Donald Trump

Impeachable Offenses Need not be Criminal Offenses


As Democrats continue to poll test what exactly will be included in the inevitable articles of impeachment and Republicans continue to hunt for a shiny object that might distract voter attention from the president's actions, I revisit a very basic question relating to the impeachment power—Are "high crimes and misdemeanors" limited to violations of the federal criminal code? Since Trump's inauguration, Alan Dershowitz has been pushing the claim that the House cannot launch a valid impeachment without evidence of an actual felony, and that's another thing about which he is wrong when it comes to impeachments. Trump supporters are now embracing a new chant of "where's the crime?" It seems like a good time to reemphasize that it is possible to commit an impeachable offense without engaging in conduct that might get you prosecuted in an ordinary court of law.

The whole piece is over at Lawfare. Check it out. Here's a taste:

Despite what Trump's supporters say, however, the president can commit an impeachable high crime without violating the federal criminal law. To conclude otherwise would be to ignore the original meaning, purpose and history of the impeachment power; to subvert the constitutional design of a system of checks and balances; and to leave the nation unnecessarily vulnerable to abusive government officials.

. . . .

A president who egregiously misuses the powers of his office or engages in conduct grossly incompatible with the dignity of his office has forfeited the right to continue to occupy his office and is subject to the constitutional judgment of the Senate acting as a court of impeachment. The House and the Senate might conclude that accusations of misconduct are ungrounded or that the remedy of removal is unwarranted, but the misconduct that they might assess need not involve violations of the criminal law.

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  1. Fine. Go ahead and impeach him. *Yawn*

    The Senate is not going to convict and remove. I’d love for this whole charade to be done and over with.

    1. That would enable American voters to decide how to address those circumstances.

      An American electorate that is four years less rural, four years less religious, four years less intolerant, and four years less white than the one that gave Pres. Trump a chance at a three-cushion trick shot at the Electoral College.

      I am content.

      1. It astonishes me how you can so consistently prove that you are the most bigoted and least tolerant person on these threads.

        1. And a shithead. Don’t forget shithead.

        2. I’m no fan of Arthur’s rhetoric, but asserting that he’s “the most bigoted and least tolerant person on these threads” is laughable. It marks you as blinded by your own biases.

      2. Your frustrated hatred of America is delicious.

  2. How little you must think of Reason’s readership that you thought this article merited posting.

    1. To think I used to really respect this guy’s opinions, as he seemed a sane head in the rather loopy field of political science. I have a copy of his Political Foundations Judicial Supremacy book sitting on my shelf at home that I still think is a great work.

      1. Are you two disparaging him just because he made a criticism of Republicans? Clearly he is correct that impeachable offenses need not be criminal. He makes a very detailed and convincing argument, none of which either of you engage with. So I don’t really understand the disparagement, unless it’s entirely ideological.

        His “shiny object” characterization may or may not be right, but it doesn’t have much to do with the main thrust of his argument.

  3. Whittington has it backwards. For days and days we’ve been treated to high profile hearings about the president’s supposed corruption and Ukraine, and the polls have stayed the same (or gone higher for Trump in some instances).

    It’s not the GOP looking for some shiny to distract the nation from the presidents “wrongdoings”, rather it is the democrats trying to find some hook, anything, to try to get the president’s poll numbers low enough that the GOP will ditch him or he won’t get re-elected.

    1. I love delusional comments like this.

      1. Delusion is in the eye of the beholder.

        The truth is that Trump’s Approval ratings haven’t budged outside a narrow range since May of 2018, and it’s hard to look and see any statistically significant effect on his approval from impeachment, or anything else for that matter for an entire year before the release of Mueller’s Russian probe.

        The voters in about 6 states will decide who is delusional in about a year.

        1. Yes, he went into the election about 20% underwater in popularity, won anyway, got a very brief honeymoon before the memo got out among Democrats that he wasn’t to have one, and then dropped back to his pre-inauguration popularity. Which hasn’t varied more than a few points up and down since.

          Pro-impeachment sentiment hasn’t changed all that much, either: 58% of Democrats wanted him impeached in the first poll I’ve found on the question, in February 2017.

          It’s actually pretty remarkable how little the numbers change, given how terrifyingly bad his media coverage is. At this point, I wouldn’t be shocked if the networks started leading every newscast with a ritual chant of “Trump must die!”, it’s that bad.

          I guess it’s because all the variation in his approval is among Republicans, since basically every last Democrat is stuck at hating him with the white hot fury of a thousand exploding suns regardless of anything that happens.

          1. It’s actually pretty remarkable how little the numbers change, given how terrifyingly bad his media coverage is. At this point, I wouldn’t be shocked if the networks started leading every newscast with a ritual chant of “Trump must die!”, it’s that bad.

            The Fourth Estate has lost it’s credibility. They have no one but themselves to blame. American’s simply do not trust the press as an institution. The election (and polling) of 2016 showed that.

  4. If the constitution says “high crimes and misdemeanors” and there is no actual crime that one would see a criminal case for in a court of law (where we decide guilt or innocence in such things everywhere else), then the word “crime” means whatever the House wants it to mean I suppose.

    1. It took less than half an hour to disprove Spinach Chin’s assertion that the Reason readership didn’t need this article.

      1. These two aren’t exactly the same.

      2. Maybe the offense doesn’t need to be a crime, but at the very least the offense should actually be an offense.

    2. #LivingConstitution

  5. The House is going to impeach Trump for whatever they want to make up. Truth is not an obstacle for this bunch. They already made up a ton of lies about Russia and everything else. What is another heap of garbage to a bunch of dirty dirty liars. They would have voted to impeach Trump if the content of the articles of impeachment were just blank pieces of paper.

    But, hey, while they waste their time doing this at least they aren’t messing up something else. Also these are the same people who were telling us just two months ago we needed new gun bans to save children’s lives NOW (not it wasn’t maybe down the road or in the future but NOW). Guess the blood of those kids doesn’t matter that much when there is a new partisan axe to grind.

    1. Even in their time wasting they are doing evil.

      4th amendment erosion and evasion act was just reauthorized by the house again today.

    2. They would have voted to impeach Trump if the content of the articles of impeachment were just blank pieces of paper.

      Weird, then, that they waited 3 years into Trump’s presidency.

      1. “Weird, then, that they waited 3 years into Trump’s presidency.”

        The GOP had the majority the first two years.

  6. Is the argument now that requesting another nation look into possibly corrupt actions by American actors is an egregious misuse of the powers of the Presidency or conduct grossly incompatible with the dignity of the office just because it will make the opposition party look bad?

    There’s a reason Republicans keep asking where the crime is. It’s not because it needs to be criminal to trigger impeachment, but because it needs to be something more than mere unsavory behavior.

    1. Trading U.S. government favor for private gain.

      You can whine, moan, shed snowflake tears, obfuscate, weasel and wail, but it doesn’t change what Trump did. Still, there’s a certain entertainment factor in watching Trump’s defenders pretend he gives the slightest damn about corruption in Ukraine or anywhere else. Corruption only concerns Trump when it’s a business opportunity.

      1. And your wining and moaning, and the Dems’ whining and moaning, doesn’t change the fact that the two Bidens were engaged in some mighty fishy matters to the tune of $1M a year, actual corruption, which Trump was supposedly trying to get the Ukrainians to look into.

        That little bit is glossed over so often as to make one stop wondering and start assuming.

        1. It gets better. Little Biden was apparently using his influence to help the Chinese buy US Companies, and slip through the regulatory process regarding military technology.

          1. Armchair Lawyer : It gets better.

            To be sure. Total fantasy always seems better than mundane fact, if your mind runs that way……

            1. Sadly for you, he has actual facts on his side.

              You only have hearsay, innuendo, and the butthurt feelings of a handful of deep state doofuses who should be rotting in a prison cell when this is all over with.

              1. Uh huh.
                “Actual facts”

              2. What criminal statutes do you claim the ¨deep state doofuses¨ have violated? Please be specific, citing by number preferably.

                  1. You’re getting a bit fascistic there.

                    There is no sedition exception to the First Amendment.

                    1. 🙂

                      For a real answer, look at Brennan, Comey, Clapper and others lying to Congress.

            2. Hunter Biden assisted the Aviation Industry Corporation of China in its purchase of Henniges Automotive, a company that makes critical anti-vibration technology for the US military. This is despite the Aviation Industry Corporation of China being involved in stealing information on the US F-35.

              This takeover required the approval of the Obama administration’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which went…unusually quickly.

              1. Let’s start with the basics : Explain how Hunter Biden “assisted” in this purchase. Please be aware you need an argument that normal people find persuasive. Echo nonsense bouncing around the Bubble just ain’t gonna cut it.

                Biden owned a tiny percentage of a fund looking to invest in China, so:

                (1) You’ll need to work within that factual boundary.

                (2) It’ll be hard going. You’ll look for any company that investment fund put a dime into. You’ll look for any (alleged) misdeed that company did. This you’ll claim as evidence of Hunter Biden’s demonic quest for unbridled evil.

                But normal people will ignore you. Biden just owned a tiny percentage of a fund looking to invest in China. You need more than that. Back to the drawing board, huh?

                1. I’m glad you asked. Now this purchase of Henniges Automotive was a deal, where the Aviation Industry Corporation of China bought 51% and BHR Partners purchased 49%. Now what is BHR Partners you ask?

                  Ah yes, it’s a special firm created by a merger of Bohai Industrial Investment Fund our of China and Rosemont Seneca Partners, which was cofounded by….Hunter Biden. And indeed, Hunter is on the board with this firm, owning some 10-15% of it, and has gotten at least $700,000 out.

                  But what misdeeds? Investments in companies (CGN) which steal US nuclear secrets. Investments in companies which use technology to help identify “undesirables” in the Muslim areas of China. Continued “consulting” fees from Burisma for some reason (no one seems to know why). And more.

                  1. Hunter Biden owns a small piece of a company which invested in a firm that “weatherstrips the world’s cars”

                    (…… waiting ……. ) Oh? That’s it? That’s all you have to offer?

