Far From Avoiding 'Quid Pro Quo' Talk, Calling Trump's Conduct Bribery Requires It

Whether you think of his pressure on Ukraine as bribery, extortion, or simply an abuse of power, the link between military aid and politically beneficial investigations is crucial.


Casting about for a short, easily understood description of Donald Trump's conduct vis-à-vis Ukraine, House Democrats seem to have settled on bribery. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), speaking to reporters yesterday, said "the devastating testimony" heard by the House Intelligence Committee during impeachment hearings this week "corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry."

The word bribery has a few obvious advantages. It is specifically mentioned in the Constitution as an example of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" that justify impeachment; it is the offense that most readily springs to mind when people think about public corruption; and it (initially, at least) avoids potential confusion about the meaning and significance of the "quid pro quo" that Republicans deny and Democrats think is obvious. "After weeks of describing the president's actions as a 'quid pro quo,'" The New York Times reports, "lawmakers are looking for a more straightforward and digestible way to describe what happened to their constituents."

But describing Trump's actions as bribery also poses problems as a communications strategy. Trump is accused of withholding benefits—military aid and a White House meeting—from Ukraine to pressure its government into launching (or at least announcing) investigations that would be politically useful to him. That sounds a lot like extortion, especially since the military aid had already been approved by Congress and would have been delivered on schedule if Trump had not blocked it.

Pelosi herself, in explaining why Trump is guilty of bribery, ended up describing extortion. "The president abused his power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting" if Ukraine failed to launch "an investigation into his political rival," Pelosi said, calling that "a clear attempt by the president to give himself an advantage in the 2020 election."

As George Mason law professor Ilya Somin notes, there is a federal extortion statute that seems to fit these facts pretty well. 18 USC 1601 applies to someone who "knowingly causes or attempts 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 that payment or benefit "is provided for or made possible in whole or in part by an Act of Congress."

Pushing the bribery angle, Pelosi said "the bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections." That makes it sound like Trump is accused of bribing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. But federal bribery laws apply to American officials, not foreign officials, so the relevant question is not whether Trump tried to bribe Zelenskiy but whether he solicited a bribe from Zelenskiy.

If Democrats are determined to frame Trump's actions as bribery, the most obviously germane statute is 18 USC 201, which applies to any federal official who "corruptly…seeks…anything of value…in return for…being influenced in the performance of any official act." In this case, the "thing of value" would be an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, and the official acts would be unblocking the military aid and scheduling a White House meeting. That's not entirely implausible, but the extortion statute seems like a more natural fit.

Either way, the Democrats cannot avoid talking about a quid pro quo, since that is an essential element of both crimes. A bribery conviction under 18 USC 201, the Supreme Court has said, requires "a quid pro quo—a specific intent to give or receive something of value in exchange for an official act." Under 18 USC 1601, the deprivation of benefits likewise has to be aimed at "caus[ing]" the victim to contribute a "thing of value."

Whether you think of Trump's actions as extortion, solicitation of a bribe, or simply a troubling abuse of power that does not necessarily violate any criminal statutes, the connection between military aid (or a White House meeting) and the politically beneficial investigations is crucial. To my mind, that link has been established pretty clearly by the rough transcript of Trump's July 25 telephone conversation with Zelenskiy and by the testimony of administration officials. Others may disagree. But the question of whether there was a quid pro quo remains at the heart of the debate.

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  1. Is there any Democratic talking point that Reason is going to question or at least doesn’t have someone dumb enough to write an article justifying? Just one?

    Bribery is a real word. It has an actual meaning. It is a term of art. And nothing that fits its meaning is being even alleged much less proven here. You can’t bribe some one to do something that you are allowed to pay for them to do anyway. We give nation’s aid in order to get them to do things in return. Giving them that aid in return for something is how it works.

    This whole thing is absurd. And the fact that the people pushing it are reduced to raping the English language like this is proof of just how absurd it is.

    1. John, IS IT bribery when it goes like this? Country A has a bunch of Country B’s money. In order to get Country B to stop making nuclear weapons Country A gives Country B the money that it owes it. I want to understand how Trumpian cultists define the term. Thanks man!

      1. That is called diplomacy you fucking moron.

        1. Hook. Line. Sinker.

            -House Democrats

        2. John was quoted as saying, “He got me. That fucking LeaveTrumpAloneLibertarian boomed me. He’s so good. He’s so good.”

          1. Change your name you stolen valor bot.

            1. I earned my valor, you libelous, unhappy fuck.

              1. You sat through GI Jane to earn it. Twice.

                1. And let some Nazis spitroast him too.

        3. Ahahahaha… yep, John… correct you are!

      2. I don’t know. Is it bribery when we give Iranians billions of dollars for their gov to agree to signing a treaty? Is it bribery to engage in diplomacy if we give plutocrats any money at all to achieve what we want foreign policy wise? Last I checked it’s bribery if a citizen gives a gov official money to achieve certain outcomes but it’s not clear at all too me how the Gov giving another Gov money to achieve certain outcomes is bribery. If it is good lock them all the fuck up.

        1. In the Iranian case it was the release of their own money and the purpose was a treaty of interest to the US and many other countries. In the case of President Trump the release of funds was in return for something of interest just to himself. The first is negotiations and the second bribery/extortion.

          1. It was the shah’s money, not Iran’s

            1. Further, US courts ruled that the money in question be used to compensate victims of the 1982 Beirut bombing, not given to the theocratic regime who orchestrated that bombing

              1. They did get paid, but out of US funds. Not the same justice at all. I didn’t know about the victims’ judgement. Thanks for bringing it up.

              2. Wouldn’t it be funny if Obama was indicted for violating federal law and assisting a terrorist organization?

                We would see those Lefties howl!

          2. First off, the Iranian government owes the US several times as much money as they claim the US owes them for the Shah’s purchase of weapons.

            Second, even assuming you were correct that the returning the initially delivered cash was not a payment but just “release of their own money” (as pallets of Euros), that still doesn’t change the fact that the interest – something like $800,000,000 worth – was NOT Iranian money and was NOT authorized by Congress. It was, therefore, illegal for Obama to deliver those monies to Iran.

          3. Are you suggesting that Trump is the ONLY person in this country who would have any interest in knowing more about potential corruption involving the Bidens?

            1. I am suggesting that President Trump could care less about corruption. He wanted a public announce of an investigation to use in his campaign.

              1. Kind of like Operation Hurricane against Trump? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm? Obama administration and the Clinton campaign paying foreign actors money to find dirty on Trump?

                1. If the Obama Administration did that, then it would be unethical and maybe illegal. If the Hillary Clinton campaign paid someone to dig up dirt that is opposition research, and legit.

                  1. How was the Clinton campaign not soliciting “a thing of value” from a foreign national in return for help with an election campaign?

                    1. It’s not illegal to hire private investigators to investigate someone.

                    2. If the Clinton campaign tried to get a foreign government or the Obama Administration to assist the Clinton campaign, then that may very well have broken laws.

                    3. I’ll try saying it a different way. I don’t know that much about Operation Hurricane. I am not claiming the Clinton campaign is innocent of wrongdoing.

              2. Moderation4ever
                November.15.2019 at 3:07 pm
                “I am suggesting that President Trump could care less about corruption.”

                Your opinions are NWS.

              3. Yes, Trump could care less about corruption.
                I’m glad he doesn’t

              4. It doesn’t matter whether or not Trump is interested in Biden’s corrupt use of a billion or so of the taxpayers’ dollars.

                Aren’t YOU interested?

          4. Ever heard of public choice theory?

            1. No

            2. I have, but I’m still wondering what your point is.

          5. Why cash? That in and of itself is highly suspect.

            1. Maybe our Deep State that is trying to coup a duly elected President wrote down every serial number on the cash to see where it goes.

              Things our government credit never did…for $1000

            2. Iran may have a little trouble with getting a check cashed.

          6. No treaty was ever signed. No treaty was ever brought up for a vote. Instead a lawless president once again ignored the constitution and signed his name to an unenforceable agreement unrecognized by the US constitution. He also illegally gave the Iranian regime money that wasn’t actually there’s to begin with. Any more than a government gun buyback is a buyback as the government never owned the guns in the first place.

        2. That’s the weird bit, right? A ton of these “foreign aid” packages are congressionally-approved bribes… So if they want to push that angle Trump merely threatened to stop a bribe, but then didn’t? This is all a result of normalized corruption that they are just now trying to use against Trump. Which isn’t to say he wasn’t scuzzy, but if they can’t make a case without Orwellian double speak I’m gonna remain unconvinced.

          If we’re gonna impeach him, let’s do it for something worthwhile, like declaring false emergencies to bypass congress or something. Of course both sides want to keep that power, so they won’t.

          1. I guess you could look at it that way, but the Ukrainians are trying to fend off Russian soldiers.

            1. Lol
              You have SO MUCH faith in the political class

            2. What President supplied with them with ACTUAL weapons, in spite of years of Congress insisting on it?


              1. It did happen during his administration. Did he have any actual involvement in making that happen? The story coming out in the impeachment hearings is that he worked against it.

                1. Obama sent them blankets and MRE when Congress insisted on lethal weapons.

                  So, yes, he had something to do with it.

                  1. Logically, what you just wrote doesn’t address what I just wrote. That military aid happened during the Trump administration doesn’t mean Trump actually advocated for it. Reports are Trump has misgivings about Ukraine and doesn’t have much interest in its fate.

                    Also, Trump fans here were arguing just two weeks ago that Trump is an isolationist getting us out of military alliances, like in Syria.

                    1. I’d prefer we not give/sell Ukraine weapons, but you have to bend over really far for the mandarins to reach that conclusion.
                      So, pretty typical post for you.
                      Continue eating crayons in the corner, “mike” – the rest of us will discuss reality

                    2. *to reach your conclusion

                    3. One President didn’t send weapons. One did. One gets credit for sending weapons. The other does not. You can pretend Obama cared…but he didn’t sent them shit to fight with when they asked. Trump did.

                      And I have zero issues with selling guns for people to kill each other with. As long as OUR troops aren’t there, it’s peachy.

                    4. I have no opinion on whether Obama cared about Ukraine.

                      Yes, Presidents traditionally get credit or blame for anything that happens during their administration. We all know that often that credit or blame doesn’t stand up to closer scrutiny.

      3. Is it bribery when a politician promises to give voters money for their votes?

        Oh, look: socialism is bribery.

        1. Well not money, but things of value (free college, healthcare) and that has been the claim with Trump.

          On second though, vote for me and I will give you Universal Basic Income is a direct cash payment.

        2. EXACTLY!!!

      4. Per se, that’s not bribery, just idiotic foreign policy that gets Americans killed.

      5. Trump asked Zelensky for a favor. He never threatened to withhold any promised aid if said favor was not done. Zelensky said after the call he was never even thinking about the aid linked to Trump’s request. Shortly after the call, the aid is released without said favor being fulfilled. SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHERE THERE IS A HIGH CRIME OR IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE HERE THAT IS WORTHY OF WASTING ALL THIS TIME, ENERGY AND MONEY!!!!

        1. I don’t know what to say, other than you your comment indicates you need to spend some time catching up on news from the last couple of weeks. Testimony has brought out that there is a lot more to the story/timeline than just the July 25th phone call that was the original focus of the impeachment inquiries.

          1. Wow. You’re still saying ignorant shit. Are you still claiming you’re neutral as well?

            1. Nobody carries water for the mandarins like Mike Laursen

            2. Jesse he might be neutral. Neutral Evil anyway. And his charisma score sucks.

          2. The testimony which now comes down to an aide overhearing both sides of a phone call. Said aide not being the one testifying, natch.

            1. The aid, David Holmes, testified yesterday. A transcript of his testimony is available, and it’s worth reading, if for no other reason than that it’s the only testimony from the hearings so far that has some entertainment value (as in, for example, the Kardashian family, of all things, comes up in his testimony):


        2. The aid was released 17 days after the phone call. I’m not sure that qualifies as “shortly after”. Because it took several days to unfreeze the aid, it came within three days of the expiration deadline.

          1. It was 3 days late?

            1. 3 days early, I think.

              1. Nardz is trying to advance the argument, “What’s the big deal? They made the deadline, didn’t they.”

                The problem with that argument is:
                a) The White House was making no effort to unfreeze the aid until their actions came under public scrutiny.
                b) The deadline was only made because of an extraordinary effort.
                c) Timely delivery of the aid was important to Ukraine, affecting their front lines and diplomatic efforts.

                1. Still, none of this is a high crime or impeachable offense….it is called Foreign Policy crafted by an administration!

                  1. My personal view is that it is a high crime, because Trump abused the power of his office to withhold Congressionally-allocated aid to try to get free opposition research for his 2020 Presidential campaign.

                    I don’t think it is impeachable, in the sense that it’s not a flagrant enough abuse of office to get the Senate to remove Trump from office.

                    It was clearly not crafted, in the sense that it is another example of Trump’s signature impulsiveness.

                    1. Your personal view is less than worthless though

                    2. So then you must really want to go after the Bidens, since Creepy Joe used threats of withholding aid to get a prosecutor fired who was investigating the company oddly employing his inexperienced, drug-abusing son at an exorbitant wage.

                      But you appear to hold the position that when Democrats get investigated, that’s criminal. Odd.

                    3. I would welcome investigation of the Bidens.

                      I also think, from the testimony that I’ve heard so far, that it is likely that Trump used his office for personal political gain.

                      So, when you said, “you appear to hold the position that when Democrats get investigated, that’s criminal” that is a mis-characterization of my position. I actually think there are a lot of Democrats that could stand to be investigated.

                    4. On the practical level, I have doubts an investigation of the Bidens would accomplish much at this point, because:
                      * Years have passed. An investigation would have been more effective if it had been done earlier.
                      * Biden isn’t holding office anymore, so it’s not clear he could be impeached right now. One commenter here posited that he could still be impeached and banned from holding office in the future. I don’t claim to know enough about Constitutional law to have an opinion on whether would be possible.
                      * The Biden case is a bit different from the Trump case in that Biden didn’t actually *do* anything. He verbally threatened to withhold loan guarantees, but he didn’t actually do it. Also, I cannot find any news source anywhere that says whether Ukraine ever tried to use the loan guarantees, before, during, or after Biden’s threat.

          2. More crucial, it was released without Trump’s request being fulfilled!

            1. That argument would be more powerful if the delay of the aid weren’t under intense public scrutiny at the time. As far as the abuse of office, the important thing was the attempt to extort Ukraine, not whether the extortion was successful.

