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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Trump Administration v. Law Enforcement

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of bigotryThe update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Impeachment is becoming likely.

Frank Bruni at NYT:
On Monday, showing fresh contempt for the people who work under him in the Justice Department, Barr renounced a determination by the department’s inspector general that the F.B.I.’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia was legitimate and that anti-Trump bias was not its animating force. He did this instantly.
And then, on Tuesday, did it again, with even less subtlety and more sanctimony. “It was a travesty,” he said of the investigation, and he was speaking not just of the sloppiness and haste of some of the F.B.I.’s actions, with which the inspector general also took issue. He was dismissing the whole effort as rotten.
It was an eerie echo of his efforts last spring, when he sought to neuter Robert Mueller’s findings about the Trump campaign’s openness to Russian help and the president’s attempts to obstruct justice. Give Barr points for consistency. He has bought fully into the idea that the zeal of Trump’s detractors matters more than the presidents’ abuses of power.

But what of the Constitution? What of common decency? Barr isn’t concerning himself with those. To do so would call into question the honor of serving in this administration, the compliment of holding the job that Trump gave him. And he wants that compliment. That pedestal. He prefers to see himself as a holy warrior than as an unholy dupe.

Trump's sympathies lie more with organized crime than with the FBI.



Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Impeachment Documents

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of bigotryThe update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Impeachment is becoming likely.

Article I: Abuse of power
The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives "shall have the sole Power of Impeachment and that the President shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors". In his conduct of the office of President of the United States—and in violation of his constitutional 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—Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency, in that:

Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election. He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage. President Trump also sought to pressure the Government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations. President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process. He thus ignored and injured the interests of the Nation.

President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct through the following means:
(1) President Trump—acting both directly and through his agents Within and Outside the United States Government—corruptly solicited the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into—
(A) a political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.; and
(B) a discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine—rather than Russia—interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.
(2) With the same corrupt motives, President Trump—acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government–conditioned two official acts on the public announcements that he had requested—
(A) the release of $391 million of United 5 States taxpayer funds that Congress had appropriated on a bipartisan basis for the purpose of providing vital military and security assistance to Ukraine to oppose Russian aggression and which President Trump had ordered suspended; and
(B) a head of state meeting at the White House, which the President of Ukraine sought to demonstrate continued United States support for the Government of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.
(3) Faced with the public revelation of his actions, President Trump ultimately released the military and security assistance to the Government of Ukraine, but has persisted in openly and corruptly urging and soliciting Ukraine to undertake investigations for his personal political benefit.
These actions were consistent with President Trump's previous invitations of foreign interference in United States elections.
In all this, President Trump abused the powers of the Presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit. He has also betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.
Wherefore President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self- governance and the rule of law.
President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.
Article II: Obstruction of Congress
The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives "shall have the sole Power of Impeachment" and that the President "shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors". In his conduct of the office of President of the United States—and in violation of his constitutional 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—
Donald J. Trump has directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its sole Power of Impeachment. President Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency in a manner offensive to, and subversive of, the Constitution, in that:
The House of Representatives has engaged in an impeachment inquiry focused on President Trump's corrupt solicitation of the Government of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 United States Presidential election. As part of this impeachment inquiry, the Committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry from various Executive Branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials.

In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the "sole Power of Impeachment" vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.
President Trump abused the powers of his high office through the following means:
(1) Directing the White House to defy a lawful subpoena by withholding the production of documents sought therein by the Committees.
(2) Directing other Executive Branch agencies and offices to defy lawful subpoenas and withhold the production of documents and records from the Committees—in response to which the Department of State, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense refused to produce a single document or record.
(3) Directing current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the Committees—in response to which nine Administration officials defied subpoenas for testimony, namely John Michael "Mick" Mulvaney, Robert B. Blair, John A. Eisenberg, Michael Ellis, Preston Wells Griffith, Russell T. Vought, Michael Duffey, Brian McCormack, and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl.
These actions were consistent with President Trump's previous efforts to undermine United States Government investigations into foreign interference in United States elections.
Through these actions, President Trump sought to arrogate to himself the right to determine the propriety, scope, and nature of an impeachment inquiry into his own conduct, as well as the unilateral prerogative to deny any and all information to the House of Representatives in the exercise of its "sole Power of Impeachment". In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate "high Crimes and Misdemeanors". This abuse of office served to cover up the President's own repeated misconduct and to seize and control the power of impeachment and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.
In all of this, President Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
Wherefore, President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

Trump v. FBI

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign  The update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

