Wednesday, February 15, 2017

It’s Time to Impeach Trump by Mark P. Painter





“As Charles P. Pierce said in Esquire last week, ‘I swear, it's like we elected the Clampetts, if the Clampetts were grifters.’

“A president of the United States, on the official POTUS Twitter feed, assails a department store for dropping his daughter’s merchandise. On the same day, the Pentagon is looking to rent space in the Trump Tower. Trump’s son travels to Uganda to make a Trump business deal. And, of course, foreign diplomats will stay at the Trump Hotel. The cash comes marching in.

“The phony legalisms Trump has said he used to ‘separate’ himself from his businesses – though he still owns them and his sons are running them – will be cited to make this all acceptable. Horse feathers. No ethical expert could say with a straight face that this is not a classic conflict of interest.

“In any time except our post-factual era, no office holder, much less the president, could get away with any one of the dozens of dazzlingly illegal things Trump has already done. They would forfeit office immediately.

“The leader of the band of Mad Hatters occupying the White House has already insulted allied world leaders, issued illegal and badly written orders, impugned a ‘so-called’ judge appointed by his own party, and appointed the least-qualified cabinet ever. 

“The first secretary of state was Thomas Jefferson. Trump appointed a big-oil executive with close ties to Russia. The first treasury secretary was Alexander Hamilton. Trump appointed a former Goldman Sachs exec who got rich foreclosing on homeowners. The national security advisor lasted 24 days.

“And all that’s just at the time I write this. Who knows what happens next. Each new day is a new nightmare. We are still trying to digest one breathtaking assault on America when another is signed, issued, or Tweeted. All this amid constant lies. Constant. Lies.

“I am a lifelong Republican. I voted for every Republican presidential candidate from 1968 to 2004. But I have watched what once was a sane, center-right party go off the rails, first to the extreme right, then to wherever Trump is, which is in another universe.

“It’s tough, but we must end this dangerous presidency. Trump must be impeached and removed with all haste. But only Congress can initiate the process.

“Our congressman, Steve Chabot, has been busy defending Trump from the media, which is simply reporting Trump’s machinations. It’s time for him to man-up and start drafting the articles of impeachment. As I remember, he did it for Clinton for far less than Trump has already done.

“After the election, many hoped that Trump would ‘grow up’ into the job – that he couldn’t possibly be as bad as some thought. Well, it’s gone the other way. The bully has become a more entitled bully. Anyone disagreeing is attacked. Policy is announced in illiterate tweets.

“Basic American values – free speech, the rule of law, separation of powers, even common decency – are unknown in this White House. We now have a president who has no concept of separation of powers or why we have three branches of government. If he knew anything about the Constitution, he would know the framers envisioned just the situation we have now – a would-be dictator. They provided checks and balances – such as an independent judiciary to protect us from presidential tyranny.

“Enabling a bully is always a mistake. As soon as the Tweet on Nordstrom’s came out, I said that the Republicans would defend the indefensible, and their talking point would be ‘a father supporting his daughter.’ It wasn’t an hour later that Rep Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told CNN it ‘didn’t bother him.’ But even Chaffetz had to choke when Kellyanne Conway urged people to buy Ivanka Trump’s shoes.

“All the above bothers me and should appall all Americans. We must admit we have elected a president who has immediately proved himself to be a grifter, a pathological liar, a mean-spirited bully and dangerous to American values. This not-ready-for-prime-time show is too dangerous to continue. America is at stake.

“If you need help drafting those articles of impeachment…, I am available.”

Mark P. Painter, a lifelong Cincinnatian, served as a judge for 30 years.

For the article, click here.




8 comments:

  1. Let's also mention:

    “It was Saturday night, and Palm Beach’s tony Mar-a-Lago Club was packed. There was a wedding reception in the ballroom. There was a full house for dinner on the terrace. And at one table on the terrace, there was the president and the leader of a major U.S. ally, hashing out a national security problem in the open air. ‘Someone opened up a laptop, and at the table . . . a group of Japanese people stood around the prime minister and Donald, and they were all looking at the laptop,’ said Jay Weitzman, a member of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and founder of the Pennsylvania-based parking management company Park America. He was sitting three tables away from Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday evening. ‘Whoa,’ Weitzman remembered thinking. ‘What’s going on?’ ‘Turns out, it was a missile launch,’ he said Monday.

