Impeachment

No, the Supreme Court's "Bridgegate" Decision Doesn't Vindicate Trump on Impeachment [Updated with Comment on Josh Blackman's Clarification of his Position]

An abuse of power that doesn't violate federal fraud statutes can still be an impeachable offense - and still violate other criminal law.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The George Washington Bridge, which figured in the "Bridgegate" scandal.

Jonathan Turley and co-blogger Josh Blackman argue that the Supreme Court's unanimous acquittal of the defendants in the "Bridgegate" case vindicates Donald Trump on impeachment. As Josh puts it, their argument is that the Court's holding that "abuse of power" does not violate federal fraud statutes proves that Trump (who was himself charged with abuse of power in the impeachment trial) also committed no crime, and therefore did not deserve to be impeached and convicted.

Josh adds that both Trump and the Bridgegate defendants were acting within the scope of their official powers, albeit for personal political gain, and therefore cannot be punished, except perhaps by the voters. If the Bridgegate defendants did not commit a crime when they partially shut down a bridge in order to punish a political opponent of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, then Trump committed no crime when he withheld aid from Ukraine in order to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating Trump's political opponent, Joe Biden.

This line of argument is wrong on multiple levels. The most obvious is that impeachment is not a criminal trial. A criminal defendant who stands to lose his life, liberty, or property, can only be convicted of a specific crime on the books. By contrast, impeachment is a process for removing an official from a position of power before his term ends.  For reasons well-explained by co-blogger Keith Whittington  and prominent conservative legal scholar Michael Stokes Paulsen, among others, impeachment can be justified even in cases of abuse of power where no specific law has been violated; indeed the Founders expected it to be used in such cases.  Thus, the fact that the Bridgegate defendants were acquitted has little if any relevance to the question of whether Trump deserved to be impeached, convicted, and removed from office.

Perhaps the Bridgegate case does prove that Trump could not be convicted under the federal fraud statute at issue in that case, as Turley argues at some length. But the House of Representatives did not charge him with that offense. As Justice Kagan explains, the federal fraud statute at issue in the Bridgegate case only covers schemes to fraudulently obtain "money or property." Impeachment, by contrast, can also target other types of abuses of power.

In addition, Josh is wrong to claim that Trump was acting within the scope of his Article II power over foreign affairs. As I have explained in some detail previously, by threatening to withhold aid to Ukraine authorized by Congress, for reasons Congress did not authorize (pressuring Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rival Joe Biden), he was in fact usurping Congress' power of the purse, and thereby violating the Constitution. Even if that isn't a violation of the criminal code, it is  illegal, and exactly the sort of abuse of power that justifies impeachment. Indeed, it is more clearly illegal than anything the Bridgegate defendants (who were, apparently, acting within the scope of their official powers) did.

I would add that, even though impeachment does not require a violation of criminal law, Trump did in violate a federal criminal statute, as well. Specifically, he violated 18 USC Section 601, which criminalizes "knowingly caus[ing] or attempt[ing] to cause any person to make a contribution of a thing of value (including services) for the benefit of any candidate or any political party, by means of the denial or deprivation, or the threat of the denial or deprivation, of…. any payment or benefit of a program of the United States,… if such employment, position, work, compensation, payment, or benefit is provided for or made possible in whole or in part by an Act of Congress." Violators are subject to a fine, a prison sentence of up to one year, or both.

Trump's threat to withhold aid money from Ukraine in order to pressure them in to investigating an opposing candidate in the 2020 presidential campaign is a serious violation of Section 601, as well as an abuse of power. I go into the relevant issues in greater detail here. In that post, I also explain why Trump's actions were not simply typical behavior for a president, and why—if they were—that would actually strengthen the case for impeachment and removal, in order to forestall future abuses of power.

Finally, Josh notes that Justice Kagan's opinion in the Bridgegate case indicates federal law "leaves much public corruption to the States (or their electorates) to address," and suggests that means they should be "left to the voters" and that Trump's abuses should similarly be left to the voters to address in an election.

But left to "the states" is not the same thing as "left to the voters"—a point Kagan recognizes when she writes that the much public corruption is left to the states or to their electorates. Rather, it means that state governments can criminalize such abuses of power by their own officials, without relying on federal law. State law, after all, is the first and most important line of defense against state and local corruption. By contrast, impeachment and federal criminal law are crucial weapons in the fight against corruption by powerful federal officials.  Such issues are not always best dealt with in electoral processes, especially in a time of deep polarization, when voters are often willing to overlook abuses by  their own party in order to prevent the opposing party from coming to power.

