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"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech," said Benjamin Franklin.
Everyone has an opinion and the right to speak that opinion our forefathers granted us that right it's called the First Amendment. Read it then discuss it in the Forums. Find out about Donald J. Trump’s time in the white house. Donald J. Trump is a crook, a con man and liar who uses alternative facts and projects himself on to other.

Donald J. Trump Impeachment Inquiry Page 10

The Trump-Ukraine Affair shows Trump is more than willing to accept help from a foreign government, which is against the law. It also shows trump is willing do anything he has to get that help and anything he has to prevent the truth from coming out. It also shows he may have conspired with the Russians to help him win the 2016 election. Donald J. Trump used Russian talking points during his 2016-election campaign and now Trump is using Russian talking points on election interference to dismiss Russian election interference while advancing the Russian agenda around the world. Last time the lie was about adaptions this time it the lie is about corruption. Donald J. Trump is abusing the power of the presidency. Donald J. Trump has corrupted the white house, the DOJ, the state department and other government departments and agencies to protect and defend Donald J. Trump. Instead of putting America and the constitution first, they are putting Donald J. Trump first. Any government employee who puts Donald J. Trump before America and the constitution is not patriot. The oaths they have taking are to America and the constitution not to any individual. Any government employee who puts Donald J. Trump above America and the constitution is neither protecting nor defending America and the constitution. Moreover, they have broken the oath they have sworn to America and the constitution. Republicans continue to protect Trump and subvert justice while the Democrats have started an impeachment inquiry into the actions of Donald J. Trump. We know from the Mueller Investigation that Donald J. Trump committed obstruction of justice at least 10 times. Donald J. Trump is abusing the power of the presidency to make money and to prevent access to information that could show his action arise to level of impeachment. The GOP, the party of obstruction is helping protect Trump by obstructing justice to prevent the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Donald J. Trump should be impeached before he does any more damage to our country. Here you can track the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the constitution. This is the speech given by Representative Barbara Jordan (Democrat-Texas) reminding her colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee of the Constitutional basis for impeachment. The Committee met in Washington, D.C. more...

By Evan McMullin, Opinion contributor
Trump joins a cadre of corrupt Western leaders intent on undermining democracy to stay in power. One of the vital lessons I learned as an undercover CIA officer, and later as an adviser to Republicans in Congress, was how corrupt leaders escalate their abuses of power at the expense of their citizens’ freedom while trying to retain power. It motivated my service at the time and continues to drive my work to protect and improve American democracy now. It also informs my grave concern about recent reporting that President Donald Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pressured the government of Ukraine to help them dig up dirt on Trump’s primary political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Despite Trump and Giulani’s cajoling and claims to the contrary, Ukrainian prosecutors are not investigating Biden and do not have evidence of wrongdoing. Following in the footsteps of others: Some of the most extreme cases of such corrupt leaders are Syria’s Bashar Assad, Iran’s Ali Khamenei and North Korea's Kim family dynasty. In recent years, aspiring authoritarian leaders and movements have also risen to power closer to home in Hungary, Turkey and Poland. Each is in a unique position on the spectrum of corruption, but they have many traits in common, including attacks on the independent news media, attempts to dismantle other power centers within their own governments, self-dealing and various efforts to weaken their people’s ability to vote them out of office. A sober assessment of Trump’s presidency checks all of these boxes and easily places him among this latter group of rising Western strongmen. What appears to be an attempt to abuse the powers of his office to compel the Ukrainian government to help him politically by harming his main rival is alarming evidence that his corrupt efforts to hold onto power are escalating. That trend is unlikely to stop on its own. more...

By Paul Brandus, Opinion contributor
Nancy Pelosi waited to launch an impeachment inquiry because she knew Donald Trump would do something to hang himself. He didn't disappoint. Republicans accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of making a “rush to judgment” with her announcement Tuesday that she is pulling the trigger on an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Sure: She waited nearly a year from the midterm elections. Talk about being hasty. Pelosi, about as wily a political operative as there is — the same can be said of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — bided her time, resisting impatient young guns in her caucus who wanted to move much earlier, for two reasons: She knew that Trump, being Trump, would keep handing her more and more rope with which to hang him — and he didn't disappoint. The White House readout of Trump's call with the Ukrainian president released Wednesday sure backs that up. She also knew that public opinion wasn’t sufficient to warrant impeachment proceedings. On this last point, public opinion still isn’t there — and that’s a risk for the Democrats. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday shows just 37% of Americans think Trump should be impeached, down from 41% earlier this month and 44% in May. Republicans accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of making a “rush to judgment” with her announcement Tuesday that she is pulling the trigger on an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Sure: She waited nearly a year from the midterm elections. Talk about being hasty. Pelosi, about as wily a political operative as there is — the same can be said of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — bided her time, resisting impatient young guns in her caucus who wanted to move much earlier, for two reasons: She knew that Trump, being Trump, would keep handing her more and more rope with which to hang him — and he didn't disappoint. The White House readout of Trump's call with the Ukrainian president released Wednesday sure backs that up. She also knew that public opinion wasn’t sufficient to warrant impeachment proceedings. On this last point, public opinion still isn’t there — and that’s a risk for the Democrats. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday shows just 37% of Americans think Trump should be impeached, down from 41% earlier this month and 44% in May. more...

