Above The Law … Once Again!

Donald Trump claims to be above the law.  That is a matter of opinion, however since he has selectively placed his lackeys such as William Barr in key positions, for the moment, it seems to be the case that he cannot be held accountable.  The exception, of course, would be if Congress would use their Constitutional oversight authority, but with the likes of Mitchell McConnell in the position of Senate Majority Leader, that seems highly unlikely.  So, okay, Donald Trump is effectively, though not legally, above the law.

But Trump is not alone.  Attorney General William Barr has placed himself effectively, though not legally, above the law by refusing to answer a subpoena issued by the House of Representatives.  Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross claims immunity from the law, as he too refused to respond to a subpoena by the House.  How many others?  I’ve lost count.  But this latest one … this is too much.

Trump’s personal mouthpiece, Kellyanne Conway, has been found by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to be in violation of the Hatch Act.  The Office of Special Counsel is led by a Trump appointee, Henry J. Kerner, and it was he who testified before the House Oversight Panel last month that Kellyanne had violated the Hatch Act not just once, but repeatedly, and he called on Trump to terminate Ms. Conway’s employment.  Trump immediately refused to do so.

The Hatch Act, for those who may not be familiar with it, is a United States federal law whose main provision prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president, vice-president, and certain designated high-level officials, from engaging in some forms of political activity.

The counsel states that Conway participated in media interviews and used her social media accounts, with her title, to engage in activity affecting the midterm elections. She has also made a number of remarks aimed at 2020 democratic presidential candidates including Senator Cory Booker, Senator Elizabeth Warren, former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, and former Vice President Joe Biden. She has also openly endorsed Trump’s re-election. According to the letter by Mr. Kerner …

“Ms. Conway’s advocacy against the Democratic candidates and open endorsement of the President’s reelection effort during both official media appearances and on her Twitter account constitute prohibited political activity under the Hatch Act.”

Not once, not twice, but multiple times.  Remember when she almost got in trouble for urging people, on television, to buy from Ivanka Trump’s clothing line?  Kellyanne doesn’t seem to learn.  But then, she has Trump to bail her out, so why does she need to try to ‘do the right thing’?

Kellyanne was cordially invited to testify, to present her side if she had one, before the House Oversight Committee, but “the White House” declined the invitation on her behalf.  So, committee chairman Elijah Cummings issued a subpoena.  And guess what?  She defied the subpoena.  Therefore, we can only conclude that Kellyanne also considers herself to be above the law.

Now, here’s the thing, folks.  Trump said during his 2016 campaign that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York and shoot somebody, and he would get by with it.  When he said it, we all rolled our eyes and said, “Yeah, right, Bozo.”  But today, it is no laughing matter, for he has declared himself above the law and his lackeys, including the United States Department of Justice, will support him.  And now, that privilege extends to his entire staff, all the way down to his paid mouthpiece.

But let me tell you something.  If I stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York, or my street in Podunk USA and shoot someone, I will be immediately put to death by police who shoot first and ask questions later.  If I am issued a subpoena by a federal agency and I defy that subpoena, I will be shot dead by police who will claim I was resisting arrest (because I would be resisting, but that’s a minor detail).

If the likes of Trump and Conway are not held accountable to the very laws that they have sworn to uphold, then is there any law & justice in the United States?  Trump has stated that Article II of the United States Constitution gives him the authority to do “whatever I want”.  It doesn’t, but somebody has to draw the line.  Typically, that would fall to the Attorney General and Congress, but we cannot count on either.  So, if Kellyanne is immune, and William Barr is immune, then it must follow that any and all of Trump’s cabinet members are immune from being held accountable … for anything.

If that isn’t enough, coupled with Trump’s atrocious racist running commentary against four members of the House of Representatives for the past 48 hours on Twitter, and coupled with Robert Mueller’s citation of no less than ten incidences of obstruction of justice by Trump … if all that isn’t enough for the House of Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry, then I don’t know why we even have a Congress!  To the members of the House, I say:  Off your asses, folks … it’s showtime!  It’s now or never!  Use it or lose it!!!

And, to add a bit of humour to the topic, if that’s possible, I have invited Mr. Seth Meyers to contribute his take on the topic.

