Impeachment

Good and Bad Reasons for Acquitting Trump

Republicans should think twice before endorsing the dangerous myth that impeachment requires a criminal violation.

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Marco Rubio's widely mocked justification for acquitting Donald Trump, which conspicuously avoided condemning or approving the president's conduct, was not exactly a profile in courage. The Florida Republican nevertheless laid out a defensible position that rejected a dangerously broad claim by Trump's lawyers, and in that respect he set an example his fellow senators should follow if they want to preserve impeachment as a remedy for grave abuses of presidential power.

"Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office," Rubio said. While many of Trump's critics portrayed that line as self-evidently absurd, there is a valid distinction between impeachment and removal, and between the constitutionality and the wisdom of using those powers.

For months, Trump's defenders have been warning us that the promiscuous use of impeachment is a lethal threat to democracy and our constitutional order. Since no Congress has actually removed a president in the 231 years since George Washington started his first term (although Richard Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment), those concerns seem misplaced as a general matter.

If anything, as the Cato Institute's Gene Healy has argued, the impeachment power has been sorely neglected in the face of many abuses that would have justified its use. Still, it is reasonable to wonder whether a hasty, party-line impeachment, followed by a hasty, party-line acquittal, is the best way to invigorate this check on presidential power.

Impeachment has always been and will always be a largely partisan process. But an impeachment cannot be credible if the public believes it is driven solely by political or personal animus.

As someone who does not feel at home in either of the two major parties, I was persuaded that Trump committed a serious abuse of power by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate a political rival, partly by withholding congressionally approved military aid. But the House's case, which suffered from an arbitrary, self-imposed deadline, was not strong enough to convince a single Republican that impeachment was warranted.

Since Rubio voted with almost all of his fellow Republicans against hearing witnesses or seeking relevant documents, he could not credibly complain that the evidence was inadequate to prove the allegations against the president. Instead he argued that even if all of the charges were true, they would not justify Trump's removal nine months before he faces re-election, taking into account both "the severity of the wrongdoing alleged" and "the impact removal would have on the nation" given "the bitter divisions and deep polarization our country currently faces."

Notably, Rubio did not agree that Trump's actions vis-à-vis Ukraine were "perfectly appropriate," as the president's lawyers insisted. And he explicitly rejected "the argument that 'Abuse of Power' can never constitute grounds for removal unless a crime or a crime-like action is alleged"—a position at odds with the historical evidence and the scholarly consensus.

Even if you agree with Rubio (and half of your fellow Americans) that Trump's conduct does not justify his removal, you should hesitate before endorsing the idea that impeachment requires a criminal violation or something closely resembling it. There are many ways in which a president can violate the public trust without violating the law.

If "an impeachable offense requires a violation of established law," as Trump's lawyers maintained, Congress would have to tolerate a president who accedes to a foreign invasion, who uses prosecutorial discretion to nullify laws he does not like, who stubbornly stonewalls inquiries into his misconduct, who withholds federal funds to coerce state officials into assisting his re-election, who uses the IRS or the Justice Department to target his enemies, or who pardons himself or his cronies to avoid scandal or criminal liability. Keeping in mind that the White House will not always be occupied by a member of their party, Republicans should think long and hard before they help weave this blanket of presidential impunity.

© Copyright 2020 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. Since Rubio voted with almost all of his fellow Republicans against hearing witnesses or seeking relevant documents, he could not credibly complain that the evidence was inadequate to prove the allegations against the president.

    The House of Representatives could have called those witnesses during the impeachment proceedings. They chose to proceed to a vote before hearing from said witnesses. They cannot credibly complain that the Senate’s likely failure to convict was attributable to inadequate evidence.

    1. I feel they never really wanted to hear from those witnesses because there was a better then even chance it would undermine their already flimsy case. The witnesses they did call could only offer their opinions as to Trump’s motives. And the Lynch pin of their case was what Trump’s motives were. Did Trump do this for political purposes or because he actually was worried about corruption, including Biden’s? Or maybe a combination of both, political purposes and worry about corruption? I tend to think it was both, and I am not sure which motive was the bigger motivator. But if it was 50-50% is that impeachable? 60-40 (in favor of corruption)? 60-40 the other direction? 90-10 in either direction? Where would the cutoff be? If it was for purely political purposes but Biden is corrupt, isn’t it better the country learn before voting for him? Just because something is political does that automatically make it bad for the country?

      1. If Trump pushes for more criminal justice reeform for purely political purposes is that bad for the country? Johnson and equal rights was for purely political purposes but do we consider that bad for the country?

        1. Arguing something is wrong because it was political lacks any semblance of pragmatism.

      2. That really is a big key that the media and Reason just plow through. It’s fine to debate whether him doing exactly as they say is an impeachable offense. The problem is that they skip right through and assert he only wanted Biden (and Cloudstrike, which they keep forgetting) investigated purely to help his reelection. The more persuasive argument is twofold. He likely wanted those investigated out of curiosity and anger out of how he was treated over Russia. That’s a different corruption argument in that he wants seemingly corrupt behaviour investigated at least partially in service of a grudge. Wanting Ukraine to conduct and publicize an investigation serves to prove they are fighting corruption.
        Trump himself doesn’t seem to play typical political games and I seriously doubt was ever threatened by Biden. Concluding that his actions have anything to do with 2020 is a leap of logic

      3. Cops regularly stop and search vehicles they suspect might have drugs, they can’t legally stop and search on a hunch but all they need is a pretext to make it a legal search. We all know they weren’t really stopping that van with Texas plates and two Mexicans up front because it failed to signal a lane change, but the courts have ruled any valid excuse makes it a fair cop. Trump could be 1% corruption and 99% self-dealing and he’d have himself a valid pretext.

