History’s Rhyme, Part 2a: ‘Abuse of Power’ Sounds So Familiar

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

In a previous post I looked at the first of three Articles of Impeachment passed by Congress in 1974 against then-president Richard Nixon and suggested a parallel between Trump’s presidential acts and Nixon’s.

There had been five articles drafted; only the first three were approved by the 93rd Congress. Of them one article focused on Abuse of Power — acts which may be malfeasance and/or unlawful, as well as acts which may not have been strictly unlawful/illegal but were unethical and a breach of the trust the public places in the executive and a violation of the executive’s oath of office to take care the laws are faithfully executed.

You can read the second article at this link; now compare it to a theoretical article of impeachment which could be drafted against Trump today.

Article 2: Abuse of Power

Using the powers of the office of President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impeding the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposes of these agencies.

This conduct has included one or more of the following:

1. He has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution which provides that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Donald J. Trump, has a financial interest in vast business holdings around the world that engage in dealings with foreign governments and receive benefits from those governments. He has refused to divest himself of those interests and inherent conflicts of interest. He has accepted “Emolument[s]” from “foreign State[s]” while holding the office of President of the United States. He has accepted numerous benefits from foreign states without first seeking or obtaining congressional approval as specified by the Emoluments Clause, and further maintains that no Congressional approval is required. He has rejected Congress’s Article I authority by refusing to seek its consent.

2. He misused the Secret Service by interfering in their ability to perform their duties with regard to protecting the presidency, refusing them necessary access to public and private facilities where foreign nationals visit frequently. He has interfered with the Secret Service’s ability to operate, draining their budget by deploying them excessively at his private business facilities when not executing his presidential duties.

3. He has, acting personally and or through his subordinates and agents, in violation or disregard of the Presidential Records Act of 1978 (PRA), concealed or destroyed presidential records, or prevented presidential records from being made appropriate to the execution of his office. He has terminated the practice of publishing public summaries of presidential phone calls with world leaders thereby evading creation of presidential records. He has ignored warnings of the National Archives to comply with the PRA.

4. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens and the human rights of visiting foreign nationals, unilaterally drafted, issued without adequate prior legal review, and permitted to be maintained Executive Orders 13769 and 13780, violating the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, the Fifth Amendment’s Equal Protection, Substantive Due Process, and Procedural Due Process clauses, the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and violating in both substance and procedure the Administrative Procedure Act in the process of discriminating against persons both citizens and foreign nationals on the basis of religion and national origin by illegal detention and refusal of their admittance to this country.

5. In disregard of the rule of law: he knowingly misused the executive power by interfering with agencies of the executive branch, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, in violation of his duty to take care that the laws by faithfully executed. He rejected the expert advice of then Deputy Attorney General as to the unlawfulness of his Executive Order 13769. He has authorized Department of Homeland Security personnel to commit illegal acts against asylum seekers and refugees. He interfered with the Department of Justice in its investigation into interference with the 2016 election by repeated disparagement.

6. He has retaliated against federal employees, including but not limited to the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Director of Secret Service, and National Archives personnel, disparaging, harassing, and or firing them without adequate legal cause for conducting their lawful duties. He has ordered other federal personnel to disparage and fire federal personnel without adequate legal cause for conducting their lawful duties. He has maliciously attempted to interfere with federal employees’ ability to draw their rightful benefits.

7. He misused the Department of Justice, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by tacitly directing or implicitly authorizing the Attorney General to conduct or continue investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office. He has expressed repeatedly his intent to use the Department of Justice and U.S. intelligence agencies for the purposes of punishing political opponents. He has failed to take care that the laws were faithfully executed by failing to act when he knew or had reason to know that his close subordinates endeavored to investigate political opponents.

8. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of press under the First Amendment and of citizens under the Fifth Amendment, authorized and permitted the indefinite revocation of White House press credentials for arbitrary and non-compelling reasons, including punishment for and suppression of perceived criticism. He has frequently undermined the First Amendment rights of the press by calling them “the enemy of the people.

9. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, in violation or disregard of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), allowed the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (PACEI) to meet without public notice; without making PACEI meetings open to the public; and without timely notice in the Federal Register. He has failed to ensure PACEI operated so that any of its “records, reports, transcripts, minutes, appendixes, working papers, drafts, studies, agenda, or other documents which were made available to or prepared for or by” the PACEI were “available for public inspection.” He has further failed to ensure that the PACEI was fairly balanced and free of inappropriate influence as required under the FACA to ensure public accountability.  Based on spurious claims of voter fraud and without adequate data security in place, he has ordered the PACEI to obtain private voter data from the fifty states for the purposes of a voter roll purge using questionable and opaque methods.


In all of this, Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

Article 2 against Nixon only contained five subjects. How quaint; it’s like Tricky Dick wasn’t even trying.

In contrast Trump might have racked up a new subject every other month in office to add to this list. I have at least six more subjects to add in a followup post.

After I finish the Abuses of Power I plan to look at Article 3: Contempt of Congress — which is very nearly writing itself — and an Article 4: Violation of Treaties including those covering refugees and international human rights. There could be an Article 5 covering action in Yemen and other foreign policy and military failures.

I still don’t know if this shouldn’t include his ridiculously expensive golf. Assuming he’s not removed by the time his term is up in early January 2021, and assuming he continues his current rate of play, Trump will have burned through nearly $200,000,000 taxpayer dollars, a considerable chunk of which will go into his pocket for golf cart fees alone. What a parasite; imagine how many teachers could have received pay increases with that, or how many Pell Grant scholarships that could have funded.

Or how much of his ‘fucken wall‘ that could have bought.

This is an open thread. Be sure to let me know what other topics you think should be added under this Article 2: Abuse of Power.

171 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Happy Holiday Weekend Friday, the first one of the summer and one of the biggest news dump opportunities of the year! My eyes are crossing – if you see a boo-boo, leave me a note in comments and I’ll get to it late this evening.

    By the way, the guy who published and hosts the Nixon articles of impeachment also maintains an online archive of Nixon-related materials. Wikipedia points to his site because it’s the most comprehensive. Looks like he could use help with the cost to host — please consider flipping him a couple bucks on Patreon (he has a link at the top of the page at his site). I suspect he’s had more traffic of late. I wonder why? Hmm…

    EDIT: Yuck. Just realized the stupid Non-Disclosure Agreements the Trump White House has required should be in here probably in the same spot as the Presidential Records fail and the First Amendment fail. It’s unacceptable that a public employee can demand and compel other public employees to remain silent about work paid for by the public. Not to mention is a bloody inefficiency creating barriers to sharing information.

    EDIT-2: LMAO at trolls. I’m going to wet myself laughing. What a waste of energy, though, better spent on a constructive hobby.

    EDIT-3: Slight editing tweaks to the last topic so that it reflects Trump’s responsibility to oversee the PACEI not as a participant.

  2. P J Evans says:

    Also rules and regulations that violate laws enacted by previous presidents as well as court orders – the ones today that remove legal protections for LGBTQs and women, in medical and other situations, come immediately to my mind – especially since those set particular religious views above all else, a clear violation of the First Amendment. And his calls for charging people with treason and execution, who are doing their jobs but not complying with his personal wishes….

      • e.a.f. says:

        do wonder if any Americans will start coming to Canada and applying for refugee status?

        During the Harper years, the Conservatives developed a list of “safe countries”. People who came from these countries were not afforded the same rights involved in the refugee process as those who came from countries not on the list. There had been chatter in Canada to remove the U.S.A. from the list because people who were in fear of being deported from the U.S.A. to their home countries, would have a more difficult time being granted status in Canada. Well not much was said about it, besides people talking.
        A week ago a small article in a major newspaper, on a back page, announced the Trudeau government had rescinded the whole list. Now every one is on a level playing field once again. Now there is no country which is considered a “safe country” when it comes to applying for refugee status in Canada. Got the job done without insulting any particular country.

        • Rayne says:

          And yet the small article suggests Trudeau is worried not only with offending other countries but Canada’s white nationalists. Why not make this a government announcement on a government website?

          I’ve considered applying for dual citizenship because my North American antecedents were among the earliest in Nouvelle France. On that side of the family we’ve only been American for two generations as my grandfather emigrated to the U.S. when he was still an infant. There are streets in Quebec bearing my family’s names. But I’m not ready to throw in the towel; I was born here, this is my country, and the other side of the family has already paid enough for this country’s manifest destiny.

          • e.a.f. says:

            it would have gone up on the government websites for sure, but what surprised me was that no other newspapers had covered it and it wasn’t on CBC.
            What this does, is make it better for people who fled Haiti for the U.S.A. and then decided to move to Canada and apply for asylum here because they were afraid of being deported to Haiti by the U.S.A. Now they’re on a level playing field with other asylum seekers.