Far from vindicating Trump, therefore, the Bridgegate decision merely highlights the ways in which the two cases are fundamentally different from each other.

I will not go so far as to say that Trump's continued abuses of power and horrific mishandling of the coronavirus crisis vindicate my earlier argument (also made in response to Josh) that it is better too err on the side of impeaching and removing too many "normal" presidents, than on the side of letting abusive ones get away with their wrongdoing. No single case—not even one as egregious as Trump—can by itself prove a general theory like that. But these tragic events do at least bolster my position and that of other impeachment advocates, at the margin. The same can't be said for the Bridgegate case and Trump's defense.

UPDATE: In an update to his post, Josh Blackman writes:

In response to co-blogger Ilya Somin's post, I do not think Kelly vindicated Trump, at all. At most, it cast doubt on a property-fraud theory article of impeachment. Justice Kagan, quite deliberately, distinguished this ground from "abuse of power." I agree with Ilya, and have for months, that an "abuse of power" need not be liked to any specific statutory offense.

I appreciate Josh's clarification and am sorry that I misunderstood his position. However, his post, as originally written, seemed to go beyond casting doubt on a "property-fraud theory" that wasn't even included in the articles of impeachment against Trump. The headline of the post says that the Supreme Court "opines" on the impeachment trial, which suggests more than just a commentary on a possible theory that wasn't  even used at that trial. And in various passages in his post, Josh lists parallels between the two cases, and suggests the Supreme Court in the Bridgegate case resolved the relevant issues in favor of Trump's side of the matter. And, while Josh, to his credit, recognizes that impeachment for noncriminal conduct is constitutional, he has also argued that impeachment for "abuse of power" is a bad idea and should be rejected on slippery slope grounds (a position I criticized here). That said, I admit that my interpretation of this post may have been unduly influenced by Josh's prior writings on impeachment (some of which he refers to in his most recent post), which offer a much broader argument that Trump did not deserve to be impeached and convicted. I am sorry for that error.

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  1. Who has to tell Somin that he lost the impeachment battle?

    1. Trump is done. The Republican Party—the party of Hoover, W Bush, and Trump. Walk tall!

      1. hold your breath husseinOGruberite ………

        1. Hussein? Gruber? Have you been in a coma since 2014? You’ve missed a lot my dude.

          1. I’ve seen it suggested before that conservative media figures, and their acolytes on the web, are using so many old or obscure references to things that they harped on that they’re starting to communicate like those aliens in the Star Trek TNG episode: Darmok.

    2. Didn’t you hear? Trump was impeached and Hillary is now President. Trump is continuing to unlawfully occupy the white house because he’s an evil sexist.

  2. If Biden shot a Bald Eagle and Trump saw him do it, would it be wrong for Trump to report him to the NF&W folks?

    Well, here’s Biden bragging about doing something similar:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjXAxzddS4o

    I don’t agree with the BBC’s conclusions, but Biden said what they show him saying….

    1. Sigh. Do we really have to go thru this nonsense again? Biden pressured for Shokin’s ouster by order of the president, following objectives of the State Department, per publicly announced policy goals of the United States government, with a bi-partisan consensus of Congress, in conjunction with parallel pressure from the European Union, backed by concurrent pressure from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

      Every one of our major European allies demanded Shokin be fired. Every single major world financial institution demanded Shokin be fired. And all anti-corruption groups in Ukraine insisted the prosecutor had to go. There were street protests in Kiev against him alone. When he was finally booted, the Kiev Post called him one of the most despised figures in all of Ukraine.

      Could there be a greater contrast to Trump’s attempt to extort personal benefit from another country using congressionally approved military aid?

      Could you make a more anti-factual argument if that was your aim, Dr. Ed?

      1. The problem was that Biden’s son was working for a company that could have been further investigated by Shokin. With that conflict of interest in mind, Obama should have sent someone else to make that demand.

        “Everyone wanted Shokin fired” is sort of irrelevant. There are prosecutors in the middle east who might sentence women to death for not wearing jijabs. Do we pressure Saudi Arabia to fire them, threatening to cut off funds? Because no one wants them fired?

        1. Your reply is strangely schizophrenic. The first half seems to be saying its irrelevant our entire government and most of the western world was simultaneously demanding Shokin out right alongside Biden. That it’s irrelevant U.S. policy wouldn’t have been the tiniest bit different whether Biden was in charge or not. That’s a bizarre way of selling Biden as corrupt, which was Dr. Ed’s dishonest claim above.