        Of course, given that the phone call started with asking for looking into Cloudstrike and the server it seems odd that nobody seems to be willing to make the case that this was election interference just the same as asking about looking into the Biden matter. Everybody knows that shit stinks and nobody wants to bring up the question of why Comey couldn’t seem to smell it.

        So the narrative is that Trump said “Do me a favor” rather than “Do us a favor” and “dig up some dirt” rather than “look into this specific matter” and “get my political opponent” rather than “get those crooks in high places”.

        1. ” Trump could be 1% corruption and 99% self-dealing and he’d have himself a valid pretext.”

          With the left’s reliance on theory of animis he could be 0% corrupt and they will make morality arguments sans any evidence or pretext. Remember, this is the side where disparate outcomes are proof of racism.

      4. Pet peeve alert.

        It’s “linchpin”, derived from lins, the Middle English word for axle. A linchpin is literally the axle-pin that holds the wheel on a cart. “Lynchpin” is an acceptable alternative spelling but breaking it into two words and capitalizing it (not at the front of a sentence) are not.

    2. So, instead of criminal conduct, or something sufficiently close to criminal conduct, relied upon so as to provide a standard to guide future behavior, Reason is endorsing the notion that a President can be impeached for anything, at anytime, just because.

      Libertarians for arbitrariness in the application of the law!

      1. “Libertarians for arbitrariness in the application of the law!”

        That does seem to be the argument.

      2. TDS over principles.

      3. Undermining his claim that impeachment should be for non-crimes, Sullum lists a litany non-criminal but impeachable offenses 0blama committed, with no serious cries for him to be impeached.
        Least of all coming from REASON authors.

    3. I wonder if Reason complains when appellate courts only review the existing material before them and dont open up new investigations.

      1. “But this is not a trial!”

        “There is no precedent, so anything goes!”

        “Due process is only for criminal proceedings!”

        Arbitrarily removing a President from office is a good thing, apparently.

    4. Instead of calling witnesses who (they claim) have pertinent testimony to give, the House Democrats called a bunch of witnesses who didn’t witness anything thereby wasting a great deal of time. How is that anybody’s fault but their own?

    5. If the presumption remains one of innocence, and the prosecution fails to provide sufficient evidence of guilt, do we allow a jury to go out and dig up their own evidence? A juror who did that would be, at least, thrown off of the jury.
      I am not a Trump fan, but the House had little except their hatred to offer into evidence for the trial. Don’t blame the Senate.

    6. Exactly. If the House had evidence at the time they were having the impeachment hearings they should have ponied it up right there. The fact that they didn’t do so tells me volumes about the credibility and reliability of their evidence.

      1. They were afraid to go to SCOTUS regarding Bolton and other admin officials testimony. If SCOTUS would have ruled for Trump, their obstruction of congress claim goes out the window.

        They thought it was better for them to not have the witness and then ask the senate for more knowing they were not going to get them so they could complain about the process.

        1. No matter how SCOTUS decided, other than refusing to adjudicate the matter, it would defenestrate the obstruction of congress claim. SCOTUS would not have said, “we can’t adjudicate this because it’s not in our bailiwick,” so the mere act of taking up the case–of saying, there’s a genuine decision that needs to be made here–legitimates Trump’s noncompliance, even if the court ultimately ruled against him.

          But it’s worse than that. Privilege was never asserted. The objection of White House counsel was that the subpoenas were not legitimate because the House never held a vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry. The House could have remedied this 3 ways:

          1) hold a vote they were guaranteed to win
          2) take the matter to court and litigate it
          3) reissue the subpoenas under standard House oversight authority

          Options 1 and 3 wouldn’t have taken longer than a few days, but the House stubbornly refused to exercise either option because they would then lose their claim of “blanket noncompliance” as obstruction.

          Keep in mind, too, these subpoenas did not allow for counsel to be present while the witnesses were being deposed in order to exert executive privilege where necessary. That privilege is the president’s to assert or waive, not Bolton’s, Mulvaney’s or any other witness’s. Deposing any witness close to the president without president’s counsel present to assert or waive matters of privilege is quite the ask (and possibly illegal), yet that’s what the Democrats wanted to do with Kupperman and the others.

    7. Article II, Section 4:
      The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

      treason is a crime
      bribery is a crime
      other high crimes, literally mentions crimes that are serious
      misdemeanors

      Samuel Johnson’s dictionary from 1755 showed that misdemeanor by itself (as opposed to high misdemeanor) referred to a less serious offense:
      MISDEMEANOR. Offence; ill behavior; something less than an atrocious crime

      The Original Meaning of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” Part I

      So, while misdemeanors could have meant Presidential demeanor that was offensive, Congress gets to decide but it cannot be without Rule of Law.