OBSTRUCTION!!!

Donald Trump is playing games with our lives.  Today, in a strictly retaliatory move against Congress and We the People, he played that tired old “executive privilege” card.  Congress had made known earlier this week its intent to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for failure to answer the subpoenas they were issued by the House Oversight Committee to release certain documents.  Trump threatened that if they did so, he would invoke ‘executive privilege’ on the documents the committee had requested regarding how a citizenship question came to be added to the 2020 census form.  Just a few hours ago, Trump acted on his threat and invoked that ‘executive privilege’ that he has so often used and abused.

Congress has not only a constitutional right, but a constitutional mandate to investigate, to find the truth. That truth is being hidden, kept from Congress, purloined from the public.  This move reeks of dictatorship, of an authoritarian government, one where the ‘man’ at the top considers himself to be a supreme leader, rather than a democratically elected public servant.

Trump’s refusal to allow documents to be released, his threats and bullying key witnesses to keep them from testifying before Congress is nothing less than obstruction of justice.  The Mueller report laid out nearly a dozen proven instances in which Trump had obstructed, or attempted to obstruct, the ongoing investigation. Nothing has changed … he is still obstructing justice and has become even more blatant about it, for nobody and nothing to date has stopped him.  His minions, his boot-lickers both in the cabinet, the White House staff, and in Congress have lied and covered for him, have pointed the finger of blame in every direction except the right one, and thus we now have a dictator who believes that he has the right to hide the truth, to trample the Constitution for his own purposes.

Trump is a ‘fake’ president and is leading this nation down a dark path.  Yes, folks, he most definitely IS guilty of obstruction of justice, as recently as five hours ago!  We the People are being increasingly kept in the dark, being given only the tidbits that Trump wants us to have.  Do you know when was the last time Sarah Huckabee Sanders held a White House Press Briefing?  March 11th … 92 days ago!  More than three months.  During that time, she has been a regular on Fox News, but has disappeared from the legitimate press.  Not, mind you, that she ever told the truth anyway, but still …

As for William Barr and Wilbur Ross … I would like to see them both cited for contempt of Congress and given 24 hours to comply, else be arrested and put in jail just as you or I would be in similar circumstances.  As for Trump … he claims the Mueller report exonerated him.  It did not.  He claims “no collusion, no obstruction”.  He lies … he is guilty of both, but Mueller’s hands were tied, so he tossed the ball to Congress.  Now Trump and Co are trying to tie Congress’ hands.  If that isn’t obstruction, I don’t know what is.

Chris Britt / Illinois Times

R.J. Matson / Roll CallNick Anderson cartoonAdam Zyglis / Buffalo NewsJeff Danziger cartoon

Oh, The Irony …

On February 13, 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly, leaving the Supreme Court with an open seat.  President Barack Obama nominated a moderate, middle-of-the-road judge, Merrick Garland, to replace Scalia.  However, the Senate, led by none other than Mitch McConnell, not only refused to confirm Garland, but refused to even schedule interviews with him, let alone hold a confirmation hearing.  McConnell said that, with less than a year left in Obama’s term, the empty seat on the bench should be left vacant until a new president was elected.

Fast forward to 2019 when the House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoenaed Trumps accounting firm, Mazars, for some portion of Trump’s financial records.  Trump filed a lawsuit in order to keep Mazars from handing over the subpoenaed records.  That suit came before Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  Long story short, on Monday Judge Mehta upheld the subpoena and ordered Mazars to turn over the requested records, saying that the committee had demonstrated a facially valid legislative purpose for its investigation and the issuance of the subpoena.

“It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a president for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”

Trump, predictably, called the judge’s ruling “crazy” and once again blamed Obama for his troubles …

“We think it’s totally the wrong decision by, obviously, an Obama-appointed judge.”

Naturally, Trump’s lawyers immediately filed an appeal asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the case and overturn Judge Mehta’s ruling.  Judge Merrick Garland serves as the chief judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Let that one sink in.

