Trump sends letter to Congress: There Is No Try

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Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    He said “hold a vote on impeachment or don’t, but this inquiry is bullshit and I’m not going to play along” in the letter.

    Paraphrased, but that’s pretty much what he said.Report

  2. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    Well it’s not like impeachment is in the constitution or anything.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
      Ignored
      says:

      I may have done a poor job of linking to the letter. He’s not saying “you can’t impeach me”.

      He’s saying “Nut Up Or Shut Up” and telling them to hold a vote. Or not.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        Personally, I think the impeachment inquiry isn’t official until there’s a floor vote (and I’m very curious to see if the courts agree), but let’s be real here. Trump won’t cooperate even if the House passes a motion to open the impeachment inquiry. He won’t cooperate because he can’t.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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          says:

          I agree with the first half of that and, as for the second, his not cooperating is a sufficient reason to impeach him. Like, even for Republicans.

          Pence vs. Warren!Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            Well, about that second thing, we’ll see, since he’s not going to cooperate (oh, he’ll say he cooperated by sending over thousands of pages of stuff except what the Dems asked for).

            My guess is that not cooperating/obstruction won’t be enough for GOPers to flip on him. The base allegations might be though.Report

            • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater
              Ignored
              says:

              My guess is that not cooperating/obstruction won’t be enough for GOPers to flip on him.

              Trump now refuses to cooperate with a “Kangaroo Court”.

              And that is the problem I’ve waiting for and/or pointing out. He’s right, it’s a Kangaroo Court. As such there is no fair trial. As such we’ll “never know” if he’s guilty or not.

              It’s like the Judge and Jury were bribed to convict a guilty man.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                Dark, that assumes tthe Ukraine evidence we already have isn’t sufficient to impeach and vote to convict. I think it is, and undeniably so.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Dark, that assumes the Ukraine evidence we already have isn’t sufficient to impeach and vote to convict. I think it is, and undeniably so.

                And what happens if it’s clear the Judge and Jury were bribed? We could have OJ level evidence and it doesn’t matter if the process is that corrupt and untrustworthy.

                The Dems will impeach Trump no matter what. That he really is guilty doesn’t change that, so it doesn’t matter.

                That is how Trump is going to play it. Because he can’t survive a fair trial he’s made sure he won’t need to, his trial will be an unfair witch hunt. Surviving that will be much easier.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                And what happens if it’s clear the Judge and Jury were bribed?

                Ahhh, the ole what if game.

                The Dems will impeach Trump no matter what. That he really is guilty doesn’t change that, so it doesn’t matter.

                This reasoning is too clever. IF he’s guilty, he’s guilty. That a guilty person will claim they’re innocent isn’t a new or even very noteworthy strategy.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                That a guilty person will claim they’re innocent isn’t a new or even very noteworthy strategy.

                True, but getting the Judge and Jury to declare he’s guilty because they despise him long before the crime was even is committed is.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                Where in the Constitution does it set the standards for evidence, the rights of the accused President, the rules of admission and discovery, etc.?

                Oh that’s right it doesn’t.

                The Constitution- y’know, that thing Trump swore an oath to preserve and protect- grants Congress- the Representatives of the People, who are the sovereign of our republic- vast sweeping power to impeach any government official, for just about any reason they see fit, by whatever standards they see fit, and the government official must comply.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                That’s the spirit.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Where in the Constitution does it set the standards for evidence, the rights of the accused President, the rules of admission and discovery, etc.?

                Without shifting Trump’s base you have NO chance of kicking him out.

                Do you really think you can shift Trump’s base by admitting this is a Kangaroo Court but claiming the Constitution doesn’t give him the right to have a fair trial?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                He is getting fair trials in the various other cases against him. So high fives all around for that. You think he would be happy. Having witnesses testify and examining documents is exactly how the house investigates. That is all marsupial free. Give over the evidence and if the house votes he will have his trial in the Senate. Obstructing the House investigation is not making him look better. But hey who ever said Trump would lead to a constitutional crisis. Well okay lots of people said that would happen and here we are.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                Who says its a kangaroo court? The guy who went on TV and asked three different nations to investigate his political rival?

