Does Trump’s Behavior Constitute “High Crimes and Misdemeanors?”

We’ll answer the question outright: Yes. Trump’s lawyers have argued that his activities as POTUS do not rise to the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors, the bar required for a public official’s impeachment. They say that articles of impeachment must relate to a crime committed (which is contradictory to arguments already explored by the president’s supporters, i.e. that he can’t even be impeached no matter what, because he’s president).

But is that true?

It comes down to what the framers of the United States Constitution actually meant when they used those words. To know that, we need to know the definitions of “high crimes and misdemeanors” as they were in the late 1700s when the clause was actually written into the document.

The definitions of those words back then were a lot different than they are now. Generally, they described behavior by public officials who had violated the public trust in some way. Alexander Hamilton — one of our Founding Fathers — said as much in his Federalist Paper No. 65. And that’s very much in line with how public officials have actually been impeached since the provision was written.

There’s a lot of precedent for impeachment, but law professor Frank Bowman says that it basically gets thrown out every time someone new is put through the gauntlet. “The defenders of the impeached officer always argue, always, that a crime is required. And every time that misconception has to be knocked down again.”

He exemplified the meaning behind his statement further: “Let’s say the president were to wake up tomorrow morning and says, ‘All this impeachment stuff is kind of getting on my nerves. I think I’m going to Barbados for six months. Don’t call me, I’ll call you,’ and just cuts off all contact and refuses to do his duty.”

“That’s not a crime,” he says. “It’s not violating a law. But could we impeach him? Of course we could — otherwise what’s the remedy? We have a country without a president.”

Gerald Ford famously said: “An impeachable offense is whatever the majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”

Although many legal scholars might take issue with that statement, and there’s also a lot of precedent that goes into the decision-making process, it’s certainly more in line with the truth.

Oh, and news flash: the president did commit a crime. The Government Accountability Office finally released its report on whether or not the Trump administration broke the law by withholding Congressionally appropriated monies from Ukraine, ruling that, indeed, he did.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the ruling explained. “OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act.”

Does It Matter Why Trump Held Up Money Bound For Ukraine?

Not everyone is following the televised impeachment hearing testimony. If you’re not, then here are the highlights: Democrats are trying to make a case that President Trump held up a Ukraine security aid package in order to extort or bribe “a favor” from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. It’s a good case based on the facts. 

Republicans are saying that the Democrats are all wrong, and that the only reason they’re moving forward on impeachment is because that was the plan since Trump was elected. They say that Trump held up security aid because he was disturbed by corruption in Ukraine, which is why he asked for investigations regarding long-ago debunked conspiracy theories he himself helped make popular. Trump, there, is not guilty of high crimes or misdemeanors, they say. It’s a bad case based on voter sentiment and emotion, but not the fact.

But then again, it doesn’t really matter what story you believe: Trump blatantly committed illegal acts by holding up the money for any reason — because he didn’t notify Congress that he was doing it.

You see, the power of the American purse belongs to Congress — and only Congress.

The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (ICA) was written in order to guarantee that a president couldn’t just willy-nilly subvert the law and take that power away from Congress to instead meet the purported needs of the Executive branch. But that’s exactly what Trump did.

The law was written because other presidents have tried to do exactly the same thing in the past. Nixon decided to withhold Congressionally appropriated monies if he didn’t agree with how or where they were to be spent. The ICA gives presidents the ability to impound or defer Congressionally appropriated monies only for certain reasons, none of which jive with “I was worried about corruption, but only after you caught me.”

And it’s that Republican defense that really rubs everyone else the wrong way. They say that there was no wrong done because Trump eventually released the security aid package to Ukraine. The problem is, he didn’t do this until Congress found out he was holding it up in the first place — something he is, by law, required to tell them about under the ICA. More than that, he’s required to tell them why he thinks he has the authority to do it. He did no such thing.

That’s illegal — and certainly meets the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors required to impeach a sitting president. He withheld Congressionally approved money illegally, he failed to give a reason for his decision (and still hasn’t); also illegal, and what’s more, we know that the Trump administration was told that these were illegal acts and how to follow the law — but he decided to break it anyway. That’s as blatant an overreach of presidential authority as there has ever been.

Are Democrats Really As Divided As They Seem Headed Into The 2020 Election?

If there’s one thing we keep hearing on repeat no matter the bias of the mainstream news we choose to consume, it’s this: the Democratic party is a deeply divided one. But it’s important to remember that people said the same thing about the Republican party headed into 2016 — and look how that turned out. If you listen to the talking heads, it’s a tug of war between progressive Democrats and moderate Democrats.