      1. Given that misdemeanors are joined with high crimes with an “and” rather than an “or” wouldn’t that imply that in this case misdemeanors would still need to be crimes. They may be less than “high” crimes but still above poor behavior sans criminality in the hietof crimes.

        The linguistics of the Constitution implies in all references to impeachment that a crime is needed. Example “The trial of all crimes, except in case of impeachment…” implies that impeachment IS a criminal trial HOWEVER will follow a separate process. It must still be considered criminal in character by this wording.

    8. More importantly, the house did not need those witnesses to determine guilt. So why would the senate need them?

  2. “Libertarians” should think twice before digging in to a big pot of their comfort food of nihilism.

    Do better, Sullum.

  3. Congress would have to tolerate a president who accedes to a foreign invasion, who uses prosecutorial discretion to nullify laws he does not like, who stubbornly stonewalls inquiries into his misconduct, who withholds federal funds to coerce state officials into assisting his re-election, who uses the IRS or the Justice Department to target his enemies, or who pardons himself or his cronies to avoid scandal or criminal liability.

    You mean like Obama? Reason cheered many of those actions, but you were calling for his impeachment, right?

    Since Rubio voted with almost all of his fellow Republicans against hearing witnesses or seeking relevant documents, he could not credibly complain that the evidence was inadequate to prove the allegations against the president.

    You mean besides the witnesses that the House already brought? No? Oh, you mean that he should have endorsed a fishing expedition, because investigations are good because they can exonerate you or something.

    1. Yeah, that was my reaction. OK, he didn’t technically accede to a foreign invasion, (Or did, depending on how you view illegal immigration.) but he did the rest of it, in addition to shipping a couple billion dollars in unmarked bills to a foreign enemy. Which you could call treason, and I really couldn’t muster a strong argument against it.

      Here’s the thing: In a context free sense, has Trump done things that could justify impeachment? Yeah, sure. Every President in living memory has.

      But screw omitting context: Not every President in living memory has been impeached, so practice says the bar is higher than that.

      I’d even be OK with lowering the bar, going forward. But just lowering it for Trump, and then putting it right back the moment he’s gone? No, I’m not OK with that. Nobody should be OK with that.

      And that’s what is going on here.

    2. I keep wondering why few people (other than maybe Jesse Watters yesterday) is bringing up the elephant in the room.

      Collins said that additional witnesses would have perhaps filled in the gaps or cleared up serious inconsistencies in, for instance, Sondland’s testimony. He testified that yes, there was definitely a quid pro quo and everybody was “in the loop” on that, but when pressed on it admitted they only way he “knew” there was a quid pro quo was that he was assuming there was one. All the others (Jovanovitch, Taylor, etc) were told of the alleged quid pro quo by Sondland. Collins is correct–additional witnesses could have cleared up some of that mess.

      But none of this erases the reality that the entire factual basis of the House’s case was one man’s assumption, and what he (perhaps erroneously) told others about his assumption while presenting that assumption to them as fact. Nor does it erase the reality that the sole time the president was asked what he wanted from Ukraine, he said he wanted nothing, no quid pro quo, just tell Zelenskyy to do what he ran on (cleaning up corruption).

      It also does not erase the reality that no additional testimony or documentation (incriminating or exculpating) was put before the Senators.

      So basically, the Democrat Senators and Romney voted to convict based on their own assumption that evidence they had not seen and testimony they had not heard, was inculpatory.

      All they had is one man’s assumptions about what the president wanted and him telling others that his assumptions were the facts. Which cannot be a basis for a vote to convict. Every single vote to convict was unjustified by the factual record at hand and could only be justified if the Senators were clairvoyant about the inculpatory nature of evidence they had not seen.

  4. “I was persuaded that Trump committed a serious abuse of power by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate a political rival, partly by withholding congressionally approved military aid. But the House’s case, which suffered from an arbitrary, self-imposed deadline, was not strong enough to convince a single Republican that impeachment was warranted.”

    Possibly because they were aware that none of those things ever happened. Reason’s coverage of this nonsense has been a textbook example of the “big lie” propaganda technique.

    1. He is admitting he was persuaded by one sided hearsay. I bet he is a blast at dinner advocating for whatever documentary he last watched.

      He demonstrates a completely biased and subjective analysis of facts.

  5. Since no Congress has actually removed a president in the 231 years since George Washington started his first term (although Richard Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment), those concerns seem misplaced as a general matter.

    Because we have free elections every 4 years. We’ve actually removed lower officials via impeachment, but when there’s a viable democratic alternative, that’s preferable to Congress attempting to rein in the powers of the executive.

    If Congress really wanted to respect the checks and balances of the branches, they would be rapidly moving to sunset the AUMF. Very little effort has been made for Congress to regain control over their constitutionally-established powers of declaration of war, despite the fact that they supposedly fear the President is going to abuse his broad powers to declare war.

    1. I agree. Three impeachments. Three acquittals.
      There are valid reasons for impeachment, but so far the only reason has been partisan politics.

