The Scripted Impeachment Proceedings

Everything is rehearsed, including how "how to swiftly dispatch with parliamentary disruptions from Republicans"

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Mark Leibovich and Nicholas Fando wrote a behind-the-scenes profile in the Times about the impeachment process. We learn a few useful nuggets.

First, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have the final say on the precise wording of two to four articles of impeachment:

She is the final decision maker on the wording of an expected two to four articles on presidential abuse of power, obstruction of justice and obstruction of Congress, and an accompanying impeachment report that could stretch to hundreds of pages.

There is no anticipated article based on bribery. Seth Barrett Tillman and I explained why the allegations–trading one public act for another public act–do not meet the specific requirements for bribery. Barbara McQuade sounded a similar point on Lawfare:

But rather than trying to satisfy technical statutory requirements such as "quid pro quo," and allowing Republicans to quibble over legal definitions and factual conclusions as to whether one thing was conditioned on the other, House members would be wise to frame the articles more broadly in terms of abuse of office—which is at the heart of impeachable conduct.

"Abuse of power" is an open-ended concept that can be used to embrace a wide range of activity that may not fall within the specific contours of bribery.

Second, the Judiciary Committee will vote by the end of the week, and the House will hold a floor vote before Christmas:

By the end of the week, the Judiciary Committee is likely to vote on the articles of impeachment, with a final vote on the floor of the House expected shortly before Christmas.

The Senate trial will likely begin in early January.

Why did the Judiciary Committee give the Times this exclusive. Because it would generate a glowing profile that makes everyone involved–especially those named–look fantastic. Generally, people–especially in government–talk to the press to make themselves look good. One of the biggest challenges for journalists who deal with off-the-record interviews is how to separate from the truth from puffery. I struggled with this issue on both Unprecedented and Unraveled. I received a lot of self-adulation that I reluctantly discarded.

Yet, the effort to extoll the hard work of everyone on the committee highlights how scripted this entire process is. Nothing was left to chance. Everything was scripted. Once the decision was made to proceed, the hearings were largely for show. The outcome is foreordained.

Consider a few tidbits from the piece:

This weekend, as in previous weeks, the Democrats are also holding practice hearings inside the grand Ways and Means committee room, which also serves as the backup House chamber and is kept at a perpetual frosty chill. . . .

The latest rehearsals are to prepare for a marathon hearing in the same room beginning on Monday morning.  . . .

In a previous practice session before a hearing on Wednesday that featured a witness panel of constitutional scholars, Mr. Nadler, wielding his wooden gavel, spent extra time rehearsing again and again how to swiftly dispatch with parliamentary disruptions from Republicans. Joshua Matz, a lawyer brought in by the Democrats to help with impeachment, and Barry H. Berke, a veteran white-collar defense lawyer in New York who also serves as special oversight counsel for the Judiciary Committee, took seats at the witness table to sit in for the academics who would appear there the next day. . . .

Democratic lawmakers took turns walking through scripts of questions and responses they had drafted with committee aides. Mr. Nadler's chief of staff and others offered feedback: That line did not land. This question needs reworking. The general rule was never ask a question whose answer could not be readily anticipated.

I watched almost all of the hearing. The majority questioning by Norm Eisen followed a precisely crafted script. The three professors invited by the majority were asked a series of carefully planned and sequenced questions. When I testified before Congress, the counsel staff discussed questions I would likely receive in advance of the hearing. I suspect the Democrats had similar interactions.

Eisen posed only one question to the minority witness, Jonathan Turley. When Turley tried to explain his answer, Eisen shot back with "yes or no question." This reaction was likely practiced in advance. I also noticed that after a Republican parliamentary inquiry, Chairman Nadler waited a few seconds before interrupting. This reaction too was likely practiced in advance. The delay made him look more measured.

I did appreciate the fact that the majority and minority each had forty-five minutes of interrupted time to pose questions. The five-minute rule, in which majority and minority members alternate, is vey disruptive. I would hope the Senate Judiciary Committee adopts a similar format for Supreme Court confirmation hearings: let knowledgeable counsel ask questions of the nominee for an extended period of time

On Monday, I will attend oral arguments at the D.C. Circuit in Blumenthal v. Trump, one of three pending Emoluments Clause hearings. I will try to head over to the House to catch some of the hearing, if possible.

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  1. My prediction: history is not going to vindicate these impeachment proceedings and Democrats are going to regret their actions.

    1. My prediction is that history isn’t going to vindicate these impeachment hearings, but the history books will, because, hey, who’s writing those? It isn’t Republicans.

      And maybe the Democrats should regret their actions, but they won’t. If it all falls through, they’ll regret not doubling down sooner.

      1. History as a genre and a discipline won’t vindicate the impeachment proceedings but somehow the books will?

        1. History as an objective phenomenon won’t vindicate the impeachment, but biased academics in the field, who are almost all Democrats, will record that it did, anyway.

          1. So history is an objective phenomenon somehow divorced from the methodology that historians employ?

            Have you ever read Peter Novick’s “That Noble Dream: The Objectivity Question in the American Historical Profession”? If not you really should.

            1. Not totally divorced, but they’re not always on speaking terms.

              1. Do you expect Pres. Trump to be vindicated by history?

                Do you expect the stonewalling to be vindicated by history?

                1. What stonewalling? The FBI and Mueller gave Trump a 3 year colonoscopy, starting when he was a candidate. As President he was totally and completely cooperative. It all concluded with a wheezing puff of nothing by Mueller, as it turned out the Democrat party and the mainstream media were lying to the American people the whole time, peddling a delusional conspiracy theory and engaging in McCarthyism. Now, they’re just gonna get back in the saddle? No, these people need to be put down, metaphorically speaking.

                  1. Trump refused to be questioned under oath. He has directed essentially every witness he controls (or believes he controls, or can attempt to control) to refuse to provide testimony and documents.

                    Put down? Enjoy the rest of the culture war, clinger. I know I have enjoyed the first half-century of this, and expect to like the rest of it at least as much. Do yourself a favor and open wider, because modern America has even more progress for the culture war’s casualties to swallow.

                    You can console yourself with the recognition that you will eventually be replaced.

    2. Whatever the outcome, both sides will be outraged. I can’t see either side being more or less outraged than the other, regardless of what happens in the House or the Senate. The independents and fence-sitters will not change their views on anything, except being confirmed that politicians are a pack of scoundrels.

  2. These impeachment proceedings are a farce. The Democrats wrote the articles of impeachment before even beginning the whole dog and pony show. They have done nothing but try to undermine Trump since before he even took the oath of office. If it wasn’t try to undo the will of the people by encouraging rouge electors, it was the whole 25th Amendment thing, then a completely fake Russia investigation, and now trying to impeach him because he made a simple phone call.

    I am sure the Dems will act all surprised when the treason trials start up and they have to answer for their crimes. Now that is going to be a fun day.

    1. Wanting to kill Dems for trying to impeach the President?

      You continue to be very bad at the whole living in a republic thing.

      1. What these people are doing has nothing to do with a Republic. It’s entirely corrupt and partisan.

        1. Has a lot of popular support for being corrupt. But then the GOP line is that everyone from the intel community to the State Department to the media to the schools are corrupt so…

          Well at least you didn’t go so far as to argue treason charges for half of Congress.