By Pete Gelling
The truth is, an impeachable offense is whatever the US Congress decides it is. That’s because impeachment isn’t really a legal response to perceived misconduct, it’s a political one.And House speaker Nancy Pelosi has finally decided. “The House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” she said this afternoon. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”“ The catalyst was the news that Trump used military aid to Ukraine to leverage his efforts to uncover information that could be used against his potential Democratic rival for the presidency in 2020, former vice president Joe Biden. Impeachment is a thing because the framers of the Constitution created an avenue to remove presidents, judges and other federal officeholders, even if the offense they are accused of isn’t addressed by the legal code. That’s why the impeachment article of the Constitution is so insanely vague: Impeachment, it says, is limited to “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” To quote Benjamin Franklin: The articles of impeachment are needed to remove a president who has “rendered themselves obnoxious.” That’s hardly limited at all. The only thing Congress needs in order to begin the impeachment process is the political will. And unfortunately for Trump, the political will is now there. At latest count 172 members of the House of Representatives have publicly said they would support an impeachment inquiry. A simple majority in the Democrat-led House would force the president to stand trial before the Republican-held Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be needed to convict. Lawmakers don’t usually think impeachment is a good idea, even when a president has clearly broken the law. Former president Bill Clinton, for instance, was dishonest in grand jury testimony about his sexual relationship with a White House intern. Perjury is a crime, of course. But many lawmakers didn’t think the offense rose to the level of impeachment and Clinton was acquitted by the Senate. Measured politically, impeachment ultimately becomes about proportional response. Lawmakers must decide if a presidential offense merits removal from office, and that the scale of it merits throwing the country into a political crisis. Usually, they don’t think so. Trump’s efforts to obstruct the investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia was, for instance, while unseemly, not enough for the House to move toward impeachment. Trump’s most recent scandal, however, is changing some minds on Capitol Hill. And while it looks bad, it might just be the sum total of the offenses Trump has racked up that is changing the tide. The details of the latest scandal remain secret. And a lot of what the public does know is based on media reports quoting anonymous sources. What’s been confirmed by the Trump team’s own admission, however, could be enough. The reason for impeachment Here’s what is for certain: Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine at some point over the summer, blindsiding Ukrainian officials. A short while later, on July 25, he phoned up Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. The president pressured his counterpart to investigate Biden’s calls for Ukraine to dismiss one of the country’s notoriously corrupt prosecutors. Trump says he believes Biden—widely viewed as his most likely 2020 election opponent—was improperly trying to protect his son Hunter, who had business interests in Ukraine This theory, it’s worth noting, has been soundly disproved. So it looks a lot like the president was searching for dirt on his potential rival. more...

Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey, The Washington Post
President Donald Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with the U.S. attorney general to investigate the conduct of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and offered to meet with the foreign leader at the White House after he promised to conduct such an inquiry, according to a newly released transcript of the call. Those statements and others in a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were so concerning that the intelligence community inspector general thought them a possible violation of campaign finance law. In late August, intelligence officials referred the matter to the Justice Department as a possible crime, but prosecutors concluded last week that the conduct was not criminal, according to senior Justice Department officials. The administration's disclosures underscore how the president's phone call has consumed the federal government in recent days, and how the White House is now scrambling to defuse the situation by offering more details of what the president said. White House officials said the transcript does not show the president seeking an investigation of Biden's son in exchange for providing aid to Ukraine. When the president reminds Zelensky of how the United States helps Ukraine, Zelensky responds that he appreciates the tough sanctions the United States has imposed on Russia. On Wednesday, the administration released a White House transcript of the call and detailed behind-the-scenes discussions about how to handle the accusations. As public reports emerged about the call and pressure mounted to impeach the president, prosecutors quietly considered whether they should again investigate whether the president committed a crime. They declined to do so. The call begins with Trump congratulating Zelensky on his election victory, but quickly devolves into the president pressing for an investigation of his political rivals and endorsing an apparent conspiracy theory. He seems to suggest Hillary Clinton's private email server is in Ukraine and asserts that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation started with that country. "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," Trump says, according to the transcript. He adds later: "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." Zelensky replied that "my candidate" for the prosecutor job "will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue." At the outset of the call, Trump also asks for Ukraine's help in finding the location of the Democratic National Committee server that U.S. officials say was hacked by Russian intelligence in the run-up to the 2016 election. "The server, they say Ukraine has it," Trump says according to the transcript. "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." more...

By Zachary Cohen, Katelyn Polantz, Pamela Brown, Evan Perez and David Shortell, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump repeatedly pushed for Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, during a July 25 phone call, according to a transcript of the conversation released by the White House. Trump also asked the Ukrainian leader to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and US Attorney General William Barr on the issue, the call transcript reveals. "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," Trump says, according to the document. Zelensky agreed to the request. "Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate," the Ukrainian president said. He later added: "He or she will look into the situation specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case." On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into the President, a dramatic and historic step as Trump faced outrage over reports that he pressured a foreign leader in an effort to target a political rival. "The fact is that the President of the United states, in breach of his constitutional responsibilities, has asked a foreign government to help him in his political campaign at the expense of our national security, as well as undermining the integrity of our elections," she said after the transcript was released Wednesday. "That cannot stand. He will be held accountable. No one is above the law." The transcript, which a senior White House official said was developed with assistance from voice recognition software along with note takers and experts listening, will likely amplify the Democratic impeachment effort. Democratic presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the document a "smoking gun. "If this is the version of events the president's team thinks is most favorable, he is in very deep jeopardy," Warren tweeted. The July 25 call, which took place one day after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before Congress about Russian interference in US elections, was also part of a whistleblower complaint submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, a source familiar with the situation previously told CNN, a revelation that has only raised more questions in the ongoing controversy. During the call, Trump suggested four times that Barr will call Zelensky and repeatedly mentions Giuliani, the Trump ally and former New York City mayor. Giuliani has long lobbied Ukraine to investigate Biden's call in 2016 to remove the country's top prosecutor, who at one point had been investigating a Ukrainian natural gas company connected to Hunter Biden. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden. Trump insisted Wednesday there was "no pressure whatsoever" in his phone call with Zelensky. more...

‘You don’t know what you’re talking about idiot. You’re just lying…just keep your lying mouth shut.’
By Vincent Wood
Rudy Giuliani hurled abuse at a fellow Fox News guest, calling him a “serial liar” and a “moron” as the president’s opponents pledged to seek Donald Trump’s removal from office. With the threat of impeachment hanging in the air, Mr Giuliani’s outburst on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle came as he looked to defend Donald Trump and himself from allegations the president had offered to trade aid for political favours with the government of Ukraine. The lawyer lambasted fellow guest Chris Hahn, a former aide to senior Democrat Chuck Schumer, saying he should “sue him for libel” after the liberal commentator implied Giuliani was asked by the US State Department “to dig up political dirt on Trump’s opponent”. “Shut up moron, shut up” the president’s legal representative shouted over the left-wing pundit. “You don’t know what you’re talking about idiot. You’re just lying…just keep your lying mouth shut.” However in an earlier segment of the show Mr Giuliani admitted to making himself central to White House’s relationship between the US and Ukraine on order of the State department, and that digging into the history of Biden’s relationship with the country was part of his job as the president’s defence lawyer. When confronted with quotes from a US official who claimed the president’s lawyer had “inserted himself” into Washington’s relationship with the eastern-European nation, he said: “Man I really did, and you know who I did it at the request of? The State Department. more...

