Impeachment day is here for the House of Representatives, with the full House scheduled to vote today on whether President Donald Trump abused his power and obstructed justice. Then we get to do all this again in the Senate in the new year. Happy holidays?
WASHINGTON (AP) -- AP count: House has the votes to impeach President Donald Trump, with majority now in favor; vote expected Wednesday
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) December 17, 2019
Trump has been bringing some A-game crazy in anticipation of today's vote, tweeting this morning:
Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing. Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again. Say a PRAYER!
This was followed up by him tweeting an extended flattering quote from Fox News.
On Tuesday, Trump sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) a six-page letter accusing her and Democrats of destroying democracy itself.
The letter's "most notable quality is its lack of any coherent structure. It does not build an argument, or even group like points together," writes Jonathan Chait, who thinks the letter supports the case for impeaching Trump:
First, he portrays impeachment as constitutionally illegitimate. By this, Trump doesn't mean simply that his actions do not rise to an impeachable offense, or even that the accusations are completely meritless. He repeatedly denies that the House has any constitutional right to undertake impeachment at all. …
Of course the Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to determine what presidential acts constitute impeachable offenses. Trump seems to believe that he as president has the power to determine whether a president's actions are impeachable. Trump argues that if Congress can impeach him, which is a clearly delineated power, then he can prosecute Congress for crimes of Trump's choosing, a power that exists nowhere in the Constitution.
Chait concludes that the letter "makes plain his mental unfitness for the job." Jonah Goldberg of The Dispatch offered a similar assessment, tweeting that the letter was "a pristine example of how Trump himself is patient zero of Trump Derangement Syndrome."
But no matter what Trump is doing or saying now, Congress still failed to make a sufficient case for his impeachment, suggest some.
"One can oppose President Trump's policies or actions but still conclude that the current legal case for impeachment is not just woefully inadequate, but in some respects, dangerous, as the basis for the impeachment of an American president," Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, told Reason's Jacob Sullum. "This is an exceptionally narrow impeachment resting on the thinnest possible evidentiary record."
Sullum writes that while "there is compelling evidence that [Trump] did both" things he's accused of in the articles of impeachment, congressional investigators failed to do enough to dispel Trump's defenses. Which leaves us in a bad place:
As the record stands, it is not likely to persuade anyone who was otherwise inclined to support Trump, meaning we will get a party-line impeachment in the House, followed by a party-line acquittal in the Senate. What should have been a debate about the limits of tolerable presidential behavior has instead become another bitter partisan squabble signifying nothing but reflexive allegiance to arbitrarily defined tribes. While impeachment is inherently a political process, it cannot properly function as a check on presidential power when the public believes it is driven by nothing but politics.
In any event, the House opened debate about impeachment at 9 a.m. today.
"After an hour of debate on the 'rule' governing the proceedings, six hours of debate on the articles will be divided equally between Democrats and Republicans, who could introduce procedural obstacles that would stretch the proceedings into the evening," notes CBS News.
After debate, each article of impeachment will be voted on.
"Both parties will pass this swamp legislation."
Pres. Trump said he'd never again sign a rushed omnibus, so Democrats teamed with Trump and Republicans to split the bill into two bills so the president could claim he kept his promise. Now, both parties will pass this swamp legislation, and the president will sign it into law. https://t.co/9pYksryuHR
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) December 17, 2019
"On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 represents more freedom, the average human freedom rating for 162 countries in 2017 was 6.89," write Ian Vásquez and Tanja Porcnik in the latest Human Freedom Index from the Cato Institute. The most free countries, according to the index:
1) New Zealand
3) Hong Kong
6) Denmark and Luxembourg (a tie)
8) Finland and Germany (a tie)
11) Sweden and the Netherlands
14) United Kingdom
15) United States and Estonia
At the bottom of the index were Burundi (145), Mauritania, Chad, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, the Central African Republic, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iran, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Venezuela, and Syria (162).
The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) is suing over AB5, the California law that is killing freelancer jobs (see yesterday's Roundup), on behalf of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association. "For journalists stuck in the 35-submission trap, the law's selective carveouts violate their rights to earn an honest living free from irrational government interference and regulation based solely on the content of their speech," PLF says.
- The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court slammed the FBI's handling of applications for surveillance warrants for Carter Page.
- Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.) has officially introduced legislation to study the effect of FOSTA. (I interviewed Khanna about the legislation earlier this month.)
- The Trump administration "is arguably responsible for fewer human tragedies so far than more high-minded, less personally degraded presidencies," writes Ross Douthat.
- "Congressional Democrats are set to vote this week to restore a huge tax break that primarily benefits wealthy Americans—one that effectively shifts the federal tax burden onto middle- and lower-income earners," reports Eric Boehm.
- A lot of journalists lost their jobs in 2019.
- A 16-year-old girl allegedly kidnapped from the Bronx now says it was a hoax.
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is proposing changes to the state's rape laws.
- Protecting and serving:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 17, 2019