Spending Clause

Evidence Increasingly Indicates Trump's Ukraine Pressure Tactics Usurped Congress' Power of the Purse—and that he may have Committed a Federal Crime in the Process

If Trump used withholding of aid as leverage to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden, he both violated the Constitution and committed a federal crime. The evidence released so far strongly points in that direction, even if it is not completely definitive.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

President Donald Trump.

Last week, I wrote a post explaining why, if Trump used withholding of US aid as leverage to try to force the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, it would be an unconstitutional usurpation of Congress' power of the purse. Quite simply, it would be a case of the president trying to use federal funds for a purpose that had never been authorized by Congress—the only branch of government with the power to authorize federal spending.

Since then, a great deal of relevant evidence has become public, including the transcript of at least part of Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the report of the "whistleblower" who played a key role in bringing this issue to public attention, and the report of the intelligence community inspector general  assessing the whistleblower's complaint. Taken together, this evidence strongly supports the notion that Trump did indeed try to use the aid funds as leverage. If so, he both violated the Constitution and committed a federal crime.

The spending power issue is far from the only problematic aspect of this transaction. Trump may have committed a number of other federal crimes in the process, as well. But it is one that has not—so far—gotten the attention that it deserves.

It is difficult to read the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call without coming to the conclusion that a quid pro quo—aid in exchange for investigation—is the most likely interpretation of what Trump was trying to do. Conservative lawyer and political commentator David French has a good explanation of the reasons why this interpretation makes sense (see here and here):

I haven't been a litigator since 2015. I haven't conducted a proper cross-examination since 2014. But if I couldn't walk a witness, judge, and jury through the transcript of Donald Trump's call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and demonstrate that a quid pro quo was more likely than not, then I should just hang up my suit and retire in disgrace…

First, right near the beginning of the call, President Trump signals his displeasure with Ukraine. He notes that while the United States has been "very good" to Ukraine, he "wouldn't say" that Ukraine has been "reciprocal" to the United States. There's nothing subtle about this statement. It's plain that Trump wants something from Ukraine….

In the next paragraph, Zelensky responds with the key ask. He wants more Javelin missiles, an indispensable weapon system in Ukraine's conflict with Russia. It's an anti-tank missile that helps address the yawning power imbalance between the two countries….

And what is Trump's response? The next words out of his mouth are, "I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it." He raises Crowdstrike, the firm the DNC used to investigate the Russian election hacks. From context, it seems as if Trump is asking for additional assistance in investigating the 2016 election-interference scandals….

But then, in the following paragraph, Trump continues his ask. He says he is going to ask Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney, to call Zelensky, and he asks Zelensky to take the call. Then, Trump says this: "The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great." He continues, "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it . . . It sounds horrible to me."

And what is Zelenksy's response? He pledges that the new Ukrainian prosecutor will be "100 percent" his person and that "he or she will look into the situation."

The quid pro quo interpretation of this exchange derives further support from the fact that Trump had just put a freeze on the delivery of some $400 million in US aid to Ukraine, and had also made clear to Ukrainian officials that he would not even do a call with President Zelensky, unless the Biden investigation was on the agenda. Trump has since claimed that the aid freeze was put in place out of concern about corruption in the Ukrainian government. But that story is undercut by  the fact that the Trump administration had previously certified that Ukraine had taken sufficient steps to combat corruption to qualify for the aid.

A clever lawyer could parse all these statements and actions in such a way as to put a more innocent spin on them. We do not —so far—have proof of a quid pro quo, beyond reasonable doubt. But, as David French explains, that is by far the most likely explanation.

Some might say there was no real harm here, as Trump did eventually release the aid in September, after members of Congress made inquiries on the subject. But a failed effort to subvert Congress' spending powers is still constitutionally problematic. Moreover, Trump's scheme to use the aid may not have failed. It is entirely possible he thought he had succeeded. After all,  the transcript indicates that President Zelensky promised to reopen the investigation in response to Trump's veiled threats, and it appears that this may yet happen.

The whistleblower's report also suggests a link between the pressure tactics used on the phone call and the earlier decision to withhold aid payments, though it is not as clear on this point as the transcript of the phone call. And the report of the Inspector general concludes that the whistleblower was "credible" and right to be concerned about the situation, even if it also indicates that there were "indicia of an arguable political bias" in favor of a "rival political candidate," by the whistleblower.

For reasons indicated in my earlier post, circumventing Congress' power of the purse is a serious violation of the Constitution, and one that could set a dangerous precedent if Trump manages to get away with it. If the president can use withholding of federal funds as leverage to pressure people to do his bidding in ways not authorized by Congress, that opens the door to numerous potential abuses of power. And this is not an isolated case, but merely the latest of several instances in which the Trump administration has tried to usurp the power of the purse.

At the very least, it's a legitimate subject for an impeachment inquiry. Both the Founding Fathers and most modern legal scholars believe that impeachment does not require a violation of criminal law, but rather is an appropriate remedy for serious abuses of executive power, particularly those that undermine the integrity of the constitutional system.

Many laypeople, however, understandably assume that the commission of a crime is required by the Impeachment Clause, which states that impeachment can be used to remove a president for the commission of " treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." It turns out, however, that a quid pro quo scheme like the one Trump apparently engaged in does qualify as a federal crime. Specifically, it would be a violation of 18 USC Section 601, which criminalizes "knowingly caus[ing] or attempt[ing] to cause any person to make a contribution of a thing of value (including services) for the benefit of any candidate or any political party, by means of the denial or deprivation, or the threat of the denial or deprivation, of…. any payment or benefit of a program of the United States,… if such employment, position, work, compensation, payment, or benefit is provided for or made possible in whole or in part by an Act of Congress." Violators are subject to a fine, a prison sentence of up to one year, or both.

Section 601 pretty clearly covers this quid pro quo scheme. The aid money is  a "payment or benefit of a program of the United States," one that is "made possible… by an act of Congress" (which appropriated the money). An investigation of the president's most likely Democratic opponent in the 2020 general election is obviously a "thing of value (including services)" that benefits a candidate or a political party; in this case, Trump and the GOP. At the time Trump made the call, Biden was the leading contender for the Democratic nomination, even though Elizabeth Warren may have caught up to him since then. And, if Trump made the quid pro quo threat at all, he surely did so knowingly and with full awareness of the potential political advantages. Finally, Section 601 criminalizes attempted use of funds as leverage to gain political support, not just successful efforts to do so. Even if Trump's pressure tactics failed to achieve their goals, he still violated 601.

As already indicated, I do not think the existence of a quid pro quo can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, based on currently available evidence. But impeachment is not a criminal trial and does not require that level of proof. The relevant rules of evidence and standards of proof are up to Congress to determine.The latter could reasonably conclude that a preponderance of evidence is proof enough. Removing a dangerous political leader from a position of power is not the same thing as depriving  a person of life, liberty, or even property rights, and does not threaten civil liberties and human rights in the same way as a wrongful criminal conviction does.

Moreover, additional evidence may yet emerge, as Congress investigates. For example, given the administration's history of untrustworthiness on such matters, it is not clear that we actually have the full transcript of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky.

Just as impeachment does not require the commission of a crime, so too not every violation of federal criminal law justifies impeachment. For example, few would argue that a president should be impeached if it turns out that he has used marijuana a few times, even though marijuana possession is a federal crime.

In my view, a high proportion of the federal crimes on the books either should not be crimes  at all, cover matters that are best left to the states, or both. But Section 601 is one of those comparatively rare federal criminal laws that actually serve a good purpose: preventing officials from using federal spending as leverage to pressure people into backing a political campaign.

Given the vast number of federal spending programs out there, it is easy to see how such leverage could be misused. Imagine, for instance, an effort to pressure federal contractors into backing the president or influential members of Congress on pain of losing their contracts, or similar pressure directed at recipients of any number of other federal program benefits.

And, obviously, Ukraine is far from the only foreign government that receives US military or economic aid. It would be dangerous to allow presidents to use that aid as leverage in exchange for electoral assistance.

In the long run, I believe we should greatly reduce the number of people (and foreign governments) dependent on federal grants, contracts, and spending programs. But, in the meantime, we should at least prevent presidents from using these programs as leverage to force people to support their campaigns.

As Keith Whittington properly reminds us, impeachment is not mandatory, even in cases where it is constitutionally permitted. It's ultimately up to the discretion of Congress. And, as a practical matter, impeachment is as much a political action as a legal one. The House is unlikely to impeach  and the Senate even more unlikely to convict, in the absence of broad political support. Partisanship and political calculations are likely to influence Congress' decision-making at least as much legal and moral considerations—probably more so. It would be naive to imagine otherwise.

Whether there is sufficient political support for impeachment in this case remains to be seen. It is also not yet clear whether impeachment here is a good idea on prudential grounds. But the constitutional issues at stake are important, and the evidence easily damning enough to warrant giving impeachment serious consideration.

 

 

 

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  1. if I couldn’t walk a witness, judge, and jury through the transcript of Donald Trump’s call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and demonstrate that a quid pro quo was more likely than not

    Keeping in mind that, if we are discussing a criminal trial, “more likely than not” isn’t the bar that needs to be cleared.

    1. That’s mentioned in the post. Beyond reasonable doubt may not be the standard for impeachment.

      1. Well, Congress can vote for removal from office for any reason it likes. But…

        (1) Republicans aren’t going to vote to remove Trump from office over this.

        (2) SCOTUS, not Congress, likely has the final say over this. That is, if SCOTUS determines that the actions don’t meet the standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors”, the Congressional votes mean nothing.

        1. SCOTUS doesn’t have any say in impeachment trial. The Senate tries impeachment. The CJ presides. The congressional vote is the only thing that matters.

          1. Impeachment, like any other action by Congress, is subject to judicial review. That is, Congress has legal standards to meet and procedures to follow, and SCOTUS is the ultimate arbiter of whether Congress acted constitutionally.

            1. The Supreme Court does not review impeachment proceedings because of the political question doctrine. See Nixon v. United States, 506 U.S. 224 (1993). Not all congressional acts are reviewable. (Declarations of Warcraft, for instance.) If you’d like to learn more, go to Wikipedia and enter “political question”.

              1. Lol declarations of war.

              2. You make it sound like the division is a mathematical law, but it’s not. SCOTUS can change its mind on this issue, as it has on so many other issues.

                But that’s not even the issue here. While a proper impeachment might not be subject to court review, that doesn’t mean that no part of an impeachment can ever be reviewed by courts. Congress doesn’t suddenly turn into an omnipotent branch just because they call a process an “impeachment”. Whether actions by Congress fall within the bounds of the impeachment process is, of course, subject to judicial review.

                It is naive in the extreme to believe that impeachment is a purely political process or that Congress is completely free to do whatever it wants; it’s not only naive, it’s a logical impossibility.

                1. That’s some serious Ave Maria-Liberty-Regent-Cooley law-talkin’ right there.

                  1. Oh, Kirkland, honey, please do keep out of discussions of hypotheticals by adults that your preoperational mind is too immature to follow. You’re just embarrassing yourself.

                    1. Doubletalk. By a crazed psycho!

                      While a proper impeachment might not be subject to court review, that doesn’t mean that no part of an impeachment can ever be reviewed by courts.

                      Self-contradictory Trumptardism. (laughing hysterically)

                2. The Constitution vests the Senate with the “sole” power to try impeachments. I suppose if the Senate tried to attach corruption of blood on less than 2/3rds majority, sure SCOTUS could issue an edict. But under those circumstances, why would the President seek judicial review in the first place? The Senate will have already expressly violated their Constitution. Why would they care what SCOTUS says? Do you think SCOTUS decisions have magical powers? It’s 9 people, writing words. Will the Supreme Court bailiffs get one a fist fight with the Sergeant at Arms? Senate pages fighting with judicial clerks?

                  1. The Constitution vests the Senate with the “sole” power to try impeachments. I suppose if the Senate tried to attach corruption of blood on less than 2/3rds majority, sure SCOTUS could issue an edict.

                    SCOTUS can issue an edict on whatever it chooses to. In particular, it can issue an edict on whether the grounds for impeachment actually meet the “high crimes and misdemeanors” standard. Impeachment is only legitimate for conduct that meets that standard, and if it doesn’t, the entire process is invalidated.

                    By analogy, courts have the power to try and convict you for murder, but that doesn’t mean that they can charge any conduct they like as if it were murder.

                    The Senate will have already expressly violated their Constitution. Why would they care what SCOTUS says? Do you think SCOTUS decisions have magical powers? It’s 9 people, writing words.

                    That’s what’s called a “constitutional crisis”. An actual one, not the hyperventilating ones we have had in the past.

                    Will the Supreme Court bailiffs get one a fist fight with the Sergeant at Arms? Senate pages fighting with judicial clerks

                    You are forgetting about the entire executive branch. If SCOTUS rules that the decision to remove the president was illegitimate, the executive branch, the people who actually have the power, will have to make their choice between SCOTUS and Congress.

                    why would the President seek judicial review in the first place

                    Because SCOTUS passing down a judgment that Congress violated the Constitution is politically advantageous. Meaning, it would help legitimize whatever steps a deposed president would take next.

                    Now, I don’t think it would come to that. Contrary to the bizarro mindset of Democrats, Trump isn’t a power-hungry dictator, merely an inept guy thrust into the role of president. However, I can easily see someone like Harris, Warren, or Hillary go that route.

                    1. “Impeachment is only legitimate for conduct that meets that standard, and if it doesn’t, the entire process is invalidated.”

                      This helpfully demonstrates one of the main reasons for the political question doctrine. Having SCOTUS review the Senate’s opinion of a “high crime or misdemeanor” touches basically every single one of the political question standards:

                      1) The Constitution has demonstrable text committing the answer to the question to a coordinate political department;
                      2) SCOTUS lacks judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving the dispute (since the Constitution does not define high crime or misdemeanor);
                      3) SCOTUS could not speak on the isue without expressing a lack of respect for a coordinate branch (Congress);
                      4) SCOTUS cannot decide the issue without making an initial policy decision, namely what is, or is not, a high crime or misdemeanor;
                      5) Senate 2/3rds vote of impeachment presents an unusual need for adherence to a political decision already made; and
                      6) It would be embarrassing to have two categorically opposed pronouncements from coordinate branches.

                      “You are forgetting about the entire executive branch.”

                      No I’m not. The executive branch will already have been impeached by the Senate. That’s why I said “why would the President seek judicial review in the first place?” (The President is the head of the executive branch.)

                    2. Trump invited a foreign country to interfere in our election. working with his administration. He did say you’d lie, even to defend him from murder (shudder)

      2. I don’t believe David French was talking about an impeachment trial, unless it is a very unusual one that involves “a witness, judge, and jury”.

        1. I apologize. I misread your post in context.

    2. That quote is EXTRA stupid because….

      1) The Ukrainian president didn’t know the aid had been suspended when the conversation took place. It had been ordered suspended some week before but the Ukrainians didn’t know. It’s hard to do a quid pro quo when you don’t even know there’s a quid.

      2) The Ukrainian president has said specifically that he didn’t think it was a quid pro quo.

      3) The Ukrainians HADN’T started to investigate the Biden issue yet because they didn’t feel it was a super urgent issue because…wait for it…they didn’t think it was any sort of quid pro quo.

      1. They’re REALLY desperate now! (lol)

        1. Desperate to have the truth, as MairMair lays it out, accepted.
          On, and FUCK OFF HIHN!

    3. SO TRUE! The definitive word in this convoluted trope is the word “If”. Stupid article.

    4. Impeachment is not a criminal trial, as Professor Somin observes.

    5. “IF”, “more likely than not”, “It is difficult to read the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call without coming to the conclusion that a quid pro quo”…

      I call bullshit.

  2. This is really grasping at straws. Funny of the who impeachment argument fell apart in 24 hours, so much so, that now the media and all of its comrades are scrambling to move the goal posts time and time again.

    If this is really the best case you can make it doesn’t pass the “laugh test”. Just state the obvious. You think “Orange Man Bad” and will stop at nothing to get him impeached. Please just say it so we can all move on.

    1. I’ve heard the talking point that everything is falling apart on the radio, but with about as little substance as you have here.

      So far all I see is the Trump admin admitting to stuff the whistleblower brought to light.

      1. Not even close. Biden actually literally demanded a quid pro quo–the prosecutor fired–and withheld money. He was bragging about it on TV. It’s not a big secret. Trump did not bring up the main issues. Zelensky did. Trump threw in the Biden issue in about 3 sentences of a 30-minute conversation. Not exactly at the top of his concerns, there.

  3. The Axios story on the Biden demand is incorrect. It’s sourced to an “advisor” who hasn’t been advising the Ukranians for quite a while. And the “advisor” says he didn’t make the claim that it attributed to him.

    1. John Solomon, “Joe Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived”, The Hill, 1 Apr 2019.
      Ukraine prosecutor general claims that Joe Biden got local prosecutor fired who was investigating former vice president’s son
      “Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.
      “In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
      ““I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recalled telling Poroshenko.
      ““Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat.
      “Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day.”