                The guy who said he doesn’t answer to Congress?

                Sorry ,of all the lame defenses,
                “kangaroo court” is the most comical.

                And yeah, here in America the people are sovereign. We can tell any elected official, “You’re Fired!” For any reason we want.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Who says its a kangaroo court?

                Dark is getting his talking points from Mark Meadows and Matt Gaetz,Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Without shifting Trump’s base you have NO chance of kicking him out.

                Not true. Trump’s base is much smaller than the conservative voting base. Once any particular GOPer is confronted with declining approvals they’ll make a calculated choice. And once one or two Senators move, expe3ct a lot more to follow.

                Granted, I think it’s slim, but impeachment is now polling at 22% within the GOP.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                Without shifting Trump’s base you have NO chance of kicking him out.

                Impeachment is polling at 58% support overall. 80% of democrats support it, but more importantly 57% of independents do. As many of us have discussed across numerous threads here, if INdependents get behind Democrats there aren’t enough Republicans to keep Trump in office by voting, nor to keep Republicans in the Senate in the majority. SO it doesn’t really matter what his base (which is somewhere around 27% of voters) thinks of the proceedings. As Independents swing to align with Democrats he looses bigly.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                Impeachment is polling at 58% support overall. 80% of democrats support it, but more importantly 57% of independents do.

                This is a great start.

                SO it doesn’t really matter what his base (which is somewhere around 27% of voters) thinks of the proceedings.

                I’d say their opinion matters a LOT. Math time.

                Assume the country is one third Dem, one third GOP, and one third Independent. Assume only the GOP votes in their own primary.

                His base is thus 81% of primary voters, and 40% of potential GOP voters. Independents who support impeachment is 29% of all voters, roughly equal to Trump’s base.

                Now if we assume the country is 40% Dem, 40% GOP, and 20% Independent, then that 57% of independants is only 12% of the population. So if you’re a GOP Senator who knows he’ll offend someone but needs to pick which group is smaller, it’s going to be the independents because for every one of them there are two Trump supporters.

                And they won’t get the chance. McConnell, who is up for reelection in 2020, is the Senator from Kentucky. Kentucky voted for Trump by 30 points. Doing a Garland on Trump’s impeachment would be popular in Kentucky unless we move Trump’s base.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                Dark, I think you’re overvaluing the stakes of a general election here, and undervaluing the pressure on these Senators from primary challenges. Seems to me main decision-making problem facing GOP Senators is a primary challenge from the right *given* a general shift away from Trump in the electorate. Ie., the primary pressures GOPers to back Trump, the general pressures them to not support him. Someone like Cory Gardner is a better example of this than McConnell: if he supports Trump during the impeachment he will likely lose his re-election bid. So the calculus seems to me to be which constitutes the greatest risk: losing the primary or losing the general election.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Someone like Cory Gardner is a better example of this than McConnell: if he supports Trump during the impeachment (primary pressure) he will likely lose his re-election bid.

                Colorado went for HRC by 5 points. He will probably lose his seat no matter what he does.

                Even for him he STILL needs to worry about who to piss off, and some of these back of the envelope calcs suggest there are two Trump supporters for every Independant.

                However since that varies wildly from state to state it will be interesting.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                Colorado went for HRC by 5 points. He will probably lose his seat no matter what he does.

                Gardner is already toast. He won in 2014 because he broke even in the Denver suburbs. The CO-6 House district, the south and east suburbs, swung from +8 for the Republican incumbent in 2016 to -11 for him in 2018. CO-7, the north and west suburbs, went from +15 for the Democrat in 2016 to +25 in 2018. The state Dems don’t even have to make the election about Trump. Gardner’s voting record for the last five years looks like it was designed to piss off the Denver ‘burbs.Report

              • Avatar quid pro quoth the raven in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                The court is in the Senate. The House is the prosecutor. They don’t even get that straight.Report

              • Avatar JS in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                > As such there is no fair trial.