      1. Nixon earned it. Though he didn’t let it get that far

        1. Nixon earned it, according to the WaPo and the NYT and the three TV networks that parroted the WaPo and the NYT. If your only source of news were still those same 5 national news media, would you have any reason to believe Trump wasn’t every bit as big a crook as Nixon? History is written by the winners and the first bias of history is that the recorders are neutral and fair and non-partisan. We should know better by now, the major media and the academic scholars haven’t only recently become leftists with an agenda, they’ve been leftists with an agenda all along.

        2. Nixon probably did deserve Impeachment.

          The House was 291 Democrat to 144 Republican.
          The US Senate was 60 Democrat, 37 GOP, 1 Conservative, 1 Ind.

          Three articles of impeachment were approved by the House Judiciary Committee, charging obstruction of the investigation of the “Watergate” burglary inquiry, misuse of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political purposes, and refusal to comply with the Judiciary Committee’s subpoenas.
          he Nixon Impeachment Proceedings

    2. Every 1 term president was removed from office.

      1. Lincoln was removed in his 2nd term.

      2. And LBJ didn’t seek a 2nd term.

      3. Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th President.

        He was removed twice.

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  8. I don’t know that this is a big deal. Every politician who was involved in both this impeachment and the Clinton impeachment had no trouble whatsoever in doing a 180 on their previous positions. They’re politicians; nothing they say means shit for more than 10 seconds at most.

    It’s not as if there is any “stare decisis” for any of this.

    1. Susan Collins of Maine voted to aquit Clinton in the Senate. So she can plausibly claim to be consistent.

    2. The difference being that in Clinton’s case, the GOP cited a specific provable crime committed by Clinton. It still may not have warranted removal… but that would be the oy reason to acquit. You couldn’t argue innocence in the Clinton debacle.

      Here, however, it is VERY debatable if anything wrong occurred and as such, there is pleanty of room to vote differently this time than last without giving up principles (sans the Dems who just hate Trump and have never has principles).

  9. I was still very much not convinced that he was specifically trying to force them to investigate Biden… If he had been, wouldn’t he have, I dunno, continued to withhold funds? Do other things to pressure them?

    That whole dumb thing was an offhand comment, because we all know Trump isn’t a scripted guy and just says shit as he thinks it.

    The whole thing was retarded. It’s like he’s basically being prosecuted for a thought crime, like it might have crossed his mind to pressure them with concrete actions, but he really didn’t end up even doing it! Absurd.

    1. Thought crimes are a progressive fixation. The thought is more dangerous than the act. Overt acts of corruption? Irrelevant! Pure motives justify any and all means.

      Trump vs. Biden, in a nutshell.

      1. Totally.

        Just like Big Brother, it isn’t enough to play along with all their crap… They want you to TRULY believe in your heart whatever nonsense they’re pushing.

        Well, it ain’t me babe. I think for myself, which is why I don’t line up perfectly with any ideology, including purist libertarianism. Too many real world examples of libertarian logic coming to unworkable policies. 98% libertarian, with a dash of reality thrown in.

    2. “If he had been, wouldn’t he have, I dunno, continued to withhold funds? Do other things to pressure them?”

      He literally tried to conceal the fact that the assistance was on hold. One person testified she got an email with second and third hand questions from the Ukrainians that could possibly have suggested that the Ukrainians knew or suspected the aid was on hold before the Politico article was published on 29 August. The problem with that was that everyone who testified said that it was in the first week of September that the Ukrainians started calling them in a panic, wanting to know if it was true that they weren’t going to get the aid.

      In one case, there was a desperate text from a Ukrainian official that included a link to that article and a plea for a phone call.

      If Trump wanted a quid pro quo–“investigate Biden or you’re not getting the money”–one would not expect that flurry of panicked phone calls after the Politico article came out.

      For more than a month after the alleged “quid” was presented to them, the Ukrainians were blissfully unaware of the “quo”? How the f*** does that make any sense?

      Sondland (who is a primary architect of the entire quid pro quo narrative) testified that he assumed that was what the president wanted, and that he told others that it WAS what the president wanted. You know what they say about “assume”, right? That guy made an ass out of himself and a lot of other people.

      It’s no wonder that when he was finally arsed to ask the president whether what the president wanted was what he’d been telling people for weeks that the president wanted, the president was angry and curt with him.

      And keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to investigate Crowdstrike or the Bidens. The predicate to open an investigation into the Trump campaign was “a guy attached to the campaign told someone over beers that some Russian chick he’d never met before told him the Russians had dirt on Hillary.” That’s all it took to open the investigation that put us through 3 years of BS that eventually amounted to nothing.

      But Hunter “crack addict” Biden earning more from a corrupt Ukrainian oil company than a member of the board of BP Oil while his dad was Vice President and “point man” for Ukraine foreign policy? That’s not sufficient predicate to open an investigation into the Bidens’ conduct in Ukraine? The clearly stated quid pro quo Joe Biden bragged about is not sufficient predicate to look into whether he leveraged money appropriated by congress to protect his son’s financial interests? That investigation is not in the public interest because what? Because running for president immunizes you against investigations into your possible misconduct? Because the public interest also happens to be in Trump’s political interest?

      And here I thought that an investigation into a candidate for president could be launched on the barest of predicates.