      1. “insisting that President Obama was in on the threat”

        The threat was a directive from Obama himself. It was also State Department policy. It was also per the expressed wish of the European Union, who had demanded ten reforms from Ukraine to establish an independent judiciary in 2014, only to watch Shokin block every one.

        Biden’s threat also followed the policy of the World Bank and IMF, who also threatened to withhold aid unless Shokin was fired. Here’s what U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, said about Shokin in a Sept. 2015 speech delivered in Odessa:

        “There is one glaring problem that threatens all of the good work that regional leaders here in Odessa, in Kharkiv, in Lviv, and elsewhere are doing to improve the business climate and build a new model of government that serves the people,” Pyatt said, later adding, “That obstacle is the failure of the institution of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine to successfully fight internal corruption. Rather than supporting Ukraine’s reforms and working to root out corruption, corrupt actors within the Prosecutor General’s office are making things worse by openly and aggressively undermining reform.”

        And there were street protests over Shokin alone from reformist groups inside Ukraine. Why? Maybe because of examples like the Shokin subordinate arrested for corruption with several million dollars of diamonds found in his house. Shokin released him, refused to press charges, and returned the diamonds.

        The “Biden was protecting his son” story is lying at a grotesque level. That you have to quote a clown hack like Solomon as support just proves that twice over…

        1. Unless, you know, you go by Shokin’s own interview, where the Ukrainian President pressured him repeatedly to drop the Burisma investigation. And when Shokin didn’t, and was going to bring Hunter Biden in for interrogation, he was fired.

          If only we had some evidence from the time. Direct conversations, state department memos, notes from the Ukranian Prosecutor’s office….. How would we get those? Perhaps an investigation?

          1. Oh, gosh, could Shokin have a motive for making that claim? Hmmm, I think I discern one.

        2. There is literally a document now that shows at the reason for the prosecutor being fired “personal issue with the Vice President of the United States”.

          1. Investigating Democrats is an impeachable offense.

          2. There is no such document. Biden SAID he demanded Shokin be fired … as a condition for our loan GUARANTEE — because the guarantee was made on their agreement to do so.

            You people are frealking scary.

            1. FUCK OFF, HIHN!
              You don’t know what you are talking about, AGAIN.

        3. Nice story, bro, but you seem to take the word of the previous administration as gospel truth. How about we get to the bottom of it?

          In any case, whatever Joe Biden’s motivations may have been, he clearly had a conflict of interest, and that alone made his actions wrong and possibly illegal.

          1. “In any case, whatever Joe Biden’s motivations may have been, he clearly had a conflict of interest, and that alone made his actions wrong and possibly illegal.”

            You do realize that makes zero sense, right? When Biden applied pressure on Ukraine over Shokin he was following the policy of the President, the State Department, the European Union, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Yes, a Trump supporter can pretend away all those facts, because facts and truth mean nothing to a Trump supporter (defacto). You might almost say indifference to truth is a prerequisite for the job. But good luck getting other people to go along with your fantasy world.

            Jonah Goldberg over at the National Review said this “the charge that Joe Biden was freelancing foreign policy to protect his son simply doesn’t hold water if you spend five minutes reading up on it. Biden was acting on orders from President Obama in coordination with allies and State Department policy to force the former Russia-backed Ukrainian regime to fire a dirty prosecutor who was failing to properly investigate corruption, including at the firm Hunter Biden worked with.”

            Of course Goldberg was immediately pilloried by commenters as a “rino”. You Right-Wing types just can’t stand to have anyone call out your bulls**t…..

            1. Grb ries on the belief that Shokin was the only corrupt soul in all of the Ukraine, that Buridma wasn’t paying american lobbyists with heavy ties to democrats, and shokin was so heavily corrupt his removal was worth 1 billion. Then again, Grb is a partisan idiot.

              1. No. What grb is saying is :

                (1) Biden was told to pressure Ukraine
                (2) Those instructions had ZERO to do with little Hunter Biden
                (3) Therefore the story That Biden’s pressure was over Hunter is a lie

                QED. You can insult me, but every fact is on my side. You can pretend those facts don’t exist, but how different is that from lying? You can create your own little fantasy world inside your tribal circle, but it will mean nothing to normal people. So why not just face the facts for once? That’s my advice.

                1. You can pretend those facts don’t exist, but how different is that from lying?

                  I think it’s unfair to accuse delusional people of lying. If NOYB2 or Naaman Brown claimed Martians were talking to him, you wouldn’t accuse him of lying, just of being out of touch with reality.

                  The same applies here. They have to reconcile their faith in Leader Trump with the facts, and this is how they do it.

                  1. The same applies here. They have to reconcile their faith in Leader Trump with the facts, and this is how they do it.

                    Where did I ever say that I have “faith in Leader Trump”? You’re the kind of despicable demagogue who puts words in other people’s mouths.

                    1. But that’s the stock-in-trade of the left.
                      They are constantly putting words in people’s mouth, that were never said, and doing a Carnac, The Magnificent mind-reading of the motivations of their opponents.
                      All lies.

                  2. Haha. I think if anyone is showing blind loyalty to a “leader”, it’s yer bud, grb.

                2. 1) I was told to get a contract for goods.
                  2) Those instructions had little to do with the supplier
                  3) Therefor the story that I got the contract from my son’s company because of my son is a lie.

                  See the flaws?

                  1. I hate Mondays. But your “argument” really cheered me up; I laughed and laughed. Yesterday the WaPo Fact Checker had another go at your phony garbage. Quote :

                    “Trump has falsely claimed that Biden in 2015 pressured the Ukrainian government to fire Viktor Shokin, the top Ukrainian prosecutor, because he was investigating Ukraine’s largest private gas company, Burisma, which had added Biden’s son, Hunter, to its board in 2014. There are two big problems with this claim: One, Shokin was not investigating Burisma or Hunter Biden, and two, Shokin’s ouster was considered a diplomatic victory.

                    Biden was among the many Western officials who pressed for the removal of Shokin because he actually was not investigating the corruption endemic to the country. Indeed, he was not investigating Burisma at the time. In September 2015, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt publicly criticized Shokin’s office for thwarting a British money-laundering probe into Burisma’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky.

                    “Shokin was not investigating. He didn’t want to investigate Burisma,” Daria Kaleniuk, of the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Action Center, told The Washington Post in July. “And Shokin was fired not because he wanted to do that investigation, but quite to the contrary, because he failed that investigation.”

                    In a 2018 appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden bragged about his role in Shokin’s removal, saying he had withheld $1 billion in loan guarantees as leverage to force action. But Biden was carrying out a policy developed at the State Department and coordinated with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.”

                    OK course I understand why you’re clinging to a lie contradicted by every single fact. By this point it’s not even about Biden anymore. Trump tried to trade the favor of the United States for personal gain. And the “investigations” he strong-armed Zelensky over were both crude falsehoods. Trump’s former Homeland Security Adviser. Thomas P Bossert, said yesterday he repeatedly told Trump the CrowdStrike nonsense was completely disproved, going over the evidence against it point by point. But evidence didn’t matter. Trump laid out the narrative he demanded Zelensky parrot, and then told him to work with his (Trump’s) personal attorney to get the story properly engineered.

                    How can you defend that ?!?

                    1. It can be defended by the sworn testimony of Shokin, who said he was told he was fired due to personal pressure exerted by Biden and that he was, in fact investigating Burisma and was about to interview Hunter Biden.
                      Even if what you claim is true, it still amounts to leveraging taxpayer dollars to force a foreign government to do what they, clearly, didn’t want to do. An obvious interference in their internal affairs by a US official, who had a conflict of interest once the company hired his son.

                    2. The WaPo fact checker? Seriously?

                3. You can insult me, but every fact is on my side.

                  You’re confusing “beliefs” with “facts”.

                  Legally, bribes given to his close family members are presumed to benefit the government official. So, a key question is whether Hunter Biden actually received proper and customary compensation for the work he did for the foreign company. That might exculpate him from the charge of bribery. That’s a question that has never been answered and that warrants investigation.

                  It’s irrelevant whether Joe Biden actually changed his behavior in response to the bribe. It’s also a question that’s impossible to answer. For example, without that conflict of interest, Biden might have negotiated differently; he might not have given the six hour ultimatum that he gave. And the people who wanted this to happen are themselves largely foreign actors.

                  Joe Biden had a massive conflict of interest involving one of the most corrupt regimes and companies in the world. He should never have allowed that to persist. The only proper course of action for Joe Biden would have been either to recuse himself from any activities involving Ukraine and China, or to tell his son to cease his business activities there, or at the very least to document them meticulously.

                  No, you don’t have “facts” on your side. Rather, you’re confused about the issues themselves.

                4. Haha. Couldn’t it be both?

                  Biden had cover. Shocker. He must be clean.

                  Haha. Good one!

                  1. So let’s see if we can get EISTAU Gree-Vance’s theory straight:

                    1. The President tells Biden to pressure Ukraine.
                    2. This pressure is also per State Department policy
                    3. This pressure is also endorsed by the European Union
                    4. This pressure is also backed-up by the IMF & World Bank.
                    5. This pressure is also supported by every reform group in Ukraine.

                    But EISTAU Gree-Vance thinks Biden’s heart wasn’t pure. And apparently if Joe’s ticker wasn’t, then it doesn’t matter Biden was following United States policy per the directive of the President. Presumably EISTAU Gree-Vance wants to “investigate” the Heart Think to negate Points 1-5 above.

                    Why are conservatives so damn STUPID ?!?!?

                    1. It is easy, except for those too blind to see, that the “purity of Biden’s heart” could be brought into question by the appearance of a conflict of interest from his son being employed by a company intrinsically linked to the government, over which Biden had authority, in US policy.
                      That’s why conflicts of interest are best avoided by something like Biden recusing himself from issues related to Ukraine, once Hunter got that job.

                    2. First, there’s non conflict when, as grb noted, Biden was more the messenger of a coalition.
                      Second, the guy was fired for not being hard enough on corruption.
                      Third, Hunter Biden was never under investigation.
                      Fourth, conflicts of interest are not crimes.

              2. and shokin was so heavily corrupt his removal was worth 1 billion.

                WTF does that mean? Are you conflating the conspiracy theory about Hunter Biden and China with the conspiracy theory about Hunter Biden and Ukraine?

                1. I believe the billion being reference are the $1 Billion in US loan guarantees to Ukraine that Joe threatened to withhold unless Shokin was fired.

              3. It was a loan GUARANTEE …. there was NEVER a loan. Hunter was NEVER under investigation. Ukraine had agreed to fire the guy as a condition of SEVERAL loan guarantees, to the World Bank.

                1. FUCK OFF, HIHN!
                  The fired prosecutor has stated, under oath, and documents have surfaced that indicate there was anongoing investigation of Burisma, and that Hunter Biden, as a board member was involved.
                  You’re just another useful idiot for the communists.

            2. The conflict of interest existed regardless of who else wanted him to act this way. That is, it was improper for Biden to take any action in Ukraine as long as his son held this sinecure; Biden should have recused himself.

              (Note that absent the conflict of interest, Biden might well have objected to what the World Bank and other institutions wanted.)

              1. There was never an investigation into Hunter Biden.

                1. Why would anybody bother to investigate him? He was just the bag man.

                  1. Bag man for what? Do you even understand what Burisma (and more specifically Mykola Zlochevsky) was being investigated for in the first place? First place being before Hunter Biden was involved.

                    1. What they were or were not being investigated for is irrelevant. If Hunter Biden doesn’t look like a bag man to you, well ok. What did Hunter have to offer Burisma? Star power? Well then Oprah or Miley Cyrus would have been better choices. How about a direct line to one of the most powerful men in the world? Nah, oligarch from a notoriously corrupt state would want that?

                    2. It’s irrelevant what Burisma was being investigated for. The question about Hunter Biden is whether he received money for actual work, or whether he received money in an attempt to bribe his father. Whether his father actually changed his behavior in response simply doesn’t matter.

                      Businesses and tax payers have to document and justify money they receive and pay all the time. When it comes to the son of the VP and questions of corruption on a national scale, we should demand answers.

                    3. Shokin’s replacement already gave Ukraine’s records re: Hunter Biden to AG Barr. If there’s something to investigate, Barr isn’t doing so.

                      You keep saying “bag man” but your conspiracy theory isn’t about Hunter as a bag man. Do you know what a bag man is?

                    4. @NOYB2,

                      By all means, demand answers. There was a Ukrainian investigation into Burisma. Lutsenko (the one who actually prosecuted it) has said he uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden. Nonetheless, Lutsenko already offered to give Barr all records of Ukrainian payments to Hunter Biden, to confirm tax payments. And the misdeeds (that the prosecutor general was investigating) at Burisma predate Hunter joining the board in any event.

                      But just be clear. What do you want someone to investigate? Biden is an American. If the FBI suspects wrongdoing, they don’t need the Ukrainians of all fucking people to help. And if Barr wants the records, what’s Guiliani doing?

                    5. @NToJ
                      “Do you know what a bag man is?”
                      “A bagman is a person or paymaster designated to collect or distribute illicitly gained money, such as bribes to public officials, or money that is collected in a criminal enterprise,…”

                      Hunter Biden= bag man

                    6. In your conspiracy, Hunter is the recipient of the bribe. Not the deliverer.

                    7. @NToJ

                      “In your conspiracy, Hunter is the recipient of the bribe. Not the deliverer.”

                      Read the definition again.
                      “A bagman is a person or paymaster designated to collect or distribute illicitly gained money”

                      Reportedly he collects (or collected. I don’t know his current status.) $50,000 per month. Now whether this money is a bribe or just payment for access has yet to be determined. One thing it surely isn’t is compensation for any actual productive work by Hunter Biden.

                      Investigator: Hunter what do you do in a normal day?
                      Hunter: Maybe six to eight lines I guess.
                      Investigator: No, I mean what work do you do in a normal day?
                      Hunter: Huh?

                    8. If, as you imagine, Hunter Biden was accepting a bribe on behalf of his father (to do what?) then wouldn’t it be appropriate to get the FBI to investigate?

                      Since when do we have Ukrainian authorities investigate federal crimes?

                      The whole Biden thing is a laughable red herring.

                    9. It would be very appropriate for the FBI to investigate it and it has two components, the US side and the Ukraine side. Presumably bribery would be illegal on both sides and it would be appropriate for Ukraine to investigate its side, and for both sides to share information about the crimes.

                      It is a laughable red herring to you because you are a partisan, and I’m not trying to convince you of anything. That would be impossible no matter how compelling the facts were. It would be fun though to see you going batshit crazy if Don Jr. had such an accommodation.

                    10. donojack I think you’re trying to save face here, but do I understand that your belief all along is that Hunter Biden was just holding the money so he could pay it to Joe Biden (or somebody else) later? I thought the idea was you pay Hunter Biden so he influences his father, not so that he pays his dad. That would be a monumentally stupid crime, since it would introduce a pointless (and, as you noted, reckless) intermediary, in this case one with a direct relationship with the payee. If you want to use a bag man, you wouldn’t typically use one related to one of the conspirators.

                      Which kind of goes back to the whole batshit crazy business. Your theory of a conspiracy is so juvenile even the dumbest criminal wouldn’t try it. Setting aside all the other stuff, like the fact that the Burisma investigation involved conduct that predated Hunter Biden joining the board.

                    11. @NToJ “donojack I think you’re trying to save face here,” etc.

                      You are so lost in the weeds here that it’s hard to know where to begin. First it is irrelevant whether Hunter transmits the money directly to Joe or not. It’s a family enterprise and Joe is 76 so maybe he is content for Hunter to keep it. It is also irrelevant whether the Burisma principal communicates with Joe directly or through Hunter.

                      Regardless of the details Hunter is a conduit. That’s what a bag man is. If the scheme is bribery then the Burisma guy is the briber and Joe, not Hunter, is the one accepting the bribe. If the money goes to Hunter and even stays with Hunter that makes no difference.

                    12. By all means, demand answers. There was a Ukrainian investigation into Burisma. Lutsenko (the one who actually prosecuted it) has said he uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden

                      It’s not illegal to be employed in meaningless sinecures by companies trying to gain influence on someone’s family either in the US or in Ukraine. So a Ukrainian prosecutor wouldn’t find any violation of Ukrainian law.

                      Biden likely violated US law; that’s why Ukrainian law enforcement should provide information to US law enforcement. And that’s what Trump was asking for.

                    13. “…that’s why Ukrainian law enforcement should provide information to US law enforcement.”

                      Of course, through appropriate channels. Former Ukrainian prosecutor general Lutsenko has repeatedly said he would have been happy to talk to AG Barr about any information requested, but “through prosecutors, not through presidents[.]” In other words, not through an “obsessed” personal lawyers of the President seeking “to conduct a political vendetta”.

                2. This is an oft repeated trope, and true only in the most technical sense.

                  Technically the investigation was into the company (Burisma) that Hunter was working for (and being paid quite a lot). And Hunter himself was being brought in for interrogation, according the the prosecutor.