            Ah yes the white nationalists. We have more than some of us are comfortable with and you don’t have to be non white to be a target. Quebec has a “fun” way of dealing with it all. they hide behind their culture. the rest of the provinces just have to make it up as they go along.
            You just have to look at the conditions Indigenous people live in in this country to know racism is alive and well. Not a good thing at all.
            Oh, come on, apply for Canadian citizenship! it would be fun to have you around. There have been some weird rules around grandchildren, etc. and citizenship but do try. I’m not up on the latest on all of that. I’m giving some thought to trying for Dutch citizenship. Never hurts to have two passports in today’s world.

            Thank you again for the articles you write.

            • LeeNLP says:

              Just for what my 2 cents are worth, I had an experience in Edmonton, Alberta in early 2016 as I was starting to have daily bouts of nausea and headaches thinking about the surreal possibility of a Trump presidency. I was waiting in line at a grocery store, and the clerk politely asked me where I was from, then asked my political views when I answered “the US”.

              To make a long story short, I spilled my guts to a group of total strangers (her and those behind me in line) about my fears for my country, my children and the future. The people in line gathered around me, patted my back, consoled me and basically all said, “Why don’t you move up here? We’d love to have you here with us.”

              What a lovely expression of compassion and friendship to a complete stranger, from such lovely people! I’ve often thought about taking them up on their offer. It’s so encouraging to remember the vast amount of goodness still in this dark world.

  3. Jenny says:

    Thanks Rayne. Excellent! Yes, include the golf expenses. He is ripping off the taxpayers and making money playing at his courses. Thief in Chief.

    GOP code, “Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you.”

  4. 200Toros says:

    Under 6 Disparagement of federal agencies/employees: Helsinki, in which he disparaged ALL our Intelligence agencies in the most blatant way possible, by taking the word of a hostile foreign power over theirs. Makes me sick every time I think of it… For that matter, could “acting in a servile, sycophantic, obsequious manner to a hostile foreign power” be an Abuse of Power, in a way? Since it weakens the office of the executive?

    • Rayne says:

      So…how does one say in terms suitable to an article of impeachment, This Guy Did a Shitty Job and He Should Be Fired with regard to trashing the country’s intelligence agencies? Hmm. I think I want to put that under his foreign policy fail. What the executive can do with regard to foreign policy is limited by Advice and Consent as well as the executive’s duty to faithfully execute the law.

      2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors,…

      Like this stupid fucken’ trade war with China — he’s doing it, it’s on him, but ultimately if Congress (including the House) doesn’t like it, they write and pass a law barring the trade war. They did it with the sanctions against Russia. Trump has no option but to enforce them or fail and end up in court about it.

      He’s authorized by Article II to negotiate with Russia but his conduct did not fulfill his obligation to faithfully execute — excluding other staff, preventing creation of presidential records, interfering with the operation of intelligence and other agencies by disparagement. Let’s pin this and I’ll add it to Article 5.

      • 200Toros says:

        Well said, agreed! Thank you for giving us more reasons to keep the flame of hope alive. Enjoy the long weekend! I’m taking the kids on a canoeing campout, no service, no electronics, no facilities, full primitive, gonna be epic…

  5. Jenny says:

    To impeach, fast track to the Trump family financial corruption, emoluments violations, campaign finance violations and cover ups of those crimes. Mueller Report might take too long.

    • fpo says:

      Agree with this completely.

      Pardon the football analogy, but Nadler and Judiciary are the quick look/fake to the out back on the flats to draw coverage. You want the wideout – Maxine Waters, Financial Services – on a quick slant. Your option is SDNY on a stop and go post route. And try a no-huddle offense FCS.

      Cut to the chase and hit this guy where it hurts and he’s most vulnerable.

  6. BobCon says:

    On a side note as far as impeachment, I think it’s worth bringing up the cases of federal judges Alcee Hastings and Walter Nixon.

    In the late 1980s Hastings and Nixon were impeached by the House and then tossed from the bench by the Senate.



    Hastings was indicted on charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to accepting a bribe. A jury found him not guilty after a key coconspirator refused to testify against him. Nevertheless, Congress still found the evidence compelling enough to act. Nixon was found guilty before impeachment; however he objected to the Senate’s procedure and his objections we heard by the Supreme Court.

    The Supremes ruled in Nixon vs. US that Congress decides on impeachment, not the courts, even over questions of procedural matters. And the Hastings impeachment established that Congress gets to decide what counts as an impeachable offense, separate from what happens in the court system.

    Now, of course, the latest round of Supreme Court right wingers could ignore these cases. They may well insert themselves in the House’s business at the moment the Judiciary Committee bangs its opening gavel. But they will be way out of bounds.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Chuck Todd: the only reason for the House to put Bob Mueller on camera is to get a sound bite.

    Getting a sound bite might be the only reason Chuck Todd has a job. It certainly isn’t to ask incisive questions or to enlarge the narrowly framed Overton Window. But fortunately, one of his guests was more mature. She said that the public deserves to see and hear Mueller answer questions on so important a topic.

    Congress does need to hear more from him than Mueller can say in open session. So why not have two?

  8. Bristled says:

    I think you mean “impeding” here instead of “imparting”.

    Happy Memorial Day weekend to all.

    …imparting the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries…

    • Rayne says:

      Yup, and I’m not even certain how that happened since I thought I lifted that word for word from Nixon’s Article 2. It’s fixed, thanks!

      EDIT: The site said ‘impairing’ not ‘impeding’. Not certain why my auto-correct decided to change it to ‘imparting’. Is ‘imparing’ better/neutral/worse in this case than ‘impeding’?

      • Eureka says:

        “Impeding” gives better prosody and is the stronger seeming/sounding word, though before re-reading the text and just looking at the Q you posed, “impairing” seems more accurate and encompasses “impeding.”

        One tips to enhanced meaning, the other tips to (perhaps) enhanced precision. Shucks, Rayne, now I’m locked in a hedgy trap I can’t get out of. I’m leaning towards aesthetics now, as you have it (“impeding”).

        • Rayne says:

          Because it’s Trump I’m going with impeding because he isn’t merely limiting which impairing implies but obstructing which we all know he’s doing at many levels.

          Never imagined before 2016 I’d ever think, “Oh, Nixon merely impaired while Trump impedes.” ~smh~

          • Eureka says:

            LOL, should have refreshed before posting: as added below, I like “impeding” for *all* the reasons now as well.

            And yes, “impairing” is now just historically quaint.

            • Rayne says:

              Widow’s peak sans toupe – quaint. Flop sweat on TV – quaint. Indoor office pallor – quaint. Ability to string together several complete and interrelated questions – quaint.

              Really resent missing all this quaintness.

              • Eureka says:

                There’s a great joke about Stephen Miller’s paint job latent here, but I am too tired to make it.

        • Eureka says:

          Adding: after a visit with the dictionary, I prefer “impeding” vis-a-vis precision as well now, too.

          • Robert says:

            As an aside, I recall that electrical engineers used to cast aspersions on someone’s intelligence by suggesting that their head has an impedance of 377 ohms. Hint – look up impedance of free space.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Given a choice between “impede” or “impair”, I would prefer the one that is more likely to receive the most votes. That might mean choosing the one that is more comprehensive, as well as historical. But, these days, we are so fine tuned to focus on compelling visual images. So, the choice is difficult. The implosive sound and etymology of “impede” is attractive. But I am guessing that “impair” would receive more impeachment votes.
        (from dictionary.com)
        — verb (used with object)
        1. to make or cause to become worse; diminish in ability, value, excellence, etc.; weaken or damage: to impair one’s health; to impair negotiations.

        — verb (used without object)
        2. to grow or become worse; lessen.

        —verb (used with object), im·ped·ed, im·ped·ing.
        1. to retard in movement or progress by means of obstacles or hindrances; obstruct; hinder.

        Origin: 1595–1605; < Latin impedīre to entangle, literally, to snare the feet.

        • Rayne says:

          I dunno. The more I think about Article I Obstruction, I think this is the leitmotif for his entire presidency.

          Thanks for weighing this out. I can’t wait to see what the House Dems eventually agree upon.

          • Savage Librarian says:

            Yeah, I definitely agree that obstruction is the leitmotif. I just worry about the pushback on that. And it would be so satisfying to know that impairing is the opposite of making America great…

  9. AitchD says:

    I recall how it felt being a news junkie, 1967-1976. Listen: Get Out!

    The current match play between the Speaker and the President (the 2016 USGA Women’s Open was played at her course, the next year at his club) is wonderful to behold. Thru nine he’s nine down with nine to play, in dormie. A break in the match for the holiday.