Now, before you begin jumping for joy, talking about poetic justice (pun intended) and all, let me urge caution, for there is no guarantee that Garland will be one of the three judges who will hear the case.  And even if he is one of the three, Merrick Garland is a man of integrity, unlike some others, who will follow the letter of the law and not let past grievances colour his judgement.  But take some pleasure in the knowledge that Trump likely had nightmares last night in which Judge Garland was banging his gavel on Trump’s head!

And just for kicks, take a look at Stephen Colbert’s and Jimmy Kimmel’s take on this whole thing … both are guaranteed to bring you a few deep belly laughs!

 

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Be Angry … BE VERY DAMNED ANGRY

A day or two ago I received the following ‘breaking news’ update from Politico:breaking-news

I impatiently cleared it from my phone, saying, “Yeah, yeah, I already figured that”.  And then today, Robert Reich posted this on Facebook:

breaking-newsSure, it came as no surprise, for it has become obvious that the congressional investigations are not being taken seriously by Trump and his minions. But, if we keep doing as I did, treating it as just another day, another abomination, ho-hum … then we have lost, and he has won. And the result of his winning will be that the United States of America will become yet another dictatorship in the Western world, like Turkey, like Russia.  Perhaps we are already on the brink … it very much feels as if we are.

And then this, from Amy Siskind, also on Facebook …

“Okay folks, the FBI is heading to meet with Gov Scott about Russia having hacked at least on [sic] county in Florida during the 2016 election and this story isn’t even trending or getting attention. This is how our democracy gets extinguished in the chaos and broad daylight.”

She is right.  Spot on, in fact.  This is how democracy dies.  We tune it out, we turn it off, we close our eyes and our minds, for it is too much, just too much.  Surely the dam that was built in 1787 to protect us from evil fascist leaders will hold, right?  We can simply go on playing games, posting pictures of our regurgitatable lunches on Facebook, and let the politicians deal with it all, right?  Yeah, right … that was what the German people thought in 1933, too, and look how well that worked out.

Not only has Trump blocked the release of the six years’ worth of tax returns requested by Congress, but he has filed a lawsuit against the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, in order to delay or block the release of his company’s financial records.  He has ‘forbidden’ former White House security official Carl Kline from answering the subpoena serviced upon him.  He is currently threatening …

“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Which just proves what I have said for two fucking years now … the ‘man’ does not even have the foggiest concept of how our government operates!!!  Nothing in the Constitution or American legal history gives the Supreme Court a role in deciding whether Congress has misidentified what counts as a high crime or misdemeanor for the purpose of impeachment.  It matters not how many of his sycophants he has managed to insert into the Supreme Court, by law … BY LAW … they cannot quell a Congressional move to impeach!

But folks, the law only applies to the extent that We the People give it legitimacy.

Thus far, I have urged caution on the impeachment path, felt it was better to have our ducks in a row first.  But, my patience has run out, for Donald Trump is attempting to poison the ducks before we can bring them into the row, and it appears the only means for obtaining the information the Congressional committees are seeking is going to be via the impeachment process.  He is forcing our hand … he has made his own bed.

Robert Mueller himself, and former White House attorney Don McGahn are expected to testify within the coming month.  Trump has zero control over these two, for they no longer work for or owe allegiance to the administration.  Their testimonies will likely remove all doubt that Trump has obstructed justice, but even if they don’t, he is blatantly obstructing justice today … now … right this minute, by interfering with a legitimate investigation by Congress.  He claims “executive privilege”.  There is no such thing when it comes to treason, when it comes to turning a democratic republic into a dictatorship.  No, Donnie, you have no fucking executive privilege!

Per our friend Gronda, from the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon in 1974:

Article 3: Contempt of Congress.

In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, contrary to his oath faithfully to 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, had failed without lawful cause or excuse, to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives, on April 11, 1974, May 15, 1974, May 30, 1974, and June 24, 1974, and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas. The subpoenaed papers and things were deemed necessary by the Committee in order to resolve by direct evidence fundamental, factual questions relating to Presidential direction, knowledge or approval of actions demonstrated by other evidence to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the President. In refusing to produce these papers and things, Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgement 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 Constitution in the House of Representatives.

In all this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office.

(Approved 21-17 by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, July 30, 1974.)

Can we re-write this for our current situation?  I think so … what do you think?  Need I say more?

