The Public Grasp Of Impeachment


This message is intended primarily for Adam Schiff. If any reader can get it in front of him or anyone on his staff, please do!

Even for law school graduates the language and meaning of the Constitution about impeachment can be confusing and abstract.

The language seems simple and straightforward: “if such officers have engaged in treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Between the Mueller report and the current congressional public hearings there has been a massive amount of facts, theories and charges. Depending on where people start on the subject – as Trumpers or non-Trumpers — their ability and willingness to absorb all this materiel differs widely.

Accordingly, the Congress must consider the methods of presenting its case to the people in such a way that most people can relate what they are hearing to their own life experience.

So far, they have largely failed in achieving that goal because they have been excessively legalistic and abstract – the long emphasis on “quid pro quo,” now largely abandoned in favor of “bribery,” being one prominent example.

Good, solid cases can be made and argued that the facts currently before us constitute bribery – or even treason. Unfortunately, few people can see themselves in such situations and therefore have little grasp of those stories.

But the Constitution does not stop with treason or bribery. It’s famously vague “other high crimes and misdemeanors” is intended to give Congress ample leeway to remove an unfit leader. High crimes could be a lot of things: abuse of power, disregard for the independence and position of Congress, threatening witnesses, etc. Finally, to sweep up any messes left behind, the Constitution provides for misdemeanors, less felonious violations of law or non-criminal acts which might justify removal from office.

Hopefully, the Intelligence Committee’s wrap up report will go through all the facts and possible impeachment charges with simple to understand connections between the Constitutional language and the evidence of the case.

In addition, plain language examples from everyday life, such as a patrol officer demanding cash to ignore a speeding violation will illuminate what is really meant and intended by the Constitution.

Most of all, it must be KEPT SIMPLE! Save the legalese for the Articles themselves, and use the Committee’s report to lay out, for all to see, Trump’s grotesque abuse of the levers of government for personal gain.

Following my own advice, I will refrain from saying anymore!


Incans Circa 1500 In South America


Hiram Bingham wrote a riveting history of the Spaniards and the Incas and their population in the years around 1500 AD in South America.

There is one major take away from that history in today’s crazy world.

The Spaniards wanted to get the riches of gold, silver and jewels held largely by the elites –called the Incas –of that South American population of about 25 million people at that time.

Those elites numbered about 250,000 (the original “one-percenters”?) and to get at those riches the Spaniards basically slaughtered virtually all of them.

And, guess what happened? That population became, remained, and largely remains today without effective leadership.  

If today’s Trump wars to wipe out our elites is as successful as the Spanish in 1500, we just might turn out to be a large population with a lot of wealth and resources and nowhere to go and no way to get there????


The word assume is both quite funny and significant. It is true that when and if people assume too freely and easily, they often fall into the trap of being an ASS along with the person who mislead them.

Cohen Trump’s former personal counsel—now in jail for doing some of Trump’s dirty work—when asked during his trial how he understood Trump’s instructions, said Trump had a way of saying things obliquely. For example, if Trump wanted to see someone’s tax returns, he might say “I wonder if X has cheated on his tax returns?” Cohen took that to mean “Go get those tax returns!”

Cohen’s view was that Trump was clever enough to know what he should NOT do, that he never would say in so many words what he really wanted.

The QUID PRO QUO debate turns in large part on what Trump said. When there was still uncertainty about the connection between the withheld military aid to Ukraine and a Biden investigation Trump had demanded, Trump at that point in time volunteered out of the blue “Mind you there is no quid pro quo” which was the first time that phrase came into frequent use.

What possibly brought that phrase into Trump’s mind? Obviously, it was on Trump’s mind that there was in fact a quid pro quo which he had demanded, so in his oblique way, per Cohen’s observation, he said the reverse meaning there was in fact one that was worrying him.

This recalls a fascinating anecdote about J P Morgan. A Morgan partner –Lamont–had invited Mr. Morgan for tea.  Lamont invited his teen age son to join AND warned the boy NOT to notice or mention Mr. Morgan’s famous red nose. As the boy passed the tea and sugar to Mr. Morgan he asked Mr. Morgan “Would you like one or two noses with your tea.”

History is not clear on what happened to the boy.

But it was clear that the father’s advice on the nose was central in the boy’s mind which is how and why he made the mistake.

Trump spoke the truth in an inadvertent way when he brought up the very point he wanted to suppress.

I guess we could all agree that Trump at a minimum is an ASS!

Failure To Succeed With A Crime Is Not Exculpatory

There are rarely days when we tell ourselves that we need more lawyers to solve the problems they create!

Other days like today we may need more!