      1. Good points.

  10. “For months, Trump’s defenders have been warning us that the promiscuous use of impeachment is a lethal threat to democracy and our constitutional order. Since no Congress has actually removed a president in the 231 years since George Washington started his first term (although Richard Nixon resigned under threat of impeachment), those concerns seem misplaced as a general matter.”

    Legitimacy is a serious issue, and it should be an especially important issue for libertarians, and that fact remains as is–regardless of whether Congress has been too smart to remove a president from office for 231 years.

    Legitimacy is the right and acceptance of an authority, usually a governing law or a régime. Whereas “authority” denotes a specific position in an established government, the term “legitimacy” denotes a system of government—wherein “government” denotes “sphere of influence”. An authority viewed as legitimate often has the right and justification to exercise power. Political legitimacy is considered a basic condition for governing, without which a government will suffer legislative deadlock(s) and collapse.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legitimacy_(political)

    While democracy can promote the legitimacy of authority, it isn’t the only means to do so. In fact, dictators can and do sometimes enjoy a tremendous amount of legitimacy, especially in the beginning of their dictatorial regimes. They often ride their legitimacy to power by utilizing some form of populism, and whether that’s coming from the left or the right, all populism is a reaction to elitism.

    Seeing a popular president removed from office by progressive elitists in Washington, over the objections and against the will of so many Americans in so many states, would be an enormous blow to the legitimacy of our liberal institutions. If that were to happen, populists wouldn’t give up their goals. They would give up on liberal institutions, which is not in the best interests of libertarians in the least. If you thought the populist reaction to progressives was bad from 2016 to 2020, it would be amazing how bad 2021 – 2024 would be if elitists were to remove a populist president ahead of the 2020 election.

    The Constitution requires two-thirds of an elected Senate to remove an elected president from office, and it does so for perfectly valid reasons. If too many senators are too afraid to remove a president from office because they’re too afraid to face their constituencies in the next election, then the president shouldn’t be removed from office–even if he’s guilty of a crime. In important ways, this reflects the logic of jury nullification.

    Mr. Sullum once made a persuasive and credible argument that Barack Obama may have violated the Constitution and the law by assassinating Osama bin Laden. I do not remember the details of his argument, but I remember my response, which was that even if killing Osama bin Laden were unconstitutional and against the law, if President Obama had been given both the opportunity and the means to kill Osama bin Laden and willingly chose not to do so, that might very well constitute an impeachable offense.

    No, the question isn’t always necessarily whether the president broke the law or violated the Constitution, but the question is always whether the American people will support having their votes nullified by the elitists in Washington. Likewise, if enough of the American people wanted a president removed from office but the elite in Washington refused to do so because the act in question (like refusing to kill Osama bin Laden) wasn’t technically criminal, that would also be an affront to the legitimacy of liberal institutions–and a serious consideration.

    1. Well said.

    2. Impeachment and Congressional member removal authority in the US Constitution was designed to remove government officials between elections, if necessary.

      This theoretically gives The People the power to control government officials at all times rather than just elections.

  11. “impeachment cannot be credible if the public believes it is driven solely by political or personal Animus”
    Christ Sollum, they’ve been wanting to impeach him since he became president. They were grasping at whatever they could to drive that narrative. If the mainstream news would stop dribbling bullshit all over the American public they probably wouldn’t even care.

    1. Law professor and self-described “impeachment sceptic” Noah Feldman publicly argued that Trump could be legitimately impeached over a tweet criticizing the press. And we’re supposed to take his word for it that this particular offence (which I don’t believe has been sufficiently proven) rises to the level of impeachable?

      I’m dumbfounded. Flabbergasted. Vexed, miffed and both gruntled and disgruntled. This has been a prosecution desperately in search of a crime right from the get-go. And every time they try it and come up with nothing much, I find myself increasingly inured to their accusations. “Yeah, but THIS time it’s srs bznss!” gets old after a while. I actually thought the House managers were persuasive the first day (on the facts, not the rhetoric), and I said to myself, “maybe they’re right. Maybe he did it. Does it rise to the level of impeachable? Maybe not. But maybe he did it.”

      Then I saw the president’s counsel pick apart every lie, every misrepresentation, and every “fact” that was not actually part of the factual record.

      I think it’s quite telling that Schiff, in closing, repeated a completely debunked lie. “Congress did not receive the whistleblower report until more than 3 weeks after the deadline required for it to have been brought to us.”

      According to the statute he was invoking, not only was there no deadline as to when the report had to be brought to congress, there was no requirement that it be brought to congress ever. Acting DNI McGuire testified to that MONTHS ago, and the statute itself backs him up. Yet Schiff at the closing of the impeachment trial was still accusing McGuire of violating a law that he has been told, over and over, does not apply here, and which clearly does not apply.

      How am I to believe anything that comes out of the mouth of such a liar? What am I to think the next time they accuse Trump of something? That this time, they’re not lying or making sh*t up?

  12. Good reason for acquitting Trump: He did nothing wrong.

    Bad reason for acquitting Trump: It prevents Republicans from grabbing Cokehead Hunter and Creepy Joe via subpoena and forcing them to testify under oath about what they were doing in Ukraine and China.