But that’s a load of hooey. 

A plurality of Americans define themselves as Independent. It means they might typically swing further left or further right, but they want to choose the best man (or woman) for the job. According to a September 2019 Gallup poll, only about 29 percent of Americans identify as Republican. Only 31 percent identify as Democrat. 49 percent on those who identify as Independent lean left while 44 percent lean right.

The Republican party is extremely influential. Those on the core right are extremely well-versed in convincing everyone else that their party is better for the economy or that those on the left will take their guns or convert the country to socialism (which most people fail to adequately define or understand, but that’s an entirely different topic).

None of that is true. The Constitution can be amended, but if you believe that it can be amended enough to change the core of America into a socialist machine, you should probably be taken out of the equation entirely. It’s impossible.

And Democrats want gun control. They don’t want to take everyone’s guns away. Liberal or conservative, Americans are not divided on this issue. 

More important are the other issues that could be determining the outcome of elections. Most people say they vote for a better economy. But they’re obviously not voting based on facts. Over the last hundred years, Democrats in office have delivered far faster growth, on average, than their Republican counterparts. 

And then there are the beliefs that the majority — different than a plurality — of Americans believe. Here are a few of the most relevant to the modern era:

An awe-inspiring 82 percent of us believe that the ultra-rich have too much control over politics (that means those people should be voting Democrat).

A whopping 69 percent believe big business has too much control over politics (that means they should be voting Democrat). 78 percent are for increased regulations. Democrat again.

82 percent believe inequality is a big problem. Democrat.

96 percent believe money is the core problem for our broken political system. Democrat, Democrat, Democrat.

80 percent believe we should make sure corporations are paying their fair share of taxes. Democrat!

60 percent believe the government should make sure each of us has access to healthcare coverage. Democrat.

63 percent believe four-year colleges should be free. Democrat.

76 percent are concerned about climate change. Democrat.

84 percent believe in universal background checks for all gun purchases. Democrat. 

The list goes on, and on, and on. Turns out we’re not that divided at all.

Will Trump Impeachment Help Him Get Reelected?

There’s a reason why Nancy Pelosi was so reluctant to impeach Donald Trump for so long. She knows that when Republicans launched the same attack on former president Bill Clinton, it hurt them in the next round of elections. She doesn’t want impeachment to have the same end for Trump and his Republican cronies that it did for the Democrats when Clinton was impeached. Trump, after all, thrives the most when he is enveloped in chaos. 

That’s why impeachment might just help him get reelected in 2020.

There’s also a more critical matter to consider: all the news surrounding inevitable impeachment is stealing time away from the Democratic candidates for 2020, who haven’t been seen or heard from since the whole Ukraine situation exploded — even though they’re still on the campaign trail, fighting hard for their chance at the highest office in the world.

If the impeachment inquiry were to drag on, this trend would likely continue. That’s why it’s in Pelosi’s best interest to end it as quickly as possible. And that seems to be her gambit, which is why the White House is doing its best to run interference and stall for as long as possible. The fiasco emboldens Trump supporters and mutes everyone else’s. 

There’s also the reality that impeachment will likely end up going nowhere. Mitch McConnell has no choice but to move forward with a “trial” if Trump is impeached, but he also gets to decide how long the trial takes. He’ll probably hurry it along, but he could also delay or spread out proceedings to interfere with Democratic campaigns. 

Then there’s another possibility: the Senate might actually remove Trump from office, even though they seem to be in complete support. The loudest Republican voices have already turned on him for abandoning the Kurds to a potential invasion by Turkey. For a party that has continually defended him no matter what, this is a huge change of pace. It’s not like this is the first egregious decision Trump has made while in office. It’s only the most recent, and the cacophony of voices deriding his choice is loud and clear.

Add that to the fact that Republicans voted alongside Democrats in the Senate to pass a non-binding measure saying that Trump should release the whistleblower complaint and call transcript (he subsequently did), and something funny seems to be happening in Congress.

If all that weren’t enough, former Trump executive Barbara Res said she believes he will resign to save face before properly impeached. We know he doesn’t want the stain on his presidency, and we know he’s always out for himself. Leaving office would catapult Pence into the spotlight for reelection prospects, and while we know how Trump’s base feels about Trump — we have no idea if that excitement extends to the vice president.

Democrats might have an easier path to the presidency in 2020 than anyone expects.

How Many Democrats Have Already Dropped Out Of The 2020 Presidential Field?

Those who decided to run in the 2020 presidential race made a few assumptions about how their campaigns would likely play out. One of those assumptions was, at least in part, based on how the previous Republican race played out in 2016. With quite a few people to choose from, potential candidates were up and down and all around in the polls. But that isn’t what happened in the Democratic race for the White House this year.

While Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders have all grappled for those top three spots, polls have remained mostly unchanged since they announced their candidacies. Those who have struggled to pull themselves up from the bottom have basically failed to gain any real momentum.

That’s led quite a few to drop out of the race already: Mike Gavel, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, Seth Moulton and Eric Swalwell will no longer be seeking the nomination.

Many of those who dropped out hadn’t qualified for the upcoming debates, which will now be held with only a single group during one night. Others said their decisions were based on what they can do for their country now when a run for the presidency would likely only amount to wasted time and resources.

Many of these drop-outs will seek reelection to past offices where they can prevent Republicans from gaining office.

One of the biggest names on the list was that of Gillibrand, who said, “A woman nominee would be inspiring and exciting. [But] I will support whoever the nominee is, and I will do whatever it takes to beat Trump.”

And then there’s one of the biggest underdogs on the list, Inslee, who said, “I’m going to help all the other candidates raise their level of ambition on [climate change.] We need all of them to raise their game.”

Inslee was the only candidate who made the entire campaign about the challenges we face when trying to avert climate change disasters, but his arguments failed to persuade the people — and the DNC has refused to hold a climate change debate.

Candidate Joe Biden still remains the strongest contender in the race, but many have argued his policies are too moderate to guarantee (or even make likely) his election in a progressively left-leaning party. 

If Sanders or Warren were to drop out of the race before the primary season begins, many political analysts wonder whether or not the tide would begin to shift against Biden. Supporters of the former two candidates know they have similar policies, so it makes sense that they would flip to the other side rather than lend their support to Biden, who has consistently been maligned for his age and failing performance.

What Are The 2020 Democratic Candidates Doing About Man-Made Climate Change?

Joe Biden remains one of the top contenders to attain the highest office in the world, but from an environmental point of view he might be one of the least ambitious. While he does plan to reduce emissions to zero by 2050, and that sounds good, the science says that we don’t have nearly that much time to make it happen. 2030 might not be politically realistic, but as Washington Governor Jay Inslee said to Biden: “Survival is realistic.”

Inslee is the candidate with the most explosive plan for battling man-made climate change. Other top-tier candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have offered their own, but they aren’t nearly as detailed as Inslee’s. His entire campaign is about this one issue, because he (rightfully) believes it’s the most important obstacle humanity has ever faced.

Speaking to Biden at one of the Democratic debates, he said: “These deadlines are set by science. The science says we have to get off coal in ten years. Your plan does not do that. We have to get off of fossil fuels from our electric grid in fifteen. Your plan simply does not do that.”

Biden’s plan really does provide people with something to chew on: his policy idea to double the number of offshore turbines is a good one until you find out that the United States only has one working — and doubling the number to two won’t do us much good. His idea to make sure we have 500,000 charging stations for electric cars sounds great until you find out that the U.S. has nearly 300 million gas guzzling vehicles on the road — and a half-million charging stations won’t really make a dent.

Inslee’s ideas are far more concrete, and far more based on what we can actually achieve — even though they sound far-fetched. Perhaps the most controversial idea he has is actually killing the Senate filibuster so Democrats have a better chance of implementing new policies in the future.

What other policy proposals are found within Inslee’s plan? First and foremost, he wants to bring back and then invigorate the environmental protections dismantled by the Trump Administration. He would build a stronger EPA. He would go after corporations for the damage they’ve done to our fragile environment. He would hold people who pollute accountable for their actions. Fracking, fossil fuel subsidies, coal and oil: they would all become stories of a terrible past.

He plans to make all new vehicles and buildings 100 percent net zero-emission by 2030. All electricity would be made carbon-neutral within the same time period.

Are these dreams big and bold? Yes. But they’re what we need right now. Any less, and our world may not make it through the century.

An Idiot’s Guide To The 2020 Democratic Candidates: Part 3

Folks, they have literally not stopped. The Democratic contenders for the presidency continue to line up, all vying for the public eye and greater political trust. The first two debates have already passed us by, and it seems most people saw Elizabeth Warren having won night one, and Kamala Harris on night two. Here are the final ten Democrats in the running for 2020 (so far):