          1. Trump is no more corrupt than Obama with his pend his phone, his recess appointments, and the way he pushed Obamacare through, with Roberts being an unindicted co-conspirator; at least as judged by the standards shown by Democrats over the past three years. I’d argue that Clinton was definitely more corrupt personally, what with his rapes and those slush funds collected by Hillary while Secretary of State, but all politicians are corrupt in one form or another, and Trump is by no means the worst.

            1. You are wrong. This was not policy nor was it supposed to be open.

              As for Clinton you don’t seem to know what corruption means.

      2. The only person who said anything about “killing Dems” was you. Put away your strawman Sarcastrated.

        All I said is that their behavior over the last three years should be treated as treason and tried as such. If they are found guilty I am sure a full range of penalties will be available and applied accordingly.

        1. That’s a cop-out. The full range of penalties includes the death penalty. So Sarcastro is right about what you were arguing.

          1. You shouldn’t need to explain on a law blog the difference between a death penalty sentenced after a proper conviction and due process then what Sarcastrated was alluding to which was the lawless murder of Democrats.

            1. You shouldn’t need to explain on a law blog how impeachment isn’t even close to treason, yet here we are nonetheless.

              1. This is not a “law blog.” This is a movement conservative blog (with a legal veneer).

                Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

        2. If their action should be treated as treason,so should all actions of all politicians since the founding. This crap is all about politics, nothing more and nothing less.

          1. Yeah I mean a court would have to conclude that the President is synonymous with the United States, that a constitutional process is an act of war, and that one of the two main political parties is an enemy of the United States.

            1. The last time I checked the election of the President was a constitutional process and engaging in a conspiracy to undermine the lawfully and duly elected President over three years could very well be interpreted as treason. The fact the left has attempted to gauge their coup attempts as legitimate uses of power does not mean that in of itself is enough to shield them from criminal liability. (If you need an example of how the application of law works, just look at the Nuremberg Trials. The Nazis were acting under what they perceived to be lawful civil authority at the times. That was no defense after the fact though.)

              1. This is just so incorrect on so many levels. It’s as legally coherent as saying that impeachment gives the President a cause of action for breach of contract against Nancy Pelosi.

                Again, it can’t be treason because, the President is not “The United States,” impeachment is not an act of war against the United States, it is not adhering to nor giving aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States, and the Democratic majority in Congress is not an enemy of the United States. Last time I checked, the United States is not in a state of war or other armed conflict with the Democratic House majority.

                And your reference to Nuremberg is also completely wrong because the four charges at Nuremberg were based on international customary law and the law of war not treason. There was no charge that Nazi officials committed treason against Germany. Moreover there is no basis in international law for a war crimes or other international law tribunal over a nation’s use of its own constitutional procedures to remove leaders. I doubt you’d consider a no-confidence vote in a prime minister from a parliamentary democracy a violation of international law.

              2. The last time I checked the election of the President was a constitutional process and engaging in a conspiracy to undermine the lawfully and duly elected President over three years could very well be interpreted as treason.

                Check again.

          2. Yes, but the Democrats are actively trying to destroy the United States by flooding it with illiterate third worlders. If that’s not treason, I don’t know what is.

            1. a. It’s not treason. b. Yes, I agree with you that you do not know what you’re talking about.

              1. It certainly is treason.

        3. What are the elements of treason?

          1. According to the constitution trees and can only be used in the cases of taking up arms against the United States, waiting were against the United States, or eating in betting your enemies. And the explicit act must be witnessed by two people or maybe three not sure and or admitted by confession in open court.

            1. Uh, was this comment dictated in a crowded room?

              1. It’s more fun to think it wasn’t.

    2. Yes they will. Mainly because none of the elements of a treason charge are met.

    3. If it wasn’t try to undo the will of the people by encouraging rouge electors,

      Would an orange person really have red electors? Also, you’re confused: “the people,” to the extent we can talk about them having a collective will, rejected Trump. It was only the electors whose will was that he become president.

      The rest of your stuff simply shows you to be too mentally challenged to understand what’s happening.

      1. The only way you can claim the people’s “collective will” rejected Trump also means that “collective will” rejected ALL candidates. After all, Trump won 30 of the 51 elections for President, so if he didn’t “win”, no one can be said to have done so.

        1. This is my view, that a majority of the electorate is ambivalent between their choices.

          In some jurisdictions (I think none of them in the US) there is a “none of the above” choice. But instead of acting like failing to vote, it’s an actual vote, and if “none of the above” wins then every candidate is prohibited from running for office again and a new election date is set. I wonder how something like that would play out here.

    4. “Rouge electors?” Eyeliner and mascara maybe, but rouge?

  3. What is the point of this post? Is it a criticism that impeachment is being treated as just about every televised proceeding in Congress has been treated for decades? Does this have anything to do with the truth or lack therof of the matters presented?

    1. From my perspective Sarcastr0, the point of this post was to highlight the baseless and contrived nature of this impeachment process. And yes, it has everything to do with the truth, or lack thereof in these matters.

      This is not being treated like just about every televised proceeding in Congress for decades….certainly not by the House, and most certainly not by the Fourth Estate.

      1. If that’s what the OP wants to say, it should say it. Instead, it’s just faffing around the edge allowing anti-impeachment folks to see what they want to see, while not providing sufficient content for someone who is pro-impeachment to take issue with.

        Also, I can tell you every televised proceeding in Congress is as scripted as possible beforehand, as Prof. Blackman himself mentions: When I testified before Congress, the counsel staff discussed questions I would likely receive in advance of the hearing. I suspect the Democrats had similar interactions.

        In other words, this is some coy BS, and is acting as intended on you. Lame.

        1. I think Blackman is saying that some degree of scripting is normal, but that’s what’s being done now goes far beyond the normal level of scripting into including rehearsal which hasn’t been part of the norm before.

          Prepping witnesses on specific questions or on broad topics has at least some tie to the truth – you want the witness to either recall the relevant facts at hand, or be able to recite them within the allotted time.

          But having the legislator rehearse their actions isn’t advancing a truthfinding purpose – they’re not the ones who know the answers – but instead only serves the theater of the event, which is a break from the historic norms.

          Maybe we should have legislative kabuki all the time, and actual legislative work is always done behind closed doors. Maybe we should even have the real government run by permanent staff rather than elected legislators. The British even made a “documentary” on how that works with the show, “Yes, Minister.”

          1. Then he should say this is extraordinary. (It’s not – when I worked on the hill every minute of floor time was rehearsed. Dunno about committees but I’d wager them too) Or that performative hearings like this are generally bad practice.

            But instead he’s given something that lets partisans one his side see what they want without his having to say it. As I said, it’s pretty lame baiting imo.

            1. Prof. Blackman is still learning to use polemics with a legal veneer to lather the right-wing rubes, although he has fine mentors (and an eager audience) at the Volokh Conspiracy and demonstrates great promise in the clinger arts.

            2. I understand you wanting more clarity, but if he’s not sufficiently sure of his conclusions how could he more clearly state them?

              This looks like kabuki because of A, B, C doesn’t rule out it either not being kabuki because of reasons D, E, F that he’s not aware of, or that it’s always kabuki (which is what you’re suggesting) because A, B, and C are always present even if you can’t see them.

              I hope you’re also making the same public observation on others who aren’t being explicit about subtle or conditional points. Bernie Sanders, for example, says he’ll raise taxes on everyone, for a greater good. Elizabeth Warren won’t say the same, even though she has to be either incompetent or deceitful not to make such a claim – her avoidance by saying your net costs will go down is just the sort of subtle argument you seem to be condemning here (setting aside that she’s probably wrong – net costs will go up, but some will get additional benefits they don’t now, though that’s a different discussion).