          Incidentally, if all you claim is the “appearance of impropriety”, be prepared for a wider catch than Joe Biden alone. For instance, at the same time Trump’s son-in-law Kushner had a decisive role in the transition, he was also fighting for his financial survival. Jared had a building in New York – 666 Madison – that was a black hole of hemorrhaging losses. Financial reports at the time said that investment alone could bankrupt Kushner’s business. Jared’s search for a white-knight included former Prime Minister of Qatar Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani and prominent Red Chinese oligarchs. Can you imagine a greater appearance of impropriety than someone deeply involved in staffing a new administration while desperately pleading for foreign funds?

          Your last paragraph is incoherent. It’s irrelevant the whole western world wanted Shokin fired because there are a lot of prosecutors who deserve that too? What does that mean? It’s a fact everyone I mentioned above demanded Shokin’s ouster. Including all Ukrainians against corruption. Especially them.

          1. guess it time for you to replace your kneepads ……..

          2. I like how “but Biden had the backing of the Obama administration and also the International Monetary Fund or something” is supposed to be a good defense. As if Biden would go rogue and do something contrary to his team?

            The fact is, it’s entirely reasonable to ask about a situation where the VP’s son was earning $216,000 per month for nothing from a Ukrainian gas company, right after a US-backed regime change in the country and the VP becoming point man, and the gas company and its board including Hunter are under investigation, and then the VP makes an explicit quid pro quo demand that the prosecutor heading up the investigation be fired or else $1 billion in loan guarantees will be withheld.

            “But you see, Biden only ousted Shokin because he wasn’t doing ENOUGH to investigate corruption and Burisma!

            Biden wanted his son to be investigated even harder!”

            Hah, well maybe. Perhaps Biden is as pure as the driven snow. But you gotta admit this is a little bit awkward. There’s apparently nothing wrong, in the view of Biden’s defenders, with strong-arming other countries into doing whatever you want with explicit quid pro quos on taxpayer dollars, so long as it’s for the “right reasons.” Fair enough. But there was still a massive conflict of interest here and Trump asking to look into it was justifiable.

            This is of course directly comparable (and inextricably related) to the investigation of Trump, Crossfire Hurricane, Mueller and all of that. Was it proper for the Obama administration to not only casually raise an issue in conversation as Trump did, but to actually investigate Trump and his campaign, and spy on them with a FISA warrant that misconstrued evidence against a US intelligence asset? No, it wasn’t. The Trump-Russia conspiracy theory was an obviously deranged hoax and political hype job from the start.

            Just imagine that in 2015/2016, Don Jr was earning 216k a month from Russian oligarchs for putting his name on a board. That fact alone would have made the entire Trump-Russia hysteria 10x more substantive and legitimate. It would have blown everything else out of the water. If that had occurred, Trump would probably no longer be President today.

            1. You have to misstate what I said (and the facts) for your argument to even get off the ground. No, Biden didn’t have the “backing of the Obama administration” when he pressured Ukraine on Shokin. That makes it sound like this was Joe’s idea and everyone just went along, which is apparently the lie you need. The truth involves a rather critical distinction:

              (1) Biden was following the order of Obama in pressuring Ukraine

              (2) Biden was following State Department policy in pressuring Ukraine

              (3) Biden was following publicly expressed U.S. foreign policy aims when pressuring Ukraine.

              (4) Biden was following the documented bipartisan consensus of the Senate in pressuring Ukraine.

              I won’t repeat the whole laundry list of countries and international organizations loudly demanding Shokin’s ouster at the exact same time as Joe – none of whom gave the slightest damn about little Hunter Biden. Face it : What Biden did was follow the policy and objectives of his president, his government, and our allies around the world – full stop. You can’t make it about Hunter Biden without lying. Every single fact is against you.

            2. M L : “The Trump-Russia conspiracy theory was an obviously deranged hoax and political hype job from the start”

              Hows the weather on your fantasy planet? Do you ever visit the planet Earth for ol’ time’s sake? Look : The investigation into whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign resulted from two things :

              (1) A systematic campaign by the Russian government & intelligence agencies to help Trump into the presidency

              (2) A bizarre series of actions, connections and contacts between Trump, his family and associates on one hand, and people connected to Russia on the other

              Add those two factors together and you get an investigation. For your little fantasy world to be be true you’d need to disprove at least one of the above. And you can’t come close with either

              Know how badly Russia wanted Trump president? I’ll give you two examples from Mueller’s report. When Trump asked the Russians to hack Ms Clinton on-camera, Russian intelligence responded within five hours, attacking her home computer which they hadn’t tested before. But that doesn’t compare to the reaction time when their guy was down.