    It’s more than likely that Pelosi seeks and receives the best possible counsel available.

    Maybe that letter, from Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Warren, to Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin, is a way to remove him, not for his rustling, but for his being the sous-chief of the U.S. Secret Service, Treasury Agents, etc.

  10. silcominc says:

    So Trump and the current AG are following the Nixon playbook. But why don’t they think they will face a similar outcome? My worry is that what if that the fix is in at SCOTUS. The 14th Amendment was introduced to deal with slavery and they used it (equal protection) to install bush into the white house in 2000. I am concerned that they will reinterpret something that will enable trump to end democracy as we used to know it.

    • e.a.f. says:

      You’re concerned? I’m terrified and I don’t even live in the U.S.A.
      Oh, perhaps the food in G.B. won’t agree with him and he’ll develop a really, really good case of having to stay in the bathroom permanently. Hey if he can’t do his job, oh, right we get Pence and Pelosi. Now that could be fun.

  11. Scott says:

    Isn’t this somewhat academic? Trump and McConnell know that impeachment would be a huge win. The Senate will acquit and Trump will claim final exoneration and The Dems will have no where left to go with investigations. Pelosi knows this which is why she wants to avoid going down that road.
    Trump has solid support for his autocracy within Congress, the SCOTUS, and ultimately nearly half of American voters.

    You’re living in a different era down there now, this is much much worse than Watergate, and it’s no coincidence the situation has gotten much worse since Barr was brought on board. A truly sinister apparatchik who happens to be competent at his scheming.

    Dark days ahead for all of you.

    • P J Evans says:

      Go read up on Watergate, and what it took to get from the burglary to the resignation. Notice, if you can, that impeachment was unpopular until nearly the end of the process – and the process took a couple of years. It was the investigation that did the trick: it got to the point where even the GOP in the Senate could read the handwriting on that wall.
      (And look at your own government and its failures before telling us what to do about ours.)

    • Rayne says:

      “Trump has solid support for his autocracy within Congress, the SCOTUS, and ultimately nearly half of American voters.”

      You’re relying very heavily on superficial information. Trump did NOT win the popular vote. Published approval ratings are not a reflection of the voting public because nearly all of them rely on people who will answer the phone and take a poll rather than people who actually voted — and nearly a third of eligible voters didn’t vote at all in 2016.

      “Solid support in Congress” is also wrong — the GOP does NOT have a 2/3rds majority in the Senate, and they are the minority in the House. The SCOTUS has been deliberately stacked by the senate majority leader but we can’t be absolutely certain how they will vote. Two recent decisions didn’t come out as you might have expected based on your assumption.

      You would do well to focus your energies on your own Canadian politics which remain at risk.

      An aside for everyone else: Why the hell are so many Canadians showing up here at the same time? And in a thread about the impeachment process which is singularly American?

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        “Trump did NOT win the popular vote.”
        As I have previously noted, my belief is that not only did Trump not win the popular vote, but he also “won” the Electoral College ONLY thanks to the hacking intervention of his new BFF in Moscow. Trump does not achieve anything without cheating. Unfortunately, Robert Caro is currently busy finishing up his final volume on Lyndon B. Johnson (who stole his first election to the Senate in 1948) and doesn’t have time to research the theft of Election 2016.

      • e.a.f. says:

        some of us are here because we’re old, retired and have lots of time to read blogs and its good reading. This blog is on the blog roll of The Pacific Gazetteer, RossK. He’s a PhD Cancer researcher at U.B.C. The blog covers mainly B.C. politics and some music. Now that we have a new provincial government some B.C. bloggers simply aren’t writing as much. He and the kids used to busk for fun. That’s where I found you.

        It might be interesting to check where the various Canadians are from. I’m from Nanaimo, B.C. on Vancouver Island. You may find some are trolls and foreign. I’ve started noticing some show up on Canadian political blogs and are quite divisive amongst the progressives. They attack and some are them are quite new to one blog in particular. The person tries to pass herself off as an American. However, the grammar isn’t always “quite correct”. Some blogs are banning people who don’t support Trudeau over Jody Wilson-Rayboult and Jane Philpot.

        Canadians are taking a keen interest in American politics right now because it scares a lot of us. Some worry because they do business with the U.S.A.; some have friends and relatives there; some have real estate there; yikes what if something goes wrong in Maui. Many are concerned because there has been a right turn in Ontario and Alberta.

        Sometimes I read AMerican blogs to see where our country might be headed. 15 years ago became concerned about our province’s politics, typed in coal, crime corruption, politics and found a number of Alabama blogs. found it interesting and informative.

        Canadians have always had an interest in American politics. As they used to say, when the U.S.A. catches a cold, Canada gets the flu. We do considerable trade. These tariffs were not helping our economy. People go to a blog which provides a good analysis of the situation and this blog does that.
        The uncertainty trump creates spills over. Sitting between Russia and the U.S.A. isn’t always comfortable. When the American president isn’t seen as stable it makes some of us nervous. when you’re nervous sometimes it helps too not focus on your own problems. Most of the people I know really liked Obama. Then there was trump. We’d like to see him gone, so impeachment is of great interest to some. We’ve seen the “trump effect” on Canadian politics–hello Ford of Ontario.

        When you read things about Europe and the U.S.A and the impact Russia had on those country’s elections, it scares the crap out of me with our upcoming federal election. We’re not on friendly terms with Saudi Arabia, Russia, China. There are only 36 million of us. Its best to keep an eye on the neighbours.

        As a non American I understand not all of my comments might be appreciated and I have no problem being told that. But I would recommend you do have a look at where the Canadians are located.

        • Rayne says:

          It was the influx of Canadians. It’s odd to see more than of you at a time commenting here, and in this case nearly on top of each other.

          I know EXACTLY where Canada is located. Some of my family came directly across the lake to Michigan, some through Detroit, and more yet through the Sault. I also know my family was critical to the growth of Canada; I’m related distantly to both a former prime minister and a famous Canadian singer. It’s not as if I don’t understand how intertwined are US-Canada relations.

          • P J Evans says:

            There are a lot of people on my extended family tree (including one of my great-grandfathers) who came from Canada – or moved to, or both (some went north and then came back). That border has been open for a long, long time. (And at least one was a newspaper publisher and politician who’s still in history books.)

      • Eureka says:

        re Canadian politics, check out #CanadianIdyll

        For example here, from a conversation amongst scared trans people* and supporters, in reply to someone suggesting relative safety in Canada:

        “The notwithstanding clause allows any simple (50+1) majority of any provincial legislature (or Parliament) to deny any basic human rights, at any time, on a five year continuance, without judicial oversight. Quasi dictatorship Canada isn’t the answer! #CanadianIdyll (short url removed)”

        By a Nova Scotia guy, lots of stuff under this hashtag (also on his general feed).

        *Heartbreaking; starts here:
        Laura Jane Grace: “At this point I’m just scared. When I came out in 2012 the world seemed maybe safe for Trans people to openly exist. I now see how naive that was. Transphobia is so deeply ingrained in society. The cruelty is the point. We’re subhuman to them. They’re happy to watch us die.(short url removed/linked to the then-latest proposed human rights abuse this week against trans people)”

  12. P J Evans says:

    at SFGate: “President Trump Wants a Promotion” – my first thought was “To what, god-emperor?”
    I’ll admit to not having read the story under that – I’m afraid to find out what kind of promotion Tr*mp wants.

    • e.a.f. says:

      If trump wants a promotion, I’m of the opinion he gets it, right out of this world. O.K. send him into space. works for me. Oh, what has space done to deserve any of it? nothing but at least he’ll be off this earth and it will be a safer place.

      My concern is he won’t ever be gone, until he’s dead. At the rate he’s going, with giving Barr the run of the American government files, it simply is too scary to think he’d remain in office more than after the long weekend is up. He is a danger to the safety and security of the U.S.A. and a whole host of other countries.

      Perhaps once Barr and he release one too many a document he can be arrested for ……whatever that is because as I recall, and I could be wrong, treason can only happen during war time. No one in their right mind would allow any one to rummage through national security files just to get even. It truly is frightening.

      Given trump has been clear about why he wants Barr to rummage through the files, what happens if the C.I.A. says no you can’t have these files and burns them. Does anyone expect the military to do anything if he wants to “rummage” through their files?

      if trump starts attacking and trying to have people arrested for opposing him, what do the various agencies do? How will these people be safe? they could exit and apply for refugee status in Canada or a host of other countries, but what can the U.S.A. do to protect their own citizens from this crazed individual?