              1. I understand you wanting more clarity, but if he’s not sufficiently sure of his conclusions how could he more clearly state them?

                Well, when Blackman wants to suggest baselessly that Nadler scripts his pauses before halting out-of-order interruptions, Blackman could begin by saying, “I have no idea whether this is true or not, but I speculate . . .”

                As for Elizabeth Warren, help me out. I’m old. When I went off private insurance (small group plan, for a private school), and onto Medicare, my net costs went down, by a lot, and I ended up with more choice of services, from doctors and hospitals ranked among the best in the nation. It has been an awesome improvement.

                I have no expertise to generalize that experience to others, but it strikes me that old people generally incur higher medical costs than younger ones. So I don’t understand why the assumption is that if Medicare is extended in a way that makes its average cost of care per insured patient decrease, because it is adding younger insureds to an older base, why that should deliver a cost increase compared to today. I have been puzzling over that, so any answers based on specific knowledge could prove helpful.

                1. “When I went off private insurance (small group plan, for a private school), and onto Medicare, my net costs went down, by a lot,…”

                  If that seems mystifying, it’s because medicare premiums cover about 15% of the cost of medicare (see Figure 7).

                  1. Absaroka, the part you quoted was offered as background. The argument I am trying to address is the one which asserts that the per-person costs experienced by people insured under Medicare would increase for them, after extending Medicare to cover healthier insureds. Because that does not seem to be the experience of less-healthy insureds (at least as in my own example), it seems paradoxical to assert that more-healthy insureds ought to do worse than the others.

                    That per person data, of course, has little to do with what the overall cost of Medicare might be to the nation. But for that, Figure 7 is far from dispositive. What would be needed instead would be comparisons of overall costs for newly-expanded Medicare, with costs for the entirety of healthcare provision (plus insurance overhead) as it is now practiced (including all insurance models, public and private), because that entirety is what expanded Medicare is proposed to replace.

                    Pretty sure you can figure that out for yourself, so what’s your point?

                    1. Addressed this in mire detail just below, but Medicare isn’t paying its full freight, so we can’t use its numbers for pmpm (per member per month, an industry standard metric) and we can’t use their overhead costs because they’re both fudging the numbers and not stamping down on fraud – which every plan calls for and never does.

                      In other words yes you’re thinking about it right, but because it’s such a distorted market we know second order effects will be large while not knowing the degree of their magnitude, and even first order effects will require drastic changes to the Medicare Charge Master (their “price list”).

                    2. Mr. Beckman covered it well: people not on Medicare subsidize Medicare not just through taxes but also by paying inflated prices.

                      I will make a suggestion: take the government’s current large single payer health provider – the VA – and make it work. Make it work so well – with excellent care, and low costs – that people who aren’t vets start to complain. You will know you are on track when non-vet cops start asking ‘hey, what about us? We take risks, too, why can’t we get in in that sweet VA care?”. Then the firemen, and teachers will want in. You’ll know you’ve won when RN’s start clamoring to get in.

                      OTOH, if you can’t make the VA work better from a quality and cost perspective than the current system, then I’m a little leery of confident predictions about how wonderful things will be if only you get to run things.

                      Note that this isn’t politically controversial at all; no one is going to object to the VA working better. It’s an easy path forward. All it requires is that single payer advocates actually be good at running a health care system.

                    3. Absaroka, conflating the VA with single payer seems pointless. You could as easily refer instead to Partners Healthcare of Boston, encompassing several of the greatest hospitals in the world. If single payer would adversely affect the medical care at Partners, it will come as surprise to medical providers and administrators there, who seem to be fine with the prospect of adopting it.

                      More generally, I suggest that trying to make out healthcare quality as an attribute of insurance provision is weak reasoning. Won’t the limiting factor for healthcare quality vary regionally—and largely without regard to payment method—based mainly on the medical resources available in different areas? Surely, no optimization of payment methods will suffice to turn existing backwater medical care into the equal of the nation’s best. Or do you suppose otherwise?

                2. This actually is my field (healthcare pricing and payments), so I can explain it, but I’ll start off by saying that it’s much more complicated than I’ll explain here, so feel free to ask for clarification – I’m intentionally simplifying some things.

                  Medicare Part A (inpatient care – hospitals) doesn’t pay the market rate, and in many cases doesn’t even pay the operating costs for their patients. Instead, Medicare is subsidized by private insurers, so even setting aside that your Medicare premiums don’t cover the cost of Medicare (and it’s taken from General revenues), Medicare doesn’t even pay for the costs of the services you receive. If we remove the private insurers then no one exists to subsidize Medicare and it will have to pay the full costs of the services it’s members get.

                  Now you’re surely asking, if Medicare doesn’t even pay for the operating costs without any profit then why do hospitals accept any Medicare patients? Setting aside the many hospitals who are mandated to (most often by state laws, but there’s lots of sources) it’s primarily because while Medicare doesn’t pay the operating costs, most of the time it does pay the marginal costs. For example, suppose you have a patient who walks into the emergency department at 6am (this is slack time – if you can schedule an ER visit, do it then) who has Medicare. Your options are (ignoring EMTALA, which mandates treatment): treat the patient and make some money (but not enough to pay the ER salaries), or don’t treat them (and make no money). Medicare almost always pays enough to cover the materials used for each incremental patient so as long as you’re not giving up another patient a hospital will always take a Medicare patient, but if Medicare were the only source in the area they’d simply close their doors because the payments aren’t enough to stay open in the first place.

                  An entirely independent part of the problem (and one that drives me nuts) is the way that Medicare’s financials are fraudulently represented – and I use the word fraud on purpose. You’ve likely heard that Medicare’s overhead is around 3%, and private insurers are around 20%. The problem with these numbers is that they don’t represent the same thing, because the government doesn’t follow generally accepted accounting principles, and Medicare specifically measures its effectiveness by how much it spends, not how much health was improved.

                  To really see a concrete example, assume that there’s only two people in the world, one on Medicare, and one on private insurance. They both go to the same doctor with back pain, and the doctor prescribes spinal fusion. The Medicare patient gets it at $50k, while the private insurer requires step therapy, with the patient ultimately having spinal decompression surgery at $8k. The success rates for both surgeries are identical, but the private insurer had to pay an analytics firm and medical researchers (that’s me!) to figure out when things like this are appropriate, and when it’s more effective to just pay for a more expensive treatment, so the $2k they paid me counts as overhead, while Medicare had none, even though they paid five times as much for identical outcomes.

                  But this gets worse. Suppose that not all services are correctly billed, so the private insurers hire cost containment firms to review their claims to catch improper billing – things like billing every patient who got an injection the full cost of a multi-use vial, or billing for undeveloped livers when newborns are merely hungry (yes, those are real examples that are rampant). When those firms catch these errors (and sometimes fraud) their fees are accounted for as overhead – but it’s overhead that directly lowered the money spent in total, money that should never have been spent. But when Medicare simply ignores that fraud they don’t have those costs (nor benefits), and so is able to report a lower administrative costs while omitting the billions of extra dollars paid that should never have been paid in the first place. Even worse, when they do ultimately report these they don’t count it as overhead because Medicare doesn’t have to follow GAAP.

                  Lots more, but that’s a good primer.