                  It’s quite often that criminal charges against individuals working for a company can results from investigations of the same company…

                  1. Then the US can investigate Hunter Biden! Why do you think the President was asking UKRAINE to investigate?

                    1. Perhaps because it was a Ukranian company being worked for, in Ukraine, with a Ukranian government investigation into, and Ukrainian jurisdiction.

                      Just a thought.

                    2. You were almost there until “Ukrainian jurisdiction”. Why would the President of the US try to get Ukraine to investigate Americans for breaking Ukrainian law? If Barr is investigating it would be for Biden(s) breaking US law, very much under US jurisdiction. If Hunter Biden broke American laws, it’s America’s business. (As of today the last Ukrainian prosecutor general says he has no evidence of violations of Ukrainian laws by Hunter Biden.)

                      And if it was in the sole interest of ameliorating corruption in the Ukraine, why didn’t the President make it a public policy issue (as the last administration did—public statements from the ambassador, letter to Ukraine, etc.) Why on earth would the President have his personal counsel promote that investigation secretly?

                      You May believe that it’s ok for President Trump to do what he did because Biden is evil. But you cannot possibly expect me to believe that President Trump did all this in the public—rather than his private—interest. So why do you keep making that argument?

                3. There was never an investigation into Hunter Biden.

                  Correct. And there should be. As a close family member of a high US government official, we need to determine whether payments to Hunter Biden were for actual work or whether they were effectively bribes. If they were the latter, then his father should be charged with corruption, regardless of whether Biden actually engaged in any quid-pro-quo. Merely the receipt of bribes is illegal.

                  “Hunter Biden is a private citizen” and “Joe Biden didn’t change his behavior” are excuses, not legal defenses, and ordinary Americans wouldn’t be able to get away with what the Bidens did, they would have the book thrown at them.

                  1. So why isn’t Barr investigating Biden?????

                    1. How do you know he isn’t? The FBI doesn’t routinely broadcast news of its investigations. Even Biden might not know until he got a target letter.

                    2. Well as of May of this year, AG Barr testified that the President had not asked him to open an investigation into Hunter Biden. And the AP is reporting (today) that Barr was not aware of the Trump-Zelensky phone call until after the whistleblower complaint had been made. The DOJ is denying it knew about it.

                    3. The President doesn’t have to request that the AG open investigations, and the FBI doesn’t need a request from the AG to investigate something. The point is that neither your nor I know whether there is a FBI investigation or not.

                      Also if the FBI was investigating the matter it would be completely appropriate to contact parallel Ukrainian officials to request assistance and to offer assistance if they are conducting an investigation.

                    4. You’re right. Completely appropriate for the DOJ to reach out to Ukraine to request information. Not appropriate for the President to send his personal lawyer.

                    5. Well, a lot of possibilities: they are but aren’t talking about it; Barr refused to do it because he thought it would be politically problematic; Barr is choosing not to do it because he knows his agency would refuse to do it no matter what he orders; Trump lost track of it after the phone call; etc. Take your pick.

                      If there is one thing that I fault Trump for, it is that he hasn’t gone aggressively after Clinton, Obama, and Biden, all of which have acted corruptly and violated the public trust. It’s a failure of our federal government that these people haven’t been held accountable for their actions.

                    6. We agree that President Trump is not a serious person and often makes outlandish claims and has no follow-through. He’s also tweeted that he wants Representative Adam “Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason” (whatever “highest level” means) and possibly “Arrest[ed] for Treason?” based on statements made by Schiff to Congress.

                4. Boy, this comment thread is pretty useless. Two points :

                  (1) The second half of your Hunter Biden narrative forgot the first. You start out by saying little Hunter has no qualifications, added no value to the Burisma board, and got the job by name alone. And I don’t have any problem with any of those judgement. But the world is full of people who sit on corporate boards because of name or prestige alone, including people leeching off a connection to a politician family member. It’s plenty sordid, but not illegal.

                  Then you go into the second half of your narrative – and suddenly the empty suit is woven deep into the inner machinations of Burisma’s dealings. Setting aside the fact there’s zero evidence of Hunter crimes – setting aside the fact there isn’t a single hint of possible evidence of Hunter crimes – why do you even think a lightweight occupying a ceremonial position on a board would be involved in crimes anyway? I’d say the odds are against it, wouldn’t you?

                  (2) You keep pretending this is about Hunter’s sordid little existence, but it isn’t. Read the transcript. Trump doesn’t give a damn about Hunter Biden. His name briefly arises through the Shokin firing, but the focus was the firing and the target was Joe alone. How much value to Triump’s campaign is in a story of family leeching off a politician in office? You saw that when Ivanka was granted a slew of trademarks by China. Exactly how long did that “scandal” last? Billy Carter, Neil Bush, Roger Clinton. The country yawned every time. Hunter was irrelevant; the target was Biden. And the narrative? A crude lie.

              2. The Vice President cannot simply recuse himself. Anyone that he could assign would be a subordinate, and this, subject to the same conflicts as Biden himself. However,

                1: He should have revealed the conflict of interest publicly at the time.
                2: Hunter Biden’s position should never have existed. I’m sorry, but an American lawyer and repeated cocaine user with no energy experience who doesn’t speak Ukrainian being hired for the board of a Ukrainian oil company? There is no way on Earth that is legitimate

                1. There was no conflict of interest. Another lie by
                  our pathetic President. Hunter was never under investigation, so had nothing to do with anything. MANY countries and organizations were demanding the prosecutor be fired,
                  as a condition of guaranteeing Ukraine loans — including the World Bank. For the same reason Fannie and Freddie would never guarantee a loan for a known fraud.

                  Guaranteeing loans risks TAXPAYER DOLLARS. Would YOU guarantee somebody else’s loan, risking taxpayer dollars knowing that the borrower was up to its ears in massive fraud. and they had promised to fire the corrupt prosecutor?

                  Did you miss Biden’s actual words, broadcast dozens of times (but suppressed by Fox)? Here’s the video, PROOF that Trump told another psycho lie. This one to “justify” his impeachable offense. More Whataboutisms.

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=RpQZ0e-Ux7w
                  “I remember going over (to Ukraine), convincing our team … that we should be providing for loan guarantees. … And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And
                  I had gotten a commitment from (then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko) and from (then-Prime Minister Arseniy) Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor (Shokin). And they didn’t.

                  Trump has totally suckered you. Betrayed your trust. Do you even care?.

                  1. FUCK OFF, HIHN!

            3. That’s not what Biden said himself during the actual interview. The Ukrainians protested that Obama had promised them the aid, and Biden declared that he had been given the full power to decide on aid and the Obama backed his decisions implicitly. Biden did not ever say that he was acting at the direction of Obama or the State Dept, but rather that he counted on Obama to back his decisions and his discretion.

        4. Why isn’t the Good Professor Somin decrying Biden’s unconstitutional use of the $1B? Surely Congress didn’t authorize Biden to extort Ukraine to fire an AG.

          1. Sucker. Trump has betrayed your trust in him.There was no “use of $1B,” which is BULLSHIT. And I have undeniable proof

            It was a $1B loan guarantee, NOT US dollars to be “used.” MANY countries and organizations were demanding the prosecutor be fired … including the Word Bank … as a condition of guaranteeing Ukraine loans, to restore their battered and corrupt government.
            For the same reason Fannie and Freddie would never guarantee a loan for a known fraud.

            Guaranteeing loans risks TAXPAYER DOLLARS. Would YOU guarantee somebody else’s loan, risking taxpayer dollars knowing that the borrower was up to its ears in massive fraud.

            Did you miss Biden’s actual words broadcast dozens of times all over TV and the ‘Net (but SUPPRESSED by Fox). Here’s the video of his actual statement , PROOF that Trump told another psycho lie. This one to “justify” his impeachable offense.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=RpQZ0e-Ux7w
            “I remember going over (to Ukraine), convincing our team … that we should be providing for loan guarantees. … And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from (then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko) and from (then-Prime Minister Arseniy) Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor (Shokin). And they didn’t. .

            PLUS, Trump’s INSANE Crowdstrike conspiracy is crazier than Pizzagate and Birtherism.

            Crowdstrike is the major cybersecurity firm that found proof it was RUSSIA who hacked the DNC server less than 12 hours after TRUMP ASKED RUSSIA TO HACK AWAY.

            The crazy part — Trump says it was UKRAINE who hacked the DNC server, to get dirt on Trump, NOT Russia to get help Trump. Trump
            also says Crowdstrike is owned by a rich Ukrainian, AND the server is in Ukraine.. HOW CRAZY IS THAT? See for yourself. If you have the balls.

            Google this. Crowdstrike is a PUBLIC CORPORATION, in the US , shares traded on NASDAQ, headquartered in California, this work done from a branch office in the DC area (Virginia).

            Trump has TOTALLY betrayed you. Do you even care?
            Or are you just another anti-patriot?

            1. Behold TDS in full swing. That fake libertarian would rather have a deep state coup and a socialist in power than tolerate the duly elected president of the US.

              Trump didn’t betray me because I didn’t vote for him. Most of the people who voted for him did so not because they like him, but because he was the lesser of two evils.

              1. I LINKED TO ABSOLUTE PROOF, YOU CRAZED WACKO.

                TRUMP BETRAYED YOUR TRUST BY LYING TO YOU. DUH.

                SAYING YOU DIDN’T VOTE FOR HIM IS GROUNDS FOR PLACING YOU IN AN INSTITUTION,

                1. FUCK OFF, HIHN!

  4. Too much of a stretch. Congress has the power of the purse, yes. But the executive signs the checks. If we used your logic that almost any disbursement of funds could be claimed to have been speeded up or slowed down for ulterior purposes.

    Is 5 minutes de minimus but 5 days a high crime? Or maybe real zealots might say that even 5 minute delay is a high crime. One can always always always imagine an ulterior motive.

    One thing to guard against is that all the weapons deployed against Trump (emoluments and so on) will also be applied to every future President. Calls for impeachment starting on inauguration day are not ridiculous in this crazy world.

    1. The memo provides sufficient evidence entitling Congress to some sworn testimony from the administration re: what was motivating the withholding of funds.

      1. It was under DoD review, as normal process, by Esper and Bolton. You think obama cut checks as soon as money was appropriated? Do you think congressional deference isnt a thing?

        1. It’s funny that you think anyone gives an shit what you have to say Jesse.

          Everyone judged you to be a partisan dipshit years ago.

          Why do you bother to come back knowing that everyone laughs at your foolishness? Is the pay at the troll farm really worth it?

        2. It was under DoD review, as normal process, by Esper and Bolton.

          No. Please stop lying.

        3. I think if former President Obama did what this President did, your response would be very different.

          1. So the Obama administration/obama did not commit an impeachable offense when he allowed biden to get the prosecutor fired before releasing the funds?

            1. Of course not. Their motives were pure, using a little nudge to bring light and transparency into a dark corner of the world.

            2. You’re making things up.

              Biden didn’t get the guy fired, he was a messenger. The embassy, on behalf of the coalition that was working with Ukraine on their corruption, asked for it.

              This is well documented.

              1. “You’re making things up.” Hey, that’s my line. Get your own damn line.

                Please don’t pretend that you don’t know how power works.

                Here’s a tip: Stay as far away from Hunter Biden as you can and focus on Trump. I’ll stay as far away as I can from some of the dumb shit Trumps says and focus on Hunter Biden.

                1. There is no evidence for your conspiracy. You’re argument is basically ‘I need to direct evidence. Bribery is the only possible reason anyone would hire the son of a high-level American politician.’

                  You’re running on fumes and hope. Neither of those are facts.

                  1. Bribery isn’t the only possibility, selling access is far more likely because it’s safer. The guy paying Hunter gets to tell Joe where he wants a thumb on the scale. Joe decides if he can facilitate that without it being too dangerous. It’s a fine line between that and bribery.

                    I’m not running on fumes and hope. Biden was probably not going to be the nominee and almost certainly won’t be now, and Trump may be impeached but almost certainly won’t be convicted. But you guys are running on fumes and hope. The coups have failed and you’re terrified that Trump will get re-elected.

                    1. You’re the one pretending possibilities are facts.

                      Yeah, it won’t be the impeachment, it’ll be the impeachment investigation. Look what it’s done so far.
                      That’s what has you running scared.

                    2. @Sarcastro

                      “Yeah, it won’t be the impeachment, it’ll be the impeachment investigation. Look what it’s done so far.”

                      I admit you have me there. Apparently it has convinced you, bernard and NToJ to abandon your support for Trump.

                    3. The polls, GOP Senators, Trump’s twitter feed, all indicate differently.

              1. NToJ
                Okay – I got it –
                Its not an impeachable offense because Obama did it
                Same thing that Obama using the FBI to spy on the Trump campaign was not an impeachable offense because Obama did it.
                Same thing with the Private server – and communicating with Hillary on the private unsecure server along with the FBI/DOJ whitewash was not an impeachable offense –
                Because Obama and other democrats did it.

                Nice to observe someone who is imartial

            3. So the Obama administration/obama did not commit an impeachable offense when he allowed biden to get the prosecutor fired before releasing the funds?

              Bat-shit crazy. Trumps OWNS what soul you may have.

              THERE WERE NO FUNDS TO RELEASE! IT WAS A LOAN GUARANTEE … ONE OF MANY SUCH GUARANTEES, BY OTHER COUNTRIES AND INSTITUTIONS … FOR LOANS FROM THE WORLD BANK … !!

              Guaranteeing loans risks TAXPAYER DOLLARS. Would YOU guarantee somebody else’s loan, risking taxpayer dollars knowing that the borrower was up to its ears in massive fraud?.

              Howe did you miss Biden’s actual words, broadcast dozens of times, everywhere, BUT SUPPRESSED BY FOX.

              Here’s UNDENIABLE video, PROOF that Trump told another TOTAL bat–shit crazy lie. This one to “justify” his impeachable offense.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=RpQZ0e-Ux7w
              “I remember going over (to Ukraine), convincing our team … that we should be providing for loan guarantees. … And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from (then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko) and from (then-Prime Minister Arseniy) Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor (Shokin). And they didn’t. .

              This is like watching chimpanzees debate nuclear physics. Trump has AGAIN betyrayedyour trust in him. Do you even care?

    2. Pre-Nixon, the executive branch had nearly full powers of impoundment.

      Post Nixon, the executive branch has effectively 45 days to get permission from Congress even if they intend impoundment.

      So, no, 5 days is not a “high crime”.

      1. ” So, no, 5 days is not a “high crime”. ”

        More Volokh-fan-comment-level legal reasoning.

        This is going to get even better as the clingers become more exasperated.

        1. More Volokh-fan-comment-level legal reasoning.

          You’re welcome to attempt to respond with rational arguments. It would be a first.

          This is going to get even better as the clingers become more exasperated.

          Yeah, it’s fun to see people like you running around like their hair is on fire.

          1. I hope to observe a good investigation, followed by a just result. I do not have a strong preference or even expectation yet with respect to impeachment, let alone conviction.

            A distracted, neutered, investigated, subpoenaed, exasperated Pres. Trump is a welcome development; it may be enough for me.

  5. Talk about grasping at straws. Note that, by Somin’s logic, even if Trump were telling the absolute truth, and held up the money to pressure the Europeans into ponying up their share, it would still be an impeachable violation of the Constitution, unless Congress expressly authorized holding up the money for that purpose. Proves too much, as my tax professor used to say.

    1. That wouldn’t implicate the criminal statute. At the very least we should all be able to distinguish between the President using aid to further our collective political interests, compared to his own personal interests.

      1. There is no implication by any criminal statute without twisting the law in such a way to make Maduros use of political prosecutions seem moral.

        1. We’re talking about impeachment, not criminal prosecution.

          1. So standards don’t matter.

            1. Umm, no. LAME,
              Like David said, the issue is impeachment, not criminal prosecution.
              Perhaps you don’t know the difference?,

          2. NToJ was making the argument that Trump’s holding up of funds was illegal because it involved “the criminal statute”. Hence, in this context, we were not talking about “criminal prosecution” and your comment is irrelevant.

            1. No, you’re confused. I was merely responding to y81’s over expansive interpretation of Simon’s argument.

      2. No, Somin says that setting conditions on or delaying disbursement of money that Congress has appropriated is unconstitutional. Period. If you disagree with him, then speak up.

        1. That’s not what he said. But notice how your first comment references “impeachable” and your second retreats to “unconstitutional”.

          1. “[If} Trump did indeed try to use the aid funds as leverage . . . , he both violated the Constitution and committed a federal crime.”
            So I’m not the one treating those two concepts as identical.

        2. You mean like what every rule-making bureaucrat in the executive branch does for a living every day? Setting conditions for disbursement?

      3. That wouldn’t implicate the criminal statute. At the very least we should all be able to distinguish between the President using aid to further our collective political interests, compared to his own personal interests.

        The article goes out of its way to deliberately sever witholding without congressional approval as independently very bad, regardless of why.

        Then at the end it rhetorically bolts it back on because something needs to stick to the wall to get this guy removed for political reasons.