We must not, under any circumstances, become complacent to the atrocities being committed by not only Trump, but his hired thugs such as Stephen Miller, Steve Mnuchin, William Barr and others.  We must not turn the page of the breaking news update with naught but a sigh and a roll of our eyes.  We must demand an accounting in the press, we must stay on top of the day-to-day atrocities, and we MUST make our voices heard, else all is lost.

Lawsuits, Obstruction, and a Blimp

Robert Mueller’s report clearly shows a number of times that Don Trump attempted to obstruct justice, such as telling his White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller.  There are at least 10 such instances documented in the report.  And yet, Trump and his minions claim the report exonerates him.  It does not, but setting that aside for the moment, today he is obstructing justice yet again!  He is digging his hole deeper and deeper, and I sincerely hope he falls into it very soon.

First, it was announced yesterday that Trump and his business organization are suing the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, in an attempt to block the subpoena the committee issued requesting information from Trump’s accounting firm about his financial records.  Now, this subpoena would not have been necessary if Trump had been forthcoming with his tax returns, as every other president since Reagan has done.  When one refuses to answer a question, it throws up red flags and becomes obvious one has something to hide, and it is glaringly obvious at this point that Donald Trump has a heck of a lot to hide.

Judging by the fact that Trump had been involved in some 5,000 lawsuits prior to becoming president, we should not be surprised by this latest, for suing someone seems to be his modus operandi any time things don’t go his way.  The argument in this one, however, is laughable.

“Instead of working with the President to pass bipartisan legislation that would actually benefit Americans, House Democrats are singularly obsessed with finding something they can use to damage the President politically.”

Trump’s lawyers are also seeking to block his accounting firm, Mazars USA, from providing any information to the committee.  There is small chance that Trump will win this suit, BUT … it is seen as mainly a delaying tactic, likely until he can think of something else.  Trump is wasting our money on efforts to hide his own perfidy.  Plus … he is challenging the U.S. Constitution that calls for a system of checks and balances, as he asks the judicial branch to stop the legislative branch from doing their job overseeing the executive branch.  Playing both ends against the middle, so to speak.

And about those tax returns … the Internal Revenue Service missed the first deadline to turn six years’ worth of tax returns over to the House Ways and Means Committee, and the deadline was pushed back until … today, and as of this writing there is no sign of any tax returns.  More obfuscation.

But wait … there’s more!

Former White House personnel security director Carl Kline received a letter directing him not to show up for questioning by the House Oversight Committee.  The letter came from White House deputy counsel Michael M. Purpura and claims that the subpoena for his testimony “unconstitutionally encroaches on fundamental executive branch interests.”  Kline’s attorney said he will abide by the White House directive.

Mr. Kline’s testimony was requested as the committee is investigating the security clearances that appear to have been handed out willy-nilly on Trump’s orders, even though investigations had shown those individuals to be a security risk.  Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was one of those individuals.

Every single one of the above instances are attempts on the part of Trump to obstruct justice by hook or by crook.  Obstruction of justice, by the way, IS against the law.  Imagine if you are summonsed to appear before a judge for some matter and you don’t show up.  Guess where you’ll be going?  But Trump is getting by with it because … he believes he is a king, not a president of a relatively democratic nation.  More and more, I am coming to believe that impeachment may be the only answer.  I had been of the opinion that we should wait until all these investigations were concluded, however it appears that they may not be concluded for years, as he and his lawyers continue meddling, obfuscating, interfering and obstructing the process of the investigations.


And in other news, I am distressed to read that in less than two months, on June 3rd, Trump will travel to the United Kingdom for a state visit.  The Brits do not want him there, and it is certain that he will only humiliate us in front of our UK friends.  There is no good reason for him to go … it is merely an ego trip.  Last July when he went to the UK amid many protests from the citizenry, it ended up costing the country £18 million, or about $23 million in security.  I have an idea … how about just not having security … let the chips fall where they may.

Trump baby blimp-1Some are predicting even more, larger protests this time … as I said, nobody wants him there.  On the fun side, however, they are getting out the Trump baby blimp and dusting it off to use again.  I read in The Guardian that they may even make a new one … a hot air balloon five times the size of the original!


And on that note, I think I am finished for now … have a great day, my friends!