I used to be on the fence about impeaching Trump. Not anymore.
By Zack Beauchamp
Since the Democrats took control of the House, I’ve been deeply conflicted about the debate over impeaching President Donald Trump. There were very strong arguments on both sides, and it seemed genuinely difficult for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to chart the right course. That ambivalence ended this weekend. After worrying press reports about the president’s phone calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump all but openly admitted that he had pushed Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. This changes everything. Impeaching Trump over Robert Mueller’s findings in the Russia investigation would have been an attempt to address past offenses; impeaching Trump over these calls would be an attempt to halt what sure looks like an ongoing attempt to hijack American foreign policy in service of the president’s reelection. Democrats have an obligation to try to stop this before it gets any further. There is now no question: It’s time to impeach Donald Trump. The best case against impeachment no longer applies The most compelling argument against impeachment, to my mind, was that it wouldn’t really accomplish anything. There’s a virtual guarantee that impeachment will fail in the Republican-controlled Senate, which means there’s no real chance of actually removing Trump from office. Public opinion about the Russia scandal became more set along partisan lines as time went on, making it unlikely that drawing attention to it would galvanize public opinion against the Trump presidency in 2020. Why risk distracting Democrats from the issues on which Trump is genuinely unpopular, and jeopardizing the House Democratic majority, when the gains were so marginal? This seems to be something like the reasoning that has guided Pelosi’s stolid opposition to impeachment. It’s not obviously correct, but it’s a serious argument — and one that pro-impeachment Democrats and commentators dismissed too easily. more...

Pelosi says US House is moving forward with an official inquiry into whether President Donald Trump should be impeached.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday that the US House of Representatives will launch a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, acquiescing to mounting pressure from fellow Democrats and plunging a deeply divided nation into an election year clash between Congress and the president. The announcement comes amid reports that Trump may have abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government to undermine former Vice President Joe Biden, the current Democratic frontrunner, and help his own reelection. In a summer phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Trump is said to have asked for help investigating Biden and his son Hunter. In the days before the call Trump ordered advisers to freeze $400m in military aid for Ukraine - prompting speculation that he was holding out the money as leverage for information on the Bidens. Trump has denied that charge, but acknowledged he blocked the funds, later released. The Trump-Ukraine phone call is part of the whistle-blower's complaint, though the administration has blocked Congress from getting other details of the report, citing presidential privilege. Trump has authorised the release of a transcript of the call, which is to be made public on Wednesday.  "You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call," Trump said. He blasted the inquiry on Tuesday as "Witch Hunt garbage".  As a formal impeachment inquiry in the House gets under way, here are all the latest updates: more...

By Geoffrey Kabaservice
The Democrats’ decision to begin impeachment proceedings has set the country on a course whose end is impossible to predict. Nancy Pelosi, the US House Speaker, might sympathize with the quote attributed to nineteenth-century French politician Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin: “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.” For months following the release of the Mueller report, Pelosi had resisted pressure from within her caucus to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. But now, with more than two-thirds of Democrats in the House of Representatives favoring impeachment in the wake of Trump’s Ukrainian scandal, she has reversed herself and announced a formal impeachment inquiry. Pelosi had objected to impeachment mainly for political reasons. She observed that the Mueller Report’s lengthy catalogue of Trump’s malefactions didn’t move public sentiment toward impeachment. She predicted that the Republican-dominated Senate would surely reject any articles of impeachment approved by the Democratic House, making the process appear to be merely partisan theater — a repeat of the 1998 impeachment proceedings mounted against President Bill Clinton by House Republicans, which ultimately backfired and led to Democratic gains in that year’s elections. And she pointed out that impeachment proceedings might jeopardize the moderate Democrats who won Republican-held districts in 2018, allowing the party to regain control of the House. But on September 23, a group of seven first-term Democrats from those very battleground districts — all of whom had served in the military or defense and intelligence agencies, and six of whom had previously opposed impeachment — wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post declaring that “If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense.” Perhaps Pelosi, like those seven representatives, changed her mind because of the gravity of the new allegations, but their reversal certainly undercut her pragmatic political case against impeachment. And the Trump administration’s stonewalling of congressional investigations and refusal to abide by long-established norms of political conduct weakened Pelosi’s argument that methods short of impeachment could determine the truth of the allegations. more...

CNN Digital Expansion 2018 Katelyn Polantz
By Katelyn Polantz, CNN
Washington (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement Tuesday of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump may not matter much to federal judges. With Democrats not currently planning to vote on a formal resolution authorizing the impeachment inquiry, Pelosi's words could play as mere politics in court. "Without that vote -- is it an impeachment inquiry?" said Sam Dewey, a Washington lawyer who has served as both House and Senate counsel on Republican-led investigations. "Pelosi can say it, but just because she says it, I'm not sure what that means." There are five major court cases between the Trump administration and the House that could factor into impeachment proceedings. In two of the cases, Trump is suing to stop an accounting firm, Mazars USA, and two banks, Deutsche Bank and Capital One, from turning over tax returns and other financial information to various House committees. In another lawsuit, the House Ways and Means Committee wants a judge to force the IRS to give it Trump's tax returns. And in two others, the House is seeking details already gathered by former special counsel Robert Mueller in his criminal probes into obstruction of justice and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The House argues in one of those cases against the administration's assertion of "absolute immunity" for officials protecting former White House counsel Donald McGahn from testifying about what the President directed him to do. In the coming days, the House could begin touting its new formal impeachment inquiry to the courts. But so far, the House has argued the existence of the inquiry doesn't matter, that it's already in full swing, and that committees are pursuing information about Trump for a number of legislative reasons. "At least in the immediate future, it's likely more of the two sides staring at each other," former acting House general counsel William Pittard said on Tuesday. Pittard, who led the House legal office under Republican Speaker Paul Ryan, said Pelosi's announcement could greenlight bolder action by committees, ultimately pushing more House subpoena fights to the courts. One case involving Trump and the House centers around the question of congressional access to grand jury secrets gathered by Mueller. Right now, the House can't see the redacted grand jury details in the Mueller report. But House lawyers argue members need to view the grand jury secrets, in order to consider impeachment. That case sticks out as one where the formality of an impeachment proceeding may matter most. more...