      4. It looks like Somin thinks that leveraging aid funds for any reason is a federal crime.
        “Taken together, this evidence strongly supports the notion that Trump did indeed try to use the aid funds as leverage. If so, he both violated the Constitution and committed a federal crime.”

        Biden was leveraging aid funds in his attempt to get Shokin fired. Your assertion that this was done with only the most virtuous and selfless motives, an assertion contradicted by plenty of other evidence, wouldn’t matter in Somin-think.

        1. Why don’t we let Somin speak for himself?

          1. Huh? He just published a long post laying out these ideas. You need to get out of the sun lie down.

    2. even if Trump were telling the absolute truth, and held up the money to pressure the Europeans into ponying up their share,

      Trump did not say that, nor could that possibly be the explanation, since the U.S. delaying aid to Ukraine does not put pressure on Europeans — even if they knew about it, despite the fact that the current Trumpkin claim is that there was no QPQ because the U.S. hadn’t told anyone that’s what they were doing — nor do they have a “share” in the first place.

      1. Trump did not say that, nor could that possibly be the explanation, since the U.S. delaying aid to Ukraine does not put pressure on European

        HUH. Trump SAID his delay was tied to pressing Europeans — originally — until it was proven bullshit. They had given me than we had! His original lame excuse was phrased as a threat.

      2. Did you do that in law school, explain to the professor that her hypothetical was not true, and therefore proved nothing? My professors would have ripped you to shreds right there in the classroom.

  6. I think the author is badly mistaken here. I am involved in selling defense related items. My understanding is that the Congress passed laws that give the President very wide latitude in withholding defense related funds.

    For example, Biden loudly bragged about withholding funds that had been appropriated from Ukraine unless they fired their chief prosecutor. Totally legal even if awfully suspicious given all that we now know.

    In short, it doesn’t matter if the Congress appropriated the funds. The President has the lawful authority to withhold disbursement of those funds.

    1. Do you think the President could withhold the funds to force Ukraine to pay for his daughter’s wedding? In exchange for a concession in a private real estate transaction?

      1. What about paying a son 50k a month?

        1. There is no evidence anyone was using federal funds to assure that.

        2. Do you think President Trump should be able to withhold federal funds from a foreign power in exchange for that foreign power paying his son $50k a month?

          1. I think if Donald Trump Jr had the same sort of rich deal Hunter had, with a foreign power. And the company that Trump Jr. worked for was under direct investigation by the foreign power, until Trump threatened then by withholding funds, unless the investigation was dropped…

            I think Democrats would scream bloody murder.

            1. They would.

              But that’s not what happened with the Bidens.

              Stop lying.

              1. Even Bill Maher admits that you guys would go nuts if Don Jr. had exactly the same deal that Hunter Biden has.

              2. Sorry, which part about that analogy is incorrect with the Bidens?

                1. Was Hunter working for Burisma, a foreign company?
                2. Was Burisma under direct investigation by the Ukranian government when Hunter was working for them?
                3. Did Biden threaten to withhold funds (in the form of loan guarantees from Ukraine) unless the prosecutor was fired?
                4. Does the lead prosecutor directly testify he was pressured by the Ukranian government to drop the investigation into Burisma?
                5. Was at least part of the pressure due to the insistence of the American Government, and Biden was leading government efforts there?

                1. 4 is not true. Shokin hasn’t testified.

                  1. Btw what the fuck does “directly testify” mean to you?

    2. I think Biden was actually withholding a loan guarantee, if that matters.

    3. You’ve also been brainwashed. Badly. There was a large number of foreign countries and institutions (like, oh the World Bank) all calling for the prosecutor to be fired.

      The reason was all the aid and lending, which required Ukraine to reform all its rampant corruption — for obvious reasons! The prosecutor was seen, worldwide, as defending the corruption, So, again, Trump is a liar.

      1. Yes, he was a bad piece of work. I’m not going to give you an objection on that.

        However, after he was fired, the corruption investigation conveniently gets dropped?

        What harm comes in picking it back up and looking into what happened and why? I don’t particularly care about Biden’s back-room dealings or parental protection. However, I do care that a corruption investigation of Burisma was apparently dropped for no good reason.

        1. Trump has made a total fool out of you! And here’s PROOF of his bullshit

          There was no conflict of interest. Another lie by
          our pathetic President. Hunter was never under investigation, so had nothing to do with anything. MANY countries and organizations were demanding the prosecutor be fired, as a condition of guaranteeing Ukraine loans — including the World Bank. For the same reason Fannie and Freddie would never guarantee a loan for a known fraud.

          Guaranteeing loans risks TAXPAYER DOLLARS. Would YOU guarantee somebody else’s loan, risking taxpayer dollars knowing that the borrower was up to its ears in massive fraud.

          Did you miss Biden’s actual words, broadcast dozens of times (but suppressed by Fox? Here’s the video, PROOF that Trump told another psycho lie. This one to “justify” his impeachable offense. More Whataboutism.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=RpQZ0e-Ux7w
          “I remember going over (to Ukraine), convincing our team … that we should be providing for loan guarantees. … And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from (then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko) and from (then-Prime Minister Arseniy) Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor (Shokin). And they didn’t. .

          MORE PROOF NEXT

        2. Part Two … damning Trump.

          Ukraine Prosecutor Says No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Bidens
          Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in an interview that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son, despite a swirl of allegations by President Donald Trump’s lawyer.

          Trump betrayed your blind loyalty to him. You have been totally suckered. Do you even care?

    4. Totally legal even if awfully suspicious given all that we now know.

      Not under Somin’s reasoning. Biden threatened to withhold federal funds for a purpose not authorized by Congress.

      Even presuming that Biden’s actions were completely innocent this would still – according to Somin – be a criminal act.

      I look forward to Prof. Somin’s next post encouraging the Trump administration to arrest and prosecute Joe Biden.

      Personally, I think the President using law enforcement agencies against a political opponent is unacceptable, even if there was strong evidence to support such use.

  7. On a larger note, Ilya misses the point in that what is needed is not “aid restrictions” but transparency. Presidents have other “tools” at their disposal besides Aid. We all remember President Obama’s hotmike moment with the Russian President. From Rueters….

    “As he was leaning toward Medvedev in Seoul, Obama was overheard asking for time – “particularly with missile defense” – until he is in a better position politically to resolve such issues. “I understand your message about space,” replied Medvedev, who will hand over the presidency to Putin in May. “This is my last election … After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama said, expressing confidence that he would win a second term. “I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” said Medvedev, Putin’s protégé and long considered number two in Moscow’s power structure.”

    Here is a quid pro quo, where Obama promises to eliminate missile defense in the future if Russia helps Obama now, right before the election. And indeed, in March of 2013, Obama did cancel the missile defense that Russia opposed…right after the 2012 election. There’s no aid involved…but something potentially far worse. Trading national security for electoral help.

    It’s a shame we never got the entire conversation.

    1. It’s a shame we never got the entire conversation.

      Blame it on Boehner, or Ryan.

      1. Then an investigation is warranted in your opinion?

        1. I don’t think so, but it wasn’t up to me. It was up to the GOP-controlled House, which elected not to pursue one.

          So if you’re unhappy about that decision take it up with them.

  8. Actually, it’s worse than Professor Somin allows. Not only was Trump strong-arming a foreign government to serve his personal ends – not only was he trading the favor of the United States for his own private gain – not only was he colluding with another country to influence an election – but he he was also demanding that country promote fraudulent accusations.

    If you look at the transcript it was pure quid pro quo, slightly more subtle than a mafioso boss. So what did Trump ask of Zelensky? First, an investigations of the Right’s bizarre CrowdStrike conspiracy, which is simple tin-foil-hat lunacy. Second, an investigation over Biden protecting his son thru Shokin’s ouster.

    And no amount of spin will ever make that anything more than a lie. Biden’s actions followed the President’s orders, State Department policy, and the expressed aim of the European Union, World Bank and IMF. Inside Ukraine every single reformist group wanted Shokin fired. They protested in the streets demanding his ouster, and cheered when he was gone.

    But in both cases, Trump carefully signaled to Zelensky who was to be targeted and how he wanted the lie told. After all, the only sure way to suborn perjury is to go over the story, word by word.

    1. How do you know they were fraudulent?

    2. I guess its a shame the orange one’s story has actual evidence in the form of actual documentation, and an admission of guilt on live video, but your fantasies have nothing approaching evidence. In fact, things pointed out as evidence prove the opposite, Things called crimes don’t meet requirements (we aren’t at war with the Ukraine for example, they are an ally) and old canards like pretending information is a campaign contribution are being trotted out in a hopeless act of desperation despite Robert Mueller putting and end to that childish nonsense by declaring that tactic nonsense in his report.

      1. pretending information is a campaign contribution are being trotted out in a hopeless act of desperation despite Robert Mueller putting and end to that childish nonsense by declaring that tactic nonsense in his report.

        You haven’t read the report. We know that, because Mueller said no such thing.

      2. They will just say “there’s no evidence” regardless. That’s where we are on this. There’s a greater, exponentially more important truth that transcends the mundanity of events that actually happened.

        1. NEWS FLASH: Trumpster says there is a TRUTH grater than…. WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED!

          And reality is sneered off as being mundane.

          more important truth that transcends the mundanity of events that actually happened.

          (lol)

      3. IIRC, the Mueller report recognized that opposition research is a thing of value. Political campaigns regularly pay for that service.

    3. Not only was Trump strong-arming a foreign government to serve his personal ends

      Investigating corruption is inherently always going to result in personal gain, especially political corruption. Are supposed to ignore and not investigate corruption because it might improve you electoral prospects.

      1. So why hide the evidence in the first place? Like the President said, his conversation was “perfect”. Why would his staff want it suppressed at all? He’s just investigating corruption, after all.

        1. Why doesn’t every President publish every conversation they have with foreign leaders?

          You’re just rephrasing the 1984 “Why do you need privacy if you’ve got nothing to hide” argument.

          1. There is a difference between not publishing it, and immediately burying it. When staff saw it they immediately realized the problem (even if the President didn’t).

            It didn’t just remain classified (fine). Why was this seeming less innocuous call memo and transcript moved to the secret stash?

            1. Your ignorance is palatable.

              1. Like you can taste anything with your mouth full of Trump’s mushroom.

                Lol.

                1. Do you have anything to actually add to the conversation? Or are you just going to stalk commenters like a crazy teenager with a crush?

                  1. I’m tired of your ignorance, and your cult-like mentality that the Constitution and the law doesn’t matter. I’m tired of your partisan bullshit that whatever Trump does is perfectly ok as long as he targets ‘the other side.’

                    Real Americans don’t put Party over Country. That goes for all political parties and affiliations.

                    So you, as yet another Trumptard, can go fuck yourself. Be grateful that this country allows your perspective, and be thankful that the rest of us are content simply to mercilessly mock and ridicule you.

                    1. Up yours sideways, you arrogant leftist prick. You’ve never even read any of my comments in the past, so you can just stuff it.

                      And no one usurps the constitution like you commies with your judicial activist nonsense. So don’t jump into the comments and act like you know anything other than what your handlers told you what to say. Tool.

                    2. You’re an oblivious fool to have read my remark and then presume I’m a ‘leftist.’

                      And how could you possibly have knowledge of what I have, or haven’t read in the past? Are Trump supporters getting dumber by the minute?

                      I’m an independent, and have been my entire life. Go puke your stupidity towards someone else and fuck off.

            2. Your ignorance is not proof of a crime, so please stop trying to pretend it is.

              I don’t know why or how the President or his staff determine how to classify conversations… and neither do you. Neither do the talking heads, or even “former government officers under Obama”. The “anonymous sources” might, or might not. Who knows? But getting basic facts wrong is not a good sign that the person presenting those facts is correct about other uncorroborated claims.

              1. This is from Fox News:

                “A senior Trump administration official acknowledged Friday that White House lawyers directed moving the transcript of President Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to a highly secure system.“

                The current strategy appears to be to throw these lawyers under the bus but we will see.

                What basic facts do you contend I have gotten wrong?

                1. Perhaps the facts where early in the administration, multiple phone calls between the President and Foreign leaders were leaked to the media? Perhaps you remember.

                  Thus, his phone calls now require an additional level of security.

                  1. Except this isn’t the policy for all his phone calls.

                    And even if it were, classification would be an illegal way to do it.

                    1. “classification would be an illegal way to do it”

                      You keep saying that but its wrong.

                      Things affecting foreign policy are specifically permitted in the classification EO.

                      Conversations with foreign leaders affect foreign policy.

                    2. Didn’t NToJ quote the relevant law right to you in the previous thread?

                    3. It was David, not me.

                    4. Sorry for the mixup NToJ. Phone posting leads to laziness.

                      Point is, Bob doesn’t read.

                    5. @Sarcastro Point is, Bob doesn’t read.

                      And you don’t understand what you read.

                      Here is what David cited:
                      ” Information shall not be classified in order to conceal inefficiency, violations of law, or administrative error; to prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency; to restrain competition; or to prevent or delay release of information that does not require protection in the interest of national security. Information that has been declassified and released to the public under proper authority may not be reclassified.”

                      Now David may think that this applies to Trump’s motives for classifying the conversation. Maybe, maybe not. The evidence points to 1.4 (d) rather than the above, because Trump released the transcript only after getting an ok to do so from Zelensky.

                    6. “Now David may think that this applies to Trump’s motives for classifying the conversation.”

                      Of course. Why do you think he would have mentioned 28 C.F.R. § 17.22 (d) in the first place?

                      The evidence to date is the transcript. Based on its contents, it is laughable that the President (or his staff) classified this as Secret because the memorandum’s disclosure could “reasonably . . . be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.” Even if we were stupid enough to believe that this was to protect Zelensky, 1.2(3) classification was the highest possible supportable classification. The only way you can get to 1.2(2) (“Secret”) is if you assume “serious damage to the national security” includes exposure of “violations of law, or administrative error” or “to prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency”. Otherwise the claim just isn’t credible. Even the President didn’t think so, he said the conversation was “Perfect”.

                    7. @NToJ Of course. Why do you think he would have mentioned 28 C.F.R. § 17.22 (d) in the first place?

                      For the reason I said obviously. I just don’t happen to agree with him. In fact I am going to bet that we will find out that it has been routine over the course of a number of administrations to classify conversations with heads of state. Got any money you want you to put on that? And the only classification below Secret is Confidential. So what? People over classify things all the time. You and your buddies are clutching at straws with this classification thing. It’s going nowhere.

                    8. “In fact I am going to bet that we will find out that it has been routine over the course of a number of administrations to classify conversations with heads of state.”

                      I’m sure you’re right. The issue is why was this conversation classified. That’s going to be a central inquiry in the impeachment proceedings.

                    9. @NToJ
                      “is if you assume “serious damage to the national security” includes exposure of “violations of law, or administrative error” or “to prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency”. ”

                      Now I’m not sure that you understand David’s cite either. What you listed are some of the reasons you can’t classify; iow cya reasons. That has to do with the classifier not the subject of the classification which in this case would be the head of state and the potential impact on him.

                    10. @NtoJ ” I’m sure you’re right. The issue is why was this conversation classified. That’s going to be a central inquiry in the impeachment proceedings.”

                      Um, because they classify all of them. In fact it would be very odd if this one hadn’t been classified.

                    11. Code name classifying Trumo’s conversation with foreign leaders was not SoP.

                    12. Who cares about secure phone calls with foreign leaders? They should be posted on facebook. No effect on global stability at all.

                  2. If that’s the case, why didn’t they put the memo in the super safe spot in the first place?

                    1. Why do you think this means anything? They could put it on the moon as long as it could be retrieved and released as needed.

            3. And it was somehow, so secret, that someone managed to hear about it anyway? And write a complaint to Congress?

              That’s not very secret.

              1. I agree that the President is fucking terrible at controlling information. Then again, when you do something this stupid, it’s hard to hide.

            4. Secret stash, burying it, death threats to the whistleblower. We have the makings of a real thriller here, especially given the fact that he obstinately refused to cough up the transcript. Wait, he did? Well obviously it was doctored. When will we get the real transcript?

              1. If he or someone in his admin did in fact destroy the actual transcript, that’s going to look very bad for them. By the way, why don’t we have the actual transcript, yet?

                1. Because from what I understand they don’t record the calls. Two or three people in the White House listen in and take notes. They then compare notes and create a transcript.

                  Why don’t they record the calls? I don’t know, why doesn’t the FBI record the 301s? (BTW if the FBI wants to interview you demand that you be allowed to have your attorney present and that the interview be recorded by a court reporter who will create a transcript. Really pisses them off but they have to let you do it.)

                  1. “Because from what I understand they don’t record the calls.”

                    The whistleblower has alleged that the “official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced–as is customary–by the White House Situation Room.”

                    The WaPo reports that the calls are not recorded, but that a voice-recognition software is used to help produce a baseline of the call, spitting out “something like a transcript” (based on the “voice of a staffer who repeats what the person hears on the call”) per a former NSC staffer. That spit-out existed at one point. I suspect Congress has asked for it, or at least it is the subject of a broader request for all documentation relating to the call.

