this extent.  No President has claimed for himself the right to deny the House’s authority to conduct an impeachment proceeding, control the scope of a power exclusively vested in the House, and forbid any and all cooperation from the Executive Branch.  Even President Richard Nixon—who obstructed Congress by refusing to turn over key evidence—accepted the authority of Congress to conduct an impeachment inquiry and permitted his aides and advisors to produce documents and testify to Congressional committees.

Even Nixon, but not Trump.

The House seems intent upon using Trump’s “Fox News Talking Points” against him, which is something that has been needed for some time, force Trump to live with the language he chooses to use in dealing with media and on Twitter, and pay for it.

Even before the House of Representatives launched its investigation regarding Ukraine, President Trump rejected the authority of Congress to investigate his actions, proclaiming, “We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” and “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.”

Nothing says “Trumpism” more than the line; “I can do whatever I want as president.” He probably believes it to be true. He needs to be taught differently.

When the Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs Committees began reviewing the President’s actions as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry, the President repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the investigation in word and deed.  His rhetorical attacks appeared intended not only to dispute reports of his misconduct, but to persuade the American people that the House lacks authority to investigate the President.

The House also went after Pompeo’s State Department for not handing over any documents in the inquiry.

Like the White House, the Department of State refused to produce a single document in response to its subpoena, even though there is no legal basis for the Department’s actions. 

It is shocking that no one in the entire executive branch handed over any documents sought be Congress. If the Senate acquits Trump, they have not only acquitted Trump on his actions with respect to Ukraine, they are also blessing a president telling the Congress to get f’ed with respect to every single inquiry and demand for witnesses and documents.

Related to the above, Ari Melber is on MSNBC is now pointing out that records attached to the report show Rudy Giuliani was calling in to the White House and OMB during the middle of the process from early in the month of April right on through to August. Ari notes that Rudy has no official job in government, and yet there is call after call going into the White House and OMB from Rudy. Rudy has no place in the real budget process, what the hell is going on with calls to Rudy Giuliani from OMB? It could only be a result of Trump telling people to “work through Rudy Giuliani” concerning the $400 million that would otherwise go to Ukraine. There is almost no legitimate reason for Rudy to be talking to OMB. It appears that there are 500 contacts between Rudy and the federal government, and OMB specifically, which will be the breaking story from this release.

The Committee also cites Trump with perhaps intimidating witnesses, noting Trump’s Tweets about witnesses and its impact.

The President engaged in this effort to intimidate these public servants to prevent them from cooperating with Congress’ impeachment inquiry.  He issued threats, openly discussed possible retaliation, made insinuations about their character and patriotism, and subjected them to mockery and derision—when they deserved the opposite.  The President’s attacks were broadcast to millions of Americans—including witnesses’ families, friends, and coworkers.

It is a federal crime to intimidate or seek to intimidate any witness appearing before Congress.  This prohibition applies to anyone who knowingly “uses intimidation, threatens, or corruptly persuades” another person in order to “influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding.”  Violations of this law can carry a criminal sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Really, though, the entire problem is summed up in the very introduction:

President Trump and his senior officials may see nothing wrong with using the power of the Office of the President to pressure a foreign country to help the President’s reelection campaign.  Indeed, President Trump continues to encourage Ukraine and other foreign countries to engage in the same kind of election interference today.

This is a theme we have been hitting on all day. They don’t see anything wrong with it. They see it as fine, so long as the foreign power is working on Republicans’ behalf, and so long as it all fits within their #ReprussiaFirst paradigm, it is all fine.

And, as the committee notes, until Trump is stopped, he will continue to use anyone from anywhere to defeat “us.” In this case, “us” or “we,” are the people committed to defeating Donald Trump and Trumpism. He will not stop until he is stopped.

I encourage you to read it through on your own.

****

Peace, y’all

Jason

jmiciak@yahoo.com and on Twitter @MiciakZoom

 

 

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