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Key impeachment questions

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by Jose Fly, Nov 22, 2019.

  1. Jose Fly

    Jose Fly Fisker of men

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    After the public hearings in the House Select Committee on Intelligence, we have a unanimous basic narrative from everyone who testified. The main gist of that narrative is that Rudy Giuliani was working in Ukraine with various figures, including people in the State Department. That alone raises some important questions and issues.

    In what capacity was Giuliani acting? Was he working for the US government? Or was he acting as a private citizen? This can be answered by looking at who was paying him to be there (who paid for his travel, his time, etc.). Each of those possibilities raises further questions.

    Working for the US government

    In what position was he employed? At what salary? Did he compete for the position, or was he appointed? Who appointed him? What was the process for him getting the position? What accounts was he charging his time and travel to?

    Also, if he was working for the US government, then all his records are therefore federal records and must be preserved, and are also public records, which means the public should have access to them.

    Working as a private citizen

    The primary concern here is that it is illegal (Logan Act) for private citizens to conduct foreign policy contrary to US national interests. Over the last week we've heard from multiple government officials that Giuliani's activities in Ukraine were harming US relations with Ukraine, were bolstering Russia's positioning with Ukraine, and were generally contrary to US national interests.

    Then we also have the same questions as above, i.e., who was paying Giuliani to work in Ukraine? For what purposes? This is concerning because we already know that two of the people he was working with in Ukraine, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have been arrested and charged with illegally funneling foreign money to Republican campaigns. Further, Parnas' lawyer has stated in court that Giuliani directed him to convey to the Ukrainian government that their military aid was contingent on announcing an investigation into the Bidens.

    Some of the other key questions remaining include....

    Why is the State Department withholding documents and such from the impeachment inquiry? They are not arguing they're classified nor are they arguing "executive privilege", so what is the justification? Remember, these are federal records, which are supposed to be documentation of government workings. The intent is that since the US taxpayer is paying for everything that goes on in the US government, we have a specific right to know what that money is paying for. Federal employees are trained every year in how to preserve federal records and how to provide them should they be requested.

    My point here is that these are the people's records, and as such we have a specific right to see them. So why is the State Department not allowing US taxpayers to see the records?

    Why are Pompeo, Mulvaney, Pence, and Perry not testifying? Since it's now apparent that they would be able to shed light on key events, why are they refusing to say what they know? One would think if they have information that's favorable to themselves and/or the President, they would be eager to provide it. Doesn't the US taxpayer have a right to know what their government is doing?
     
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  2. sun rise

    sun rise "Let there be peace and love among all"
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    Yes, the Logan Act is germane.

    When the defense is that everything the POTUS did was just peachy-keen, a natural part of that defense is the hide the truth.
     
  3. Jose Fly

    Jose Fly Fisker of men

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    Yup.

    Definitely. "We've done nothing wrong" is not consistent with "we're hiding all our federal records".
     
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  4. Jose Fly

    Jose Fly Fisker of men

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    Well, it seems we have an answer to one question...

    It appears to be just plain ol' obstruction.

    Giuliani-Pompeo contacts before Yovanovitch ouster are seen in newly released State Dept. documents

    "The State Department late Friday released 100 pages of court-ordered documents that show President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on the phone at least twice in late March within the same time frame of events currently under investigation in a House impeachment inquiry...

    ...“That American Oversight could obtain these documents establishes that there is no legal basis for the administration to withhold them from Congress,” American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers said in a statement. “That conclusively shows that the administration is engaged in obstruction of justice. The president and his allies should ask themselves if impeachment for obstruction is worth it if the strategy isn’t even going to be effective.""​
     
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  5. Mr Spinkles

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    One might say everything was not peachy at all.

    ... One might even say, it was rather im-peachy.
     
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  6. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    I'm worried that the impeachment movement is too narrowly focused on a single issue, and a fairly abstruse one at that.