        2. It wasnt suppressed. Susan rice stated on NPR just last night even obama used this server for conversations to be saved. Trump made it normal business after his conversations with mexico and australia were leaked by deep state actors. For fuck sakes some of you are intentionally ignorant.

          1. The White House has confirmed that the memo was moved at the direction of NSC lawyers. So… where do you think it was moved from?

            1. ABC news is now reporting that this is standard practice under the Trump administration (moving conversations with foreign leaders to a more secure server), after conversations with foreign leaders were leaked, verbatim, early in Trump’s presidency.

              1. From the article:

                “ The sources who talked to ABC News did caution that it’s unclear if the calls being stored were done so for national security or for political concerns. …

                Decisions on which calls were put into the server, according to sources, were handled by members of the NSC, State Department and White House Counsel’s office. The former career official said the measures taken seemed to solve the leak problem.”

                Why do you think this particular call was moved? It’s been declassified. Do you believe it was moved for security/diplomacy reasons or to prevent embarrassment?

                1. Your timeline is incorrect. It was moved, then declassified. It was declassified, by Trump, at his own request, due to the public interest.

                  I believe standard practice is to move it and classify it for diplomacy reasons. Trump decided public interest in this particular case, outweighed the classification and diplomacy needs.

                  1. It was moved at the direction of NSC lawyers. Because it was embarrassing. In an incredible act of unintentional charity, the President declassified it, because he has no idea that what he did was objectionable to a lot of people.

                    1. Impressive how you could possibly know such things.

                    2. The White House has confirmed that it was moved at the request of and after review by NSC lawyers.

        3. And if it were a legitimate investigation of corruption,

          (1) Why is it the only place on the planet where Trump is concerned about corruption? Where are his concerns about corruption in the Philippines, or Saudi Arabia, or Russia?
          (2) Why did Trump dispatch his personal attorney, rather than letting legitimate law enforcement handle it?

          1. Where were Obama’s concerns about those places when he was demanding that the Ukrainian prosecutor be fired? Why Biden’s bizarre focus on one country?

            1. You have cause and effect mixed up. Biden got involved in the Ukraine during the revolution (2014). Joe Biden’s involvement in Ukraine is why his son had connections there in the first place. The “bizarre focus on one country” is because the Obama Administration sent Biden to Ukraine to make terms with the new government. It was a big event at the time (Russian interference, etc.). The sort of time/place you would expect a VP to be.

            2. And to directly answer your question, the former President’s concerns re: Russian corruption were why we sided with the revolutionaries in the first place.

              1. But we didn’t care about the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, or Russia (to whom we promised greater flexibility)? It was good not to care back then, but it’s bad now, is that it?

                1. Well the former administration wasn’t focused on Ukrainian corruption to undermine a political opponent. Rather, it chased an international effort to root out corruption. The President cares about Ukraine because Joe Biden. He said so.

                  1. Maybe Biden’s name came up because you can’t swing a dead cat in a conversation about Ukraine and corruption without hitting someone named Biden.

          2. 1) That’s being petty, to be honest. Who said he isn’t concerned about corruption any place else? He was on the phone with the head of state of Ukraine and he mentioned a few items. It’s a phone call, not a commentary.
            2) Probably because he trusts Rudy to be honest with him. I think he doesn’t trust the US intelligence apparatus writ-large, so he wants someone who he thinks will be straight with him. Plus, having his personal attorney involved gives him attorney-client privilege in addition to executive privilege.

        4. “So why hide the evidence in the first place? Like the President said, his conversation was “perfect”. Why would his staff want it suppressed at all? ”

          Because it is standard operating procedure to secure conversations with other foreign leaders – since the start of the republic.

          At least he didnt store it on his personal secure server located in the bathroom.

      2. Investigating corruption is inherently always going to result in personal gain

        Lame Typical.

    4. He was strong arming Ukraine so badly that Ukraine didnt even know they were being strong armed.

      God you liberals have lost your fucking minds.

      1. Not only that, but the Ukrainian president explicitly said he felt no pressure.

        The Donkeys keep swinging and missing. Remember they were calling for impeachment the day after Trump’s election. They are like the boy crying ‘wolf’ and now even if a legitimate impeachable offense were uncovered, the public will, and should, look at it with a hairy eyeball.

  9. I used to enjoy this blog.

    1. Ilya has full onset TDS.

      1. Ilya has full onset TDS.

        Clingers — especially those attracted to the Volokh Conspiracy — are uneducated, stale-thinking, overdue-for-replacement right-wing bigots. Usually with adult-onset superstition.

        Where is the hope for America?

        1. Americans can hope jerks like you finally get tired of name calling and decide to grow up.

        2. Can you ever comment without being an a$$hole?

          1. No objection to the “full onset TDS” slur in response to Prof. Somin’s observations, clingers?

            1. Not a slur. But reality is always out of your grasp, so I can see why it went over your head.

    2. People decided that ruling over their neighbors mattered more than anything else in the world. That evil idea became a culture and then a quasi-religion — the “arc of history” and all that nonsense. They created doctrine, and sins, an an inquisition and their very own doomsday mythos.

      No one enjoys interacting with them. They don’t enjoy interacting with each other either. And hope for a better future is unavailable to them because doomsday denial is a grievous sin. It’s very sad.

  10. We aren’t at war with the Ukraine so treason is out.
    Robert Mueller ruled that information isn’t a campaign contribution so that’s out.
    Bribery only counts if they do it to us, so that’s out. The President is free to bribe and manipulate other leaders. It’s part of his job.
    So, Joe Biden got his son a job at a Ukraine energy company despite the fact he has zero education for it, and can’t speak the language. That’s the sin the orange one committed. Going after one of the elite class. Now they are attacking him for it. I’m assuming that’s the reason (lol) because nothing else has evidence.

    1. I guess you and I are missing the “point”. If it is illegal to use the power of the USA then we will strip our future Presidents of all negotiating power. ANYTHING the President asks for can be construed as a campaign contribution.

      Also, I pointed out above that it is NOT usurping the power of the purse. Congress gives presidents wide latitude to withhold military aid.

      1. They literally had to provide cover for Joe Biden because there’s now evidence of a 1.5 billion dollar payoff to Hunter Biden from China, that was then invested into a Chinese firm that has literally been caught hacking American intelligence apparatus before. They are trying desperately to torpedo that revelation, while simultaneously providing cover for Hunter with this ridiculous impeachment circus, that has literally already lost them the election. Simply put, they are terrible chess players. They gave up the entire game to save a mere pawn.

        1. Are you sure it wasn’t a trillion dollars????

          1. Yes, There’s actual documentation. Better, they just found a signed affidavit proving that Biden got that prosecutor fired. lol. It literally says he was removed because “Of a personal issue with the Vice President of the United States”. Now it’s a crime! An actual one!

            1. You mean an affidavit signed by Shokin????

              1. And if it was, is that a problem?

                1. Do you know WHY he was asked to sign the affidavit? And the salient portions of his sworn testimony (for your conspiracy at least) are things he couldn’t possibly have personal knowledge of.

                  1. He couldn’t possibly have personal knowledge that the reason he was fired was because Biden insisted? Why not?

                    1. Read paragraphs 7-10 of his affidavit. The closest he comes to personal knowledge is that Poroshenko had no criticisms of his work. If Poroshenko had told him he was being fired because of the Burisma investigation, he would say that. Instead he says Poroshenko asked him to resign for the good of the country. Paragraph 8 has the most direct allegation, starting with “I assume…” Do you think personal knowledge extends to assumptions?

                      Now read paragraph 12, in which Shokin explains how he came to his conclusion about the firing. “When I found out about the actual reason for my dismissal from Biden’s statement… He didn’t have personal knowledge of Biden’s statement until after he was fired. And he’s relying on his own misinterpretation of Biden’s statement.

                      Poroshenko fires him. He can’t have personal knowledge of the contents of Poroshenko’s mind. He could have personal knowledge of conversations he had, but he doesn’t mention any in which somebody told him he was fired because of the Burisma investigation.

                      You’ve read the affidavit. I’ll ask again. Do you understand what the stuff re: “DF” is all about?

                    2. There is also no jurat. It isn’t a sworn statement (unless I’m missing something).

    2. “Robert Mueller ruled that information isn’t a campaign contribution so that’s out.”

      That’s the level of legal insight we have come to expect from a right-wing blog with an academic veneer!

      1. Yeah but it actually came from Robert Mueller’s official report.

        lol.

      2. It is literally in the Mueller report regarding the trump tower meeting dumbass.

        1. JesseAz is lying, which is why he isn’t quoting this thing that is “literally in the Mueller report.”

    3. Robert Mueller ruled that information isn’t a campaign contribution so that’s out.

      If Robert Mueller had so “ruled,” it would be of no moment since he is not a court, but of course he didn’t say anything like that. (You don’t know that because you’re just repeating some talking point you read on twitter.)

      Bribery only counts if they do it to us, so that’s out. The President is free to bribe and manipulate other leaders. It’s part of his job.

      [Citation needed]

      So, Joe Biden got his son a job at a Ukraine energy company

      No.

    4. Robert Mueller ruled that information isn’t a campaign contribution so that’s out.

      Where do you find that, because I read the opposite message. Mueller didn’t lay charges, partly because doing so requires establishing the value of the information exceeds thresholds in the statutes and he felt it would be too difficult to do with sufficient certainty, but he supported the idea that information can be a contribution, see vol 1 pp. 187:

      These authorities would support the view that candidate-related opposition research given to a campaign for the purpose of influencing an election could constitute a contribution to which the foreign-source ban could apply. A campaign can be assisted not only by the provision of funds, but also by the provision of derogatory information about an opponent. Political campaigns frequently conduct and pay for opposition research. A foreign entity that engaged in such research and provided resulting information to a campaign could exert a greater effect on an election, and a greater tendency to ingratiate the donor to the candidate, than a gift of money or tangible things of value.

  11. Somin is like a weathervane always pointing the wrong direction. Trumps reelection just got nearer.

    1. “Trumps reelection just got nearer.”

      Still not enough vestigial bigots and half-educated clingers left in America to get that done.

      1. Same silliness and wishful thinking Republicans thought about Clinton.

      2. Fortunately, Kirkland, immigrants and minorities like myself sooner or later see people like you for the fascists you are; for the kinds of people that turned the countries we grew up in into shitholes, something we don’t want to see repeated in the US.

        1. You will be replaced, NOYB2. By your betters. In a manner that improves America.

          If you haven’t been in America long enough to know how this turns out for the clingers, a spoiler: The liberal-libertarian mainstream wins by shaping American progress against the wishes and efforts of Republicans, conservatives, bigots, faux libertarians, and other clingers.

          1. One think you’re not, Art, is my better. It’s one thing you will never be.

            1. If you are not a half-educated, reason-rejecting, stale-thinking, right-wing bigot, congratulations!

  12. Conservative lawyer and political commentator David French

    When did Somin become a comedian?

    1. Left out the rabid anti trumper adjective. DiGenova destroyed this bribery argument. How many novel interpretations of the law do the anti trumpers want to pursue before they realize they are acting like a banana republic?

  13. So – we saw what James Clapper did. Spied on the people and lied to Congress about it.

    Should he have been impeached? It could have been a bipartisan affair, since it wouldn’t have involved accusing the President of anything.

    It wasn’t as if the subject of impeachment wasn’t brought up –

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130610/16295123396/why-james-clapper-should-be-impeached-lying-to-congress.shtml

    I don’t think a law professor would have put this situation on an exam, since the impeachability of such conduct would be too obvious to be a challenge to the students.

    Or so one would think.

    But Congress never bothered, even though this was a fairly clear defiance of Congressional authority, and impunity for the intelligence community could only embolden the…well, wouldn’t the term “Deep State” apply to a group which gets to thumb its nose at Congress and the public in this way?

    Cast our minds back to the Founding Persons – they specifically decided to allow “all Civil Officers of the United States,” as well as the Pres, to be impeached. Is there any suggestion that the elected President must be held to higher standards than members of the Deep State?

    I’d buy into the impeachment talk if Congress decided to get serious about removing misbehaving officials from the executive branch, not just their political opponents.

    1. “As Keith Whittington properly reminds us, impeachment is not mandatory, even in cases where it is constitutionally permitted. It’s ultimately up to the discretion of Congress.”

      In contrast, I’d prefer to see impeachment of the guilty as one of Congress’s duties, since they all promised to support the Constitution, and how can they support the constitution if they allow officials to run around engaging in impeachable misconduct?

      But since impeachment applies to all “Civil Officers” of the U. S., not just the Pres, then I certainly wouldn’t endorse singling the Pres out for impeachment when his supposed subordinates have been doing all sorts of impeachable things with, so far, no accountability.

  14. Trump solicited a bribe, while inviting and cooperating in foreign interference in an American election, by a foreign government with which Trump was attempting to collude. Then Trump published an account of himself doing all that. That last bit can only be explained as an attempt to seize control of events which Trump saw trending toward yet-worse disclosures.

    That was the first act in the age-old drama of the sleigh pursued by the wolf pack—throwing out a distraction to slow the pursuit. For the benefit of more-determined Trump supporters—while better informed Trump insiders are edging toward the best spots from which to rush the exits—here is a future scenario entirely consistent with the evidence so far.

    The Trump administration, at least as a functioning political entity, will shortly collapse. Investigations which can no longer be thwarted will prove the whistle blower’s complaint astonishing accurate, and criminally damning. As in the Nixon administration, the most vulnerable parties will be senior aides closest to the President. Look for Giuliani, and Barr, at least, to face charges, and maybe imprisonment. Pompeo, and maybe Pence, will also get close, hostile scrutiny. Lesser figures, including some who are not yet household names, will also be legally imperiled.

    The result of all that accumulating legal jeopardy will be a footrace to see who can get leverage by spilling the beans first, and best. That means whatever stuff it was that Trump thought he was going to keep under wraps when he published his bogus “transcript,” is going to come out.

    The odds that Trump will complete his first term in office—which were never as high as movement conservatives thought—are now in steep decline. Every possibility which points toward early departure is up: impeachment, 25A, health crisis, and resignation are all contenders. Senior GOP insiders patrol the line which holds those possibilities outside an ever-diminishing perimeter.

    Uppermost in the minds of those beleaguered guardians is one question, “When do we decide President Pence is better protection for our careers than the god-awful wreck which Trump has already become, and which can only get worse.” The moment everyone realizes that Trump will take a resignation deal in exchange for a pardon, with pardons all around for the others, is the moment the Trump administration will end.

    1. Trump didn’t “solicit a bribe”. He requested help in a criminal investigation, one whose outcome he happens to have a stake in.

      Democrats have nothing. What they are doing is trying to keep an investigation alive in order to continue to pry into Trump’s affairs and generate bad press, just like they did with Russia. They’re doing that as a political strategy for 2020, nothing more.

      Whether that’s going to fool American voters remains to be seen. If it results in President Warren/Sanders/Biden, we’re all f*cked, because no matter how bad you may think Trump is, those people are worse.

      1. Dont tell the liberal dumbshits we even have a treaty to share investigation resources with ukraine.

        They cant even say what the thing of value is. Everyone has known about hunter since 2016. There is nothing new here. If biden is guilty that’s on him, it is not an added value to Trump.

        The bribery angle is the dumbest angle they are trying.

          1. An interesting topic for a blog post, hint hint…

        1. Dont tell the liberal dumbshits we even have a treaty to share investigation resources with ukraine.

          That’s the point, you pathetic halfwit; if this had been a legitimate investigation, it would have involved these formal processes.
          Trump wouldn’t have needed to use his private lawyer.

          They cant even say what the thing of value is. Everyone has known about hunter since 2016. There is nothing new here. If biden is guilty that’s on him, it is not an added value to Trump.

          The something new, that constitutes the thing of value, is the fake accusations he was asking Ukraine to gin up in exchange for aid.

      2. He requested help in a criminal investigation,

        There was and is no criminal investigation. That’s why he involved Rudy, rather than an actual prosecutor.

    2. You forgot “Once upon a time”

    3. Great satire, but you are no OBL. You need to up your game.

  15. So when Biden admits to “holding 1 billion dollars hostage” unless the Ukraine fired it’s head prosecutor, that’s ok because shut up, right?

    1. Because Orange Man Bad.

      Flooding the news with thousands of hours of pundits making crazy, unsupported charges creates a context where voters decide they don’t care about any charges against anyone. Biden’s (alleged) wrong-doing becomes just another accusation in a deluge of mostly-nonsense recriminations. Same thing for IG Horowitz report.

  16. There is nothing constitutionally wrong with withholding allocated funds, aka impoundment. We know that because, until Nixon, presidents had that power nearly without limitation, and it took an act of Congress to change that.

    Since Nixon, impoundment requires congressional approval within 45 days. However, it’s unclear whether that applies to foreign aid, and it’s unclear whether it applies merely to delaying spending.

