President Trump has made 15,413 false or misleading claims over 1,055 days. If Americans still had any sense of decency, morality and shame, this alone would be reason enough to impeach Donald Trump. There has never been a president as shamelessly corrupt and amoral as Donald Trump.
The House Judiciary Committee released its full report on the impeachment case against President Trump early Monday, and the report alleges Trump committed ‘multiple federal crimes’:
The report, a 169-page assessment of the case for Trump’s removal from office, contends that Trump committed “multiple federal crimes” — ones that Democrats addressed under the broad umbrella of “abuse of power,” the first article of impeachment against the president.
“Although President Trump’s actions need not rise to the level of a criminal violation to justify impeachment, his conduct here was criminal,” the panel’s Democrats argue, labeling Trump’s behavior “both constitutional and criminal in character” and contending that the president “betrayed the people of this nation” and should be removed from office.
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Democrats argue that Trump crossed the threshold into criminal behavior with his posture toward Zelensky, writing in the report that his request for the announcement of politically motivated investigations constituted the solicitation of a bribe under federal law.
Those investigations were valuable to Trump personally, and he used his official power to schedule a state visit and withhold military aid to obtain them, the panel says.
These actions are a “corrupt” use of Trump’s authority that satisfies the final element of a bribery crime, Democrats argue.
The committee also alleges that Trump violated the honest services wire fraud statute during the July 25 phone call, as well as during a separate phone call a day later with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Those “foreign wire communications” were done “in furtherance of an ongoing bribery scheme,” according to the report.
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The staff report, which was filed to the House Rules Committee just after midnight Monday, argues that Trump directed a months-long scheme to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election, the allegation that forms the core of the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — approved by the Judiciary Committee last week. Democrats emphasized that proving a criminal violation is not required to justify impeachment.
The committee contends that Trump’s actions were part of a pattern than began with his “welcoming” of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and continues to this day.
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Democrats claim the Ukraine allegations against Trump are part of a “pattern” of misconduct that began with Trump’s alleged solicitation of Russian assistance in the 2016 election — a matter probed by Mueller for nearly two years. Mueller also found that Trump made multiple attempts to hinder or end his investigation.
“The pattern is as unmistakable as it is unnerving,” the Judiciary Committee argues.
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In fact, the panel’s Democrats cite his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s trip to Ukraine just last week as evidence that Trump intends to continue the alleged scheme. Trump’s lack of remorse over the Ukraine allegations, Democrats claim, is evidence that he poses a “continuing threat if left in office.”
As House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said on ABC’s “This Week” that Rudy Giuliani’s recent trip to Ukraine to dig up more dirt on the Bidens is “a crime in progress,” claiming that it underscores the argument that President Trump’s conduct poses an ongoing “threat to election integrity.” Top Democrats say Giuliani’s Ukraine trip is “a crime in progress”:
What they’re saying:
- Schiff: “This misconduct goes on. The threat to our election’s integrity coming up goes on. It’s a clear and present danger, I think, to our democracy and not something we can turn away from simply because the Republicans in the House refuse to do their duty and continue to put the person of the president above their constitutional obligation.”
- Nadler: “This is a crime in progress against the Constitution and against American democracy. We cannot take the risk that the next election will be corrupted through foreign interference solicited by the president, which he’s clearly trying to do.”
And “All roads lead to Putin,” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned. Jonathan Chait reports, Trump’s Ukraine Extortion Scheme Was Financed by Russians:
[F]ederal prosecutors charged yesterday evening that Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump who represented him in Ukraine, was wired $1 million from a Russian bank account weeks before his arrest. Which is to say, Trump’s Ukraine plot appears to have been financed by Russia.
(Update: I want to emphasize that the fact that Parnas was paid by Russia suggests, but does not prove, government intent.)
Parnas met repeatedly with Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Parnas claims Trump pulled him aside at last year’s White House Hanukkah party and personally directed his activities in Ukraine. That allegation remains unproven. What is proven, though, is that Parnas met with Trump numerous times (there are photographs), was Giuliani’s official business partner, and represented himself to Ukrainians as an agent of both Trump and Giuliani.
Rudy has worked as Trump’s lawyer for “free,” but Parnas paid him half a million dollars for his work. If Parnas himself was being paid by Russian sources, this means the Russians were essentially subsidizing Trump, paying for the work themselves so he didn’t have to lay out a dime of his own money.