      There is a great sadness about a country such as the U.S.A. loosing its democracy.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The promotion Donald Trump wants is criticism-free president-for-life, a heritable title at that.

    That’s an exaggeration, but only just. A brief listen to Faux Noise makes clear he’s not joking about being untouchable, about remaining in office regardless of time or events, about the wrongness of his being investigated for any reason. Having found Barr, he has started his counter-investigations and the exacting of retribution.

    Democrats dither, believing they have time on their side. They talk about recovering from Trump, as if the norm of his leaving office without protest after losing an election is one he would respect. The Democrats should start believing their lying eyes as Trump sows hate and topples one restraint after another.

    The MSM, too, still covers Trump as if he were an entertaining novelty who sometimes jokingly goes too far. I think that’s a mistake. We should start taking Trump’s ambitions seriously. Bill Barr does. So does the Republican party, the rightwing media, and his base.

  14. AndTheSlithyToves says:

    No worries, PJ! The article doesn’t really say. The author is sounding the alarm about Trump’s latest attack on the US Constitution: Using Bill Barr as his personal fixer/mob lawyer to smite his enemies while simultaneously trashing journalists. Slippery slope and all that.

    • P J Evans says:

      God-emperor, then. Because he needs worship from all the serfs, as well as all his minions.

  15. OldTulsaDude says:

    There are 251 Republican members of Congress. It is staggering that only 1 of them has the courage to speak out against this corrupt and un-American president. Surely, they can’t all be hard core supporters, can they? Nixon, until the tapes came out, had enough Senate support to avoid removal. Why do can we keep putting people into powerful positions who have no respect for American democracy? Why?

    • Tom says:

      It’s especially galling when you hear journalists report that, off the record, there are more than a few Republicans who will admit to disagreeing with Trump on specific issues or his whole style of governing. There must be something tremendously addictive about being in power or feeling that you’re part of the country’s decision making process, even at the price of your own self-respect and personal sense of honour. And what would be the cost of speaking up? You get some twitter ridicule from the President and might be voted out come next election, but so what? Justin Amash isn’t going to end up begging for change outside his neighbourhood liquor store, and he can hold his head up knowing that he did the right thing. And you can safely predict that when some of these Republicans write their memoirs, their line will be: “Well, really I was against Trump the whole time.”

      • P J Evans says:

        They’re sure not willing to say it on the record while still in office, when it might actually do some good.

  16. Bay State Librul says:

    Shaun Mullen is a terrific writer and an optimist like the rest of us.

    He writes:

    “But I continue to believe that the court will not “save” Trump, to use a word that his senior advisers have bandied about since Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, for two interconnected reasons:

    * The tactic of Trump’s lawyers blaming the Democrats and not arguing the law — which would be futile — is further evidence that Trump doesn’t understand the basics of American governance and civics, including the reality that the Supreme Court has no authority to help or hinder impeachment proceedings.

    * Even with Trump nominees Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, a ruling by a high court led by John Roberts, a devout constitutionalist, will fail for the same reasons that Richard Nixon failed during Watergate — the elemental reasons enshrined in that very Constitution that Trump loves to hate”

    Comment: If the Supreme Court rules for Trump, the ballgame is over. I never in a million years thought we could be ruled by a dictator and sycophants.
    The Repubs are creeps, fawners, flatterers, leeches and puppets.

    But these are only words, we need Mueller to act and act now.

    • e.a.f. says:

      back to why are so many Canadians here: the second last para, the U.S.A being ruled by a dictator. I am afraid of that and wonder how many Americans Canada can absorb if that happens. The most we have ever taken in at one time, is 100k Vietnamese. If we were to have taken in as many refugees as Germany did, we’d have to take in 400k on the pro rated scale of things.

      • Tom says:

        I’m not so sure we’ll have an influx of American refugees, but there are definite cross-border connections. I read once that 80% of Canadians live within 200 miles of the U.S. border. Here at the eastern end of Lake Ontario there are Canadians who make regular shopping trips to the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown, N.Y., while soldiers of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum like to hang out at the pubs in Kingston because the drinking age is 19, not 21, and because “the girls are so nice,” according to one online bulletin board I came across. For myself, in my younger days I often drove down to the States to tour Civil War battlefield sites and I invariably found Americans to be helpful, polite, and welcoming. So when our neighbours are having problems, naturally we’re concerned.

        • Eureka says:

          Yes and in light of these genial, flowing relations, I often think of the rise of the vending machine as a distinct stutter. As youth we’d always have some Canadian coins mixed in here or there (perhaps you likewise had misc. US coins). As vending machines increased in presence and power, they started to reject them here (yet dollar-to-change-maker machines would still give the random Canadian coin). It created a new, spoken aversion to Canadian coins. (Imagine that, machines and capital impairing human relations.)

          Which is why decades later, I did not click some trash-bait headline recently going around which suggested that using Canadian coins was indeed some high crime. Eff the click baiters. I am glad we are friends. Je me souviens (not your province, I know, but accept the well-meant pun).

          • Tom says:

            Because of the exchange rate, I still think it’s a bonus when I find an American quarter or dime in my pocket change. Our mint in Ottawa stopped producing pennies some years ago under the Harper gov’t. It was costing more to mint them than they were worth. Now at the cashier your total is rounded up or down to the nearest nickel. Anyway, hands across the border! : – )

  17. Tom Marney says:

    Good luck on wordsmithing this, but…

    The Mueller report stated that there were several instances in which Donald Trump directed his subordinates to obstruct justice, but the obstruction didn’t occur because said subordinates refused or otherwise failed to obey Trump’s directives. Even without an investigation, we saw hints of this same pattern in the histrionics with North Korea in 2017, with the military making it known that, when it came to the prospect of war with NK, they wouldn’t do anything illegal or grossly stupid regardless of what Trump ordered. Needless to say, the fact that the Pentagon saw fit to make pronouncements on this indicates that there had been some problems, and that it was important that the rest of the world didn’t get the wrong idea about what could and couldn’t happen.

    The most important duty of a modern president is one that the founding fathers couldn’t have foreseen: command of the nation’s military during an ongoing or impending nuclear attack, when good decisions must be made expeditiously and likely in the absence of complete information. Trump has made it clear that he’s unable to fulfill this duty, not only because of his general disdain for policy, but because of the contempt with which he’s regarded by competent people at the top of the military and civilian establishments.

    • Rayne says:

      For this particular article I need abuses of power. What you’re describing is fitness for duty. If I look at a sixth article it will probably focus on fitness but it’s a stretch to see any Congress agreeing a president’s lack of fitness for duty is a high crime or misdemeanor for which impeachment is necessary. If the president isn’t fit for duty the 25th amendment is the appropriate tool.

      And we know that the 25th can’t be executed because the deck was stacked against it when the Senate approved all those POS cabinet members.

      ~smh~ The founders never imagined such a wholly corrupt government — a Senate too ethically challenged to advice and consent, and a president too corrupt to ever uphold his oath.

      • Tom Marney says:

        True, it doesn’t fall under abuse of power. It’s actually more the opposite. :/

      • OldTulsaDude says:

        Solely because an act is not illegal should not mean it is not an abuse of power. Declaring emergencies to override Congress for his wall and then for arms sales to the Saudis and UAE is as much an abuse of power as sicking, as a personal vendetta, the DOJ on supposed “enemies”.

        • Rayne says:

          Do you see the part in my post where it says TO BE CONTINUED? That.

          And my intended article focusing on foreign policy will include using our military to further other countries’ aims at the expense of our own. If the US benefits (and it has) from Iran participating peacefully in the JCPOA, why is Trump disrupting the JCPOA? Why is Bolton warmongering rather than working toward a diplomatic solution? Why is Pompeo such a useless dreck as head diplomat, promoting Christian values instead of American values?

          Yeah, plenty for Article 5.

          EDIT: I went back and pulled this out for you because you must have missed it when you noted “Solely because an act is not illegal should not mean it is not an abuse of power.” I did say the list of abuses of power I began to outline were

          …acts which may be malfeasance and/or unlawful, as well as acts which may not have been strictly unlawful/illegal but were unethical and a breach of the trust the public places in the executive and a violation of the executive’s oath of office to take care the laws are faithfully executed.

  18. Bay State Librul says:

    Obstruction can fail and you can still have obstruction.
    That’s why I kind of hate lawyers….
    They can twist and turn, and bullshit.
    In fact, I’ll say they are ” bullshit artists”
    “One could always do more, Lech Walesa writes, “but democracy has its own rhythm.”
    To date that rhythm has been hijacked and with Barr there is more to come.

  19. PeteT says:

    My hunch is that the next major crisis may not be the indictment of a Trump enemy as a byproduct of Barr’s skulking around.