    IOW, Somin’s article is complete and utter b.s. from beginning to end.

  17. https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1594035229/reasonfoundation-20/

    “Three Felonies A Day” – Trump will have to up his game to meet expectations.

  18. As predicted, the evident facts don’t fit the story the left wishes to be true, so they just make up the missing pieces and say there are no written rules against making up stuff in impeachment inquiries.

    The goal is to cancel the votes of 60 million Americans (and, more importantly, 304 electors representing US states) based on something even Prof Somin acknowledges he couldn’t prove.

    Meanwhile, we have Biden apparently (but it is also not yet conclusively proven) actually making the threat the left wants to imagine Trump made. Not a word about that though.

    1. It’s time for an American Pinochet. One who can find a way to “cancel” the heartbeats of liberals.

      1. Behold Trump’s core base.
        Crazed psycho killers of the alt-right.
        PROUD to be violent fascists (like the ones in Charlottesville), aka no shame at all.

        Loony Right = Loony Left.
        As libertarians have known for over a half-century … and a majority of Americans now agree!

        1. I’m not violent at all. I recognize that violence only causes you to lose support unless you wait until after the war has started.

          1. Shamefless liar. You called for killing people who disagree with you. Now, WORSE, you deny your own words. still visible, so also a moral coward.

            PLUS, your adoring of Western Hegemony marks you as … what you now try to bullshit your way out of.

            Why are you so ashamed to defend your own words and values?

        2. No, like he’s said here, he’s not violent. In fact, he’s a coward with repressed homosexual tendencies , no older than thirty or so (was too young for the Clinton impeachment), who sits in his mother’s basement and talks tough on the Internet. If anyone calls him out, he slinks back to a corner, hands raised and palms out saying “Oh, hey, I’m not saying, I’m just saying.” A real piece of merde.

          1. Shhhh… let the trolls debate each other. It’s a beautiful internet phenomenon.

    2. Trump’s craziest bullshit?

      The goal is to cancel the votes of 60 million Americans

      (pissing and laughing)
      1) Does Ben agree with Trump, that impeachment should not be in the Constitution? On what basis?

      (laughing harder)2) Why does Ben believe impeachment applies to ONLY unelected officials — like judges, whose constitutional power is also denied by the alt-right? (Any WHINING that begins with “unelected judges” …and/or denies checks and balances, balance of power and three EQUAL branches (like “inventing laws”)! Trump’s Napoleonic dictator mentality has long been a trademark of the alt-left.

      3) Or … why does Ben believe his orange god has the power to amend the Constitution, entirely on his own, by simply bellowing new diktats?

      PLUS swallowing Trump’s INSANE bullshit about Biden!

      Ukraine Prosecutor Says No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Bidens
      Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in an interview that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son, despite a swirl of allegations by President Donald Trump’s lawyer.

      Trump’s SOLE proof for THIS psycho lie is the same one he always uses … “a lot of talk about” and “they say” … Trump governs based on RUMORS! … which is scary as shit when he controls the nuclear button.

      4) Anyone who opens with “The left” (or “the right”) which is bigotry, by definition!

      Proof AGAIN that libertarians have been correct for over 50 years
      Left – Right = Zero
      Both authoritarian enemies of individual liberty.
      Two sides of the same corrupt coin.
      Be very afraid for America.

      IMPEACH NOW for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors
      P.S. Learn what a misdemeanor is.

      1. P.S. For any other bewildered Trumpsters … The SOLE purpose of impeachment is to remove elected officials. DUH. Trump’s dictator mentality is self-evident. The Divine Right of Orange Kings. (vomit)

        (He programs their robotic minds with … tweets. That’s all he needs!)

        Left – Right = Zero

      2. Turn the derangement down a little before you become a danger to yourself or others. A desperation to spend others’ money isn’t worth the padded cell vacation you’re headed for. You must get tired of people avoiding ever talking to you because they don’t want to catch derangement from you.

        It’s not controversial to ask impeachers to use facts instead of a fantasy story.

        1. (posted in defense of a personal assault, by a Trumpian THUG.)

          WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH
          BEHOLD THE TYPC ICAL TRUMPTARD!
          ONE MORE TIME FOR THE MENTALLY DEFICIENT

          The goal is to cancel the votes of 60 million AmericansBLOCKQUOTE>THAT’S WHY IMPEACHMENT IS IN THE CONSTITUTION !!! DUHA

          PROVEN A FOOL … BEN LAUNCHES A PERSONAL ATTACK … AS COWARDLY EVASION, REFUSING TO DEFEND HIS TRUMPIAN WACKINESS.

          1) Does Ben agree with Trump, that impeachment should not be in the Constitution? On what basis?

          2) Why does Ben believe impeachment applies to ONLY unelected officials — like judges, whose constitutional power is also denied by the alt-right? Trump’s Napoleonic dictator mentality has long been a trademark of the alt-right..

          3) Or … why does Ben believe his orange god has the power to amend the Constitution, entirely on his own, by simply bellowing new diktats?

          PLUS swallowing Trump’s INSANE bullshit about Biden!

          Ukraine Prosecutor Says No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Bidens
          Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in an interview that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son, despite a swirl of allegations by President Donald Trump’s lawyer.

          Trump’s SOLE proof for THIS psycho lie is the same one he always uses … “a lot of talk about” and “they say” … Trump governs based on RUMORS! … which is scary as shit when he controls the nuclear button.

          ALSO PROOF: A SNIVELING WHINER (sneer)

          It’s not controversial to ask impeachers to use facts instead of a fantasy story.

          COWARDLY DIVERSION.

          ONE MORE TIME, CHUMP: WHY DO YOU DENY THE MAJOR PURPOSE OF IMPEACHMENT IS TO REMOVE ELECTED OFFICIALS? DUH

          ***MORE PROOF OF THE AUTHORITARIAN “BRAIN”

          Turn the derangement down a little before you become a danger to yourself or others

          (sneering at the cowardly Trumptard WHINER)

          You’re way over your class, punk.

          Left – Right = Zero
          BOTH corrupt authoritarians.
          (flush)

            1. (lol) Sure that you’re a fraud and a liar, WHICH I’VE ALREADY DOCUMENTED. As is anyone who bothers to read your crazy nonsense … and your cowardly denial.

              Not all will notice that you then stalked me down the page, as further punishment for calling you out.

              We libertarians have over 50 years of calling out the deceptions shared by all authoritarians.

              Do you STILL say the founders were wrong to provide for the impeachment of elected office holders … in the Constitution
              you deny and defy?
              THAT is Napoleonic. Full stop.

              1. no bold or underline? Did the medication start working?

                I hope you find a way to be happy.

                1. (posted in self-defense of yet another personal assault by my stalker cyber-bully … with ANOTHER
                  MASSIVE FUCKUP!)

                  Typical Trumptard … never learned that only LINKS are underlined here … PISSED because they ink to PROOOF he’s a wacko.

                  Here’s another one! (smirk)

                  The goal is to cancel the votes of 60 million Americans

                  (pissing and laughing)
                  1) Does Ben agree with Trump, that impeachment should not be in the Constitution? On what basis?

                  (laughing harder)2) Why does Ben believe impeachment applies to ONLY unelected officials — like judges, whose constitutional power is also denied by the alt-right? (Any WHINING that begins with “unelected judges” …and/or denies checks and balances, balance of power and three EQUAL branches (like “inventing laws”)! Trump’s Napoleonic dictator mentality has long been a trademark of the alt-left.


                  STILL insists impeachment should nNOT be constitutionalT.. THE FOUNDERS WERE NEVER TRUMPERS! … WHICH IS TREASONOUS …. HE AND TRUMP CAN AMEND THE CONSTITUTION BY … WHINING … LIKE THE PUSSIES THEY ARE.

                  Did NIXON release proof that HE was guilty??? (sneer)

                  You’re way over your class, punk.
                  Left – Right = Zero
                  BOTH corrupt authoritarians.

                  REPEAT: WHY SHOULD IMPEACHMENT NOT BE CONSTITUTIONAL?
                  WHY WERE THE FOUNDERS NEVER-TRUMPERS?

                  ****IS THE ENTIRE CONSTITUTION “FAKE NEWS” … OR JUST THE IMPEACHMENT SECTION?

                  (Self-defense … and ridicule!)

      3. Look, Hihn slipped his restraints again!

        Nice Hihny, nice Hihny. Go back to your room and lie down and the demons will leave you alone. I promise.

        1. ANOTHER CRAZED TRUMPTARD!

          Now BigT says impeachment should not be Constitutional!
          The Founders were never-Trumpers!

          Trumptards travel in a pack … like wild dogs … with the INFANTILE assaults of 12-year-olds, just like Trump!

          Look, Hihn slipped his restraints again!

          Nice Hihny, nice Hihny. Go back to your room and lie down and the demons will leave you alone. I promise.

          Make my day, punk.

    3. There is video of Biden bragging about it at a Council for Foreign Relations” luncheon. How much more “proof” do you want?

      1. Bullshit from brainwashing and mind control by the political elites.
        There was NO investigation of Hunter. EVER.
        Much of the world wanted the Ukrainian prosecutor fired, because he was not tackling the massive corruption — WHICH WAS A CONDITION FOR LOAN GUARANTEES, WHICH THE WORLD BANK ALSO DEMANDED.

        Do you even know what a loan guarantee is??? Do you think Fannie and Freddie guarantee mortgages for PROVEN frauds???

        Ukraine Prosecutor Says No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Bidens
        Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in an interview that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son, despite a swirl of allegations by President Donald Trump’s lawyer.

        How can you people swallow political propaganda, on issues you know NOTHING about, placing tribal loyalty above country?

        Trump also wanted action on his CRAZED Crowdstrike conspiracy, saying it was owned by a rich Ukrainian (BULLSHIT) and that Hillary’s email sever is in the Ukraine — which is CRAZIER than Pizzagate and Birtherism!

        Crowdstrike is a top cyber-security firm — PUBLICLY OWNED IN THE US AND TRADED ON NASDAQ. They were the ones who found proof that Russia had hacked the DNC within 12 hours of Trump PUBLICLY ASKING RUSSIA TO DO SO (which exposes more of Trump’s bullshit about the Russians in 2016).

        Google Crowdstrike. You’ll probably whine “part of the Deep State conspiracy’ … but the NASDAQ listing ALONE proves Trump is bat-shit crazy.

  19. Yawn.

    Start with the conclusion, and then only bring up information that supports it.

    1. (yawn)
      Severe denial is a psychological affliction.
      Akin to bellwong “Fake News” about in-con-veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen-tent facts.

      All to common among the very zaniest extremes, of both left and right … largely attributed their eagerness to be mind-controlled. The militant self-righteous,

    2. You forgot “handwave away anything that might support an alternate conclusion”.

      1. (My attitude and boldface are in DEFENSE of aggression, by this Trumpian thug who’s now stalking me in punishment for … kicking his sorry ass to the curb … now twice so far (does the cowardly stalker have MORE assaults on reality?)

        ANOTHER cowardly diversion from the TOPIC!
        I’ve already humiliated Ben’s sorry ass.
        https://reason.com/2019/09/28/evidence-increasingly-indicates-trumps-ukraine-pressure-tactics-usurped-congress-power-of-the-purse-and-that-he-may-have-committed-a-federal-crime-in-the-process/#comment-7950323

        Ridiculing the handicapped is crude, So I’ll stop.

  20. This reminds me of the absurd indictment leftists in Austin brought against Rick Perry, claiming that his lawful exercise of his powers to veto a bill giving funding to a drunk Democrat Party DA was “coercion” and “an abuse of power.”

    1. As bad as your shameless distortions of the matter?
      Hysteria sells. To lower mentalities, left and right.

      1. I accidentally flagged this post, but I was trying to block him. Is there a way to unflag?

        1. CENSORSHIP … FROM THE SAME TYPE WHO’VE BEEN BURNING BOOKS FOR CENTURIES.

          All he had to do is prove his statement. So also a coward,

  21. Ilya’s closet No-Trump is showing again

  22. Just curious – is there anyone here who voted for Trump who has now reluctantly come to the conclusion that he’s committed impeachable offenses?

    Conversely, is there anyone here who voted for Hillary but believes that Trump did not commit impeachable offenses?

    1. Only goobers answer such questions. From both sides.
      Just curious — how can you deny the overwhelming evidence that he’s committed multiple justifications for impeachment?

      Did you know, before I told you, that the Constitution explicitly says “bribery” is an impeachable offense. Laughably, Trump’s own White House released proof of bribery.

      1. Oh, how sad for you to suddenly lose your political virginity.

        Yes, the government is full of crooks who give and receive bribes.

        If the President of the U. S. is one of those crooks it wouldn’t surprise me.

        I presume that you’re against selective prosecution and would be willing for the House to open an inquiry into *all* instances of impeachable misconduct in the executive branch, including misconduct by “Civil Officers of the United States” below the President. With the assurance that impeachment charges will be filed against all offenders who are discovered.

        If Congress had done this earlier there would have been no need of Trump in the first place.

        1. CALLED OUT AS A LIAR … SO A COWARDLY DIVERSION TO CHANGE THE TOPIC

          Just curious — how can you deny the overwhelming evidence that he’s committed multiple justifications for impeachment?

          FAILS to support his false assertions … just like Trump

          Left – Right = Zero
          Both authoritarian.

          1. “how can you deny the overwhelming evidence”

            I haven’t denied or accused regarding the latest alleged revelations about your ex-boyfriend Trump (for such is your reaction to him), though of course I’m interested in why there haven’t been impeachment investigations into “Civil Officers” in the executive branch, since the Framers vote to allow those people to be impeached along with the Pres and VP.

            There’s nothing in the Constitution authorizing the House to engage in selective prosecution of impeachment cases. On the contrary, I’d say they’re responsible for impeaching whenever they can find enough evidence of impeachable misconduct by *any* civil officer of the U. S.

            If you reply that there’s just too many civil officers in the executive branch, I answer: Whose fault is that, if not Congress’s? They inflicted these officers on us, they’re responsible for weeding out the bad apples.

            The stories in the past few years kept coming, not on a partisan basis either, I should add –

            Clapper lying to Congress about mass surveillance.

            The federal prosecutor in Spokane dipping into the Treasury in defiance of Constitutional prohibitions to prosecute a state-legal marijuana case.

            Justice Department attorneys concocting rationales for torture.

            These are not all Democrats. As someone said, left minus right = zero.

            1. “There’s nothing in the Constitution authorizing the House to engage in selective prosecution of impeachment cases.”

              Besides the “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” part? Or is there another clause obligating them to impeach everybody who does something you dislike?

              1. “obligating them to impeach everybody who does something you dislike?”

                This sort of straw-manning is why this blog can’t have nice things.

                1. He’s just pointing out how subjective your objective demand for ‘why there haven’t been impeachment investigations into “Civil Officers” in the executive branch’ is.

                  1. He misattributed to me the view that the House is obligated to impeach anyone I dislike.

                  2. It’s a good thing that you use strictly objective standards for removing the President from office.

                  3. I’m curious how my “demand” can be both “objective” and “subjective” at the same time.

                    I haven’t argued for impeaching anyone based on merely disliking “something” they did. Unless, for instance, the “something” is aiding torturers, lying about a massive surveillance program, or dipping into the Treasury in defiance of a specific Congressional ban.

                    So I guess you could say these things were “something” in the same sense that 9/11 was “something.”

                2. There’s nothing in the Constitution obligating the house to impeach anybody.

                  Straw man! is not a real thing. Stop saying it. Nobody says that shit in real life.

                  1. You know what else isn’t a real thing? My wanting to “impeach everybody who does something (I) dislike?”

                    Straw man is *polite* term for your mischaracterization.

                    1. I don’t know how much clearer I need to be. The Constitution authorizes the House to engage in selective impeachment. “[S]hall have the sole Power of Impeachment” means they can impeach whomever they want, or no one, or just people you dislike, or people you like, or whatever. This is directly responsive to your claim of “There’s nothing in the Constitution authorizing the House to engage in selective prosecution of impeachment cases.” Your claim isn’t true.

                    2. Right now I’m focusing on your claim that I was in favor of “impeach(ing) everyone who does something (I) dislike.”

                      What possible evidence can you have for that claim?

                    3. “Right now I’m focusing on your claim that I was in favor of “impeach(ing) everyone who does something (I) dislike.”

                      I did not make that claim. (I asked you questions, actually.) Implicitly, and now explicitly, I made the claim that there was no constitutional provision requiring the House to impeach everyone you dislike. You asked a question about constitutional authority and I answered it. You’ve apparently misinterpreted my claim as about something in your mind.

                      Let me be very clear: I don’t have any idea what you “want” because (a) I don’t have the power to crawl into your brain and (b) nothing you say informs me about what you believe since you’re a disingenuous fuckhead who never says anything serious and just uses this website to post terrible, obscure movie reference jokes and make rambling posts about off-topic shit.

                    4. “disingenuous fuckhead…terrible, obscure movie reference jokes”

                      Heavens! But that doesn’t address my concerns.

