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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Offenses

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's character and record of dishonesty.

Adam J. White at The American Mind:
Bad men mock the rule of law, rather than vindicating it.
Bad men see law as a tool for punishing opponents, rather than a public trust to be administered neutrally and dispassionately.
Bad men incite crowds to physically assault dissenters in their midst, rather than tolerating dissent.
Bad men encourage police to physically assault people in their custody, rather than showing mercy.
Bad men seek to inflame racial animosity, rather than alleviating it.
Bad men sow conspiracy theories (sometimes even with racial undertones), rather than seeking truth.
Bad men attack and counterattack their opponents with reflexive cruelty, rather than with self-restraint.

Bad men attack institutions to reduce limits on their power, rather than respect the wisdom and work that built those institutions.

David Leonhardt at NYT:

Previous presidents usually tried to avoid conflicts of interest.
Trump has instead treated the presidency as a branding opportunity. He has continued to own and promote the Trump Organization. He has spent more than 200 days at one of his properties and billed taxpayers for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The corruption is not just a personal matter taking place in the bedroom.
Saudi Arabia has showered the Trump Organization with business, and Trump has stood by the Saudis despite their brutal war in Yemen and their assassination of a prominent critic. A Chinese government-owned company reportedly gave a $500 million loan to a Trump-backed project in Indonesia; two days later, Trump announced that he was lifting sanctions on another well-connected Chinese company.
These examples, and many more, flout Article 1 of the Constitution, which bans federal officeholders from accepting “emoluments” from any foreign country unless Congress approves the arrangement. Madison, when making the case for an impeachment clause, spoke of a president who “might betray his trust to foreign powers.”
...Trump lied to the American people during the 2016 campaign about business negotiations between his company and Vladimir Putin’s government. As president, Trump has taken steps — in Europe and Syria — that benefit Putin. To put it succinctly: The president of the United States lied to the country about his commercial relationship with a hostile foreign government toward which he has a strangely accommodating policy.
And Individual-1 has broken campaign finance law and in extraordinary egregious ways.
They involved large, secret payoffs in the final weeks of a presidential campaign that, prosecutors said, “deceived the voting public.” The seriousness of the deception is presumably the reason that the prosecutors filed criminal charges against Cohen, rather than the more common penalty of civil fines for campaign finance violations.
What should happen to a president who won office with help from criminal behavior?
The founders specifically considered this possibility during their debates at the Constitutional Convention. The most direct answer came from George Mason: A president who “practiced corruption and by that means procured his appointment in the first instance” should be subject to impeachment.
He has obstructed justice.
Again and again, Trump has interfered with the investigation in ways that may violate the law and clearly do violate decades-old standards of presidential conduct. He pressured James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, to let up on the Russia investigation, as a political favor. When Comey refused, Trump fired him. Trump also repeatedly pressured Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, to halt the investigation and ultimately forced Sessions to resign for not doing so. Trump has also publicly hounded several of the government’s top experts on Russian organized crime, including Andrew McCabe and Bruce Ohr.
...
Obstruction of justice is certainly grounds for the removal of a president. It was the subject of the first Nixon article of impeachment passed by the House Judiciary Committee. Among other things, that article accused him of making “false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.”
He has subverted  the constitutional system.
The Constitution that Trump swore to uphold revolves around checks and balances. It depends on the idea that the president is not a monarch. He is a citizen to whom, like all other citizens, the country’s laws apply. Trump rejects this principle. He has instead tried to undermine the credibility of any independent source of power or information that does not serve his interests.