            3. Then he should say this is extraordinary. (It’s not – when I worked on the hill every minute of floor time was rehearsed. Dunno about committees but I’d wager them too) Or that performative hearings like this are generally bad practice.

              Moreover, if what he said were actually damning, then it would apply to every significant trial that is ever conducted. I assume that, like most legal academics, Prof. Blackman has never tried a case. (By that I mean actually taking a case to trial — not merely being involved in litigation.) We rehearse everything that’s possible to rehearse, and script everything that’s possible to script. Of course, much must be done on the fly because a trial is dynamic and adversaries and witnesses and judges are always unpredictable. But that doesn’t mean one doesn’t try to prepare what one can.

        2. I believe Professor Blackman did ‘say’ it = highlight the baseless and contrived nature of this impeachment process

    2. Writing a script and telling a story is not investigating or fact-finding.

      I think that’s the point of the post: this is 0% about facts and 100% theatre.

      1. Yeah that’s what the witnesses and report are for.

        1. What witnesses? No one interviewed seems to have witnessed anything.
          They do, however, have a lot of opinions about stuff they didn’t witness.

          1. Sondland did witness the President tell him explicitly that he didn’t seek a quid pro quo (and necessarily neither a bribe nor extortion, since both of those are subsets of quid pro quo), so there’s at least one fact witness.

            You may think the President was lying, but that’s at least factual testimony (that he said it), unlike most of the rest.

            1. Robert, you want another fact or two. Sondland demonstrated to witnesses that he could get Trump on the phone. And that when he did get Trump on the phone, Trump demanded to know whether Ukraine would deliver the favor. That is first-hand testimony about what Trump said, from someone who heard it. It is testimony reinforced by Sondland’s obviously informed opinion (remember, Sondland can get Trump on his cell, anytime; and there is zero reason for Sondland to be anywhere near Ukraine except to get that deal done) that all Trump cared about was the deal to announce an investigation of Biden.

              And here is one more fact. Trump has without any doubt whatever done everything in his considerable power to obstruct the investigation—taking that obstruction to a level unprecedented in the history of the nation.

              You Trump denialists are amazing. Assuming suspending aid to Ukraine for the purpose of corrupting a U.S. election is a crime, you are looking at proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But you are saying there is no proof for a charge of mere impeachment, to which a lower standard applies.

              1. I realize it’s common to conflate sub threads, but I was not remarking on the merits of the case, merely that “no one interviewed seems to have witnessed anything.”

                I don’t see how a Trump has “done everything in his considerable power to obstruct the investigation.” It’s been a while since I held a security clearance, but unless the laws have changed the President could simply declare anything on this topic classified (which would be stupid, but legal) and then remind all of the unfriendly “witnesses” that they’ll be prosecuted if they publicly comment on it. So right off the bat he hasn’t done everything he could.

                The other problem you allude to on the burden of proof is that it’s the wrong problem. I (at least) don’t think “beyond a reasonable doubt” is even the right dimension to measure on, let along the right degree. Instead the problem I see is that everything so far (that I’ve seen, and I’m not tracking this that closely) offered as proof of nefariousness is exactly the same proof that could be offered as evidence of an anti-corruption campaign. Trumps detractors need to find evidence that discriminates between those two*, not merely evidence that points to one of those two being true.

                *and foreseeing future comments, it’s not just those two, I’m over-simplifying.

            2. Since Sondland also explicitly stated there absolutely was a quid pro quo, trying to hang the defense on Trump denying that, after being informed of the whistleblower complaint, is what’s really the farce.

              1. If there was a quid pro quo, why did Ukraine get its aid without announcing the investigation?

                1. Because it only worked if it was surreptitious, so once the plot became public there was no longer any value in carrying it out.

                  It’s not like part of the allegation was that it would be publicly announced….. oh….

              2. Sondland stated that Trump told him there was no quid pro quo, and he stated that no one else told him there was any deal or requirement, either.

                Sondland also explicitly stated that it was entirely his presumption, held in direct contradiction to the directions given to him by his boss, that Trump wanted a deal.

                People like you trying to claim that Sondland’s testimony is damning of Trump is the real farce.

    3. What is the point of this post, Sarcastr0? That these hearings are a farce. That they bear no resemblance to a fair and orderly proceeding. That the whole embarrassing affair should be condemned by any objective observer as an abuse of power that has, and probably will, cause irreparable damage to this country? The funny thing is though that it is basically just another example, on steroids, of the projection and hypocrisy that are the hallmarks of the democrat party.

      1. Incorporating his other post, yes, that’s his point.

        More broadly he seems to be saying that ALL hearings are a farce, and this is no different. Disappointing if true, though in retrospect. It really surprising.

      2. As if the GOP push-back wasn’t also scripted and coordinated? No prepared remarks, who would yield to who, and for what purposes? Counsel’s questioning had been rehearsed? Oh, no, you mean he “prepared” instead of asking random questions? All litigation must be a “farce” because counsel prepare, sometimes even engaging in full mock trials. Do you think that a “fair and orderly proceeding” is best provided by a lack of preparation? Preparing to handle spurious objections intentionally designed to disrupt and distract from the proceedings doesn’t makes for “orderly proceedings”? Objective observer? I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.

        1. Interesting. So, having a scripted, predetermined outcome is just good preparation? The USSR was similarly very well prepared in a lot of its proceedings. What would satisfy due process in this context? I guess reasonable minds might differ but whatever it is I suggest that secret hearings, the lack of an ability to call or question witness, and the abandonment of precedent governing the conduct of such proceedings (not to mention the inability to articulate a valid, justifiable constitutional standard for the basis of the alleged wrong) would not qualify as all the process that’s due.

          1. No. Having scripted questions is very often an excellent idea. Witnesses will give whatever answers they give to your questions, and this is a variable. (Friendly witnesses give harmful testimony all the time. Unfriendly witnesses give helpful testimony all the time.)

            I don’t mind if non-lawyer posters here express genuine shock that questioners prepare (at least, the good ones do). Before law school, I had no idea what actual trial and courtroom work looked like. The fact that the LAW PROFESSOR OP did not seem to understand this is beyond weird. I would have thought that he would have been shocked and surprised at the incoherent screaming that some Republicans (cough Jim Jordan cough) did over and over.
            And a law professor finds it noteworthy that Democratic politicians carefully used vocabulary to convey their message . . . but not that Republicans did the exact same thing. (How many R’s referred to the deposition room as “the Basement”? . . . I guess that “Dungeon” or “abattoir” did not test as well with the R’s own focus groups.) [I know *for sure* that Republican pollster Frank Luntz has been running focus groups on exactly these “How best to message?” issues.]

            Blackman strikes me as a partisan hack. I wonder if he knows he’s carrying water for the president? Or has he managed to convince himself that he’s actually an objective observer?

            1. That’s cute santamonica811, and I don’t mind nonlawyers who fail to grasp the issue at hand. The question isn’t 2 opposing parties preparing to present a case to a neutral, independent arbiter. The problem is that the so-called neutral arbiter itself is writing the script and has predetermined the outcome. And I note again some additional problems with this democrat orchestrated farce: secret hearings, the lack of an ability to call or question witness, and the abandonment of precedent governing the conduct of such proceedings (not to mention the inability to articulate a valid, justifiable constitutional standard for the basis of the alleged wrong).

