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dajoki's Journal
dajoki's Journal
September 28, 2019

Donald Trump was impeachable the day he took office

Donald Trump was impeachable the day he took office: Two and a half years later, we're finally there
From the first day, Donald Trump has been an unhappy president. Because he knew he was engaging in treason

On Jan. 20, 2017, immediately after giving his inaugural address, Donald J. Trump and his wife Melania, who had just become the First Lady, climbed the steps of the Capitol and made their way to their places on the dais of the congressional luncheon traditionally given to the newly inaugurated president of the United States. It is usually a joyous occasion, especially for the new president. His long campaign is finally over. He has completed the transition. Some of his cabinet secretaries have already testified at their confirmation hearings, as Jeff Sessions, the nominee for attorney general, had already done. Later in the day, the new president would make the drive along Pennsylvania Avenue, take up residence in the White House and officially occupy the Oval Office, signifying the power and prestige of having been elected president of the United States.

A few moments after the new president and his first lady took their seats, the cameras found them sitting behind a row of flowers looking like they had just been told of a death in the family. Both of their mouths were downturned, their eyes were downcast, and Trump had his arms crossed like a child who had been told to finish eating his peas. I wondered that day what could have made the new president of the United States and his wife look so unhappy at such a joyous occasion, and now we know the answer. He knew this day was coming.

He knew things we didn’t know on that day about what he had done to get elected. He knew about the meeting in Trump Tower held by his own son and son-in-law and campaign manager and several Russians who had come offering “dirt” on his opponent, Hillary Clinton. He knew that people from his own campaign had met with a Russian national and given him polling data from Midwestern states that were being closely contested. He knew that elements of the Russian government were involved in supporting his campaign by placing ads on social media platforms in the ve4ry Midwestern states covered by the polling data they had been given. He knew that emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee by Russian intelligence operatives had been released to divert attention from the so-called “Access Hollywood” tape. And he knew that during the transition, the man who would become his national security adviser had met with the Russian ambassador and spoken with him by phone immediately after President Obama had imposed sanctions on Russia for interfering in our elections, assuring him that the Russians had nothing to worry about because Trump would lift the sanctions when he became president.

Trump was impeachable after his own inauguration, and on the day he asked James Comey to shut down the investigation of Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, who was accused of having lied about his conversation with the Russian ambassador about lifting the sanctions on Russia. He was impeachable on the day he fired Comey as FBI director, after Comey had revealed that Trump and his campaign had been the subjects of a criminal and counterintelligence investigation for more than nine months. He was impeachable a few days later, when he admitted on national television that he had fired Comey in an attempt to stop the Russia investigation. He was impeachable on the day after he fired Comey and told the Russian ambassador and foreign minister that by firing Comey, the “pressure” of the Russia investigation had been lifted.

Donald Trump has been impeachable again and again and again because he has committed multiple impeachable offenses, many of them spelled out in detail in the report made by former special counsel Robert Mueller, the unredacted version of which we still haven’t seen. Trump himself has known this all along. That is why we almost never see him with a smile on his face, and when we do see him smiling, it’s so obviously not a genuine smile of happiness but rather the kind of self-satisfied expression he has on his face at his rallies in response to adulation from his fans, which he drinks in but realizes somewhere deep inside he doesn’t deserve. Donald Trump has been a deeply unhappy man the entire time he’s been president of the United States, because he knows that he doesn’t belong there. The fact that he will now be impeached is merely one more unhappy occurrence in a presidency that has been as clearly unsatisfying for the man who occupies the Oval Office as it was unearned


September 27, 2019

NRA Was 'Foreign Asset' To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals

NRA Was 'Foreign Asset' To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals

The National Rifle Association acted as a "foreign asset" for Russia in the period leading up to the 2016 election, according to a new investigation unveiled Friday by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an 18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee's Democratic staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than previously known — even though the two had declared their ties to the Kremlin.

The report, available here, also describes how closely the gun rights group was involved with organizing a 2015 visit by some of its leaders to Moscow.

Then-NRA vice president Pete Brownell, who would later become NRA president, was enticed to visit Russia with the promise of personal business opportunities — and the NRA covered a portion of the trip's costs.

The conclusions of the Senate investigation could have legal implications for the NRA, Wyden says.

Tax-exempt organizations are barred from using funds for the personal benefit of its officials, or for actions significantly outside their stated missions. The revelations in the Senate report raise questions about whether the NRA could face civil penalties or the loss of its tax-exempt status.

Attorneys general in the state of New York and the District of Columbia are also conducting separate probes into alleged wrongdoing at the gun rights organization. These probes have a broader scope than the Senate report, which focuses on Russia.

Kremlin links were clear

The 77-page Senate report centers on Butina — a convicted Russian agent now in federal prison — and Torshin, a former Russian government official who is now sanctioned by the United States.
The report indicates that top NRA officials were aware of Butina and Torshin's links with the Kremlin even as they sought to work more closely together under the banner of gun rights.