              Russia stole emails from John Podesta (a Clinton associate) and sat on them for months. So when did they begin leaking them? After the Access Hollywood story broke and the Trump campaign was rocked to its core. Russian Intelligence started putting out their email trove within an hour after the “Grab’em by the ….” story went public. They moved that quick to save their boy.

              Look, even the obsequious toadyish spineless Republican Senate admits Russia intervened in the election for Trump. Point One above is hopeless for you. Do you think Two will be any better?

              Trump’s campaign manager gave private briefings to a man U.S. Intelligence listed as a Russian spy. When DJT’s son was told Putin’s government wanted to secretly help Daddy’s campaign, he responded with unrestrained glee. In an email no less. Trump’s nominee as National Security Advisor lied about his Russian contacts to the Vice President and FBI. Trump’s son-in-law asked the Russians if he could use their embassy’s secure communication lines – so his own government wouldn’t hear what he said to Russia. Trump’s fixer carried on secret negotiations with Moscow officials on a massive business deal throughout the campaign – right up to the eve of the election. And Trump repeatedly lied about this when ask specific questions on his dealings with Russia.

              Of course that’s not all, but it’s more than enough to justify Point Two. What special counsel investigation of the past decades had so much grounds. When people say its unfair Trump was investigated, they’re really saying the same standards shouldn’t apply to Trump as with his predecessors. That he’s such a dumpster-fire mess he should be graded on a curve…..

        2. Irrelevant, and not true. A made up regurgitated talking point.

          You can tell you are dealing with an NPC, (and at this late date one with very little processing power that badly needs an update) whenever they go to the “official US Policy” line, as if whatever Obama and Biden wanted was ” official”, but what Trump wants isn’t official

      2. as YOU prove Jonathan Gruber’s point …….. to a T

        1. Update your references.

    2. As I recall, Somin refused to engage with this question, admitting freely that Biden might also have committed an impeachable offense under his rather outlandish Constitutional interpretative scheme. In Sominland, the fact that others don’t get punished for the same conduct as the accused is simply irrelevant, and Yick Wo should have gone to jail.

  3. Your interpretation of 18 USC 601 is far too broad. If an investigation performed by a political authority empowered to conduct such an investigation is a thing of value, then routine decisions by executive authorities are likely fall afoul this statute. Investigations and prosecutions, as well as all sorts of other decisions made by authorities, are likely to benefit the incumbent administration. Your rule would criminalize routine executive branch functions.

    Not even Adam Schiff was stupid enough to claim Trump violated these statutes.

    1. So in your favorable instance, everyone agreed that corruption was bad and wanted to do something about it, so therefore It Was Good. But in your unfavorable instance, only Trump agreed that corruption was bad and wanted to do something about it, so therefore It Was Bad.

      Both involved uncovering or punishing corruption. The only difference seems to be that one involved a corrupt foreigner, the other a corrupt Vice-President who later was running for President.

      1. One problem with the second example is that it’s completely implausible that Trump cares about corruption per se based on his own statements on the matter.

      2. Technically, the corrupt son of a corrupt Vice-President.

        1. Relatives of important people get paid for positions they aren’t qualified for. It’s a sort of mundane corruption that sort of blends into the background and only comes up when someone sees the opportunity to make political hay.

          1. Presidents aren’t legally required to be jaded and corrupt in this manner.

            1. Fair enough. But Trump is the last person on the planet to have any credibility on the issue of familial nepotism.

  4. What will Ilya write about when Trump is out of office?

    1. I presume that same stuff he wrote about for years and years and years before Trump was a brown stain on America’s political underpants.

      1. He’s still writing about the same stuff. He’s never changed.

        1. I think academia rewards that kind of repetitiveness. Branding, and all.

    2. The same things he always writes about? Property rights, zoning, immigration, rational ignorance, voting with your feet, etc.

      1. And that he isn’t Ilya Shapiro.

  5. Josh Blackman is not a professor of law. He is a professor of lawlessness. Ilya Somin is a professor of law.

    1. and some of the biggest crooks in American history have been a professor of law

      1. Which professor of law have some of the biggest crooks in American been?

    2. Ah, apparently JBDS is now a thing.

  6. Remember when the Democrats impeached the President because he made a phone call? Yeah funny how the media stopped covering that the second it was over.