From the DOJ Office of Inspector General:
The Department of Justice (Department) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) undertook this review to examine certain actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department during an FBI investigation opened on July 31, 2016, known as "Crossfire Hurricane," into whether individuals associated with the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign were coordinating, wittingly or unwittingly, with the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
...
As part of our review, we also sought to determine whether there was evidence that  political bias or other improper considerations affected decision making in Crossfire Hurricane, including the decision to open the investigation. We discussed the issue of political bias in a prior OIG report, Review of Various Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election, where we described text and instant messages between then Special Counsel to the Deputy Director Lisa Page and then Section Chief Peter Strzok, among others, that included statements of hostility toward then candidate Trump and statements of support for then candidate Hillary Clinton. In this review, we found that, while Lisa Page  attended some of the discussions regarding the opening of the investigations, she did not play a role in the decision to open Crossfire Hurricane or the four individual cases. We further found that while Strzok was directly involved in the decisions to open Crossfire Hurricane and the four individual cases, he was not the sole, or even the highest-level, decision maker as to any of those matters. As noted above, then CD AD Priestap,  Strzok's supervisor, was the official who ultimately made the decision to open the investigation, and evidence reflected that this decision by Priestap was reached by consensus after multiple days of discussions and meetings that included Strzok and other leadership in CD, the FBI Deputy Director, the FBI General Counsel, and a FBI Deputy General Counsel. We concluded that Priestap's exercise of discretion in opening the investigation was in compliance with Department and FBI policies, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced his decision. We similarly found that, while the formal documentation opening each of the four individual investigations was approved by Strzok (as required by the DIOG), the decisions to do so were reached by a consensus among the Crossfire "Hurricane agents and analysts who identified individuals associated with t he Trump campaign who had recently traveled to Russia or had other alleged ties to Russia. Priestap was involved in these decisions. We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations. [emphasis added]

FBI Director Christopher Wray responds:
The Report concludes that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation and related investigations of certain individuals were opened in 2016 for an authorized purpose and with adequate factual predication. The Report also details instances in which certain FBI personnel, at times during the 2016-2017 period reviewed by the OIG, did not comply with existing policies, neglected to exercise appropriate diligence, or otherwise failed to meet the standard of conduct that the FBI expects of its employees — and that our country expects of the FBI. We are vested with significant authorities, and it is our obligation as public servants to ensure that these authorities are exercised with objectivity and integrity. Anything less falls short of the FBI’s duty to the American people.

Accordingly, the FBI accepts the Report’s findings and embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action. I have ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the Report’s recommendations. Because our credibility and brand are central to fulfilling our mission, we are also making improvements beyond those recommended by the OIG. And where certain individuals have been referred by the OIG for review of their conduct, the FBI will not hesitate to take appropriate disciplinary action if warranted at the completion of the required procedures for disciplinary review.

Trump responds to Wray:

A few months ago, Trump used a retweet to signal his souring attitude toward Wray:

Monday, December 9, 2019

Harris's Well-Timed Exit

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the early stages of the 2016 campaign, when many candidates were unknowns.  The update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  We are concluding the early stages of the 2020 race.

Mark Z. Barabak at LAT:
Kamala Harris didn’t do a great many things well in her crash-and-burn campaign for president. But her swift exit from the race was executed perfectly.
By quitting when she did, Harris avoided embarrassing losses in several early contests and, most important, her home state of California, preserving her status as a leading vice presidential prospect and positioning her as a strong candidate for a place in the Cabinet, such as attorney general, in a Democratic administration.
The freshman U.S. senator also gave herself more than adequate time to politically recover ahead of a 2022 reelection campaign, should she decide to seek a second term.
...
On the more immediate horizon is the possibility of being chosen as someone’s vice presidential running mate. One of the main job descriptions, leading the attack on the opposition, is a role for which the pugnacious ex-prosecutor seems particularly well-suited.
In addition, Harris’ age, gender and ethnic background— a father from Jamaica and mother from India — would offer a distinct counterbalance if former Vice President Joe Biden or another white male became the Democratic nominee.
Although Harris and Biden notably clashed over his record on issues involving race — an attack that deeply and personally wounded him, according to people close to Biden— he did not rule out considering her as a running mate. “I’m not good at keeping hard feelings,” he told reporters shortly after his erstwhile rival quit the race.
NYT and Politico analyses of how her once-promising campaign came to naught.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

A Very Trumpy Weekend

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonestyThe update  -- recently published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. Earlier this month, he told several Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their countries.  During the summer of 2019, he said that Jews who back Democrats are stupid or disloyal.



On a more serious note, POTUS has a thing for Saudi Arabia:

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Immigration, 2016, and 2020


President Trump won an Electoral College majority in 2016 bolstered by voters who supported him, but not the previous nominee, Mitt Romney. Evidence suggests that a campaign promising a more restrictive immigration policy was the key to this improved performance among cross-pressured voters. In the months since inauguration day 2017, however, voters did not remain unaware of the administration’s programmatic steps on immigration and the opposition they encountered. I interpret evidence from a panel survey to suggest that voters gained knowledge about immigration policy after 2016, and began to align their policy views with the positions of their favored political parties. Inasmuch as voters’ policy positions become identical with their party preference, the potential for immigration policy to again act as a wedge issue in 2020 is greatly reduced. President Trump’s 2020 campaign may be able to mobilize more base voters given this increase in policy-party congruence but he may not be as successful as in 2016 in attracting crossover voters.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Impeachment

Impeachment Clauses
  • Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5:  "The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."
  • Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7: 'The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried the Chief Justice shall preside; And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. Judgement in Cases of Impreachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgement and Punishment, according to Law."
  • Article 2, Section 4: "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."


Grounds for Impeachment
  • Treason -- Article III, Section 3, Clause 1:  "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."
  • Bribery --offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving of any item of value as a means of influencing official actions.  Relevant statute: FCPA -- a law that Trump dislikes
  • Other High Crimes and Misdemeanors
Lindsey Graham explains:


Presidential impeachment activity in the late 20th century


 Trump

impeachment approval ratings trump nixon clinton

Why not wait?