The Trump Impeachment Letter, as Explained by A Christmas Story


Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website

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153 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    Xmas keeps coming earlier and earlier. In the Good Ol Day’s we had people use Halloween analogies for prez corruption and constitutional crises in October. It was a simpler time.

    The “they should vote now” line is just more smoke and deflection. If the House voted tomorrow to impeach, R’s and they friends would just start screaming there was a vote with no evidence, that D’s hadn’t proved their case to Trump’s supporters and they had been afraid to investigate to find out if anything wrong had been done. A vote without investigation will just be all about partisanship not facts.

    The congress’s role, oft ignored, is to conduct oversight of the exec branch. They have the ability and duty to investigate all the crap they are doing. They should find out as much as they can before voting. And even if there were no impeachment on the table each of the events they are looking into are exactly within their purview.Report

    • I’m a holiday seasonal rebel, if nothing elseReport

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      There have always been two votes. The first is a vote on whether to proceed with an impeachment inquiry. That vote basically tells the other branches that they’re looking at maybe impeaching somebody and need to gather all the relevant facts. The second is a vote to impeach, or not, based on the evidence uncovered or analyzed after the first vote.

      You might think of the first vote as a decision to enpanel a grand jury, the second impeachment vote as the grand jury decision on whether to indict or not, and the Senate trial as the trial.Report

      • Avatar Philip H says:

        The US has done this precisely twice before for presidents (Nixon was never impeached though articles had been drawn up and passed out of committee). So you have two data points. Any good statistician would tell you you need at least three to get to correlation, and that correlation doesn’t mean causation.

        You also have a case where the Constitution says nothing about HOW to impeach, and so we work under current House Rules which do not require a vote.

        Your analogy is also flawed in that the House, as the Grand Jury is already impaneled by the Constitution. That issue aside, we don’t vote in the US to impanel grand juries – Prosecutors simply stand them up. Pelosi did that with her announcement that the House was now engaged in a formal Impeachment Inquiry (an announcement she’s to required to make either).Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          I think the point is that absent a formal impeachment process, then Congress’s oversight will run smack-dab into Executive Privilege…which, according to Brother Burt’s recent Watergate synopsis, required Nixon to be an un-indicted co-conspirator to drive the court’s reasoning; that plus the duly appointed special prosecutor.

          So, absent a criminal indictment or the special prosecutor… Trump’s team has a point. It’s a point that is fairly easily remediated with a vote to officially begin the impeachment process, so it’s not a really difficult challenge… but politically, he get’s to make some points for free at Congress’ expense. So, Team Trump stole a point on an unforced error owing to Pelosi’s desire to keep some lane that she wanted open, open.

          It strikes me that it leaves Trump open to a fairly simple counter attack by voting to open the impeachment, then immediately issuing subpoena’s for privileged materials with the purpose being to force Trump to acquiesce or double down on his position… which itself would constitute a perfectly valid article of impeachment… maybe the best one they’d get. Assuming that the response is sober and measured and geared to give Republican Senators cover.

          I’ll admit that the letter surprised me (not that I’m an expert or 100% focused on this), but it only reinforced my decades long experience in competitive sales and negotiations that the other side always has a card you didn’t expect to see played.Report

          • Avatar Philip H says:

            I think Pelosi believes that she created a formal impeachment process by stating the House was opening a formal impeachment inquiry centered around three committees. Trump’s claim that the impeachment investigation is unconstitutional is hogwash, since the constitution mandates the House to Indict but remains silent on the underlying process. She’s on firm legal grounds. He’s just tossing wet noodles at the wall to see if they stick.Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine says:

              “I think Pelosi believes”

              Will be decided by the courts, I suppose… but then that’s just more opportunity for team Trump to keep swinging on a completely superfluous issue all the way down… or to win a cheap victory on Executive Privilege…

              Why risk it? What’s the cost? It seems a poor calculus on her part.Report

              • Avatar Philip H says:

                Its Constitutionally unnecessary.
                It distracts from the Committee work going on now, and the President’s failures to comply with his constitutional and legal duties.
                There’s zreo guarantee he will suddenly become compliant and 100% guarantee he will come up with another excuse not to comply.

                It changes nothing. Why bother?Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                “Why bother?” is exactly why I’m not a Lawyer or a Parliamentarian… nothing but bother, and more bother, followed by counter bother.

                But, if you’re Speaker of the House… bother can’t possibly be a reason. We bother because we care.

                Slightly more seriously… if Pelosi bothers to eliminate the tiniest ambiguity… then simple constitutional abrogation is worth 100 Ukrainian phone calls. Should bother for that alone and hope for non-compliance. Ideally with a few Republican Senators that are interested in just the right rope to use to force impeachment or resignation.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                March, I’ve made this argument to pro-ImpeachTheMFer Dems and it bounces off their ear lobes. The response is always the same: nothing in the Constitution requires her to blahblahblah.

                Pelosi herself, of course, poisoned the well when she said – on the same day IIRC – that the House is both engaged in an impeachment inquiry and not engaged in one. Nothing’s changed *formally* since then, so the WH has her own words as evidence supporting their position.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Slightly mystifying to me… I recognize that Pelosi knows what she’s doing, so there must be some reason for keeping the “plausible deniability lane” open… but so far I haven’t heard what that is… but I may just slap my forehead at the genius of it once I hear it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Charitably, it’s a continuation of her anti-Impeachment stance from earlier: that holding a vote to open an inquiry would jeopardize red-district Dem seats. It’s hard to square not holding a floor vote on an inquiry with the (apparent) inevitability of having to cast a vote on filed articles, tho.

                So, yes. Mystifying.Report

              • Avatar Mr.Joe` says:

                The reason to risk it is that most Democrats seem to believe it is a winning strategy. Every kick and scream by Trump still raises the association Trump+Impeachment or Trump+Corruption in observer’s minds. Beating the Hillary+email and Hillary+corrupt drums did quite a bit to sour a substantial portion of the public on her. Right or wrong, Whitewater and Benghazi investigations did good jobs of making even many liberals sick of the name Clinton. There are a lot more threads for Shiff/Engel/Cummings/et al. to pull on than those cases. So by the time the “no vote” issue is adjudicated, there will be plenty of “open questions” having been run through the news and they should have enough folks to vote, if they do not already. Of course Polosi is going to say that they want this wrapped up quickly, but that has been the party line in these sort of things.

                I think it likely this back and forth will continue through at least July, if not the election. Come July I expect the Democratic line to be “we are trying to get articles of impeachment drawn up, but Trump keeps breaking the law faster than we can document it”.

                Nine months would be awful quick to wrap all this up. Ken Starr was at it for over two years before articles were drawn up. The Nixon investigation was over a year. Benghazi investigations were over two and half years.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter says:

      The Dems could just narrow it to China and impeach on that. It’d have the advantage that you wouldn’t need investigation because he’s openly asked for what you want to convict him.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I think that if the Democrats had the discipline to narrow it to China and the discipline to keep it to that, they could easily demonstrate Trump’s unfitness for the Presidency in such a way that would force Republicans in the Senate to actually act (or not get re-elected outside of the safest of the safe states).Report

        • Avatar JoeSal says:

          They probably can’t open anything on China as it would reveal a lot of their own activity.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            China would be even worse because Joe flew over with Hunter to, at least in part, discuss their militarization of the South China sea, where they were creating artificial islands and putting airbases on them. That is probably one of the most critical risks for the world, and a potential flash point that could trigger a direct naval confrontation and all-out-war between China and the US and US allies in the region.