  7. Hey, give Josh some credit. He does let Ilya, Eugene, and the other Conspirators occasionally post on his blog.

    1. Lol.

      Sometimes I wonder why Eugene et al., let him drown them out here. But perhaps they don’t care because people in the real world take them seriously so they don’t need infinity blog posts to boost their profile.

  8. You can’t even beat this dead horse any more, it’s already been turned to glue.

  9. In a criminal trial, the prosecution would (mos likely) fail to prove abuse of power. The Ukrainian president and anyone with firsthand knowledge of the call all insisted that that they saw neither pressure nor QPQ. “Do me a favor” and other details of that conversation was mostly Trump’s style of stream of conscious dialogue where he either says something that’s on his mind of jump onto tangential topics on the fly.

    To me it’s real stretch to say what Trump did amounted to digging up dirt on Biden. Hunter’s company was already investigated and Biden’s conflict of interest was a known topic. Trump wasn’t asking for random financial record or photos he could use on Biden. He asked them to look into existing matters if they could.

    Trump did himself no favor by not releasing approved funding in time. Intent for QPQ could be a crime. Trump says he had other concerns on Ukraine. Enough for removal? I don’t think so.

    “He acted suspicious” and breaking protocol isn’t enough for impeachment and removal for most fair minded Americans. All available evidence of Trump didn’t try to coerce Ukraine into doing his bidding – compared to what the FBI did to Flynn, it was bluster at worst. A political process still requires some level of standard and consistency. If a party can exonerate a president who actually committed a major crime (perjury) they cannot demand the other party impeach their president over appearances.

    1. Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for private gain didn’t begin with the phone call. In a White House meeting weeks beforehand, Gordon Sonland told Ukrainian officials their president must commit to a publicly announced investigation, promise this in writing, and the announcement had to be on-air. These were the preconditions for a presidential summit Ukraine desperately wanted. Remember, this was the meeting where Bolton stormed-out raging, “I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up”

      It started well over a year before the call. Trump had his broken husk of a lawyer Giuliani and two crook associates Parnas & Fruman pressure Ukraine’s officials for Biden dirt. The Ukrainians were even told cooperation on Biden affected who would represent the U.S. at Zelensky’s inauguration. Pence was scheduled to go, but backed out at the last minute.

      Bottom line? Trump was running a parallel foreign policy totally at odds with aims of his own State Department. Per Trump’s own repeated demand, this hustle was channeled thru the burnt-out Rudy Giuliani and his thuggish henchmen. And its purpose was exclusively Trump’s own private gain. And he traded the foreign policy favor of the United States to that end.

      You don’t find that wrong? What does that say about you?

      1. “Trump was running a parallel foreign policy totally at odds with aims of his own State Department.”

        Oh dear, the President of the US is trying to control his foreign policy. Where are my smelling salts?

        “parallel foreign policy”

        Libs really believe that government departments are independent entities [at least when a GOP is in the White House].

        1. The irony is that the same people saying that also think that Michael Flynn was entitled to conduct his own foreign policy on behalf of private citizen Donald Trump while Barack Obama was the president.

          1. Trying to revive the Logan act again? In fact, Presidents elect routinely DO start conducting foreign policy before taking office. Even candidates for President start making foreign contacts before the election. Not only was the Obama administration to be talking to foreign leaders in 2008, I guarantee the Clinton campaign were engaged in some degree of diplomacy back in 2016, too.

            1. Even candidates for President start making foreign contacts before the election.

              Well, that’s okay; making foreign contacts is not barred by the Logan Act. You’re free to say, “Hi, nice to meet you” to a foreign leader. You just can’t negotiate on behalf of the United States.

              1. Yeah, but it doesn’t really matter what the Logan act does and doesn’t prohibit, because it’s the Logan act. You know, enacted along with the Alien and Sedition acts? Nobody EVER convicted under it in over 200 years, and only a couple of even abortive attempts to enforce it?

                You actually CAN just negotiate on behalf of the United States, because everyone knows the Logan act is unconstitutional, in addition to being routinely violated by every President elect in history.

                1. You’re doing that thing again when you pretend your whims represent actual legal knowledge. There is an argument that the Logan Act is unconstitutional. I doubt it is a winning one.

          2. Talking to foreign officials from countries we have diplomatic relations with is neither illegal nor “conduct[ing] his own foreign policy”. It is actually a common occurance.

