Saturday, November 2, 2019

Republican Senators Suggest Trump’s Treason is Legal

Yes – we know President Clinton cheated on his wife while in office. And yes some Republicans such as Trump sycophant Lindsey Graham passed Articles of Impeachment over adultery. Graham was rewarded by being able to move from the House to the Senate where he repeatedly suggested that the Whistle Blower complaint was nothing more than “hear say”. My have things changed:
An increasing number of GOP senators are preparing to acknowledge that there was a quid pro quo in President Trump’s leveraging of military aid with Ukraine as a means to urge the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, The Washington Post reported Friday. While some Senate Republicans have defended Trump’s insistence that there was no quid pro quo, a growing number of GOP officials in the chamber are adopting the stance that what Trump did was a quid pro quo but that his actions weren’t illegal and don’t constitute impeachment, the Post reported.
Since when did treason become AOK? Yea I know these same Republicans will say “treason” is a harsh word for this holding up of military aid authorized by Congress to Ukraine which needs it to fend against Putin’s invasion in exchange for political dirt on Joe Biden. Of course, Trump’s sycophants say a lot of really stupid things. I listened to two proponents of impeachment debate on what to stress: (a) that Trump was selling out the national interest to our enemy Putin; or (b) Trump was gaining a corrupt benefit. Both statements are clearly true. But we can summarize (a) and (b) into a single and very understandable word – TREASON! Just in case these Republican Senators are confused as to what our Founding Fathers wrote when they gave us the Constitution, let’s remind them about Article II, Section 4 which states:
The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
Donald Trump did commit treason. Treason is an impeachable event. The only question is whether these Senators will fulfill their Constitutional roles or will simply remain Trump sycophants. Update: Mike Schupp has a rather weak argument to dismiss my use of the word treason. Yes he cites Article III section 3 but I would argue withholding military aid from Ukraine gave aid and comfort to the Russians who have invaded Ukraine. Mike also wrote this:
But we can't convict someone simply for being a rogue, we try them at law for specific criminal acts.
Sorry Mike but a lot of learned people would disagree. I would also remind people that Senator Trent Lott argued people had committed treason for a lot less than what Trump has done. Speaking of Senator Lott:
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said Tuesday that Congress need not prove that President Clinton committed a crime to impeach him. “I think bad conduct is enough, frankly, for impeachment,” said Lott, who has provided guidance to Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) as the House grapples with perjury and other allegations against Clinton. But that is a far different standard from what Lott advocated during the Watergate hearings in 1974, when he was one of President Nixon’s staunchest congressional defenders. Lott and nine other Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee argued then that even proof of criminal conduct by a president was not necessarily enough to proceed with impeachment--precisely the position now taken by the White House and Clinton’s Democratic defenders. “It is our judgment . . . that the framers of the United States Constitution intended that the president should be removable by the legislative branch only for serious misconduct dangerous to the system of government established by the Constitution,” Lott and the other Republicans wrote in a minority report.
Adultery is neither a crime nor “serious misconduct dangerous to the system of government established by the Constitution. What Trump has done does represent the Lott 1974 standard for impeachment.


mike shupp said...

This overstates matters. According to the Constitution "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." Elsewhere, by over two centuries of precedent, "enemies" of the US are defined as nations with whom we are at war, as identified by Congressional act. The US is not at war with Syria, Russia, China, or anyone else, so Donald Trump cannot be convicted for treason.

That doesn't make him a desirable president, and I'd be happy to have him gone. But we can't convict someone simply for being a rogue, we try them at law for specific criminal acts.

Unknown said...

Mike shupp quotes Article III section III but does he understand the words as in "or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort".

Putin is our enemy in his attack of Ukraine. Withholding the authorized military aid to Ukraine was aid and comfort to Putin's war efforts. Thanks Mike - for making my case.

2slugbaits said...

I would emphasize the misdemeanor aspect rather than treason. Conservatives always like to pretend that they take an originalist view of the Constitution, so in that spirit we should offer an originalist interpretation of the word "misdemeanor." Today a misdemeanor connotes a crime that is less serious than a felony, but in the 17th and 18th centuries the word had a very different meaning. The word "misdemeanor" was derived from the root infinitive "to demean". To commit a misdemeanor was to act in such a way that one demeaned the office. On that score Trump is clearly guilty as charged.

I was watching ABC's "This Week" and Rep. Steve Scalise was one of the guests. His outright lying was more than I could take. He kept saying that the Ukrainian prosecutor was fired because he was investigating Burisma. That's a flat out lie. The prosecutor was fired because he wasn't investigating Burisma. Scalise also said that the Obama Administration withheld the Javelin missiles for some unknown but surely furtive reason and that it was Trump who released those missiles. The fact is that under Obama the DoD did not want Ukraine to have those missiles because the old (pro-Manafort & pro-Giuliani) government was so thoroughly corrupt that the Army believed those missiles would almost certainly find their way to some Russian army laboratory in Moscow. DoD only agreed to providing Ukraine with Javelins after it was satisfied that Ukraine had cleaned up its corruption problem and that the missiles would be secure. Either Scalise didn't know the facts (in which case he should resign his office due to sheer willful ignorance) or he was outright lying. What a disgrace.

mike shupp said...

"Unknown" misses my point. Yeah, Putin isn't a friend of the USA, not the USA we wish to live in anyhow, and he's likely doing all sorts of crap to grease our slide into decline and ruin. But he's not doing so by sending the Russian Army into battle against US troops or tossing ICBMs at our cities. Nor are we doing that sort of thing to Russia. We aren't at war, a state of affairs signified by either overt conflict or Congressional declaration. Barring that situation, no one in the US can be guilty of treason. Espionage, certainly. Violation of oaths of office, certainly. Conspiracy. Disclosure of official secrets. Etc. Etc. But treason? No.