                    1. If you aren’t aware of protectionist JV law (domestic firm requiring controlling ownership) and the conflict that arises from having a substantial interest on both sides of the aisle, then this entire conversation is lost on you.

                    2. Biden assisted a Chinese Military Aviation company in its takeover of a US company that makes high-end dual use material, and was paid substantially for it.

              2. News Story Headline : “Henniges Automotive Weather Strips World’s Vehicles”


                Bloomberg description : Henniges Automotive Holdings, Inc. operates as a holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, offers sealing systems for doors, windows, trunks, lift gates, encapsulated glass, obstacle detection systems, and rubber components. Henniges Automotive Holdings serves clients globally.

                Absolutely. Hilarious.

                1. Dual use?

                  Henniges Automotive was involved most notably in technology for sealing and anti-vibration, which is clearly of interest to complex weapon systems like warships, main battle tanks, self-propelled artillery, and combat aircraft.

                2. Dual Use technology still needs approval by the federal government. And it is cute how you keep hiding your sources behind… wonder why

                  1. Kind of hard to “hide” something that’s only a click away. But I forget no point or argument of yours ever stands even a moment’s scrunity. This one was coupled with a comment about “dual use technology” that – yep – falls apart after a minute’s research. Here’s is the last description I read of Henniges Automotive : “A U.S.-based company that made parts for high-end cars” The people selling you the story Henniges is critical to national defense are treating you like an idiot. How do you feel about that? Doesn’t it bother you?

                3. Except : I’ve done multiple searches of “Henniges Automotive” with “defense” or “military” and the only hits back are from Right-Wing freak sites. There was one exception from the Lee County Economic Development Group which I’ll reproduce in its entirety :

                  “The building was expanded in 1939 and again in 1945 immediately after World War II. During the war the plant made gas masks and shoe soles as well as sponge rubber parts for military automobiles.”

                  You would think SOMEONE would mention Henniges’ critical value to national security (aside from right-wing agitprop BSer’s or their gullible dupes), but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

                  Some troll researcher went through every investment remotely connected to Hunter Biden and this feather-light garbage is the best they achieved. And then they told you, Armchair Lawyer, that Biden was selling advanced weatherstripping tech to the Commies. Why? Because they look at you as a mark and consider you an imbecile. They seem to be right.

                  1. Dual-use technology is interesting. Let me tell you a little story about dual-use tech.

                    Back in 1935, Germany built a lot of high-end clockwork toys. Little things, kids would play with. But very intricate and exact. But, who cares, they’re just toys, right? Well, it turns out that type of high-end clockwork can be pretty easily retasked to making high-end fuses for explosives.

                    Now, you may want to consider, why is the Chinese, State-Owned, Aviation Industry of China (AKA, AVIC) buying an American company that just makes “weather stripping”. AVIC builds things like Fighters, Bombers, UAVs, and so on. Oh, and it has a past history of espionage in the US. Perhaps, in addition to “weather stripping” Henniges also makes high-end sealants, precise anti-vibration technology, and other technology that may be useful to a company that produces military aircraft.

          2. You know what has nothing to do with this impeachment? Hunter Biden and China.

            You know how I know you don’t want to defend the President? You keep bringing up smoke and mirrors like Hunter Biden’s actions.

            1. President Trump had a reason to ask about Hunters corruption.

              It was Hunters corruption. It’s highly relevant.

            2. I truly don’t understand this claim that Hunter Biden has nothing to do with an impeachment. Help me see what your point is.

              The Bidens do stuff in Ukraine. Some of that looks suspicious (Burisma).
              Trump thinks he got screwed over by long term political actors during the campaign and after his election. He thinks some of that came from Ukraine because it didn’t get uncovered in the Russia investigation.
              Trumps concerned that sending money to Ukraine is just feeding the beast that screwed him, so he wants to publicly lock the new Ukrainian President into an anti-corruption investigation, which he does by asking on the call.

              Now you may not think that Trump was actually concerned about corruption, but he’s said he is, so the way to determine if it’s likely true is to find out if there’s actually some truth to the implications from his words – if there’s something really there then that increases the background rate that he’s telling the truth (or at least, how he would tell it). If we find that everything was on the up and up that reduces the odds that corruption was his real concern. Of course, he could just have been wrong either way, but it tells us about the background rate.

              To find out if the Bidens were involved in corruption that resulted in more interference in the election by Ukraine than is already public, we have to investigate Hunter (at least). So how does he have nothing to do with it? That sounds like saying that a murder victim has nothing to do with the trial of a suspected murderer, after all we only care about what the suspect did, and that fact that the murder victim is still alive is irrelevant…..

              1. It’s more like if, in a murder trial, somebody pleads self defense, and the prosecution wants to rule out any inquiry into the actions of the dead person as irrelevant.

                Basically, nothing Trump did here is illegal if he had a legitimate motive for doing it. Democrats have reached the point where if Trump draws a breath, it’s not to avoid suffocation, but rather for nefarious reasons, so of course they assume he has a bad motive.

                The most straightforward defense for Trump to mount is to demonstrate that he really was fighting corruption, by proving the corruption really existed. And, facially, that does not look to be very challenging to do.

                1. No, the actual existence of Biden corruption isn’t actually all that relevant to justifying an investigation. There are lots of rules and procedures in the DOJ that govern starting and progressing investigations, and deviations from them support the alternate theory that this wasn’t just another legitimate corruption investigation. So, what preliminary information supported the initiation of an investigation? Why didn’t it begin domestically and then request foreign assistance through regular channels like happens every day with other investigations? Why was someone with a clear personal stake in the outcome directing it? Those are more relevant to the legitimacy of the investigation than whether in the end there was actual corruption to find.

                  1. There’s also not the necessity/exigency aspect to Trump’s actions that there is for self defense claims.

                  2. And as long as you’re listing rhetorical questions that refute Brett’s arguments, if the investigation were legitimate, then why was the demand for it secret? Why not announce that Ukraine doesn’t get aid or a state visit until it begins the investigation? And relatedly, why was the demand cancelled as soon as it was made public?

                2. It’s more like if, in a murder trial, somebody pleads self defense, and the prosecution wants to rule out any inquiry into the actions of the dead person as irrelevant.

                  No. It’s more like if, in a murder trial, someone pleads “he deserved it,” and the prosecution wants to rule out any inquiry into the actions of the dead person as irrelevant.

                  If you hire a hitman to kill your business partner because you think he was stealing from you, you will not be allowed to introduce evidence that the guy really was stealing, because that’s not a defense.

              2. “I truly don’t understand this claim that Hunter Biden has nothing to do with an impeachment. ”

                Because no matter how reasonable Trump’s suspicions about the Bidens were, it does not justify illegally impounding funds earmarked for Ukrainian military aid and making those funds contingent on the Ukrainian government announcing an investigation of the Bidens, as alleged. Thus what Hunter Biden did or didn’t do isn’t relevant to this particular investigation. If President Trump wants Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine investigated, he has lots of legal ways to accomplish that.

        2. Well I know Little Biden played empty suit so a company could rent a “Biden” for their corporate board letterhead. Of course, at the exact same time, that very same company purchased an ex-Polish president (Aleksander Kwaśniewski) for the same reason. My guess is Kwaśniewski knows no more about energy commodity trading than Little Biden. He was just another “name” added for surface prestige.

          But that’s not all : Simultaneously, the company also tapped Alan Apter (a well-respected investment banker) as its board chairman, brought in a entirely new executive team and hired established international firms to audit its reserves and financial results

          All very cosmetic I’m sure, but that’s the point. Hiring little Biden was part of a package: Extreme Corporate Makeover, so to speak. Kind hard to see much scandal in Little Biden earning a (very) cheap & empty dime as a walking PR stunt.

          And I know Big Biden pressured Ukraine – on orders of the President, following the directive of the State Department, for policy aims of the United States government, at the request of the European Union, in conjunction with similar pressure from the World Bank, and along with parallel action by the IMF and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. His pressure was applauded by every reform group in Ukraine, who then cheered when it proved successful. I wonder who in Ukraine applauded Trump’s corrupt sleaze?

          Now, you don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of finding the slightest impropriety in that, or any other conduct of Joe re Ukraine. You do know that, right?

          So tell us : What else ya got? I’ve got Trump trying to force another country to collude in his reelection campaign….

          1. “Kind hard to see much scandal in Little Biden earning a (very) cheap & empty dime as a walking PR stunt.”

            Hard to see much scandal if you’re already jaded by endemic political corruption, anyway.

            1. Brett, wanna talk about Trump’s children?

              1. Of course he doesn’t.

                Corrupt nepotism is only a problem when it’s alleged a Democrat did it.

      2. Do tell how you’re supposed to investigate a corrupt official from a previous administration who is also a political opponent without having some sort of private gain.

        If private gain was the only relevant factor, then all you would need to do to avoid investigation is declare candidacy.

        1. First, don’t emphasize the announcement of the investigation more than the investigation.

          Second use your own people – we have a pretty good Department of Justice that takes an interest to such things.

          Third, have an actual evidentiary predicate, not frantic handwaving that doesn’t hold together if you bother to look at the facts.

          1. First, make up some “requirements” for an investigation. Make them up after the fact, so you can say whatever was done didn’t meet the “requirements”.

            Second, move the goalposts as needed.

            1. These aren’t retroactive requirements, they’re red flags.

              1. The first two are completely made up by your side, and the third is far more than “hand waving.” Nothing would ever reach the level of an evidentiary predicate for you because it is imperative to maintain Biden’s firewall. If that fails the whole impeachment push fails and Trump likely gets re-elected. Everyone knows it smells like four day old fish but your side has become extremely hard of smelling lately. Those less partisan can still smell and the more the issue comes up the worse it is for Biden.

  7. Repeated polls have shown that outside of the TDS crowd the impeachment hearings float as well as a lead balloon. The administration needs to distract from nothing. Especially since the Dems are doing a wonderful job of having their star witness and lead investigator perjure themselves. In closed hearings he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is, suddenly in open hearings one of the people he talked to he can’t name and pencil neck jumps all over him to get him to shut up about it. Pencil neck who, need I remind you, not five days ago stated on the record that he didn’t know who the whistleblower was.

