Friday, May 31, 2019

Nothing to see here

Should we believe President Donald Trump or our own lying eyes?  Plain and simple, Congress needs to start an impeachment inquiry into the country's chief executive.  Trump was not "completely exonerated" of obstruction of justice.  The road map to impeachment is in the Mueller report and, despite what Attorney General William Barr says, Special Counsel Robert Mueller intended Congress to take up the process from here, because he believed his office could not indict a sitting President no matter how compelling the evidence.

Mueller concluded his investigation, closed the Special Counsel's office, and rode off into the sunset, but not before telling the country that the torch has been passed on to Congress. (Listen to Mueller's full statement here.)

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

Like many concepts and terms in the United States Constitution, the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" is not defined.  The United States Constitution is a relatively brief document when it comes to constitutions, and that was the way the framers intended it to be.  The wisdom of the framers was that times would change and so would our understanding of the Constitution.  Anyone who believes that the Founding Fathers intended us to be stuck in time and to the absolute four corners of the United States Constitution does not understand the history of the early Republic.

The phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" generally means any serious matter that violates the "public trust."  Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 65, that impeachment "offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust."

Article I of the President Richard Nixon articles of impeachment charged that Nixon "prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice..."  All the Articles of impeachment never came to fruition, because Nixon saw the writing on the wall (Republican Senators Hugh Scott and Barry Goldwater telling him he didn't have the votes to stop a conviction) got the hell outta Dodge and resigned.  Scott, the Senate minority leader told Nixon that he had, at most, 15 Senators that would vote for acquittal (34 were needed to save the Nixon Presidency.)

Findings of the Mueller investigation that support impeachment

Nixon directed the Central Intelligence Agency to force the Federal Bureau of Investigation to shut down its probe into the Watergate burglary, he directed subordinates to pay hush money payments to subjects of the investigation, then he fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.  All of these actions provided the basis for Article I of the Nixon impeachment.

Trump repeatedly tried to get then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Mueller investigation so Sessions could shut it down, he fired James Comey as FBI Director in order to attempt to stop Comey's investigations into Russian influence on the 2016 election, he ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, and he urged Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Michael Cohen to "stay strong" and they would be rewarded (a Presidential pardon down the road.)  If this isn't obstruction of justice, the term obstruction has no meaning.

“Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct,” the Mueller report said. “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, 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.”

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