    1. Just because paid employees of the Bernie Sanders campaign are advocating for a violent revolution that ends with all Republicans being sent to reeducation camps doesn’t mean Bernie Sanders endorses their views, but, at the very least, it does mean that he doesn’t mind hiring people with those views and continuing to employ them.

      1. Some of us remember Ron Paul being attacked for what was in newsletters with Ron Paul’s name on them.
        The Story Behind Ron Paul’s Racist Newsletters

        Bernie’s control over what his staff say on his behalf are different….because reasons.

        1. GOD, I love the internet. It has endless info said and done by Lefties that can be thrown back in their faces decades later.

          1. The internet never forgets–not even when Twitter tries to make it forget.

            I understand we lost more than half of all ancient Greek and Latin literature because Medieval monks chose not to copy it. If Arabs hadn’t reintroduced some of it, we would have lost more.

            That won’t happen again.

        2. That newsletter story (and its timing) was also a Weigel thing, as I recall.

      2. Oh i know. I didnt need investigative reporting to know bernie bros are communist clowns. I still frequent the hipster part of Pittsburgh.

        I just thought it was funny when i saw it was weigel that O’Keefe called out. And then weigel deleted his tweet instead of acknowledging the mistake, which seems perfectly fitting.

      3. “Just because paid employees of the Bernie Sanders campaign are advocating for a violent revolution that ends with all Republicans being sent to reeducation camps doesn’t mean Bernie Sanders endorses their views,”

        I’m amazed that they’re still employed. If Sanders did win the primary, then Trump could and should run the Veritas clip non-stop for months. That’s an amazingly damaging clip.

    2. It’s funny how selective cancel culture can be.

  13. If the impeachment is based on something nebulous, like ‘abuse of power’, which is one of those things like rudeness or dressing badly which is understood, but can not be clearly defined but ‘you know it when you see it’ – then why not impeach for being mean?
    If you want to satisfy those who like strong actions by the state to be clearly defined pass a law defining abuse of power. Then if Trump does it, you can satisfy everyone by proving the infraction.

  14. Coming from a publication that grossly misrepresented Dershowitz’ argument, and has not amended that ‘error’ there is not much weight that should be given to anything Sullum has to offer.

    1. +100

      I cited a link above to The Atlantic going after Ron Paul for the “racist” newsletters.

      Ron Paul was responsible for those things but Bernie is NOT responsible..because reasons.

  15. We don’t have a parliamentary government with a Prime Minister that can be voted out at pretty much the whim of Parliament. Presidential impeachment should require a high bar, and not be simply a political tool to be abused by a House (or Congress) held by the opposition party.

    Democrats might have a leg to stand on with Trump if they hadn’t screeched for 3 years about Russian collusion, then trying to pivot to extortion of Ukraine (when Ukraine seems to say it didn’t happen) when the poster child (Biden Jr) was almost certainly riding papa Joe’s political power train for the payola AND papa Joe admitted to extorting Ukraine before!

    And “contempt of Congress”? Who doesn’t hold Congress in contempt? Not to mention, there is a thing we call executive privilege, and Democrats abandoned their subpoenas rather than wait to see what SCOTUS had to say about executive privilege vs House subpoena powers.

    TL;DR: Even if Trump did commit impeachable offense, Democrats botched the whole thing like a overzealous prosecutor who suborned perjury in front of a grand jury rather than waiting for the DNA tests that would have proved guilt to come through the forensic lab and got the whole case bounced.

    1. Yeah, the most telling thing to me was they didn’t even try to subpoena them. If they were smart theyd have at least filed the paperwork so that when trump asserted executive privilege they could have said “see! He’s ACTUALLY trying to block witnesses. Like for real, were not lying this time!”. Or “see! The litigation will last into the next election so we must move forward with the case at present. We unfortunately dont have the time to litigate the presidents assertion of executive privilege before November. Well try to get the senate to allow them instead”

      But they didn’t…which seemed very peculiar and ironic at the time, given they became so adamant for these witnesses.

      1. Too much risk. If they didn’t follow through on the paperwork – and go to court – then it would have been an obvious stunt. And if they did go to court and lost then that whole article of impeachment is destroyed.

        1. Which pretty much renders that whole article of impeachment moot to me anyway.

      2. To be fair… they did do this with some of the witnesses, but instead of claiming Trump was dragging his feet for obstructionist purposes they instead shrugged their shoulders and recalled the subpoenas and never looked back and impeached anyhow. Well… not until they got to the Senate and they started crying foul.

      3. Yeah, but the demoncraps were fucked by the requirement that they had to have had the whole House vote to open the impeachment inquiry before legitimate subpoenas could be issued, instead of Nancy just announcing it.
        They didn’t even take the time to do that, let alone the time to issue valid subpoenas and go through the courts to see if they would be upheld.
        That wouldn’t have allowed them the unrelenting bashing of Trump, all the way through the election, the disruption of that process being their goal.

      4. Trump never asserted executive privilege. He didn’t have to. The impeachment inquiry was not authorized by a full vote of the House, nor were the committees in question authorized to conduct an impeachment inquiry by a full vote of the House.

        That was the White House counsel’s justification for their blanket noncompliance with the subpoenas. The House has sole power of impeachment, but Nancy Pelosi is not the House, a press conference is not a vote of the House, and therefore any subpoenas issued by the committees Pelosi designated as being tasked with impeachment were not authorized by the House.