      1. How well was it floating 24 hours later?

        1. ->goalposts

          1. Given that the analogy was “as well as”, the goalposts have not shifted, you’re just a moron. A 8 cubic meter balloon at STP that can barely lift a few pounds and stops floating in less than 24 hours would not by anyone with even a rudimentary grasp of physics be considered to be floating well. In fact, having now watched the relevant portions of the episode in question, my analogy becomes even more apt, seeing as the balloon in question was stupidly delicate, finicky, and sprouted more holes than a gopher convention at a golf course. It was only through constant cover ups of the holes that it worked at all. The baseball that is the Senate will deflate the sucker right fucking quick.

    1. Repeated polls have shown that outside of the TDS crowd the impeachment hearings float as well as a lead balloon.

      If that’s true, I guess “the TDS crowd” is the majority of the country.

  8. According to 538 {Nate Silver], poll average was 47% for to 45.8% against on September 30. Today its 47.9% for, 45.4% against.

    45+ days of depositions and hearings and leaks and flood the zone biased press coverage and one point movement. You are getting zero GOP senators with those numbers. You might not even get 47 Dems.

    So talking about how many articles of impeachment can dance on the head of a pin is a waste of time. But NeverTrumpers gotta NeverTrump.

    1. In other words, impeachable offenses are whatever the voters say it is in Nov 2020.

      After Trump (really – after Clinton), all impeachments will be seen as political and partisan.

      1. “After Trump (really – after Clinton), all impeachments will be seen as political and partisan.”

        Suggest you look into the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868 (first impeachment of a US President). Like Clinton if failed in the Senate.

        The Andrew Johnson impeachment looks pretty political and partisan to me.

        1. Sure does, and Clinton’s is about as petty as they could get. Funny how the one impeachment which actually went nowhere due to the President resigning also had the most solid evidence of real crimes.

          1. Perjury is a real crime. To say nothing of using your position of authority to “convince” a younger woman in your office to sexually please you.

            1. Not to swan-dive into the tacky details, but I don’t recall there was much “convincing” before said younger woman dropped her thong. That said, I admit Mr. Clinton could have shown a modicum of adult self-control and personal responsability. But hey : At least he didn’t use extortion to try and force a foreign country to collude in his reelection campaign.

              1. Not to swan-dive into the tacky details, but I don’t recall there was much “convincing” before said younger woman dropped her thong.

                Indeed, the opposite: the evidence is that she pursued him.

                1. Yeah, but that wasn’t really the issue was it?

                  The issue was that Clinton as Governor had a state Trooper drag a low level state employee into Clinton’s hotel room so Clinton could expose himself and proposition her. Then he lied and covered up evidence of a pattern of such behavior (i.e. Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey, etc) in Jones’ lawsuit leading to felony obstruction of Justice.

                  1. …Or he just lied about getting a BJ from an intern not his wife.

                    1. Sarcastro, conservatives viewed nailing Clinton on that perjury as being similar to nailing Dillinger on tax evasion. Scandal after scandal ended in vanished evidence, expired statutes of limitations, and mysteriously uncooperative witnesses.

                      Then, finally, the Clinton obstruction machine screws up, and doesn’t manage to get and destroy the blue dress, and Clinton is proven guilty as hell through objective physical evidence. Should they have cared that he was proven guilty as hell of perjury and obstruction of justice, rather than the previous offenses he’d managed to obstruct the investigations into?

                      They were just glad that, for once, his well oiled obstruction machine had been less than successful.

                    2. Way to admit that conservatives in the 90s were what y’all are claiming liberals are today.

                      ‘I know he’s bad, even if I can’t prove the bad bits. Lets take him down by hook or by crook!’

                  2. But to his credit, he did advise her, “Better put some ice on that.”

                    1. The evidentiary quantum you need to believe something about a Clinton is remarkably different from what you need to believe something about Trump.

            2. Perjury on some level is as common as political lies. Clinton’s perjury was a very tame sort. He’s a rapist, that’s obvious; but he (and Hillary) had made much worse lies in dodging all the previous rape claims.

              1. I don’t think it’s wise for a Trump supporter to raise the subject of rape.

                1. Why not? What’s the made up story behind your innuendo?

              2. There are lies, then there’s perjury. The two aren’t quite the same.

                1. As Trump may be about to find out vis-a-vis his denial of his campaign communicating with Roger Stone?

        2. It was = The Andrew Johnson impeachment looks pretty political and partisan to me.

    2. Prior to the whistleblower’s complaint, support for impeachment was only about 40% with about 50% opposed. So while the hearings haven’t converted anyone, they haven’t detracted from the whistleblower’s complaint either. And, the impact of the complaint isn’t something to sneeze at.

      1. Trump’s approval rating is still near the top of the range it has been for 2 years so it has not had too much of an impact.

  9. Impeachment, as we’re all reminded by each party on different days, is a political process. That means that the offenses need to be something that Trump’s voters will accept, however reluctantly, as worthy of impeachment. I am here to tell you that right now, the claimed offenses do not in any way meet that bar.

    1. Trump’s voters famously wouldn’t care if he shot random strangers on Fifth Avenue. I don’t think a normal person should seek ethical guidance from Trump voters.

      If GOP Senators don’t think trading foreign policy favor of the United States for personal benefit warrants impeachment removal, then the country will just have to move on, that’s all. Better it plays out for the record, rather than we wait for Trump voters to learn the difference between wrong & right.

      That might take too long……

      1. Trump’s voters famously wouldn’t care if he shot random strangers on Fifth Avenue. I don’t think a normal person should seek ethical guidance from Trump voters.

        Dems make up a story, repeat it, decide to believe it.

        1. Ben, real quick – would you indeed not vote for Trump in 2020 if he shot some strangers on Fifth Avenue? Isn’t that a small price to pay for judges, keeping Commie Sanders out of the White House, and protecting Christian values as only the GOP can?

          1. False story. Trump shot no one. I’m not interested in your weird fantasies.

            Also, I live in a state where it makes no difference who you vote for for President.

            1. A telling evasion.

              1. Awesome story about “evasion”. Well crafted.

                1. It’s very easy to write ‘No, you idiot, I wouldn’t vote for Trump if he murdered people.’

                  You didn’t do that. For some reason.

                  1. Dumb hypotheticals are dumb. You can make up whatever answer you want. Something with vampires would be interesting. Try that.

                    It’s very easy to just stick to facts instead of making up stories and hypotheticals.

                    1. I’m asking this hypothetical to gauge your level of Trump support. Hypothetical are a well accepted and well-used method of determining levels of support.
                      After all, I know your support under the current facts is unshaken.

                      And so: would you not vote for Trump in 2020 if he shot some strangers on Fifth Avenue? Isn’t that a small price to pay for judges, keeping Commie Sanders out of the White House, and protecting Christian values as only the GOP can?

                      As this is not a court of law, I will take nonresponse to create a negative presumption. With relish.

                    2. Answering hypothetical nonsense questions is a rhetorical loser move. So no.

                    3. You really think it’s a loser move to say that if Trump murders someone he’s lost your support?


  10. Well, obviously. For example, President Trump’s impeachable offense was winning an election that he wasn’t supposed to win.

  11. While it’s true that the Legislature can impeach the President for tying his tie the wrong way, I’m having a hard time convincing myself that’s the right long-term standard.

    Dershowitz is wrong if he says the House cannot impeach without evidence of a felony. But should they be impeaching without something serious enough that we would generally call it a felony? Do you really want to turn the impeachment process into the weak sister of a parliamentary vote-of-no-confidence?

    1. Yeah. Johnson’s article 11 of impeachment really took the cake there.

    2. Impeaching for a non-crime (and what’s this “federal crime” stuff? Surely if he killed someone, a state crime, he could be impeached) just seems like an even harder hill to climb if you wanna convince the vast majority he needs to go.

      I wonder. Is this just legal wondering about the finer point of law, as many come here for? Or is it preperatory ground work for yet another goalpost shift?

      1. “Sing sing, Geddes! SING SING!”

        I hope a great movie comes from this.

        1. Ir might behoove everybody to watch Citizen Kane, partially about powerful people using criminal charges to hurt political opponents and dragging it out in the news.

          Kane Caught in Love Nest With “Singer”

          Kane owns a newspaper he grew to phenomenal success.

          Friend: The People will think…
          Kane: …what I tell them to think.

          If, for the generic you, you think I’m talking about your side, you’re right.

    3. Dershowitz is wrong if he says the House cannot impeach without evidence of a felony. But should they be impeaching without something serious enough that we would generally call it a felony? Do you really want to turn the impeachment process into the weak sister of a parliamentary vote-of-no-confidence?

      Impeachment is meaningless; the removal vote in the senate is what counts. That requires a 2/3 vote. If you can convince 67 senators that something warrants removal, then, yes, the president should be removed.

  12. So, originally I thought “Of course impeachment is whatever Congress wants it to be”.

    But then I thought further. Impeachment is limited to “high crimes and misdemeanors” (as well as treason and bribery). And for impeachment, there actually does need to be a charge. It can not be “nothing”. It cannot be “His name is Trump” or “He asked a friendly foreign government to help investigate a US citizen who was implicated in selling the Chinese US military secrets”. You need a charge.

    So…what’s the charge? You going to go with Charge 11 against Johnson? “Bringing disgrace and ridicule to the presidency”? Doing such would undermine the presidency as a political institution. Any time 2/3rds of the Senate and the House disagreed with the President, they’d just replace him or her.

  13. I don’t think a normal person should seek ethical guidance from Trump voters.

    Oh hell nos…The voters don’t get any input into their self governance.

  14. OK, if a “president who egregiously misuses the powers of his office or engages in conduct grossly incompatible with the dignity of his office has forfeited the right to continue to occupy his office” then yes the House was right to impeach Clinton, and knowing what we know now, Obama should have been impeached before he got out the White House door.

