January 8, 2020

Impeachment Update

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“U.S. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton said on Monday he is willing to testify in the expected Senate impeachment trial of the president.” Reuters

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday he had enough support from his fellow Republicans to set the rules for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of McConnell’s refusal to agree to call additional witnesses.

“The core principle behind the rule of law is that justice is blind and partisan identity should not influence a trial’s outcome. But anyone watching Mr. McConnell twist himself into knots in trying to block witnesses and documents has to wonder whether this notion ever took root in his mind. He has gone so far as to say that ‘there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can.’ He also said, ‘There’s no chance the president is going to be removed from office’…

“The Constitution imposes upon the Senate a duty to ‘try all impeachments,’ and so a real trial — with all relevant testimony and evidence — is what is required.”
Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III, New York Times

Dated but relevant: “Pelosi should hold on to the articles until Democratic leadership can ensure a comprehensive, unbiased Senate trial… Democrats owe it to the American people to use every tool at their disposal to try to force Senate Republicans to own their roles in such a charade… Even if they are ultimately unsuccessful, Democrats need to make it clear that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell defied the will of the House and of at least half of the voting population. Close to 70 percent of Americans want to hear from Mulvaney, Bolton and Rudy Giuliani under oath. This is one of those rare times when facts, perception and public opinion align.”
Kurt Bardella, NBC News

“[Last] Thursday, Just Security published the full content of several emails between White House and Pentagon officials that the Justice Department had originally released last month — but, as it turns out, with some pretty important information redacted. The unredacted emails showed that the order to withhold the military aid came straight from Mr. Trump… If it seems that Trump officials are trying to hide key communications about the aid freeze, that’s because they are. On Friday, the White House doubled down, refusing to turn over 20 emails between Mr. Duffey and Robert Blair, a top aide to Mr. Mulvaney, discussing the aid holdup…

“If Mr. Trump has nothing to hide, if his own decision to withhold Ukraine aid was based on a… concern for the national interest, and not made for personal gain, then he should be demanding that every administration official involved in the Ukraine machinations — starting with Mr. Bolton — testify under oath, in a Senate trial. And Mitch McConnell should welcome them. Their silence only strengthens the case that the president is abusing his power.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

“Why aren’t all the president’s men testifying?… Mr. Bolton’s statement Monday claims that he is trying to ‘resolve the serious competing issues’ between his obligations as a citizen and a former national security official. In fact, those obligations point in the same direction. Like jury duty or paying taxes, testifying under oath about facts we know is not optional; it is a fundamental obligation of citizenship…

“Anyone who served in high public office knows that testifying before Congress about matters you worked on in government is part of your solemn public duty. If legislators’ questions impinge upon legitimate concerns about executive or national security privilege, you still must appear, declining to answer only those questions that call for information legally protected from public disclosure.”
Harold Hongju Koh, New York Times

“According to prior testimony from former White House adviser Timothy Morrison, Bolton met one-on-one with Trump in August 2019 to try to convince Trump to release nearly $400 million in aid for Ukraine… And the New York Times reported recently that Bolton -- along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper -- met with Trump in the Oval Office in late August 2019…

Bolton can testify about both of these crucial meetings. And that testimony could be game-changing. Perhaps Trump gave legitimate reasons for not releasing the aid, or perhaps Trump confirmed that his intent was to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. Either way, we need to know -- whoever it may help or hurt.”
Elie Honig, CNN

“If all Bolton wants to do is to lay out for Congress and the public information that is crucial to the impeachment process, he could just call a press conference or write an op-ed. He—and a lot of other people in the Administration—probably should have done so a long time ago. (And might do so now without an Anonymous byline.) Trump can yell about executive privilege or classified information, but whistle-blowers face this dilemma all the time, with more bravery than Bolton has shown.”
Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right is critical of the impeachment efforts.

From the Right

The right is critical of the impeachment efforts.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) writes, “Article III, Section 2, Clause 3 specifically sets impeachment apart from jury trials, providing that ‘The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury.’ Why does the Constitution specifically separate juries from impeachment? Because the authors of the Constitution knew impeachment – for good or ill – was an inherently political act… Given the inherently political nature of impeachment, senators neither can nor should set aside political considerations when hearing an impeachment trial. Senators are expected to weigh the best interests of the country in each and every vote.
Mike Lee, Fox News

“The House elected to push through impeachment with an abbreviated period of roughly three months and declared any delay by Trump, even to seek judicial reviews, to be a high crime and misdemeanor. The administration is currently in court challenging demands for witnesses and documents. Just a couple weeks ago, the Supreme Court accepted one such case for review then stayed the lower court decisions ordering the production of the tax and finance records of Trump. The House impeached Trump before that court or other federal courts could rule on the merits of claims of presidential privileges and immunities…

“Both Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon had been able to take such challenges to the Supreme Court before they faced impeachment … In the Nixon case, it took three months from the ruling of the trial court to the final decision by the Supreme Court that ultimately led to his resignation. Even if the House had waited until October to seek to compel witnesses, it could have had ample time to secure rulings or testimony by a springtime impeachment. We will never know because Democrats chose to do nothing due to the need to get to a trial that they have now delayed.”
Jonathan Turley, The Hill

If Congress had litigated and won, the public would have been more supportive of threats to impeach over noncompliance; the president would have looked like he was hiding corruption rather than protecting executive privilege. And if the administration had then remained obstinate, Congress might have considered impeaching one or more non-elected executive officials who continued to defy subpoenas — commencing such actions would have demonstrated that Congress was being diligent yet refraining from the drastic step of impeaching a president until reasonable alternatives were exhausted… To the contrary, Democrats said reasonable alternatives be damned.”
Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review

“For years [Democrats] flirted with the idea of impeaching Trump for everything from obstructing his own authority over federal law enforcement during the special counsel investigation to his tweets about pro football, and all the while Pelosi counseled forbearance. It is still difficult to say why she changed her mind…

“The idea that it was because the whistleblower complaint about Trump's phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky was a cut-and-dry case of executive malfeasance is belied by her current insistence upon securing more witnesses for a Senate trial. She and her colleagues do not think the case for impeachment was made effectively even after having voted for it; this makes it unlikely that she was persuaded back in October.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN) and Steve Daines (R-MT) write, “Every step of the way, Democrats like House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff warned that President Trump is a ‘clear and present danger’ to democracy who must be removed now

“And yet when it came time to prosecute the case, Speaker Pelosi got cold feet… the Constitution is black and white here: the House has the sole power to impeach, and the Senate has the sole power to try impeachments. House Democrats and Speaker Pelosi have zero say in how the Senate conducts its trial… If Democrats are afraid to try their case, the articles should be dismissed for failure to prosecute.”
Mike Braun and Steve Daines, Fox News

“No one has yet offered an explanation of why the rules that governed Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial — adopted unanimously — cannot apply in this instance equally. Those rules don’t foreclose the calling of witnesses, but allow for the Senate to decide after the presentment of the articles by House managers whether or not they’re necessary. That worked out well in 1999, or at least worked out to be a reasonable process. Clinton got acquitted, so Democrats certainly seemed happy enough with them at the time… They should be happy with them now — unless this is a partisan exercise rather than a hygienic one.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

Oscar Mayer looking for Wienermobile spokesperson to traverse the hot dog highways of America.
WFTS

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