            2. The fact that the LAW PROFESSOR OP did not seem to understand this is beyond weird.

              Not that weird; as I mentioned the other day in this thread, law professors typically have as much trial experience as your average CPA. They can churn out law review articles on “The Influence of Immanuel Kant on Evidentiary Approaches in Eighteenth Century Bulgaria” with the best (worst?) of them, but if they’ve got any experience at all with litigation, it’s writing an amicus brief or at best a motion to dismiss. Not prepping witnesses or preparing a cross-examination.

  4. I do not know what the history books will say about this impeachment process. No one does. Nor do we know who will write those books. It might not matter ultimately, since we have digital records of everything that has happened. It is a fact that Team D stated from literally November 2016 their aim was to impeach POTUS Trump. Hell, Team D tried to subvert the Electoral College, post-election.

    What I do know is this impeachment will have profound effects on our Republic, and not positive ones. In the aftermath of the Johnson and Clinton impeachments, can you say our Republic improved as a result? The jury is back on this question: No, impeachment did not improve our Republic.

    At a time where we truly need adults in the House, we have toddlers.

    1. You tellingly skipped Nixon.

      1. I’ll answer that.

        No, our country didn’t improve after impeaching Nixon, beyond its general inexorable improvement over the decades.

        But Nixon was signally different – he committed a salacious act for his sole political benefit.

        Clinton also benefitted from lying in court to avoid judgement, but most men (at least) could easily see themselves lying about an affair too, and that it was a political benefit was purely happenstance – we’d expect him to lie there anyway. Johnson was more similar to Trump – an outsider who was always targeted by the established political class.

        1. Beckman….Completely agree with you regarding Nixon (it definitely was signally different), and your point about Clinton (yeah, he perjured himself, but FFS what would 99% of men do?!).

          Not so sure about Johnson and Trump similarities in my reading of the historical record, and I definitely would not call Andrew Johnson an outsider.

          1. I’m willing to cede in Johnson, my knowledge there is too limited to have a strongly held opinion on the matter.

            And that’s even more true when I realized (just now) that I was conflating Andrew Johnson with Andrew Jackson….. 🙂

            Johnson was assuredly a political insider, that was entirely the point of picking him as VP. Jackson might as well be the source of the term “Jack-ass,” though he too is blamed for things that weren’t his.

        2. “But Nixon was signally different – he committed a salacious act for his sole political benefit. ”

          This would be funny if it wasn’t serious. “Corruption” yeah right.

          1. You think Nixon ordered his opponents office broken in to, then covered it up, because he was worried They were breaking the law?

      2. Nixon wasn’t impeached.

        1. 12-inch….Thank you. Wasn’t sure if that fact escaped attention or not.

        2. No but the procedures involved in nearly doing so sure did end up with some reforms. Reforms that the GOP has been dismantling over the past few years.

          1. What reforms has the GOP been solitarily responsible for dismantling?

            Throwing aside oversight norms and regulations seems like a pretty bipartisan effort, at least when your guy is in office and you can benefit from it.

            1. Campaign finance reforms and the Church Committee spring to mind.

      3. Sarcastr0….There is a world of difference between what we have now, and what we had in 1974. I was around for Nixon, and I recall the country being almost transfixed by it all. There was a national consensus: What POTUS Nixon did was wrong, he broke the law, and he needed to go.

        The American people were ready to overturn the results of an election where Nixon totally crushed his opponent just two years earlier. That is a case where impeachment had broad public support, and rightly so. Even now, 45 years later, that consensus remains: POTUS Nixon broke the law, and he had to go.

        We have nothing of that kind of consensus here. Not even close.

        1. Of course we don’t now have anything close to the consensus we had against Nixon in 1974. Given the evidence, I’m baffled as to why we don’t now.

          1. Josh, put simply: The case has not been built.

            Meaning, nothing to date has galvanized the electorate into a solid consensus. Could that happen? Sure it can! The Nixon non-impeachment makes this point clear. Think of it. In less than 18 months from a blowout electoral victory over McGovern, with the country solidly behind him,…the country was ready to throw Nixon out. That is pretty damned quick. Why? The case was built, and it was undeniable.

            1. I think the case against Trump has been built and is undeniable. I’m not following why Trump supporters don’t think so while Nixon supporters did. Perhaps Trump supporters in this forum can explain what the difference in the two cases are and thus what would be needed to change their minds?

              1. Nixon supporters didn’t until the GOP Congress got over their partisanship and went to Nixon to tell him it was over.

                1. Nixon’s approval rating was in the toilet at least a year before his resignation.

              2. Josh….I hear you when you say, I think the case against Trump has been built and is undeniable. but the country does not share your outlook. There is no overwhelming national consensus yet, not like there was in 1974. That is where things are, presently. The case has not been built sufficiently by Team D to galvanize the electorate into demanding the removal of POTUS Trump.

                Might that change? Perhaps. I tend to doubt it, though. Why do I say that? We have now had 3+ years of investigations: an independent counsel, the FBI, the DOJ and Congress. We don’t exactly have a lack of investigating here. To date, it is just a horrific mess.

                What would it take to change the national consensus to remove POTUS Trump from office? That is actually a much easier question to answer, oddly enough. There has to be an obvious crime, with the electorate perceiving clear, undeniable and unequivocal evidence of wrongdoing. All of those things were present in 1974. They are not present now. That is the biggest difference, practically speaking, between the two. And that is what it will take to change minds.

                1. What would constitute clear, undeniable and unequivocal evidence – which was present in Nixon’s case – that is not present in Trump’s case?

                  1. Not being a Trump (nor 2016 a Trump voter) I think I can still explain (and well ignore the cultists, they do whatever their cult tells them to do, regardless of party).

                    First, that the Democratic Party has sought impeachment from before even the electoral college had their chance to vote, and that this continued throughout the early presidency, is direct evidence of bad intentions. Does that mean that they can’t find an actual impeachable actions? No, but it does mean that the mere fact that they’re the one saying it means you should distrust it.

                    To use a scientific example – I can’t be an expert in every field, so I have to rely on experts in areas I can’t readily assess. When I choose which expert to believe what I’m really doing isn’t trusting them, I’m trusting that their devotion to the scientific method is sufficient to overcome their personal biases. In other words, I’m trusting that they won’t simply find something interesting through P-hacking and proclaim it the truth. So when someone I have trusted in the past does that I have to re-evaluate all of their claims to determine if I was really told the truth then – just because they’re a liar (or zealot!) on one thing doesn’t mean they were on everything, but it does mean I can no longer trust their ability to overcome their biases. It’s the same reason you would probably trust David Duke to tell you the weather (you don’t think he has a bias there), but you would assuredly distrust him if he said that in a police encounter you’re more likely to be shot if you’re a white man than if you’re a black man, because that’s exactly the sort of thing you’d expect him to be biased about (for fun, that’s a true fact, but it hides the police encounter rate so as to be misleading).

                    The same with a Democrat’s who’s already declared that they wanted to impeach Trump before he took office – you should distrust anything they say on the topic because that’s exactly the place where they won’t overcome their bias.

                    Independently, we saw similar actions to what Trump has clearly done during the Obama years, and not a single one of the current Democrats called for even a castigation, let alone an impeachment. I am, of course, talking about the President asking the Russian President to stand down on any actions during the 2012 election to ensure he would win, in return for “flexibility” on Russia’s requests after the election. So there seems to be an unethical but consistent rule – it’s ok for a Democrat to do it, but not for a Republican.