    But I think most sane Americans recognize that it was a mistake to impeach Clinton for his perjury about his gross conduct. And we found out what Obama and his minions did only after he left office (too bad the MSM wasn’t on top of that).

    However much you hate Trump — and I didn’t vote for him — any honest person has to admit that this Ukraine business is a pathetically weak ground for impeachment. They tried Russian collusion with stealing an election, and it turned out Trump didn’t do that. They tried obstruction of justice, and that didn’t work either. So now they are going to impeach a President because he decided to call foul on a previous Vice President who abused his office? If Biden weren’t a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, or when Biden drops out of the Democrat primary or is dropped out by the Party (as will happen), will that make Trump’s actions re Ukraine non-impeachable?

    This is just silly. And if I were a Democrat or a MSM commentator, I’d be ashamed.

    1. Your definition of a ‘reasonable person’ seems awfully partisan to me.

      Almost as though you’re ignoring all of the facts regarding the criminal behavior of Trump to use taxpayer resources as a bargaining tool to extort the Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation into the Bidens.

      Not corruption at large, mind you. THE BIDENS SPECIFICALLY.

      Someone about whom you have no evidence of any wrongdoing, but it fits the President’s political conspiracies, so you’re ok with it.

      1. Now do the Trump Russian collusion farce dumb ass

        Listen you first need evidence of a crime and then you go from there

        You folks just can’t stop investigating a person in search of a crime.

        Also it takes a special kind of idiot to think Ukrainian oligarchs pay folks millions for nothing

    2. So now they are going to impeach a President because he decided to call foul on a previous Vice President who abused his office?

      Or perhaps, Trump decided to extort a foreign government in order smear his political rival? If you accept that conclusion, doesn’t impeachment and removal look justified to an honest person?

      If Biden weren’t a candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination [would] that make Trump’s actions re Ukraine non-impeachable?

      I strongly suspect if Biden weren’t a candidate, Trump would not have requested that Zelensky announce an investigation into Biden or his son.

      1. I would love to know why you think investigations shouldn’t be based on political feasibility. Why aren’t we investigating Clinton at a rapid pace? Because she isn’t going anywhere. She isn’t seeking a position of power where her corruption could do real harm. It makes the most sense to go after Biden since he’s a candidate seeking election. The same logic can also defend the pre-2016 investigation of Trump and his surrogates as well.

    3. However much you hate Trump — and I didn’t vote for him — any honest person has to admit that this Ukraine business is a pathetically weak ground for impeachment.

      Weird, because I’d say that any honest person realizes that “this Ukraine business” is an overwhelmingly strong ground for impeachment.

      I supported the impeachment of Clinton, but what Trump undisputedly did is far worse. And the only defense he has is that he should be removed via the 25th amendment instead of impeached because he’s so delusional that he thought he was acting in good faith.

      (He should have been removed for obstruction of justice already, but “this Ukraine business” is far worse; that was backwards-looking, while this is forwards-looking.)

      1. What did Trump do? Correct the corruption of his predecessor. He asked Ukraine to restart the probe into Burisma. Anything that Biden did to stop that would only be uncovered in that. Or did we read the same document?

        I’m sorry, but Biden’s actions were explicitly corrupt. In my opinion, anyone who does not think that this is at least worthy of heavy investigation does not fit the definition of a “reasonable person”.

        After this kangaroo court, I can honestly say that I do not think that we could get an honest investigation from our own people. Even if Trump had tried to start such an investigation, we would be right back here with you talking about how corrupt it is to investigate Biden.

        You cannot avoid the fact that this precedent would make it criminal to investigate active corruption from a political opponent. That is untenable.

        1. Three reasons why Trump wants to smear Biden rather than weed out corruption:

          1) He wanted Zelensky only to announce an investigation, not conduct one.

          2) The only corruption Trump cares about his Biden’s.

          3) Rather than having the Justice or State Department leadint he effort, Trump chose Giuliani.

          1. Well, let’s call the kettle “black” for a minute.

            We have apologists bending definitions back and forth beyond any rational belief in order to exonerate Biden simply to make Trump look bad. We say the headlines that were in praise of Al-Bagdhadi, a walking supervillain who literally raped hundreds of women, legalized slavery, and wanted to take over the world. The Washington Post called him an “austere scholar”. Why? Because it would mute an unequivocal Trump success.

            Then, we have this “impeachment” where they have all but announced the verdict before the hearings even began. The chance of actually removing Trump from office is essentially zero. Listening to the statements that are being said, it’s essentially griping about their superior’s policies and actions. Nothing corrupt, nothing criminal. The worst accusation is incompetence, but that’s from people who were ignored or discharged, so they are hardly neutral parties. It’s been all but admitted by Pelosi that this is a public relations stunt to make Trump look bad.

            Finally, Trump chose someone he knew he could trust. As we have seen, there has been a huge number of never-Trumpers in the administrative state. The former mayor of New York City might not have an official government role at the moment, but he is not a private citizen by normal standards.

            1. You, uh, didn’t respond to anything Josh R wrote.

              1. He did respond to my third point. If the deep state was the problem, he could have had Barr lead the effort.

          2. That’s some top tier semantics there. What good is an investigation without an announcement? And why announce something and establish an expectation if you’re not going to deliver? Your logic doesn’t follow.

            1. You announce the conclusion of an investigation, not it’s start.

              Unless, of course, you don’t care about the conclusion, only the appearance it creates.

            2. Just like Comey’s announcement of reopening the email investigation hurt Clinton, an announcement hurts Biden. That’s all that Trump wants.

              And why announce something and establish an expectation if you’re not going to deliver?

              The military aid was conditioned only to an announcement. From Zelensk’s perspective, there is no need to delver anything else. From Trump’s perspective, the damage to Biden is done.

          3. 1) Speculation. No proof of that.

            2) Ditto, but if you know of anyone who has advertised as flagrantly as Biden his influence for hire by all means let us know.

            3) Also Barr so that leaves State and why would he trust anyone at the State Department? But more to the point he is not obligated to use anyone; he is free to designate anyone he chooses to represent him. I admit the Dems have been fairly successful at making up rules that Trump is supposed to follow. That they exist nowhere in Article II doesn’t seem to slow them or their press lackeys one bit.

            1. So you’ve not been watching the testimony over the last few days about what the deliverable was?

              We also have a quote about Trump’s Ukraine interests. Big Stuff only, which seems to encompass exactly one thing…

              Trump appointed the officials in the State Department! And what does Also Barr mean?

              1. He never said he didn’t want an investigation conducted. Someone may have speculated to that effect but it’s meaningless.

                Who else should he be interested in? Have any names?

                “Also Barr” means he named Barr as well as Giuliani as contacts to Zelensky. If he trusted Rudy more than some diplomat he could use him. Kissinger was Nixon’s NSA not Sec. of State when he had him working out the China visit. NSA by the way does not have to be confirmed so is basically like Rudy with a title.

                1. He never said he didn’t want an investigation conducted
                  That is the lowest bar…

                  Who else should he be interested in? Have any names?
                  Good point. No other corruption issues in Ukraine. Check out Orin Kerr’s twitter – he’s found some good examples. Also:

                  It’s not illegal to use your personal lawyer, just indicative of your intent.
                  A President that doesn’t trust his own cabinet has serious problems.
                  Kissinger isn’t a triumph of best practices.

                  1. Trump never says that the investigations should be limited to Biden. In fact he never mentioned Biden to Sondland when he was pressing for the investigations.

                    He trusts Barr and was using him. You like to ignore that and focus on Rudy but he makes as much reference to Barr as Rudy in the call.

                    And while we’re on the call I’m waiting for you and your pals (NtoJ, bernard, DMN, Lathrop, etc.) to admit what a bunch of conspiracy chumps you are by being so certain that the call memorandum was incomplete, probably fake in many respects. Now that Vindman and Williams have testified that it is accurate you have some crow to eat.

                    1. “Now that Vindman and Williams have testified that it is accurate you have some crow to eat.”

                      That will never happen. Admitting one was wrong on the internet, and a liberal at that? Pa-shaw!

                    2. In fact he never mentioned Biden to Sondland when he was pressing for the investigations
                      Yeah, he used Giuliani for that.

                      The call did cut out the word ‘Burisma’ which I would call more material than Vindman does.
                      I’m willing to allow that it looks there’s not much more hidden in the transcript, but it’s not paranoid to be suspicious of incomplete documents released by any administration. I still want the full transcript.

                    3. Sarcastro, a “birther” of the Ukraine transcript responds.

                    4. Even assuming that the magical thinking required to wonder about a transcript with a bunch of ellipses is about the same as wondering if a birth certificate and newspaper article are FRAUD!!!, I at least change my opinion when new facts came to light.

                    5. You sound like the birther folks who got curious about all the Adobe layers and such that were present with the scan of the Obama long form when it was released. They wouldn’t be happy without a paper copy in their hands from the County Clerk’s Office.

                      That said, like all people, we have a remarkable plasticity to our thinking and a reluctance to ever admit we are wrong. Your silliness uptread about the role of the president as Commander in Chief is evidence that you’re either as bad, or worse, then the rest of us.

                  2. I figured Kerr would be too busy playing trombone in George Conway’s marching band to have time for Twitter. Looks like being a law prof isn’t all that demanding though.

                2. NSA by the way does not have to be confirmed so is basically like Rudy with a title.

                  The word “basically” is doing an awful lot of work there. The NSA is a government employee, and thus someone who takes an oath of office to the constitution. Rudy is a personal lawyer, whose ethical duty is to the president personally, not to the country.

        2. Short delay of funds to Ukraine!!!

          If you can’t see how horribly immoral and damaging that is, then maybe you’re just not rabidly partisan and dishonest. You’re going to get excluded from the cool kids club if you don’t tune back into the groupthink.

    4. However much you hate Trump — and I didn’t vote for him — any honest person has to admit that this Ukraine business is a pathetically weak

      Oh, I’ll betcha you’re gonna vote for him in 2020. Something tells me despite your ‘any honest person’ you youself have a rooting interest nowadays.

