Today is impeachment day. As I write this, the US House of Representatives is about to start debate and vote on two Articles of Impeachment against the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. The two articles are: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. You can read the actual articles here: Articles of Impeachment
In our highly partisan political environment, the outcome is predetermined: The House will impeach the President and the Senate will quickly acquit him. So how did this happen?
On July 25th of this year, President Trump called the newly elected President of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to congratulate him on his recent election victory.
On these kind of calls, a number of people listen in. Translators are essential, but Zelenskyy does speak English. Those also listening are members of the President’s staff, representatives of the State Department and the Military, and other professional government employees. The White House released a call summary to the press, you can read it here: Call Memorandum
To set the stage, President Zelenskyy knew that the $391 million aid package (Javalin missiles) was currently “on hold.” Without these anti-tank missiles, the Russian Army could quickly take over the Ukraine, if they wanted. So Zelensky addressed this specific issue:
We would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps, specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.
President Trump responded with a request for a favor, that being a Ukrainian investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike. I guess you have one of your wealthy people. The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you are surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you said yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible. …
The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you ·can look into it. It sounds horrible to me.
As background, in 2014, Hunter had taken a cushy job with an energy company called Burisma making $50,000 a month as a member of the Board of Directors. While the optics of this are bad, there’s never been any evidence of any wrongdoing on Hunter’s part. The Crowdstrike mention by Trump is a real howler, a kooky conspiracy theory cooked up by the Russians. Read all about it here: Russia Plants Crowdstrike Conspiracy Theory
When Trump hung up the phone on July 25th, almost everybody listening in on the call was shocked. Trump’s staff, according to sworn testimony, immediately locked up the recording, notes, and transcripts of the call on a super-secret server reserved for top secret data. They knew that the optics of the call looked bad.
The normal government employees who listened realized that Trump had veered from the planned agenda to what was essentially a mob-type shakedown of a foreign government for personal political gain. That started discussions about the call among themselves; these discussions triggered another government employee, the whistle blower, to write up a complaint and submit it to the Inspector General. Attorney General Bill Barr attempted to quash the whistle blower’s complaint, but somehow Adam Schiff got wind of it and demanded to see the whistle blower’s complaint.
Suddenly caught with his pants down, Trump quickly released the $391 million aid package to the Ukraine and released a call summary to the press, thinking that it was a “perfect call.” Nancy Pelosi authorized an impeachment investigation and Trump responded by forbidding anyone from the executive branch from testifying or releasing any requested documents. Fortunately, a few government employees defied Trump’s ban and testified before the House committees, essentially verifying all the whistle blower’s complaints.
So here we are. As I write this blog post, members of the House of Representatives are debating the two articles of impeachment: abuse of power, and obstruction of Congress.
Trump attempted to use the power of his office to coerce a foreign leader to start a bogus investigation of Joe Biden (a potential political rival) based on a Russia-inspired and totally debunked conspiracy theory. That’s abuse of power – attempting to get a foreign governments involved in our elections.
As a co-equal branch of government, the Congress has every right, guaranteed in our Constitution, to act as a check-and-balance on the Executive branch. Trump’s refusal to cooperate with lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents is a clear example of obstruction of Congress.
In my view, Trump is guilty as sin.
I accept that the trial in the Senate is already rigged. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made that clear. Nonetheless, I’m happy that in this dark hour for our democracy, at least some stood up and said “we won’t stand for this.” This will record for history that Donald J Trump is an impeached President, whose conduct was so abhorrent that the House of Representatives voted to eject him from the government.
If I was the Speaker of the House, I’d refuse to send the impeachment to the Senate on the grounds that Mitch McConnell has made it clear that the trial would be rigged. Nancy Pelosi should direct additional investigations into other possible grounds for impeachment, looking at Trump money laundering, violations of the emoluments clause, and hush money paid to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
Want to save our Democracy? Vote the Republicans out in 2020, from dog-catcher to President Trump.
Flush the Turd on November 3rd.