                    But, I hear you say, Trump was only seeking election help, not in the US interest. That’s just begging the question. Assume (and this may be hard, but it’s my hypothetical) that Trump was actually concerned about billions of dollars of money being funneled into Ukraine via a bank owned by the same guy who paid off the Bidens and which went missing (I believe it’s around $15B known to have vanished), and who also benefitted from the US State Department explicitly threatening billions more in aid if a corruption investigation into him wasn’t stopped. Under that scenario, given what we know about how Trump works (I.e. he just opens his mouth and a stream of consciousness falls out), would he have acted any differently if his intent was to quash fraud? Not would an effective executive have acted differently, but would Trump have acted differently?

                    That’s the point you have to overcome – Trump is acting in his way of being consistent with anti-corruption, and the Democrats have been screaming the sky is falling for years now, so more claims that the sky is falling aren’t convincing.

                    That’s even setting aside the investigation methods – if truth were the actual goal then an investigation of the Bidens would be necessary. After all, how Trump acted is much more reasonable if there really was corruption there, and by explicitly ruling it out Schiff tipped his hand that this wasn’t about improper acts, but about doing what he’s been doing for years – make stuff up about Trump and hope to get away with it.

                    1. TL, DR – everything that’s been presented thus far is just as consistent with an anti-corruption intent as a corrupt one.

                      Finding more evidence that either the sky is falling or it’s not falling won’t convince anyone when the source has been screaming for years that the sky is falling. You need to find evidence that’s exclusive to a falling sky theory, not merely evidence that doesn’t dispute it. And the more shenanigans that happen, even if common shenanigans in DC, the stronger that evidence will have to be to overcome the evidence that those claiming the sky is falling are engaging in bad faith.

                    2. First, that the Democratic Party has sought impeachment from before even the electoral college had their chance to vote, and that this continued throughout the early presidency, is direct evidence of bad intentions.

                      Neither the factual predicate nor the conclusion is correct. It would not be evidence of bad intentions if true, but it’s not true. The Democratic Party did no such thing. (Indeed, the exact opposite is the case. Democrats have not done anything towards impeachment until now, despite all of Trump’s malfeasance to date; that ought, if anything, to prove their good intentions.)

                      I am, of course, talking about the President asking the Russian President to stand down on any actions during the 2012 election to ensure he would win, in return for “flexibility” on Russia’s requests after the election.

                      Complete fabrication. Obama did say that he would have more flexibility if he was reelected; he did not ask for anything in exchange for anything.

                      That’s the point you have to overcome – Trump is acting in his way of being consistent with anti-corruption,

                      Trump doesn’t care about corruption, so it’s impossible for him to be consistent about it.

                    3. @DN
                      While there was no “impeachment vote” by the Democrats before Trump took office, Democrats was caught on the day after the election discussing plans find a way to impeach Trump.
                      They even tried for it – as an example, Elizabeth Warren proposed a bill in December 2016, before Trump took office, that would have redefined the Emoluments clause to required the impeachment of Trump for having business interests.
                      Beyond that, some Democrats did propose an impeachment of Trump in February 2017, after Trump took office, but it never went anywhere.

                    4. TL, DR – everything that’s been presented thus far is just as consistent with an anti-corruption intent as a corrupt one.

                      False.

                      1) There is no investigation into Biden because there’s no legitimacy to the charges. Now, I know Trumpkins get around that by arguing that Trump is delusional, and therefore not acting in bad faith. But:

                      2) If Trump were seriously concerned about corruption in the Ukraine, then why did he never ask for any investigation of any corruption other than the Bidens? (Indeed, recall that in the first call with Zelensky (that was recently released) the official readout had falsely said that they discussed corruption, but the quasi-transcript didn’t mention it at all.)

                      3) And why did he care more about an announcement of an investigation than an actual investigation?

                      4) If Trump were seriously concerned about corruption, then why was the request secret? Why not tell them openly, “You can’t have aid unless you investigate Biden?”

                      5) And why did he lie about it? Why deny there was a quid pro quo? Why not say, “Yes, there was one, but it was legitimate and in the national interest?”

                      6) And if Trump were seriously concerned about investigating corruption, then why did he drop the request as soon as he was exposed?

                    5. @DM

                      1) There is no investigation into Biden because there’s no legitimacy to the charges.

                      You really don’t think that Burisma is corrupt?

                      2) …then why did he never ask for any investigation of any corruption other than the Bidens?

                      If you accept the “transcript,” Trump didn’t ask for an investigation of the Bidens- he asked for an investigation into 2016 election interference. If you think, as I do, that he also sought an investigation into Burisma, the Biden-associated company, well, he says why he’d be concerned about that – the prior administration had caused an investigation into a Biden-associated company whose oligarch also received and lost billions of US aid. If I were Trump (which means I have to think like him, and “know” that the deep state is out to get me) I’d be concerned about the prior admin laundering money through Ukraine to screw me.

                      Of course that sounds a bit crazy, but the very investigations that would disprove that theory were themselves quashed by the prior admin, so they’re hard to rule out.

                      3) And why did he care more about an announcement of an investigation than an actual investigation?

                      An announcement publicly commits someone to a course of action. He wasn’t concerned about the announcement qua announcement, but merely as the first step in a good-faith investigation. I understand that many know Trump only operates in bad faith, but for those who don’t think that any line of argument with that as a predicate will necessarily fail.

                      4) If Trump were seriously concerned about corruption, then why was the request secret? Why not tell them openly, “You can’t have aid unless you investigate Biden?”

                      Because it was a test. If the new Ukrainian President wasn’t corrupt he’d do it because corruption is bad. Not doing it means you’re in favor of corruption. A public demand won’t measure a persons true position as they may act based on the appearances of something rather than the merits.

                      5) And why did he lie about it? Why deny there was a quid pro quo? Why not say, “Yes, there was one, but it was legitimate and in the national interest?”

                      Remember, it was a “perfect call.” Trumpishness.

                      6) And if Trump were seriously concerned about investigating corruption, then why did he drop the request as soon as he was exposed?

                      See #4, Trump is probably certain that Obama and Biden are corrupt, but this was a test of Ukraine (which they largely failed), not so much a test of the Bidens.

                      “Complete fabrication. Obama did say that he would have more flexibility if he was reelected; he did not ask for anything in exchange for anything.”

                      Assumes facts not in evidence. We don’t know what Obama asked for, I’m part because it wasn’t investigated. Do you think we should investigate that now?

                      “Trump doesn’t care about corruption, so it’s impossible for him to be consistent about it.”

                      Begging the question again. “We know Trump wasn’t concerned about corruption because he doesn’t care about corruption” will only convince people who already agree with it.

                      So when someone asks “What would constitute clear, undeniable and unequivocal evidence – which was present in Nixon’s case – that is not present in Trump’s case?” Your responses are a perfect example – you’re assuming the conclusions rather than presenting a method of determining intent.

                    6. You really don’t think that Burisma is corrupt?

                      I have no idea whether it is corrupt; there are certainly indications that it was corrupt, years ago. But we’re not talking about Burisma; we’re talking about Biden.

                      And, no, no evidence of that. Which is why the DOJ isn’t investigating him. Which is why Congress did not investigate him for the two years that the GOP led both houses. The rest of your fan fiction about Trump personally running an elaborate sting operation on the Ukrainian government is not worth dignifying with a response. But a couple of quick points:

                      If you accept the “transcript,” Trump didn’t ask for an investigation of the Bidens- he asked for an investigation into 2016 election interference.