            We don’t know what transpired in the surely tense discussions between Biden and the expansionist, militaristic Chinese government, but the Obama Administration chose not to confront them and Hunter Biden got $1.5 billion dollars to play with, so we can guess how it went.

            So the question would become “How many US sailors and Marines have to die to pay for the Biden family’s new mansion?”

            And that would feed right into Trump’s populist, drain-the-swamp appeal, portraying a world where the elites sold the American working class out – to China. The elites got rich, the Chinese got powerful, and everybody else got shafted. Given Trump’s extreme stands against China, he’d be very hard for Democrats to attack under that narrative because they’re not going to be able to convince anyone that they’re even more bellicose regarding China than Trump is, because he’s so confrontation by turns that I’m surprised people aren’t digging fallout shelters.

            Normally, the wise move would be to frame the election around something else, but if Biden is the nominee the Democrats won’t be able to do that. He’s like a badly placed chess piece who is blocking multiple better positions and letting the opponent dominate the board.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            Something I forgot to add is that the standard liberal attack on Trump regarding China would be to portray him as too bellicose, pushing us toward confrontation and war, destabilizing the world economy, etc. Basically they could do a repeat of attacks on Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy, since people prefer talk talk to war war, and prefer peace and harmony to confrontation.

            But that attack doesn’t work if the candidate has been taking billion in cash from the enemy. Then, psychologically, they’re bought off, certainly a sell-out and possibly a traitor, akin to Benedict Arnold who sold out the US because the British could pay him more than we could.

            Biden is the only Democratic candidate whose involvement with China involves family payouts, which is another thing that makes him a badly placed chess piece for Democrats, since otherwise they would perhaps point to Ivanka having products made in China, etc.Report

            • Avatar JoeSal says:

              That’s probably only the half of it.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              “But that attack doesn’t work if the candidate has been taking billion in cash from the enemy. Then, psychologically, they’re bought off, certainly a sell-out and possibly a traitor…”

              Mm Hmm.
              Please proceed.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Gladly, because the GOP is three moves to mate. Trump built hotels all over the world, but when he got elected his children quit doing overseas deals. When Joe Biden become Vice President, his children started doing overseas deals.

                Trump was rich and got into politics late in life, basically when he hit retirement age and didn’t need any more money. Biden got into politics early in life, and got rich from it pulling deals like we see with Ukraine and China.

                That makes for a very easy decision for most voters.

                Democrats have been screaming that Trump is corrupt, but everyone knows they’re projecting. The louder they scream the more obvious they make it. That’s not a way to win a campaign.Report

              • Avatar JS says:

                “rump built hotels all over the world, but when he got elected his children quit doing overseas deal”

                Okay, that’s a bridge too far. I mean I suspected George was just screwing with us, but this is proof positive.Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Congress could do more serious investigating and less made-for-TV grandstanding

    Well, as you note yourself, impeachment isn’t actually a legal proceeding,it’s a political one, though with legal ramifications and trappings.

    So, if you think a president has behaved unlawfully and in contradiction to his oath of office, your recourse is to act politically, not legalistically. Either you can damage him enough to swing the vote in the Senate, or to ensure he doesn’t get re-elected. At the least, you need to protect your own candidates from the whole “blackmail other countries into fabricating evidence against your political opponents” thing.

    This isn’t Trump’s first showdown with Pelosi. He may have declared victory over the border wall funding, but the fact is, he lost. He will lose this one, too. I just don’t know how badly. He will lose because he’s impulsive and dismissive of all advice, especially expertise.

    Failing to comply with subpoena’s by using a middle finger is just not something that most people can stomach.Report

    • Avatar Philip H says:

      Unlike all his losses in court as a developer, he can’t declare bankruptcy to get out of judgement here. He also can’t pardon himself out of impeachment (or state level crimes for that matter). And even if this all has to get sorted in the courts (and I expect the House to seek to consolidate all its existing cases shortly and request expedited decisions), the courts ar every deferential to Congressional oversight.

      Which is why I fully expect him to resign before impeachment articles can be voted on. He has few real options left.

      And neither do Republican politicians who chose to lie down with him.Report

      • Sadly, I don’t think he’ll resign. Not that I really know anything more than anyone else, but I’ll be surprised if/when he does.Report

        • Avatar Philip H says:

          1. By his own admission he never expected to be President.

          2. His many statements and public actions before and after the election make it clear he is way more concerned with his own image and ego then anything else (e.g. planting phony New York tabloid stories pretending to be a phony publicist).

          3. He responds to legitimate contract invoices with lawsuits, refuses to pay judgements against him, and seek bankruptcy protection to avoid accountability.

          4. he has “Great Wisdom.”

          5. He is not capable of admitting errors or mistakes, and regards any criticism as “fake news.”

          He will resign rather then be impeached as just that is a stain on his character regardless of being convicted.Report

  3. Avatar Aaron David says:

    What is clear to me, is 1) everybody is playing politics. And by that, they are trying to move public opinion far enough to get what they want. Trump is, Pelosi is, all the minor players and pundits, everyone. They all want 2020 to come up in a Heads I Win, Tails You Lose answer. Nancy is using bluff and bluster, as she doesn’t want to go on record with a vote, as the voters might be held accountable in ways she doesn’t like. Not this close to an election. Trump is being his usual loud-mouth self and returning fire to the House. As there are no bills being passed, no votes being taken yet, none of this means anything. Congress can issue subpoenas, but only on things, they have power over. Co-equal means are co-equal. That being the case, Trump has every right to challenge each and every one of those writs. Some times he will win, sometimes lose. He also isn’t the first one to ignore a congressional subpoena, is he Eric Holder?

    2) This is what a reshuffle of the post-war deck looks like. What we always knew, always counted on, is coming up short. It wasn’t supposed to go this way, we were always going to get better and better for everyone. Well, that didn’t happen for enough people and the cracks are starting to show. Those whose ox is being gored, well, they are going to do everything they can to stop that from happening. And they will always, always, convince themselves that what they are doing is right.

    I have always said, politics is a full-contact sport.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      As there are no bills being passed,

      Looks like the 49 bills have passed out of the House.

      1) everybody is playing politics. And by that, they are trying to move public opinion far enough to get what they want.

      For better or worse, Aaron, you’ve just provided a functional definition of “democracy”. Everyone is playing politics because that’s what politicians (by definition) do. On the other hand, tho, it may be worth remembering that Trump committed serious crimes when he extorted Ukraine for personal political favors (which he’s trying to convince people he didn’t do) and the Democrats are likely going to impeach him for it. I mean, even you agree that he did, right?Report

      • Avatar Aaron David says:

        I was referring to impeachment bills, should have been clearer. And yes, I am saying they are playing politics.

        I utterly disagree with Trump committing a crime in Ukraine. I have seen zero criminal actions presented at this time. Repeat, zero. I am being told, by you as well as many others, that such took place, but I have not been showed this. Those that are telling me this have lost all moral authority, as they have only presented bullshit at this time; Russia; Kavanaugh; racism; and so on. They have shown no quid-pro-quo or anything else that could make this a crime.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          Dude, you’ve lost your mind.Report

        • Avatar yes_it_was_qpq says:

          You lost me when you said there was no quid-pro-quo. The documented evidence does not support that conclusion, at all. It supports the opposite, surely enough that a conviction would be likely in a court of law if this were anyone but the President. The fact that the people involved were not so stupid to actually spell it out word-for-word in federal records (official phone calls, texts and emails) just says that they weren’t so stupid to do that.