Intelligence official spoke to Director of National Intelligence
By Andrew Buncombe
The US intelligence official who “blew the whistle” on Donald Trump’s phone call with the leader of Ukraine reportedly wants to testify before Congress. House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff said the official who first made the complaint about the July 25 phone call between Mr Trump and president Volodymyr Zelensky had made contact with Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI). “We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the acting DNI as to how to do so,” Mr Schiff tweeted. He added: “We’re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.” On Tuesday, as Mr Trump defended his call to Ukraine’s leader and said there  was not quid pro quo when he asked him to proceed with a probe into Joe Biden and his son, more and more Democrats appeared to have come around to the idea of formal censure. Attention focused on House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has resisted calls for an impeachment inquiry for months. But as more members of her caucus pressed for a probe — including crucial moderates in political swing districts — the speaker planned to huddle with her members late Tuesday afternoon. Advisors said she would make a statement on the path forward at 5pm. In an appearance ahead of that meeting, Ms Pelosi, 79, sidestepped questions about whether she believed Mr Trump’s actions were impeachable, but she said it would be wrong for the president to ask a foreign leader for help investigating Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. more...

White House preparing to release whistleblower complaint to Congress
Trump has approved releasing the document at the center of his latest standoff with lawmakers, a senior administration official said.
By NANCY COOK
The White House is preparing to release to Congress by the end of the week both the whistleblower complaint and the inspector general report at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, according to a senior administration official, reversing its position after withholding the documents from lawmakers. The move shows the level of seriousness with which the administration is now approaching the House‘s impeachment proceedings, even as President Donald Trump publicly tried to minimize the inquiry as a “witch hunt,” “presidential harassment,” and even a move that will help him win reelection in 2020. The administration official stressed the decision and timing could change over the next few days, but as of Tuesday evening, the White House was planning to give the information to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The format of presentation, or process of viewing the documents, wasn't decided. The president has agreed to the move, the official added. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told POLITICO on Tuesday night that he’d received no word on whether the Trump administration would turn over the complaint. A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. The White House’s decision to give lawmakers any information on the whistleblower complaint marks a major change of strategy for the administration, which originally seemed intent on keeping the complaint private. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, so far, has declined to turn over the complaint to the congressional intelligence committees as required by law. The White House counsel’s office and Justice Department have spent the past few days reviewing whistleblower laws. more...

Bay Area House Democrats unanimous on backing impeachment inquiry as Pelosi moves forward
Freshmen Dems in swing districts push for impeachment proceedings
By Casey Tolan
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that she would open a formal inquiry into impeaching President Trump came as a wave of newly elected House Democrats from toss-up districts in California and around the country came out in support of impeachment proceedings Tuesday. The growing chorus of congressional Democrats demanding an impeachment inquiry included four freshmen Democrats from California who flipped GOP districts last year in close races, Reps. Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda), TJ Cox (D-Fresno), Josh Harder (D-Modesto) and Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce). All four had previously stayed on the fence on the impeachment question. They were joined by nearly a dozen House freshmen in recent days amid a growing political firestorm over allegations that Trump used U.S. aid money to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his 2020 rivals. The first-term Democrats’ victories last year helped secure the party’s control of the House, and their political pressure seems to have helped move Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who has long resisted an impeachment drive, to change her position. more...

By Dana Bash, Manu Raju, Sunlen Serfaty and Clare Foran, CNN
Washington (CNN)House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, a dramatic and historic move that comes as the President faces outrage over reports that he pressured a foreign leader in an effort to target a political rival. The announcement marks the most direct step taken by the House Democratic leader to embrace impeachment proceedings and is a significant escalation in the fight between House Democrats and the President. "The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the President's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections," Pelosi said in a brief speech in the Capitol. "Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry." The House speaker, who has long pushed to keep her caucus away from the politically divisive issue, is signaling that she's responding to the seismic shift among Democratic members, following Trump's admission of discussing Vice President Joe Biden and his son in his phone call with the Ukrainian President. Dozens of House Democrats -- many from moderate or Trump-won districts -- have announced their support for an impeachment inquiry over the past 48 hours. In advance of that statement, Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also announced plans to vote on a resolution of disapproval on Wednesday for allegations "that the President of the United States sought to enlist a foreign government to interfere in our democratic process by investigating one of his political rivals -- and may have used the withholding of Congressionally-appropriated foreign assistance days earlier as intimidation." Their statement did not mention impeachment. Pelosi consulted Tuesday afternoon with the six House Democratic leaders to discuss their presentation to the caucus later in the day, Democratic sources familiar with the issue say. In that closed-door meeting before her public announcement, Pelosi said the six chairmen will continue to investigate under a powerful new umbrella of an impeachment inquiry. A separate source in the room said the speaker added, "Here we are. A moment of truth. Truth is what this has been about all along." She said, "The DNI has chosen to break the law. The law is clear" adding, "This is a betrayal of our national security. A betrayal of our election." "He's taken it to another level of betrayal therefore we're moving forward with another level of inquiry," Pelosi said. At an Atlantic Ideas Festival event in Washington on Tuesday, Pelosi declined to weigh in on specifics when asked about impeachment. "It's really sad to think that our President would perform an impeachable offense," Pelosi said at the event. "It's hard to say you've gotten to that place. But what would be an impeachable offense would be that which is proven in an investigation." Behind the scenes, Pelosi is encouraging members of her caucus to state their impeachment position now in order to show there is a groundswell in the caucus. She is also conveying that message to freshmen. Tide changing for Pelosi allies and vulnerable House freshmen Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis on Tuesday announced his support for impeachment proceedings, arguing that "now is the time to act" and any delay "would betray the foundation of our democracy." "We will never find the truth unless we use the power given to the House of Representatives and the House alone to begin an official investigation as dictated by the Constitution," the Georgia Democrat said in a speech on the House floor. "The future of our democracy is at stake." more...