  • Julian Castro. Once considered a potential candidate for Hillary Clinton’s running mate, he was also Obama’s former Housing and Urban Development Secretary back when titles meant something when you worked in the White House.
  • John Hickenlooper. Why do we love him? He’s against the fool’s war on drugs. He oversaw Colorado’s marijuana legalization and stricter gun laws, including universal background checks.
  • Jay Inslee. He’s focusing on climate change for his platform, and has some experience behind his campaign: he spent time in the U.S. House of Representatives before winning the Washington Governorship.
  • Amy Klobuchar. She’s serving her fourth term as a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, part of the region where Trump faltered in stunning fashion during the 2016 election.
  • Wayne Messam. His parents were Jamaican (have the birther comments started yet?) but he was born here in the states. This African American candidate had a successful college football career before going into construction. Success seems to follow him wherever he goes, because he got into politics to become mayor of Miramar, Florida.
  • Seth Moulton. He’s a guy most comfortable in military uniform, and he served in Iraq, after which he was given the Bronze Star Medal. He was also awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his service.
  • Beto O’Rourke. He’s an older gent with almost boyish good looks, and he loves to stand on tables. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives and nearly bested Senator Ted Cruz during last year’s race. He curses on occasion, and we love him for it.
  • Tim Ryan. Perhaps no one would recognize his name if he hadn’t recently tried to sweep Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House (he failed if you hadn’t noticed). He acquired a law degree while in New Hampshire, but he resides in Ohio.
  • Eric Swalwell. He is currently serving his fourth term as a representative from California, and has built his platform on “buying back” America’s assault weapons. Best of luck, buddy.
  • Marianne Williamson. She’s a jack of all trades, successful in business, teaching, and has already run for office in the U.S. House of Representatives in California as an independent, where she came in fourth. She’ll have to prove she can go a lot further than that if she wants to continue in this race.

Recently, ten of the contenders traveled to Houston, Texas to talk about schools, teachers, and testing in order to make their views on America’s educational system a little more obvious. Some of the public attendees spoke about their fears for our current healthcare system: what happens when you have an accident and cannot pay? Thankfully, the Ceja Law Firm can help if you reside in Texas. Check out their website.

 

An Idiot’s Guide To The 2020 Democratic Candidates: Part 2

Since our last post there have been even more candidates who have entered the fray! Here are the next seven contenders for the Democratic nomination. A lot of political analysts — and the public — have started to worry that the increased number of candidates will have a detrimental impact when one eventually tries to topple Trump from his very high horse. Is there a standout candidate yet? We’re not so sure, but let’s start with the leader of the pack. 

  1. Joe Biden. There’s not much to say about this guy that you don’t already know. He was our vice president for eight years, and he has a penchant for saying what’s on his mind. Interestingly, he continues to make political gaffe after political gaffe in even the short time since announcing his campaign — and yet no one seems to care. If anything voters are even more in support of the guy, who is really starting to show his age.

  2. Steve Bullock. This Montana governor thinks he has what it takes to beat Trump, even asserting that he can beat the incumbent president on his own turf. He’s been in the running for about a month, and so far he’s based much of his campaign on fighting against corruption and his ability to bring both sides of the aisle together.

  3. Michael Bennet. This Colorado senator thinks America’s political system isn’t just on the brink of disaster — it is a disaster. And he wants to be the one to save it. He’s running to expand voting rights (the opposite of what Republican voters seem to want to do) and reduce the money kicked into politics. Bennet thinks it’s time for lobbying for special interests groups to stop.

  4. Bill de Blasio. One of the least popular contenders for the Democratic nomination doesn’t seem to care how many people don’t want him in the running at all, because he’s moving forward anyway. The New York City mayor wants to “take on the wealthy” and “big corporations.”

  5. Pete Buttigieg. This openly gay (and married) candidate has probably received the biggest gift of notoriety during his campaign, but he recently hit an obstacle when there was an officer-involved shooting of an African American man back in South Bend, Indiana, where Buttigieg serves as mayor. It could be argued that there was no getting it right with black voters (or anyone else), but it seems like literally everyone is after him for stumbling after the tragedy occurred.
     
  6. Kirsten Gillibrand. She was a senator from New York, and one of several women currently in the running for the Democratic nomination. Like most candidates, she sees a broken Union in need of repairing. She believes in health care as a right. She believes in better public education. And she believes in the American dream, and wants to fight to see it restored.
  7. Mike Gravel. This former Alaska senator is a shocking 89 years old, but was convinced to run when a couple 18-year-olds hijacked his Twitter account to verbally abuse other candidates. He was also a former (failed) candidate in the 2008 election. He wants to cut military spending by at least half, and wants to fight for the dissolution of the Senate and the Electoral College (woah).