        The House had 3 potential remedies. One was to litigate the matter in court, which I agree would be time consuming. The other two were to either 1) hold a vote to open an official impeachment inquiry and officially assign and empower, according to the will of the House, various committees to the task; or 2) reissue the subpoenas under normal House oversight rules, and then we can deal with them one at a time.

        Pelosi declined to do either, even though she had the votes to guarantee a majority of the House would approve an official inquiry and authorize the various committees. How long would that have taken? A few days?

        And the second option? Well, there are all kinds of rules and precedent that would have to be complied with if the subpoenas were issued under normal House oversight authority. For instance, if they subpoenaed Bolton under such rules, the White House would have the right to have counsel there to assert or waive executive privilege when necessary (because executive privilege is the president’s to assert or waive, not Bolton’s). But there’s a dearth of precedent regarding impeachment inquiries in the House. It’s a bit more “make it up as you go,” which gave the House Democrats a lot more room to do things like depose witnesses behind closed doors, exclude president’s counsel, instruct witnesses not to answer questions from the minority, deny the minority a hearing day, etc etc.

        As far as their strategy, Article I was based entirely on one man’s (Sondland’s) possibly erroneous presumption as to the president’s wishes. As such, they needed a second article. The very act of capitulating to one of the three options offered by the White House–litigate, hold a vote, or reauthorize your subpoenas–would be an admission that there was a genuine objection that could be remedied. If there was a genuine objection on the part of the White House, then Article II goes out the window.

        This is why when Kupperman went to court to litigate his subpoena, the House quietly withdrew the subpoena before the court could consider the matter. The very fact of a court acknowledging that the matter was something meriting consideration would have put the kibosh on their obstruction allegation. This would be the case even if the court ruled in their favor–it would still be a court saying, “there’s enough of a genuine problem here for us to step in and adjudicate the problem.”

        Article I was weak on its face in terms of the facts on record. Article II depended on the House doing nothing that would in any way suggest that the White House might have had a valid complaint as to the invalidity of the subpoenas.

        They couldn’t hold a vote, because if they did they’d be acknowledging that they should have held a vote, ergo the president’s noncompliance was not obstruction.

        They couldn’t issue the subpoenas under normal House oversight rules, because they’d lose the advantage of “we can do whatever we like because there’s no precedent to guide us” and the White House would have given them their witnesses and invoked executive privilege on certain matters.

        And they couldn’t take it to court, because regardless of the result, if a court actually took up the matter that would be a confirmation that there was an actual matter that merited taking up, which means it was not obstruction. And Article I was weak, there was no guarantee that Bolton or Mulvaney would be compelled to testify, or if they were, would incriminate the president, so they would be essentially throwing Article II out the window by attempting to prove something they did not know they could prove.

        Everything makes sense when you look a bit deeper.

  16. If the Republicans made their arguments back in September when the call first came out it might make sense. But arguing that you can’t remove a president when it is partisan is tautological.
    1) We vote to not remove.
    2) Because you shouldn’t remove a president when it is partisan
    3) But if you vote to remove him it won’t be partisan anymore.
    4) Oh, okay, well our real reason is that his bad actions are not bad enough to warrant removal.
    5) So you admit he actually did something wrong?
    6) Er, no, it was a perfect call!

    Ever since the whistleblower’s report came out the GOP has been denying reality and moving the goalposts. They are neutered tools of the president. Even while they slowly admit that he did something wrong (but not wrong enough to remove) he mocks them by openly declaring himself to have done nothing wrong. It was a perfect call.

    1. Ever since Trump released the call transcript the Democrats have been denying reality and moving the goalposts. They put themselves at the mercy of the president. Even while they screech and insist that he did something wrong (and wrong enough to remove) he mocks them by openly declaring himself to have done nothing wrong. It was a perfect call.

      FTFY

  17. There has also been something of a stolen base in this whole episode.

    Broadly speaking there are two main categories for impeachment. The first would be a gross violation of law, or a named Constitutional offense that would warrant impeachment and removal. This should be done, regardless of the President’s popularity. Whether it would be done is another matter. Conceivably (if unlikely) a POTUS could have such strong support that Congress would choose not to act.

    Alternately there could be a President so harmful to the Republic that the bulk of the people want him gone, regardless of any specific named offense. This couldn’t be just a simple majority of citizens, it would have to involve a critical mass in a super majority of states.

    And that’s the key here. What has Trump done that is so bad to the Republic? At worst he went after the adult child of a potential political rival – which conceivably could have had an impact on his politician father. And not for no cause, the Bidens are not like some framed middle class couple living in Houston, they brought this upon themselves by engaging in actions that were at least questionable if not necessarily corrupt.

    Had this been an orchestrated witch hunt, say where a White House conspired to sic the intelligence community on a rival candidate, there might be an issue here – but it wasn’t. Is addressing the appearance of potential corruption really so harmful to our system of government? More specifically would there be any harm by eliminating Biden from Presidential consideration? On both accounts I think not.

    I think not. If politicians wielding that much power are going to allow their children to profit from directly related endeavours then they deserve every bit of scrutiny they receive.