By Paul LeBlanc, Jim Acosta, Jeremy Diamond and Kaitlan Collins, CNN
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump asked his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to put a hold on millions in military aid to Ukraine roughly one week before a call with the Ukrainian president in which he pressured the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, two senior administration officials said on Monday. Trump, who was in the middle of a broad review of foreign aid programs when he singled out Ukraine specifically this summer, was primarily concerned with "corruption" in Ukraine and Europe shouldering more of the financial burden for supporting Ukraine's defense, according to one of the officials. News of Trump's order to withhold aid to the Ukraine ahead of his July 25 call may trigger questions -- and speculation -- about the President's motive in doing so. Trump had ordered a hold on nearly $400 million of military and security aid to Ukraine at least a week before the call in question, US officials familiar with the matter tell CNN. The Washington Post first reported the figure. The administration was looking at harnessing multiple foreign packages, several aides believed, when Trump took a special interest in Ukraine, at times railing about how the country wasted money in his eyes. This surprised several staffers because, as CNN has reported, Trump had not been interested in engaging with Ukraine in the past, believing Ukraine was a corrupt country that wasn't committed to reform. But his attentiveness to the country had ramped up in recent weeks as his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani pushed muddled corruption accusations against Biden, who was leading in national polls against Trump, and his son Hunter. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden. On Friday, CNN reported Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, according to a person familiar with the situation. On the day of Trump's call with Zelensky, word began to spread that Trump was reviewing a plan to cut foreign assistance to Ukraine. more...

The allegations would be tantamount to bribery if proved, something the Constitution clearly lists as cause for removing a president.
By Leah Litman, assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School
Here we go again. President Donald Trump once again stands accused of using a foreign government to influence American elections. Whereas last time he invited the Russian government, on public television, to try and find Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails, among other things, this time he has reportedly sought to have the Ukrainian government announce a criminal investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, perhaps by using U.S. financial and military support as leverage. But not everyone is singing the same tune this go round. Last time, Republicans largely defended the president even as special counsel Robert Mueller was named to investigate whether Trump or his campaign had colluded with Russia. And after Mueller avoided making an explicit statement of guilt, Democrats were hesitant to launch a full-fledged impeachment inquiry. This time, Trump’s actions on Ukraine have already drawn some criticism from Republicans (like Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah), and they have also increased calls for impeachment from Democrats (such as from Rep. Adam Schiff of California, chair of the House intelligence committee). And rightfully so. So what’s changed? There are potentially significant legal differences and practical distinctions between the two situations. And these differences indicate that the allegations regarding Ukraine fit more clearly into the Constitution’s preconditions for impeachment — and that Congress will not only have an easier time making a case against the president, but also a greater legal imperative to do so. Using the office of the president for personal political benefit comports with both the standard understandings of bribery and the broader category of high crimes and misdemeanors. more...

Trump's alleged meddling in the country's notoriously corrupt political system is setting its new president up for failure.
By Leonid Bershidsky
The scandal over Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival might ultimately have no consequences for the U.S. president. It could, however, undermine a historical opportunity for Ukraine’s new leadership to drain its own swamp. Various U.S. news outlets reported this week that Trump ordered his administration in July to withhold about $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. Later that month, he reportedly pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the alleged involvement of Democratic front-runner Joe Biden and his son Hunter in influence-peddling in Ukraine. This is a problem for Trump if someone can demonstrate corrupt intent — that is, that he was using the state’s resources as a lever to achieve his personal campaign goals. Naturally, Trump denies it. And he has valid arguments in his defense. For one, he can say he had legitimate reasons to delay the aid. At that time, for example, Chinese companies were about to buy a majority stake in Motor Sich, the Ukrainian maker of engines for aircraft and missiles — a deal that the U.S. had actively sought to block. That would be a credible motive for withholding aid. Also, Trump released the payment on Sept. 11, with no apparent conditions. So corruption will be hard to prove to any legal standard. That said, corruption often doesn’t operate explicitly. Faced with a U.S. military aid delay on the one hand and Trump’s demand for a Biden investigation on the other, Zelenskiy could have figured out what was required of him. The same goes for the Biden case. A wealthy Ukrainian businessman hired the U.S. vice president’s son to be on the board of his natural gas company. Could Ukraine’s leadership not understand, without being told, that pursuing a money-laundering investigation into that businessman might have repercussions for relations with the U.S. administration? more...

By Evan McMullin, Opinion contributor
Trump joins a cadre of corrupt Western leaders intent on undermining democracy to stay in power. One of the vital lessons I learned as an undercover CIA officer, and later as an adviser to Republicans in Congress, was how corrupt leaders escalate their abuses of power at the expense of their citizens’ freedom while trying to retain power. It motivated my service at the time and continues to drive my work to protect and improve American democracy now. It also informs my grave concern about recent reporting that President Donald Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pressured the government of Ukraine to help them dig up dirt on Trump’s primary political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Despite Trump and Giulani’s cajoling and claims to the contrary, Ukrainian prosecutors are not investigating Biden and do not have evidence of wrongdoing. Following in the footsteps of others. Some of the most extreme cases of such corrupt leaders are Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s Ali Khamenei and North Korea's Kim family dynasty. In recent years, aspiring authoritarian leaders and movements have also risen to power closer to home in Hungary, Turkey and Poland. Each is in a unique position on the spectrum of corruption, but they have many traits in common, including attacks on the independent news media, attempts to dismantle other power centers within their own governments, self-dealing and various efforts to weaken their people’s ability to vote them out of office. more...

Analysis: The president has a canned approach for trying to fend off bad news. This time, it's a whistleblower report.
By Shannon Pettypiece
President Donald Trump is turning to what's become a tried-and-true pattern of defending himself against scandal in the latest controversy over a whistleblower's accusation that he made a disturbing promise to a foreign leader. It goes like this: Step one: Deny the reports while arguing that even if true, there is nothing wrong with what was done. Step two: Divert attention to a subplot that implicates political rivals. Step three: Discredit investigators by accusing those involved of a deep state or partisan witch hunt. The playbook has been used by Trump and his surrogates repeatedly against various accusations, including whether his campaign held an improper meeting with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, that he paid hush money to an adult film actress, and that he is profiting off the presidency through his private businesses. The strategy played out in the Oval Office on Friday when Trump was pressed about a whistleblower report by an intelligence officer who raised concerns after learning of an alleged promise Trump made during a phone call to a foreign leader. Ukraine is at the center of the complaint, The Washington Post reported on Thursday evening. Trump denied knowing who the whistleblower is or the date of the conversation in question — but said he never did anything wrong anyway. "It was a totally appropriate conversation, it was actually a beautiful conversation," Trump told reporters. When Trump was asked about speculation he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden, the president deflected. He tried to shift to his own accusation that Biden had been involved in a quid pro quo with Ukraine connected to the former vice president son's involvement in a Ukrainian gas company. It was the same pattern of defense Trump used when media reports came out about a meeting arranged between his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer, whom he believed had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Trump initially denied knowing about the meeting and his lawyer denied he knew anything about his son's response to the media reports. When it was later reported, and eventually confirmed by Trump’s lawyers, that Trump helped his son write a misleading statement about the purpose of the meeting, the president and his lawyers shifted their defense to saying that there was nothing wrong with having such a meeting. Throughout the Russia investigation, Trump and his allies sought to discredit any findings saying they were a politically motivated "witch hunt," accusing Robert Mueller's investigators of being "angry Democrats." White House lawyers have since stonewalled subpoenas by House Democrats into the Trump campaign's connections with Russia. And now Trump's used a similar tactic to attempt to discredit the intelligence community whistleblower. "It’s ridiculous, it's a partisan whistleblower," he said. Like with the Russia investigation, where Trump tried to push a counter-narrative about Obama administration spying and rogue Justice Department officials, he is using the controversy to try to further his accusations that Biden was involved in nefarious deals in Ukraine. It was a pattern he also followed when reports came out that Trump paid hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an affair days before the election. more...  