    What about the war criminal pardons, the abandonment of the Kurds, moving our embassy to Jerusalem, his history of sexual misconduct, his campaign connections with the Russians, his denouncement or firing of persons who displease or threaten him, his criticism of his own security agencies and refusal to accept their intelligence, his firing of Comey &al, the many unfilled federal positions and use of "acting" officials -- essentially temps, his attacks on the press and his sowing hatred of "enemies," his use of -- and profit from -- his own properties for official meetings, his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and Iran nuclear deal, his lack of attention to political briefings, his anti-immigrant speeches and treatment of refugee families, his incontinent twittering, &c?

    Why aren't any of these brought up?
     
  7. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Sadly idiocy is not an impeachable act.
     
  8. Mr Spinkles

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    Fair questions. I think the more issues you include in the articles of impeachment, the more likely it is that voters and/or their representatives will reject the whole thing because they don’t accept one of the articles.

    Voters and representatives, I think rightly, are very reluctant to support the impeachment and removal of a duly elected president (awful as he is). Therefore, rather than finding within the articles of impeachment the ones they most agree with and using that to justify supporting impeachment generally, I think they will do the opposite.

    Also, Trump’s army of pseudo intellectuals are extremely wily and slippery in defending him. The more issues you raise in the articles of impeachment, I fear, the more paths they will find to defend him and the more confusion and doubt they will be able to sow.

    I think we have to laser focus on one issue or the GOP will so obfuscate the facts voters won’t even know which way is up. Look at how tenaciously they have muddled the issue on Ukraine, in spite of a mountain of carefully laid out evidence.
     
  9. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Perhaps the Democrats should come up with an illustrated timeline of what Trump did along with testimony for those acts. His "I asked for nothing! " call falls flat when one sees that it happened the same day the whistleblower 's claims were put before the House security committee. It becomes obvious he knew he was caught.
     
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  10. Mr Spinkles

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    Didn’t Sondland also testify that he wasn’t the first to use the term “quid pro quo” when he spoke to Trump? I.e. Sondland asked something like what do you want from Ukraine and Trump answered “I want nothing! There is no quid pro quo! Tell Zelensky to do the right thing (wink, wink)”

    Or did I get that wrong? I thought I heard that but can’t verify it.
     
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  11. ecco

    ecco Well-Known Member

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    That was a really good post!

    Thanks.
     
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  12. Mr Spinkles

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    Agreed! Bravo, Jose Fly.

    Thank you for putting into words what I could not, until I read that. These are questions that any fair minded person would have to agree need to be answered.
     
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  13. Subduction Zone

    Subduction Zone Veteran Member

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    Since it was over the phone the "wink wink" probably did not happen, but aside from that it sounds pretty accurate. The timing and desperation of that call tell us that he knew that he was caught. In fact this video goes over that. The most important part is from 1:20 to 4:20. Truth in humor:

     
  14. Jose Fly

    Jose Fly Fisker of men

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    Schiff: House Intel Preparing To Hand Off Impeachment To Judiciary Committee

    "House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Monday that his committee was preparing to hand off the impeachment proceedings to the House Judiciary Committee."​

    Relevant to the OP, one of the main items cited is obstruction of Congress for the executive branch's complete failure to comply with subpoenas....

    "However, it is also the case that the Administration undertook an unprecedented campaign of obstruction in an effort to prevent the Committees from obtaining documentary evidence and testimony. A dozen witnesses followed President Trump’s order to defy lawful subpoenas, and the White House, State Department, Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Energy have provided no documents in response to subpoenas. In fact, the Committees did not receive a single document from any executive branch agencies pursuant to our subpoenas...

    ...We will catalog the instances of non-compliance with lawful subpoenas as part of our report to the Judiciary Committee, which will allow that Committee to consider whether an article of impeachment based on obstruction of Congress is warranted along with an article or articles based on this underlying conduct or other presidential misconduct. Such obstruction was the basis of the third article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. Further, we will be forced to infer from this obstruction that the testimony of these witnesses would tend to incriminate the President further since he would have encouraged—rather than blocked—the testimony of senior officials like Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton, if he believed it would somehow be helpful to him. The fact that the President has uniformly instructed all executive branch agencies and senior officials to obstruct the investigation further demonstrates consciousness of guilt on the part of the President.
    "​

    Again, the documents in question are public records that belong to all US citizens, so there's no justification for the Trump WH to withhold them. Also, the letter furthers the point that if the WH is blocking Mulvaney, Pompeo, and Bolton from testifying, the obvious conclusion is that it's because their testimony isn't going to be helpful to the President.
     