What did Russia get in return? Quite a bit. Trump attempted to hold up military aid that had been passed by Congress by margins Trump couldn’t block. He has continued to withhold a desperately sought meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, which the Ukrainian president believed would serve as a signal of American support, and give Ukraine leverage against Russia. Instead, Trump met this week in the White House with Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov, sending the opposite of the signal Ukraine wanted. Andrew Weiss, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, tells the New York Times, “The Russians surely arranged the Lavrov visit to capitalize on all of this and to send a message to the Ukrainians that they’re basically on their own now and need to cut the best deal they can since the U.S. backstop is largely inoperative.”
UPDATE: The Daily Beast reports, Russia’s State TV Calls Trump Their ‘Agent’:
As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov returned home from his visit with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office last week, Russian state media was gloating over the spectacle. TV channel Rossiya 1 aired a segment entitled “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting With Trump.”
Vesti Nedeli, a Sunday news show on the same network, pointed out that it was Trump, personally, who asked Lavrov to pose standing near as Trump sat at his desk. It’s almost the literal image of a power behind the throne.
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Appearing on Sunday Evening With Vladimir Soloviev, Mikhail Gusman, first deputy director general of ITAR-TASS, Russia’s oldest and largest news agency, predicted: “Sooner or later, the Democrats will come back into power. The next term or the term after that, it doesn’t matter… I have an even more unpleasant forecast for Trump. After the White House, he will face a very unhappy period.”
The host, Vladimir Soloviev, smugly asked: “Should we get another apartment in Rostov ready?” Soloviev’s allusion was to the situation of Viktor Yanukovych, former president of Ukraine, who was forced to flee to Russia in 2014 and settled in the city of Rostov-on-Don.
Such parallels between Yanukovych and Trump are being drawn not only because of their common association with Paul Manafort, adviser to the first, campaign chairman for the second, but also because Russian experts and politicians consider both of them to be openly pro-Kremlin.
“The Kremlin, having argued for years that democracy is a sham and the West is devoid of morals and principles, can now showcase the GOP as its ‘Exhibit A.’”
Some Republicans at the House impeachment hearings have echoed President Donald Trump’s defense, claiming that since the president eventually released the military aid and met with his Ukrainian counterpart, there could not have been an illegal quid pro quo for the public announcement of investigations Trump sought into his political rivals.
But more than $20 million of the $250 million in aid that the Pentagon was supposed to send to Ukraine remains in U.S. accounts, The Los Angeles Times reports. And Ukraine is still seeking a White House meeting for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters Friday.
Pentagon and Senate aides told The Los Angeles Times that Ukraine continues to wait on tens of millions in military aid.
That’s not all. A large part of Russia’s agenda in Ukraine is to influence that country’s internal politics. Ukraine is ground zero of Russia’s overseas political operations. Moscow has financed a series of corrupt officials who pursue pro-Russian policies. (Russia then turns around and uses Ukraine’s corruption as a reason for other countries to shun it.) Before he managed Trump’s 2016 campaign, Paul Manafort was paid by Russian oligarchs to represent the pro-Russian Party of Regions.
Giuliani’s work there has essentially picked up where Manafort left off. He has tried to vindicate Manafort by digging up evidence that Ukrainians framed him as a criminal through the “black ledger” listing his illegal payments. On his trip to Ukraine, Giuliani huddled with a number of notoriously corrupt pro-Russian officials, including veterans of the Party of Regions. (Philip Bump has a good rundown of the rogues’ gallery of Giuliani partners.) He is openly working to promote the cast of characters Russia wants to run Ukraine.
UPDATE: The Independent reports, Russian state TV airs Rudy Giuliani interview after Trump lawyer spreads Ukraine conspiracy theories:
Russian state-run TV has aired Rudy Giuliani’s interview with a pro-Trump US news channel in which he promoted widely-debunked conspiracy theories to undermine the impeachment inquiry into the president.
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer appeared on the right-wing channel One America News (OAN) on Sunday to share what he claimed was evidence of interference by Ukraine in the 2016 election and corruption by Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
On Monday, segments from the interview were broadcast on Russia-1, a TV channel owned by the Russian government which has been accused of bias towards Vladimir Putin.
Trump, incredibly, continues to tout Giuliani as his Ukraine agent. “He’s going to make a report, I think to the attorney general and to Congress,” Trump told reporters Saturday. “I hear he has found plenty.”
“What did you get?” the president asked, Giuliani told the Wall Street Journal on Friday.
“More than you can imagine,” the lawyer said he replied.