          Look, when Ambassador Taylor said, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” Taylor was very much saying, “I’m putting this on the record (as in official federal record), that I think it’s crazy to withold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” Sondland’s response, 5 hours later, after, undoubtedly consulting with the White House, was to text back, no quid pro quo, and if you still have concerns, talk to my boss (or shut up), but no more doing this back and forth on text (which are official records).

          If you don’t want a discussion to be an official record, you call or talk in person. Taylor very explicitly wasn’t having it. Sondland’s response just reinforces the idea that what was going on was not something above board.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:


            Show me the exact quid-pro-quo.

            Every single word you use is an excuse for having only bullshit at this point.Report

            • Avatar George Turner says:

              You’ll need more than that, because quid pro quo is the basis of contract law and our economy. It means an exchange of thing of value, such as buying a hamburger, or endorsing someone’s candidacy in return for their support on a crime bill.

              So not only must a quid pro quo be established, but it must be an illegal transaction, such as giving an employee a raise in return for some steamy backroom action.

              Another hurdle to cross is that the FEC has said that information does not constitute anything of value, and thus can’t be the basis of a quid pro quo action.Report

              • Avatar quid pro quoth the raven says:

                A crime needn’t have been committed for impeachment, so not clear that statutory definitions of quid pro quo are necessary or even helpful.Report

            • Avatar quid pro quoth the raven says:

              This is pretty pathetic. Trump starts the call by sayingvtge USbis very good to Ukraine, better than the EU, but tgat Ukraibe doesnt do enough for the US. Zalensky wanted missiles, and as soon as he mentioned them, Trump asks that Z. investigate a conspiracy theory about Crowdstrike and another about Joe and Hunter Biden. Trump’s response implies what he expects if Z is to get missiles and aid.

              And Trump’s own people understood it the same way.

              Republicans can’t because they desperately don’t want to. The emperor has no clothes this time, stop dressing him up with, your words, bullshit.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Taylor:“I’m putting this on the record (as in official federal record), that I think it’s crazy to withold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

            Sondland: “Is you takin’ notes on a criminal fuckin’ conspiracy?”Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              The only evidence Aaron would accept that a quid pro quo took place is statement from Trump, but Trump gave that statement and Aaron still doesn’t accept it.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                And I will say it again:

                Show me the exact quid-pro-quo.

                Every single word you use is an excuse for having only bullshit at this point.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Just so we’re clear here:

                When President Warren asks the Chinese to investigate Mitch McConnell during a call about upcoming trade talks, you’re cool with that, right?Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Well, President Warren will only exist in a fictional universe, given her crazy positions.

                That said, suppose Trump came out and offered Ukrainians cash on the table in return for information regarding criminal activities related to the 2016 campaign.

                The poster would read: “CrimeStoppers: $5,000 REWARD for information leading to the arrest of _______”

                That is 100% legal, and a tool of law enforcement everywhere. If it’s not illegal for an official to offer cash in return for information about criminal activity, it’s certainly not illegal for an official to just ask for information about criminal activity.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                So like my earlier examples:

                The police chief calls the mayor to ask for more funding, and the Democratic mayor says, “I’d like you to do me a favor, though, and get to the bottom of my Republican opponent’s corruption.”

                Really, seriously, this is the conservative idea of how liberal democracies work?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Speaking for myself and myself alone: I would love for the hoi polloi to know what our enemies know about our politicians.

                I would question the patriotism of anyone who says that we, as a nation, should not know what our enemies know about them.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                And you think that is what was going on here?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Again: I would love for the hoi polloi to know what our enemies know about our politicians.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                But only information the party out of power, right?

                I mean, you’re not suggesting that Trump be forced to turn over all the information Congress is demanding, are you?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I think that if Trump doesn’t, they should impeach him.

                Don’t you? (And if they could get this information from, oh, China, do you think that they should keep it hidden from The American People?)Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                Why do you even bother?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Because he still thinks he has principles rather than merely a team he cheers for.

                The people who know that they’re just cheering for a team are the ones who know better.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Judgement has been rendered. Close up the thread.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Jay, look, if you don’t really have anything serious to say, why engage?

                I ask a question and you spend about 30 responses dodging and weaving and pretending to score points for team Above It All.

                So yeah, like Saul says, who bother?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The serious things I have to say have, at their bottom assumption, that the system is terribly corrupt to the point where “not doing stuff” is better than the things we attempt to do.

                As such, I think we shouldn’t be in the Middle East. I think we shouldn’t be trying to make the Middle East better.

                When it comes to politicians fighting Trump, I think the Democrats have demonstrated how hollow they are.

                When it comes to people who support the Democrats, I think that the first thing they think when they read the above is “BUT WHAT ABOUT WHAT TRUMP DEMONSTRATES ABOUT THE REPUBLICANS!” rather than assuming that, yes, I already know that Trump has done a magnificent job demonstrating that about the Republicans.

                It’s not that I’m “above it all”.

                It’s that I find the pretense to moral standing on this shit to be amusing. I find the assumption that nobody else remembers what happened last time (or the time before that or the time before that) to be fascinating to watch in real time.

                It looks like Trump is fixing to be impeached Any Day Now… and I’m fascinated to see what will happen and, yes, you and Saul and Greg are part of what helps me understand what the people who are not part of my bubble are willing to argue.

                For the record, at this point, I’m not seeing the impeachment as going particularly well. It reads too much like a problem with aesthetics rather than a moral one.

                But we get new info every day (and I admit to being shocked that the Kurds are more important than the whole “get us out of the Middle East” thing we had going on for the last 18 years but… hey, I guess Trump decided to get us out of the Middle East and so we immediately had to revise our opinion of what we’d been asking for).

                If China has information that could lead to Trump’s impeachment…

                Would you want China to release it?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Don’t we already have enough on Trump to impeach him?

                But I guess I deny the premise: would Republicans (or Democrats for that matter) trust information from China more than what they observe with their own eyes? I don’t think so.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Don’t we already have enough on Trump to impeach him?


                The problem is that there are ways to take on Trump that would let you impeach him with merely the stuff that we had all the way back in 2017 and ways to take on Trump in 2019 that would fail if you had a copy of the pee tape in your hand.

                (I admit, for my thought experiment, my assumption was that the information from China was good. Perhaps that was a bad assumption on my part.)Report

              • Probably, but Unless you have 67 senators it is a moot pointReport

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Do you think there’s a difference between filing articles of impeachment that are voted down and filing articles of impeachment that are passed out of the House?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I ask that because a view you, and a lot of other folks as well, seem to hold is that conviction by the Senate is the only measure by which the process of impeaching Trump can be measured. I find that line of argument both fascinating and horrifying since it seems pretty obvious – for political as well as practical reasons – that presenting a case for impeachment has value precisely to the extent that GOPers are likely to brush Trump’s corruption under the rug and thereby institutionalize it. Because of that, removing him from office isn’t the primary goal (in my view anyway). Instead, it’s about forcing Americans and the GOP to make a conscious choice about what actions and behaviors are permissible. So the impeachment has value (political/cultural value) going forward even if the Senate acquits.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                You do get morally indignant, though, with regard to police shootings and the drug war.

                With regard to “getting out of the mideast”, thats the bailey I mentioned, where first of all, that’s not what Trump is doing, and second, there are a million ways to do that besides this.

                To put it in your terms, its as if you were to complain about a cop union protecting one of their own, and I were to say how amusing it is to see Jay completely reverse himself,when just yesterday he told us he supported the freedom of individuals from government prosecution.