                The House doesn’t conduct the trial, they conduct the investigation. The Senate holds the trial. Although I do admit, it’s very unlikely to be a fair trial.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Stillwater
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          says:

          There’s literally no such thing as an ‘official impeachment inquiry’. The House gains no special powers during the impeachment process, and thus cannot not gain them if it ‘hasn’t started impeachment’. The House always has the right to investigate anything it wants about the government, and it has granted that right to various committees, and this is true at every moment in time.

          The Senate does have some specific rules about trying impeachments. The House has none at all about making them. The sole thing in the constitution about Impeachment is the vote requirement, a majority. Period.

          The House can walk in one day, call the place to order, immediately pass a resolution impeaching the president with no discussion or committees or anything by a simple majority, and walk out.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DavidTC
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            says:

            There’s literally no such thing as an ‘official impeachment inquiry’. The House gains no special powers during the impeachment process

            According to the cats at Lawfare, there is and there are.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DavidTC
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            says:

            Comment was eaten on edit, but here’s the Lawfare guys disagreeing with you.

            https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-powers-does-formal-impeachment-inquiry-give-houseReport

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Stillwater
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              says:

              That article points out a lot of things, but…none of them disagree with what I said.

              It points out that the ‘formal impeachment inquiry’ started for Nixon did give the committees both the subpoenas and the depositions powers they really needed to invest…which is true. But those committees now have those powers, all the time. So that doesn’t matter.

              But that’s not what I said anyway. I said opening a ‘formal impeachment inquiry’ doesn’t give _the House_ any specific powers. It might give…some extra funding to various committees, let committees make subcommittees with extra powers, rearrange things _internally_ in the House, etc, sure, if that’s put into the ‘formal impeachment inquiry’ resolution.

              But a ‘formal investigation inquiry’ wouldn’t give the House as an entity a single bit more power vs. the rest of the government.

              Now, I’m technically wrong there, as that article does hypothesize a single way that a ‘formal investigation inquiry’ might give the House more power vs. other parts of the government: It would possibly help gain access to grand jury information.

              This is true, and an interesting fact. The courts are much more likely to give grand jury information for ‘judicial’ reasons instead of ‘legislative’. Except…I don’t think there’s no grand jury information at question here? This article is from back in May, for the Muller report, and is talking about getting grand jury information from that.

              And, also…the _committees_ have already said they’re investigating for impeachment, so the hypothetical court should already accept that. There’s no particular reason the court would require the entire House to do it…it’s a particular committee that would be requesting grand jury information, and so the courts should care if that particular committee is investigating impeachment, which the committee itself can just say it is doing, as it has the right to do so.

              So even there…the House shouldn’t have to launch an ‘formal impeachment inquiry’. And that’s not the situation anyway.

              And beyond that…the court aren’t going to be involved at all. They won’t rule on whether or not subpoenas must be followed , as they consider that a political question that they will not decide on. And thus…a ‘formal impeachment inquiry’ can’t change any rulings, as they aren’t making them.

              I mean, the House should do it anyway, just to watch the White House make up more nonsense and try to backtrack. And doing so might change some _perceptions_ of positions.

              But legally, the Executive has the complete right to refuse to participate in anything the House does, or provide any information at all. And legally, the House has the complete right to imprison and impeach people in the Executive for doing that. And absolutely nothing is different if a ‘formal impeachment inquiry’ is going on.