    “As Weitzman and other patrons watched Saturday evening, Trump and Abe remained at the table and discussed their response to a ballistic missile test by North Korea. While waiters came and went — and while one club member snapped photos — the two leaders reviewed documents by the light of an aide’s cellphone. That strange scene — in which Trump turned his table into an al fresco situation room — astounded White House veterans, who were used to presidents retiring to private, secured settings to hash out such an event.

    “Trump became president, in part, because of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s neglect of information security. During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly called for Clinton to be jailed — and his crowds at rallies often chanted ‘Lock her up!’ — for her use of a private email server to handle government business while she was secretary of state.

    “Now, Trump is drawing fire from Democrats for his own seemingly loose attitude toward information security. He has continued to use an insecure cellphone, according to the New York Times. He may have left a key to classified information on his desk while visitors were in the Oval Office, according to a tweet from a Democratic senator. And now, Trump has used his bustling club in Palm Beach, Fla., as a ‘winter White House,’ except that, unlike the actual White House, the club is full of other people…” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-turns-mar-a-lago-club-terrace-into-open-air-situation-room/2017/02/13/c5525096-f20d-11e6-a9b0-ecee7ce475fc_story.html?utm_term=.675955aa2127).

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  2. Robert Reich:

    1. Why didn’t Trump act sooner to fire Flynn? He knew about Flynn’s contact with the Russian ambassador at least since January, when then-acting attorney general Sally Yates notified the White House that Flynn had “put himself in a compromising position” with his phone call to the Russian ambassador.

    2. What, if anything, did Trump authorize Michael Flynn to tell the Russians before the inauguration?

    3. What other contacts did Flynn and other Trump aides have with Russia before the election? U.S. intelligence reports show that Flynn was in touch with Russian ambassador Kislyak during the 2016 campaign, and that communications between the two continued after Nov. 8. The Russian ambassador has even confirmed having contacts with Flynn before and after the election, though he declined to say what was discussed.

    4. Did Flynn or other Trump aides know of or cooperate with Russia in interfering in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf?

    5. If so, did Trump know about or encourage such cooperation?

    These questions won’t go away. The FBI and the Senate Intelligence Community are investigating. Hopefully, investigative reporters are also on the case. Eventually, the truth will come out. As Richard Nixon learned, coverups in Washington just make things worse.

    Which leads inevitably to the last question:
    6. If Trump knew or encouraged, will he be impeached?

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/02/14/michael-flynn-and-6-big-questions?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork

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  3. “WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

    “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

    “The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation. But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.

    “The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said. All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/us/politics/russia-intelligence-communications-trump.html).

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  4. From John Dillon:

    "Mike Pence just found out Friday that Flynn had discussed sanctions-lifting with the Russians and was unaware that the connections with Russia were ongoing during the campaign? He wouldn't have accepted his position? Mike Pence, the guy who easily took $ from the tobacco industry to promote tobacco's being harmless? He was naive to all of this?

    "'Either of two ways you must conceit me, either a coward or a flatterer...' Antony to the Senate in WS Julius Caesar."

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  5. From Boston Globe, December 16, 2016:

    “A specter of treason hovers over Donald Trump. He has brought it on himself by dismissing a bipartisan call for an investigation of Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee as a 'ridiculous' political attack on the legitimacy of his election as president.

    “Seventeen US national intelligence agencies have unanimously concluded that Russia engaged in cyber warfare against the US presidential campaign. The lead agency, the CIA, has reached the further conclusion that Russia’s hacking was intended to influence the election in favor of Trump.

    “Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and commander of the US Cyber Command, has stated, ‘This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.’ On Thursday, a senior intelligence official disclosed that there is substantial evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself authorized the cyber attack.

    “Why does Trump publicly reject these intelligence agency conclusions and the bipartisan proposal for a congressional investigation? As president-elect, he should have a strong interest in presenting a united front against Russia’s interference with the electoral process at the core of American democracy.

    “There are several possible explanations for Trump’s position. They are not mutually exclusive. First, he may be trying to shore up his political standing before the Electoral College vote on Monday. Second, he may be attempting to undermine the credibility of US intelligence agencies in advance of his taking office so that he can intimidate them and have a freer hand in reshaping the intelligence product to suit his objectives. Third, he may be testing his ability to go over the heads of intelligence professionals and congressional critics and persuade the American public to follow his version of the truth about national security threats. And finally, he may be seeking to cover up evidence of involvement or prior knowledge by members of his campaign team or himself in the Russian cyberattack..."