                First, its a lame contrived analogy, but worse, it is an insult that mocks your real passion. Its why we use the phrase “checkmate libs” where the intent isn’t to make a serious statement, but just sophistry, using clever wordplay instead of actual reason.

                Yeah, for the millionth time, everyone here wants to “get out of the mideast” in some fashion or another.

                But this action is a moral horror, and can’t be defended.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I suppose the former has to do with stuff like “jurisdiction”.

                there are a million ways to do that besides this.

                And there are a billion of ways to *NOT* do that. One of which this is.

                just yesterday he told us he supported the freedom of individuals from government prosecution.

                “I said private citizens.”

                actual reason

                This is why I ask stuff like this:

                Out of curiosity, what is the endgame that you’re hoping for in Syria, what plan do you support that will get you there, and do you think that it will be different from the plans to do such things that failed in Iraq, Egypt, or Libya?

                And if people are unwilling to wrestle with such questions, I assume that they’re just complaining.

                But this action is a moral horror, and can’t be defended.


                And, by staying, we’re going to have one next month. And the month after that. And the month after that. And the month after that. And the month after that. And the month after that. And the month after that.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Your questions aren’t even about Syria.

                Syria is the lens thru which you interrogate our morality.

                You are insisting that we are all hypocrites because if we truly believed our opposition to forever war we would support this.

                You even acknowledge that there are many other choices here, so why would you defend this one as being the best choice?

                It really does seem like you are operating under some Cleek’s Law here, only supporting Trump’s decision because the rest of us oppose it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You are insisting that we are all hypocrites because if we truly believed our opposition to forever war we would support this.

                It’s not that “you’re all hypocrites” as much as “you’re assuming your moral stature is obvious to others and, indeed, it is not”.

                I’ve no doubt that to members of your intellectual/moral tribe, it’s self-evident, but it’s not self-evident to those outside of it.

                You even acknowledge that there are many other choices here, so why would you defend this one as being the best choice?

                Why would I defend getting out as being the best choice? Because of our track record and demonstrated competency at achieving the goals you claim to support.

                It really does seem like you are operating under some Cleek’s Law here, only supporting Trump’s decision because the rest of us oppose it.

                This is why I post to comment threads in the past.

                If I can point to my holding these positions before Trump was even elected, I feel it bolsters my take on how “we shouldn’t be there” is more than a weathervane that blows against the direction of the prevailing winds.

                (It’s also a *LOT* easier to remember “we shouldn’t be there” year after year… which, I admit, does give me some curiosity about those who alternate between moral certainty that we should get out and moral certainty that we should stay without ever questioning their own moral certainty.)Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Why do you see American liberals as the subject of this story, instead of Trump, or Erdogan or the Kurds?

                Out of all the posts you’ve made on this subject, not one has defended this choice as the best one on its own merits.

                Instead you keep attacking the moral fiber of liberals, as if Syria and the Kurds are just proxies for your scorn of us.

                Can you defend this choice on its own merits without mentioning liberals?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                In the call summary Trump released he tied releasing Military aid to Ukraine to investigating Hunter Biden, by saying “I would like you to us a favor though.” The favor wasn’t investigating US-Ukraine corruption, only Hunter Biden.

                {{Editors note: Hunter Biden is the son of Obama VP and current Demomcratic front-runner Joe Biden}}

                And the “favor” was a thing of value in violation of campaign finance laws (among others), a crime for which he’s already an unindicted co-conspirator in a previous case involving one Stormy Daniels.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                Show me the EXACT quote. Should be easy, Trump released the transcripts.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                “I would like you to do me a favor though.”

                Here, I’ll offer something to help you work your way through this since you seem to he having some trouble adding 2+2:

                Former Gov. Chris Christie (R), who rose to prominence as a U.S. Attorney, told ABC News hours before the release of the readout of President Trump’s phone call with the Ukraine president that Trump would be in trouble if he used language like “do me a favor.”


              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                From Bloomberg just today:

                President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.

                This is not only impeachable, but deserving of impeachment. The Democrats, as far as I know, haven’t commented on this, so you’ll have to wait to reject it on the “Democrats have no moral authority” grounds. Give it a couple days….Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                In other words…

                Shit. Shit and misdirection.

                Thought so.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                “Your honor I object. What the prosecution presents as evidence is shit. Shit and misdirection. I call for mistrial on the grounds that the Democrats have no moral authority.”Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                Stillwater, quoting a line out of context, with possibly biased commentary of said out of context line and then following it up with some unrelated bit of speculation is, in a word, shit.

                You know that.

                And there is nothing solid here, or Nancy would already be in impeachment mode, as her base would love it. She, would have the votes lined up like Spartans and would have presented a solid front. But she hasn’t. It looks more and more like she is between a rock (Trump) and a hard spot (The Squad.)

                I guess in the end you could present that pablum as “evidence”, but my response won’t change. Frankly, you are starting to look like Neuman in the Magic Loogie.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Aaron, in the end the Democrats are going to present that pablum as evidence, and it’s going to get Trump impeached.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                Oh, I think if they present that pablum it will end the same way the Clinton trial did. Except for this time the reason the Senate will fail to convict is that there is no there there. Part of the problem is the D’s spent way too much time pissing in the impeachment Cheerios with Russiagate. You guys really needed to keep your powder dry if you were serious about this.

                Could things change? Sure, but there will need to be a smoking gun. And the D’s will need to hold the house if this stretches out.

                But in all seriousness, the D’s should be spending their energy on winning in ’20, not this partisan shit. Get him out of there by being good candidates. He isn’t any better than Carter, have someone honest and intelligent run. How hard could that be, to find someone who can actually beat him in an election?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                You guys really needed to keep your powder dry if you were serious about this.

                Thanks for supporting our effort to overturn the 2016 election!Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                FTR, did you happen to read the transcript?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I went to an East coast school with West coast sensibilities on the edge of the Rocky Mountains!

                By the way, you might want to rethink your view that only the Marxists give a shit about the Kurds, Joe. Ross Douthat seems very pained about this whole fiasco.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Let’s try this again, did you read the transcript?

                I think Ross is putting a lot of weight on one particular parameter instead of many. I could be wrong though.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Yes. I’m happy to hear you think Ross is wrong about this pissing off Trump’s base.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Third time, did you read the transcript?

                You and Ross say that as if the church isn’t trying to figure out whether to burn the leftism out of the church from the inside or the outside.

                Like i said before, i think he is weighting one particular parameter a little too much.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Yes. Me and Ross are both radical Marxists.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Glad we got that settled. Ha.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Well, you have to admit that it does look worse when you delete the 540 words the came after “favor” and before “Biden”. If the phone call was 30 minutes, that would be about 8 minutes between the one and the other.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Didn’t he say ‘do us a favor’ , using ‘us’ as in the context of nation state?

                And yeah, your right it’s nation state stuff after that.

                I think i called this ‘context magic’ a few times. MSM is right there on the level of Soviet propaganda in this regard.Report

              • Avatar Philip H says:

                that is the lamest excuse for bad behavior yet. The US as a nation state has entities perfectly capable of investigating corruption. We have an attorney general for that purpose. And we conduct international investigations with other nations all the fracking time with no intervention by the President.

                He was clearly asking another head of state to investigate a single person who happens to be the son of a political opponent. And he was doing as a requirement of releasing then delayed US military aid, which apparently was held up for no other reason. Even if there was a national/nation state US interest in Hunter Biden’s influence peddling, its not ok, ethical, appropriate etc for the president to ask for an investigation in that way and to do it as a condition of receiving military aid.