              1. It wasn’t under any public scrutiny at the time.

                1. The story broke in Politico on August 28th. The aid wasn’t released until 9/11.

        1. It is evidence against the narrative that has been coming out of the House impeachment inquiries. It’s a bit of an exaggeration to say it blows it to pieces — it has not established that Prystaiko is privy to all conversations between Americans and Zelensky, for example.

          1. Zelensky also denies any pressure.

            1. In a YouTube video, right?

              There is lots of testimony that privately he was trying to deal with Trump’s demands and asking American diplomats for advice.

              1. There is no testimony from anybody directly involved. Sorry to burst your bubble.

                He says he felt no pressure. If you wish to have these people claim he’s lying, it might be an uphill battle.

                1. I don’t have a dog in the hunt. The hearings aren’t over yet, so I’m waiting to see what unfolds.

                  1. You assume they started off with dud witnesses…why?

                    1. I don’t assume it. The Democrats did not lead off with their strongest witnesses. Holmes is their strongest witness so far, and we’ll have to see what Mark Sandy reveals today.

                      I’m not a Congressional Democrat, so I don’t know why they are scheduling particular witnesses on particular days. Maybe they didn’t even know about Holmes overhearing the phone call until Taylor talked about it.

      6. You just described exactly what Biden did. And yet the dhimmicrat gets a free pass. That goes so far beyond cognitive dissonance and/or hypocrisy and/or double standards that I don’t even know what to call it.

        This comment not approved by Silicon Valley brain slugs.

      7. It depends on motivation. All government aid is given to foreign governments to do something for the US. The Dems narrative is Trump is doing this stuff solely to get reelected. Biden is joke, the other possibility is Trump is doing this for exactly what he said to stop corruption with the funds we have already given and that would have to include the son of the vice president under the most corrupt administration we have seen in a long time.

        We have 7 billion dollars we have given to Ukraine that we have no idea where it went, it did little to no good to the US. The state department which seems the most entrenched of the deep state or bureaucratic permanent state clearly do not care about the lost billions. So yes it is mandatory for the President to fire the people playing fast and loose with our money and to work with foreign leaders to find out where it went.

        1. What do you mean when you say we have no idea where the 7 billion dollars went? I’ve read several articles that detail what Ukraine has spent the money on.

          (A lot of the aid is structured, by the way, so the Ukraine ends up buying stuff from the American government or American defense businesses. Curious how the aid ends up benefiting the American military-industrial complex. :-))

    2. “Is there any Democratic talking point that Reason is going to question or at least doesn’t have someone dumb enough to write an article justifying?”

      Next time RTFA. The whole point of the article is explaining that the democrats are trying to frame the discussion in terms of bribery, but doing so is factually wrong. Also, that the democrats are doing this in an attempt to avoid the difficult part of their accusations, but even by framing it as bribery they still have to deal with the qpq aspect.

      1. “Next time RTFA”
        Why bother.

        “Whether you think of his pressure on Ukraine as bribery, extortion, or simply an abuse of power, the link between military aid and politically beneficial investigations is crucial.”

        No, that’s not a misleading false choice statement with a foregone conclusion. Reads like a strategy session for impeachment and nothing else. Next time I want to see the charts and graphs too.

    3. And with that— plus the other idiotic “articles” also parroting the Democrats anti-Trump script below this “article”— I’m done coming to this website. What a massive disappointment.

      “Reason” is literally incapable of living up to its stated mission because everyone who works for this rag lives in a 95% Blue district. They are all obsequious twits eager… nay, desperate for the approval from their Leftist neighbors.

      But my comments above insinuate that I trust that Reason is a failed but sincere effort to be a libertarian website. I do not believe that. No legitimate Libertarian can be so gullible, slavish, and foolish so consistently.

      I believe Reason is a Trojan horse, a deliberate effort to sneak leftist unreason, relativism, and collectivism into the dna of the libertarian movement.

      Goodbye. I recommend that anyone who is here for a legitimately libertarian perspective also leave. We should create our own site. There is nothing here for us.

      Momentarily you will see articles on Reason about Roger Stone’s conviction being important, legitimate, and troubling, and that perhaps the entire Russia Conspiracy now needs to be revisited.

      1. I’m glad reason isn’t one of those sites like fox and breitfart that are so biased for Republican dick sucking that they ignore facts. Reason will remain a common site for me to check out that doesn’t ignore basic facts just to please a base of Trumpettes.

        1. Amen.

    4. Ugh – the stupidity surrounding impeachment hurts my head; literally, I feel dumber every time I listen to the pro-impeachment people. Look, as long as I am acting on a claim of right, I can’t commit extortion, bribery or anything else (unless my claim of right is so unreasonable as to constitute a fraud). So quit with all this stupid legal “reasoning” – the sin qua non of any crime here is that you’d have to show Trump had no legitimate reason to investigate and/or to condition the $ upon an investigation (the fact that he might have had or actually had another illicit motive doesn’t matter; the law doesn’t require a pure heart). As long as he had a reasonable basis for what he did (aka that he’s the president & that he’s responsible for investigating why the VPs son was getting $3.1MM from Burisma for no apparent reason), then there’s no crime – period, full stop, fade to black. You can’t criminalize a lawful act by claiming the perp had a second illicit motive. If you could, every attorney who demanded a settlement would be a criminal unless he or she could prove that the $ had nothing to do with it (that all they cared about was their client’s rights, rather than their legal fees). If you could, anyone who did anything could be thrown in prison unless they were solely motivated by some righteous cause or whatever. The law is clear, it’s been litigated a billion times, the fact that someone had (or might have had) an illegitimate reason for a lawful act is legally immaterial. If they had a reasonable basis to believe their actions were lawful, then they’re innocent (whatever they thought in their hearts). The fact that someone may have wanted to benefit from some legal action they took is NOT a crime, anymore than signing some bill because you expect that bill will get you reelected means you committed a crime. The President had the legal right (or at least a colorable legal argument that he had the right) to do what he did, so it’s legal (even if he did it for a “bad” reason). Get over yourselves! The law does not require men to be angels, nor does it limit public office to saints. This entire discussion is stupid. Even if everything the Ds say is Gospel, Trump’s entitled to prevail.

      1. That makes so much sense, FB will probably use that comment to train their AI censor on what comments it should delete.

      2. But progress uber alles is what neo-libertarianism is all about, chris.
        Just ask Reason marionette mike Laursen

      3. What cracks me up is Reason ignores the legitimate reasons to impeach the last three presidents like indefinite detention, 4th amendment abuses and war across the globe without declarations and buy into this silly Democrat narrative.

        It is the Constitutional duty of the President to handle foreign relations and to stop the corruption that has already made 7 billion in aid disappear.

        1. Reason has been highly critical of every Presidential administration since it’s founding, and even a bunch of the Presidential administrations before that.

          1. It is our role to be contrarian and a pain in the butt.

            We may not be the biggest dog in the fight but there is no braver and more annoying animal than the chihuahua. Those little dogs will take on anything.

            Here is a story of a chihuahua rescuing a girl from a pit bull. Go little dog!


      4. Well said. The whole episode makes no sense.

        I really despise Trump but I despise his opponents even more.

    5. Well said.

      This entire impeachment deal is insane.

      Basically, the charge is that President Trump committed an impeachable crime by encouraging investigation of an obvious crime by his political opponent’s son.

      Up is down. Wrong is right.

  2. Sounds more like a negotiation. Bribery is when you send cash.

    1. It’s an alleged negotiation. None of this is based on any facts or firsthand knowledge. The facts are Aid was withheld, Trump asked the Ukranian president to look into allegations of corruption. Nobody with firsthand knowledge of what the negotiation entailed has been called to testify publicly and since noone can read Trump or anyones mind it’s all hearsay. This whole thing is so fucking stupid. Also can someone tell me definitively if Trump has congressional authorization to withhold funds in the Ukraine based on corruption? I’ve heard different things. Pretty sure he can. Also the aid ended up getting there and from what I understand no investigation occurred so it’s not clear what the fuck happened.

      1. If he can’t Biden couldn’t back in 2015 right?

        1. Joe Biden has been a political candidate for 40 years, so he’s off limits.

          Trump is a political candidate running for reelection but he is fair game.

          1. You don’t understand Proglodyte doctrine.

            The guy with the orange hair is bad. Anything he does is corruption, therefore bad.

            The guy with the hair that is riveted in place is good. Any corruption he does is therefore good.

      2. Nobody knows definitively whether the president can hold back foreign or military aid. He can probably do it for a few months no matter what. Beyond that, he may be able to do it in his capacity as commander in chief.

        Ultimately, it comes down to enforceability anyway.

        1. Well, there’s the fact that Trump IS the Commander In Chief of the Military… I’d say maybe he actually has authority in how and when military aid is distributed. And all foreign and military aid (USAID, OFDA (DoD), Office of Political/Military Affairs, etc., etc.) are all under the authority of the Administrative Branch.

        2. None of that matters, the money was released without what Trump asked for being given!

          1. I gather you are unfamiliar with the concept of an inchoate crime.

            1. In order to be an “inchoate crime” it must at the very least be a crime if completed. So which criminal laws would Trump have violated if he actually had completed a quid-pro-quo transaction with Ukraine?

              1. Violation of FEC campaign regulations, violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, impeachable abuse of high office by committing extortion. All of these have been put posited as crimes that Trump has committed.

                The one the Democrats seem to be going with is extortion, although they are inaccurately messaging it as “bribery”, apparently because they think the American public understands the word, “bribery”, better than the word, “extortion”.

      3. +1,000

        Under Bill Clinton, the US & Ukraine signed a treaty to fight corruption in that nation, so I think Trump was in rights to ask for this & besides, the money was released & there is no investigation of Quid Pro Joe, so where is the crime?

        1. He released the money after he panicked after his bribery became obvious through the whistleblower.

          1. Still, does not matter, as Trump never threatened the Ukrainian prez that if there was no investigation, then there will be no aid!….So, there was no bribe!

            1. How do you *know* that Trump didn’t threaten to withhold the aid?

              1. Doesn’t matter

              2. Ah, Mike Laursen’s America, where everybody is guilty of everything until they can prove themselves innocent!

                1. Let’s not play contextual games. We know there are two contexts in which we can be discussing the allegations against Trump:

                  * Context A: Whether he did it or not.
                  * Context B: Whether it can be proved in a court that he did it or not.

                  I was responding to Teddy Pump’s comment, which seemed to be clearly using Context A above. You just changed to Context B.

          2. “He released the money after he panicked after his bribery became obvious through the whistleblower.”

            Then we should hear from the “whistleblower”, right?

            1. Why? The Democratically-controlled House could have started an impeachment inquiry under pretty much any pretense they could come up with. The Ukraine matter was brought to everyone’s attention because of a whisteblower who didn’t have firsthand knowledge of what happened, as has been pointed out here many times. Since then several witnesses that were much closer to Trump have testified, and more are to come. The whistleblower’s testimony wouldn’t add anything to the case.

              Demand that the whistleblower testify is a Republican diversionary tactic.

              1. “Why?”

                Why should we hear from the person who ORIGINATED all of this? Seriously?

                “The Democratically-controlled House could have started an impeachment inquiry under pretty much any pretense they could come up with. The Ukraine matter was brought to everyone’s attention because of a whisteblower who didn’t have firsthand knowledge of what happened, as has been pointed out here many times. Since then several witnesses that were much closer to Trump have testified, and more are to come. The whistleblower’s testimony wouldn’t add anything to the case.”

                Nor has LITERALLY anybody else’s. But hearing about Eric and Adam worked together to set this all up would be quite interesting, no?

                1. Holmes testimony hasn’t added anything?

                  1. Less than nothing. “I overheard a call in a restaurant” would be laughed out of an actual court.

                    1. Why would it be laughed out of court?

              2. Demand that the whistleblower testify is a Republican diversionary tactic.

                Diversion from what? Democrats have yet to come up with a single article of impeachment.

                And believe me, if this ever gets to the Senate, the Senate will subpoena the whistleblower and probably also Schiff and his staffers. And if there is any impropriety, they will prosecute.

                The one thing they won’t do is remove Trump from office over this crap.

                1. As I’ve said many times here, I don’t think there’s any realistic chance that the Senate will remove Trump from office.

                  The articles of impeachment would come after the hearings conclude, no? Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Democrats try to draw out the hearings as long as possible, since their true goal must be to influence voters. If their true goal is to see Trump removed from office, they aren’t living in the real world.

      4. “The facts are…” Can we wait and hear more testimony before deciding what “the facts are”?

        1. Well, Yavonovich proved that her fee-fees were hurt when she got fired. I’m sure that’s nice evidence.

          1. Yovanovitch also proved that she was utterly unsuitable for a job in the foreign service; no matter what she thought of the president, it’s her job to implement his policies and to shut up about her own opinions.

      5. We all have first hand knowledge with the release of the transcripts.

        What is happening people are believing the reason Trump was doing what he did was to get reelected. From what I read into the conversation Trump motive was just to make sure the aid went for what it was intended rather than to the oligarchs like under Obamy. Stopping corruption with our foreign aid is clearly part of the executive branch ran by Trump.

  3. To my mind, that link has been established pretty clearly

    Sullum, I remember back when “your mind established pretty clearly” that George Zimmerman physically assaulted and attempted to detain Trayvon Martin.

    1. Good money says Sullum thought Blasey Ford’s testimony was “credible”, too.

      1. So, if you actually google for what Sullum wrote about Blasey Ford, he wrote several articles discrediting the argument that she must be telling the truth because she took a lie detector test.

  4. Whether you think of his pressure on Ukraine as bribery, extortion, or simply an abuse of power, or an attempt at re-opening a corruption investigation which the previous administration shut down or never started

    Please stop pretending this is not a possibility. Leaving out such an obvious alternative makes you look partisan.

    1. Agreed. Worse than that, it makes it look like you have your mind made up when the defense hasn’t even really had a chance to present its case.

      1. They do have their minds made up; they knew they were going to impeach the motherfucker since day one.

        1. Well…technically before day one, if you define day one as January 21, 2017. 🙂

          1. Well even if you go with the other options Nov 6 2016, it’d still be before since the ill reasoned investigation into Trump campaign started before that.