                      If you stopped reading the “transcript” part way through (and didn’t know that Crowdstrike was literally tinfoil hat gibberish) you could think that. But he expressly mentioned an investigation of Biden.

                      Biden-associated company whose oligarch also received and lost billions of US aid

                      I don’t know where you keep getting this bizarre argument from, but you seem to have mashed together random words into something that nobody including Trump and Giuliani are talking about. Zlochevsky didn’t get or lose billions in U.S. aid.

                      Assumes facts not in evidence. We don’t know what Obama asked for, I’m part because it wasn’t investigated. Do you think we should investigate that now?

                      Obama didn’t ask for anything. You’re referring to something public.

                      Begging the question again. “We know Trump wasn’t concerned about corruption because he doesn’t care about corruption” will only convince people who already agree with it.

                      This might be the case if we were talking about someone who had just arrived from the planet Saturn. But we’re talking about someone with a long public track record. We know Trump doesn’t care about corruption because he personally engages in it, because members of his administration personally engage in it, and because Trump has never said one word about it in any context other than investigating Joe Biden.

                    7. @DM

                      Looks like I was conflating a few of the Ukrainian oligarchs. It was Kolomoisky who got the billions (rather than Zlochevsky) and who backed the current president.

                      https://harpers.org/blog/2015/08/undelivered-goods/

                      Whether Trump of Giuliani are talking about something is immaterial to it being an important issue in the US-Ukraine relationship, but it’s telling that on a sub thread about what it would take to convince those not already convinced you interject with that as something you imply is determinative.

                      Regarding what Obama traded to Russia – that’s the point, we don’t know what, if anything, was given by his flexibility in return for Russia laying low during the 2012 election. I don’t think that’s a particularly problematic action though, as that’s the way the world actually works, regardless of our distaste for it. That’s also exactly why US law on foreign bribery is such a problem – in many areas (India is where I have the most experience, followed by South Africa) you have to pay a bribe to get things done. Even as mundane an action as connecting to the electrical grid requires a bribe – if you don’t pay it you will literally never be connected, regardless of the law. That’s just the reality in those places, and we should act on reality, not what we might wish reality to be.

                  2. It more the nature of the offenses rather than the evidence at hand. Nixon’s actions were seen as actually criminal by a good percantage of John Q. Public. Trump’s actions are seen as impeachable by his critics but not his supporters, who view them as perhaps technical issues not serious enough to warrant removal. More importantly IMHO, the charges against Trump are seen as political in nature – due to the too-early mention of impeachment in some Democratic circles. The phone call is seen as a convenient excuse.

                    1. It would appear that to Robert Beckman and Jmaie, there is no evidence that could make the Trump case like the Nixon case because in part the Democrats have been crying wolf. Although I agree with the claim that many Democrats have been crying wolf, that argument is not a sound basis for rejecting evidence.

                      Beckman adds that the evidence can support the claim that Trump acted of a genuine concern for corruption. Is there any yet-to-be-revealed evidence that could change your mind?

                      Jmaie appears to add that if Trump is guilty as charged, it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment. So I suppose no additional evidence will change your mind either.

                    2. Not sure why I don’t have the option to reply directly to Josh R’s response to my earlier comment, the button is missing. Anyways…

                      Josh – you mistake observation for advocacy, nowhere I did I say I thought his misdeeds didn’t warrant impeachment or that the aforementioned wolf-crying somehow invalidates the process. But enough of his supporters *do* think so, enough that the Senate will not vote to convict. Unlike in Nixon’s case.

                      Cheers.

                    3. @Josh R

                      Yes, I can think of several that would change my mind, and a set of counter-factuals that would have changed my mind.

                      If it is shown that Ukraine conducted a complete investigation of Burisma, and that Biden was wrong in claiming responsibility for firing the prosecutor investigating the company paying his son millions a year, and that Trump knew this (and believed it) at the time then I would conclude that his actions are no longer congruent with an anti-corruption intent, but instead done exclusively for personal gain.

                      If it’s shown that Trump was offered an investigative path that was private and actively declined it – such as an offer by Ukraine to have the US send our prosecutors to Ukraine to lead a joint investigation. That wouldn’t make me conclude he was acting in good faith, but since we know Trump can find at least one US Attorney he thinks isn’t out to get him then declining such an offer would shift the balance of probabilities away from any good faith action into one strongly biased to bad faith – in other words, if he declined a good offer to get what he wants (assuming good faith) then his action refutes any good faith presumption.

                      If there’s a recording (a la Nixon) where Trump says explicitly that he wants dirt, not truth, that would be enough by itself.

                      And counter factuals.

                      If the Democratic Party leaders had shown that they act in good faith when their people act badly, such as by prosecuting an Attorney General held in contempt of court, impeaching a President who assassinated a US citizen overseas with neither warrant nor indictment, impeaching (or prosecuting) an Executive branch official who was credibly accused of using the IRS to investigate her political opponents and then claimed that her hard drive failed, and her minions hard drive failed too, and their minions hard drive failed, and their minions hard drive failed, and I’m getting tired of repeating this but there were 8 hard drives that all failed as soon as the contents were requested. Any of these would show that they’re willing to enforce the law even when it hurts themselves.

                      Alternatively if major actors in the Democratic Party hadn’t explicitly sought to impeach (Al Green) or obstruct (Elizabeth Warren) Trump even before he was inaugurated then I’d be more likely to accept their conclusions – they are, after all, closer to the facts and are paying more attention than I am. But when I know they’ll do that for spurious reasons I’m not inclined to believe their inferences – since I know they’ll infer impeachable acts regardless of the facts.

                      That’s actually why I think Obama wasn’t impeached – there were too many Republicans who’d poisoned the well by adopting Clinton’s Birtherism, and there were enough level heads to realize that was a losing proposition when people like me wouldn’t follow their inferences precisely because we knew their priors.

                  3. Robert, You came into this blog saying you were going to vote for Trump over any of the Dem potential nominees so don’t try and play the honest broker card.

        2. Sarcastr0….There is a world of difference between what we have now, and what we had in 1974. I was around for Nixon, and I recall the country being almost transfixed by it all. There was a national consensus: What POTUS Nixon did was wrong, he broke the law, and he needed to go.

          No, there was no such consensus. In fact, the same frivolous arguments were employed by Republicans then that are being employed by Republicans now. Support for impeaching Trump is higher than it ever was for impeaching Nixon until just before Nixon quit.

          The American people were ready to overturn the results of an election

          No. Impeachment does not overturn the results of an election.

          1. David, you are simply mistaken = No, there was no such consensus. [meaning, to impeach Nixon and remove him from office in 1974]

            1. I repeat, with emphasis: support for impeaching Trump is higher than it ever was for impeaching Nixon until just before Nixon quit. Support did not reach even a bare majority until mid-July 1974.

    2. Commenter_XY, I think I know one thing the history books will say about this impeachment process. I think they will say that there was evidence everywhere that Trump was stark mad (a great deal of that evidence will come out down the road, from memoirs by Trump’s close associates and aides, and thus become available to historians). And given that, historians will wonder what it was that kept that information out of the political process, leaving it to founder as it tried to cope with reasonable questions to which all answers were continuously sabotaged by the inability of reason to come to terms with madness.

      1. That’s certainly a new step. No longer are people who disagree with me evil, now they’re also stark mad.

        Is that why totalitarians are now pushing red flag laws, because they think people who prefer to be responsible for themselves are actually just mad?