                      “(I asked you questions, actually.)”

                      It’s possible to make an assertion in the form of a question. Do you know what a rhetorical question is?

                      Your rhetorical question was:

                      “Or is there another clause obligating them to impeach everybody who does something you dislike?”

                      I can see how you’d try to wriggle out of that one, since you have nothing to back up your claim. Normally, I’d give your the benefit of the doubt and assume you misspoke, but you seem to have ruled out the idea of any good-faith disagreement between us.

                    5. “I made the claim that there was no constitutional provision requiring the House to impeach everyone you dislike.”

                      OK, now help me out…who made the claim which you undertook to refute? Or were you simply posting an irrelevant comment out of the blue?

                    6. “…who made the claim which you undertook to refute?”

                      You made the claim “There’s nothing in the Constitution authorizing the House to engage in selective prosecution of impeachment cases.” That’s not true. There is something in the Constitution that authorizes the House to engage in selective prosecution of impeachment. The Constitution entitles the House to selectively impeach, or not impeach, whomever it wants, including people Eddy dislikes (or likes).

                    7. The thing is, you seemed to be suggesting that I thought the House had to impeach people because they did things I disliked.

                      In contrast, what I said was the House had to impeach people who committed impeachable conduct.

                      Disagreeing with my position shouldn’t involve making an incorrect statement of my position.

                      Wouldn’t you agree?

                    8. “The thing is, you seemed to be suggesting that I thought the House had to impeach people because they did things I disliked.”

                      Do you think there is any fucking way that I was under the honest but mistaken belief that Eddy thought the Constitution required the House to impeach people Eddy disagreed with?

                      You were correct. There is not going to be a “good-faith disagreement between us”. We will both be better off if we ignore each other, because I feel like I’m typing at an alien.

                    9. I do beg your pardon for reading your actual words rather than reading your mind. If you, with your advanced intelligence, disclaim any ability to read *my* mind, how could I be able to read *yours*?

                      Far better to simply write what’s on your mind (if you’re so inclined), and then if misunderstandings arise because of your choice of words, clear the misunderstandings up.

                    10. Even after all this, I’m willing to presume your good faith, but it would be nice if – instead of saying not to take your words literally – you actually said what you meant.

                  2. Merriam-Webster’s definition of “straw man” includes “a weak or imaginary opposition (such as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted”

                    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/straw%20man

                    To help you out, here is the address of their headquarters so that you can write them and explain how they shouldn’t be using the term:

                    Merriam-Webster, Inc.
                    47 Federal Street
                    P.O. Box 281
                    Springfield, MA 01102

                    1. And I note that your teammate Amanda Marcotte at Salon uses the term:

                      “…D.C. McAllister…dumps a few thousand words attacking a straw man, by arguing, without a shred of evidence, that feminists are opposed to consensual flirting.”

                      https://www.salon.com/2017/12/18/conservative-backlash-against-metoo-is-coming-and-soon/

                    2. I don’t know who Amanda Marcotte is or why you think she’s my “teammate”.

                    3. Amanda Marcotte is an intellectual giant just like you.

    2. I didn’t vote for either one and I think it would be cool if judgement followed facts instead of people making up the necessary parts to justify the verdict they already decided on.

      1. More WHINING, “Fake News.”
        EVERYTHING is a conspiracy … by monsters hiding under their beds. Trump’s robots as eagerly manipulated as Bernies’ and Elizabeth’s. And as shamelessly authoritarian.

        Ben’s larger deceptions, evasions, lies and thuggery are detailed here
        https://reason.com/2019/09/28/evidence-increasingly-indicates-trumps-ukraine-pressure-tactics-usurped-congress-power-of-the-purse-and-that-he-may-have-committed-a-federal-crime-in-the-process/#comment-7950323

        They’re all as bad as Trump!! He trains them by tweets, much as one would train any other gerbil. (Just as Bernie and Elizabeth manipulate their own puppets dancing on different strings)

        Left – Right = Zero
        Their time has expired, as a growing majority of Americans now agrees.

  23. Orange man bad. Got it.

    1. So much proof to deny!

  24. One more point for Trump’s defenders. Don’t forget Russia.

    The Democrats passed on impeachment for conspiracy, despite a mountain of circumstantial evidence. Now, the whistleblower’s report has added pattern-of-behavior evidence.

    I suggest the verdict of history is already determined. Historians will conclude that the whistleblower’s alleged hidden Russia conversation transcripts contained material to match the alleged hidden Ukraine transcript.

    Even if those complete transcripts never turn up—maybe especially if they never turn up—the Trump partial-narrative does two things. First, it provides enough substantive proof of impeachable conduct. Second, it creates a presumption, by its prompt voluntary release, that Trump was attempting to distract attention from worse evidence which remains hidden. And the most likely explanation in view is that the worse evidence being protected is evidence to prove the Russian conspiracy that the Mueller Report never quite charged.

    Of course, if those transcripts do turn up, and show that, then anyone who now thinks the Senate will stand firm and protect Trump will shortly be disabused. A more likely scenario might be that the hidden transcripts will be subpoenaed, Trump will deny they ever existed, insiders will testify, “Oh yes they did exist,” and an impeachment trial will take it from there. Under circumstances such as those, McConnell is not going to stand in the way of a trial.

    1. We appreciate your concern for Mother Russia.

    2. One more point for Trump’s defenders. Don’t forget Russia.

      That’s DEFENDING the stealing of an election? … by the MASSIVE MARGIN Of 39,000 VOTERS? (snort) … Out of how many total votes?

  25. As Keith Whittington properly reminds us, impeachment is not mandatory, even in cases where it is constitutionally permitted. It’s ultimately up to the discretion of Congress. And, as a practical matter, impeachment is as much a political action as a legal one. The House is unlikely to impeach and the Senate even more unlikely to convict, in the absence of broad political support. Partisanship and political calculations are likely to influence Congress’ decision-making at least as much legal and moral considerations—probably more so. It would be naive to imagine otherwise.

    Professor Somin, my observation is that when you need to make long, involved, and somewhat convoluted explanations on why something is so, people tune out. And your post here fits that bill. I am not questioning the merits of your argument, but the practicality.

    Impeachment is a political, not legal exercise. It is a grave circumstance for the Congress to overturn the results of an election. That kind of gravity requires a national consensus. Practically speaking, this country is nowhere close to a national consensus. This country will be torn apart with a impeachment process. I think that is crystal clear.

    The final check on impeachment is the ballot box. This is a case, I believe, that cannot be resolved by politicians. The people need to decide the question of POTUS Trump at the ballot box.

    1. OMFG .. TOTALLY BASS ACKWARDS

      IMPEACHMENT IS A CHECK ON THE BALLOT BOX … DOUBLE-DUH

      Pay attention. I’ll TRY to dumb it down to your level.
      1) HOW CAN THE BALLOT BOX REVERSE AN IMPEACHMENT?
      2) Impeachment DOES reverse an election, if the electee turns out to be a liar and a fraud ,… WHO COMMITTED BRIBERY.

      Do YOU agree with BenT, that the Founders were Never-Trumpers?

      P.S.. 48-55% of Americans (various polls) support impeachment and removal from office. Pull your head out of Tucker Carlson’s butt.

      1. Teller….Deep breath.

        Why is the ballot box the final check on impeachment? Impeachment and removal from office occurs under the most grave circumstances. That would imply the need for a truly national consensus to remove a POTUS from office. There is nothing even remotely resembling a national consensus on impeaching POTUS Trump, let alone removing from office. An impeachment will tear the country apart.

        If the impeachment is for ‘bullshit’ reasons (each person decides for themselves what is real or bullshit), the politicians will be voted out of office. It has already happened. Twice. In both instances of impeachment, the ‘prosecution’ lost at the ballot box.

        1. Why is the ballot box the final check on impeachment?

          I didn’t dumb it down enough. 🙁

  26. 2016 – President Obama brought Ukraine investigators and prosecutors to the White House to coordinate investigating Paul Manafort and others: https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/440730-how-the-obama-white-house-en

    @MichelThau has good article challenging MSM false information that Ukrainian investigation into Burisma (of which Hunter Biden was a director) was “dormant” under prosecutor general Shokin (who was fired by Joe Biden.)

    So too was Obama/Biden’s FBI using Russian info (Steele dossier) to go after Trump. So too was Hillary getting info from Ukraine to target Manafort.

    1. If you don’t see the difference between a broad investigation that ends up including someone who it turns out was indeed shady, and a particular request to target someone whose main crime here seems to be getting a cushy job he probably didn’t earn due to family connections…

      Challenging the MSM false information without bringing receipts just makes it clear how troubling you find that information.

      The Steele dossier canard is well-debunked. You seem desperate. Going to bring up Benghazi next?

      1. “The Steele dossier canard is well-debunked”

        Debunked by who?

        1. By everyone except for you.

          The FISA warrant as initiated from Papadopoulos shooting his mouth off. It was cited as corroborating information, and explicitly flagged as coming from a partisan source (Said source being the RNC)

          Google stuff sometimes, don’t just rely on your echo chamber.

          1. Trumpers be BEGGING for mind control.

            EVERYBODY knows Obama was born in Kenya.
            EVERYBODY knows the DNC was hacked by a rich Ukrainian, who now holds Hillary’s server in Ukraine
            EVERYBODY knows Trump had the largest inauguration crowd EVAH.
            EVERYBODY knows that Biden threatened Ukraine to stop an investigation of his son, Hunter … WHO WAS NEVER UNDER INVESTIGATION!!!

            Trump’s puppet show = Bernie’s and Elizabeth’s!!
            Just dancing on different strings

        2. President Trump’s DOJ.

  27. There is one indisputable fact regarding this case: different people interpret the same evidence in radically different ways. Some see the transcript as hard evidence of Trump’s criminality while others see evidence of Biden’s corruption. Adam Schiff even sees source material for a film noir script…

    The best way to resolve this is to put the question to the people. There is an election right around the corner. By all means investigate and make all evidence public. And then let the people decide…

    1. Reading these threads, it’s not about interpretation – it’s about facts. Different groups have full-on different facts.

      As for election instead of impeachment, timing dictates that’s how it’s going to end up anyhow. In the meantime, an impeachment investigation is harder for Trump to to stonewall.

      1. No, one group has facts and the other just keeps peddling old information that has already been debunked and explained multiple times by multiple sources.

    2. ktamartini … scared to death of impeachment, just like Trump.
      REJECTS the constitution.
      And is TOTALLY brainwashed
      1) Transcript is PROOF of Trump’s guilt.
      2) But only Trump’s FALSE ASSERTION about Biden … and Trump’s INSANE Crowdstrike conspiracy, which is even crazier than Pizzagate and Birtherism.

      CROWDSTRIKE IS A NASDAQ-LISTED PUBLICLY OWNED CORPORATION, SPECIALIZING IN CYBER-SECURITY HEADQUARTERED IN CALIFORNIA …NOT TRUMP’S CRAZED DELUSION OF A DARK CONSPIRACY OWNED BY A WEALTH UKRAINIAN Google it, suckers.

      Oh yeah, check this too. (smirk)

      Ukraine Prosecutor Says No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Bidens
      Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in an interview that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son, despite a swirl of allegations by President Donald Trump’s lawyer.

      How low will they sink?

      P.S. The mind-wacked Crowdstrike conspiracy traces to then being the first to find PROOF that Russia hacked the DNC … less than 12 hours after Trump PUBLICLY told Russia to do so.

    3. kramartini, problem is, with the whistleblower report Democrats just got their epiphany moment about the next election—namely that if they leave Trump alone, they can expect the next election to be as corrupted, or more corrupted, by foreign influence than the last one was. A lot of Americans are not going to see that prospect as much of a bulwark against continuing Trumpian misconduct.

  28. TDS symptoms worsening after all the administration’s immigration wins in court.

    1. Contentless tribal ad-hominems on the rise.

      1. Like Variant’s? (smirk)

  29. These are your peeps, Conspirators.

    Still hoping this stuff makes conservative academics more attractive to our nation’s stronger schools, or conservative positions more attractive to an audience beyond the Heritage-Federalist-Olin-Bradley and Breitbart-FreeRepublic-Instapundit-RedState contexts?

    1. Any movement needs its Bolshevik foot soldiers who’ll doublethink and love Big Brother to the end. Aside from a few Conspirators (Somin and Kerr, notably), they know the value of having these goobers who can always been counted on to assert Emmanuel Goldstein is behind it all.

      1. Yes, Trumptards are THAT mindless. But so are Bernie’s ‘s and Elizabeth’s brainwashed puppets …. ALL combined are a shrinking minority of Americans.

        Left – Right = Zero.
        Finish dying out, already …

    2. Thanks for contributing to the Leftist Conspiracy Groupthink.
      These are your peeps.
      Own them.

  30. It seems like this piece muddels together two different concepts: (a) the idea that Trump committed a crime, and (b) the idea that Trump subverted Congress’s spending power. Somin doesn’t say it, but it seems like he’s implying that (b) alone would be sufficient for impeachment? (The discussion on point (a) is almost a distraction to the title of the piece – if Trump committed a crime, he commited a crime).

    And such a reading might make sense if we lived in a strict originalist world, but we don’t. We live in a world of an administrative state. We live in a world where Presidents rewrite immigration law on executive order (DACA), create unaccountable independent agencies (CFPB) or expressly choose not to prosecute certain drug crimes. Good policies though they may be (except CFPB), didn’t those actions “subvert” Congressional authority? Should we call for impeachment there?

    The obvious answer is no – at least, that isn’t how we’ve done things in the past. So it’s hard to see why “subverting” the spending power is an independent basis for impeachment.

  31. “Usurped the power of the purse”?

    I don’t see that getting much traction with your average Joe.

    1. Look beyond Fox, Breitbart, Daily Caller, Infowars, Stormfront …

      We all understand your own contempt for the Constitution, as fostered by Trump’s sneering contempt for it, and for the rule of law, Now that we know NOT slurping his cock is … treason!.

  32. Somin must be part of the Lawfare group. How he can come up with this interpretation without examining Biden’s act is just mind blowing.

    It’s really sickening to see so many allegedly serious people shelve their principles and ethics in a deranged attempt to get Trump.

    1. Yes, it’s a conspiracy that anyone isn’t as principled as you, who has in the past called for the execution of Democrats on an Internet political forum.

      1. I know right, I said on an internet political forum that people should be executed for being a Democrat!

        If you have to be a liar, how about you lie up a good reason why Somin doesn’t consider Biden using the $1B to persuade Ukraine to fire an AG as unconstitutional. Surely Congress didn’t authorize the funds for that purpose.

        1. THERE IS NO BIDEN ACT TO DISCOVER — IN TRUMP’S BULLSHIT ASSERTION.

          Thus, it need not be asserted here.
          Thus you owe him an apology.

          Where’s your proof?
          Why do you people place loyalty to a proven fraud like Trump … above loyalty to our country and Constitution?

          1. Biden used $1B allocated to Ukraine in a manner not authorized by Congress.

            It’s a direct application of Somin’s thesis in this article.

            Read a book, dude.

            1. No, he didn’t. Stop reading whatever book-like things you’re reading.

              1. Congress authorized Biden to use the $1B in foreign aid as leverage to get Ukraine’s AG fired?

                Why do you think that?

                1. I don’t know much about the $400M that President Trump was dangling.

                  But let’s understand the $1B from back in 2014. Congress sometimes appropriates money “to the President.” They do this to give the President some spending cash to use in foreign relations. Originally, Congress appropriated Ukraine aid from “the unobligated balance of amounts appropriated or otherwise made available under the heading “economic support fund” that were “Funds Appropriated for the President” in title III of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2014. This is from HB 4152 (113th). A month later the Ukraine revolution happened. Afterwards, the President committed to putting $1B in loan guarantees towards Ukraine. Under HR 4278 the House voted “to redirect previously appropriated funds to cover the cost of roughly $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine.” The “Statement of Policy” accompanying this loan guarantee specifically set forth that its purpose was, in part, “reducing corruption, such as by supporting reform efforts of the Government of Ukraine to pass legislation related to greater accountability for government officials[.]” It was the “sense of Congress” that the loan guarantees should be used to “promote . . . anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine.” Importantly, the redirection of funds “authorized and encouraged (but did not require) the President to “improv[e] . . . anti-corruption efforts[.]”

                  In other words, this was a loan guarantee that Congress had given the President authority but not the obligation to spend to fight corruption. The withholding of the $1B was to fight corruption. In other words, at least in that case, “Congress authorized [the Executive Branch] to use the $1B in foreign aid as leverage to” fight corruption.

                  1. The “but did not require” is not a direct quote from HB 4278. The quote should end after “encouraged”. I do not want to misstate the text of the bill, it was a typo.

                  2. If it helps, the original Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2014 (SB 2499) also references fraud and corruption. It directs executive directors to “actively promote in loan, grant, and other financing agreements demonstrable improvements in the borrowing countries’ financial management and judicial capacity to investigate, prosecute, and punish fraud and corruption.”