Other hand, so what? Bill Clinton was impeached and almost convicted for the crime of getting blowjobs from a woman he wasn't married to. If that's a valid cause for impeachment -- as every Republican in Congress back in 1998 argued -- I'm sure any number of more heinous offences can be pinned on Trump Let's get to it! said...


Just for the record, Clinton was not impeached for getting blowjobs. He was impeached for lying under oath about getting blowjobs.

Personally I do not get why they are not impeaching Trump for violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution (I have posted on that here previously). Looks like an open and shut case to me, but Pelosi et al somehow think it is "too complicated."

Well, heck, Trump has made it clear that he thinks the emoluments clause is "phony." Uh huh.

mike shupp said...

Rosserjb --

Nancy Pelosi doesn't confide in me, but my guess is she thinks it'd be difficult to explain that big word "Emoluments" to the average voter and even harder to convince the average voter that every president isn't exploiting his position for every cent possible -- that's the behavior we expect from movie stars and professional athletes and businessmen and lawyers and.... all those out-of-office politicians.

Hilary Clinton used to get nearly a quarter million bucks per private speech from bankers when she was running for president. For noble causes, no doubt, but it'd be difficult to convince a lot of mid-American rubes her behavior, while legal, was more ethical than Donald Trump benefitting from foreign politicians sleeping in his hotels. I'm not sure I'm convinced myself.

And Joe Biden's kids' business deals ... Strikes me all this is a can of worms that if opened won't help Democrats.

Peter T said...

I agree with mike on 'teason'. But my understanding is that 'high crimes and misdemeanours' referred, at the time, essentially to abuse of or unfitness for office. Trump fits both so well and so often that impeachment should be an open and shut case.

mike shupp said...

Peter --

Don't recall exactly where -- I think it was deLong's website, or reached through one of his links -- but I came across a quote from one of the Founding Fathers, Adams or Hamilton perhaps, explaining the reasoning behind the impeachment clause in the Constitution, and the point was made that impeachment of any prominent figure was sure to be much debated, even passionately debated by the people. The TL;DR version -- impeaching a President is political. It's NEVER "open and shut".

Anonymous said...

Failing to get rid of the horrid spam, shows a disdain for readers who would comment. said...

Mike S.,

The Clintons are notorious money grubbers. There was Whitewatergate and related scams from Little Rock, the investigating of which eventually led to Bill Clinton's impeachment as he managed to lie under oath about his sex life. At the end of Bill's presidency, they stole silverware and other stuff fro the WH as they left, some of which they returned after they got caught, while they whined about their supposedly low incomes. Then later foreigners gave money to the Clinton Foundation and indeed Hillary took large fees for speeches on Wall Street right up to when she announced for president.

But note, for all their money grubbing and Bill having illicit sex and lying about it, nobody ever accused him of taking any money while preident, that is, violating the emoluments clause. And this has been true of every other president from Washington through Obama. Somehow they have all knew you simply do not take money from foreigners while president, although some have had problems with relatives, often troubled brothers, trying to do it. But even Nixon, Grant, and Harding did not, with all of them running notoriously corrupt administrations, but they themselves managed to avoid violating the emoluments clause.

Now it has become the case that after they get out, presidents cash in by various ways. This seems to have started with Reagan, following clean Carter (who did have a problematic brother), with Reagan accepting $2 million to speak in Japan. Gerald Ford sat on gobs of boards of directors, and the rest since have cased in this way and that, including Clinton and Obama. None have done a Harry Truman, moving back his simple house and living simply in his old home in Independence to a ripe old age.

So, no., Trump has done something far out of line and in clear violation of the Constitution in a way completely unlike anything done by any of his predecessors, any of them.

mike shupp said...

Rosserjb --

I don't think you understand. An impeachment is not a formal trial, with facts and logical arguments presented to impartial, disinterested jurors. It's a knife fight in front of a swirling, excited, capricious mob. It's not finished with a simple vote and a verdict in which all involved swiftly acquiesce. People will be arguing about the result for decades to come and "peace" will only come when the loudest partisans on both sides have been placed in their graves.

Your argument is not with me. I have twice stated in this thread that I am more than willing to see Trump impeached. Your argument should be addressed to the roughly one quarter of the adult populace that simply will not listen to any argument made against Trump because they like him. They like his manner. They like what they think he has done for them. They are overjoyed by his choice of enemies. They are thrilled by his zest for competition and strife, by his reaching out and grabbing pussies because that's what winners do! The will spit on your legalism, your reasoning, and on you.

Not all of Trump supporters, to be sure. But a majority of them. said...


I do not "understand"? Sorry, a very stupid remark.

Of course it is ultimately a knife fight, but for history those prosecuting need to have their facts in a row. Also, the "impeachment" is not the "trial." It is an indictment. The trial is in the Senate. However, I suggest you know that.

Here is where you do not understand. It is a complete waste of time to attempt to address that quarter of the population you think I should address. Not going to waste my time. That remark suggests you are the one who does not understand. said...


No disagreement here. Thought I posred on this, but not here. I agrree, no point in trying to appeal to the super pro-Trump quarter.

mike shupp said...

Trust me, if I'd thought I'd be aiding and abetting the likes of Trent Lott, I wouldn't have entered this comment stream!