                And considering that the President’s kids are influence peddling from inside the WH these days I’m not really sure why only Biden gets to looksie.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Both nations convey clearly that they are ‘draining their swamps’, which means that the Ukraine is already doing the tasks that Trump was asking about. All he was asking was to let Barr know what occurred.

                And yes we do have people who are supposed to investigate this stuff, but who in their right mind would trust those folks. I sure as hell wouldn’t, and the president of the US appears to not trust those people also.

                I am 100% sure that when Trump leaves office, (and if there ever is another Democratic president), every country in the world will get a proctology exam for every bit of information that can be used against the Trump family.

                What’s funny as hell is that we are this many comments in and no one has a solid answer to Aarons original request for the solid evidence.

                In the Obama years there was endless labeling these things nothing burgers. So there ya go, this is what it looks like for the burger to be pointed at your side.Report

              • Avatar Philip H says:

                What’s funny as hell is that we are this many comments in and no one has a solid answer to Aarons original request for the solid evidence.

                well for starters its because its clear that Aaron, and you and others don’t seem to care what the quotes or the additional evidence says, so why exactly should we waste our time trying to assemble detailed responses that will fall on willfully deaf ears?Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                The great thing about the nothing burgers, is no calories. You can stack 8 years of them in the corner and still have room for more.

                Say, did I mention we would have problems with social objectivity?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The solid evidence is in the transcript and backup up by the text messages Volker presented to Congress. That you disagree doesn’t mean it isn’t solid, Joe. Lots of people found guilty of crimes argue to the judge and jury that they’re innocent. Lots of people still think OJ didn’t kill Nicole.

                Add: One other thing Joe, is that this scandal is already much worse for Trump than the phone call, and it’s going to continue to get worse for him.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it”

                ——Here is the “favor” quote you referred to. Where is the issue you are seeing?

                “The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me. ”

                —Here is the Biden section. Where is the issue you are seeing? (Note Biden was previously the vice president of the US)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Exactly what you quoted Joe. That’s the crime.

                Add: Now don’t go saying the case would never hold up in court, cuz there is in principle no way to test that theory. So the issue reduces to one of propriety given the role Trump (as a person) plays in our government (he’s POTUS). He leveraged Congressionally authorized funds for personal gain.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Saying”that’s a crime” is not defining the issue. Define the issue. I really want to know what you see as the impeachable piece of the puzzle there.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Trump extorted Ukraine for personal gain.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Parse his personal gain from the context of national gain.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Investigating the Biden’s *specifically* serves Trump’s personal interest in getting re-elected and serves no national interest. Hunter Biden is dead.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Where are the verbs and the nouns in those two paragraphs that prove what you are saying?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Verbs and nouns don’t prove anything. They’re categories of word types.

                Look, I’m not going to prove to you what you’re committed to not believing. If you were serious about figuring out why people think Trump committed an illegal quid pro quo, all you have to do is read the transcript and Volker’s texts.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                this probably would have been the part:

                “and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General”

                The tough part to prove your point is to parse the personal gain from the national gain.

                from here we enter into what is social truth:

                Is it of national interest that a former VP stopped a prosecution?

                Is the asking of the event a reason to impeach a current president?

                If your asking different people and getting different answers, your truth components aren’t resolved in social objectivity. During the Obama years, these social truth often became nothing burgers to some folks and everything burgers to others.

                So now the table is turned and what has the potential to be nothing burgers to some become everything burgers to others.

                Honestly this isn’t a hill I am even remotely defending, I just wanted to see how you and I could read the same thing and come to such different conclusions.

                That’s partly why I’m always muttering stuff about social truth and social objectivity.

                Would you like to cover the Volker’s texts? Maybe post the pieces you think prove your point?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The tough part to prove your point is to parse the personal gain from the national gain.

                There is no national interest furthered by investigating a dead man’s role in Ukraine. If it *were* a shared interest of Ukraine and the US, Trump wouldn’t have said “do us a favor though” *nor* would he have leveraged that request against releasing military aid.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                I want to make sure we aren’t talking past each other here.

                The way I read that(second paragraph) is that Joe Biden, the former US VP stopped the prosecution. Are you reading it that way?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Joe, you and I are *always* talking past each other. That’s just the way God made us I suppose.

                I’m not going to help you understand the obvious but will continue to watch you deny reality in support of Trump* and make comments whenever my impulsivity overrules my better judgment.

                * (Warning, though: you’ll die a little bit each time you do it.)Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Claims in social objectivity are mostly begging reality anyway. I am just picking through the gears of why people do it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I call bullshit. You think Marxists *ought* to slaughter themselves. Your interest in these issues goes way beyond mere detached, academic interest.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                From what I have seen, marxist philosophy begins at provisioning, and provisioning begins at coercion.

                If this is the case it by default is not a live and let live philosophy, but a predatory one.

                I don’t think Marxist ought to slaughter themselves, but I don’t think they will give up their philosophy for anything better. They will likely remain predatory from what I have observed.

                IMO it is important for purposes of survival to identify all predatory social constructs.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                From what I have seen, marxist philosophy begins at provisioning, and provisioning begins at coercion.

                Marxist theory begins with the Labor Theory of Value.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                The economic theory might begin that way. The practice begins with coercion.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                “The practice begins with coercion.”

                I should have made it clearer that this was not referring to the practice of economic Marxism, but the practice described by Marx himself.

                his own words:
                “centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the state”

                “the theory of Communism may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”

                The coercion is describing the separation of people and their property, capital, and means of production, to be redistributed by some form of statism.

                In practice, this means Marxist practice begins with violence.

                As I stated above, it is the social objectivity that is begging reality, and it does so only in the measure that the social truth component is begging reality.

                What is the social truth components here?

                What is the history of Marxist practice of nation formation and continued existence in relation to coercion?

                Can freedom from want exist without coercion?

                (and once again here, I will mention that this is in practice to Marxs own accord. Not in the theory.)

                This is the discernment that I base my social truths on to reach at least my own social objectivity of marxism.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Both nations convey clearly that they are ‘draining their swamps’, which means that the Ukraine is already doing the tasks that Trump was asking about.

                It’s always surprising to me when people who are universally cynical, like, cynical to a fault, suddenly accept poliiticians statements at face value when it serves their interests. Your sudden naivete about politics surprises me, Joe.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                heh, you think I believe in politics? that’s a good oneReport

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Yet you somehow think Zelensky and Trump are being honest with each other in that passage. lolReport

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                I don’t trust that that call even ever happened.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Then why did you cite it as evidence supporting your interpretation of the conversation?

                Everything Trump touches dies, Joe. You just died a little bit trying to defend him, didn’t you? Be honest.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                To see how you were forming a social truth to get to your sense of social objectivity enough to impeach a president.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Ahh, when you made a fool of yourself trying to defend Trump you were actually testing me. Got it. 🙂Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Testing? not at allReport

              • Avatar CJColucci says:

                What is that line from The Princess Bride? Something about: “you keep using that word….?”Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Investigating the Biden’s *specifically* serves Trump’s personal interest in getting re-elected and serves no national interest. Hunter Biden is dead.

                Hunter was apprently alive last night. Did Hillary or somebody cause another convenient suicide? My guess is that he OD’d, unless a freak piano moving accident got him.

                Apparently some folks are following the story more closely than I am!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Can you prove that George?

                lol, you’re right of course. I got my Biden kids confused.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                You just have to remember that the live one dumped his wife shortly after being outed by the Ashley Madison cheating site hack, then shacked up with the other son’s widow, till he dumped her and married a South African girl that he’d only known for a few weeks.