      2. Given the rules, in the House, they won’t be permitted to do so.

    2. Indeed, “Whether you think of his pressure on Ukraine as bribery, extortion, or simply an abuse of power,”

      Whether you think Trump is a threat or a menace…

      1. Incompetent, petulant boob is also a possible choice.

        1. So

    3. “the previous administration shut down or never started” is a strange way to say “Biden bribed them with a billion in aid to fire the prosecutor leading the investigations”

      1. Let them impeach Trump, then it will all come out how under Obummy, aided by George Sorrows, the USA fomented a coup of a duly elected Pro-Russian Ukrainian Prez & how the Bidens & also John Kerry made a fortune on it, while the Ukraine was thrown in dire straits!!!….And this supposedly wonderful 33-year veteran US woman Ambassador that Trump fired is a DC Swamp Critter/Deep Stater Progressive Globalist POS who was in on it:

        1. Shhh!
          Nobody’s supposed to know that we pumped billions into Ukrainian activism-to-coup efforts and hand picked “Yats” then Poroshenko, who turned out to be just as corrupt as their predecessors but possibly more incompetent, under the direction of Victoria Nuland.
          Nobody needs to know that John McCain headed up a rally of no-shit neo nazis who we funded.
          No, Maidan was supposed to be totes organic!
          Russia bad!
          No, no, no need to look into anything!

          1. LOL!!!! +1,000,000!!!!

    4. Sullum just mentioned it, so how is he pretending it’s not a possibility?

  5. Can we stop calling these impeachment hearings and start calling them what they are which is Oversight hearings. These aren’t being had by the Judicial Committee, no articles have been voted on. The state of our media is retarded. Did the media call Benghazi hearings impeachment hearings? There aren’t even any clear laws being outlined. The dems keep saying quid pro quo and bribery but haven’t yet charged what law Trump has violated yet. This is oversight. God damn It’s not that hard.

    1. Reason will call things what best suits its position – like calling illegal border crossers immigrants when they could be many things – like land soldiers doing an invasion..

      1. If I illegally crossed the border into Mexico and tried to claim to be an immigrant with rights, the Federales would be laughing as they hauled my disrespectable gringo ass off to prison. I suspect the same thing would happen if I tried that at the Canadian border. Why the sovereignty of the the US border counts for nada is a puzzle to me.

    2. “”Did the media call Benghazi hearings impeachment hearings?””

      Not necessarily disagreeing but I think that a false equivalence.
      They were not using the Benghazi hearing with a clear intent of impeaching Obama.

      1. In May 2013, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma stated that President Obama could be impeached over what he alleged was a White House cover-up after the deadly attack against two United States government facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.[12] Inhofe said that “of all the great cover-ups in history—the Pentagon papers, Iran-Contra, Watergate, all the rest of them—this … is going to go down as most egregious cover-up in American history”.[12] Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah also stated in an interview that impeachment was “within the realm of possibilities” with regard to the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya, later clarifying that “it’s not something I’m seeking” and that “I’m not willing to take that off the table. But that’s certainly not what we’re striving for.”[13] Fox News host Jeanine Pirro called for Obama’s impeachment over Benghazi.[14]

        1. Saying someone could be impeached is not even close to where it is with Trump.

        2. The hearing currently on Trump is intended, no guess, no maybe, it is intended for the purpose of impeachment. Not the same.

          1. That’s because they’re seeking to find enough dirt to justify actual impeachment, instead of just finding out what happened. Deciding on impeachment or charging with any crime should come AFTER you’ve determined the facts, or at least enough of them to have an actual charge. The “impeachment hearings” are like pre-Grand Jury stuff going on here.

            1. That does make it different than the Bengazhi investigation. Yes?

              “”Deciding on impeachment or charging with any crime should come AFTER you’ve determined the facts, or at least enough of them to have an actual charge. “‘

              Of course. That’s that way it should be. However, a current member of the house won on the “Impeach the Motherfucker” platform. They already had desires to impeach prior to this hearing. Impeachment was on their mind from day one. It’s punishment looking for a crime.

        3. Benghazi was a smokescreen, the real crime was Obummy & HildaBeast ILLEGALLY running weapons from Libya through Turkey to supposed anti-Assad moderates in Syria who turned out to be ISIS …Heck, it made Iran-Contra look like kid’s play!

    3. I agree that these are oversight hearings. However the fact that they

      a)have to be called impeachment hearings by the political parties themselves tells you that they no longer believe that oversight is a proper congressional function outside an impeachment process
      b)are being made partisan tells you that neither party is even remotely capable of carrying on an oversight function anymore even if they did believe that oversight was a legitimate congressional function. Because they no longer understand what oversight actually means and they conflate it with partisanship

      1. They’re impeachment hearings because the Ds called them impeachment hearings.
        They’ve been lusting to hold “impeachment hearings” for 3 years and they got tired of waiting for something legitimate

    4. I personally call it a Circus.

    5. No we can’t stop it, we need to get the evidence out there. If the Senate finds he didn’t do anything then fine, I hope they do due diligence and look at all the evidence rather than just vote along party lines like a waste of space that they almost certainly all are.

  6. “But the question of whether there was a quid pro quo remains at the heart of the debate.”

    And the Democrats have yet to show that

    1. They have to show that the aid halting was in connection to the phone call and that what Trump was asking for was not in any other sense, a legitimate thing for the chief law enforcement officer to request and could only be understood as benefitting his reelection campaign.

      1. This. If there’s a legal/valid governmental interest to ask these questions and benefit to Trumps reelection is incidental, this isn’t really an issue. The flip, while maybe an extreme interpretation, is that you can’t investigate political candidates for corruption. In which case, the investigation into Trump back in ’15 was wrong too.

      2. Well they have to convince skeptical republican members of the senate of that.

    2. The Democrats have gotten as close to demonstrating this as it’s possible to get, in light of the fact that Trump is blocking so many of his top-level advisers from testifying – including in his defense.

      The Republicans have floated so many alternative accounts for the evidence to date that it’s hard to know what any given Trumpist is likely to think really happened. What’s your take?

      1. SimonP
        November.15.2019 at 4:16 pm
        “…What’s your take?”

        That you’re a partisan hack who should be ignored.

      2. The Democrats have gotten as close to demonstrating this as it’s possible to get,

        So why haven’t they passed articles of impeachment yet? Why isn’t this in the Senate yet?

        in light of the fact that Trump is blocking so many of his top-level advisers from testifying – including in his defense

        Since he hasn’t been charged with anything specific, what is he supposed to defend himself against? The proper place for executive branch witnesses is the Senate trial, not the Intelligence Committee.

        Democrats aren’t running a real impeachment inquiry, otherwise they would be seriously trying to convince Republicans since they need their votes. Democrats are abusing the impeachment process to meddle in the 2020 election.

        1. It will be there within a month, don’t worry. These things take time, although it’s basically Nascar compared to the Mueller investigation.

          1. It’s unlikely that Pelosi will ever pass articles of impeachment. If she does, the Senate will throw them out, in particular after the sh—show Schiff has been running.

          2. Note that your comment doesn’t change the illegitimacy of Schiff’s process.

            But we can thank Schiff and Pelosi for a couple of things. First, they revealed Biden’s misconduct for all to see. Second, they are making fools of themselves. Third, they have unified Republicans behind Trump.

      3. You apparently don’t realize that your argument pretty much directly contradicts your conclusion, simon

  7. If I have any criticism of Trump, it’s that he should have investigated Biden in 2017, before Biden was a Presidential candidate and an investigation could be spun as retaliation.

    If the Dems impeached Trump for “covering up crooked conduct by Joseph Biden until the cover-up was no longer convenient,” then I’d be interested in seeing where they go with it.

    But the frame of “OMG they’re persecuting poor innocent Biden for his totally innocuous activities” is silly.

    1. CONTEXT: A previous U. S. government engages in questionable behavior vis-a-vis Ukraine. The successor administration has an interest in bolstering American prestige by distancing itself from the prior administration’s corruption and seeking an investigation of the corrupt individuals.

      This is especially so when a key theme of US/Ukraine relations is “you better put your house in order and clean up all of that corruption, such corruption is against American values.”

      1. The problem is, the only impeachable misconduct which gets anyone excited is in the context of battles between the duopoly parties.

        “Richard Nixon seems implicated in illegal surveillance and cover-up.”


        “This involves a bugging attempt at the Democratic National Committee.”

        “[Wakes up suddenly] OMG this is outrageous!”

        The most blatantly impeachable thing, or at leas the most shameless, was Clapper’s spying on the people then lying about it. The spying was bad, the lying was bad, both together would surely make up impeachable misconduct. But nothing happened. Now, if Clapper had been eavesdropping on the RNC or DNC…then he’d have been out of there, probably resigning ahead of the impeachment inquiry.

    2. And let’s just ignore the security state digging into the Trump campaign in 2016.

      1. There’s also that.

        In an impeachment effort spearheaded by the Deep State, I’d suggest the Deep State people should have to prove Trump’s behavior was worse than the stuff their own colleagues got away with.

        1. I’ve often thought a good general law would be that if you can show known and unprosecuted worse examples of your alleged misdeed, you get off.

          1. There’s an argument for that, but unfortunately that’s how we got to this place. We let the first thing go, then suddenly there’s an avalanche of violations because that other guy did it… so…

        2. Nobody is above the Law.

          The problem for the Lefties is that Trump is the cleanest President in multiple generations.

          Another problem for Lefties is that Democrats are crooked as fuck.

        3. There’s no such thing as “deep state”. When you conspiracy people drop that ridiculously false narrative?

          1. It’s not so much a conspiracy as a grass-roots-within-the-bureaucracy movement.
            They didn’t get together to form the deep state, it is their inherent desire to protect their sinecures from those who want smaller government, and to maintain the power they have obtained through the sheer size of their membership.
            No real libertarian should approve of, let alone defend the deep state, as it is about as liberty-stealing as anything could be.

          2. In current political usage, the term “deep state” doesn’t refer to an explicit conspiracy. They don’t need a “conspiracy” because the entire federal bureaucracy is motivated by the same greedy, self-serving interests. They will individually and collectively support any politician who gives them more money and power, and they will individually and collectively destroy anybody who opposes their interests.

    3. But he did not care about Biden until he was a candidate. He also had no interest in an investigation. The President simple wanted the announcement of an investigation to sully VP Biden. The President could have privately investigated Biden but he had no interest in that. He wanted dirt not facts.

      1. Which is the case the Dems *could* make…they could admit the obvious about Biden’s corruption and impeach Trump for not executing the laws against Biden until it was convenient to do so.

        How likely is is that the Dems will take this route?

        1. “What did Trump know about Biden, and when did he know it? How long did he sit on his knowledge before trying to activate some sort of investigation? Justice delayed in justice denied!

          “This message brought to you by the Committee to Elect Joe Biden.”

          1. justice delayed *is* justice denied

      2. Walk me through the difference between “dirt” and “facts,” if you can. Is it still “dirt” if the “facts” are true? Is it “dirt” if Trump wanted “dirt” but ended up with “facts”? What happens if Trump actually wanted “facts” but ended up with “dirt” instead? And what exactly is the “dirt”? The investigation itself or the “facts”? I really am very confused because people are throwing around words, without bothering to define what the fuck they’re talking about.

        1. Quick lesson. Next trip to the supermarket look at the magazine headlines as you check out. Those headlines are “dirt”. Trump good friend owns one of those magazines. When embarrassing facts would come up about President Trump his friend would buy the story and then skip printing the “facts”. Does this help?

          1. Not in the least. But you win a gold medal for Olympic caliber dodge-ball, because that question flew right over your head.

          2. Moderation4ever
            November.15.2019 at 3:16 pm
            “…Does this help?”

            Yep, it shows you are capable of serious spinning without getting dizzy

      3. Why the dickens should Trump investigate “privately” (I assume you actually mean the DoJ, without press leaks) when no other administration has ever done anything but leak like a sieve?

      4. But he did not care about Biden until he was a candidate.

        Nobody cared about that grabby, corrupt senile fool.

        But as soon as Biden became a candidate, Biden’s corruption not only became important to Trump but also the American people. I mean, do you want a thoroughly corrupt man like Biden to become the next president?

      5. Exactly. This is the point many Trump defenders here are missing.

        1. Biden was an irrelevant retired senile old fool; of course, Trump didn’t care about him. But once Biden had delusions of grandeur and wanted to run for president, his past corrupt conduct became important to Americans.

          1. I think Biden is senile and old, too. And agree lots of Americans would like to know more about Burisma. Also, agree a lot of mainstream media should have more interest and should not repeat the “Biden did nothing wrong” talking point.

            Note that I have NEVER said “Biden did nothing wrong”.

            1. Well, if you agree that there is a good chance that Biden acted inappropriately, then it’s Trump’s job to investigate that. And he had to pressure Ukraine to do that because the previous administration had pressured Ukraine not to do it. That is, Ukraine needed a clear green light to go ahead and to go against the preferences of much of the Washington establishment.

              1. If Trump had handled it correctly, he would have done it in a way so that his personal involvement didn’t open him up to accusations of personal political gain. For example, not *getting* his personal attorney involved in it.

                As things stand, the investigation effort has been botched. No investigation of the Bidens has been achieved.

    4. “If I have any criticism of Trump, it’s that he should have investigated Biden in 2017, before Biden was a Presidential candidate and an investigation could be spun as retaliation.”

      But he couldn’t do that, because the DOJ and FBI were still under the control of Obama’s people.

      Trump is only now starting to get actual control over the Executive branch, he’ll need a second term just to get the degree of control Presidents normally expect to have a couple weeks into their administrations.

      1. “But he couldn’t do that, because the DOJ and FBI were still under the control of Obama’s people. ”

        Not true Jeff Sessions was AG and he has commercial running now describing his loyalty to President Trump. And in 2017 Trump appointed a new head of the FBI. So he could easily have investigated VP Biden.

        Also note the Senate is controlled by Republicans and they can investigate VP Biden anytime they choose.

        1. And if Jeff Sessions could function as a one man DOJ, doing every bit of the work himself, you’d have a point. As it is, you don’t.

          1. If Trump seriously is a lone hero challenging an entrenched deep state bureaucracy seems like dealing with that would be a higher priority than worrying about why Hunter Biden landed a cushy board position with Burisma.

            1. Well, as you may notice, he didn’t spend much time on it. He asked Zelensky to do something about it on the occasion of a phone call and then pretty much forgot about it.

              1. There is a months-long timeline of Trump telling diplomats to coordinate with Giuliani on the matter.

    5. How do you know that he didn’t? It’s entirely possible that this investigation has been going on for months and that it’s only this portion of the investigation that happened to be leaked by sniveling DC weasels. Trump could be investigating multiple sweetheart deals given to the children of crooked DC politicians. Maybe he’s draining the swamp?