    When Trump loses all the appeals or third parties handing over documents like Capital One and Deutche Bank they, as third parties with risk, will comply.

    But if same happens with, oh say, Treasury/IRS not complying with a final federal if not SCOTUS ruling to comply – is there a next step? Who arrests Mnuchin and secures the documents?

    Same scenario could apply to Barr not releasing unpredicted Mueller report after exhausted federal appeals once they start?

  20. fpo says:

    From day one there’s been the deliberate and systematic dismantling of the Federal bureaucracy. One glaring example is the ~400 vacant positions in the State department, compromising US ability to effectively maintain/manage foreign relations in a time of (real and manufactured) crises, worldwide. Despite claims to the contrary – DT is not/never will be a competent or effective ‘minister’ of foreign affairs – witness Helsinki, N. Korea, SA/Yemen, Beijing, Venezuela, etc. Abuses of Power? Or just plain incompetence, idk. Such a target-rich environment.

    wrt Contempt of Congress there’s the use of exec orders to circumvent Congress (wall funding, arms sale to SA).

    “Trump to sidestep Congress to clear arms deals benefiting Saudi Arabia, UAE”

    [ https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-to-sidestep-congress-to-clear-arms-deals-benefitting-saudi-arabia-uae/2019/05/24/367f4990-7e4d-11e9-a5b3-34f3edf1351e_story.html ]

    And, conveniently devoid of NYT op/ed, here’s “Tracking 29 Investigations Related to Trump” for reference.

    [ https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/05/13/us/politics/trump-investigations.html ]

    ‘Ambitious’ doesn’t come close – thanks for this post.

    • Rayne says:

      Good point. Not specifically illegal since to the best of my knowledge there’s no requirement to staff by law. BUT…he cannot ensure US law is faithfully executed if he doesn’t have adequate staffing to that end.

      WRT the NYT’s piece on 29 investigations: some of the investigations are about his businesses, foundation, Trump organization, his candidacy and campaign, and not the office of the presidency. There’s other fodder though:
      — the corrupt dangling of pardons for the purpose of obstruction. Not mentioned: dangling of pardons for DHS personnel who follow his illegal order to shoot border crossers;
      — nepotism favoring family members to the extent that they pose a threat to national security;
      — unethical handling of security clearances for non-family individuals who pose a national security risk (hello, Mr. Flynn);
      — unethical lack of transparency wrt personal finances;
      — misrepresentations in personal financial statements;
      — failure to take active steps to prevent foreign interference in US elections.

      Are these abuses of power? 3 or 4 of these are. The others fall under corruption and This Guy Did a Shitty Job and He Should Be Fired. Are they all subjects Congress should consider high crimes and misdemeanors?

      Thanks for the substantive feedback, very helpful.

  21. harpie says:

    Rayne, this is an outstanding series of posts!
    Thank you for all of this enlightening work.
    And, thank you to the commenters for your additions, as well.
    It’s absolutely mind-blowing how much dangerous malfeasance there actually is to consider.

    • Rayne says:

      If you think of any more abuses of power not already spelled out here, please do share! And yes, it’s stunning when it’s spelled out. I didn’t get through half of my list of abuses. It was just too much for one sitting.

    • harpie says:

      On 2/12/19, Darren Samuelsohn reported:
      Democrats tap Norm Eisen to consult on House Judiciary Committee

      […] Norm Eisen, a former White House lawyer in the Obama administration and an outspoken Trump critic, is signing on as a part-time counsel to help Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler conduct oversight of the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. […]

      Also joining Nadler’s team is Barry Berke, a New York-based criminal defense attorney who has handled a series of white-collar cases. […]
      According to a Democratic aide, Eisen will remain part-time at the Brookings Institution but will step down from his post as board chair of CREW, the non-profit he co-founded in 2003. Berke is expected to work about four days a week for the House committee but plans to also stay on as a partner at his law firm, Kramer Levin. […]

      Ten days ago, Eisen tweeted:
      https://twitter.com/NormEisen/status/1128822854223585281 5:41 PM – 15 May 2019

      Upside of working late: [>>> photo of beautiful sunset at the Washington Monument]

      …to which Ted Boutrous responded:
      [will post link in next comment]
      7:21 PM – 15 May 2019

      We are glad you are working late @NormEisen

      Yes, we are.

  22. Hops says:

    We need a potent self-replicating meme. I’m thinking “What’s Trump Hiding?”

    The country has a right to know: what’s motivating his decisions? The welfare of all or the welfare of him?

    • CitizenCrone says:

      Just “Follow the Money”, as in “in whose interest?” Is this policy/decision, or “in whose pocket?” Will the benefits of the policy/decision go.

    • Eureka says:

      How bout the one that is already “replicating” and has proved quite potent: “cover-up.”

      • Stacey says:

        Yes, “cover up” is ideal, an Pelosi knew, because it helps people remember that this impeachment energy rhymes with Watergate and not Clinton. And that’s worth being reminded of everyday!

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I agree with the comment that Trump’s enemies list is an abuse of power. Barr’s willingness to pursue it should make it a cause for impeachment. It directly threatens the rule of law and the constitutional mandate that the law equally protect everyone.

    It is bad enough that that aspiration fails every day for people of color (eg, driving and picking up trash outside one’s home while being African American) and the poor generally. Worse, Trump attacks the principle and the aspiration through his open disdain for it. His Attorney General, charged with doing the opposite, openly supports his disdain through executive action.

    Trump endangers national security through his purported delegation of authority to Bill Barr to declassify intelligence data, apparently in connection with his search for Trump’s enemies. Trump’s willfully ignorant and vindictive delegation of authority also provides cover for his administration’s many and frequent lapses in security. His persistent use of insecure communications technology and his abuse of national security concerns in the award of high-level security clearances to White House aides are two examples.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Sorry, I had to look it up. From a David Lurie article in yesterday’s Daily Beast. [https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-public-enemies-list-is-an-impeachable-offense]

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks, that’s a big help. Nice that Lurie pointed to the use of the IRS — Nixon’s enemies list was a big chunk of Article 2 against him:

          1. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.
          2. He misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance.
          3. He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, authorized and permitted to be maintained a secret investigative unit within the office of the President, financed in part with money derived from campaign contributions, which unlawfully utilized the resources of the Central Intelligence Agency, engaged in covert and unlawful activities, and attempted to prejudice the constitutional right of an accused to a fair trial.

          Only thing substantially different in Trump’s approach is 1) he’s open about his pursuit of political opponents though we can’t be certain he hasn’t also launched covert attempts, and 2) some of the opponents he’s pursuing are just his opponents but Putin’s.

          I know bmaz is right when he gets all hot under the collar when someone misuses the term ‘treason’ since the law applies only to formally declared war and kinetic warfare, but this stuff makes it clear this new cold war using asymmetric methods which has now occupied the White House requires new and different laws. If Trump is going after Putin’s enemies and not just his own, what do we call it?

          • P J Evans says:

            “Sedition”? (Personally, I think that treason should apply to this kind of activity. It sure isn’t helping us or our actual legal allies, and it’s definitely giving aid and comfort to people and countries who aren’t our friends.)

            • timbo says:

              Personally, I’m glad the the Framers saw the danger in bandying around “treason”, and capital punishment for same, as more a danger of encouraging tyrants than a panecea for tyrants. If one looks to the Jacobins of the French Revolution, one can easily note the dangers inherent in the “off with their heads” model of social engineering…

              • Rayne says:

                We’re a nation of laws which is why we are discussing the challenge we face with the law of treason and the problem posed by asymmetric warfare.

                The off-with-their-heads guy is the one behind the podium stridently accusing members of the other political party and law enforcement of treason and encouraging “Lock Them Up!” from his unending campaign rallies.

            • Rayne says:

              Sedition doesn’t quite do it IMO because it’s about the active overthrow of the government. I don’t think Trump’s actively overthrowing it because he’s the executive. But there’s a fundamental betrayal of US public interests which underpins treason though the acts aren’t treason because we’re not at war.

              This same gap in laws is why we’re struggling with espionage versus failure to register as a foreign agent. What happens when the US hasn’t entered a formally declared state of hostility up to but not including a state of war? Does it matter if a person working on behalf of a hostile nation-state is working as an authorized agent? or collecting data ultimately to the benefit of a hostile nation-state while we are not in a state of war? Not black-and-white, very grey space.

              • Tom says:

                This situation may become clearer once we have Trump’s tax returns and other financial docs. It seems more likely that the motives for some of his decisions are entirely criminal and aimed at his own self-interest. If his decisions adversely effect the U.S. and its allies, that’s only collateral damage in Trump’s view. He’s only looking out for himself.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Also, this analysis from Natasha Bertrand, “Trump Puts DOJ on crash course with intelligence agencies.”


