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Monday, April 22, 2019

Lawrence's Last Word: Robert Mueller Exposes Sarah Sanders' Lies | The L...

Opinion | Impeach Donald Trump? - The New York Times

"April 21st, 2019

Obstruction of justice is a crime. The decision is clear.   Cnarles Blow NY Times.

The Mueller report has been released, with redactions of course, and it is a damning document. Not only does it detail Russian efforts to attack our election to help the Trump campaign and the Trump campaign’s eager acceptance of that help, it paints a picture of Donald Trump as an unethical man with no regard for the rule of law.

In this report, we see a president who doesn’t deserve to be president. We see attempts over and over to obstruct justice, which in some cases succeed.

The question is: What are we going to do about it? Obstruction of justice is a crime. If Trump committed that crime, he’s a criminal. Are we simply going to allow a criminal to sit in the Oval Office and face no consequence? Are we simply going to let the next presidential election be the point at which Trump is punished or rewarded?

It is maddening to think that we are at such a pass. But, my mind is made up: I say impeach him.

I know all the arguments against.

First, even if the House voted to impeach Trump, the Senate would never vote to convict and remove him. This is the “failed impeachment” theory.

But, I say that there is no such thing as a failed impeachment. Impeachment exists separately from removal. Impeachment in the House is akin to an indictment, with the trial, which could convict and remove, taking place in the Senate. The Senate has never once voted to convict.

So, an impeachment vote in the House has, to this point, been the strongest rebuke America is willing to give a president. I can think of no president who has earned this rebuke more than the current one.

And, once a president is impeached, he is forever marked. It is a chastisement unto itself. It is the People’s House making a stand for its people.

Then there is the idea that an impeachment would be contentious and increase public support for Trump the way it did for Bill Clinton.

But I find the conflation of Clinton and Trump ill-reasoned on the issue of the public’s response in polling.

First, Clinton’s approval was subject to change in a way Trump’s is not. Clinton experienced a 40-point swing in his approval over his presidency, according to Gallup. Trump’s seems almost impervious to change, no matter the news.

People either love Trump or hate him. Impeachment will most likely not change that any more than Trump seeing fine people among Nazis or locking children in cages.

Furthermore, Clinton jumped 10 points, from 63 percent 73 percent, just after the House voted to impeach him. But, five month later, those gains had vanished and then some. His approval rating sank to 53 percent.

I’m tired of all the fear and trepidation.

Senate Republicans are worried about getting on the wrong side of the Republican base.

Mitt Romney wrote in a statement on Friday, “I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President.”

But, will that sickness give birth to action? No, if the last two years is our guide. This is the strongest statement among Republican senators, but it is as toothless as a baby’s mouth. This admonition is idle.

House Democrats, at least the leadership, are afraid of looking like they have a blood lust and inadvertently increasing Trump’s chances of re-election.

Folks, this is not the 1990s. Until 1996, CNN was the only cable news network. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram didn’t exist. Google wasn’t founded until 1998. Cellphones were in their infancy, and few people had them.

Furthermore, the massive — and growing — amount of campaign spending will drown out anything that happened months prior.

In 1996, Clinton raised $42 million for his re-election bid; in 2012, Obama raised a billion for his.

And finally, there was no President Trump in the 1990s producing a head-scratching number of headlines each day. Trump can’t ride a victory nor will he be crestfallen in defeat. There would likely be untold new outrages even after an impeachment.

As for me, I’m afraid of lawlessness and the horrible precedent it would set if Congress does nothing.

On Friday, Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter that “the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.”

In another tweet she explained:

“To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.”

I worry that inaction enshrines that idea that the American president is above America’s laws. I worry that silent acquiescence bends our democracy toward monarchy, or dictatorship.

As Thomas Paine wrote in 1776, “In America the law is king.” He continued: “For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”

Who will we let be king in this country, the president or the law?"