      1. Oh, I’ll betcha you’re gonna vote for him in 2020. Something tells me despite your ‘any honest person’ you youself have a rooting interest nowadays.

        Lots of people like low unemployment. Some people aren’t even put off when it’s Americans who are employed, if you can believe that.

        1. Sounds like you were a big fan of Obama’s second term, then.

          1. It was ok. Too bad Obama couldn’t bring himself to govern for all Americans instead of exclusively for a specific small fraction of Americans. Too bad he set back race relations with his celebration of grievances. Too bad he gave up on most governing rather than work with people representing half the country — but at least the damage he did was limited and largely reversible.

            1. I mean, unemployment was great, so who cares about the rest?

              Do you think Trump’s been great about working on behalf of the people that don’t support him?

              1. Trump is no worse on working with others. He has said nice things about Pelosi and about trying to get things done. The USMCA trade agreement is an example of trying to get things done. Funding bills are another.

                The Dem half of the country doesn’t seem to want anything besides government giveaways and revenge. And Trump is compromising on some of the government giveaways.

                Meanwhile unemployment is better. Wage growth is good.

                If it wasn’t for Dem obsession, hatred, and bloodlust, Dems could actually be happy with how things are going.

                1. Your take on Obama wasn’t about working with the GOP in Congress.

                  But your new goalposts are still not great for you. Saying nice things, eh?, Trump also called Pelosi “a third-rate politician,” “highly overrated,” and “incompetent.”

                  But your conclusion that ‘Obama didn’t govern for the GOP voters enough. Trump doesn’t have to govern for Dem voters because they’re all maniacs’ is a pretty impressive level or partisanship.

                  The unemployment trend started under Obama. It’s a very lagging indicator – laying it at Trump’s feet is pretty silly.

                  But I am amused that you cal Dems caring about things other than unemployment obsession, hatred, and bloodlust. Say, did you ever care about debt, or is it all unemployment to you?

                  1. Trump has been governing for Dem voters. He talks about record low black unemployment often. Black folks are 90+ % Dem voters.

                    Ditto Hispanic unemployment. Hispanics are majority Dem voters.

                    What were the things that Dem voters wanted besides revenge? If it was jobs, they got that. If it was higher wages, they got that. If it was higher spending, they got that. If it was criminal justice reform, they got (some of) that. If it was no new wars, they got that.

                    1. By your logic, Obama’s speech about how there’s no red or blue America is outreach. Trump’s big on talk, but low on actions to help minority communities. Look at his reaction to Puerto Rico vs. Texas when both were hit with natural disasters. Look at his anti-blue state tax plan.

                      You can google the DNC party platform, or if you like the issues section of the more popular Dem candidates yourself. But they’re more than just ‘I like spending.’ Your economic metrics is well behind the times. And, as I said above, not yet attributable to Trump’s actions (though he could have screwed it up and hasn’t so far)

                    2. Not really an answer. The DNC platform isn’t what voters want.

                      Obama deserves some credit for saying the right thing sometimes. Not for following through on any of it though.

    5. “any honest person has to admit that this Ukraine business is a pathetically weak ground for impeachment.”

      It is not merely that the Ukraine business happen but that it follows on what happened in 2016. The Mueller report clearly showed Russian interference and connections between candidate Trump’s people and the Russians. Most people would be careful after the Mueller report, but President Trump wasn’t and seems to think I got away with it once he can get away again. While I would let it go the first time I can not be as charitable the second time.

  15. Lawfare conspirators are part of the coup.

    Of course they support removing President Trump, they’ve been part of the coup since the beginning.

    And I mean coup, as in coup coup.

    1. So you’re an idiot dangling around words which don’t mean what you think they mean.

      And I mean idiot, as in big, dumb, fucking idiot.

      1. “We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic.”

        1. It’s a request. This is a blog with strict constructionist bona fides.

          But you’re right, big, dumb fucking idiots should be treated more kindly. They are, after all, big, dumb fucking idiots.

          1. It is the requester’s blog, we are but guests. I’d say the least we can do is honor their request. I am in complete agreement with you on the kindly treatment of big dumb fucking idiots, since I enjoy being treated kindly.

    2. What coup leaves the second in command in charge and ratifies the bulk of the deposed leader´s actions and personnel? Don´t be silly.

      Did you even read the Lawfare article?

      1. “What coup leaves the second in command in charge”

        Napoleon’s 18 Brumaire coup.

        Sieyès and Ducos were two of the 5 Directors and afterwards, they were two of the three Counsels.

  16. I don’t think Trump needs to defend himself by saying they need to prove indictable misconduct. He can concede that gross abuse of power, even if not indictable, is impeachable, but he can add “so what? What gross abuse have I committed, especially since I presume Congress has enough self-respect not to use a lower standard for me than for Clapper and other executive-branch wrongdoers whom they let off the hook?”

    1. It’s entirely plausible to say Trump was soliciting a bribe. IANAL but I think that’s indictable, if that were the standard, which it isn’t.

      If Trump had held up the aid unless Velensky contributed $1 million to his campaign, that would be indictable, would it not? Really no difference here.

      1. I think his name is Zelensky.

      2. “It’s entirely plausible to say Trump was soliciting a bribe.”

        I’d think the standard of proof ought to be higher than “he might have done it.”

        1. Remember way back, when a Presidential Candidate asked another during a Debate if, they would accept the results of the election? Good times, my friends! Good Times!

        2. My point was that if he did what is alleged it clearly was soliciting a bribe.

          1. But I was discussing what a high misdemeanor is.

            If, say, it could be proven that Trump waged a non-defensive war without the consent of Congress, he would clearly be violating the Constitution, even if such conduct isn’t indictable.

            Bad example, that horse has left the stable and has long since been turned into glue.

            1. Assuming Trump is guilty as charged, you don’t think extorting a foreign leader to smear a political opponent, and thus compromising our elections, is a high crime?

              1. “Assuming Trump is guilty as charged”

                I’m not assuming he’s guilty.

                One thing this hinges on is: Was there some actual basis for investigating Biden?

                The Senate might explore that issue by letting Trump’s lawyers examine some witnesses to Bidenite shenanigans.

                1. You think whatever was going on with Biden justifies extorting a foreign leader to smear a political opponent?

                  1. Smearing is what was done to Kavanaugh; connecting the dots on Biden is not. Biden’s bribe was in full view for everyone to see. All that is left is finding out what Burisma received in exchange.

                    I find it interesting that Biden was not at pains to disguise his schemes by using some more anonymous bagman than his son. In fact it seems that he was advertising influence for sale to anyone willing to pony up the money.

                    1. It’s not wrong when Democrats do it.

                      Also, some Vox guy says it was all innocent. Based on zero named sources, some of whom were European. That conclusively proves Biden’s innocence. Sarcastr0 can link it for you.

                    2. Vox laid out the facts, citing contemporary stories that he linked.

                      These facts do not comport with the scenario you lay out. A story that actually has zero contemporaneous sources, named or otherwise.

          2. I have to disagree.
            If Biden was not his opponent, then Trump’s actions would clearly be considered right and proper. No less an editorial board than the New York Times said so as recently as May.

            Trying to claim that this is a bribe is willfully ignorant of the fact that if this is true, that Biden explicitly took a bribe from Ukraine while acting as Vice President. How is investigating this somehow criminal?

            1. No, strongarming a country to target one of your own citizens isn’t proper regardless of whether you personally gain.

              1. Right.

                If there is an actual reason to think that Joseph Biden did favors for Ukraine, or Burisma, in exchange for his son’s job, it’s appropriate for the FBI to investigate the matter. Asking Ukraine to do so is wrong, especially since Trump apparently was more interested in having them announce an investigation than to actually conduct one.

                1. There is nothing wrong with asking Ukraine to investigate and divulge evidence of corruption. If the FBI was tasked with investigating it that is exactly what they would do. How else would they find out about it? Your side seems intent on defining, first, how the nation’s chief law enforcement officer has to go through certain channels, and then how the only person responsible for foreign policy should defer to those whose only job is to carry it out.

            2. Trying to claim that this is a bribe is willfully ignorant of the fact that if this is true, that Biden explicitly took a bribe from Ukraine while acting as Vice President.

              This makes zero sense. WTF are you talking about?

            3. If Biden was not his opponent, then Trump’s actions would clearly be considered right and proper.

              NYT notwithstanding, this is not true. If Trump withheld aid until Ukraine promised to investigate Ben of Houston would also be improper. Assuming Ben is a US citizen it’s up to US law enforcement to investigate his possible wrongdoing.

              1. Bernard, I agree that your Ben scenario would be improper, but it would not be impeachable. What makes the real life Biden scenario impeachmentworthy is that Trump was doing it solely for his own personal gain. Assuming Trump has nothing personally to gain from investigating Ben, it would just be extraordinary.

                But please don’t say “until Ukraine promised to investigate.” He wanted Ukraine to announce an investigation, not to investigate.

          3. Weird how no one was calling it a bribe until they focus grouped it, now it’s like Duh of course it’s a bribe how could they be anything else?

          4. What, exactly, is alleged? That he held up aid because he wanted Zelensky to investigate Biden?

            I know people are alleging that, and also that Trump is many other things, but there doesn’t appear to be anything to substantiate that, and, in fact, there are reams of testimony that refute it.

            1. He wanted Z to announce he was investigating Biden.

              There’s phone calls and now lotsa testimony to substantiate that.

              1. And that’s an impeachable offense? I think not.

                1. Holy crap, yes that’s impeachable.
                  Using the power of the Presidency for personal gain – personal electoral gain – is way out of bounds.

  17. The Federalist Society backs this up as well! Please start telling the Democrats and any remaining GOP with integrity about this clear standard. Also please discuss with the non-legal writers at Reason, who seem content to remain ‘ignorant.’

  18. Ugh. The Reason comment section. I think most of the comments are by fat incels who ‘work from home’ writing this authoritarian propaganda.

  19. This article is as stupid as shit

    I’ve had the same arguments with other dumb asses.