        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As Bertrand and others point out, the new powers Trump has tried to give Barr widely disrupt the intel communities: current ops, covert agents, analysis, and recruitment, internally and externally. It’s as if Trump were ticking off another item on his To Do List from Vladimir Putin.

          WTF would volunteer to work or cooperate with an American intel op, for example, if they thought Barr or Trump might out their participation because it frustrates Trump. This is dangerously vindictive of Trump – and Barr.

  24. Tom says:

    Let’s not forget Trump’s undermining of America’s position as the keystone of the formal and informal alliance of Western democracies. His “America First” policy has had the effect of alienating longstanding allies of the U.S.–I’m thinking of his, at best, ambiguous attitude towards American commitments to NATO and the message this has sent to the Baltic nations and Ukraine. Also, pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the nuclear treaty with Iran does not appear to be in the long term best interests of the U.S. or the rest of the world. Similarly, his indifference to human rights and truckling to dictators is not the role an American President should be playing when authoritarianism is on the rise. The President’s conduct in office and on the world stage has had a corrosive effect upon America’s traditional standing and moral authority among other nations. I suppose this sounds rather vague and more a case of neglect than abuse on Trump’s part, but I thought I would mention it anyway.

    • Rayne says:

      Had NATO on my list for the foreign policy-related article.

      Hadn’t put NAFTA on there yet and I should along with the Paris Agreement (UNFCCC) — both being treaties to which the U.S. was a signatory. What I need for both is the corresponding legislation (if any) which documents Congress’s recognition of these treaties.

      The TPP needs to be a separate issue under the list of foreign policy fail because the US didn’t sign it thanks to Trump.

      If you think of any other treaty violations I’m all ears.

      • P J Evans says:

        I did a couple of searches at Congress.gov, but couldn’t find anything that looked useful here.

  25. Tom says:

    A little OT but can’t help but wonder whether the President will use his state visit to the UK, the 75th anniversary of D-Day commemoration, and next month’s G-20 summit as platforms to pull more “extremely stable genius” PR stunts for his audience back home.

    • Rayne says:

      If I had to guess he’ll do something stupid like putting in a plug for Boris Johnson with a little attempted fluffery of Nigel Farage’s image.

      Big mistake. Oh, and he’ll probably touch the Queen as one should not. ~shudder~

      • P J Evans says:

        It’s too bad he’s a head of state. I’d like to see him expelled – with a nicely-worded request to pull his passports.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The 100-foot orangeman-in-diapers balloon (the last one was 20′) protesters plan to fly over London this visit will be all over the television, which will make his mood extra special. If he makes another trip to his Scottish golf courses, the balloon will follow.

      Trump will remind the world what good allies the US and Germany were in the years leading up to D-Day. He’ll walk more slowly than the Queen (she’s twenty years older) and trip over her again. She should take him to that grocery store self-check out she visited last week and see if Trump could figure out how to do it.

      And, yea, he’ll put in a good word for Boris, Banks, Farage, and Brexit which will undoubtedly help Boris win the Tory leadership conference. Not.

      • Tom says:

        According to the April 11th Washington Post, the President will visit the Normandy beaches as part of the 75th anniversary of D-Day events. I can hear him now: “Great beachfront property! Lots of potential! No wonder the Allies invaded here!”

  26. CitizenCrone says:

    Well, darn, you just had to mention his NDAs. And here I just heard on the teevee that Trump is the most transparent U.S. President ever in the whole history of the world. Oh, wait–that was a Trump quote…

    • Stacey says:

      Can anyone speak to this notion of the NDAs actually being ‘bribes’ in that federal officials, employees of the federal government, are giving ‘something of value’ to Trump in the form of their pledged silence in exchange for their jobs, which would function as bribes. Trump is asking each and every employee to ‘pay him’ for their job, in essence. Clearly if they don’t sign the NDA they don’t get/keep their job, so the underlying agreement is pretty obvious to all involved. Pay up: Get job. Don’t pay up: Don’t get job. = Bribe, no?

      • Rayne says:

        Quid pro quos are a tough area if they aren’t explicit. IANAL but to my mind what makes it more likely a court could see these NDAs as quid pro quos is that no previous administration has ever expected anything more in the way of an employment agreement apart from that required for various levels of security and the federal employees’ oath of office. Not having seen one of the NDAs I can’t be certain if they are agreements with the government or if they are agreements with Trump or Trumo org.

        Must also ask if these are at all binding if the employee is contracting with the government. In any case it’s an abuse of power to expect greater privacy than Trump is entitled to as a public employee.

        Might also fit under the Article 1 I’ve already written as a pre-emptive form of obstruction — especially since Trump had been warned before being sworn in about Flynn and knew that the Russians were under sanctions. I wonder what other warnings the Obama administration might have passed on to Team Trump during the transition as part of national security briefings which the NDAs may have been intended to suppress should Team Trump be invested in them in some way?

        • P J Evans says:

          Since Tr*mp apparently uses NDAs routinely to keep information inside his organization, especially if it could result in legal action against him and his minions, and since he’s running – or trying to run – government the same way, I’d assume that there are NDAs, and that the courts will take a dim view of using them in government.

        • RWood says:

          I’ve been looking into the bribery angle myself lately and it is indeed confusing as so much of what a normal person would label a bribe has in fact been made legal. C.I. anyone?

          Most in the legal community seem to be focusing on the dangle of pardons being defined as the strongest cases for bribery. That, and some of his actions regarding Trump U. which involved actual cash payoffs. I’m still reading but the list is growing rapidly.

    • BeingThere says:

      Wasn’t it the emperor’s new clothes that are traditionally transparent, being proclaimed the most fabulous of garments by his courtiers? In this case the emperor himself is claiming to be transparent and his aides are providing the cover-ups. A little literacy on his part would make this less confusing all around.

  27. CitizenCrone says:

    Thanks for working in the press issues. He’s also targeted specific journalists.

    …undermined justice system (you have this), also targeted specific judges and FBI agents (in his interest)

    …targeted specific corporations and business owners, affecting stocks (in his interest–Belzos)

    …how about perverted malfeasance, deliberately nominating unqualified persons to lead agencies and subvert their missions

    …idk–he just undermines and attacks everything that is democratic or essential to democracy. [or a threat to his reign]

    I guess in Trumpspeak it all boils down to: Trump very very bad, worst ever in the history of everything everywhere all time.

    • Rayne says:

      I had to include the attacks on the press. I feel strongly his rhetoric encouraged indirectly the shooter who killed five of the Capital Gazette’s employees.

      • P J Evans says:

        I agree – he seems to think the only function of the media is to fluff his oversized and oh-so-fragile ego.

  28. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Speaking of abuses of power, I would add Trump’s abuse of memory, the corruption that his willful ignorance brings when he repurposes history harmful to him as propaganda that lauds his memory.

    Drawn from another age, but painfully poignant today, is this excerpt from a speech by Frederick Douglass, delivered at the then new Arlington National Cemetery. It was Decoration Day 1871, in the middle of Reconstruction, six years after the end a war that had “planted agony at a million hearthstones.”

    His speech lauded sacrifice, but not courage, because both sides were courageous; it lauded the dead, but not all of them, because they did not all die for a praiseworthy cause:

    We are sometimes asked, in the name of patriotism, to forget the merits of this fearful struggle, and to remember with equal admiration those who struck at the nation’s life and those who struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and those who fought for liberty and justice.

    I am no minister of malice. I would not strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; but may my “right hand forget her cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,” if I forget the difference between the parties to that terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict….

    [W]e are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the [Southern] rebellion meant death to the republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation’s destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood…if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage…if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land…we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.


  29. Eureka says:

    This is heavy, if you choose to bear witness:

    U.S. Army: “How has serving impacted you?”

    Currently, there are over 9 thousand conversations in the replies, from former soldiers, some other service members, family members, and all eras.

    The Army later responded with this and a few other statements in the thread:

    “As we honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice this weekend by remembering their service, we are also mindful of the fact that we have to take care of those who came back home with scars we can’t see.”

    • Mooser says:

      How has serving impacted you? Well, Pence told the West Point Grad class they will be fighting on a battlefield, and in this hemisphere.
      The Army raised no objections.

      • Rayne says:

        Come on. You’re asking a lot of people who are expected to obey the orders of their commander-in-chief. Ask their proxies like retired generals to speak for them, guys who no longer have careers and retirement benefits to lose. We still need a diligent standing military in spite of the corrupt assholes this country allowed to take the White House; we shouldn’t be putting them in conflict with leadership by expecting them to openly rebut their unfortunate leaders.