                2. Turning to the $400M, it’s very hard to track where that money came from. Some of it presumably came from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative created in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. The USAI made $300M available to the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State. The purposes of the funding were to enhance Ukraine’s military capabilities, and to “support the Government of Ukraine in defending itself agaisnt actions by Russia” etc. Congress added to the USAI in 2017 (in response to troubles in the Azov Sea). There is nothing in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act entitling the President to withhold money to fight corruption. In fact it doesn’t mention corruption at all. The USAI is focused exclusively on promoting Ukraine’s defense systems. There is certainly nothing in it that authorizes the President to withhold the money based on his desire to have a foreign power investigate the son of a political rival, or to use it to get the Ukraine to hand over the Democratic National Committee’s servers (which Ukraine doesn’t have , but the President apparently doesn’t know that).

                  There is another ~$140M authorized somewhere for use through the State Department for maritime security but I can’t find the authorizing bill for it. I have doubts that a maritime security bill would have had anti-corruption language in it.

  33. It’s like Ilya Somin’s imagination has taken over. “If”… if… if…” If a frog had wings it wouldn’t bump it’s ass every time it jumped. This story is yet another attempt to fill white space with something… anything… before the deadline. This always requires ignorant and biased speculation.

    1. Deadline…?

      Sir this is an Arby’s.

  34. What ever happened to the obstructing the Mueller investigation? Seems like that was much more serious than this weak Ukraine nonsense.

    1. Seems like you’re trying to pick your battles.

      This isn’t more or less serious than Trump’s dealings with Russia and subsequent obstruction, just easier to understand politically. Plus there’s a transcript.

      1. There’s a transcript, but it only looks incriminating if you were already inclined to believe Trump a criminal. You have to assume he has a bad motive for wanting Biden’s son’s corruption investigated, because if Biden weren’t running for the nomination, it would be a perfectly legal request for legal cooperation.

        1. We both know the request would not have been made but for the fact that “Biden [is] running for the nomination[.]” Why do you insist on trying to convince us of something that we all know, you know? Your pretend ignorance on this is risible.

          Make a different argument. Maybe the country needs President Trump to protect us from Elizabeth Warren. Maybe you think it’s a good thing for Presidents to use public resources to further personal vendettas. Whatever. But at least make an argument that does not depend on something we both know just ain’t so.

          1. I’ll make the argument.

            If there is cause and justification for investigating some potential malfeasance, I am OK with the U.S. asking for information and assistance from other countries — even if the subject is conveniently a domestic political opponent.

            I am therefore not inherently opposed to the Obama administration’s actions in obtaining information and securing cooperation from all manner of foreign persons and intelligence for the investigation of its political opponents, Trump and his campaign. (Although, I question the grounds for cause).

            1. Great, we just fundamentally disagree. I am (like most people, per polling) opposed to any President using public resources to investigate political opponents for their private benefit.

              I do appreciate your honesty. Could elaborate re: “grounds for cause”?

              1. So you are opposed to what the Obama administration did? What do you think should be done about that?

                1. I don’t know what specifically you’re referencing. But if you’re talking about the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, or the FBI’s specific investigation into Russia’s attempt to coordinate with members of President Trump’s campaign staff, no I don’t find any of that objectionable. Do you?

                  1. Just as Trump has sought cooperation from Urkaine in investigating Biden, the Obama administration cooperated with many foreign parties in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation of the Trump campaign.

                    1. The President personally sought cooperation from Ukraine in investigating Biden, whereas the Obama administration’s FBI cooperated with many foreign parties in its investigation into (the now confirmed, though not necessarily joined) attempts by Russia to coordinate with the Trump campaign.

                    2. I hit submit too soon. I agree with you that there are some similarities, but disagree with you that Crossfire Hurricane had something to do with the former President drumming up secrets exclusively to damage a political opponent, whereas it is apparent to me at least that President Trump is intentionally drumming up a debunked investigation for the sole purpose of damaging a political opponent.

                    3. Fair enough. I find the situations to be the same in terms of the principle of getting foreign information/cooperation for investigation of a political opponent.

                      All politicians ostensibly view the success of their campaigns as being in the national interest. That’s why they are politicians. So there’s not likely to be a distinction to be made there. The same logic tends to apply to political operatives, partisans, activists, and ideologues of all kinds. Their political agenda and the national interest tends to be one and the same. This is no way justifies any actions they might take in furtherance of that agenda. But it suggests that any action which is otherwise perfectly acceptable and lawful cannot be deemed unlawful merely because it was furthers a political agenda.

                      Peter Strzok and others were manifestly consumed with hatred for Donald Trump. Concerning the potential of Trump becoming President, he wrote “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.” Concerning the investigation they were conducting, he wrote, “There’s no big there there.” Brennan, Comey etc have made clear their fervent opposition to Trump as well.

                      What to make of this? Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Strzok and others acted entirely legally and in good faith in all respects (notwithstanding the “no there there” comment), and further assume that they were also politically motivated. Does the political motivation make their otherwise legal/ok actions illegal/not ok? And if so how can you really say that a political motivation is entirely distinct from, say, the pursuit of justice?

                    4. “but disagree with you that Crossfire Hurricane had something to do with the former President drumming up secrets exclusively to damage a political opponent, whereas it is apparent to me at least that President Trump is intentionally drumming up a debunked investigation for the sole purpose of damaging a political opponent.”

                      Yeah, I think you are getting at the right principle here. A properly predicated and justified investigation is OK. Drumming up charges to create innuendo and leaks is not.

                      Only we disagree in our interpretation of the facts. The Russia collusion hoax was an attempt to drum up completely baseless charges and innuendo to take down the President and prevent his agenda. The Biden-Ukraine situation is completely different, the appearance of impropriety is off the charts, and on its face it warrants looking into.

                    5. Nice the way you switched to ranting about Obama and Strzok, ML. Did you forget this thread is about Trump?

                    6. “Nice the way you switched to ranting about Obama and Strzok, ML. Did you forget this thread is about Trump?”

                      Sarcastro, These topics are all part of the exact same fact pattern. They are integral to each other.

                      But setting that aside, the point here is to identify a consistent standard. Most people arguing about this can be dismissed out of hand, because they will not address how their arguments apply to both sides.

                    7. “All politicians ostensibly view the success of their campaigns as being in the national interest.”

                      If it matters, President Obama did not have a presidential campaign when the FBI investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 elections began.

                      “Does the political motivation make their otherwise legal/ok actions illegal/not ok?”

                      Yea, it certainly can. It depends, though.

                      “The Russia collusion hoax was an attempt to drum up completely baseless charges and innuendo to take down the President and prevent his agenda.”

                      The President did not use the “Russia collusion hoax” to prevent President Trump from being elected. Information about the investigation was not publicly disclosed until after the election. In any event, it wasn’t a hoax, it was a real investigation based on real information. People have been prosecuted for lying about their communications with Russian nationals.

                      If there is some investigation that needs to happen against Biden then great. But that’s not what the President was trying to do. If he wanted to investigate Biden, he has the DOJ to do it. He doesn’t need to be asking the Ukraine for favors. (And he can ask them for documentation through official channels. Why do you think he didn’t go that direction?)

                    8. “President Obama did not . . . ”

                      Granted. In the case of Crossfire Hurricane we are talking about FBI officials, in Ukraine we are talking about President Trump personally rather than his underlings. That is a material distinction between the two cases. I’m just not sure that distinction does any favors for your argument.

                      “If he wanted to investigate Biden, he has the DOJ to do it.”

                      Looks like new headline at WaPo says Barr/DOJ has been working on this for months.

  35. So who is signing up for Trump’s Civil War/citizens arrest of that bothersome Representative?

    In all seriousness, the arguments here have been in the arena of facts, not opinions or policies. The conservatives here are posting a lot of laughable misinformation, arguing the media is lying except for the right-wing stuff they’ll post, and that one opinion writer from the Hill.

    This is not symmetrical on the left. I read forums far to my left at times. They’re pretty silly, but this level of gasslighting, making things up, and confirmation bias-based not checking that you’re being gaslighted is vastly more common on the right. Even in somewhat more rarefied intellectual forums like this.

  36. There’s just one, massive glaring hole in your narrative: Trump didn’t mention aid being withheld and Zelensky did not know of aid being withheld. So go ahead and tell me how you can pressure someone by withholding something that they don’t know about and not telling them about it.

    1. Right after talking about aid, Trump asks for a favor. Don’t be dense.

      1. Are you seriously basing a fucking impeachment inquiry on the basis of syntax? There’s just as much of a compelling argument that everything mentioned and requested before aid was quid pro quo. The positioning of a request has no meaning. You want to see something and you’re seeing it.

        1. Syntax? It’s not grammer, its basic comprehension.

          If you don’t see the implication in following up someone’s request for aid with complaining they never do anything for you and hey how about a favor…well, you probably think those knights who killed Thomas Beckett were just lone wolves.

          1. Syntax, ie the structure of sentences. It isn’t basic comprehension at all. You want to believe that the order in which things are stated is of importance. It is not and is also highly speculative.

            Ex. perhaps the favor was requested towards the end of the conversation because Trump wants it to be the last thing Zelensky remembers. Or maybe it is that unimportant that it’s just an afterthought. Or maybe he thinks bringing it up right off the bat is abrupt. Or maybe he just remembered to say it (everyone always considers Trump to be absent minded and dense) and doesn’t really structure these calls like a board meeting.

            All of these are equally possible and equally pointless to consider given that your proof is “if I were requesting a favor and applying pressure, that’s how I would do it.”

            1. At this point, you’ve found yourself having to deny basic human communication.
              Your other possibilities are not realistic – it’s elementary that asks following the other side’s ask are presumed to be related.

              I’ll also note how far you’ve drifted from your original objection about the funds to being obtuse about how implications work.

              It’s funny partially because quid pro quo itself is fine in foreign policy discussions – it’s that it was in service of Trump himself and not the country that’s the issue.

              1. Keep asserting that it’s basic communication if that makes you feel better about your lack of logic.

                Addressing multiple subjects is not drifting. The people who would have known didn’t know what you thought they knew. That alone is enough of an argument. But I like to dismantle every aspect of this shitty narrative you’re putting forward. If you’re seriously suggesting that pressure was applied to get something for Trump himself, then you need to address why a Zelensky official on the phone call with Trump suspected that the pressure was regarding Motor Sich and not Biden. If that’s the basis under which Ukraine acted, then you have to address two things. First, prove that Trump wanted information on Biden for personal gain. Second, illustrate how you’re supposed to investigate a previous administration that currently stands for re-election and why past instances of investigations, such as those into candidate Trump, were permissible.

                1. First, prove that Trump wanted information on Biden for personal gain
                  I have nothing to say to this foolishness. This is a thing that speaks for itself.

                  illustrate how you’re supposed to investigate a previous administration that currently stands for re-election
                  Maybe start with having a modicum of evidence. And then go through normal domestic investigatory channels, not foreign countries using foreign aid as leverage.

                  why past instances of investigations, such as those into candidate Trump, were permissible
                  This is whattaboutism.
                  But also too lacking in perspective to resist. It went through proper channels, signed off by nonpolitical and political appointees of both parties. And it was about our elections – something of national import, not some rich guy getting a job maybe he didn’t earn.

                  1. Also don’t use your personal attorney to do it.

    2. Approval for the aid was held up, despite being ready in May. Then held up in June. Then held up in July. That’s when the President spoke with President Zelensky. The reason President Zelensky asked about javelins was because he had been told he would get the money but didn’t get it. Then the President asked for a “favor”.

      Anyway, today a former member of Ukraine’s parliament said in an interview:

      “I am sure that issue of Biden was forever on the table between Zelensky and Trump… Of course, he wanted political privileges, favors, for his re-election from Ukraine…”

      “In return for military aid?”

      “I would say yes…”

      Keep in mind that the President did not release the funds until after the whistleblower compliant had issued (though before it had been made public or, so far as I can tell, given to Congress).

      1. NYT interview with another Ukrainian “official” said Zelensky govt was not made aware of withheld aid until a month after the July call. It’s your narrative against their word. I’ll go with their own word.

        As for your quote, speculation. Evident from “I am sure” and “I would say.” That’s not the language of fact.

        Regardless, this is still just one of many red herrings. If a President cannot direct the executive branch to investigate corruption within the previous executive branch just because the previous administration is seeking public office, then all one needs to do is seek re-election after committing their crimes. Patently absurd logic and it would condemn both Biden and Trump, not one or the other.

        1. Read what NToJ wrote at the top – Zelensky may not have been aware of the July holdup, but given May and June, I don’t think it was a surprise it got held up in July.

          This wasn’t about corruption, it was about Trump trying to get reelected. But keep trying to pretend it was normal and good; see how well that serves the GOP.

          1. Yeah because Trump really needs help getting re-elected with the Marxist circus we have right now. “We can’t give him the launch codes” is appearing more grounded and sane than all the Democrat/RINO sweethearts in spite of all these manufactured controversies.

            How do you wager Zelensky’s government had no idea aid was withheld but subsequently knew it was withheld for two months? You have to read into this really hard to have any sort of semblance of “I’m withholding aid to get what I want,” especially since Ukraine itself has vehemently denied your rationale and provided their own (suspicion regarding proposed sale of Motor Sich to China). Bolton was hawkish about this and we should not be surprised that the timeline around these events also coincides with his departure.

            1. So your latest is that the Democratic field seems too crazy to you for Trump to try and take out Biden?

              Ukraine is not super unified – some are denying and some are confirming the quid pro quo. Which is fine, since we can look at what the Trump Admin released on the phone call, which makes it pretty clear to anyone who isn’t so soaked in motivated reasoning their English comprehension skills have been discarded.

              Where are you getting the idea that Zelensky was unaware, anyhow?

              1. The idea is directly from Ukrainian officials who interviewed with TIME, NYT, and other publications that are by no means Trump-friendly media who agreed to say as much on the condition of anonymity. That’s where we received info about Zalensky not actually knowing aid was withheld. Maybe he suspected, we don’t know, but he definitely did not know it for a fact. That’s also how we received info from another person who was on the call with Zalensky and stated their suspicions about Motor Sich.

                There is no discarding of comprehension here. You just want us to assume that mentioning one thing after another means they’re related. I like tacos but that doesn’t mean shit.

                1. I refuse to believe you’re too dumb to see how quid pro quo may be clearly implied without directly declaring ‘If you do this I will release the funds.’

                  This is not the battlefield the GOP will choose, methinks. You’re going to be a bit lonely over there in ‘I never infer anything’-land.

        2. One of the Ukrainian officials on the phone call suspected at the time that the money was withheld because of the Motor Sich sale (by a Ukrainian company to a Chinese company). It would be remarkable if the person on the phone with President Zelensky was aware of the withheld aid but that President Zelenskys’s “govt” was not.

          1. Being aware and suspecting are two very different things. Awareness means confirmed knowledge. If Ukraine suspected that Motor Sich had something to do with something not going their way but could not confirm it, that’s on Ukraine, not Trump.

            1. What? If the Ukrainians suspected, at the time of the call, that the US was withholding because of Motor Sich’s sale, that means the Ukrainian government was “aware of withheld aid” prior to the phone call. If the President attempted–even unsuccessfully–to coerce the Ukrainians into chasing a political opponent, and used withheld funds to do that, it’s not “on Ukraine”. It’s on the President.

              1. No, that’s not what “aware” means. Aware is an explicit confirmation of something being true. If I suspect that you are a man but have no information confirming or denying it, I am not “aware” that you are a man. It is entirely on Ukraine to worry that something is wrong due to something else and to act accordingly based on it, nor is such action quid pro quo.

                And let’s just suppose that this is all a part of Trump’s 5D chess. Please tell me how playing mind games to get what you want without actually exchanging anything is a crime. If anything, that’s a master negotiator and the art of the deal at work.

                1. Now who is playing semantics? Functionally, being aware versus strongly suspecting doesn’t matter once Trump comes in with his asks.

                  Please tell me how playing mind games to get what you want without actually exchanging anything is a crime

                  The issue is not the games. It’s what Trump wanted to get from a foreign power.

                  1. This is why you’re just a troll. Do tell how I’m supposed to respond to your initial argument, rooted in semantics, without myself using semantics. You’re debating the meaning of words; any response would involve the meaning of words.

                    You have no fucking idea what Trump wanted and no proof to support your claims. None of us do and that’s the be all and end all.

                    1. You were responding to NToJ, and parsing what ‘aware’ means. That’s semantics. And also silly, since functionally 100% surety versus having a suspicion does not change the interaction materially.

                      Understanding that there’s an implication when you talk about reciprocity and then ask for something right after someone else asks for something of you? That’s not semantics.

  37. I am beginning to think “Reason” has gone to the dark side. If what they are preaching is libertarian, then I want no part of it.

  38. God “Reason” your fucking leftard is showing, didn’t mention your “libertarian” buddy Joe Biden who openly said that if they didn’t fire the prosecutor going after his son for illegal activities that he would withhold aid. Didn’t mention that, did you?

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