              Please note I’m putting ‘formal impeachment inquiry’ in quotes, because the entire term is silly. What a ‘formal impeachment inquiry’ would be is the House refer the question of impeachment to various committees, and those committees would investigate. And those committees investigating impeachment is literally what is _currently happening_, they’ve just decided to do so by the decisions of their chairs and votes of their members, instead of by having the question referred from the House. I.e., Trump is demanding that the House vote to make committees do what they are already voluntarily doing, which is just extremely silly as a procedural demand.Report

        • Avatar quid pro quoth the raven in reply to Stillwater
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          says:

          The only relevant guidelines are the House rules and they say no. OTOH a vote could be a good idea for other reasonsReport

      • Avatar quid pro quoth the raven in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        It says that it’s an unconstitutional proceeding, so yeah he is. The letter demands, among other things, the ability to call and cross examine witnesses. which btw is as ridiculous as a subject of an investigation demanding that the DA allow them to examine the evidence and witnesses against them before even going to trial.

        Impeachment is the beginning of a process, which ends with a trial before the Senate, at which the President can defend themselves.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to quid pro quoth the raven
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          says:

          Impeachment is the beginning of a process, which ends with a trial before the Senate, at which the President can defend themselves.

          Technically, allowing the president to defend themselves is not required. The courts, in Nixon v. United States, ruled that Federal Judge Walter Nixon, who had sued because he was impeached and convicted after being convicted of a felony (Making false statements to a grand jury, no less!), was not entitled to due process during the conviction phase of that. And the courts furthermore said they had literally no power whatsoever over that entire process.

          The House can impeach, via simple majority, via any procedure it wants. The Senate can convict, on two-third majority, via any procedure it wants…although there is a specific rule that for presidential impeachments the Chief Justice ‘shall preside’.

          That’s it. That’s what the constitution says. The Senate can literally do whatever it wants. It doesn’t have to let the President defend themselves.

          However, in every single impeachment of the president (And in fact most impeachments, they didn’t bother for Walter Nixon because he’d literally already been found guilty of the act they were impeaching him for, by a court!), the Senate has set up an adversarial trial where evidence is presented and the president can bring in a defense lawyer and testify.

          In fact, with the Chief Justice running the thing, it would be extremely odd if it didn’t end up looking a lot like a trial. I’m fairly sure Roberts (Or any Chief Justice) would balk at Senate rules that did not allow any sort of defense by the president, even if technically he’s just supposed to be running the thing and not making up the rules. That actually could get weird if he was not okay with the process he was ordered to follow…it’s not like he can be replaced if he does the ‘wrong thing’. The entire implication of having the Chief Justice run it seems to be that it should mostly operate as a trial.

          It’s just, legally, it doesn’t have to.Report

  3. Avatar Stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    Well, the rationale for not cooperating matters much less than the fact that the they won’t. This is a real test for the Democrats and the courts. Trump will burn down Washington DC (and/or anything or anyone else for that matter) before he’ll agree to turn over incriminating documents. And he’s found his Roy Cohn too, in Bill Barr. Democrats, at this point, can’t back down, so I predict that things will get massively – MASSIVELY – worse before they get better.Report

  4. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    Ummm yeah…..He’s saying they can’t investigate him. He is above the law and any oversight by the Congress. Well add that to the list of impeachment charges. We don’t need any investigation to impeach him for that. I’ve seen the letters on the tweet machine. He’s telling the constitution to F itself.Report

  5. Avatar Aaron David
    Ignored
    says:

    I think that Trump is absolutely right to do this. Fish or cut bait, as my father would say. If this is a real thing, then you get to go on record as having voted for or against. And then be held accountable for that vote. None of this Will They Or Won’t They BS. Pelosi wants to have it both ways and Trump is forcing her hand. Well, good for him.

    Also, shouldn’t this whole thing start in the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler’s bailiwick? Talk about not hewing to democratic standards Nancy.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Aaron David
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      says:

      You may want it in Judiciary alone, but there’s no requirement for that. and if I recall, Judiciary is one of the three committees currently investigating allegations that would underly an indictment (Homeland Security and Intelligence are the other two I think). Seems to me the more committees the better – more staff, more subject matter expertise, and a potentially quicker resolution because each committee need only ask for stuff under its pervue instead of the whole enchilada.