In an email later circulated to two senior NRA staff members, Butina wrote that a purpose of the 2015 Moscow trip was that "many powerful figures in the Kremlin are counting on Torshin to prove his American connections" by showing he could bring prominent NRA officials to Russia.

At another point, Butina suggested to participants on the 2015 NRA trip to Russia that she might be able to set up a meeting between them and President Vladimir Putin, referring to him as "Russia's highest leader."


September 27, 2019

Ukraine Reacts: Trump's Call Is Putin's Victory

Ukraine Reacts: Trump’s Call Is Putin’s Victory
For disappointed Ukrainian democracy activists, Trump’s demands of Zelensky have made Washington the moral equivalent of the Kremlin.

For years, Ukrainian anti-corruption activists like Daria Kaleniuk looked to the United States for support in her country’s fight against graft and fake news. The Moscow-backed takeover of Crimea and eastern Ukraine was ground zero for Russian disinformation that spread across the world. Corruption was so pervasive in Ukraine that voters opted for a comedian with no political experience, Volodymyr Zelensky, who defeated the incumbent president by nearly 50 percent in elections last spring.

But the release of a July 25 memo detailing a conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and Zelensky has, for many Ukrainians, turned the United States from a model of good governance and truth into a dispiriting example of the very kind of corruption and disinformation they are battling.

“We have faced intimidation and manipulation in Ukraine for quite a long time. Now this is happening at the highest possible level of the United States, where the personal lawyer of the president of the United States is carrying out speculation and manipulation,” said Kaleniuk, the executive director of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Center, a Kyiv-based watchdog group. “Usually the United States [was] the key [ally] of Ukrainian civil society to stop political pressure into law enforcement investigations. But I am reading the transcript where the president of the United States is doing the contrary than what we were encouraged to do.”

The chief beneficiary of this behavior will be the Kremlin, say Ukrainian activists and Western officials involved with Ukraine. They believe Trump is playing into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has engaged in a yearslong disinformation war to portray the United States and European Union as weak as a way of laying claim to Crimea and political domination of Ukraine. Trump’s casual comment to Zelensky, during their meeting at the U.N. General Assembly gathering on Wednesday, that “I really hope that you and President Putin can get together and solve your problem” also reinforced the Kremlin line.

“Oh, Putin is loving this. It makes the Americans look unreliable and strengthens the hand of the Russians and the pro-Russians in the east,” said Alex Crowther of the National Defense University. “By withholding aid, you are injecting instability into an already unstable situation and strengthening the Russians.”

For Kaleniuk, the anti-corruption activist, the episode has rendered America the moral equivalent of Russia in its willingness to traffic in the sort of disinformation and political interference she has taken aim at for years. “The key root of corruption is impunity, and impunity is possible when politicians or oligarchs or anyone else dictate to law enforcement agencies whom they have to investigate and whom they don’t have to investigate,” Kaleniuk said.

Perhaps what stands out most to Ukrainians is the sheer outrageousness of the false information that Trump is pushing, which rivals that of the Kremlin.


September 27, 2019

"Paul is embarrassed about Trump and now he has the power to do something about it"

‘Life after Trump’: Paul Ryan Is Now Reportedly ’Embarrassed’ by the President — and Is Pushing Fox News to Dump Him

Remember former House Speaker Paul Ryan? I don’t.

But a new report from Vanity Fair describing the chaos inside Fox News — where Ryan serves as a board member — reminded readers that he’s still something of a player in conservative politics. And according to the report, written by journalist Gabriel Sherman, Ryan is now, after having given up all his constitutional power, finally interested in standing up to the president.

The report describes the behind-the-scenes crisis emerging at Fox, which has been thrown into turmoil as the Democrats’ rapid impeachment push knocks the network off-kilter. Most dramatically, that disruption has played out in an on-air feud between hosts Shep Smith and Tucker Carlson. Sherman found that Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace felt compelled to intervene and tell Smith to back off, though a spokesperson for the network denied this claim.
The report continued:

The ultimate referee of this fight will be Lachlan Murdoch. In recent months, Rupert’s oldest son has been holding strategy conversations with Fox executives and anchors about how Fox News should prepare for life after Trump. Among the powerful voices advising Lachlan that Fox should decisively break with the president is former House speaker Paul Ryan, who joined the Fox board in March. “Paul is embarrassed about Trump and now he has the power to do something about it,” an executive who’s spoken with Ryan told me. (Ryan did not return a call seeking comment.) But a person more sympathetic to Trump has told Lachlan that Fox should remain loyal to Trump’s supporters, even if the network has to break from the man.