                Combine that with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and China’s decision to let him hang on to $1.5 billion looks even more suspicious.

                Most politicians with family skeletons that bad would distance themselves, such as with Billy Carter or the one black sheep Bush brother, or the Ronald Reagan son who wouldn’t vote for him. Unfortunately that’s not possible because obviously Joe goes to the mat to support his kids, no matter how many other people get crushed in the process. That is something lots of ordinary folks have personal familiarity with, where they’re afraid to stand up to the mayor or sheriff’s ne’er-do-well bullying son because they’ve seen what happens to those who do.

                That cuts off another good angle to use against Trump, that he set his kids up for success and perhaps protects them when he shouldn’t.

                However, there is good news for Democrats on the horizon. It looks like Hillary might actually get in the race! 🙂Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I speak for all liberals when I say we are terrified of Trump making family values his line of attack.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Don’t worry. It would only work against Biden, and Trump doesn’t even need to use it when blatant corruption, abuse of power, and foreign collusion are going to be far more effective against him.

                That may strike you as crazy, given all the accusation that Democrats have hurled at Trump, but the IG report is due to hit next week and it might mirror the frequent scene in Scooby Doo where the kids rip the bad guy’s mask off to reveal ____ _____!

                It’s also just been reported that the whistleblower had worked directly for Brennan, the CIA director who a few days ago was saying that anything he did regarding digging up foreign dirt on candidate Trump was done on the direct orders of the commander-in-chief. The whistleblower himself worked with Ukrainian officials to undermine the Trump campaign.

                These are not the kind of accusers any lawyer would want to go into court with.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Combine that with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and China’s decision to let him hang on to $1.5 billion looks even more suspicious.

                Wait. Getting paid by China China makes cheating on his wife look *more* suspicious?

                I had higher hopes for the Trap than exposing Hunter Biden’s infidelity. But! Trump always let’s you down in the end.

                Add: OK. On rereading it’s clear that The Trap is Biden’s China payments. Whew. Back on track!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                {{Though I”m still curious to learn some incidentals in how The Trap is being set. For example, how two Trump associates being arrested at the airport fleeing the country contributes to its overall execution.}}Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Those were just typical former East-bloc con men. Those have been common after the collapse of the Soviet Union because the type looks for fresh, rich targets to fool with tales of foreign dealings. I think the two in question got flagged from a bunch of Florida real estate scams they were running.

                Their involvement does cast a poor light on Guiliani’s judgement, or his excessive zeal in pursing a case that is compromising his prosecutorial Spidey sense.Report

              • Your commitment to the cause is impressiveReport

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Word on the street is that Fiona Hill is going to testify to congress that Trump has been running a shadow foreign policy through Giuliani and Sondland outside of state department channels. These two ex-Soviets wouldn’t be involved in any of that would they?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The reason I ask, is, well, I don’t understand all the complexities of this Kiev Trap, so what I’m wondering is whether these guys were part of the shadow foreign policy team and let themselves get caught in order to make the Democrats impeach Trump so he (Trump) can really go after Hunter Biden to win his re-election. Oops, I mean to root out corruption in Ukraine.

                I mean, it seems plausible, but you know more about this operation than I do.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Shoot, now Pompeo’s senior adviser has resigned. That’s not part of The Trap, tho, is it? Or is it?

                George? George, ya out there?

                That guy’s probably too close to the Biden’s and he feels the heat, right? He’s getting out while he can. Because The Trap.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                We’d heard the whistleblower had close ties to a major politician, and that politician turns out to be Joe Biden. That’s on top of the whistleblower having worked directly for Brennan and working directly with Ukrainian officials to get dirt on Trump.

                A Ukrainian MP is claiming that Burisma paid $900,00 to Joe Biden (not Hunter). That’s the first I’ve seen of that allegation, so did anyone on this side of the pond even know about it?

                Would the whistleblower be blowing the whistle because causing chaos might be the only way for the whistleblower, Brennan, and host of other to avoid getting exposed and destroyed for their role in colluding with a foreign power to rig the 2016 election? Oh, it very well might!

                Based on tonight’s Minneapolis rally, Trump is absolutely loving every bit of this. I thought I’d seen his A game, but apparently he can dial it up even further.Report

    • Aaron:

      While I think I mostly disagree with your position in this subthread, there are some kernals I agree with. I personally haven’t reviewed any of the evidence that supposedly damns Trump. I’ve read things here and a few other blogs and that’s it. So if there is good evidence (and I”m mostly stipulating there is) for impeachment, it’s second hand.

      I agree, also, that it’s a political process. That’s both because impeachment is inherently political and also because a good number of people have been saying since Nov. 2016 that they planned to impeach him. I doubt if a similar number of people were saying the same thing in Nov. 1968, for example. (Yes, I’m saying “a good number,”a synonym for “some,” by which I mean I don’t have a cite. Maybe I’m just making random assumptions.)

      I still support impeachment, however.Report

    • Avatar Philip H says:

      Politics may be a full contact sport, but there are penalties in all sports for breaking the rules, and being President is no expectation. While a very charitable reading of the President’s request to the Ukrainians would appear to conclude there was a general request for a government to government corruption investigation, a thorough review of the timelines involved (like here – would also lead one to conclude the Hunter Biden is not and never was the target of any anti corruption investigation, and while Bursima was at one point, the Ukrainian Courts ordered that investigation closed three years ago for lack of evidence. had Mr. Turmp merely cited Bursima as an example of the general corruption he wanted investigated he might be read as being on the up and up, but the two examples he specifically gave were the DNC servers (hacked by the Russians via Ukrainian back doors) and Hunter Biden. Both are issues dealing only with political rivals.

      Frankly I find it unethical for Hunter Biden to have peddled influence like that, but its not illegal in the US. I also find it unethical for Ivanka Trump to be a senior White House Advisor with a security Clearance.

      We don’t run politics that way in the U.S., and so whether you want to read it as state to state or Trump to State (and I fail to see how he ever puts America’s national interest before his own), he was clearly out of bounds by asking another nation to investigate two alleged corruption issues that focus only on his political rivals.

      That aside, the Mueller report documents 10 instances of what Mr. Muller and his staff concluded were obstruction of justice, which Mueller chose not to run down further because DoJ policy prevented him from pursuing criminal charges against a sitting President.

      And there’s reporting late yesterday the the President ask Rex Tillerson (as Secretary of State) to lean on the DoJ to interfere with or possible shut down a New York State investigation of another of Rudy Guiliani’s clients. Tillerson is reported to both have said no because that would be illegal, and to have reported the incident to the Chief of Staff – who was at the time John Kelly.

      Any one of these incidents alone is impeachable – remember we impeached Clinton for lying under oath about receiving oral sex – and the only way to determine the facts of the case is to allow Congress to do its Constitutionally mandate job and run the impeachment investigations. Or so Lindsey Graham thought when he was in the House anyway:

      “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role. Impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”Report

      • Avatar Aaron David says:

        The reason the bar for impeachment is so high is that an elected official can be voted out if the body politic feels that they either acted unethically or immorally on the ever-shifting partisan lines, but to remove them forcefully before the expiration of their term of office, a horribly violent act, takes a move that essentially removes it from said partisan politics; the he-said-she-said, the deontologists vs.consequentialists, the ups from the downs. It is not hard to get the ball rolling, but very easy to stop it. It is designed to take the full weight of the nation to agree that a crime was committed.