    1. The funny thing is that the impeachment has gone Streisand Effect brought to light to the public that the Bidens are at the very least, rather skeevy.

      1. Yup. Biden might have weasel’d his way into something by just flying under the radar.

        You cannot fly under the radar when everyone on your team is flinging spitballs all into Trump airspace.

    2. ” say where a White House conspired to sic the intelligence community on a rival candidate, there might be an issue here”

      So, like Obama administration’s FISA court investigations into Trump’s campaign as a proxy for Sec. Clinton’s campaign?

      1. A debunked conspiracy theory, to be sure.

  18. The House managers claimed they had proved their case, it was not credible that they required more witnesses and documentation. The strange idea that a Reason writer will give a prosecution team a second attempt chance to correct a defective case.

    Here is the thing, that impeachment does not require a criminal offense does not mean that the articles of impeachment brought were solid. The Senators are able to disagree with your conclusion that this warranted removal without it being destructive to the fabric of the republic.

  19. Assuming what Biden said is true, then the U.S. government interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs by threatening to withhold loan guarantees unless Shokin was fired. If Zelensky thought that was fishy and started an investigation into whether it was done to protect Burisma, how could that count as Ukrainian interference in our 2020 election? If it would not count as interference in our election, then asking Zelensky to conduct such an investigation would not be asking him to interfere in our 2020 election.

  20. You got it wrong too Sullum, so I’ll post the TLDR.

    What Dershowitz means: there has to be a a real, underlying action. This action does not need to legally be a crime at the time, but it needs to be distinct and provable.
    What you think Dershowitz means: if the action was not a crime at the time, impeachment cannot occur.

    1. This action does not need to legally be a crime at the time, but it needs to be distinct and provable.

      And it has to be something most people would consider wrong.

  21. “And the president may be removed from office only upon impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

    The offenses charged here, even if supported by the evidence, do not meet that lofty standard. A standard that the Framers intentionally set at this extraordinarily high level to ensure that only the most serious offenses — and in particular, those that subverted our system of government would justify over-turning a popular election.”

    Sound familiar? But who actually said that? White House Counsel Charles Ruff, in 1999 during the Clinton impeachment.
    It is also worth noting that Clinton was actually charged with a crime and that 10 of 45 R’s voted “not guilty”.

    What DID change this time? In the Clinton impeachment: Five Democrats voted in favor of three of the four articles of impeachment, one for the abuse of power charge. Five Republicans voted against the first perjury charge. Eight more Republicans voted against the obstruction charge. Twenty-eight Republicans voted against the second perjury charge, sending it to defeat, and eighty-one voted against the abuse of power charge.

    What changed is that this current impeachment is a strictly partisan political driven event.

  22. What’s this? A reason article on impeachment that I agree with? Shocking.

    I do not think he should be removed (not for this at least… I could be persuaded on his declaring a false emergency at the border, but everyone else seems to no longer care about that), much for the same reasons as Rubio. But it is absolutely vital to point out what a weasel phrase “established law” is, especially in the context of punishing people in government. Government gives itself far to much arbitrary power for that to be an effective doctrine of impeachment.

    1. -100

  23. Oh, someone should probably mention that President Trump’s approval ratings are now higher than they’ve ever been before:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has risen to 49%, his highest in Gallup polling since he took office in 2017.

    . . . .

    The 42% approval rating among independents is up five points, and ties three other polls as his best among that group.”

    —-Gallup, February 4, 2020

    https://news.gallup.com/poll/284156/trump-job-approval-personal-best.aspx

    Thanks for the impeachment, Nancy!

  24. “”Impeachment has always been and will always be a largely partisan process. But an impeachment cannot be credible if the public believes it is driven solely by political or personal animus.””

    It’s been obvious from day one that political and/or personal animus was driving the impeachment. If the haters didn’t go full retard from the start it would be harder to make that argument. But because they did, the idea that animus is the driver was laid on the table.

    1. +1000

  25. What we have here is a failure to understand scale. In one of the charges below we have no one being killed or injured and in the other high crimes we have the Constitution being bypassed?
    a. Charge of corruption and abuse of power from asking for an investigation into charges against the Vice President who bragged about corruption and abuse of power
    b. Maintaining two UNDECLARED unwinnable wars costing trillions, killing thousands of Americans, hundreds of thousands of civilians and giving control of the Middle East over to the enemies of the USA
    c. The UNDECLARED war to overthrow of the regime in Syria that made the already poor country miserable, killed thousands of Syrians and others, wasted billions, required Russian interference and was a dismal failure
    d. The UNDECLARED WAR to assassinate a foreign leader risking a Mideast wide war

  26. I am not a fan of Trump, but this comment screamed out to be made.
    “… Congress would have to tolerate a president who accedes to a foreign invasion, who uses prosecutorial discretion to nullify laws he does not like … ”
    Like what has happened on our US southern border through many of the past administrations?

  27. ” a president who accedes to a foreign invasion, who uses prosecutorial discretion to nullify laws he does not like, who stubbornly stonewalls inquiries into his misconduct, who withholds federal funds to coerce state officials into assisting his re-election, who uses the IRS or the Justice Department to target his enemies, or who pardons himself or his cronies to avoid scandal or criminal liability.” Sounds like Obama.

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