    No impeachment is not a court of law but a lot of the principles should be applied

    We’re approaching Kavanaugh confirmation stupidity

  20. If the Democrats want to convict Trump of a crime, they should do everything in their power to make it appear fair and balanced.

    If they wish to remove him for incompetence, they should get bipartisan support for that item, and not pretend that it is a criminal trial.

    However, these actions, where they seem to be trying to win by any means necessary, and where this is a mere show-court that relies on hearsay and implication without actual evidence, seems tailor-made to backfire. I would refer to foreign legal commentators on Youtube, who are genuinely shocked that the American congress, the people who are in charge of making the law and are primarily lawyers, would make a “court” hearing that so blatantly doesn’t even try to give the rights to the defense.

    It’s as if Trump wrote the script to make people think that the Democrats are trying to make a coup.

    1. I like the appeal to imaginary foreign legal commentators… on Youtube. What’s next, the graffiti on the bathroom wall?

      And if you think there’s no “actual evidence,” then you have ignored the last month’s worth of testimony.

  21. Really, though, there’s a middle ground between “it has to be indictable” and “oh, well, let’s just make it up as we go along.”

  22. As of the end of testimony today, no witnesses have accused POTUS of abuse of power. Only a small number of witnesses, can speak of first hand experience, concerning the Presidents intent. None of those witnesses interactions with President Trump exhibited any intent to abuse the power of his office. We all know from the inquiry into the e mails of Clinton’s wife, intent is the basis of all things legal, moral, prudent, approved, or imagined. Without intent, there is no icky thingy, to base an impeachment on.

    1. Witnesses provide testimony. If the process moves forward it is the investigators who will recommend charges, they will not be drafted by the witnesses. The question is whether their testimony supports the charges, not whether it contains them.

      1. You cannot support charges with hearsay. That is the most basic of standards of evidence that I would expect a small child to know.

        Then, there is the fact that this is the Democrat’s best foot forward. THIS. If this is what they lead with, perjury, rumor, hearsay, and conjecture, then they have nothing in reserve.

        1. Got bad news about all the direct experience witnesses over the last two days had.

        2. You cannot support charges with hearsay. That is the most basic of standards of evidence that I would expect a small child to know.

          I mean, that’s not even true, even if this were a criminal prosecution, which it isn’t. Please stop getting your legal knowledge from small children.

    2. You’re saying you saw him steal the car. And yet you never once used the word ‘larceny.’ How can that be?

  23. How is Joe Biden running against President Trump?
    He is running against Senator Sanders, Warren, Harris, et. al. It’s a primary election.
    Biden will never be a candidate against President Trump.

    Being a candidate in a Presidential primary election is not a grant of immunity from investigation.
    No one is above the law.
    Where have I heard this before????

    1. Domestic investigation, sure.

      But why is Trump’s personal lawyer so into getting a foreign government to announce they’re opening an investigation, and using foreign aid $$ to do it?

      Hint: Trump doesn’t seem to care about any other corruption issues in Ukraine.

      1. “Trump doesn’t seem to care about any other corruption issues in Ukraine.”

        Are any former [and potential future] high US officials involved in other corruption issues in Ukraine?

      2. I find it interesting how Progressives are no longer interested in 2016 election interference.

        I would also note that Trump’s personal lawyer became involved based on Progressive Democrat accusations of foreign interference in the 2016 elections; which resulted in the Mueller probe.

        IIUC you prefer that the accused have no Right to investigate/seek exculpatory evidence, no Right to defend oneself, no Right to a lawyer, etc.? Similar to the way the Progressive Democrats have been running this so-called Impeachment Inquiry?

        1. You think because we’re talking about this, that proves Mueller’s report is no longer a thing?

          Dunno what the 2016 probe has to do with Ukraine.

      3. No, not just a domestic investigation, international as well. General election candidate Trump was the subject of just such an investigation, complete with questionable warrants, wiretaps, spying, entrapment, leaks to the media to create innuendo and outlandish conspiracy theories, etc.

        Only in that case, it was all based on a fraudulent hoax that was from the start less believable and more outlandish than Obama being a secret Muslim born in Kenya, whereas Biden’s behavior has the appearance of impropriety on its face.

        1. This was solely international, and the actual deliverable appeared to be an announcement more than an investigation.

          The investigation of Trump was done through proper channels, which is why the objections to it have not found a lot of purchase beyond the true believers.
          Or those who want to change the subject real bad.

          1. An announcement makes sense if you want a real investigation. If they announce, then they are forced to actually investigate and arrive at some sort of determination. Otherwise it’s all just flapping gums and smoke and mirrors.

            I believe this was Hillary’s recent take as well, that everything Trump did and is doing would be totally fine if he had used “proper channels” and involved his hordes of “resistance” bureaucrats more. That’s all complete BS if you follow the Constitution which vests the executive power in the President, but obviously there are many who disagree with the Constitution and think it should not be followed in this regard.

            1. Your connection between announcing an investigation and being forced to reach a conclusion is fanciful.

              So your latest is that the power of the executive, as contemplated by the Constitution, encompasses the use public funds appropriated by Congress to strongarm foreign officials into investigating your political opponent.

              This is what you’ve been reduced to arguing.

              1. Well, that and bringing back sedition.

              2. No – my argument there was: Whatever is legal for executive branch bureaucrats to do, is legal for the President to do himself.

                Do you agree? You can accept this basic Constitutional principle without doing much damage to your case against Trump, IMO. For example, you can still argue that whatever was done was illegal/wrong for anyone to do, or that whatever was done may be a potentially legal act that was done for an illegal reason and Trump’s disregard of normal channels is circumstantial evidence of an illegal reason.

                1. No – my argument there was: Whatever is legal for executive branch bureaucrats to do, is legal for the President to do himself.

                  Do you agree?

                  No. Nor is that a “basic Constitutional principle.” It’s just something made up. Do you remember the Saturday Night Massacre? Nixon demanded that people fire Cox, and two people resigned rather than comply. Did you notice what he didn’t do? Hint: fire Cox himself. Because he had no authority to do so.

                  1. The impediment to firing him directly exists as a regulation only. According to Neal Katyal: “Trump could order the special-counsel regulations repealed and then fire Mueller himself.”

                    1. According to Josh Blackman in response to that comment, “I suspect that Katyal meant Trump could then order Rosenstein to fire Mueller; whether Trump could directly remove someone he did not appoint is a separate question.”

                    2. You’re mixing up the Cox and Mueller appointments here, but in any case do you see that “Trump could order the special-counsel regulations repealed” in no way suggests he could repeal them himself?

                    3. @VoR
                      I was mixing them up because Katyal’s comment pertains to the issue David raised. As to whether Trump could himself repeal the regulations it seems to me to be unclear. You may know for certain that he can’t and I won’t dispute it, but I think he might be able to do it by executive order.

                  2. “Do you remember the Saturday Night Massacre?”

                    I wasn’t born, so no.

                    But your example shows why so many have argued that the special prosecutor structure is unconstitutional. Perhaps there are things that the President cannot do “himself”, but the Constitutional principle is that the executive power — all of it — is vested in the President, and no one else. Any independent executive power is unconstitutional, and our bureaucratic state is structurally problematic in this respect. Of course, many folks believe that the Constitution is outdated and should be ignored or “living” and so on. Some others find it worthwhile to try to move back toward following the original meaning. Moreover, for those that are concerned about the expansion of executive powers, the unitary executive is actually great. The best way to constrain the executive branch to something resembling its proper powers is to take the powers back from the faceless unelected swamp and put it squarely in the hands of the most politically high profile and accountable official on earth.

                    1. But let’s go back to my original point. Can the President not conduct foreign policy and diplomacy himself, and interface with foreign leaders on these topics? Of course he can. So again, it’s BS.

                    2. Perhaps there are things that the President cannot do “himself”, but the Constitutional principle is that the executive power — all of it — is vested in the President, and no one else.

                      Again, that’s just not true. Indeed, the very same constitutional article that you’re relying on, Article II, that says that the executive power is vested in the president, also says “but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

                      To be clear, I am not saying that this particular provision is directly applicable to the topic of what Trump could do with respect to the Ukraine. I am saying that this particular provision refutes the notion that the constitution contemplates that the president is the reservoir of all executive power.

                    3. Can the President not conduct foreign policy and diplomacy himself, and interface with foreign leaders on these topics?

                      The president can indeed interface with foreign leaders on these topics. That is one of the few foreign policy powers that the constitution actually does reserve to the executive, as opposed to being shared with congress.

                      That does not mean that he can do whatever he wants in dealing with those countries, however.

                    4. The fact that the President exercises some executive authority not directly but through his subordinates does not seem to negate the fact that the executive power is vested in the President.

                      To me, the issue isn’t so much the balance of power between the President and Congress, or the precise contours of the executive power and the various checks that each branch has against the other. Those are all important and complex issues in their own right. Obviously Congress makes the law that the President must execute. But the point of the unitary executive, it seems to me, is that however you define the scope of the executive power, it is the President alone who has authority over it. There’s not some third option between Congress and the President where you get to create an alternative reservoir of power.

                      From Calabresi:

                      “The term “Unitary Executive” dates back to the writings of Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Papers and to the founding of the Republic. A key question faced by the Framers was whether to have a one-person-executive or an executive-by-committee. In 1787 most of the states had plural executives–governors assisted by committees, called councils. The Framers thought that these committee executives did not work well because they lacked energy and accountability. Alexander Hamilton defended the Constitution’s creation of a unitary executive by saying that it would make the President accountable for everything that happens in the executive branch, and it would give him the power and the incentive to vigorously execute the laws. For this reason, Hamilton and the other Framers vested all of the executive power in the President alone; the constitution creates no council or cabinet with which the President must share the executive power. The cabinet is created by Congress, but the President alone has the power to execute the law.