As far as impeachment is concerned, more lawyers might help us understand the situation, because understanding Constitutional legal language can be a bit technical and confusing.

Article II of the US Constitution is clear… But what does it really mean in everyday life in easily understandable terms?

Congress has dealt with this question only three times in our whole history and no President in more than 200 years has ever been impeached AND convicted. (Nixon would probably have been the first but resigned before the House could vote on articles of impeachment.)

Hardly any sane person likes the idea of removing a president from office. It does NOT do the U.S. credit, because it goes against the fundamental democratically expressed will of the voters, and it is, as we see today, chaotic and divisive.

Given those realities, what justifies putting a President out of office?

The facts in the current case are abundantly clear and beyond any real dispute. There is little doubt that Trump was making a serious and deliberate effort to get the leader of Ukraine to investigate the Biden’s – or at least publicly pledge to do so. His professed concern about corruption in Ukraine didn’t extend to any issue beyond the 2016 and 2020 elections, making it obvious his motives were purely political, because he hoped to disqualify in advance Joe Biden’s candidacy in 2020 (and, because he simply cannot restrain himself, he needs to relitigate 2016).

By any standard, that is all a rotten tomato.

It is also against the law in several ways. It is extortion, bribery and abuse of power because Trump’s “leverage” was withholding already-authorized U.S. taxpayer dollars intended to support Ukraine’s military against Russian aggression. (Conditioning a White House meeting on assistance in a political smear job is equally wrong, but probably less damning in the public’s eyes.)

As it happened, the US tax payer support was ultimately restored, and the sham investigation never occurred. To some Trump defenders, that amounts to “no harm, no foul, no impeachment.”

The law, of course, doesn’t judge success, but intent. Trying to kill a person is a crime, even if one is unsuccessful in the effort. Similarly, extortion and bribery are crimes, even if the attempt is bungled. Does any American want to create a precedent that failing to achieve your intended harm is exculpatory?

The magnitude of future danger is incalculable and is (or should be) NON-PARTISAN. After all, come 2021 and thereafter, there could be a Democrat in the White House. What if that person turns out to be every bit as nefarious, untruthful and corrupt as Donald Trump?

Now is the moment for all Americans to see through this shameless effort to subvert our Constitution!

One should not have to be a lawyer to know that using taxpayer funds for personal political gain is wrong.

Most of the lawyers in America clearly know that.

If you are unsure, ask one!

Trees Have A Lot In Common With People


The sweeping pool of humanity is remarkable for many things, none more fascinating than that each individual person is unique! While almost all people have four limbs, ten fingers and toes, hair that retreats with age and much else in common, no two people, so far, including twins, out of about 8 billion on earth, look or are exactly alike. We are, we tell ourselves, like snowflakes, whose crystalline structures afford infinite variety.

Less understood is that we are also very like trees. Despite their outward similarities like ours – with limbs and leaves [hair] and a central trunk [body], no two trees – are even close to being exactly alike.

Trees, moreover, are like us in ways people and science are only beginning to understand. Trees have their own subtle ways of communicating on various subjects including the ability to warn other trees of threats. Researchers have discovered, for example, that trees are able to ascertain the presence of diseases that spread, and to communicate to other trees defenses that help contain those dangers.

We do not know whether trees are as prolific as people. We do know that there are many more of them than us – some 3.04 trillion. While trees are immobile, their means of reproducing have been exceedingly effective, even in the face of myriad threats from man and nature alike.

Trees have never gone to war with each other, as far as we know (“Lord of the Rings” fans, please do not send me email about this). But they surely have been misused by us people in our wars.

So as trees whisper/murmur among themselves, I wonder how they see us and – is it possible? – think of us. They may notice that some people care a lot about them as trees, while others care less. Surely, it must stand out to them that across the globe, we cannot seem to get along with each other.

The trees that I relate to most closely tell me they have ideas on the subject, that 370 million years of peaceful co-existence have taught them about the value of differences (species in their world; race, religion and much, much more in ours).

I am insufficiently fluent in tree language to fully understand what they are saying. But, I suspect we’ll all need to learn their language if we want to unlock the secrets of trees and discover how we might ‘live and let live’ – and allow both trees and people to collaborate and persist through millennia.

Mulvaney and Bolton


They both worked with Trump at the most Senior levels and have been asked by Congress to testify. They both were ordered by Trump not to testify. They both now say they will ONLY do so IF they are ordered by a Judge to do so in response to a subpoena.

And, now Bolton has asked a Judge to tell him what to do as he does NOT want to testify and Mulvaney has now also asked to join that case. The practical effect of that would be a normal judicial proceeding which after appeals etc. could take a year to become final, by which time the 2020 election may have come and gone.