Of course, Ryan had significant power to stand up to Trump and “do something about” him in 2017 and 2018, when he was House speaker. But ultimately, he wouldn’t have gotten that job in the first place if he wasn’t willing to put the interests of the GOP over the interests of the country, which these days is a requirement for party membership.
September 23, 2019

Does anyone else feel that the Ukraine story...

is just a prelude to a much darker narrative which is being hidden? In some of the original reporting there were mentions of multiple sinister actions but everyone, including the media, seem fixated on this one subject. I really believe there is much, much more going on here.

This is just one of the particulars I have come across, but I think there is more to it:

Did Trump promise to tell Putin the identity(ies) of one or more US spies?

September 17, 2019

We are due for a course correction

To Balance the Scales of Justice, Don’t Be Afraid to Pack the Court
The lifetime appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh cry out for Democratic hardball in response.


Democrats are left in an unenviable position. Should they win a federal “trifecta” — the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives — they’ll still have to deal with a Trump-branded judiciary. It’s entirely possible that a future Democratic agenda would be circumscribed and unraveled by a Supreme Court whose slim conservative majority owes itself to minority government and constitutional hardball.

So what should Democrats do? They should play hardball back. Congress, according to the Judiciary Act of 1789, decides the number of judges. It’s been 150 years since it changed the size of the Supreme Court. I think it’s time to revisit the issue. Should Democrats win that trifecta, they should expand and yes, pack, the Supreme Court. Add two additional seats to account for the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the Gorsuch and Kavanaugh nominations. Likewise, expand and pack the entire federal judiciary to neutralize Trump and McConnell’s attempt to cement Republican ideological preferences into the constitutional order.

The reasoning underpinning this proposal isn’t just about the future; it’s about the past. We have had two rounds of minority government in under two decades — two occasions where executive power went to the popular-vote loser. Rather than moderate their aims and ambitions, both presidents have empowered ideologues and aggressively spread their influence. We are due for a course correction.

The goal isn’t to make the courts a vehicle for progressive policy, but to make sure elected majorities can govern — to keep the United States a democratic republic and not a judge-ocracy. Yes, there are genuine constitutional disputes, questions about individual rights and the scope of federal power. At the same time, there are broad readings of the Constitution — ones that give our elected officials the necessary power to act and to solve problems — and narrow readings, which handcuff and restrict the range of our government.

In the past, courts have walled entire areas of American life off from federal action. They’ve put limits on American democracy and blocked the people, through their representatives, from tackling fundamental issues of public concern. During Reconstruction, courts handcuffed the government as it tried to address violence and state-sanctioned racism; during the Progressive Era, they kept Congress from putting the economy under some measure of democratic control.

We’re living through a version of this right now. Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court has denied Medicaid coverage to millions of poor people, neutered the Voting Rights Act, authorized new waves of voter suppression, unleashed the power of money for entrenched interests and would-be oligarchs, and opened the door to extreme partisan gerrymandering. And while this Court hasn’t brought the absurd Lochner-era doctrines that effectively made it impossible to legislate working conditions back from the dead, it has, in Justice Elena Kagan’s phrase, “weaponized” the First Amendment to strike down economic regulation and undermine organized labor.


September 11, 2019

To Save the Republic, Some of Trump's Allies and Appointees Will Have to Face Federal Prosecution

To Save the Republic, Some of Trump’s Allies and Appointees Will Have to Face Federal Prosecution

To save our republic, some of Trump’s enablers and political appointees may have to go to jail, just like happened with Nixon’s people.

Trump’s policies are inflicting massive damage on the working class, the environment, minorities, and our economy. And the damage he’s doing to our body politic will certainly alter our form of government if there aren’t legal consequences.

Trump and his cronies have shown present and future politicians how much corruption the Republican Party and the public will tolerate, and it’s a very bad sign for the future of the American experiment.


As I point out in The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America, candidate Richard Nixon interfered with President Johnson’s efforts to negotiate peace in Vietnam; candidate Ronald Reagan interfered with President Carter’s efforts to free hostages in Iran; and George H.W. Bush loyalists on the Supreme Court corruptly disrupted the electoral process in Florida to install Bush’s son in the White House.

If Nixon had been held to account, Reagan and Bush may not have been so brazen in their willingness to subvert American democracy for political purposes and to help their campaign donors.

Their ability to get away with such corruption to win elections paved the way for Trump’s welcoming—indeed, soliciting—help from Russia and other foreign governments to become president. And now he’s even shut down the last “cop on the beat” for the 2020 election by crippling the Federal Election Commission. Furthermore, his chief enabler, #MoscowMitch McConnell, is blocking any legislation that will prevent our election infrastructure from being hacked while forestalling consequences by injecting more manifestly unqualified or corrupt people into our judicial bloodstream than during any administration in history.


Now is the time to begin a conversation about how Trump’s enablers will be held to account, to bring post-Trump America back into the realm of a functioning democratic republic.

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About dajoki

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.
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