                      Congress is always trying to create entities in the executive branch which it can control through its system of maintaining oversight and appropriations committees. These committees are skewed in favor of the interests of the local congressional districts and states of the members who happen to sit on the committees. To believe in the Unitary Executive is to believe that the President should be able–primarily through the removal power–to superintend, control, and direct the actions of his subordinates in the Executive Branch. “Unitary Executive” does not mean the President has inherent foreign policy or other powers to act in contravention of statutes, in my view, although some in the outgoing Administration may have used it that way–this use of the term “Unitary Executive” is entirely confusing and is wrong.”


              3. Trump can’t grab a gun and act like a soldier, even if he’s Commander in Chief.
                He can’t pretend he’s an attorney and argue in front of the Supreme Court, just because he’s leader of the DoJ.

                Anyhow, this strongarming wasn’t Trump cutting out the DoJ middleman, and you’re just making yourself look ridiculous if you’re trying to argue this is just Trump acting as Investigator in Chief.

                1. Trump can’t grab a gun and order a charge? George Washington himself leading the troops in putting down the Whisky Rebellion are a STRONG counter-example to that.

                  1. DMN did a better job than I with his Saturday Night Massacre example, but I don’t think the Whiskey Rebellion is really very relevant to the modern era of warfare.

                    1. Yes, but if the president is the Commander in Chief, and he wants to grab a gun, he does, and one literally did. Doesn’t he have to literally fire the nukes, if called for? I’m sure if the president wanted to act in the capacity of the Sec. of the Dept. of Justice, he could as well, being the head of the Executive Branch. I take it you don’t hold for the theory of the unitary executive.

                    2. No. The President is a civilian, not uniformed military.

                      Your one example notwithstanding, if Trump/Obama/Bush tried to go to Afghanistan and shoot some bad guys I don’t think he’d be allowed to.

                      Would he be treated like any schmoe off the street who got themselves to a warzone to go all Rambo? I dunno, but I’m pretty sure you’re abstracting things too much to make them relevant to how warfare was conducted in early America.

                    3. A civilian in uniform who is the Commander and Chief, and who issues all officer commission, so if you want to be technical, he could issue himself one and put on a uniform.

                      Bush flew a fighter jet a few times while president, because he wanted too. Trump, knowing him, would do so too, if he knew how. Clinton ordered the Coast Guard about to bring him to and from vacations. I believe Truman had some admirals pleasure craft under his command at some point, but I am fuzzy on that memory.

                      I suspect that presidents would be strongly recommended against leading the troops personally, because that’s not what generals should do today, but he could. Did you also forget that LBJ was personally involved, frequently, with picking targets in Vietnam, and presidents are in the Situation Room for big operations are calling the shots like a general, made possible by our advanced technology.

                      At that point, maybe you’re going to realize that you’re just being silly.

                  2. Exactly. Although it seems outdated now, it used to be that the most venerable thing the commander of the military could do was lead the charge himself. In theory, if you had a trained military background President, I’m sure there would be no law against it.

                    1. By the same token, I don’t see a reason a President who was a duly licensed attorney would not be allowed to argue in front of SCOTUS.

                      But of course none of these examples are similar to the conduct of foreign policy via direct interface with foreign leaders.

                    2. Who was a duly licensed attorney, sure.
                      But that’s not a limit that applies to your original argument that it is proper for the POTUS to do whatever one of his subordinates does.

                    3. Right. It wasn’t quite accurate to say that the President can do any executive branch role “himself.”

                      The executive branch may employ barbers and hair stylists. But it would be illegal for the President to style someone’s hair due to licensing laws.

                      However, all of the executive power is vested in the President. It’s ludicrous to suggest that some foreign policy action is “bribery” or “extortion” if the President does it, but perfectly fine if the President has subordinates do it.

          2. The investigation of Trump was done through proper channels,
            Proper channels heh?
            How did a Whistle Blower complaint get processed through the Intellgence Community. that had no contact with the Intelligence community? I’ve been looking for an answer to that “proper channel” conundrum

  24. Ok, sure. Just don’t ever talk to us about “norms” again. If Democrats in congress can make up whatever rules they want and act with no compass, then there are no “norms”. Anything is acceptable. Getting away with it is the only thing that matters.

    Either that or you guys could go back to following rules and working to maintain a civil society instead of tearing it down so you can own some of the shards.

    1. You’re enraged at an ought argument when the author is explicitly making an is argument.

  25. Sorry Keith, you cannot impeach a President over policy differences or interpretation of words.

    Although I find it amusing how you ignore the blatant Quid Pro Quo, bribery, & extortion of VP Biden, which he publicly admitted. Yet you then claim that the House needs no evidence of a crime while the Constitution makes it clear that one can only impeach based on a High Crime or Misdemeanor; both of which require criminal conduct.

    Or are you saying the President can be impeached for a speeding ticket which is a misdemeanor too?

    1. the blatant Quid Pro Quo, bribery, & extortion of VP Biden, which he publicly admitted

      What are you talking about? Biden was acting under orders from Obama, who was acting on behalf of the international community. There’s a paper trail.
      Plus the guy that was fired was kicked out because he was giving Burisma a free pass.

      Google around and see what the actual facts are.

      1. So the fact Biden has the backing of Obama is supposed to be some get out of jail free card? Oh, and the handful of international bureaucrats from at least 13 countries who worked together on the get Trump Russia hoax witch hunt too, which you are calling the “international community”?

        1. If Biden was abusing his office to get something for his son, kinda odd for Obama and the international community to tell him to do that, no?

          at least 13 countries who worked together on the get Trump Russia hoax witch hunt too
          Positing an international conspiracy to go after Trump and also help Biden do crimes is not really making a great case for anything but the power of your imagination.

          1. Not at all. What would be odd is if Biden tried to pull something like this without the backing of his side.

            At the end of the day, it would probably be very hard to come by ironclad evidence that Biden was doing something illegal or “abusing power”, because even if he was, that’s vague and it would take an extreme degree of incompetence to allow such evidence to exist. Although, I wouldn’t necessarily put that level of incompetence past Biden when his instant response was to blatantly lie about talking to his son when his son had already said they did, and then a picture pops up of them all playing golf together. Biden Jr’s collection of $86,000 per month from a known corrupt Ukrainian company is pure corruption of course, but it may be of the soft, legal sort. But why shouldn’t this all be investigated? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Time for us to play their game. Can you imagine if Don Trump Jr. had been collecting millions from a major corrupt Russian oligarch company?? So, like everything else, this is a case of double standards, but we’re past pretending that it matters.

            “Positing an international conspiracy to go after Trump”

            Why not? You are positing an international conspiracy (or attempted one) to go after Biden. So what’s the difference? You may excuse, or disagree with, my editorializing spin about it being a witch hunt hoax. (Let’s also not rule out the possibility of genuine collective schizophrenic delusion.) But what you can’t do is weasel your way around simple facts all the time. Like these:

            “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia

            GCHQ is said to have alerted US agencies after becoming aware of contacts in 2015

            Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.

            The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said.

            Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors.”


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

            1. You seem to be saying that the investigation would at best be a fishing expedition is all good because it owns the libs.

              You’re a tool.

              And you don’t know what a conspiracy is.

              1. Nah. There is a thousand times more probable cause to investigate Biden and Burisma than there ever was for Trump/Russia.

  26. I’m hopeful that the future Republican party learns from this exercise and decides to impeach the next Democrat president (likely sometime around 2027) for purely political purposes.

    I’m sure Mr. Whittington will be equally supportive of this effort.

    1. Where in the OP does Prof. Whittington state that he is supportive of the effort to impeach President Trump?

  27. Of course, in theory, eating a ham sandwich is an “impeachable” offense, and no specific violation of an existing criminal statute is required. In practice, our criminal code criminalizes many orders of magnitude more than what should be criminalized or is ever enforced, save for very selective political prosecutions. If you can’t even find a single criminal offense in this context where our code enables the “show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” sort of approach, then your impeachment sham is in even more trouble than previously imagined.

    1. Wow, this is a lame argument.

      ‘Overcriminalization means any wrongs you can’t criminalize are not really wrong!’

      1. “Obama supported Biden so nothing he did could be wrong!”

        1. Yeah, that’s clearly an argument I made.

      2. My argument is fine. High crimes and misdemeanors under the Constitution are whatever Congress decides they are, including eating a ham sandwich. However, if you can’t find a criminal offense in this context, that is a really, really bad sign for you. I’m not saying it’s dispositive, but it sure doesn’t bode well.

        1. No – I get that you’re making an ought not an is argument.

          But your ought argument is abstract nothingness. Like saying there’s a lot of leaves turning color, so if you don’t see a blue one you’re probably blind.

          1. That’s just your bias. For most Americans if Pelosi and Schiff said there was no crime committed, they wouldn’t even pay attention to anything beyond that unless it was something really compelling.

            1. Not what the polling says.

              1. Wrong. The polling doesn’t address the hypothetical scenario where everyone, including Pelosi and Schiff, stipulate that Trump didn’t commit any crimes.

                1. So you’re arguing that the public won’t care about corruption or abuse of power (or collusion) because those aren’t crimes.

                  Funny how often these impeachment arguments are coming down to the right saying ‘who cares about the facts, partisanship will see us through.’

                  1. The facts and the truth are on my side. That’s of utmost importance in the big picture and in good faith discussions among friends like I have every day.

                    But after everything that’s happened, the reality is, facts and truth are of limited relevance when it comes to the battle with an enemy that cares about neither.

                  2. Facts AND the truth are on your side? How’s ‘no quid pro quo’ going these days?

                    Above you argue that a factual predicate or even expected concrete outcome for an investigation of Biden doesn’t matter, because the Dems persecuted Trump. So much for truth.

                    1. I’ve engaged in quite a few arguments related to this subject, but “No Quid Pro Quo” has never been one of them. That’s a little too vague and dumbed down for my tastes. But I welcome your responses to arguments I do make. That said, while I don’t pay attention to every little twist and turn of these inane concocted narratives, it looks like the latest little blurb you are alluding to with Sondland . . . doesn’t even involve the foreign aid money at all. Amazing how Dems have to change their story every 24 hours or so.

                      Your second paragraph strawman isn’t really worth addressing.