Now the Congress says –thanks we do not need you after all, but you are welcome to come, and we will squeeze you in.

They have in common that they both have attempted to obstruct justice and could be fined or jailed.

Will they now try to correct the obstruction charge by coming after all and testifying under oath?

Big boys playing little boys’ games with our democratic system.

Aren’t we are all owed something better!!??

The Best Judge Of Biden’s Candidacy


Trump we now know was well and widely warned that his effort to pressure the President of Ukraine to smear Biden to try to eliminate his competition with Trump from 2020, was very risky, wrong and illegal.

Trump persisted nevertheless!

Why, because his BEST judgment obviously is that Biden presents a serious challenge in 2020.

Generally, people do not think well of Trump’s judgment. But, where HIS skin is at stake, he has generally been right.

Why are more Democrats –including Bloomberg—not reading these tea leaves more carefully?

One-On-One With Trump


There I was with the ‘great’ man – at his invitation! – to have a ‘frank’ conversation. The subject:  to help him understand, with his unmatched wisdom, how he was perceived by folks like me and what he might do to convince himself, at least, that there were things he could do win my support and avoid being impeached and convicted.

T-“People tell me you are fair and open minded. Is that true and what does it mean?’

F- “I believe I am, and I think it means I truly want this country to work well in the world and for all our citizens and that no one person is either above the law or indispensable.”

T- “Well, then basically we agree! We may have to disagree on some of my ways and means. I have learned the hard way in my life that being a modest, moderate operator rarely works. That is why you probably think I am such a clown. People do not listen/hear you unless you can break through their outer shell of ignorance and/or bliss.”

F- “There may be an element of truth in what you say, but the frequency and way you do it, reduces your credibility with most people to the point that they stop taking you, and whatever you say, seriously.”

T- “If you are right, why would so many Americans still like me and support me?”

F-“You have to ask yourself who those folks are and why they have not yet abandoned you.”

T- “I have, and they are pretty much the same folks who ‘almost’ really elected me in 2016. And, they have not abandoned me because they still believe in me and what I am doing!”

F- “They may still believe your bullying and bluffing the Chinese will work because the evidence that it really is counterproductive takes time to become apparent as with the so called ‘J Curve’ in economics which shows that things often take two years to become apparent.”

T-“Your B.S. with fancy terms, like J-Curve, drives me and my supporters crazy. It is a good example of what your educational elitism has been doing to ruin the country.”

F- “It would help you and your Presidency if you read more and listened to your experts in economics and intelligence. They are not you. They are there to protect you and the country based on a lot of prior experience. For example, if you had listened to experts when you were in the real estate business, you probably could have avoided bankruptcy more than once, which had to have hurt you and your creditors badly.”

T- “There you go again with throwing dung at me for no good reason.”

F- “Call it whatever you like but denying reality simply to feel better about yourself is a very dangerous thing!” 

T- “What should I do to stop this ridiculous impeachment circus?”

F- “First, I would stop saying to TV cameras ‘when I am still President 12 years from now’. You know perfectly well that is –or should be—impossible! It scares people into fearing that are willing to burn the Constitution! Second, if I were you I would make a deal with Congress NOW while you still have some leverage left, to let you resign and avoid all further legal risks including Post-Presidency JAIL!”

T- “Why would any sane man do that?

F-“Who suggested you were sane?”

T-“How could I have accomplished what I have, if I were not sane.”

F- “History is replete with the accomplishments of madmen. Even Nixon managed to do it. And, he died a relatively satisfied man. If you’re thrown out of office, you will go down in history as one of the dumbest, sickest people ever!”

T- “I thought you were open and fair minded?”

F- “If you think about it for a minute, you will understand. If I were not fair, I would beg you to stay your course and go to jail for the rest of your life.”

T- “Thanks for coming in. My staff will take YOU directly to jail now. And I will see you there soon enough for both of us.”

What Makes An Impeachable Offense?

In the end, the public will determine Trump’s fate.

The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

— U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 4

The Constitution’s instructions on impeachment are curiously simple and vague [for a reason!?]. To the, presumably well-understood, offenses of treason and bribery, the text adds, “high crimes and misdemeanors” as grounds for impeachment. Any definitions, and indeed, the whole process of impeachment itself, are left to the House of Representatives – the sole holder of ‘impeachment’ authority.

The Senate – after conducting a trial based on the House’s Articles of Impeachment– votes up or down on the House’s Articles, all or some. But, the Senate cannot introduce articles on its own

Impeachment, then, is obviously more a political process than a criminal one.

Trump famously suggested, while running for President, that he could shoot a person dead on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single voter. Indeed, it appears that he thinks he could do so NOW and likely still would not be convicted today, even if impeached!