That Giuliani has continued his Ukraine misadventures, despite the fact that his efforts to drum up investigations into Joe Biden have led to the almost-certain impeachment of his client, isn’t necessarily a revelation; he’s made no secret of his ongoing work in Kiev, in defiance of common sense and the warnings of friends. What’s striking is Trump’s apparent involvement in his lawyer’s schemes, even though allies like William Barr and others have reportedly warned him that Giuliani poses a “liability.”
[T]he entire impeachment push against Trump is the result of his apparent coordination with Giuliani in the latter’s efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden. In continuing that pattern of behavior, Trump, if anything, is strengthening Democrats’ case against him by involving himself so closely in Rudy’s operations.
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If anything, Trump’s ongoing involvement in Giuliani’s Ukraine efforts underscores the futility of Democrats’ impeachment vote against him. They’ve framed their inquiry as an attempt to hold Trump accountable, lest he continue to cross the line unchecked. In doubling down on their conduct, Trump and Giuliani are suggesting they’re undeterred.
And Trump is being aided and abetted in this crime in progress by accessories in Congress, like Senator Lindsey ‘Stonewall” Graham. Lindsey Graham invites Rudy Giuliani to Judiciary panel to discuss recent Ukraine visit:
In an interview airing on “Face the Nation“ Sunday, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said that Giuliani, who is serving as the president’s personal attorney, could appear before his committee separately from the impending Senate impeachment trial.
“Rudy, if you want to come and tell us what you found, I’ll be glad to talk to you,” Graham said. “We can look at what Rudy’s got and Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and anything else you want to look at after impeachment. But if Rudy wants to come to the Judiciary Committee and testify about what he found, he’s welcome to do so.”
This is after “Stonewall” Graham violated the oath to be an impartial juror in the impeachment trial in the Senate dismissing the notion that he has to be a “fair juror,” and saying he doesn’t see the need for a formal trial in the Senate.
As Jennifer Rubin writes, Don’t worry, Sen. Graham. No one thought you’d be fair.
He need not have worried. Amidst his boot-licking and willful ignorance of a “quid pro quo,” Graham left little doubt that he had the slightest intention of doing his job as a juror.
At the trial, Democrats should certainly appeal to the presiding judge, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., to disqualify Graham. After all, it is impossible that he could take an oath as required under the Constitution. “I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of ____, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God,” is the oath Graham and others must take. He has declared not only his partiality but his determination to ignore all evidence.
Graham’s conduct contrasts with his insistence on listening to the evidence when it was Democratic President Bill Clinton on trial:
This time, Graham already said he would refuse to read the transcripts. Apparently, he is relying on what Trump and Fox News (but I repeat myself) tell him about the charges.
The Senator’s Oath in impeachment trials addresses the tension between the political and legal character of impeachment. The requirement of “impartial justice” means that every Senator must decide from behind the veil of ignorance — that is, as if he or she did not know the party affiliation of the person impeached. This includes evaluating the evidence, and deciding whether the proven misconduct justifies removal from office. Senators violate their oath if they apply friendlier standards to Presidents of their own Party than to those of the opposing Party.
And speaking of the oath for senators, the one for their regular legislative duties requires all senators to swear or affirm to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” Refusing to hold the president accountable for betrayal of our national security and democratic elections (and refusing even to investigate the same) does not sound like the conduct of someone who takes that oath seriously, either.
Now, do not expect Roberts to rule on a motion to recuse nor a “mistrial” should Democrats demand one after a sham trial conducted by senators who flout their oaths.
Graham is hardly alone in announcing what he thinks of the Senate, the Constitution and the impeachment rules. Senate Majority Leader “Moscow Mitch” McConnell (R-Ky.) previously announced that he was engaging in “total coordination” on the trial with Trump’s lawyers. No daylight there, he promised.
Jury rigging is a felony crime in any other context. It is obstruction of justice. “Moscow Mitch” McConnell is brazenly bragging that he is openly committing a crime in progress with the Trump legal team.
Republicans believe that they are above the law.
UPDATE: The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus recently highlighted this notable fact: “Fifteen current Republican senators served in the House or Senate during the Clinton impeachment. All but one of those – Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – voted either to impeach Clinton or to convict him and remove him from office. I’d challenge any of them to explain why they deemed Clinton’s behavior so bad and are so unmoved by Trump’s.”
Clinton lied under oath about a consensual extramarital affair. Trump colluded with the Russians to steal an election in 2016, and is using the same playbook with Ukraine to try to steal the 2020 election.
And Article 2 of the impeachment addresses his “total obstruction” of Congress – something no previous president has ever done – which also constitutes obstruction of justice. Robert Mueller outlined at least 10 instances of obstruction of justice in his probe. This is a pattern and practice of lawlessness.