        • P J Evans says:

          I’ve read elseweb that flag officers can lose pensions for speaking out, should the PTB decide to pursue the matter.

        • Mooser says:

          I’m sure the assurance the graduates would be “leading men in combat” was an inspiration and a motivator. I don’t expect the Army (of all people) to raise any objections.

          • Mooser says:

            But that Pence, he’s a prize:

            “I can’t help but think that First Lieutenant Edward J. Pence, looking down from glory, is finally impressed with his third son.”

      • e.a.f. says:

        A battlefield in this hemisphere. that might be Canada and/or Mexico. Canada, if they’re duking it out with Russia. Mexico if they’re duking it out with Venezuela. They could be in Venezuela or in Nicaragua.
        The military may have kept their mouths shut to avoid a conflict with el presidento

  30. Bay State Librul says:

    Can we add to the articles something on war rhetoric

    Pierce writes..

    “One of my best friends in this business worked at Bien Hoa handling this poison. He died young of liver cancer. One of my best sources when I was covering Vietnam veterans at the Boston Phoenix in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a former infantryman, got so sick with so many problems, all of which he attributed to being around when the stuff was being sprayed. One night, he took his rifle into a closet and only the rifle came back out. Goddamn that war and its gratuitous heartbreak. This has been a Memorial Day message from the shebeen.”

    Mike Pence tells West Point grads…
    “It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life,” Pence said. “You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen. Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.”

    Something to ponder during Memorial Day

    • P J Evans says:

      One of my cousins had a stepson in the Air Force. He had some problems, which my cousin’s father (who was a retired doctor) was helping with…apparently the VA couldn’t or wouldn’t. a couple of years after my uncle died…the cousin’s son used his duty pistol.

    • Rayne says:

      Sadly, that falls under This Guy Did a Shitty Job and He Should Be Fired. I don’t think it’s a high crime or misdemeanor, just a combination of arrogance and stupidity.

    • Mooser says:

      “You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen. Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.”

      Translation: ‘don’t worry, it’ll be the grunts which die while you officers “lead”, and don’t worry about war crimes.’

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Lieutenants are often the first to fall.

        The reference to “this hemisphere” would not surprise anyone awake during a class on contemporary military history. What is odd is Pence saying it. Is he referring to Venezuela, the American border with Mexico, or the steps of the Lincoln Memorial?

      • P J Evans says:

        unless they’re really crappy junior officers, in which case – they may get dead.

    • Rayne says:

      That’s going under the Article dedicated to violations of treaties on refugees and human rights. Trump and his minions like Stephen Miller are fucking crypto-Nazis.

      • Jenny says:

        Thanks Rayne. As a teacher, at times it is difficult for me considering I work with children 3 – 5. Cruel man, cruel administration. Ugh!

        I am grateful for this site/staff to vent and express myself. Being civic-minded is fascinating and frustrating at the same time; however, vital to speak up and speak out for humanity and public good. Plus I will always stand up for the children.

        • Jenny says:

          Powerful statement by Sarah Kendzior from her twitter today:
          A society should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. Who is more vulnerable than a migrant child stolen from their parents, caged and abused and tortured? People who have been entrusted with power are obligated to do all they can to combat this crisis.

          • Tom says:

            “A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilisation.” — Samuel Johnson

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump handing out the champion’s trophy at a national Sumo event in Tokyo is like Frankenstein throwing out the first pitch at the World Series. It doesn’t mean much to anyone but Trump, who had to be helped to carry the winner’s cup.


    The picture of Trump about to be served a traditional Japanese dinner by the prime minister is priceless. The Guardian should have set it up with an empty balloon and asked readers to fill in the blank. He is certainly wondering WTF he can find the nearest McDonald’s.

    Then there’s that nearly $4000 golf putter Shinzo Abe gave to Trump on an earlier visit. Trump and Abe played golf again on this visit, their fifth outing, but there’s no news on whether Trump used that special putter.

    By law, gifts above a minimal value (the putter is 10x the limit) are deemed to be made to the United States, not to the president personally. They are the property of the USG, not Donald Trump. They are often used ceremonially in the White House or elsewhere, kept in the National Archives and then transferred to a presidential archive, or donated to some worthy cause. If a president wants to keep one, he has to buy it from the USG at fmv. A record of that gift should have showed up in the Federal Register.

      • P J Evans says:

        Apparently the trophy was specially made for the occasion – it weighs 60lb, and Tr*mp needed help to hold it. (I saw the winning wrestler described as “run-of-the-mill”: did they set up a special match for the occasion?)

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The trophy – its gargantuan size and the bald eagle on top – was apparently invented by Donald Trump. He needed something suitably sized, in his estimation, to award the winner. Note that the wrestler to whom he awarded it is 6′ 1 1/2″ and 390 lbs.

          That’s the president: he has plenty of time to obsess about trophies, carpet swatches, and the pointy-ness of fence-top spikes. Actually being president? Not so much.

    • Jenny says:

      Do you think Cheater in Chief cheated at golf in Japan? I am guessing Thief in Chief will keep the $4000 putter considering laws mean nothing to the Lawless Liar in Chief.

  32. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Robert Reich, economist, lawyer, policy guru and former Sec’y of Labor for Bill Clinton, often has interesting things to say. He is correct in observing, for example, that Trump is taking a wrecking ball to American government. [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/26/trump-wrecking-ball-american-government]

    I think he is wrong, however, to oppose what he calls some Democrats’ desire to meet fire with fire. To illustrate what he opposes, he lumps together several proposals: carving California into three states, eliminating the Senate filibuster, expanding the number of justices on the S.Ct. and lower appellate courts.

    Rather than change the system “to favor one side,” says Reich, Democrats should reaffirm support for familiar institutions by preserving “our agreement about how to resolve our disagreements.” That would be the “hallmark of a true governing party.”

    What is this agreement he speaks of? I can find it nowhere in the record of service of Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan. I can find it nowhere among today’s Republican Party or its base. Trump and the GOP are taking not a wrecking ball, but a wrecking crew to American constitutional and institutional norms in order to protect their wayward president and their faltering hold on power and legitimacy. Bill Barr didn’t appear out of nowhere: he has promoted his views for decades, as did Dick Cheney before him.

    Dismantling their attempts to dismantle American government will take more than nostalgia for broken norms and a pretense that after Trump’s departure we will magically find ourselves in a sunlit upland, safely out of harm’s reach, in a post-racial, post-Trump society.

    Reich’s approach, in fact, would repeat one of Barack Obama’s greatest failings: rather than restore pre-Bush/Cheney norms and restaff government with disinterested public servants (as opposed to Liberty University zealots), he ignored the need to restaff, and institutionalized the worst excesses of Bush/Cheney, making them permanent.

    We do not need to break up California or Washington to pack the Senate with more progressive Senators. (Those plans largely come from the rightwing, anyway, and are a form of secession-lite.) I am agnostic about the Senate filibuster. But correcting the percentage of youthful fundamentalist judges McConnell has thrown into the federal judiciary is imperative.

    Impeaching them is a non-starter. That leaves adding to their total number in order to restore a balanced representation of views. Two justices on the Supremes would work, and several dozen more on the appellate courts. There is plenty to do, the courts are overwhelmed, and necessary challenges to Trump’s outrages merely adds to them.

    Robert Reich’s view is that American institutions are self-sustaining. That’s true, but only in part. Trump’s administration illustrates their structural flaws. I think that what we take for balance in American government results not from singing Kumbaya around the Reflecting Pool, but from partisan struggle. Fabled norms are the outcome of that continuing struggle. Right now, one side seems to be struggling much more than the other.

  33. earlofhuntingdon says:

    EW does an extensive takedown on twitter of Maggie Habs’ latest stenography for the Trump administration. [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/23/us/politics/hope-hicks-subpoena.html] Elsewhere on twtr has not been kind to Maggie either. The takedowns are worth a read, Maggie Habs not so much.

    Apart from criticizing the needlessly glam photo of Hope Hicks, most energy has been spent adjusting Haberman’s out-of-focus framing for the choice Hicks faces. “Existential” is so far from an accurate description of it that Sartre and the gods must be laughing.

    Hope faces a choice between complying with a congressional subpoena or facing a congressional contempt citation and possible jail time. The choice really isn’t made less stark by Maggie’s use of a glam photo that attempts to override that reality.

    Hicks needs to show up. She can plead the Fifth in response to congressional questioning – if necessary and applicable to her personal jeopardy (but not regarding the president’s). She can plead memory loss, the more common if less credible choice. She can say that Trump might want to claim privilege, which would likely lead to unwanted litigation over the validity of that claim. What she can’t do is simply refuse to answer or not show up.