Opinion | Impeach Donald Trump? - The New York Times

Robert Mueller Report: Outline For Prosecution | Rachel Maddow | MSNBC

Rep. Ted Lieu: If Trump Obstructed Justice, Impeachment Should Be On The...

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Joy & Happiness

Sarah Sanders Caught Lying. So She Lies Again It's in the Mueller report.. | All In | MSNBC

Opinion | Mr. Mueller’s Indictment - The New York Times

“We determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the president committed crimes,” the report explains, because “fairness concerns counseled against potentially reaching that judgment when no charges can be brought.”

In other words, Mr. Mueller felt his hands were tied. Longstanding Justice Department policy prohibits the indictment of a sitting president, and it isn’t fair to make accusations without giving the president a legal forum in which to respond.

A bit further on, the 448-page report says, “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

So what now? Although Mr. Mueller was unable to bring criminal charges against the president himself, his report lays a foundation for investigation by Congress, which has the authority and the responsibility to check the executive branch and hold the president accountable. “The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president's corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law,” the report states.

It is up to Congress to decide whether the behavior described in this report meets an acceptable standard for the country’s chief executive.

In order to adequately conduct such an investigation, Congress must have access to a fully uncensored version of the report and all its underlying materials. Congressional leaders are right to subpoena the full report, as the House Judiciary Committee chairman, Jerrold Nadler, said he would do on Thursday.

The public also has a right to hear Mr. Mueller testify before Congress at the earliest opportunity.

Descriptions in the public version of the report of the ways in which the president used, and abused, his powers challenge the dignity of the presidency and the free and fair function of the justice system. The special counsel investigated 11 incidents in which the president may have obstructed justice, the same offense facing Richard Nixon during Watergate and Bill Clinton during his impeachment.

The report notes that the president engaged in “public attacks on the investigation, nonpublic efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.” That the president’s norm-shattering behavior has become so flagrant and familiar doesn’t make it right.

Little wonder that Mr. Trump, when notified that a special counsel had been appointed to scrutinize his behavior, reportedly slumped in his chair and said: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

In addition to indicting, convicting or securing guilty pleas from 34 people, the special counsel’s office made 14 referrals for further investigation of potential criminal activity outside the purview of the investigation’s mandate. Twelve of those referrals remain secret.

The report is more definitive when it comes to the extensive interference by Russian spies and hackers in the 2016 election, a campaign of disruption it calls “sweeping and systematic.”

Mr. Mueller’s investigation found that “the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.” Mr. Mueller was not able in the end to establish definitive coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

At the same time, large sections of the report, apparently regarding dealings between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign, have been blacked out. Mr. Barr said Thursday that any such coordination between the website and the campaign wouldn’t be criminal. Congress and the American people deserve to know what happened nonetheless.

If the report — and the entire saga around the Russia investigation — has one through-line, it is the dishonesty at the heart of the Trump administration. The president told Mr. McGahn to lie to reporters about Mr. Trump’s attempt to fire the special prosecutor. The press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, made up from whole cloth the notion that “rank-and-file F.B.I. agents had lost confidence” in the ousted director, James Comey. Half a dozen people connected with the Mueller investigation have been formally charged with — or pleaded guilty to — lying to investigators.

Then on Thursday, just before the report was made public, the attorney general tarnished himself and undermined the integrity of his office by dissembling about what the report said.

By contrast, the special prosecutor’s report illustrates again and again that, despite Mr. Trump’s constant cries of “fake news,” the responsible news media’s reporting on the investigation was overwhelmingly accurate.

Mr. Mueller may have thought he couldn’t indict a president in the legal sense of the term, but he has delivered a devastating description of Mr. Trump’s attempts to abuse his powers and corrupt his aides. This report, even in its censored format, is an important step toward putting the truth of this presidency in the public record. But there’s still a long way to go before it can be said that justice has been done."

Opinion | Mr. Mueller’s Indictment - The New York Times