  15. Mr Spinkles

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    To wit, Article III of the Nixon impeachment charged the president with contempt of Congress for disobeying lawful subpoenas of Congress:

    In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, contrary to his oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives on April 11, 1974, May 15, 1974, May 30, 1974, and June 24, 1974, and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas. The subpoenaed papers and things were deemed necessary by the Committee in order to resolve by direct evidence fundamental, factual questions relating to Presidential direction, knowledge or approval of actions demonstrated by other evidence to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the President. In refusing to produce these papers and things Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives
    Impeachment process against Richard Nixon - Wikipedia
     
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  16. Jose Fly

    Jose Fly Fisker of men

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    Yesterday the transcripts of OMB official Mark Sandy were released. His testimony revealed some key information about how the hold on the aid to Ukraine was carried out. The timeline of events seems to be Trump ordered the hold on the aid, career officials at OMB (including solicitors) raised legal objections mostly regarding the Impoundment Control Act, the specific duty of allocating the aid was taken away from the OMB officials and given to a Trump appointee, OMB officials resigned in protest, and the appointee withheld the aid under Trump's orders.

    Interestingly, Sandy also testified that all of these events are documented in OMB's federal records, but Trump has ordered the agency to not provide them to Congress for the impeachment hearings. However, apparently OMB has been providing at least some of those records to the House Budget and Appropriations Committee as part of routine oversight and coordination (IOW, not as part of the impeachment hearings). After examining those records, the Committee released a summary that says...

    After careful review of the materials provided to the committees, the Chairs have become more concerned that the apportionment process has been abused to undermine Congress's constitutional power of the purse. Specifically:

    1. The timeline of actions taken by OMB...suggest a pattern of abuse of the apportionment process, OMB's authority, and current law.
    2. OMB took the seemingly unprecedented step of stripping career officials of their normal role in the apportionment process and instead vesting a political appointee with that authority. This is a troubling deviation from long-standing procedures.​

    So another piece of the puzzle falls into place, and once again we see how this administration is withholding important federal records for no legal reason.

     
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  17. Jose Fly

    Jose Fly Fisker of men

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    Now we can add another key question to these impeachment hearings....what role did Republican Congressman Devin Nunes play in this whole Giuliani-Ukraine-Parnas scheme?

    Impeachment Investigators Got Rudy’s Phone Records—And They’re Quite Revealing

    "Rudy Giuliani and one of his indicted Ukrainian associates exchanged a flurry of phone calls with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on Congress’ impeachment investigation panel, amid a Giuliani-led effort to dig up dirt on President Donald Trump’s political opponents in Ukraine.

    The House Intelligence Committee obtained phone records from AT&T showing extensive communications in early April involving Nunes, Giuliani, Lev Parnas, and The Hill columnist John Solomon, according to records released in the committee’s formal report on its investigation underlying impeachment charges against President Donald Trump.

    The records shed new light on the relationship between Nunes, one of the impeachment inquiries most vehement critics, and the individuals at the center of what committee Democrats describe as an illicit campaign to weaponize U.S. foreign policy to Trump’s political advantage.

    The records in the committee’s 300-page report show three phone calls between Nunes and Giuliani on April 10 of this year, and at least two with Parnas two days later. Derek Harvey, a member of Nunes’ staff, also had a phone call with Giuliani the following month."

    Nunes's excuses are rather....um....interesting too. "We were just joking" (Giuliani) and "I dunno" (Parnas).
     
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  18. Jose Fly

    Jose Fly Fisker of men

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    Oh, and another new "important question"....was the "-1" person in the call record (in the impeachment report) President Trump?

    Analysis: Why Giuliani’s calls with ‘-1’ are likely calls with Trump

    "The individual “-1” identified in the House impeachment inquiry report? Almost certainly the person known in other legal documents as Individual-1. That is: President Trump."
     
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  19. ecco

    ecco Well-Known Member

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  20. esmith

    esmith Veteran Member

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