An Idiot’s Guide To The 2020 Democratic Candidates: Part 1

There are currently over 20 Democrats who are confirmed to be running for President against incumbent President Trump in the upcoming 2020 election. The problem is most of them are in favor of the same things – universal healthcare, combatting climate change, fixing inequality, as well as helping the middle class of America. So, let’s go through these, one by one, and see if we can find a standout amongst a crowded sea of people. Here are the candidates in order of their announcement:

John Delaney – former congressman of Maryland who was the first to go to college in his family. He has blue-collar roots and has visited every county in Iowa hoping to get a good start in the primaries. He has been in politics for 6 years and is independently wealthy and funding himself.

Andrew Yang – In politics for less than a year, son of Taiwanese immigrants, his experience is in the world of technology. He is a huge promoter of Universal Basic Income which the idea of giving every American over the age of 18 a $1,000 monthly check. He is being funded by individuals and using some of his own money.

Julian Castro – Former U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development under President Obama, he has been involved in politics for 18 years. He is also the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. He has vowed not to take any money from a Political Action Committee. He has not mentioned much about his platform other than that he supports free trade.

Kamala Harris – Her 16-year political career started as a prosecutor, district attorney, attorney general, and U.S. Senate seat. Her goal is to overturn Trump’s 2017 Tax cuts with her LIFT Act. Her financers include WarnerMedia, Google’s parent company Alphabet, University of California, and 21st Century Fox.

Cory Booker – Former Mayor of Newark, NJ, his plan of action includes a “baby bond” (a bond given to every child at birth) and a $15 minimum wage. He has a super PAC that is comprised of many contributors in the legal, investment, security and real estate sectors.

Tulsi Gabbard – The first Hindu member of Congress has been in politics for 17 years. She wants to cut taxes from small business and raise them on larger corporations. As a former soldier in the Iraq war, she also wants to reduce military spending. Her contributions come from individuals but she did receive a large donation from the National Automobile Dealer’s Association’s PAC.

Elizabeth Warren – Massachusettes U.S. Senator and former Harvard Law professor has been in politics for 10 years. She proposed a wealth tax on net worth over a certain threshold. She’s vowed to take no money from any billionaires or their PAC’s in the 2020 race.

Amy Klobuchar – The first woman to be elected a senator in Minnesota, her standout political moment was during the questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She has 12 years in politics and is focusing on helping small and mid-sized domestic businesses succeed worldwide.

Bernie Sanders – For 38 years, Sanders, the self-proclaimed democratic socialist, has been the longest sitting Independent congressperson. He wants tax incomes over a certain threshold to help make college tuition-free and increase Social Security benefits. A majority of Bernie Sander’s funding comes from individual donors in increments less than $200.

Stay Tuned For Part 2

What You Need To Know From The Michael Cohen Hearing

Yesterday, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, testified publically in front of the House Oversight Committee. Cohen, who once claimed that he’d take a bullet for President Trump, has turned against the President, calling him a “racist” and “conman.” While House Democrats salivated at anything could cause them to impeach Trump, House Republicans attacked Cohen’s character, reminding us that he has lied to Congress before.

What Did Michael Cohen Accuse Trump Of Doing?

Cohen accused Trump of telling him to commit campaign finance fraud to pay hush money to women who had affairs with Trump. Cohen plead guilty of this crime last year, saying he was ordered at the behest of Individual 1, later to be identified as President Trump. The accusation could be the undermining of Trump as this is in direct violation of campaign finance laws and could be the legal loophole that Democrats were seeking.

Cohen accused Trump of speaking with Roger Stone regarding the email leak of Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton. Cohen alleges that Roger Stone spoke with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and told Trump about this meeting.

Cohen also accuses Donald Trump Jr. of warning his father about a Trump Tower meeting in 2016, where a Russian lawyer promised damaging information on Hilary Clinton.

Diving Deeper Into Trump’s Finances

Since Donald Trump entered his hat into the ring to run for Presidency, Democrats have asked for him to release his tax returns. Many accuse Trump of not being worth as much as he claims.

Cohen during his testimony provided financial statements from 2011 and 2013 that suggested that Trump inflates his income when needed but also deflates his income for tax purposes. Many House Democrats plan on using this as the “Ways and Means” to get a subpoena to finally get a hold of Trump’s financial records and tax returns.

No Russian Collusion

In what surprised many, including President Trump, Cohen testified that he had never been to Prague or the Czech Republic. A British intelligence report claimed that Cohen had traveled to Prague in the summer of 2016 to coordinate with Russians so Trump could win the election.

Cohen also said that Trump had praised President Vladamir Putin but had no evidence of collusion. Cohen could not elaborate anymore because Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is still on-going. Cohen has been cooperating with the special counsel and will head to federal prison on May 6th. For more information, you can visit website here. You can also watch the full testimony here: