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The Mistrial of Donald Trump

by ARGeezer Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 04:59:25 AM EST

The House impeaches, the Senate tries the case, per the US Constitution. If only it were that simple. At the moment all hangs in uncertainty. Tonight it appears certain that at least 51 Republican senators will vote not hear additional witnesses and to acquit Donald J. Trump of the charges in the House Articles of Impeachment: Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. This is despite the fact that retiring Senator Lamar Alexander conceded that the House Impeachment Managers had proven their case.

WASHINGTON -- As he weighed the evidence against President Trump, Senator Lamar Alexander reached an unavoidable conclusion: Mr. Trump had done what he was accused of, pressuring a foreign power to investigate his political rival. But however inappropriate his conduct, another conviction overrode the first: Americans would not tolerate the Senate stepping in to substitute its own judgment for that of the voters fewer than 10 months before the next election.

"The Senate reflects the country, and the country is as divided as it has been for a long time," Mr. Alexander said Friday during an interview in his Capitol office. "For the Senate to tear up the ballots in this election and say President Trump couldn't be on it, the country probably wouldn't accept that. It would just pour gasoline on cultural fires that are burning out there."

With that logic, Mr. Alexander delivered a victory to Mr. Trump -- and to Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, with whom Mr. Alexander has been friends for more than a half-century. In announcing he would vote to block witnesses at Mr. Trump's impeachment trial, he set Mr. Trump on a quick course to his inevitable acquittal.

But this national crisis will not be resolved with the acquittal of Trump. In effect, for reasons listed below, this trial was a mistrial.

Great summary of the state of play - Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger


There is, of course, no passage in the Constitution that defines what grounds there are for a mistrial in a Senate trial of a House Impeachment, but the current Senate trial of Trump will be, in effect, a mistrial on three immediately obvious grounds:

First, the Senate refused to pass resolutions to summon known first hand witnesses of material fact damaging to the President such as John Bolton, Nick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo and some of their aides and to summon relevant documents to support the case.

Second, by their own words several Senators, including Senate Majority Leader John McConnell, Lindsey Graham and Lamar Alexander, clearly violated their oaths to render impartial justice. McConnell, Graham and others announced their decisions long before the Articles of Impeachment even reached the Senate.

Third, Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel and lead defense attorney for Trump during the proceedings,(the combination of roles itself being a violation of the duties the White House Counsel swore to uphold), has been outed by John Bolton as having been present at meetings when the Ukraine investigation via Guiliani was coordinated by Trump. This makes Cipollone a fact witness in the trial in which he is serving as the lead defense counsel. He will almost certainly face sanctions from the Bars of the States in which he is licensed to practice. This alone would cause a mistrial in state and federal courts.

Thus critics of the actions of the Republican majority have plenty of ammunition to use in their fight to turn public opinion against these actions and to cement in place the view that the trial was illegitimate. And the duty of  the House of Representatives to perform oversight of the Administration will not end with Trump's acquittal. Now that the Senate has refused to call Bolton and others as witnesses the House can do so in further hearings. Bolton's book goes on sale in March and the galleys could become available sooner - unless the White House can block it on national security grounds. The abuse of classification by the White House has already been alleged. And, in any case Bolton can always testify under oath to his claims and leaks can continue. Lev Parnas will likely also get his star turn on the witness stand of the House Intelligence Committee.

Donald Trump thinks that a Senate acquittal will end the affair. But it will only really be decided in November. The survival of even a semblance of democracy in the USA will be on the ballot.

Despite his admiration for authoritarian leaders such as Putin, Kim, Erdogan, Bolsonaro etc., his incitement of racial and ethnic hatred and his belief that he has no constraints on his power a President Trump is no Hitler. He is far from Hitler's competence, at least compared to the Hitler of 1933. In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte Marx wrote: "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." Donald Trump is too damaged and his ego is too vulnerable for him to be able to do what Hitler did - thankfully. Trump's US Presidency is the farce of Hitler's Nazi regime. But he has shown just how vulnerable the USA is to fascist demagogues.
   

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The Republican caucus, as reported by MSNBC and others, has decided to allow the time for all Senators who so wish to speak about the decisions they are about to render. This desire, and other factors including the possible delaying tactics of the Democrats, means that the final votes and ending of the process will, at the earliest, occur Wednesday or Thursday, February fifth or sixth. Thus Trump will deliver his State of the Union Address before the House of Representatives that is managing his Impeachment Trial in the Senate.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 05:05:44 AM EST
Voting on amendments finished by 8 PM tonight. This evening's roll calls are recorded here.

The schedule for proceedings next week, including senators' filings of vote statements (3-5 Feb) to the secretary of the senate, was agreed without objection before votes. Following roll calls, McConnell adjourned until 11 AM, Mon, 3 Feb.

Transcript for 31 Jan will be published in the Congressional Record Sat or Mon morning.

by Cat on Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 05:51:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This was one of the R/WH arguments to dismiss impeachment; impeachment is the "ultimate election interference."

It was Schiff who argued, "The president's misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box. We cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won."

RUSSIA! right?

by Cat on Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 06:13:08 AM EST
Whoever Trump can recruit, foreign or domestic. The man knows no restraint and now has been shown to have none other than the general electorate in November. Are you confident that Georgia has the governor who had the greatest support among Georgia voters? Florida in 2000? Ohio and Diebold in 2004? Remember Diebold's plan for victory? As Stalin corectly noted it matters more who counts the votes.

And YES, Russia did interfere in the 2016 election, possibly decisively. But Hillary also ran a poor campaign. We will never know for sure what happened. There was no post-mortem and the corpse has been cremated, so to speak.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 03:48:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I presume nobody in the USA expect the Senate Republicans to convict their own man, so this was always about going through the motions. However the process is still important, and the failure to call material witnesses and documents, the failure to act impartially, and the extraordinary choices Trump made in the selection of his defence team will all not sit well with any who value the US Constitutions checks and balances which do not bestow absolute power on a President however "democratically" elected.

The use of the excuse that impeachment in an election year is inappropriate is reminiscent of the time the Republican Senate refused to even discuss President Obama's Supreme Court nominees so that they could appoint their own conservative choices after his term had expired. Again, another abuse of process. There is nothing in the Constitution preventing either impeachment of Supreme Court appointments in an election year. These processes are constitutionally separate and distinct.

BTW Could Trump have stood for election in November even if he was convicted and replaced by Pence, or does impeachment disbar him from participation in a future election?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 01:04:29 PM EST
Impeachment can bar one from holding federal office for life. Per Wiki:
In impeachment proceedings, the defendant does not risk forfeiture of life, liberty, or property. According to the Constitution, the only penalties allowed to be imposed by the Senate are removal from office and disqualification from holding any federal office in the future.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 03:54:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Properly, Trump, Pence, Pompeo and Barr should all be impeached and barred from federal offices for life.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 03:57:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In short - bar Barr.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 04:14:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This statement is not true.

The senate admitted Trial Memorandum and Statement of Material Facts in the impeachment trial of the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump [111 pp] for consideration.

DNC propaganda, following defeat of amendments to S.Res 488, proposes that the WH denied discovery of evidence (oral and docs) would be probative but for defeat of Amendment 1295-1298 to S.Res 488.

In truth, House subpoena for specific items have been bound by litigation in circuit courts for nearly one year. The House has had a bigger problem circumventing Art. III adjudication (ConLaw) than "humiliating" Republican Party politicians, expressing governing "norms," or convicting Trump. Moreover, a substantial amount of Q&A time was dedicated to investigating separation of powers controversy--rather than the credibility of prior or future testimony--and implications to future legislative disputes. Ironic, no?

by Cat on Sun Feb 2nd, 2020 at 10:16:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The real value of the whole impeachment of Donald Trump lies in the position in which it put the Republican Senate. Trump was obviously guilty as charged. Lamar Alexander conceded this publicly. So Republican Senators were required either to violate their oaths to do impartial justice and uphold the Constitution or alienate their base.

Public opinion was more than 70% in favor of more witnesses and documents. So this development is unlikely to help Trump's reelection campaign. But it is a LONG, long time until November and who knows what other events and developments may occur between now and then?

An optimistic outcome would be that both the White House and the Senate change hands in November. The 2020 election could be a wave election much like that of 2006, when Democrats swept back into control of the House. Or we could have another Trump turn.

Have a nice year.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 1st, 2020 at 04:13:16 PM EST

Were you expecting unanimity?

by Cat on Sun Feb 2nd, 2020 at 10:26:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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