                    2. It’s almost as though there were multiple qpq’s…

                      You’re the one that posted you’d bet you couldn’t even prove anything about Biden but who cares Dems investigated Trump and so all’s fair.
                      An extremely truth-based argument.

                    3. Just because you anticipate it may be difficult to find evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even investigate when there is probable cause.

  28. Question: If Trump offered Zelensky $1 million of his personal or campaign funds to investigate and provide information/dirt on Biden, would that be all peachy and OK?

    1. Conspicuous lack of responses here.

      1. Perhaps someone would have replied if your question even had the faintest relevance to the topic of whether impeachable offenses need to be illegal offenses.

  29. Mr Whittington, I am not a lawyer, or a scholar, and have no credentials or authority in this matter, other than that I am a citizen, and one concerned about what is right, and what the constitution says. I reject your assertion that “Impeachable Offenses Need not be Criminal Offenses.” I do so because it is in clear contradiction of the plain text of the constitution which says ” high crimes and misdemeanors.” A misdemeanor is a crime; high crimes are more obviously so. I don’t accept your tortured interpretation that relies upon shaky history, speculation, and implausible inference. But more importantly, it is essential that impeachment be based on a crime which is codified; otherwise it can be based on anything the prosecution chooses. Not liking the president, or because he is in the opposing party, or his style of executive management is not to one’s liking or even similar to any previous president; because be may be boorish or an oaf, clumsy, ham-handed; not a member of the political class, has and continues to have successful commercial interests; challenges previous administrations’ policy, changes them, enforces the law: none of these should be twisted into the basis for impeachment.

    1. Next you’ll be arguing that if a punishment is cruel but not unusual, it’s okay.

      1. How’s that? How does that relate to what I wrote?

        1. Both are ‘terms of art’ and even originalists agree are not to be taken textually.
          From Ze wiki:

          The Judiciary Committee’s 1974 report “The Historical Origins of Impeachment” stated: “‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors’ has traditionally been considered a ‘term of art’, like such other constitutional phrases as ‘levying war’ and ‘due process.’ The Supreme Court has held that such phrases must be construed, not according to modern usage, but according to what the framers meant when they adopted them. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote of another such phrase:

          It is a technical term. It is used in a very old statute of that country whose language is our language, and whose laws form the substratum of our laws. It is scarcely conceivable that the term was not employed by the framers of our constitution in the sense which had been affixed to it by those from whom we borrowed it.

  30. Imagine if Don Trump Jr had been collecting millions for taking a ceremonial seat on the board of a known corrupt Russian oligarch company.

    1. You…may not want to bring in the Trump family when talking about unearned positions that collect millions.

      1. Can you imagine though?

        Just really imagine that were the case. That fact would alone would be a hundred times more meat on the bone of the Trump/Russia conspiracy theory than anything that actually happened.

        1. You seem to be an intelligent person. I have to believe that you understand that whatever Hunter Biden did or didn’t do, it doesn’t legally justify what President Trump is alleged to have done. Therefore continually bringing it up is just a deliberate attempt to distract from the actual facts of the actual investigation.

          1. I don’t see it that way at all.

            Trump was investigated by political opponents. Over a dozen foreign countries cooperated closely with these investigations. Leaks, innuendo, and wild conspiracy theories emanating from this engulfed the nation for years on end due to the media and top Democrats’ fervent promotion.

            This raises the question of when exactly it is wrongful (whether criminal or “merely” impeachable) to pursue investigations of your political opponents and their potential malfeasance? In evaluating Trump’s actions, we must look to the legal norms in place to apply the rule of law under a consistent standard.

            1. You’re also smart enough to realize that tu quoqe is a fallacy.

              Your first paragraph implies out of norm, which contradicts your second paragraph’s ‘we must look to the legal norms in place.’

              Either Trump was unfairly persecuted, and here is acting badly.

              Or he was fairly investigated, and then you need to argue that FISA warrants are the same as phone calls to foreign government asking for a favor.

              Either way you better get your story straight.

              1. Tu quoque fallacy follows the pattern:

                1. Person A makes claim X.
                2. Person B asserts that A’s actions or past claims are inconsistent with the truth of claim X.
                3. Therefore, X is false.

                I’m not claiming X is false. I’m open to persuasion. However, in matters of legal and constitutional norms, claim X is actually a claim about past actions and precedent. So that is what must be evaluated — not with respect to particular persons as a means of attacking their hypocrisy (so #2 is not employed here either), but as a general matter. The investigation of Trump is the precedent and norm that we are operating under.

                In addition, a separate form of argument I’ve used at some points does employ #2 in the formulation above, but the #3 conclusion that it is used to support isn’t “X is false”, it’s “Person A is making claim X in bad faith.” That’s not a fallacy, but I concede that arguing that the other side is arguing in bad faith technically avoids the merits of claim X and could be characterized as a distraction, but alas this is a common currency of political arguments and nobody likes a hypocrite.

                1. Couching everything in terms of past precedents is a neat way to move the debate away from what Trump actually did towards things that were done in the past.
                  Things are be true or not, including what’s impeachable, without reviewing past Presidential wrongs.

                  Reframing as ‘all that matters is past precedent’ is just reifying the fallacy.

                  But more importantly, you still need to figure out whether Trump was persecuted previously, in which case the norms that were violated then Trump is violating now.
                  Or whether Trump was properly investigated then, in which case you need to do a lot more work to show Trump gave a damn about corruption in Ukraine.

                  Which is it?

                  1. I don’t know, to be honest. What do you think? Was the investigation of Trump by his political opponents totally OK?

                    As I’ve mentioned, in comparing the two situations, what seems significant to me is the relative levels of probable cause. The Trump/Russia conspiracy theory and investigation always seemed very far-fetched and baseless, in my view.

                    1. Didn’t the IG just find the Carter Page FISA warrant was properly situated?
                      Obama kept the investigation quiet.
                      Trump only cared about the announcement.

                      The Biden investigation was Trump’s idea.
                      The investigation of Trump came bottom-up from FBI intel. (Popadapolous’s loose lips)

                      The Biden investigation is based on a faulty timeline, a rich failson, and a lot of angry wishing.
                      There was a legit factual predicate to investigate Trump, which only became more evident in all the contacts detailed in the Mueller report (and denied by the Trump admin as ever occurring).

                      Trump avoided any oversight or visibility in his efforts by using his personal attorney to loop in a foreign government via nonstandard diplomatic channels.
                      Obama got signoffs and oversight from all the judges and appropriate signatories required from State, FBI, DoJ, etc.

                      Bottom line: when Trump tried to kill the Russia investigation, the public outcry was such that a special counsel was required.
                      This Biden thing has the opposite valiance; it doesn’t exist and if it did the outcry if it dies will not even reverberate on the right – they will have gotten the smoke they need to start crying fire.

                    2. Well, if the Trump investigation was OK, then I’d say as a general matter a Biden investigation is OK too, including Trump talking to Ukraine about looking into it since that’s where the subject matter lies and where the conduct in question occurred.

                      According to The Guardian, British spy agencies were the “first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia,” and shared whatever intelligence information they had with the Obama administration, and then every other western intelligence agency did the same over the course of the ensuing months. So I’m not sure we can say it’s a problem for Ukraine to now do the same sort of thing with regard to the Bidens. But let’s not forget, as I recall from the transcript, Trump’s first priority was not even about the Bidens but about getting information on interference in the 2016 election.

                      The investigation of Trump was based in large part on a political opposition research document filled with falsities, obtained and produced through cooperation with and payments to Russian and other foreign sources. Also, George P, a low level campaign staffer, supposedly repeated some vague rumors that were stated to him by a person with ties to western intelligence agencies named Joseph Mifsud (although, apparently Mifsud, in his interviews with FBI, denied that he discussed those matters with George P). Beyond that, ordinary and routine “contacts” that people in politics from various countries have with one another are not evidence of anything.

                      Hunter Biden on the other hand indisputably traded on his dad’s political clout to make millions in pure influence peddling, “soft” corruption at best. Burisma was being investigated for its corruption by the fired prosecutor. Now looks like Sen Graham is opening an investigation into this as well.

                    3. There is no same thing with the Bidens. These two things are not the same as a general matter.

                      One is an investigation, handled privately and domestically with all the oversight and procedures required. The Steele Dossier was not largely relied on, nor has it proven particularly unreliable or biased.
                      The IG report you thought would indict a bunch of these DoJ actors is not unadulterated, but on this agrees with me, not you.

                      The other is a smear-job, handled openly and disregarding or subverting all norms or controls.

                      “soft” corruption at best
                      Do you know that Trump has children? What does Giulliani’s son do?

  31. Sondaland confirmed, by direct observation, the existence of a corrupt bargain.
    He testifies that the Secretary of State, the National Security Adviser, the President, the Vice President, everyone was in the loop.

    Trump called him later and said he didn’t want a quid pro quo. After he’d heard about the whistleblower.
    Explicitly saying ‘quid pro quo’ is amusingly telling language at that point.

    1. “Trump called him later and said he didn’t want a quid pro quo. After he’d heard about the whistleblower.”

      Every single word of that is false. Sondland called Trump to ask him what he wanted. Trump said he didn’t want anything he just wanted the guy to resume the investigations. And he had not yet heard of the whistleblower.

      1. You got me on who called whom. Immaterial, though.

        Otherwise, where are you getting your facts from?

        The quid pro quo demand from Trump via Giuliani to Sondaland occurred well before the September 9th call.
        By September 9, The DNI had already gone to the White House Counsel’s office to get guidance on what to do with the whistleblower report over a week before; Trump knew about the whistleblower well before that call.

        1. You were talking about the call on 9/9. There was no qpq demand. Just the opposite. It comes from Sondland’s testimony today.
          You are just speculating that Trump knew about the w/b before the call. There is no evidence to support that. 8/26 went from IG for IC to DNI. Nothing about White House Counsel.

          1. No, that’s not what I was talking about. That’s bit what S testified about.

  32. You can build a good comment thread off an article like this, but that’s about it. Good grief.

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