      1. If so, then I’d understand why Dems didn’t exploit that angle.

        1. Anyway, I was making a certain use of sarcasm to explain the awkwardness of the Dems using the corruption of their own people as a handle against Trump.

          The “persecuting poor Biden” meme won’t fly, so why don’t they cut their losses, throw Biden to the wolves for the good of the country, and take the approach I mentioned. If they can actually find that Trump had info on Biden at an early date, they can spin that as showing a delay of the investigation until it was convenient, as opposed the the duty to faithfully execute the laws whether convenient or not.

          But such a narrative may be as lame as the one the Dems are actually trying to push.

          Basic point is that a lot of impeachable misconduct is bipartisan or transpartisan, and sometimes Congress goes after such misconduct (when judges are involved), but if you want a case where they really put their hearts into it, there generally has to be a partisan angle.

          1. You’re assuming there is some grand strategy. Pelosi set Schiff on Trump and impeachment because the left wing of the party wants it at all costs. She knows she isn’t going to remove Trump from office. Her hopes is that she gets a bit of anti-Trump propaganda out of it, and if slimy Schiff goes down in flames in the process, she’s probably not unhappy about that either.

    6. I sort of agree, but I could also see where it would have still been framed as retaliatory since there was the Mueller bullshit going on. I could also see Trump just being too busy with the Mueller and china stuff to do it.

      1. It would always be framed as retaliatory, but the way Trump handled this he opened himself up to … well, impeachment.

        1. Trump can’t sneeze without opening himself up for impeachment. That’s because the Democrats decided from day one to impeach him and they simply have been looking for reasons why. That’s why Trump doesn’t give a f*ck; he understands that he has lost as soon as he lets Democrats dictate his actions.

      2. And the end result was that the Bidens didn’t get investigated.

  8. Jacob, there is an option missing from your list of choices. The “Trump did exactly what he was hired by America to do” option is valid. In fact, that’s my personal opinion, even though I can’t stand the motherfucker.

    1. I think what Trump is alleged to have done is improper, but certainly (unfortunately) in the realm of normal things for a President to have done.

      1. If there really was corruption then what he did was, as chief law enforcement officer of the Federal government, his duty.

        AKA “exactly what he was hired to do.”

        1. Indeed, he ran, in part, on investigating and prosecuting the previous administration’s criminality. Remember, “Lock her up!”?

          1. +10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

            Lefties won’t admit that Trump was partly elected to expose Obama Administration’s misdeeds. Hillary, Biden, Eric Holder, Comey, Lois Lerner….

      2. FDR, JFK, and LBR did things that are actually clearly unconstitutional and illegal, outrageous things to stay in power, hurt their political rivals, destroy Americans who didn’t support them, and enrich themselves. History classes rarely talk about them.

    2. America “hired” Trump to pursue his narrow interests at the expense of America’s interests?

      News to me. Something something “drain the swamp,” etc.

      1. Seems to me that exposing corruption by a former VP and potential presidential candidate is “draining the swamp”.

        What do you think the phrase refers to?

    3. He was hired to work for the nation and the people of this country, not go after dirt on his competition and hold $400 million for ransom to bribe a nation for personal advancement.

      1. Amen.

      2. So to you, exposing a corrupt former VP and future presidential candidate who enriched his family to the tune of many millions is “personal advancement”?

        Yes, Trump’s investigations would have hurt Biden’s chances for election; that is in the interest of the people of this country.

  9. Sullum: “Whether you think of his pressure on Ukraine”
    Zelenskiy/Prystaiko: “there was no pressure” –
    Who should I believe, Sullum or my lying eyes/ears?

    1. We have plenty of testimony from parties to the pressure campaign that Zelensky, in fact, felt pressured, complained about that pressured, and took counsel from diplomats and officials trying to guide him through that pressure campaign.

      Zelensky’s public statements disclaiming that he ever felt “pressured” are consistent with that narrative.

      You probably take those Chinese “confession” videos at face-value too, huh?

      1. We take them as more honest than your bullshit.

      2. “We have plenty of testimony from parties to the pressure campaign that Zelensky, in fact, felt pressured, complained about that pressured, and took counsel from diplomats and officials trying to guide him through that pressure campaign.”

        Nobody DIRECTLY involved. No, we don’t.

        1. I’m amazed that Biden SAYING he held up a loan guarantee to insist on the firing of a prosecutor is perfectly fine…but Trump talking to the Ukrainian President, mentioning investigating what happened in 2016 (which was the most important issue EVAR…right until Mueller said Dem fever dreams were unproven) is proof that he bribed him.

          Truly insane.

      3. It would have been legitimate for Trump to pressure Zelensky. But there is no evidence that he actually did. All we have is the rumor mongering of disgruntled diplomats with their war boners.

        If the hearings made one thing abundantly clear: Yovanovitch had no business representing the US abroad and her firing was long overdue.

  10. That’s all well and fine. So which one of these crimes fits the definition of what Biden did to get the prosecutor who was investigating his son, Hunter, fired from his position before VP released the funds owed to them?

    1. No crimes fit because this did not happen. If you have some evidence it did show it. The President’s supporter like to bring up Biden with only innuendo. If you or they have proof show it.

      1. So Joe was lying in his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations? When did he admit to this?

      2. Exactly, it’s just the Republicans pulling “whataboutism” except they aren’t even giving any evidence, just spouting like it’s the gospel truth. If it’s an issue then show the evidence, otherwise it’s just a diversion to keep the base raging rather than thinking about what actually happened.

        1. True, Joe Biden saying he did it isn’t proof. He could’ve been plagiarizing somebody else about doing what he said he did.

          On video, no less.

    2. “which one of these crimes fits the definition of what Biden did ”

      At the very least it was a violation of executive branch ethics rules. It was a clear example of engaging in actions when there was an appearance of impropriety.

      1. I will not deny the “appearance of impropriety” but that alone is not an indication of corruption. If President Trump has evidence of corruption or if any of his supporter have evidence they should put that forth.

        1. Wouldn’t the “appearance of impropriety” warrant an investigation? Part of the issue is the conflict of interest in the supposed interaction. In Gov spheres, even the “appearance” of a conflict of interest can and usually is disqualifying, particularly for lower functionaries. The appearance of COI lowers public trust in the institution, which can be just as damaging as an actual COI.

          1. Nothing prohibits an investigation but that is not what President Trump asked for. He wanted a public statement of an investigation by Ukraine. You will note that Republicans controlled the House and Senate for from 2014 till 2018 and in that time no investigation where done of VP Biden. There were continual investigation of Sec. Clinton. I submit that there was never a reason to investigate VP Biden before he became a candidate. I would also point out that the DOJ and the Senate could start an investigation of VP Biden at anytime and yet they chose not to do so. I suspect there is little to investigate.

            1. I will point out that no Republican would indict a Democrat because Obama could pardon them.

              Trump wont pardon Hillary, Comey, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Brennan, Lois Lerner….

              Hillary was a fool to not ask for a pardon from Obama between Trump winning the 2016 election and Jan 20, 2017.

              1. He wouldn’t have given it, you know, and Hillary knew that. Bill Clinton might not have minded looking bad by making some really corrupt pardons on his way out, in fact I think he relished everybody knowing he was corrupt, and not being able to do anything about it.

                But Obama cares about his reputation, and cares about it a lot more than he does about his party or people who’ve worked for him. So, what would have been in it for Obama?

  11. Interrupting The Price is Right for these silly hearings is really pissing me off. Good thing the Three Stooges were on.

    1. Curly or Shemp?

      1. The Three Stooges with Curly are the only true Three Stooges.

        1. Absolutely

        2. ER…. Cyoitanly!

        3. You will show me the stooges?

  12. Whether you think of Trump’s actions as extortion, solicitation of a bribe, or simply a troubling abuse of power that does not necessarily violate any criminal statutes

    How about “none of the above”? This all hinges on the implication that there’s nothing particularly suspicious about Hunter Biden’s activities, or alternatively that the president has no business asking a foreign government to investigate potential criminal activity within its purview, or to apply any leverage to encourage them to do so. The power of orange-man-bad to distract people from the obvious stupidity of those notions is a sight to behold.

    To recap, Hunter Biden was being paid $50k _a month_ by a Ukrainian company for a bullshit board-of-directors position, all while Joe Biden was VP of the US. Not so long ago, just the appearance of impropriety associated with that would have caused either or both Bidens to resign. It is certainly worthy of a criminal investigation, and it is arguable at best that the president owes any forbearance just because Joe Biden is seen as a potential presidential candidate (among, remember, 20 or more at that time) in the next election.

    1. The $50K a month was actually only the smallest part of his compensation package, which totaled over a million a year.

      Pretty good for somebody who got kicked out of the military for drug use, and had no relevant skills.

      1. We could also mention Hunter’s amazing luck in the Chinese market while flying to China on Air Force Two…

      2. “Pretty good for somebody who got kicked out of the military for drug use, and had no relevant skills.”

        And never bothered to attend a board meeting.

    2. Hm, “improper but not a crime” rings a bell.

      1. SimonP
        November.15.2019 at 4:21 pm
        “Hm, “improper but not a crime” rings a bell.”

        Are you referring to renting the Lincoln bedroom? Leave Clinton out of this.

    3. You actually ended that quote right before Sullum listed a none-of-the-above.

  13. The only question worthy of concern is whether the investigation was legally warranted based upon known information. Because if it was then whether it was ‘politically beneficial’ is entirely meaningless.

    Strange that Sullum skips over that crucial element…

    1. “Strange that Sullum skips over that crucial element…”

      Absolutely baffling, isn’t it.

    2. No, because there are ways to conduct an investigation that would benefit the President politically to avoid being vulnerable to accusations that the President is investigating for personal gain. That Trump didn’t take care in how he pursued the investigation has left him with an impeachment headache — and no investigation of the Bidens having happened.

      Typical Trump impulsiveness and incompetence.

      1. Jeff, you are funny when you are attempting to self soothe.

        Well, actually laughable. But that’s still a sort of humor.

      2. No, because there are ways to conduct an investigation that would benefit the President politically

        And the “personal gain” of an investigation would be… what? Nothing.

        to avoid being vulnerable to accusations that the President is investigating for personal gain.

        And why would Trump care? The impeachment process so far has killed Biden’s campaign, resulted in massive fundraising for Trump, hurt the reputation of war mongering diplomats, and has Rep. Lightbulbhead embarrass himself over and over again.

        1. Any investigation of a prominent Democrat could benefit Republicans, and vice versa. What Trump could have avoided is personal involvement. He could have set up an independent investigation and fire-walled himself off from it.

          Why would he care? He probably shouldn’t care that much, since the Senate is unlikely to remove him from office in the end. Maybe he should care because his colleagues may see jail time. Apparently, he *does* care, judging from his tweets and possibly his unscheduled hospital visit this weekend.

  14. politically beneficial investigations

    Generalizing from specific to abstract is only logically supportable if the abstraction retains the character of the specific. It’s clear generalizing an investigation into corruption as a “politically beneficial investigation” violates this standard and therefore any conclusion reached with this as its basis is not logically supported. It also conflicts with the Dems initiating many politically beneficial investigations with none of them being characterized in this fashion.

    Reason used to oppose this sort of thing: defining events in ways which assume the exact issues in conflict are resolved in favor of the speaker.

    I know why the left wants to establish the standard that investigating corruption is itself corruption, they have billions at stake. What is Reason’s excuse?

    1. TDS?

    2. In the age of Trump question begging is about all they have.

  15. Well maybe Congress should grab back their oversight responsibility. The fact that the President even has much discretion here as to the timing of the release of that aid is as much a failure of Congress as of the Prez.

    Congress authorized the money.
    Congress has the enumerated power to make all laws that are necessary and proper for the execution of that law.
    Which means Congress has the power to crawl all over the executive branch every fucking minute of every fucking day making sure that that money is disbursed according to the way Congress expected it to be disbursed when they passed that law.

    That oversight responsibility is the first responsibility abdicated when Congress gets spread too thin to do it. Which means it is also the first responsibility that Congress would resume if the House was expanded by 10-fold. You’d have a ton of new narcissist critters whose best first way of drawing attention to themselves is to draw attention to wastefraudabuse on some subcommittee or other. Which coincidentally is how oversight happens.

    1. The first constructive comment in this discussion.

      The size of the House absolutely needs to increase, tenfold increase sounds good.

      I also heard a proposal of having three senators from each state, so that there is a Senatorial election every two years in every state. But that would require a Constitutional amendment.

      Libertarians could make it a signature issue to work on electoral reform. That would be something that could resonate with the public more than “taxation is theft” I think.

      1. In your case fellatiating your fellow Media Matters fifty-centers is being a good co-worker, not making constructive comments.

        1. Do you have anything of substance to contribute to the discussion?

          1. You’re going to die eventually. Why procrastinate?

        2. It is funny to see JFree, Chemjeffey, and other trolls on here acting so desperate to further the Narrative.

          I for one cannot wait for Trump’s reelection victory and the Blue Wave of tears coming from both coasts to water crops in the Heartland.

      2. I forgot to ask Jeffy, the White House released the transcript of the April Ukraine call, and it shows NO pre-conditions for meeting. You were all baited.

        What are you guys going to do now?

        1. “You were all baited”

          Trump is a master at that.

          1. Yes he is a master baiter

            1. Haha. JFree admits to swallowing what Trump is master baiting.

      3. Maybe not tenfold, but I could see 1,500 to 1,600 to account for the population growth that occurred since the last time we expanded the size of the House. That would definitely create more ideological diversity, more turnover, and likely multiple parties.

        1. It needs to be 9x to account for the increase in voting suffrage. When women got the vote, the House stayed exactly the same size which is what turned ‘voice’ into a zero-sum game. No new voices unless you can take out an incumbent. More than anything else, that (zero-sum and incumbent protection) is what makes purchasing govt an extraordinarily profitable decision.

          I’ll stick with 10x cuz of the increase in the exec branch (stuff needing oversight) since then.

          1. In for a penny, in for a pound.

            Any significant increase would mean the existing structures could not accommodate the House. Which is fine, because in this day and age they really should be staying home and doing most everything by electronic communications.

            And at that point might as well increase the number almost ten fold.

            1. I love these comments where folks like JFree explain how they hate this Constitutional Democratic Republic.

              1. I’m on board with the House increase.
                Can’t make things any worse…

          2. I think your computation is off, JFree. Here is why I say that.

            House is based on population of citizens, not registered voters. The last time we expanded the House, population was roughly 110MM at the time. We have tripled that now.