        I personally, as I have made clear up thread, I do not in any way feel that what has been presented warrants impeachment, not after the complete fuckup what was the accusations of Russian collusion, piss hookers, etc. It simply looks like Post Hoc reasoning. Add to that the spastic flailings of the left during the last three years, over diverse events such as Kavanaugh, teens wearing MAGA hats, running people out of restaurants, and so on, I all can see at this point is the left is so butt-hurt at losing an election that they really should have won that I think they are at a point of being self-destructive. And this, the weighing up of all the actions in one big ball, is part of every person’s calculus regarding the proceedings.

        Yes, Clinton was correctly impeached for lying under oath about Lewinsky. As this was basically a perjury trap, I don’t feel that the D’s were necessarily wrong to vote the way they did in the Senate. The proper recourse in such a situation is to vote him and his party out, which the R’s did a few years later. We are a little over a year out from a presidential election, so here is your opportunity. If the left/D’s are truly better for the country, and that is felt by the people in all our diverse strata and states, this should be easy.Report

        • Avatar Philip H says:

          were this being directed at President Obama would you feel it also didn’t warrant impeachment? Do you think Secretary Clinton should have been impeached over Benghazi or her emails even after she cooperated with investigators and gave 11 ish hours of testimony on the former? Are you ok with the Trump kids peddling influence (and on the taxpayer dime for their security)?

          We aren’t butt hurt. He won, though clearly Russia worked to help him whether he conspired with them or not in the old fashioned criminal sense. We don’t like his policies, and we remain frustrated that we are accused of doing nothing for the nation in Congress when no bill passed by the House has been taken up by the Senate.

          This isn’t about that. It’s about larger moral and ethical issues, the kind most of us on the left knew disqualified him well before the vote. They still disqualify him now. Except that as President he can’t be allowed to continue. And an election – especially one that is already being targeted for manipulation again by Russia, isn’t the answer.

          But you already knew all that I suspect. And still you don’t care. Because owning liberals is way more important to you then anything else, including protecting our democracy.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:

            were this being directed at President Obama would you feel it also didn’t warrant impeachment?
            If it was the D’s doing the impeaching, then yes, I would it was worth impeaching. As far as HRC, again, if it was the D’s policing their own side, I would totally support it. At this point, as during the Obama years, the electorate is far too divided for any impeachment to be fruitful or honest. I am not OK with any political brats peddling influence, but flinging shit against the walls means nothing, as anyone can make any accusation at any time.

            If you don’t like that the Senate hasn’t taken up any of the bills passed by congress, well, then do something that will get them passed. Get up on the bully pulpit, vote in senators more to your liking, retake the chamber. But remember, everyone gets a vote, the US is a federation of states, and what appeals in Seattle might not appeal in Bismark. This is what democracy looks like. Not everyone buys your product. If you cannot temper your message to speak to the people in those places, they might just look to other people. That is entirely on your party, this not getting shit voted on, passed, etc. You have as much ability to get elected to that august body as they do. No gerrymandering BS that gets screamed at after every election. Just people with different needs wants and desires.

            It’s about larger moral and ethical issues, the kind most of us on the left knew disqualified him well before the vote Morals and ethics, if they are not codified into law, mean nothing. And as I have said elsewhere, you do not hold any moral authority over anyone. And, likewise, they hold zero moral authority over you. What we have to resolve disputes is the political system. So, again, put your candidate up, let them speak, and see if they can persuade. Otherwise, those are just empty words. And yes, an election is the answer, otherwise, you are proving yourselves to be all that you swear to be against; totalitarians and dictators.

            We aren’t butt hurt. He won, though clearly Russia worked to help him whether he conspired with them or not in the old fashioned criminal sense.
            Because owning liberals is way more important to you then anything else, including protecting our democracy.
            That the left keeps bring up an investigation that showed no collusion, even after they worked so hard to get their approved Special Investigator. That they keep worrying about others “owning the liberals”, tells me that, yes indeed, you are butt hurt. I don’t think Trump is ruining democracy, as nothing you have shown me indicates as much, but And an election – especially one that is already being targeted for manipulation again by Russia, isn’t the answer. Those words terrify me, as after said long investigation in which nothing was found, you would use that to take away the rights of others.

            That is attempting to ruin democracy.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter says:

            It’s about larger moral and ethical issues, the kind most of us on the left knew disqualified him well before the vote. They still disqualify him now.

            What is it that is said in the Biden’s defense? “It’s legal”?
            How about HRC’s defense? “Also legal”?

            What are these “larger moral and ethical issues” if we’re going to use HRC’s level of ethics (which you clearly have no problem with) and exclude policies and him winning “your” election?Report

        • Avatar quid_pro_quoth_the_raven says:

          The bar for impeachment is not high. This is a fabrication, a delusion, a misapprehension of the intent of the framers. All that is required is a simple majority in the House on articles of impeachment.

          The bar for conviction, removal and disqualification from office, is the high bar: a super-majority of the Senate, two-votes, one for removal, one for disqualification, with the Chief Justice presiding.

          Your several comments in this and other threads demonstrate a lack of even basic familiarity with how this all works.

          Secretary Clinton could have been impeached over Benghazi-and maybe should have if the Republican majority really felt it warranted it. Then there would have been a trial in the Senate, where Clinton would have the chance to prove her innocence. My guess is that the Senate would have failed to convict.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Yeah, Aaron seems to think that impeaching Trump for extorting Ukraine, or being an unindicted co-conspirator or any number of other illegal/unconstitutional acts, doesn’t reach the impeachment threshold but things like McConnell invoking his power to deny Garland a SCOTUS appointment hearing ought to be applauded because it wasn’t against the rules.

            Well, the Dems are acting within the rules, as did (according to Aaron) McConnell, yet he only finds one act objectionable.

            I’m sensing a patter here.

            And honestly, I get the motivation for this sort of thinking. We’ve seen it before: the only way to make America great again is to violate rules, laws and constitutional principles. It has become necessary to destroy America in order to save it.Report

            • Avatar Aaron David says:

              Show me the crime, Still.

              That is all I ask.

              Show me the crime. Otherwise, you are a joke.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Aaron I can’t make you see what you’re lying eyes won’t allow you to.

                He committed a crime. If that’s your bar for impeachment, though, he’s an un-indicted co-conspirator in a crime which Michael Cohen is currently serving time. (And the reason he isn’t indicted is because of an OLC memo preventing bringing charges against a sitting President.)Report

              • Avatar Aaron David says:

                What crime? I see zero crimes committed by Trump. What you showed me yesterday, an out-of-context sentence, commentary from someone not involved, and a random blurb from a third party, does not a crime make. No matter what your partisan eyes tell you.

                In a criminal trial, a dozen people need to be convinced of the action. In a civil trial, six. An impeachment needs to get 67 senators. So, you have your work cut out for you. But as I have said, you have already shit on the dish that you are trying to convince half the country is good.

                Yes, Nancy can hold an impeachment vote, but I sill. don’t. see. a. crime.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                What crime? I see zero crimes committed by Trump.

                No, of course you don’t. Not even the crime for which he’s identified as an unindicted co-conspirator.Report

              • Avatar quid_pro_quoth_the_raven says:

                That is not what you said before, and its just an evasion of the issue at hand. At this point, I’m pretty sure you’re the joke, or the joke is on you.