Considering our country’s limited experience on this subject, perhaps we should not be surprised at this situation. Bill Clinton’s ‘crimes’ were related to a sexual relationship with a White House intern. The House voted to impeach him shortly after the 1998 midterm elections, in which most of the public expressed little interest in the subject; the Senate acquittal quickly followed.

Andrew Johnson’s ‘crime’ related to a partisan difference of opinion about an appointment. In that case the House impeached and the Senate, by a single vote, acquitted.

Richard Nixon’s crimes were uncovered outside of the House’s impeachment process – largely by the media and the Senate Watergate Committee.  Nixon, seeing the writing on the wall as Republicans abandoned him after release of his White House tapes, resigned before the House voted on articles of impeachment.

Thus, in its entire 240+ years, our nation has witnessed two impeachments, no convictions, and one resignation in advance of a virtually certain impeachment and conviction. All of which leaves us with very little to go on into what might/should constitute the level of an impeachable offense.

It used to be believed that an “impeachable offense” was simply whatever the House found it to be. Now, it is becoming clear that the standard is whatever the PUBLIC thinks it should be. At this very moment, the public appears evenly divided on the question, largely along partisan lines (with independents reflecting the overall average). That suggests to many people now that with the election only a year away, impeachment perhaps now should be moot and left to the voters next year.

The House majority seems to feel strongly – along partisan lines — that considering the facts known at the moment, they still have a solemn duty to address the question and have now voted to proceed with their investigation into Articles of Impeachment.

According to today’s facts, impeachment will not result in conviction and removal unless and until a lot more independents and, more important, Republicans, begin to support the idea. If enough [?] abandon Trump, the resulting threat to continuing its majority might encourage enough Senate Republicans to do the same.

That won’t be easy. There is an increasing push among Republicans to simply concede the “substance” of Trump’s actions and assert that it still does not rise to the level warranting removal from office.

Perhaps the country needs to better understand the significance of Trump’s acts. Public hearings will help in that regard, with the televised testimony of obviously honorable people providing a counterweight to Republican dismissals of facts as well as efforts to stain the integrity of the witnesses to Trump’s corruption. 

And, any efforts to focus on the substance of Trump’s actions still fall into hard-to-explain (or relate to) aspects of Congressional appropriations, international diplomacy, and obscure right-wing conspiracy theories about foreign interference in the 2016 election. All of those are subjects which make ordinary peoples’ eyes glaze over in a stupor of disinterest. [Boring–Dad -boring was the mantra I heard, for example,  from my 15 year old son in 1978, as I answered his questions about what I did in the Commerce Department!}!! May be to him BUT challenging to me!

Here are some more down to earth ways to think about – and more important, talk about — Trump’s actions:

  • Worse than anything Nixon did. Watergate was, at its roots admittedly with hindsight, a modest infraction: a dirty tricks operation to enhance the President’s reelection prospects. There were other crimes along the way, to be sure, but it was the cover-up that ultimately did Nixon in. People today may not know the intricacies of Nixon’s many crimes, but there was widespread understanding that he was a corrupt and malign President who deserved to be run out of office. Remember Bob Dole’s famous comparison of Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Nixon? “See no evil, hear no evil – and evil.” That Nixon was bad might be the only political statement that still has a broad consensus in American society.  Putting Trump’s crimes in Nixonian terms should make them easier to grasp and emphasizes their severity.

  • What is he hiding? This boils down to a simple talking point: if he’s so innocent, why is he refusing to cooperate? Under the law, someone refusing legal orders to produce information may be presumed to be hiding something that would indicate his guilt. Trump must be guilty of something, or he would be more forthcoming. Trump was eager to share the ‘non-transcript’ of his July 25 call to the Ukrainian President, but now he’s stonewalling the real transcript. Why? As all TV commentators make clear, it is because there is something he doesn’t want you to know.

  • No person is above the law. Even the most red-blooded patriots of Trump’s vaunted base fervently believe this this point is basic to democracy. Trump, however, acts like he’s a king. In his view, he doesn’t have to follow any law or submit to any authority if he, in his “great and unmatched wisdom” [his words], deems the reason for such effrontery somehow illegitimate. – They are all totally illegitimate in his head.

Polling support for not only an impeachment inquiry, but removing Trump from office, has grown dramatically even though in recent weeks, America learned from Trump about his “perfect” call with the President of Ukraine. There is an inconsistency there that needs to be explored?

But the tipping point will never arrive unless and until a clear majority of independents, and a significant minority of Trump’s base, come to recognize that Trump has played them and the whole world for suckers.