            1. Yes it is based on number of citizens. But even by 1912, that had gone from 1 critter for 35,000 to 1 critter for 210,000. And one of the original 12 amendments – 10 are Bill of Rights, one is the 27th – was the Congressional Apportionment Amendment.

              The House version of that amendment then would have produced a House of roughly 6215 today – increasing to roughly 6710 in 2020.
              The Senate version of that amendment then would have produced a House of roughly 5212 today – increasing to roughly 5625 in 2020.
              So that was the original INTENDED range of representation then. Instead the amendment went out for ratification with a typo error to the House version. And that typo caps the House at 200 based on population and anything over that entirely at the whim of Congress. So that amendment was never ratified.

              The original thinking/intent lasted until 1850. When it got caught in pre-Civil War crap between slave states and free states and turned from a right of the people to representation to a unilateral right of Congress to decide that. It’s time for EVERYTHING about that era of ‘compromise’ about slavery to end. Otherwise, all we’ve done is move from a planterocracy to some other oligarchic top-down control.

              I’m perfectly happy to go to 5625 or 6710 as well. Or for that amendment to be rewritten – House or Senate version then doesn’t matter now – without the typo and sent out for re-ratification. What I’m really not happy to do is to continue to pretend that an erroneous amendment with a typo that didn’t get ratified has a working assumption that it was ratified as is (with the typo) in order to limit the peoples right to representation.

      4. The size of the House absolutely needs to increase, tenfold increase sounds good.
        There’s a good argument that there should be one representative for every 50,000 citizens.

        I also heard a proposal of having three senators from each state, so that there is a Senatorial election every two years in every state.
        No. Senators should be chosen by state legislatures, with the option of immediate removal if the senator doesn’t vote to protect state’s rights. But that would require a Constitutional amendment.

        Now that would be interesting.

        1. The worst possible thing we can do is argue that that amendment-with-typo actually ‘passed’ in some silly conspiracy nonsense. It didn’t. And the FACT is that that amendment DID go out with a typo. That typo would in fact legally eliminate the people’s right to representation.

          And however much some people may not like the direct election of Senators amendment, the FACT is that that amendment was initiated by the state legislatures themselves (27 of them then) threatening to call an Article 5 convention and 33 states had already moved to direct election primaries. They found that they were no longer able to have elections to the state legislature to do the states business because every state legislature election had turned into a mere ‘who will you nominate for the Senate’ election.

          The same sort of politicizing crap that has turned Senate elections now into mere ‘who will you nominate for Supreme Court justice’. So the Senate can no longer do its broader constitutional duty of overseeing appointees and treaties and thus limiting the executive in that. IOW – that original phrasing had de facto turned the state legislatures into mere arms of the federal govts attempt to fill one side of its legislature. Rather than independent entities doing their own business.

      5. The size of the house doesn’t need to increase tenfold, the size of the federal government needs to shrink tenfold.

        1. You think that’s gonna happen with a come to Jesus moment?

          There was at least one study linking state legislature size to a Mercatus measure of freedom at the state level.

          Not only do I think the same dynamic would apply at the federal level – I think that increasing the House would also force the most restricted state legislatures to also increase their size and accountability. Thus creating a virtuous circle for once. Where states themselves can assume more responsibility cuz they are now more accountable/representative – so that people themselves will look to the states rather than the feds for solutions.

          1. edit – they actually linked to three different ‘freedom index’ – one by Mercatus, one by PRI, one by Fraser.

            But hey – maybe we can just pretend that the current frozen legislature size has restrained the feds.

            1. But hey – maybe we can just pretend that the current frozen legislature size has restrained the feds.

              Your ideas about the relationship between legislature size and restraining the feds are delusional in either direction. Legislature size isn’t our problem, a total disregard for federalism and small government is.

          2. There was at least one study linking state legislature size to a Mercatus measure of freedom at the state level.

            Yeah, an organization with the stated objective of destroying our country by instituting majoritarianism.

  16. So … wait … now the Democrats need to allege a statutory crime in order to impeach? And, an investigation is now a “thing of value” …. despite the fact that Biden “clearly did nothing wrong”?

    I’m either confused, or retarded. I must be.

    1. The democrats are using this investigation to hurt Tump’s re-election. Does the bribery charge only apply to getting something from foreign entities?

      1. Wait, is the claim now that *Zelensky* was bribing Trump?

        1. Not that I know of.

          1. So, how is it bribery?

            18 U.S.C. 201 prohibits bribing United States government officials. It is illegal to bribe an official, and it is illegal to be an official and to accept the bribe.

            I just don’t see how this applies in any way to the Trump-Zelensky situation, unless the claim is that Zelensky was bribing Trump.

            1. With respects to bribery, I was asking a question, not making a statement.

              1. I understand that. I just don’t understand how the bribery angle works at all.

                It doesn’t seem, as you said, that anyone is accusing Zelensky of bribing Trump and yet we seem to have seamlessly drifted into the realm of federal bribery laws.

                1. It’s just a word
                  The Ds don’t expect (or tolerate) thinking from their intended audience

                2. Geraje….I think I can help you here.

                  Team D is engaging is spaghetti politics. Remember when you were in college, and you needed to test whether the spaghetti was done? What did you do? Like a lot of guys, you might have thrown a single strand against the wall to see if it sticks – if it did, the spaghetti was done.

                  Basically, Team D is taking quid pro quo and/or extortion and/or bribery, throwing it on the wall (of public opinion) and seeing if it sticks. Of course, it won’t stick, except the the ‘Progressive dead-enders’ of Team D.

                  Most of this country is looking at this ridiculous spectacle, shaking their heads and thinking, “Just more inside the Beltway Bullshit we elected POTUS Trump to deal with’.

                  Let’s recap here. To date, not a single person called to publicly testify actually spoke to POTUS Trump. The allegation is aid was held up for an investigation into VP Biden. Well, the aid was released and there was no investigation of VP Biden or his son, Hunter.

                  From a legal perspective, there is no ‘pro quo’, and there is no ‘thing of value’ that was exchanged (hence, no extortion or bribery). And in truth, even if POTUS Trump had insisted on trading aid for an investigation, that is perfectly within his Article II authority in conducting foreign policy.

                  Finally, this is an oversight hearing, gussied up as impeachment whatever. But my understanding is that impeachment proceedings must be initiated by the Judiciary committee. That has not happened.

    2. Having Ukraine announce publicly that they are investigating Biden (which is what Trump asked them to do) would have been a huge publicity win for Trump. That’s the thing of highest value: the announcement of the investigation. Then the investigation of Biden and Biden’s son could be under way all through the run-up to the election and afterwards. Biden could be cleared after Trump won of course. Lot’s of value there for Trump.

      Of course the publicity about all this is just as bad for Biden. The democrats were hoping it would be worse for Trump.

      1. If only Trump didn’t need others to generate publicity for the messages he wants to get across!
        If only…

    3. When he language ¨treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors¨ was adopted, there was very little federal statutory criminal law.

      And for what it´s worth, opposition research is a thing of value that political campaigns routinely pay good money for.

  17. What troubles me the most is how democrats say it’s a crime to investigate democrats, but a patriotic duty to investigate Trump. Here’s more –

    Leaked information about Trump: Protect the whistleblower, who cares where the information came from
    Leaked information about dems: collusion with foreign govts to undermine our democracy

    Spying on republican campaign: Counterintelligence operation to protect elections
    Spying on democrat campaign: watergate

    There are more. I’m not the first to say this, but if democrats didn’t have double standards, they’d have no standards at all.

    1. Lefties only like the Rule of Law and the US Constitution as far as it will help them.

      Notice they want Rule of Man when they violate the law and want more power.

  18. “Whether you think of Trump’s actions as extortion, solicitation of a bribe, or simply a troubling abuse of power that does not necessarily violate any criminal statutes, the connection between military aid (or a White House meeting) and the politically beneficial investigations is crucial. ”

    Or none of those. Trump is simply being accused of what every President back to Washington has done.

    The Dems are working so hard at getting Trump re-elected you have to wonder if they’re being paid by Trump.

    1. The Democrats have grown fat and lazy over the years of dealing with largely token ‘Republican’ opposition and a largely supportive media.

      Trump isn’t that kind of Republican and he has a good feel for what the public sees, and how to communicate what the media wont. I think that time working on his TV shows is what has enabled him to succeed.

      1. “Trump isn’t that kind of Republican ….”

        Trump isn’t any kind of Republican.
        He is literally the “none of the above” candidate who got enough R primary votes to get on the Republican Presidential ticket.
        Ask any “Never Trumper” the giant R Republican GOP country club Chamber of Commerce republican: Trump isn’t any kind of Republican.
        He’s been registered as Democrat, Republican, Independent and Reform Party, FCOL.
        I say he got elected by the “none of the above” voters who are fed up with the Democrat and Republican parties as they are.
        The McCain funeral that the establishment party types turned into a hatefest against Trump was an Orwellian Animal Farm moment for me: I felt like a horse looking from the pigs to the farmers, from the farmers back to the pigs, and I could see no difference. The Democrats had nothing but praise for McCain because he hated Trump. Yet Democrats hated McCain when he ran for president and heaped scorn on him and people like me who had voted for McCain.

        Digging about. The total population of eligible to vote ~ 211 million.
        ~ 137 million Americans told the last Census they were registered to vote.
        Supposedly ~74 million eligible to vote are not registered to vote? Or maybe many were but didn’t tell the census takers.
        ~66 million voted for Hillary Clinton 2016
        ~63 million voted for Donald Trump 2016
        Supposedly ~8 million registered to vote didn’t?
        (Are there reliable lists of registered voters beyond the Census report?)
        I think there are some big jokers and wild deuces in the upcoming election game.
        And the establishment parties and political partisans (especially Never Trumpers and Yellow Dog Democrats) just don’t understand how and why Trump got elected.
        The next election will be like a roller coaster ride, exhilarating and scary.

        1. Naaman I get where you are coming from. Trump isn’t the party and he certainly has not remade the party, but given that he is the elected candidate of that party he’s is as entitled to the descriptive as anybody else.

          I’m sure there are a lot of people in the party – especially at or near the top of the party who find that distasteful, but it’s really not up to them either.

        2. Naaman, you left out the 8.3 million, who voted Independent or “other”.
          Write-ins – 1,154,084
          Gary Johnson 4,489,235
          Dr. Jill Stein 1,457,226
          Evan McMullin 732,273
          Other 453,880

      2. Thomas, as usual, precisely on point

    2. “Trump campaign chair, Elizabeth “He-Nu-Kaw” Warren, said yesterday in an interview…”

      1. I prefer “Elizabeth Warren, America’s mother-in-law”.

        1. Its really the most appropriate

  19. The Democrats are literally conducting focus groups to decide what crime they should claim the President committed and impeach him for.

    The Ukraine foreign minister just said that aid and investigations were “never” linked.

    The fact is, Trump’s actions are relatively lawful and upright, compared to Washington D.C. business as usual. High-level Democrats have routinely done things that appear 100x worse on the face of it, which were never even investigated. They scarcely even get investigated or reported on by the media, except minimally as part of an effort to excuse and downplay.

    From Politico 1/11/17:

    “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.”

    2018 Democrats in a written letter to Ukraine:

    Ukraine must cooperate with investigations into 2016 election interference

    2019 Democrats:

    It is impeachable to ask Ukraine to cooperate with investigations into 2016 election interference

    1. +1000

    2. Trump’s apparent lack of wrongdoing is the most terrifying thing in the world to DC

  20. The slam dunk proof of malfeasance would be to establish that Trump had no valid basis for requesting an investigation.

    But doing that would require a deep dive into exactly what Joe and Hunter Biden were doing during the Obama administration.

    Funny that nobody, from the Democrats to the authors at Reason, wants to do any of that.

    Total lack of curiosity.

    Which seems rather curious.

  21. “WASHINGTON—The former ambassador to Ukraine testified that she felt threatened by President Trump’s disparaging comments about her in a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart and was alarmed by the State Department’s failure to defend her from attacks by the president’s personal attorney and others, in the second public hearing of the impeachment inquiry.

    Marie Yovanovitch said she felt terrible when she received a 1 a.m. phone call in late April recalling her to Washington, where she was told the president wanted her removed from her post but not given a reason why. “It’s not the way I wanted my career to end,” she said.”

    —-WSJ, November 15, 2019

    This is the kind of touchy-feelie stuff the Democrats are giving us to chew on over the weekend?

    I am not a journalist, but my understanding is that the news cycle starts fresh every week. It’s a function of people’s attention span. It’s like a movie on TV that starts slow or a new TV series–you get people’s attention for a short period of time, and if you don’t use that time to grab their attention, you lose it over time. On a TV series, some of the audience just bother to tune in for the next episode. You lose more and more of your audience every week that way. Judging by that standard, the first episode of the Impeach Trump reality show was a snoozer. I doubt very many people will be paying much attention next week. Surely the Democrats realize this.

    I am also not a lawyer, but my understanding is that they teach lawyers to lead with their second strongest argument and finish with their strongest. If that holding true to form, the Democrats’ second strongest argument consisted of hearsay, and their strongest argument–the cliffhanger to close out the first episode of the series–is that this woman felt sad and angry that Trump didn’t want her on his team? Any TV critic that tuned in for this episode, thinking they would see why the president should be impeached, only to find this weak sauce is likely to be mighty disappointed.

    I suspect Pelosi is in danger of losing the votes she needs for impeachment. There are 27 House Democrats up for reelection in districts that went for Trump in 2016 (only three Republicans running in Hillary districts), and if Pelosi and Schiff keep serving up nothing-burgers, it’s just gonna hurt those Democratic candidates ever more. Again, it’s not just that the Representatives in those districts fear angering Trump voters by voting for impeachment. They also fear alienating Democrat voters to the point that they won’t both to turn out if their Democrat Representative votes against impeachment.

    They lose either way.

    If I’m Pelosi right now, I’m trying to think of a way to end this hearing without taking a vote on impeachment.

    The Democrats have orchestrated a train wreck in slow motion, and nobody knows how to stop it. You can’t vote to impeach on such weak sauce. You can’t not vote to impeach after all the talk of bribery, extortion, etc. either. The best way out is probably not to take a vote–but that just makes them look feckless and stupid, which means it’s also a loser. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is take the smallest loss, and the Democrats don’t have anyone to blame but themselves.

    P.S. If Donald Trump did something truly awful and unconstitutional at this point, the Democrats have cried wolf so many times now, I’m not sure anyone but the partisan hacks would come running.