                A violation of a criminal statute is not necessary for impeachment. Quite trivially, there were no criminal statutes when they wrote the constitution. The idea that impeachment would require that Congress first write some criminal law for the President or other executive officials to violate is ludicrous on the face of it. In fact, it is not clear that the framers ever considered criminal law to ever be anything but in the purview of the states. So just what are you talking about?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It’s even worse than that I think. The argument seems to be that Trump must be convicted of a crime before an impeachment is justified, but given current DOJ guidelines it’s technically *impossible* to even charge Trump with a crime, let alone convict him. Trump supportes seem to think this is *a good argument*.


              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                A violation of a criminal statute is not necessary for impeachment.

                And there we have the bar being lowered. We may have emoluments (i.e. selling hotel rooms) and Porn Star(s) in here again before too long.

                Big picture, decide what you’re trying to do here and act accordingly.

                If you’re “virtue signalling to the Dem base”, then you don’t need the GOP. Have a vote right now based on “observe with their own eyes”. It will be Party line with the Dems doing “because Trump” reasoning, then you can hand it to the Senate who will do their own virtue signalling and have an equally fair trial the opposite direction.

                If it’s “remove Trump from power”, then you need the GOP, and probably some of Trump’s base, and you HAVE to be seen to have a fair process. This is a lot harder, requires more discipline, and may not work. That’s the thing about fair trials/investigations, they don’t have a predetermined outcome.

                All of the talk about the House being the Prosecutor, the Constitution not giving Trump the right to defend himself, and “no crimes need be committed” is totally appropriate if all you want to do is virtue signal and you’re ultimately going to leave him in power.

                However it’s probably not appropriate if you’re trying to build a coalition which includes the GOP for removing him.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Given that a majority of Americans now support impeachment, the coalition seems to be building.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                :Looks up Pence’s Economic History and Standing:

                Reasonably solid economic management while a governor. Largely for free trade. Largely against immigration but not to extreme that Trump is. In December 2015, Pence stated that “calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional”.

                Pence looks like a fine choice for President. He would be a serious trade up. Pence was selected for VP because Trump wanted to look like a serious candidate so it shouldn’t be a shock that Pence looks like a good choice.


                Given that a majority of Americans now support impeachment, the coalition seems to be building.

                Good for you.

                Imho you’re at the bottom of the hill, not the top. I put your odds of unseating him this way as something like 1 in 6. I also think trying this and failing makes it more likely to have him be reelected.

                On other hand, removing him so Pence can run for President as an incumbent seems like it might work out well.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                See, that’s the thing about the GOP’s scorched earth total war policy towards the Dems.

                What upside is there for us in not impeaching?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter says:

                What upside is there for us in not impeaching?

                1) Keeping your powder dry means you’ll have it if Trump screws up and does something that neither side would tolerate from one of their own.

                2) Impeaching him is risky. Trying it and failing might be a problem… and there are several ways for that to happen. One is that we find out that all the accusations against him are unsupported or simply false. Team Blue has had serious problems with that recently.

                3) Impeachment sucks all the oxygen out of the room. Washington really does have other things to do.

                4) We’ve slapped down 9 digit fines onto American companies doing for foreign children-of-leaders what Biden’s son was doing. Granted, we haven’t outlawed it for American “children”, but if Biden is actually going to be your replacement for Trump, maybe focusing the spotlight on this isn’t wise.

                5) Impeachment is what Trump probably wants because it will energize his base. He may be right.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter says:

        I find it unethical for Hunter Biden to have peddled influence like that, but its not illegal in the US.

        The weird part is it’s seriously illegal in other situations. At least according to the NYT.

        In 2016, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $264 million as part of a settlement with the federal government. The reason? An Asian subsidiary of the company had hired the children of Chinese government officials in the hopes of currying favor with their powerful parents — a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

        Had the same thing happened with a foreign company and an American politician’s family, however, no violation would have occurred — because no equivalent American law prevents a foreign company or government from hiring the family members of American politicians.

        This glaring loophole provides political families with an opportunity to effectively “offshore” corruption and cronyism. It gives the politically connected class enormously tempting opportunities for self-dealing, the sort of thing that is blatantly illegal in almost any other context.

  4. Avatar quid_pro_quoth_the_raven says:

    This idea that there is no evidence of a quid pro quo carries about as much water as the Los Angeles canal in summer time.Report

  5. Avatar quid_pro_quoth_the_raven says:

    Career officials at the Office of Management and Budget questioned the legality of holding up Ukraine aid, so authority to do so was shifted to a political appointee:

    “The White House gave a politically appointed official the authority to keep aid to Ukraine on hold after career budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the funds, according to people familiar with the matter, a shift that House Democrats are probing in their impeachment inquiry”

    Oh, and those Ukrainians that were arrested today for illegally funneling money to Sessions, Trump, and DeSantis… they were involved in advocating, along with Giuliani, for the removal of the US ambassador to Ukraine (which Trump discusses in his phone call).Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      A political appointee held up the aid? In DC, that happens every day that ends in ‘y’, and such finger-pointing was a hallmark of the Obama Administration whenever a reporter asked why X wasn’t happening yet. The narrative falls apart even further when you find out that Ukraine didn’t even know the aid was held up, which means there wasn’t any intent to use the lack of aid as leverage over the Ukrainians on something else. For example, Amazon has to tell you that your package will ship faster if you join Amazon Prime, because if you didn’t know it was going to take 6 days instead of 2, you wouldn’t have an extra incentive to give them more money. If Amazon doesn’t tell you how you’re being impacted, you don’t think anything about it and thus are under no pressure to do something else.

      So no matter what they dig into regarding aid, there’s nothing to find, other than perhaps a bureaucrat who is using his power because it was his to use and using it makes him feel important and valued.

      Meanwhile, I saw a claim that Burisma paid Joe Biden $900,000 – not Hunter, but to Joe himself. Joe and his spokespeople already have incredibly weak responses when questioned about Hunter’s payouts, and this new issue, even if it was above-board paid lobbying work long after Joe left office, is another nail in the coffin of his campaign because it not only smells fishy, but plays right into the public’s impression that politicians deal themselves money from anyone, even foreign oil companies, because they are corrupt.

      This kind of thing is the -political equivalent of trying to campaign while offering explanations for why the FBI found bags of cash in your freezer and stolen artwork in your garage. It may all be completely technically legal, but good look trying to convince even ten-year olds that you are honest without saying things so patently ridiculous that they shoot milk shoot out their nose.

      Normally, the press would do a pretty good job of sweeping aside such discussions, like they did so well for Obama and less well so for Hillary, but Democrats handed Trump a big impeachment-size cudgel and he gets to use it over and over again on Joe Biden until the impeachment issue is laid to rest. But long before then the IG report on Democrat collusion with Ukraine to rig the 2016 election will be out, and the ground will shift again.

      Beating Trump should be easy by simply nominating someone who is saner, more likable, and more honest and trustworthy. Tom Hanks, for example, would be a shoe-in. Sir Charles Barkeley could probably beat him. But no. Instead Democrats are providing fodder for future books on a dozen different ways to blow an election. I’ll suggest some chapters:

      Eliminate all the viable centrists who have broad appeal
      Take positions that only college radicals will support
      Hurl high-level charges based on nothing that will boomerang on the party’s front runner
      Stoke the opposition into incandescent levels of voter turnout
      Take legal actions that will force the left-leaning press to cover stories they’d rather cover up
      Winnow the field down to college-pandering radical white liberals in their 70’s, from New EnglandReport

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Instead Democrats are providing fodder for future books on a dozen different ways to blow an election

        So, about those two Trump-Giuliani bagmen the SDNY arrested today while trying to flee the country… #KievTrapReport