The Public Grasp Of Impeachment

UNDERSTANDABLE CONFUSION

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

A WARNING FOR THE USA TODAY?

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????

ASS U ME

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

BUT NOT ENOUGH?

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

WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?

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

IS TRUMP!

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?