The Dailey Sun~Chronicles
Special Congressional Edition
February 5, 2020 – October 6, 2019 reprint
The White House is now worse than the singular drama of a Teapot Dome (1920s) or a Watergate (1970s).
All of this not ‘only’ amounts to an act of extortion by the president but turns hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars into the payoff for a bribe designed to compel a foreign power (Ukraine) to attempt to criminalize a political rival.
From campaign finance, treason, violations of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, to other high crimes and misdemeanors, [aside from ethics and international peace], here’s how the gun-loving, abuser of Executive Branch power D.J. Trump and homophobic, co-conspirator Vice President Pence Administration have run afoul of the American law and human values.
- Campaign Finance Violations
- Honest Services Fraud
- Witness Intimidation
- Obstructing Justice
- Profiteering / Emoluments are Unconstitutional
That makes at least 8 (eight) viable possibilities.
UNITED STATES SENATE JUROR CONVICTION
LIKELYHOOD (as of Monday, October 7, 2019) = 40/60
As Jeffrey Engel writes in Impeachment: An American History, the authors of the Constitution foresaw the possibility of a corrupt president who abuses his power to stay in office.
James Madison argued at the Constitutional Convention that it was “indispensable that some provision should be made for defending the community against the incapacity, negligence, or perfidy of the chief magistrate.” George Mason asked, “Shall the man who has practiced corruption and by that means procured his appointment in the first instance, be suffered to escape punishment, by repeating his guilt?” And as Gouverneur Morris concisely put it, “This Magistrate is not the King but the Prime Minister. The people are the King.”
FACT: In July, President Trump ordered his White House (Acting) Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, to withhold $400 million in aid that Congress had designated for Ukraine. Last month, the inspector general of the intelligence community told the chair and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Adam Schiff and Republican Devin Nunes, that someone had filed an “urgent” and “credible” whistle-blower complaint.
Some have even taken this moment to recognize Trump’s trademark boldness. “It’s classic Donald Trump,” The Wall Street Journal’s editor at large, Gerard Baker, crowed on Fox News yesterday regarding the president’s China gambit. “He doubles down.” Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who noted that he doesn’t “trust” China and would rather the Bidens be investigated domestically, nevertheless downplayed the president’s call with his Ukrainian counterpart as “Trump being Trump.”
Congressional Republicans such as Senators Cory Gardner, Lisa Murkowski, and Thom Tillis, who all expressed disgust several months ago about Trump’s openness to accepting compromising material about an opponent from foreign sources, have as of this writing not directly addressed the propriety of Trump’s call for China and Ukraine to scrutinize the Democratic front-runner in the race for the White House. (The Atlantic reached out to two dozen Republicans who sit on relevant foreign-affairs committees in the House and Senate regarding their reaction to Trump’s message yesterday and its national-security consequences. All either declined to comment or did not respond to the queries.)
Some Republicans have criticized Trump’s appeals to Ukraine and China, but for now they are the exceptions. The senator from Utah and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a statement that the president’s actions were “wrong and appalling,” and that “when the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated.”*
The senator from Nebraska Ben Sasse told the Omaha World-Herald that “Americans don’t look to Chinese commies for the truth. If the Biden kid broke laws by selling his name to Beijing, that’s a matter for American courts, not communist tyrants running torture camps.” Will Hurd, a congressman from Texas who is not seeking reelection, told CNN that “a president of the United States shouldn’t be doing” what Trump did, adding that “we’re in a tight and complex trade negotiation with China now, and so you’re potentially giving them something to hold over your head.”
But for the most part, Trump’s no-holds-barred approach to politics now seems to hold sway within the Grand Old Party. Short-term calculations have eclipsed long-term considerations, such as how Republicans would feel if a Democratic president mimicked Trump’s actions to take down a GOP rival. What divides Americans (partisan politics) has overwhelmed what unites them (a commitment to democracy that, say, China doesn’t share).
FACT: The day after Congressman Schiff formally requested the whistleblower complaint, the Trump administration released the hundreds of millions of dollars it had been withholding.
At its most fundamental, what Trump questioned yesterday was who gets to have a say in how the American people choose their political leaders. He did so in a manner that would have alarmed the Founding Fathers and is largely without precedent in modern American history. (Perhaps the closest analogue is the Nixon campaign’s outreach to the South Vietnamese government to thwart efforts at ending the Vietnam War and boost his chances in the 1968 election. But even in that case Nixon was not directly involved in the scheme to the extent Trump has been in his.)
Over the past two weeks, the question at the heart of the Ukraine scandal has morphed from whether Trump pressured a foreign government to investigate and implicate his likely challenger for the presidency to whether doing so is right or wrong. The president, facing off against an opposing team, sought to recruit a third team watching from the sidelines to his side. When the whistle blew in response to the blatant infraction, Trump’s defiant response was to try to enlist yet another team and to declare that these are simply the new rules of the game. So far, most of his teammates have discarded the old rules and rallied behind their captain.
What are specific talking points for each ‘abuse of power?’