            For instance, the Obama campaign sent an advisor to Canada before the election in 2008 to reassure the Canadians that Obama was not serious about renegotiating NAFTA. No FBI investigation there.

            1. Talking to foreign officials from countries we have diplomatic relations with is neither illegal nor “conduct[ing] his own foreign policy”.

              Indeed, it’s not. But negotiating with them on behalf of the U.S. is.

              1. Good thing Flynn was not doing that.

        2. Col Vindman was in charge of Official policy, don’tcha know. It says so right there in the latest edition of the Proggy Living Breathing Constitution Document

        3. Bob from Ohio : Oh dear, the President of the US is trying to control his foreign policy.

          Kinda ignoring the fact that Trump’s faux foreign policy was conducted thru his washed-up sleaze of a personal attorney and two petty crooks. Or that it was a hustle exclusively for Trump’s personal benefit.

          So much fake indignation Bob, when the truth is clear and obvious. Who is your “control of foreign policy” shtick supposed to fool? The whole year-plus scam was Trump trying to favor of the United States for Trump’s private gain. Follow the entire slime trail and it’s always about Trump, never about U.S. policies, goals, or interests. You know, Pompeo has been a proper groveling toady. If Trump wanted “control of foreign policy” he didn’t have to use garbage like Giuliani, Parnas & Fruman. He could have dealt thru his Secretary of State.

          Here’s a hint : Trump’s fake foreign policy was run like a huckster con because it was a huckster con. QED

          1. Yes, we’re ignoring the irrelevant and the unproven allegations, and focusing on the legally relevant point: Presidents ARE entitled to conduct foreign policy.

  10. No, Ilya, you didn’t misunderstand his post, nor did you misinterpret it, nor did you misread it, nor did you mistake it.

    The parallelism was intentional. The post was entirely framed around it.

    No, I won’t give Blackman the benefit of the doubt, and no, I won’t take his word for it about what he meant. What he meant is plain as day.

    But at least I did learn something new about Blackman’s response:

    “At most, it cast doubt on a property-fraud theory article of impeachment.”

    I learned that he’s an intellectual coward.

    1. “I learned that he’s an intellectual coward.”

      Did you just find that out? I mean, he’s been displaying that for some time.

      Then again, there’s a fine line between intellectual cowardice and “toadying in the hope that the Trump takeover of the GOP is permanent and I will get an appellate position someday.”

      1. It’s going to be tricky for Trump-world to find the toadying amidst all the pedantry. He needs to start throwing out more red meat to get on their radar.

  11. Now we finally know where Turley was coming from?

  12. Apologizing to gaslighters is reversible error.

  13. Really amazing that the only time SCOTUS can manage to make unanimous rulings is when they are ensuring that corrupt government officials can act with impunity. In any case, I thought the proper charge for their behavior was the civil rights charge that the 3rd Circuit absurdly dismissed. If there isn’t a right to cross an interstate bridge without politically motivated interference, what rights are there?

    1. The last question is phrased so ludicrously that I can’t tell if you’re joking.

    2. “In any case, I thought the proper charge for their behavior was”

      And this is why the decision was unanimous. It wasn’t the proper charge. This decision had nothing to do with the Court thinking the government officials weren’t corrupt, or that they should enjoy immunity. It was entirely about their having been charged with a crime that they hadn’t satisfied a key element of.

      Suppose I hide in the bushes, and jump out to scare you when you get your mail. And as a result you suffer a heart attack and end up in the hospital. And the prosecutor charges me with battery.

      If on appeal the conviction is reversed because I never touched you, and I should have instead been charged with assault, who should you blame? The appeals court?

      No, the idiot prosecutor. Surely there’s SOME crime he could have found that actually fit the conduct. But, no, he had to go after them on something they hadn’t done.

      1. No, the prosecutor brought both charges. The 3rd Circuit reversed the “civil rights” charge, and now SCOTUS the fraud charge.

  14. Quid pro quo is not the only Latin phrase that applied to the impeachment farce. Cui Bono was an appropriate question.

    Who benefited from the sham trail that occurred after Biden had the prosecutor fired? Did Zlochevsky have to give up his ill-gotten extraction licenses? Did Ukraine seize his businesses? No, he paid a slap-on-the-wrist fine for back taxes and was free to go his merry way.

    The Biden’s engaged in a protection racket with young Biden being the bag man and senior being the enforcer. That is as plain as day based on what actually occurred and who benefitted.

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