The president reportedly sought the help of a foreign government against Joe Biden.
By Tom Nichols
The president of the United States reportedly sought the help of a foreign government against an American citizen who might challenge him for his office. This is the single most important revelation in a scoop by The Wall Street Journal, and if it is true, then President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office immediately. Until now, there was room for reasonable disagreement over impeachment as both a matter of politics and a matter of tactics. The Mueller report revealed despicably unpatriotic behavior by Trump and his minions, but it did not trigger a political judgment with a majority of Americans that it warranted impeachment. The Democrats, for their part, remained unwilling to risk their new majority in Congress on a move destined to fail in a Republican-controlled Senate. Now, however, we face an entirely new situation. In a call to the new president of Ukraine, Trump reportedly attempted to pressure the leader of a sovereign state into conducting an investigation—a witch hunt, one might call it—of a U.S. citizen, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden. As the Ukrainian Interior Ministry official Anton Gerashchenko told the Daily Beast when asked about the president’s apparent requests, “Clearly, Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort, who is serving seven years in prison.” Clearly. If this in itself is not impeachable, then the concept has no meaning. Trump’s grubby commandeering of the presidency’s fearsome and nearly uncheckable powers in foreign policy for his own ends is a gross abuse of power and an affront both to our constitutional order and to the integrity of our elections. The story may even be worse than we know. If Trump tried to use military aid to Ukraine as leverage, as reporters are now investigating, then he held Ukrainian and American security hostage to his political vendettas. It means nothing to say that no such deal was reached; the important point is that Trump abused his position in the Oval Office. In this matter, we need not rely on a newspaper account, nor even on the complaint, so far unseen, of a whistle-blower. Instead, we have a sweaty, panicked admission on national television by Trump’s bizarre homunculus, Rudy Giuliani, that he did in fact seek such an investigation on Trump’s behalf. Giuliani later again confirmed Trump’s role, tweeting that a “President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job.” more...

The former Trump campaign manager’s disastrous performance shows that impeachment hearings work.
By Dahlia Lithwick
The most striking moment of Corey Lewandowski’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday came near the end of a long day, when the former Trump campaign manager was surprisingly open in revealing his disdain for the truth. For much of the testimony, Lewandowski alternated between filibustering by slow reading the Mueller report and filibustering by saying he was under White House orders to be silent. He clearly delighted in stymying House Democrats, even as he used the hearing to tease his potential run for Senate in New Hampshire. (During a break, Lewandowski tweeted out a link to the website for a brand new super PAC, “Stand With Corey.”) At the end, though, came a few key moments when Lewandowski was made to all but openly confess his own lies. This critical portion of the hearing was a disaster for Lewandowski and showed why Democrats should be champing at the bit to hold more hearings like this one, rather than fulminating and hand-wringing over whether they are even taking part in an impeachment inquiry. Lewandowski’s confession should, at minimum, preclude him from ever being booked on a television news program again and in a sane world would instantly doom his nascent Senate run. Following the frustrated questioning by House members, Barry H. Berke, a private attorney who consults for the committee, put on a cross-examination that should be mandatory viewing for every law student in the history of time. For starters, Berke got Lewandowski to admit that conversations with the president for which Donald Trump was claiming some imaginary version of privilege to block his adviser’s testimony had been recounted in detail in Lewandowski’s own book. Crucially, Berke then further pressed Lewandowski into conceding that he had overtly lied in interviews on national television about matters cited by special counsel Robert Mueller as potential episodes of obstruction of justice by Trump. Finally, Berke opened the door to new questions about whether Lewandowski was granted immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for his Mueller testimony—questions Lewandowski refused to respond to one way or the other, and that would speak to the potential criminality of his and the president’s behavior. more...

Analysis: The former campaign manager's Hill turn provided details of the president's efforts to intervene in the Russia probe.
By Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON — Corey Lewandowski's congressional testimony on Tuesday may have felt a bit circus-like at times for House Democrats, but it was a disaster for President Donald Trump. The first hearing of the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee's effort to develop articles of impeachment against Trump was a contentious affair in which Lewandowski, Trump's 2016 campaign manager and the lone witness, said Democrats "hate this president more than they love their country." But no one — not Lewandowski nor committee Republicans — seriously disputed the central theme of the day: that Trump had gone to extreme lengths in circumventing the entirety of the federal government to get Lewandowski to instruct then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to publicly announce that the president had done nothing wrong and limit the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe in 2017. Ultimately, Lewandowski put flesh on the bones that Mueller gave the committee in his report. And as NBC’s Geoff Bennett reports, Democrats believe Trump’s efforts to exercise control over Lewandowski’s testimony — through its assertion of executive privilege and the use of White House lawyers to monitor his remarks — may open a new pathway to an impeachable obstruction of justice offense. They liken Trump’s moves to actions that formed the basis of the third article of impeachment the Judiciary Committee drafted against President Richard Nixon, who ultimately resigned before the full House could vote on whether to impeach him. Either way, Lewandowski's appearance delivered what the Democrats wanted — and the process wasn't pretty for Trump. Over the course of several hours, Lewandowski slowly — and perhaps unwittingly — added movie-like color, and a few new morsels, to Mueller's dry narrative of Trump's decision to lean on a trusted confidant to carry out a special mission that all the president's men and women had refused to execute for fear of breaking the law. The cloak-and-dagger details included Lewandowski taking down careful notes in the Oval Office, sticking them in a safe at home, and trying once to schedule a meeting with Sessions outside the Justice Department — and its visitor logs — only to be frustrated by Sessions' canceling. Trump asked Lewandowski to do that after then-White House counsel Don McGahn declined to fire Mueller at Trump's direction, according to Mueller's report. more...