  5. “how to swiftly dispatch with parliamentary disruptions from Republicans”

    That’s not terribly grammatical. What’s the “with” doing in there? It only makes sense if the word was “deal”, not “dispatch”.

    1. Did you understand what he meant? Was there any ambiguity? Doesn’t that make it grammatical?

      Interesting aside, I see your point and agree with you, but I honestly had to reread it several times before I noticed – my written-word parser just skipped over it as an alternate meaning in the context: (dispatch) = (deal with) = (dispatch with) along with many others.

      Did your written word parser stumble on this one, causing you to reread it? If so, I’m curious on the pattern as you and I have similar view while you’re 25 years my senior – is it just that? Is it that more of my life has been filled with the internet age where poor grammar is the norm? This pattern appears to hold as kids these days (said firmly tongue in cheek) have dropped grammar altogether and switched to ideograms, which are often frankly incomprehensible to me.

      1. Did I understand what he meant? No, not really. I still don’t know what was meant.

        I mean yes, in a very vague sense I understand that it was intended to say that something or other would be done in response to Republican parliamentary actions that were viewed as disruptive. But “deal with” and “dispatch” don’t mean precisely the same thing, so you might say my understanding is irritatingly out of focus.

        It’s like, both a cat and a dog are mammals, but if someone superimposed the words “cat” and “dog” over each other in a sentence, instead of writing “mammal” you’d know a mammal was intended, but still find it grating.

  6. Being well prepared is a virtue except when done by Democrats. Being uninformed and unprepared is a defect unless it’s Republicans.

    1. Yes.

      How dare the villainous Democrats actually prepare for the hearings and plan for various contingencies?

      This post is ridiculous even by Blackman’s standards.

  7. This is all just political theater, and has been for quite a while.

    The Democrats have been looking for any excuse, no matter how weak, to impeach Trump for years. They were going impeach him on something, the base has been demanding it.

    Whether it be fake transcripts read into the congressional record, deciding charges by focus group for what polls best, or theatrically timing the “objection!” bit, and planning it in advance….it’s a mockery of the legislative process for kabuki. If the purpose is to convince anyone, it has the opposite effect.

    It would be nice if the Democrats would, oh, get back to passing the critical funding bills for the government, which need to be done by December 20th (IE, their JOB), rather than this pointless political theater planning.

  8. One of the biggest challenges for journalists who deal with off-the-record interviews is how to separate from the truth from puffery.

    It’s not a challenge at all. They deal with it the same way they deal with un-named sources and the question of “why is this person telling me this?” If it fits the narrative there’s no need to look into the issue of ulterior motives, if it doesn’t fit the narrative it’s obviously nothing but ulterior motives.

    Mark Felt and Deep Throat. Woodward and Bernstein knew.

    1. “Woodward and Bernstein knew.”

      Of course. But they also know that a disgruntled senior security official attempting a coup would not look good so they hid him.

  9. So much effort, so little impact.

    The only thing that came out of the professor hearing was Krazy Karlan’s well rehearsed Baron line. How did that work out?

    1. Your bitter muttering — about how ‘they got Nixon in a coup,’ and about ‘them kids protesting Vietnam deserved to get shot,’ and why ‘it’s unbelievable that gays and blacks are treated like kings while white Christians and other regular Americans get the shaft,’ and about ‘all of this damned progress, and science, and education, and reason’ — constitutes a fitting end to a failed life of political observation and commentary in the service of right-wing backwardness and bigotry, Bob.

      I hope it eases your pain. Mostly because it’s inconsequential otherwise.

  10. If impeachment gets the votes, then Senate Republicans should try to make sure Sanders and Warren and Booker are stuck in Washington a good long time.

    Maybe they can hold the verdict vote in the evening on the Monday before Super Tuesday.

    1. Ben…I would just want it over with. That is what I would tell Senator McConnell. Honestly, just call 1-2 witnesses, scrupulously follow the rules, hold the vote, and move on. There is no way the Senate removes POTUS Trump, based on what we have seen thusfar. Of course going forward, nothing will ever be the same again.

      Our elected leaders cannot work it out amongst themselves. Therefore, We The People will settle it at the ballot box. I think this is how the Founders would have wanted it.

      1. “Therefore, We The People will settle it at the ballot box.”

        In an America whose electorate is becoming less white, less religious, less bigoted, less rural, and less backward, Commenter_XY, do you predict continued success for the liberal-libertarian mainstream or, instead, a reversal of the culture war tide by conservatives?

        1. No Reverend….I predict our elected leadership will not work out their issues, and We The People will decide the question for them in November 2020.

          1. My point is that the American people are changing — improving, mostly — in ways that appear to diminish severely prospects for a national electoral coalition for conservatism. “We the People” increasingly includes fewer vestigial bigots and superstitious yahoos than would be needed to keep the Republican Party afloat.

            1. Reverend….I am concerned about our Republic. Very much so. I could care less about Team D or Team R. I don’t know what the future holds any more than you do.

            2. “vestigial bigot”? You say a lot of things that make no sense but this might be your crowning moment. But really, Republicans are the racist party? What is the common denominator for slavery, the klan, and Jim Crow. Hint: the Democrat party.

              1. If you do not at least attempt to keep your gloves up, MKE, this isn’t going to be very sporting.

                1. Could you tell me what exactly that means in non-crazy language?

                  1. ‘Democrats are the real racists’ is the argument of a figurative toddler . . . a figurative toddler trying to mask the Republican Party’s current, diffuse, and ugly intolerance.

                    1. So, Democrats did not champion Jim Crow? Democrat senators did not filibuster the Civil Rights act? How many Republicans were prominent Klansman in the old South? And last but not least, the new generation of Democrats who believe that it’s all about the Benjamins. Yeah, no racists there.

      2. What if there are demands by the Dems to call “witnesses” (who never spoke to Trump and are only witness to rumors and their own internal suppositions)?

        1. Some would argue (not me) that those demands should be treated the same way as the Republican “demands” were in the House investigation. By denying them.

          I, on the other hand, look forward to an investigation into what corruption Trump was considering in his comments, and tracking down why the Obama administration kept transferring billions through banks that had already lost track of billions, and which just so happened to be owned by a guy paying the VPs son. And tracking down whether it really was the prior presidents policy that Joe Biden enacted in seeking the termination of a prosecutor who had conducted raids on that same oligarchs home and company just the month before, or if Biden Sr was doing that on his own.

          I think this’ll all be hilarious, regardless of the specific outcome (caveat: so long as this isn’t the prologue to Tom Kratman’s State of Disobedience, which you can get for free from the Baen Free Library).

          1. Impeachment= indictment ie. the prosecution advances it best case. If that case is insufficient either the District Attorney or the Grand Jury will refuse to take it to court, ie no trial. If either of those two entities decide that there are sufficient grounds to believe the case might be proved it goes to trial–in this case to the Senate. At trial both sides get to present the evidence supporting their side, again both sides get to call witnesses. In this case the prosecution–the House trial manager will call witnesses and the Judge-Chief Justice Roberts will determine whether they are appropriate. He will make those decisions. I guess you could hope that he will act in a partisan manner, but I wouldn’t count on it. There will be a trial, overseen by the Chief Justice with the Senators a jurors.

            1. You meant to write, “… in this case the prosecution, whoever the Senate Majority chooses to sit in that role….” right?

              If the Republicans think this is being done in bad faith, and I think many think that, why would we expect them to treat this as if it were brought in good faith?

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