Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Last Call For The Reach To Impeach, Con't

We got significantly closer to full impeachment hearings today as the dam broke, flooding DC and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Today, she called for a formal impeachment inquiry and says six House committees will move forward with investigations in order to arrive at possible articles of impeachment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, a dramatic turnaround by the Democratic leader that sets up a constitutional and political clash pitting the Congress against the nation’s chief executive. 
“The actions of the Trump presidency have revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in brief remarks. “Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”
Impeachment is a rare and extraordinary first step that could lead to overturning the decision of U.S. voters in 2016 to elect Trump. Pelosi’s decision foreshadows an intensely partisan fall, triggering pushback from Trump allies with repercussions for the 2020 campaign. 
The president immediately lashed out on Twitter. 
“Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage. So bad for our Country!” he wrote.

Pelosi’s change of heart comes after days of consulting allies and follows reports that Trump may have pressured a foreign leader to investigate former vice president and potential 2020 campaign rival Joe Biden and his family. 
Those reports over a seven-day period created a groundswell of support among Democrats for impeachment, with moderates from swing districts joining liberals in calling for an inquiry.

Meanwhile the Senate called unanimously for the White House to turn over the full whistleblower complaint to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as Republican Sen. Richard Burr says there will be a bipartisan investigation into the report.

Even as the House is ramping up its investigation into the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine, the Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting its own inquiry and is seeking an interview with the whistleblower who filed the initial complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general, according to a letter obtained by Yahoo News. 
A letter seeking to question the still-anonymous whistleblower was sent Tuesday to Andrew Bakaj, the lawyer who represents the official. It was signed by committee chair Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. — signifying that the panel is pursuing the politically explosive issue on a bipartisan basis. 
“In order to ascertain the appropriate path forward for your client while protecting your client’s privacy, we are writing to request that you make your client available for a closed bipartisan interview with Committee counsel no later than Friday, September 27, 2019, in a mutually agreeable secure location,” the letter reads. 
It was not immediately clear whether the White House will agree to let the official be questioned. A committee spokeswoman declined comment. “Since you showed me the letter, I can confirm its authenticity,” wrote Bakaj’s law partner Mark Zaid in an email to Yahoo News. “But I cannot comment on the substance at this time. The letter speaks for itself.” 
After the letter was sent, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the whistleblower’s lawyer informed him the official “would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance” from the acting Director of National Intelligence on his appearance, which could come “as soon as this week.”

So, the game begins in earnest.  Questions I have:

1) Who's the whistleblower?  We didn't find out Deep Throat was FBI associate director Mark Felt for more than 30 years.

2) Does Pelosi have the votes for articles of impeachment?  As of today, the answer is no.  As of today, Pelosi doesn't the votes for a formal impeachment inquiry, either.  The committee votes are there on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees to investigate, and that was preceding beforehand without Pelosi's announcement today.

3) What's in the whistleblower report?  We may never know.  We could find out tomorrow.  Who knows?

All kinds of things could happen from here.

Boris Bad Enough Versus The Law

As I said two weeks ago, UK PM Boris Johnson is in perilous legal trouble, facing a smackdown from Scotland's Supreme Court.  Now Britain's Supreme Court has laid down a similar unanimous ruling that Johnson's move to suspend Parliament in order to keep his political opponents from taking any action to oust him before next month's Brexit deadline was unlawful.

Britain’s highest court dealt a serious blow Tuesday to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ruling that his controversial decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful, in a landmark judgment that will have immediate implications for Britain’s departure from the European Union.

In one of the most high-profile cases to come before Britain’s Supreme Court, the 11 judges ruled unanimously that Johnson had attempted to stymie Parliament at a crucial moment in British history.

The court ruled that Johnson’s decision to ask Queen Elizabeth II to suspend Parliament frustrated the ability of lawmakers to do the business of democracy, including debating Johnson’s plans for leaving the E.U. The new prime minister has vowed that the departure, known as Brexit, will occur — “do or die” — by the end of October.

The court’s judgment was a brutal one for the embattled prime minister. The justices asserted that his move to suspend Parliament was a political maneuver and strongly suggested that he might have misled the queen.

Johnson said he will not resign.

Brenda Hale, president of the Supreme Court, eviscerated the government’s case.

Sitting in the high court, avoiding legal language and speaking clearly to the country, Hale said that Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament “was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”

The court unanimously found that Johnson’s suspension was “void and of no effect,” meaning, essentially, that Parliament has not been suspended.

John Bercow, the flamboyant speaker of the House of Commons, called the high court’s decision “unambiguous” and “unqualified” and said Parliament would resume its duties Wednesday morning.
Lawmakers in the House of Commons will be allowed to ask “urgent questions” of Johnson’s ministers and take part in “emergency debates” Wednesday, Bercow said, foreshadowing a freewheeling session for the chamber to press the government on all fronts.

Some lawmakers were already discussing a no-confidence measure against Johnson in Parliament, where the prime minister already has lost his majority.

“This is an absolutely momentous decision,” said Joanna Cherry, a Scottish politician who helped to launch the case in the Scottish courts.

This could very well be the week where lawmakers in both the UK and the US decide it's time for their respective country's leaders to go.

Stay tuned.

Ukraine In The Membrane

At this point, the Trump/Ukraine extortion story is getting comically stupid, as we're on shoe number five or six to drop.

President Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials. 
Officials at the Office of Management and Budget relayed Trump’s order to the State Department and the Pentagon during an interagency meeting in mid-July, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. They explained that the president had “concerns” and wanted to analyze whether the money needed to be spent. 
Administration officials were instructed to tell lawmakers that the delays were part of an “interagency process” but to give them no additional information — a pattern that continued for nearly two months, until the White House released the funds on the night of Sept. 11. 
Trump’s order to withhold aid to Ukraine a week before his July 25 call with Volodymyr Zelensky is likely to raise questions about the motivation for his decision and fuel suspicions on Capitol Hill that Trump sought to leverage congressionally approved aid to damage a political rival. The revelation comes as lawmakers clash with the White House over a related whistleblower complaint made by an intelligence official alarmed by Trump’s actions.

So yes, the extortion happened first when the military aid already approved by Congress was blocked on Donald Trump's orders, then the phone call to Zelensky happened where Trump made it clear why he was holding up the money. He expected a foreign leader to come up with something on Hunter Biden in order to help Trump beat Joe Biden in 2020.  Told Mulvaney to lie to Congress about it to boot.

That's it, that's the crime.  Bag em, tag em, fire up the grill.

Dude did it.   And remember Pence was in on it too.

Pelosi now finally moving forward with the big I.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been quietly sounding out top allies and lawmakers about whether the time has come to impeach President Trump, a major development as several moderate House Democrats resistant to impeachment suddenly endorsed the extraordinary step of trying to oust the president. 
Pelosi, according to multiple senior House Democrats and congressional aides, has been gauging the mood of her caucus members about whether they believe that allegations that Trump pressured a Ukrainian leader to investigate a political foe are a tipping point. She was making calls as late as Monday night, and many leadership aides who once thought Trump’s impeachment was unlikely now say they think it’s almost inevitable. 
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly. 
Pelosi’s conversations — and reconsideration of her long-held position that impeachment is too divisive — come amid a growing clamor for impeachment that extends beyond the party’s liberal base and many Democratic presidential candidates to moderate lawmakers in competitive House seats. 
Seven freshman Democrats with previous service in the military, defense and U.S. intelligence said in a Monday night Washington Post op-ed that if the allegations against Trump are true, “we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense.

Things are starting to move towards a critical mass.  Finally.


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