    1. “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”

      Democrats are pounding the table.

      1. Really? Because I see, and every analyst I’ve read has seen the opposite. Democrats are calling factual witnesses and asking about what transpire. Gym Jordan is talking out of turn and keeps trying to talk about the whistleblower. I haven’t seen any Republicans talk about facts, other than their attorney who seems to be having quite a hard time of it: “Rudy being involved–I mean, it could be more ridiculous than that, right?”

        1. Not one witness the Democrats have called has first hand knowledge of what transpired. They have zero facts.

          1. They do. An overheard conversation is still a first hand account. Vindman heard the call. The rest of the extortion scheme have been forbidden to testify by Trump. Very odd for someone who assures us he is “perfect”. But that is a nice catch, forbid any of the first hand witnesses from testifying, then complain that the witnesses who testify do not have first hand knowledge. Of course, this catch would only work on a rube or moron…

        2. Fact witnesses to what? The people being called weren’t there, and didn’t witness anything.

          I don’t think the term “fact witness” means what you think means.

        3. “Democrats are calling factual witnesses”

          Not one of those people witnessed anything, let alone a fact.
          Why the rank dishonesty, DOL?

          1. Because literally “every analyst” he’s read says so and, also, one of those analysts is DOL himself.

            He wholeheartedly agrees with himself and has no qualms citing to his own opinions as dispositive proof of the facts sought to be established.

            Trump should be impeached because Marie Yovanovitch had her heart broken by his crude behavior.

          2. When someone put the term factual before witness, it’s obvious they are trying to make a stretch.

          3. Vindman was first hand on the call. Everyone was else won’t go under oath.

            Kinda funny how all the people who say Trump did something wrong are willing to go under oath. All the people who say Trump is innocent will not go under oath. Odd, don’t you think?

            1. People who feel a process is a joke usually don’t offer to play along, no.

        4. It is ridiculous for the President’s personal lawyer to be involved? How so? And I am sure at the Pravda newssites you read that they are smearing the GOP. What a surprise.

          1. It is ridiculous for the President’s personal lawyer to be involved? How so?

            Conflict of interest.

            1. He was executing Trump’s directives, not his own.

              1. Trump’s directives, not the office of the president.

            2. Who did jfk use in the same capacity?

          2. No one ever explains why the very common use of such people is somehow a problem for Trump. It’s just another smear tactic because of the lack of actual evidence.

            1. So stupid fucking retard Jeff claims a conflict of interest, which if he believes, destroys this case becaseu what Biden did is absolutely a conflict of interest and therefore in need of investigating.

              You stupid fucks keep torpedoing your own attempts to construct a narrative.

        5. “I haven’t seen any Republicans talk about facts”

          You want Republicans to show you the fact that nothing happened?

          If you get an empty box for Christmas this year, will that make you excited?

          The evidence of nothing happening is the absence of something, and the Democrats keep piling up evidence of nothing instead of something.

        6. This is exactly how the media plays midwits like yourself. Repetition. You’re a sheep. Saaaaaad!

          1. “Midwits”

            Good term.
            I think I shall use it in the future.

        7. Mostly they seem to be testifying to a combination of their opinions, and things they heard third hand. Like former ambassador Taylor testifying to what he’d read in the New York Times, and what he thought about it.

          1. But opinions and hearsay *are* good evidence. Rep. Quigley has assured us that such evidence is even *better* than direct evidence and, apparently, if you keep piling opinion on top of opinion, and stacking hearsay on top of hearsay, eventually you get to a point where the sum of the evidence is just as good a confession from the mouth of the King himself.

        8. Change your sock; your not a green beret. Don’t steal Valor.

        9. De Oppresso Liber
          November.15.2019 at 2:18 pm
          “Really? Because I see, and every analyst I’ve read has seen the opposite. Democrats are calling factual witnesses and asking about what transpire.”

          A “factual witness” who whines about how her career might end? You have managed to prove that you are not real bright, but that’s setting new levels.

          1. None of these so-called witnesses are in danger of anything other than a lucrative book deal.

          2. Yovanovitch got a standing ovation from the public today.

            She was smeared by career scumbag, Giuliani. How you align yourself with such obvious scum without puking is beyond me.

            1. Yovanovitch is an pretentious cunt who tried to use the stories of dead soldiers in Benghazi to cast nobility upon herself and induce reverence for the state department, among the most corrupt agencies that’s ever existed.
              The gallery was packed with mandarin clapping seals – hardly “the public”

            2. Yovanovitch is someone who tried to substitute her own foreign policy preferences for that of our elected officials. Someone who wants to get the US involved in the conflict between the Ukraine and Russia. And don’t get me started on her testimony, which was utterly disgusting.

              How you align yourself with such obvious scum without puking is beyond me.

        10. “factual witnesses” lmao.

          Did you see this dumb bitch do everything she could today to not have to admit the Obama administration withheld javelin missles and the trump administration released them without perjuring herself….after she just spent 5 minutes talking about how great and important javeline missles were to Ukraines defense.

    2. “If I’m Pelosi right now, I’m trying to think of a way to end this hearing without taking a vote on impeachment.”

      She will say something to the effect that their hearings clearly established that Trump is guilty of blah, blah, blah, but that due to the technical complexity, and right wing media misinformation it is ‘just not resonating with the public’ so in the interests of ‘blah, blah, blah’ they are going to suspend their inquiry until some further date.

      1. That date being the Sixth of Who Gives a Shit.

        1. I remain persuaded that the only reason we’re having this hearing (despite Pelosi’s better judgement) is because she was afraid that if Trump won in 2020–and she didn’t try to impeach him–the House Democrats in deep blue districts would blame her for his reelection and replace her as Speaker.

          Que Locomotive Breath.

          This is a slow motion train wreck, and no one, including Pelosi, knows how to stop it now. If I’m right about the reason why Pelosi launched the impeachment, then she probably can’t be the one to stop the impeachment either. She needs to be seen as having put forth a genuine effort. She needs to be the one leading the charge on this impeachment. And she won’t be able to call it off until it becomes obvious–even to the deep blue district Democrats–that the impeachment is hurting them rather than helping.

          In the shuffling madness
          Of the locomotive breath
          Runs the all-time loser
          Headlong to [her] death

          Oh, [she’ feels the piston scraping
          Steam breaking on [her] brow
          Old [Donny’ stole the handle
          And the train—it won’t stop going
          No way to slow down

          1. Aw, Jethro Tull. And one of their best karaoke songs.

            I still believe that the other big reason is to blunt the damage of the Durham report that will be coming out soon.

            I think the other way she potentially stops this train wreck is by saying something like “Since the white house is mean and won’t let these people testify, I guess we are stuck”.

            1. I think the suspending excuse is probable. Yadda yadda yadda, they won’t testify, yadda yadda yadda, we’re taking them to court, yadda yadda yadda, oh look – the election is next month!”

          2. Pelosi is not going to let another facelift go to waste.

            It would be a waste of money if she sat in he House seat and was not Speaker…again.

      2. No, she’s going to blame it on the fact that Mulvaney and co didn’t testify. The pitch would be ‘we’d have actual evidence (instead of hearsay) if the WH wasn’t obstructing our investigation). It’s BS, but BS that gives the base cover to continue believing what they want to believe.

        1. Yep, geometric logic.

        2. The failure of subpoenaed witnesses to testify (at Trump´s direction) will likely be a separate impeachable offense itself. Obstruction of Congress.

      3. Something will come up that she’ll try to use to stall, the D primaries will kick into swing, then
        “Though we have the incontrovertible evidence to impeach him, it’s too close to the election so we’ll let the voters decide at the polls”

      4. If there is anything Nancy Pelosi is good at, it is counting votes within her caucus. Impeachment by the House is certain; the question is how many articles.

        1. No Removal by the Senate is certain,

          Trump being reelected is certain.

          Tears from Lefties are certain.

    3. Yovanovitch seems to think that she gets to decide foreign policy, that she’s entitled to a job, and doesn’t understand that the president doesn’t need a reason at all to fire her.

      Her conduct now proves unequivocally that the president was right to fire her and that she had no place in our foreign service.

      1. Americans should be scared shitless that bureaucrats don’t know or won’t admit who they work for.

        We all know that federal bureaucrats work for Congress, the Courts, or the President depending on what agency they work for.

    4. “Marie Yovanovitch said she felt terrible when she received a 1 a.m. phone call in late April recalling her to Washington, where she was told the president wanted her removed from her post but not given a reason why. “It’s not the way I wanted my career to end,” she said.””

      Uh, is this the level of ‘evidence’ we’re going to see?

      1. Democrats are now pivoting to witness intimidation via Twitter as the impeachable conduct.

        1. Credible.

          1. Concerns about credibility went out the window with Christopher Steele.

            1. The British spy who helped Hillary, Obama, and the Deep State to rig the 2016 election?

              Its only bad when Russian spies… oh wait, they helped Hillary’s campaign too.

    5. ” Judging by that standard, the first episode of the Impeach Trump reality show was a snoozer.”

      The real problem for the Dems is Schiff. From the “Smoking gun of russian collusion” to his “damning” selective leaks of the impeachment testimony, Schiff has constantly over-promised what people ultimately saw. Everything that is being presented save for one piece of hearsay dropped in the hearing on Tuesday, was already previewed by Schiff. It is like those trailers you see for movies that tell you every twist and turn until you figure you have no need to see the movie.

      1. He’s not a problem. They love the guy. The bulb like head. The shifty, beady eyes. The unwavering confidence in demonstrably false things. He’s a bug in a human body and he makes everybody uncomfortable. Kafka couldn’t have conjured a more absurd character if put to the task. The fucker has been sent back to Congress for damn near twenty years. He’s a star; a true virtuoso and perfect reflection of everything the Democratic party has become.

  22. For the Democrats to have any chance at all of getting the public on their side–and I mean seriously, passionately on their side, not just “um sure whatever”–they are at least going to have to make up their fucking minds about what the “crimes” are. The story changes practically every damn day anymore.

  23. Trump’s ‘high crime’ is not being Hillary. Period.
    That’s actually OK. The house can vote impeachment for any damn thing they choose.
    The Senate can vote ‘not guilty’ just as freely.
    The, come next November, the people will decide the issue.
    I am pretty sure the first question by Trump in the first debate with whosoever will be “Do you promise to accept the results of the presidential election?”.

    1. House: We impeach Trump for not being President Hillary

      Senate: We hereby find President Trump guilty of not being Hillary and as punishment decline to remove him from office.

    2. “I am pretty sure the first question by Trump in the first debate with whosoever will be “Do you promise to accept the results of the presidential election?”.”

      Bonus points if he also asks it to the Journalist Moderator of the debate!

    3. So the real crime is that we are suffering under the first administration of Donald Trump and we are not suffering under the third administration of the Clinton Dynasty as we deserved?

      BTW what did we do to deserve a third administration of the Clinton Dynasty? I don’t think I was THAT deplorable.

      1. Worse than just the Clinton dynasty, from 1977 to 2013 (when Hillary stepped down as SoS so she could run for president), either a Bush or Clinton was in executive office
        1977-1993: HW; CIA director, VP, Prez
        1993-2001: Bill; Prez
        2001-2009: W; Prez
        2009-2013: Hillary; Sec of State
        And if we include Obama (2009-2017: Prez), it’s an unbroken dynastic reign lasting 4 decades… toppled by Trump

  24. “Whether you think of his pressure on Ukraine as bribery, extortion, or simply an abuse of power”

    How about none of the above, Sullum, you dishonest piece of shit.

    1. No I think he is being honest here. Of course, that he simply cannot see any other possible reason for investigating the Bidens is perhaps a worse indictment.

    2. Sullum did not get the Memo where that was an option for the Narrative.

  25. I think the fact that he even asked the head of another government to investigate Biden is sufficient grounds.
    If it was important enough to investigate, Trump should have publicly announced that he was asking Ukraine to check up on Burisma.

    1. Investigating corruption is corruption.

      This is literally your position.

      1. And that is basically the bog at the center of the entire Ukraine scandal. There is corruption. Investigating that corruption is corruption. Investigating the corrupt investigation into the corruption is corruption also. Like turtles holding up the earth, its corruption all the way down so, in an overabundance of caution, the only proper thing to do …. is to stop investigating corruption.

  26. Whether you think of his pressure on Ukraine as bribery, extortion, or simply an abuse of power, the link between military aid and politically beneficial investigations is crucial.

    Weirdly, you left out the “acting completely appropriately” option.

  27. So, did anyone see where Pelosi just brought up how they would go after anyone who tried to intimidate witnesses? *cough* TRUMP *cough*

    1. I guess we now know where they’re going to move the goalposts next

    2. Huh, I wonder if she’s going to attempt to use that to circumvent legitimate claims of executive privilege?

      1. wouldn’t surprise me. Pelosi’s kinda crossed the Rubicon with this impeachment BS, if it fails she’s done. At the very least she’ll lose her current role, worst case? Worst case, there’d be an investigation into sedition and conspiracy against the government, and she can hardly claim not to be a part of that. So she has to pull out all the stops

  28. We have the transcript.

    You’re having hearings about 3rd and 4th party intepretations when we have the actual transcript.

    1. Office gossip.

      They’re impeaching over office gossip.

      1. The transcript is incomplete and doctored. It’s a fake. And, this isn’t about the transcript, anyway. It is about a general pattern of malfeasance engaged in by Trump to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty for the purpose of empowering Russia because we all know, deep down, Trump is a Russian agent. We all know Mueller was compromised. And, and ….. if all of this *wasn’t* true, then why did Trump make Marie Yovanovitch cry? Riddle me that.

        I rest my case.

        1. Vindman testified that the transcript is incomplete. Nobody has characterized the non-verbatim of the July 25th phone call as “doctored” or “fake”.

          The accusation is not a general pattern, either. The allegations are quite specific about a timeline of conversations and events all about soliciting an investigation in exchange for release of aid and arranging a White House meeting.

          1. “Vindman testified that the transcript is incomplete.”

            He asked to add words. The OTHER PEOPLE WHO ALSO DID THE TRANSCRIPT said no.

            1. Someone said no to the changes. That in no way contradicts my statement above that you quoted.

              1. SEVERAL somebodies said no. Not one. MULTIPLE.

                1. How is the number of somebodies that said no relevant? How does that change Vindman’s testimony?

                  1. That Vindman was incorrect. If 3/4 people say something is the case, the one who doesn’t better provide SOMETHING to back up their claim.