    That the NYT continues to support this sort of faux journalism from Maggie Haberman suggests that it’s not sorry at all about Judy Miller.

  34. Savage Librarian says:

    Not sure if this is an abuse of power, being a shitty president, or something else. On his inauguration day, he began his 2020 campaign. It may not be unlawful, but it sure stinks.

    “Donald Trump created a permanent presidential campaign. Here’s how.”
    “This perma-presidential campaign has consequences, said Ann Ravel, a former Federal Election Commission chairwoman who resigned shortly after Trump’s inauguration. Ravel, a Democrat, is planning to run for state Senate in California.”
    “When a president has started a formal campaign at the inception of the term, it is difficult for the president to appear ‘statesmanlike,’ but instead is always partisan and campaigning,” Ravel said. “Also, the fact that money is being funneled to a campaign so early in the term implies to the public that there is an appearance of quid pro quo rather than governing.”


    • Rayne says:

      Abuse of power when we can’t distinguish his presidential acts from his campaign acts. Every one of his rallies is questionable — may even be a Hatch Act violation since we can’t tell if he’s campaigning for himself and the GOP or if he’s conducting a presidential visit.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        When I worked for DOD, my supervisor told me I couldn’t even have a political bumper sticker on my car or I would be written up, because he said it was a Hatch Act violation.

        • Rayne says:

          Yup. Chaps my chops that journalists covering the rallies Trump has don’t ask Trump if he’s campaigning.

          Don’t ask the communications team, don’t ask that lying hack Sanders. Ask the man what he thinks he’s doing in Pennsylvania within seven days of an election (which happened this month).

      • P J Evans says:

        They usually seem to find some not-obviously-campaigning excuse for him to travel.
        But I wish they could be honest about it – he does those aiming-for-violence rallies because he enjoys the attention.
        (And on his many, many golf trips, he could damned well pay for the Secret Service stuff himself, instead of overcharging the taxpayers.)

      • Rayne says:

        Good gods, he’s admitting to war crimes? Or war crime adjacent activities? Is he that clueless that he thinks admitting this and normalizing Gallagher’s grotesqueries makes it all better?

        I hope to hell there’s enough dirt on him to put him away for a while.

      • harpie says:

        The article says Hunter “”said” […] he didn’t text or post images to social media.”
        He seems to be minimally informed about what he’s opining about, though:

        […] Hunter said the trial of Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher was set for Tuesday. But actually it begins June 10 at Naval Base San Diego, where he faces murder charges in the slaying of a wounded teenage ISIS prisoner in Iraq in 2017.

        The article, to its credit, continues:

        But the East County Republican didn’t mention testimony by Gallagher’s fellow commandos from SEAL Team 7’s Alpha Platoon. Gallagher also is accused of fatally shooting a school-age girl and an elderly man from a sniper’s roost and “indiscriminately spraying neighborhoods with rockets and machine-gun fire,” as The New York Times put it. […]

        This is how Gabor Rona [link above] describes it:

        […] Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs is scheduled to stand trial in the coming weeks on charges that while deployed in Iraq, he shot several unarmed civilians and stabbed a prisoner to death. […]
        These are all war crimes that violate the most fundamental principle of the laws of war, the principle of distinction […]

      • harpie says:

        The Times of San Diego article includes a link to audio of Hunter’s answer:
        Listen: Rep. Duncan D. Hunter on the court-martial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher
        They reproduce part of it in the article:

        Dan Summers [moderator of event]: Totally different subject but very important, especially right here in San Diego […] With Memorial Day coming on Monday, what would it mean to you for President Trump to pardon Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher? What should we know about this case, and why is it so important? […]
        In the course of a 10-minute recitation, Hunter said he “absolutely” would love to see President Trump issue Gallagher a pardon, which some reports say could come on or before Memorial Day.
        But Hunter also said he wanted the court-martial to go forward so the American people can “see how disgusting the military justice system is when it’s run by lawyers and bureaucrats [who] go after the war-fighter.”
        Hunter said such a trial would embarrass the Navy and “maybe give an example of how they can change the system.” […]

        • P J Evans says:

          Hunter is a dipshit if he doesn’t understand that those lawyers exist to make sure that it’s a fair (for some values) trial. (He’d be screaming for lawyers if he’d gotten the court-martial he apparently deserved.)

    • harpie says:

      5:02 AM – 27 May 2019

      In which @MikhailaRFogel reminds us that we have been here before

      Links to:
      When Presidents Intervene on Behalf of War Criminals
      May 27, 2019

      […] The pardons, the paper reports, are planned for today: Memorial Day, a holiday intended to honor those who have given their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
      Earlier this month, Trump pardoned former Army Lt. Michael Behenna, who was convicted of unpremeditated murder of an Iraqi prisoner.

      We have been here before.

      In 1971, a military jury rendered a verdict that a young servicemember named Lt. William Calley was guilty of war crimes in connection with the massacre at the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai. […]
      Two days after he was sentenced to life in prison for murder, then-President Richard Nixon intervened remove him from prison.
      And two days after that, the 29-year-old judge advocate who prosecuted Calley took the extraordinary step of writing the president a letter.
      That letter is worth rereading in light of Trump’s apparently planned actions. […]
      The United States may find itself asking the same question that Daniel asked of Nixon: What will happen if political expediency is elevated over fundamental moral principle and the rule of law?
      Asking the young captain’s question in the face of president wielding the almost unassailable pardon power, combined with his authority as commander-in-chief and an utter disparagement of law and moral restraint in war, may yield a deeply troubling answer.

      Read: Letter written by Capt. Aubrey M. Daniel to President Nixon, April, 1970

      • harpie says:

        From the Letter:

        […] Your decision can only have been prompted by the response of a vocal segment of our population who while no doubt acting in good faith, cannot be aware of the evidence which resulted in Lieutenant Calley’s conviction. […]

        I truly regret having to have written this letter and wish that no innocent person had died at My Lai on March 16, 1968. But innocent people were killed under circumstances that will always remain abhorrent to my conscience.

        While in some respects what took place at My Lai has to be considered a tragic day in the history of our nation, how much more tragic would it have been for this country to have taken no action against those who were responsible.

        That action was taken, but the greatest tragedy of all will be if political expediency dictates the compromise of such a fundamental moral principle as the inherent unlawfulness of the murder of innocent persons, making the action and the courage of six honorable men who served their country so well meaningless.”

  35. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSM reports that middle Americans are not interested in “the Mueller report.” Why would they be when the majority of congresscritters themselves refuse to read it, and when the Democrats avoid dealing with its consequences except in the most indirect ways? But they do care that Congress deal with the abuses disclosed in it. They care about the ones that Trump does and brags about in public every day. They care about the policy failures, cronyism, and Congress’s failure to meet their needs.

    The Democratic establishment claims that Trump is not worth impeaching. Is protecting the rule of law and congressional authority worth an impeachment inquiry? If the Dems have no object but to replace Trump and McConnell, they’re no better than Trump and McConnell.

    Even if the Dems looked only at electoral advantage, they would find that an impeachment inquiry meets their needs. It makes them look responsible, not vindictive: Trump has a monopoly on that. If they wait two years to deal with Trump’s wrongs, they will own them. If they show up at a political knife fight bearing only smiles, compromise, and bonhomie, they won’t walk away from it. How smart is that?

  36. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Memorial Day. Sending boys and girls – and men and women – to die for their country. It is a responsibility few political leaders are fit to fulfill. They stay at home. But for those who go, there’s the war.

    Frederick Douglass commemorated Decoration Day at Arlington, 1871, by reminding his fellow Americans that there is an unbridgeable gulf between the dead and maimed who fought for their country and those who fought to destroy it in order to keep others in bondage and thereby enrich themselves. [https://nycsouthpaw.tumblr.com/post/23953243500/frederick-douglass-decoration-day-speech]

    The cause is not always so clear. Soldiers sometimes fight for it, sometimes they fight despite it, but almost always, they fight for each other to survive it. The war poetry of the First World War seems especially poignant. Two well-known poems commemorate it. Here is one:

    In Flanders Fields

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    That larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe;
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae, 1915 (1872-1918)


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Here’s the other, Wilfred Owen’s, “Dulce et Decorum Est”:

      Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
      Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
      Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
      And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
      Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
      But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
      Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
      Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

      Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling
      Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
      But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
      And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime. –
      Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
      As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

      In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
      He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

      If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
      Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
      And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
      His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
      If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
      Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
      Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
      Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, –
      My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
      To children ardent for some desperate glory,
      The old Lie: “Dulce et decorum est
      Pro patria mori”.

      – Wilfrid Owen, (18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918, one week before the Armistice)


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