By Matt Wilstein
Corey Lewandowski was caught in a lie during his House testimony when Democratic counsel Barry Berke played him a clip from an interview he gave to MSNBC’s Ari Melber in February of this year. In the clip, Lewandowski said he didn’t remember President Trump ever asking him to “get involved’ with Jeff Sessions or the Justice Department “in any way shape or form ever.” But in his earlier testimony on Tuesday Lewandowski confirmed, as the Mueller Report states, that the president did ask him to urge the attorney general to limit the Mueller investigation to exclude the 2016 campaign.  When Berke asked, “That wasn’t true, was it?” in reference to the MSNBC answer, Lewandowski, who is currently considering a run for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, replied, “I have no obligation to be honest with the media because they are just as dishonest as anybody else.” Pressed further by the lawyer, Lewandowski ultimately admitted that “perhaps I was inaccurate that time,” but insisted that he is a “truth-teller” when he’s under oath. more...  

By Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN
(CNN) - The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved a resolution defining the rules of the panel's impeachment investigation, the first vote the committee has taken related to the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump. The party-line vote came as House Democrats have struggled to define the committee's probe, with Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler saying the committee is conducting an impeachment inquiry, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are refraining from calling it that. Thursday's vote, which does not need to be approved by the full House, gives Nadler the ability to deem committee hearings as impeachment hearings. It allows staff to question witnesses at those hearings for an hour after members conclude, gives the President's lawyers the ability to respond in writing to public testimony and allows the committee to collect information in a closed setting. But the dissonant messages over the probe have prompted frustration among rank-and-file members, particularly those in competitive races wary of impeachment, and it even led to the House's No. 2 Democrat walking back his statement on the committee's investigation on Wednesday. At her weekly news conference Thursday, Pelosi once again declined to say the committee was conducting an impeachment investigation, which happened minutes after the committee adopted its resolution stating that's what it was in fact doing. Nadler sought to clarify the committee's intentions in his opening statement at Thursday's committee meeting, acknowledging there was confusion but arguing that the language used to describe the investigation wasn't the important point. more...

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington today calls on the United States House of Representatives to initiate a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. At a minimum, the inquiry should assess President Trump’s obstruction of the investigation of Russia’s attack on the 2016 election (including the investigation of his own efforts to impede it), his participation in a scheme to defraud enforcement of federal campaign finance laws that continued through the first year of his presidency, and his acceptance of profits, gains, or advantages from foreign and domestic governments in violation of the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution. These three courses of conduct merit scrutiny because Congress could conclude that they were “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” committed in violation of President Trump’s constitutional oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. OBSTRUCTION OF THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION, CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW, ACCEPTANCE OF EMOLUMENTS, OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATIONS. The Constitution vests Congress with the exclusive power and solemn responsibility of holding a president accountable while he is in office. As Special Counsel Mueller recently explained, Department of Justice policy states that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” That process is impeachment. Article I of our Constitution vests the House of Representatives with the power to accuse a president of committing “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” and the Senate with the power to try all impeachments and convict if it deems a president’s removal from office both merited and wise. The term “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” refers to serious abuses of official power (Sunstein at 36-37). As Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 65, impeachment proceedings are reserved for “offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” To call for a formal impeachment inquiry to begin is not to prejudge its outcome. It is to acknowledge that the preconditions for Congress to initiate that process have undoubtedly been met. The key test is whether a president’s pattern of conduct would merit congressional scrutiny irrespective of the policies he has pursued or the party with whom he identifies. That test has been satisfied: any president who obstructs an investigation into a foreign power’s attack on our election (and his own conduct), who participates in a scheme to violate federal election law during his campaign for president and covers up those offenses after entering office, or who accepts foreign and domestic emoluments in violation of the Constitution has engaged in conduct that potentially merits impeachment and removal from office. This decision is one that CREW reaches with great reluctance. Although CREW has not hesitated to challenge President Trump’s unlawful actions in court, file complaints seeking accountability for serious ethical lapses and misconduct, or comment on how the president’s actions may have violated criminal standards of conduct, the health of any constitutional democracy depends on its actors exhibiting forbearance and restraint. CREW’s call for an impeachment inquiry is grounded in the solemn realization that as a nation, we have exhausted other avenues to achieve executive branch accountability. None of what we have experienced over the last two and a half years was inevitable. From the outset of his administration, President Trump closed off the most important avenue to accountability by failing to set an example of ethical conduct and demand the same from his associates.  President Trump’s failures in ethical and responsible leadership are apparent in each course of conduct that should be scrutinized in an impeachment inquiry. President Trump could have ensured that the Russia investigation was conducted with the independence and cooperation from his office and associates that it deserved, but he did not. Instead, the Mueller Report sets out clear evidence that President Trump repeatedly sought to obstruct and curtail the investigation—especially after it became clear that his own conduct was under scrutiny. more...

The Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election (“Mueller Report”) contains substantial evidence that President Trump prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. President Trump’s apparent obstruction of justice must be the subject of an impeachment inquiry because undermining the ability of federal proceedings to determine facts and deliver justice is particularly harmful to the rule of law. As Special Counsel Mueller explained, “When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.” That concern is pronounced and constitutionally repugnant when the individual in question is vested with extraordinary power to influence federal proceedings and has a specific constitutional obligation to take care that the law is faithfully executed. Obstruction of justice is also particularly serious when the conduct is targeted at federal proceedings relating to a criminal attack by a foreign power on our election. As detailed in the Mueller Report and court filings, the Russian government perpetrated a two-pronged attack on the United States during the 2016 election. Russia’s attack included a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, including by organizing events in support of then-candidate Trump. The attack also featured a Russian intelligence service-led computer-intrusion operation against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and the release of documents stolen from those individuals and entities to the public via intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Although the Special Counsel “investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” it established that the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump and its associates had numerous links to individuals with ties to the Russian government and “showed interest in WikiLeaks’s releases of documents and welcomed their potential to damage candidate Clinton.” Volume II of the Mueller Report is the starting point for assessing President Trump’s apparent obstruction of justice. The conduct described in that document is so damning that over a thousand former federal prosecutors signed a statement asserting that President Trump’s conduct “would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.” Although Special Counsel Mueller declined to reach a traditional prosecutorial judgment regarding the president’s obstruction because of that policy, the Mueller Report pointedly stated, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him. more... - If Trump did nothing wrong in regards to Russia then why did he try to prevent, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice.