      And Pelosi said after the Ukraine call that the House was opening a formal impeachment inquirey under those committees. I don’t think thats a wishy washy statement, but your mileage may vary.Report

    • Avatar quid pro quoth the raven in reply to Aaron David
      Ignored
      says:

      Missing point, again. An impeachment inquiry doesn’t require a vote. the only thing requiring one is the impeachment referral itself. The demands in that email are absurd, and even make no sense.Report

  6. Avatar DavidTC
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    says:

    I really hope that no one, not even Republicans, fall for the nonsense in this letter. The president has a perfect right to do all the things he is demanding…

    At his trial. In the Senate.

    This is the impeachment, which is basically the indictment part of this. And no, you don’t get to present your side before indictment. Grand juries, which is what the House basically is, do not work like that.

    And as his nonsense about cooperating with the investigation: The Executive has to cooperate with any investigation that the House (Or any House committee given the power of subpoena by the House.) does. It matters not whether it’s an official ‘impeachment’ inquiry or not…

    …which incidentally, does not exist. There’s no such thing as an ‘official impeachment inquiry’. The Constitution says the House can impeach, as in, it can, ultimately, vote an impeachment, by a simple majority. There is absolutely no requirements it follow any process to get to that vote, and the Executive has literally no right to question how the House is operating, internally.

    Which, again, is actually not in violation of House rules anyway. Here are the current rules in the House WRT impeachment: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45769.pdf

    Here is the key sentence ‘In addition, standing committees, under their general investigatory authority, can seek information and research charges against officers prior to the approval of a resolution to authorize an impeachment investigation.’

    I.e., the House doesn’t have to do anything before a committee starts looking into impeaching someone. There doesn’t have to be any order to investigate, or a formal declaration of anything. Committees can just…read the news and investigate impeachment if they want, no authorization at all, because they were given the right to investigate things as a general power. (At least, the committees we’re talking about.)

    Without being giving specific order to investigate, the various committees (probably? I think?) can’t directly put forward a impeachment resolution in the House, but that hardly matters. They, instead, will just inform the House that the House should impeach, based on these facts they found, and some random Democrat will write the resolution.

    This is assuming the Committees _aren’t_ given a specific order to investigate the president tomorrow by the House.

    But, again: Even if the House had very specific rules WRT how it was supposed to do impeachment (Which it really doesn’t), and was blatantly breaking them in every possible way, the White House still has no right to ignore its demands. Members of the House have the right to enforce House rules, not the White House.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
      Ignored
      says:

      “Power of subpoena” means “power to arrest people” right?

      The House needs to start arresting people.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Technically, yes, but I’m still with the idea the House needs to start impeaching people.

        Like Bill Barr, who has objectively violated his duties as a lawyer by participating in ruling on (And ultimately hiding) a whistleblower complaint that included complaints about his own behavior.

        I don’t care what sort of nonsense that people have invented to justify Trump’s action. I don’t care if the whistleblower complaint was transparent garbage. I don’t care if hiding it was somehow legal (it wasn’t).

        Regardless of all that, there is no possible universe where the Attorney General can be allowed to be involved in dealing with complaints about himself. Every single law, every single DoJ policy, hell, just as an officer of the court, requires him to recuse himself from that sort of decision.

        And he damn well knows that. And he should be out of office this very second. And I’m sorry, I don’t care where anyone is on the political spectrum, but this is not something that is debatable.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
          Ignored
          says:

          I’d be down. They should have him impeached pronto.

          But I do wonder if throwing the book at more than, oh, Barr would backfire…

          But this probably ain’t the best place to speculate on that. Sure. Impeach Barr. *THEN* impeach Trump.Report

  7. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    Oh this is going to be fun. 14 months before the election!

    Make POPcorn….watches.Report

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