                    1. I didn’t say whether Vindman was correct or not. I repeated what he testified.

        2. Yes, that’s really what it’s about: Hillary, Taylor, Yovanovitch want power, and they get it by occupying and “defending” places like Ukraine against Russia or whoever. Trump actually hesitated for two months, and that was unacceptable to them.

      2. “Pssst I hear the boss is banging the new intern”

        Like that ?

        1. “Both the intern and the boss have denied it.”

          “Wait … what?”

          “Yea. Apparently, they say it never happened.”

          “Well, fuck that. Bring in the other interns, I want to hear what they have to say.”

          1. The receptionist says that the lady in Environmental Services heard somebody say something to someone on the phone once while she was cleaning his office. That much is undeniable.

          2. Thing is Clinton was banging the intern and lots more.

            Thing is Slick Willie had this aw shucks way of just getting through all the stuff that piled up around him. He just gave you the impression that he wasn’t worried about it.

            Trump tends to go off the rails. He doesn’t have that kind of self control. Here he was today attacking the ambassador while she was testifying. Now they can talk about intimidating the witness. He fell for another trap. She was there as bait.

            1. The enemy of the enemies of The People is my friend

              1. Slick Willie won the Mexican Standoff.

                He did his two terms and walked away.

                Because in that game the player who best understands the drives and motivations of himself and the others can win.

                In the classic standoff certain things are equal A B and C are in a triangle with pistols. If A shoots B then C will shoot A while that is happening. C is the only player left and gets the gold. Yet doing nothing does not work because you could equally be B who gets shot first.

                The only way to win is to game the system. Here Blondie Clint arranges for one player to have a blank gun – Tuco. Only he knows this. While Angel Eyes decides to hit Tuco first. Blondie hits Angel and kills him. Tuco is disposable yet survives.


            2. Actually, that one did rely on “the secretary says”.

              The secretary said he was banging some contributor right there in the office… and not for the first time.

              Turns out, the contributor says she wasn’t banging him, she was fleeing an attempted rape.

              That’s how we crab-walked our way to banging the intern.

              The bad thing for the President was, his own party was extremely adamant about sexual harassment and protecting women in the workplace and how power imbalances lead to exploitation and even the lack of actual consent…. So there was no way that his own party was going to support him when it turned out that he was exploiting a very young intern for (very one-sided) sexual favors.

              But those misogynistic republicans refused to go along with it, because they hate women’s rights and don’t think they deserve workplace protection – even if the boss is raping visitors in his office from time to time.

              Or maybe I’ve gotten that one backwards in the intervening years…..

    2. Holmes testified today. He directly heard a conversation between Trump and Sondland. That’s first person witnessing.

      And that conversation was a day after the phone call for which “we have the transcript”, so the transcript has no relevance to Holmes’ testimony.

      1. He was in the room with Trump?

        1. No, he was sitting at a table at lunch with Sondland and could clearly hear both ends of the phone conversation.

          1. Mike, now that is really something how these people just magically appear out of nowhere.

            1. Is this your way of saying you aren’t going to believe any firsthand witnesses?

              1. Mike, let me answer you this way.

                It just seems curious, that’s all. All this time, this new witness was never bothered enough by what they heard many months ago to file a complaint. Or even gossip about it? Wow, amazing. Especially in a town like DC that is a leaky sieve. This person did not take any contemporaneous notes of what they heard. But Ok, the witness is telling the country they have a ‘clear recollection’ of overhearing a phone conversation. And they remember it perfectly, word for word, because it was so vivid. Who else has the same recollection? Not Ambassador Sondland, who was actually a party to the conversation. So corroboration is just not there – yet.

                No Mike, it means I will keep an open mind and have a healthy degree of skepticism. Let’s hear the testimony. Then we can render judgment.

                1. Fair enough.

              2. Somebody who claims to have overheard the opposite end of a phone call they’re not on isn’t a first hand witness no matter how much whining you do

                1. Because you say so?

                  1. No Mike, the law says so. Overhearing a conversation is hearsay.

      2. Yes, Trump asked about how the investigation was going. That’s news? Trump wanted an investigation. How does that prove any improper action?

        Well, actually it proves one improper action: Holmes observed Sondland calling the president on an unsecure line. Holmes should have intervened. Instead, he chose to listen in and blab about it. Holmes should be fired too.

  29. “Whether you think of his pressure on Ukraine as bribery, extortion, or simply an abuse of power,… ”
    WTF Sullum, talk about begging the question! Nice job of journalism there, How about adding that you think the whole thing is a bunch of bullshit?

  30. They settled on “bribery” because, of the three, that’s the one that isn’t in the job description of government officials. Quid pro quo and extortion are a politician’s job.

    That we are expected to believe that THIS is bribery, and all the other shenanigans were quid pro quo or extortion is a real stretch.

    1. Here’s the problem with ‘bribery.’

      D’s/MSM: Trump is guilty of bribery!

      Average American Independent Voter: (sits up and pays attention) Wow! That sounds bad, what was he bribed to do?

      D/MSM: No, no, he tried to bribe a foreign president into investigating corruption of the previous administration

      AAIV: (starts relaxing back into the couch) Ummm… isn’t that basically foreign policy? Don’t we bribe or threaten other countries to do what we want all the time?

      D/MSM: But this time it was for…

      AAIV: (waves hand cutting them off) Yeah, yeah, whatever. I’ve got a game to watch this weekend.

      1. “The previous administration”

        Leave something out there?

  31. Whether you think of Trump’s actions as extortion, solicitation of a bribe, or simply a troubling abuse of power that does not necessarily violate any criminal statutes

    I actually view it not just as a legitimate exercise of his power, but prudent and sensible policy. How about that?

    1. Trump is not prudent or sensible. He’s bad and he’s orange. Ergo, all of his policies are bad and orange.

  32. The only reason I can think of for calling this “bribery” rather than extortion (bribery is clearly the wrong word) is that they think most people don’t even understand the word “extortion”. On the other hand “no one went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people” (attributed to H.L. Mencken). The term bribery is widely understood.

    1. I don’t really even see how it can be extortion unless we presume that an investigation of Burisma (or, Biden) is inherently a “thing of value.” If so, I would like to see how any of the Reason writers or legal analysts propose to differentiate a prohibited “thing of value” from the lawful exercise of executive powers. Yet, nobody seems even remotely interested in resolving this enormous problem.

      A general rule to keep in mind is that if there is no way to draw the line between illegal and legal conduct, the definition proposed doesn’t make sense and should not be used.

      Sullum’s half-baked analysis would open the door for everything to become a predicate for impeachment. Brokering a peace treaty in exchange for financial aid? Clearly a “thing of value.” Securing a trade deal with a hostile nation in exchange for the lifting of sanctions? Also a “thing of value.”

      There is no limiting principle. Well, almost no limiting principle because the limiting principle seems to be that these bizarre legal prohibitions will only apply to Trump, and nobody else, ever.

      1. It’s personal enrichment component of it that sets it apart. This wasn’t Trump ordering the DOJ to launch an investigation of his political opponents. Trump was conspiring with a foreign govt and trading on public money and his public office to convince people to start an investigation. Do you understand that it would be crime for you pay someone to do some official act like starting and announcing a criminal investigation. Purchasing a specific prosecution with tax dollars is a crime. The attempt to do it is a crime. Trump was crazy to use the defense funds to buy this investigation.

        1. Pod
          November.15.2019 at 7:06 pm
          “It’s personal enrichment component of it that sets it apart.”

          That was last week’s TDS bullshit. This week, it’s that ‘he had Giuliani do it for him’.
          You’re not keeping up with the lies, but then since you are not real bright, that is not surprising.

          “Trump was conspiring with a foreign govt and trading on public money and his public office to convince people to start an investigation.”
          I don’t want what you’re smoking.

        2. Yeah….

          Like using the organs of state to spy on political opponents. Time was, we viewed that as treasonous.

          But that was before it was racist to suggest that having the FBI and CIA spy on an opposition party candidate was wrong. Now you can’t even think that there might be something wrong with using the FBI, CIA and IRS for directly political and partisan purposes. At least, when it was in the past.

          But now, in the present, actually investigating corruption that you have prima-facia evidence for is the problem. (yeah, I know. Debunked. But when you have millions in obvious and very public payoffs and an obvious and very public direct action beneficial to those making the payments…. I’d say that you haven’t actually debunked anything by saying “nuh, uh!”)

        3. Pod, you’re batshit crazy.

      2. Zelensky investigating the Bidens would be free opposition research for Trump’s 2020 Presidential campaign.

        1. Haha.

          Remember when Trump got Billions in free opposition research by the MSM leading up to election2016?

          That election was so fun to call for Trump.

        2. Mike Laursen
          November.15.2019 at 10:36 pm
          “Zelensky investigating the Bidens would be free opposition research for Trump’s 2020 Presidential campaign.”

          It is CERTAINLY an investigation into the corruption of the Obo administration, and losers like you REALLY don’t want that pumpkin opened.
          The hag running her illegal comm system
          That scumbag IRS official lying about political investigations
          Again, that hag selling political access for ‘donations’
          That piece of shit Harvard prof lying about ‘keep your doctor’
          Clapper lying about most everything he could
          Do we need more? How much corruption are you willing to support if it comes from a slimy D, slimy piece of shit?

          1. I’ll repeat again that I welcome uncovering any wrong-doing by Obama or Biden. I’m a non-partisan. I can’t help if that looks like my being a progressive to Trump fans.

            1. You’ve been arguing for days how you do not welcome uncovering corruption of Obama/Biden.
              Your lies are frequent and transparent

  33. I realize this is not a trial however my take so far. Most criminal or civil cases that are open and shut never get to trial. Either prosecution drops it if they can’t find enough on discovery or the defendant makes a plea deal or settlement if they know they will lose in court.

    The in between ones if the prosecution has a weak case generally go to trial. I think Pelosi’s strategy is to keep throwing out banana peels hoping Trump or someone else will slip on one. This is what attorneys do if they have a weak case. They ask questions and present things in a way that makes the defendant look guilty even if they are not.

    No matter how anyone feels about it surely nobody is naive enough to think any of this or the ongoing political circus since the tribal chief sat in judgement of the shaman accused of ruining the crop with evil spirits is about the truth.

    1. “…I think Pelosi’s strategy is to keep throwing out banana peels hoping Trump or someone else will slip on one….”

      Exactly what the Ds have been doing since January of ’17.

      1. And what courts and politicians have been doing forever. I don’t think republicans, Tories, or the Popular Peoples Front of Judea, are any different when the shoe is on the other foot.

      2. It is really just old school palace intrigue except back in the day seduction, poison in the chalice, or beheadings were more common. Actually some of that still goes on.

        Who will sit in the Iron Throne? It is the same story.

    2. //I think Pelosi’s strategy is to keep throwing out banana peels hoping Trump or someone else will slip on one.//

      I think you are absolutely correct about that. They will try to manufacture an obstruction case, or a witness intimidation scenario, or some other farcical theory of misconduct based on shoddy facts and then use each subsequent act as a basis for a new series of inquiries (i.e. new witnesses, new subpoenas, etc.). Kind of how they whiffed on collusion and then tried to pivot to obstruction.

      1. You notice how even Schiff has dropped all things Russia, even the iron-clad, rock-solid proof of obstruction?

        When this guy gives up on it, you know it was all BS from the jump.

        And now they are giving up on the quid pro quo stuff and trying to make up process crimes. This “bribery” is a hail Mary to try to save the nut of the Ukraine affair… but it is just packaging.

  34. Just to add I think there probably was at least an implied push to get the Ukrainians to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden I just don’t think it makes much difference at this point. Nonetheless it is entertaining at least.

    1. An implied push?

      “Everything” depended upon the investigations.

      “I don’t give a shit about Ukraine, I just want the investigations.”

      “Did Zelensky agree to do the investigations?”

      “He loves you. He’ll do anything”.

      1. That’s the day after the July 25th phone call from the lips of Trump.

        I’m sure we can get the phone records if Trump wants to claim he never made the call.

        1. Holmes is supposed to be testifying about the call today. Still haven’t had a chance to see if he actually did.

          1. He did testify, and the transcript is the most interesting read of any so far from the hearings. Lots of candid language. Well worth reading.

            The weirdest part is that right after Holmes says he overheard Sondland and Trump discussing whether Zelensky was on-board with the investigations Trump wanted, Sondland and Trump discussed efforts to get the rapper, A$AP, out of trouble in Sweden, apparently as a favor to the Kardashian family from Trump.

            Holmes also recounts a conversation with Sondland where Holmes asked Sondland if Trump gave “a shit” about Ukraine. Sondland said Trump only cares about “big stuff”. When Holmes asked what he meant by “big stuff”, did he mean big stuff like being at war with Russia, and Sondland said “big stuff” meant stuff that benefited Trump personally.

            1. Lol
              Mike, nobody needs to hear about your mandarin fantasies

              1. An astonishing endorsement from Nardz for being willfully ignorant.

                1. “An astonishing endorsement from Nardz for being willfully ignorant.”

                  No, a statement regarding your continuing TDS and resultant brain damage.

            2. Yeah, it’s quite interesting that a supposedly professional diplomat allowed a conversation of an ambassador and the president to go on over an unsecured line surrounded by Russian spies. Instead of objecting, he listened in. That’s the kind of professional Holmes is.

              1. Valid criticism. He should have advised Sondland that the phone call was not secure.

                Not such a valid criticism that he listened in. Sondland had invited him to sit there, and didn’t ask him to leave. Afterward, Sondland freely discussed with Holmes the conversation that he had just overheard. If Sondland had wanted a private conversation with the President, it was on him to make sure others weren’t listening in.

      2. Sure but I doubt Zelensky was ever directly told “you get your money after you investigate Biden”. Everyone knew what the game was.

        Ukraine got the money because people would start asking questions if it were held up too long. I keep going back to the mafia movies but there is a line that Don Corleone is not a man who asks a favor twice. Trump will act as if all is fine with Ukraine but if he is secretly pissed there may come a day when Zelensky really needs something and it won’t be there.

        1. Echospinner
          November.15.2019 at 7:26 pm
          “…Everyone knew what the game was.
          Ukraine got the money because people would start asking questions if it were held up too long…”

          You have an active fantasy life; you should seek some help.

          1. Just got a text from Gal Gadot asking if we could get together for Netflix and Chill this weekend. She said she’ll bring the wine.

            I reminded her I was married. She said “that’s ok I think your wife is really cute”

            You think Sleepless in Seattle is a good choice or something more recent?