President Trump’s participation in a scheme to violate federal campaign finance and ethics laws and cover up those offenses must also be the subject of a formal impeachment inquiry. There is compelling evidence that in a course of conduct that began when he was a candidate for president of the United States and continued after he assumed the office, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, engaged in a scheme to defraud the American people and impede enforcement of federal campaign finance and ethics laws by causing campaign finance crimes, conspiring to conceal them, and making criminal false statements. This conduct must be the subject of an impeachment inquiry because it appears to have involved criminal acts to subvert the laws that protect the fairness of our elections, participation in a scheme to cover up those violations that continued at least throughout his first year in office, and a potentially criminal false statement by President Trump during his first year in office. Although it is possible that the President could be indicted after leaving office for his apparent participation in these crimes, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York who conducted the campaign finance investigation are also bound by DOJ’s policy of not indicting a sitting president. For that reason, Congress is the only forum in which the president can face true accountability for his conduct as long as he is in office. The fact that some of this conduct occurred while President Trump was a candidate for office rather than wielding official power does not immunize it from congressional scrutiny. The Framers of the Constitution were “practical men” and “repeatedly described corrupt acquisition of the presidency as a paradigm case for impeachment” (Tribe and Matz at 60; see also Sunstein at 122). Federal bribery law, which criminalizes certain conduct after an individual has been nominated as a candidate for public office, reflects the same practical judgment. It also bears noting that in any event, President Trump’s participation in the scheme to commit and cover up election crimes extended into the first year of his presidency and likely involved a false statement on a disclosure form that he was required to submit to federal ethics authorities. Congress would be justified in concluding that a president’s efforts to undermine enforcement of federal campaign finance laws could constitute a high crime or misdemeanor meriting his impeachment and removal from office. The facts of President Trump’s participation in this scheme to defraud the American people have been laid out by federal prosecutors in court filings, detailed in recently unsealed FBI affidavits and investigative warrants, described in detail by President Trump’s private attorney Michael Cohen in sworn congressional testimony, reported extensively by news outlets, and analyzed comprehensively in a CREW report. During his campaign for president, then-candidate Trump, in coordination with several individuals at American Media Inc. (AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer) and Cohen, caused unlawful campaign contributions to be made on his behalf in the form of hush-money payments to two women who claimed they had affairs with then-candidate Trump. AMI’s Chairman and CEO David Pecker met with Cohen (and reportedly then-candidate Trump) in 2015 and offered the candidate help suppressing negative stories. In 2016, AMI followed through on the offer by paying Karen McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story that she and then-candidate Trump had an affair, then suppressed it. This unlawful contribution – corporations are not permitted to make campaign contributions – was apparently made on then-candidate Trump’s behalf, in coordination with Cohen and likely with then-candidate Trump’s knowledge. Cohen admitted that later in 2016 and at then-candidate Trump’s direction, he paid a second woman—Stephanie Clifford (Stormy Daniels)—$130,000 for her silence. more...

President Trump’s misuse of public office for private gain including by apparently violating the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses also must be the subject of an impeachment inquiry. In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has accepted profits, gains, or advantages from foreign and state governments in violation of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses. This conduct must be the subject of an impeachment inquiry because it involves violations of two anti-corruption provisions that our founders thought so important that they incorporated them into the text of our Constitution. Rather than following the example of his predecessors and taking steps to avoid violating these Clauses, President Trump has instead sought to use his public office for private gain. There is evidence that the framers of the Constitution viewed receipt of foreign emoluments as impeachable offenses. As Edmund Jennings Randolph, a Virginia Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, stated at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, a president “may be impeached” for “receiving emoluments from foreign powers.” (Tribe and Matz at 67-68). During the transition period between his election and inauguration, President Trump chose not to meaningfully separate himself from privately owned corporations and, upon taking office, President Trump began violating the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses. By accepting profits, gains, or advantages from foreign governments at his properties and though his businesses, President Trump violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which bars any federal official from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” without Congress’s consent. Similarly, by accepting profits, gains, or advantages from state governments and components of the federal government at his properties and though his businesses, President Trump has also violated the Domestic Emoluments Clause, which bars the president from receiving any “Emolument from the United States, or any of them” other than his statutorily set compensation. This conduct is no accident. President Trump has also used the powers of his office for his own personal enrichment in other ways. By hosting taxpayer-funded events at properties owned by his private businesses, President Trump has caused federal funds to be spent at those properties. By making at least 350 trips to luxury properties and members-only resorts owned by his businesses (according to data compiled by CREW), President Trump has signaled that those who pay for access to his properties will have access to power. President Trump’s apparent violations of the Emoluments Clauses are therefore not an incidental consequence of a businessman’s election to the presidency; instead, President Trump has engaged in a pattern of misusing his public office for his own personal enrichment. His continued ownership of his businesses has led to conflicts of interest that potentially affect virtually every aspect of his presidency, from tax and regulatory policy to foreign policy, but it is specifically profits, gains, or advantages from foreign and domestic governments that so concerned the Framers of the Constitution that they expressly prohibited the president’s receipt of them in our founding document. more...

Although CREW’s call for an impeachment inquiry is premised on the three matters discussed above (obstruction of justice, participation in a scheme to defraud enforcement of federal campaign finance and ethics laws, and receipt of unconstitutional foreign and domestic emoluments), it is informed by a fourth category of conduct that might become an additional basis: obstruction of congressional investigations of impeachable conduct.  Presidential obstruction of congressional proceedings is no less harmful to the constitutional order than obstruction of criminal ones. That is especially true in cases of presidential misconduct because Congress is the only body that can accuse a president of wrongdoing. If a president can obstruct a criminal investigation without facing indictment while in office and then successfully obstruct a congressional investigation of that obstruction, he is accountable to no one and is functionally above the law. For that reason, Congress must be able to wield the investigative tools that are inseparable from its impeachment authority. There is clear precedent for impeachment of a president on this basis. One of the three articles of impeachment that the House Judiciary Committee drafted and approved prior to President Nixon’s resignation accused him of willfully disobeying Congressional subpoenas, “substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.” more...  

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