        2. Ukraine got the money because people had started asking questions because it had been held up too long. It was only with a bipartisan effort to get the money to Ukraine after the White House released the funds that it was paid three days before the expiration deadline.

          1. “Ukraine got the money because people had started asking questions because it had been held up too long.”

            Your cite went missing.

            1. Posted them, but they are “awaiting moderation”. If you want to google them yourself, look for:

              Los Angeles Times: “Ukraine aid delay sparked bipartisan scramble…”

              Defense News: “Here’s what you need to know about the US aid package to Ukraine that Trump delayed”

              1. OK, fail on the LAT:
                “When the White House finally released $400 million in defense assistance it had withheld from Ukraine while pressuring its government to investigate President Trump’s political opponents, Republican and Democratic lawmakers had mere days to ensure millions of dollars for military equipment would not expire.”

                You should try to find something that isn’t an editorial.
                “Trump administration officials and Republican allies are downplaying the effect of the holdup. Defense Department officials have been careful to say publicly that “at no time or at any time has any delay in this money, this funding, affected U.S. national security,” as Defense Secretary Mark Esper put it.”

                So it seems there might be another side to the claims? Good of you to offer.
                Now let’s see…

                1. Defense News:
                  “WASHINGTON ― At the center of the latest scandal threatening to take down President Donald Trump is $391 million in military aid that the U.S. leader reportedly asked his staff to freeze for two months before dropping the hold a week ago, under pressure from lawmakers.”

                  Are you familiar with the difference between opinion and facts? Hearsay and evidence?
                  We’ll ignore whether a sitting POTUS can use military aid as a lever for foreign policy, *EVEN* if the perp in question might become a political foe.

              2. You are only allowed one link per post Mike. Then is goes in the hole. If you have more than one just post them separately.

                1. Thanks, I didn’t know that rule.

      3. Well, I certainly want the Bidens investigated. You don’t? Why not?

  35. Sullum must have access to some secret files because the public information does not show any acts or words that amount to bribery or attempted bribery.
    Abuse of power cannot be an impeachable offense because all presidents commit it.
    If Zelensky denies any pressure, and if there is no evidence to contradict him, what is the issue?
    Anyone who has followed the sham public hearings would know there has been no direct evidence of anything Trump did regarding “quid pro quo” or bribery or extortion or . . . Nothing but hearsay evidence and speculation about Trump’s intent, by people with no direct knowledge of anything. Anyone who has followed the sham hearings, would also have recognized the horrible questioning from the Dems questioner, who so often leads witnesses to the point that there is no need for the witness to do anything but say yes. This is nothing like a trial, it is just a bad drama.

    1. Sullum’s article above argues against Trump’s actions being labeled as bribery.

    2. Read Holmes testimony from today about the conversation he overheard between Trump and Sondland.

      1. Mike Laursen
        November.15.2019 at 10:28 pm
        “Read Holmes testimony from today about the conversation he overheard between Trump and Sondland.”

        Pretty sure the guy at the bar who overheard…………..
        THAT is the level of ‘evidence’ which TDS victims see as reason to impeach Trump for being Trump.
        Put a sock in it.

        1. At this point, Trump apologists are sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting, “La la la la la…”

          1. Mike Laursen
            November.15.2019 at 11:24 pm
            “At this point, Trump apologists are sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting, “La la la la la…””

            This from a fucking TDS victim hoping that Trump can be impeached for a late book return to the library.
            Please look above, you fucking idiot; the best you’ve offered remains one bit of hearsay after the other.

  36. Quid pro quo? Try nihil pro nihil. You know nihil — it’s what you believe in and comprehend. And so ‘reason’ continues to live down to its name. Have fun with the pink unicorn koolaid on your planet.

    This comment not approved by Silicon Valley brain slugs.

    1. I tried the pink unicorn koolaid once. It was at a Blue Oyster Cult concert. I think it was BOC anyway. Not sure about the details. Good times.

  37. First, I have yet to hear any first hand evidence that the aid and the request for information on interference in the 2016 elections were in any way related. The Ukrainians have said repeatedly that they didn’t even know the aid was being delayed for any reason. If you want to talk bribery, the party being bribed sort of has to know that is taking place and what they’re getting in return. All we’ve got so far is speculation and hearsay.
    Second, in the unlikely event that a connection can be found and proven, one man’s bribery or extortion is another’s negotiation. Especially in the context of international politics. Take the case of China. We’ve slapped massive tariffs on their trade. Now we’re offering to reduce or remove the tariffs if they agree to take actions that benefit any number of private businesses. Almost certainly one or more that might be in the Trump family. If anything, this arrangement can be characterized as bribery much more easily than the Ukrainian scenario. Yet no one is creating a circus because of perceived improprieties here.
    When you come down to it ALL negotiations can also be viewed as bribery. You give something to the other side in return for them doing something for you.

    1. Read Holmes testimony from today on the conversation he overheard between Trump and Sondland, and his subsequent conversation with Sondland.

      1. “Read Holmes testimony from today on the conversation he overheard between Trump and Sondland,”
        So we’ve got someone who overheard a conversation between two people regarding an earlier conversation in which one of the parties was not involved? Oh! Oh! My pants are getting wet!

        “…and his subsequent conversation with Sondland.”
        You don’t need to add the testimony of your wife’s hair-dresser’s uncle from what a guy at a bar told him, we got it.

        1. We have Holmes overhearing both ends of the conversation, the person on one end of the call being President Trump. We then have Holmes asking the person on the other end of the converation, Sondland, who is sitting right across the table from him, for clarification on what he just overheard. We have Sondland telling him plainly that Trump doesn’t care that Ukraine is at war with Russia, but does care about getting information that will benefit Trump.

          Trump supporters here keep asking for direct witnesses. Here we have it.

          1. “We have Holmes overhearing both ends of the conversation, the person on one end of the call being President Trump.”

            This would be a conversation regarding memories about an earlier conversation in which one of the parties was not involved?
            Oh, good.
            “We have Sondland telling him plainly that Trump doesn’t care that Ukraine is at war with Russia, but does care about getting information that will benefit Trump.”

            I really appreciate Sondland offering his opinions.
            Do you really think that sort of clap-trap is worth giving up “Days of Our Lives”?

  38. Is this thread mostly people who claim to be anti-government libertarians bitching and crying like little pussies because the most corrupt head of state in 500 years of Western civilization is getting a symbolic comeuppance for just a couple of his many, many crimes?

    Wouldn’t want anything to change.

    1. I’m not a fan of Trump, but “most corrupt head of state in 500 years of Western civilization”? Wouldn’t that time span include Hitler, Stalin, Franco, Papa Doc Duvalier, Mussolini, and a few other contenders for the title?

      1. Poor Lefties.

      2. Franco? Why?

        1. Not James Franco. Generalissimo Franco, who admittedly might be James and Mat’s great uncle or something for all I know.

          1. Oh, your witty snark leaves me in awe of your superior intellect.
            But in all fairness, how was Generalissimo Franco corrupt?
            A Romanian migrant worker once told me in Spain: “had we had a Franco, instead of the Spanish having him, today Spaniards would be picking strawberries in Romania rather than the other way around.”
            Pretty deep understanding of history.

            1. Sorry if I offended you. I picked Franco’s name more or less at random. It’s not like there aren’t a long of dictators’ names to choose from, and I could have just as easily picked someone else.

              You obviously have a special interest in Franco, and no doubt know much more than I do about him. It surprises me that someone here would have such a strong reaction to joking about Franco, since it was decades ago.

              Honestly, all I know about Franco is that Chevy Chase would joke about him on Weekend Update, and that he let the Luftwaffe practice terror bombing on the Basques. And I know I really, really like Basque cuisine, and all of the Basque people I have met.

    2. Tony
      November.15.2019 at 10:10 pm
      “…the most corrupt head of state in 500 years of Western civilization is getting a symbolic comeuppance for just a couple of his many, many crimes?”

      You’ve been gone; I was hoping you’d died. Sorry to see that’s not the case. Regardless:

      1. Sorry, I’m a trifle death in this ear. Try talking without a mouth full of chaw, you goddamn hillbilly.

        1. Fuck off and die where we can’t smell you, shitbag.

          1. But you won’t let me into your shit-covered rodent-infested masturbation closet.

  39. Good News..

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  40. This is about language. That is all. They have learned that nobody gives a rat’s butt about “Quid Pro Quo”. Too wonky.

    Plus, bribery is on the list of high crimes.

    Now, what the framers meant was taking bribes as a government official. But the talking point remains.

    What is super stupid here is that they have been screaming about “holding up aid” as the key crime for months – and now they are going to say *not* holding up aid is the crime…..

    Yeah. Good luck selling that.

    1. Nobody ever said that holding up aid was the key crime. That’s an oversimplification that leaves part of the accusations out of the picture. They said that holding up aid to (a) get the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens, or at least publicly announce that they are investigating the Bidens; (b) secure a White House meeting between Zelensky and the President is the misuse of office for personal political gain.

  41. Hey Jake!

    Here’s an interesting thing for you to add to your next think piece: The Ukrainians say they had been trying to reach out to the US administration for quite some time about their prior administration’s actions in the 2016 election.

    That being the case – why would you think that Trump asking them to look in to the matter would be a troubling abuse of power?

    Also – a parallel question: why is it not quite such a troubling abuse of power for an administration to spy on an opposition candidate using the FBI, CIA and … what was it they kept saying? 27 other federal agencies? And how are we not troubled that an outgoing administration moved to sabotage their successors? Shouldn’t any one of those many actions be so troubling as to overshadow any of this “look into this corruption by a former US official” stuff?

    It seems odd to me that we are all worried about something that we suspect might have happened and could potentially be “troubling”, but we are not the least bit concerned about obvious subversions of the US government for political purposes.

    Can you come up with any example from US history where an outgoing administration tried to spy on their successor using the state? Or any instance where an outgoing administration moved to subvert their successors? Or where they claimed they were going to sow the seeds for impeachment before leaving office?

    I’m honestly puzzled as to how we are saying that asking someone to look into fairly well grounded allegations of corruption by former US officials is an obvious abuse of power (while claiming that the allegations are fabricated), but actually paying millions of dollars to foreign governments for actually made up dirt on your opponent isn’t even worth a mention.

    Or, if you can’t tackle any of those softballs, how about the simple assertion that the Biden Jr. corruption angle has been “thoroughly debunked”. That’s the term of art these days. It certainly would appear to me to be an iron lock that they were paying for something – even Junior admits that the only reason he was getting paid those millions was because of who his father was. Yet every time I see that in print, they say they are unsubstantiated or debunked.

    It makes for a really odd juxtaposition.

    On the one hand we have a completely unqualified son of a high official with the power to take action to aid a foreign company loudly bragging about how he took action that happened to align with that company’s objectives at the same time that his son is collecting millions from that company for no discernible reason. And we call that “without evidence”.

    And on the other hand we have a call that we have a reasonably complete accounting of in which the Ukraine is asked to “Look in to” that corruption as a favor. And we have aid that was ostensibly held up behind the scenes, but nobody in Ukraine knew about that and it was released before they ever took any actions. And that is very strong evidence that Trump is corrupt.

    I really can’t wrap my head around how people are able to think that way. It certainly seems contradictory on the surface… but you guys are the experts. Maybe you can explain how it actually makes sense.

    1. “The Ukrainians say they had been trying to reach out to the US administration for quite some time about their prior administration’s actions in the 2016 election.” — What is your source for this?

      “nobody in Ukraine knew about that” – Nobody? Immediately after Andriy Yermak met behind closed doors with Sondland, Sondland told the President in a phone call that Zelensky would “do anything you ask him to”.

  42. Nickel and dime.

    What is happening in Hong Kong is perhaps the most important uprising in decades.

    Crickets from our government.

    1. What should our government do? Demand full autonomy for Hong Kong, knowing that such demands are likely to force the Chinese government’s hand into a harsh crackdown? Maybe send ships to the South China sea?

      Or maybe counter-move…. call it an internal matter in order to give them space to do their own thing? That way the government can get away with being patient without looking like they are being weak….

      If only there were some way to help our chicken-with-his-head-cut-off POTUS handle things. You know – some way that the congress could chip in and work together with the president, giving him room to focus on foreign policy with their full advise and consent. Unfortunately, they’ve been forced to try to bring him down by manufacturing crisis after crisis. Their hands are tied, after all.

      1. Congress is manufacturing crises the way a restaurant health inspector manufactures salmonella and roaches.

        1. That’s hilarious!

          The idea that anyone could believe that after watching nearly 3 years of investigation into “Russian Collusion” when all of the principles involved knew from day 1 that the entire Russia connection was a concoction of the DNC, HRC campaign and Obama administration officials is laughable.

          There was actually more direct “Russia Collusion” from Schiff when he was talking with a radio host pretending to be a Russian agent with dirt on Trump. At least he personally and repeatedly said that he would very much like to get dirt on Trump from high Russian officials.

          The collective amnesia of humans in the pursuit of tribal motivations is astonishing.

          1. Trump is doing Russia’s foreign policy bidding out in the open. He’s a traitor.

  43. Soooo……. every time a prosecutor offers a plea deal to an alleged criminal in return for less time in jail or a fine. . . . It is bribery. The prosecutor has an legit interest in resolving a case and getting an admittance of some guilt. BS a holding sway in Congress by BSers

    1. That was quite a non sequitur.

  44. Another Dem lying point is destroyed.

    Yovanovitch Admits Burisma Probe Was Open when Biden Pressured Ukraine to Fire Prosecutor

    1. Just to get it on the record, this means you trust Yovanovitch’s testimony? Yes?

  45. Reason doesn’t have to pretend that the “high misdemeanors” cause for impeachment is a nebulously-defined or purely political term. Our own Federalist Society shows that the Ukraine affair fits perfectly into impeachable self-dealing. So I’m not sure why you are taking another chance to rile up hate against Nancy, when you could be clarifying the term from a libertarian perspective. If you are sincerely interested in the actual constitutional law issue (and not just constantly trying to chip away at the Democrats or insinuate they have no case) why don’t you all take a gander? Here I’ll give you a link:

    1. Self dealing?

      1. Did you read the article?

  46. So when Biden threatens to cut off aid to the Ukraine if they keep investigating his son… the Obama policy Trump’s “quid pro quo” was ending….

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  48. All the theorycrafting in the world won’t get you past the “for the benefit of any candidate or any political party.” You can’t investigate a political candidate without benefiting other candidates and parties. The law is poorly written and shortsighted. It would also be extremely hypocritical to impeach Trump for this when he was the original victim of government interference in his campaign.

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