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  6. From Boston Globe, December 16, 2016:

    “In each case the president-elect is inviting an interpretation that his behavior is treasonous. The federal crime of treason is committed by a person ‘owing allegiance to the United States who . . . adheres to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort,’ and misprision of treason is committed by a person ‘having knowledge of the commission of any treason [who] conceals and does not disclose’ the crime. By denigrating or seeking to prevent an investigation of the Russian cyber attack Trump is giving aid or comfort to an enemy of the United States, a crime that is enhanced if the fourth explanation applies — that he is in fact seeking to cover up his staff’s or his own involvement in or prior knowledge of the attack.

    “There is no direct evidence that the president-elect was involved or knew in advance about the Russian government’s actions. But the circumstances underscore the nation’s need for a full investigation.

    “Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, has had extensive political dealings with the Russian government. Trump’s designate for National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, has appeared as a commentator for Russian state television and sat with Vladimir Putin at a Russian gala. As a candidate, Trump repeatedly praised Putin and took positions favorable to the Russian government. As reported by the New York Times, the president-elect’s son, Donald Trump Jr., told a real estate gathering in 2008 that ‘Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,’ adding, ‘we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.’ Two days after the election, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabokov, was quoted by the Times as saying that ‘there were contacts” between Moscow and the Trump campaign, and that members of the campaign staff 'were staying in touch with Russian representatives.'

    “In light of these circumstances, Trump should seek to clear the air by endorsing the proposed investigation of the Russian hacking scandal. For him to continue to deny Russia’s cyber attack and resist the investigation invites a specter of treason to hover over the president-elect.”

    John Shattuck, a former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, is professor of practice in diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/12/16/trump-raises-specter-treason/zdwgXRuJBMChEXmX5kchhP/story.html

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  7. We Must Know the Truth by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship:

    “This is the worst scandal involving the White House and a foreign power since Iran-Contra. Demand the facts.

    “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there MUST be an investigation by an independent, bipartisan commission of Russia’s ties to Donald Trump and his associates and that nation’s interference in our elections. Emphasize independent and bipartisan. That commission must have full subpoena power to call witnesses and make them testify under oath or risk prosecution. Hearings must be held out in the open, and televised live for the nation and the world to see. That’s what a democracy is all about.

    “The resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn and Tuesday night’s news of repeated contacts between Trump associates and Russian intelligence make such an inquiry even more imperative. On Friday, winging his way to Mar-a-Lago on Air Force One, Trump told the press he knew nothing about the previous night’s Washington Post report that Flynn had secretly discussed lifting sanctions against Russia with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. But on Tuesday, press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Trump had known about Flynn’s phone calls – and his lies about it – weeks ago.

    “Why was nothing done until the media broke the story? And why did Trump lie? As the National Lampoon joked back during the Watergate era, rephrasing the crucial questions aimed at Richard Nixon: ‘What did the president know and when did he STOP knowing it?’

    “Is it possible Trump and Flynn had been talking all along and keeping it to themselves? Who authorized Flynn to speak with the Russian ambassador on Trump’s behalf in the first place? The president himself or chief strategist Steve Bannon? Or someone else? Was Flynn a lone gun? Who can tell with all the lies?

    “And another thing: if the White House has known what was going on for weeks, why was Flynn still attending intelligence briefings as late as Monday? That’s what White House resident spin doctor Kellyanne Conway told the Today’s show Matt Lauer on Tuesday. Otherwise, Conway – who shortly before his resignation told the press that Flynn still had Trump’s confidence – was her usual duplicitous self. Why the media keep turning to her for answers no one can trust is yet another indignity inflicted on the American public in this unfolding saga...

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  8. “There is nothing as dangerous to democracy – with its need for checks and balances of power to protect the integrity of our system – as one-party rule.

    “And where are the Republican patriots willing to come forward and place country and democracy over party and a venal lust for power? Other than John McCain, they’ve been mum or simply said ta-ta and thanked Flynn for his service. Late Tuesday, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it’s ‘highly likely’ the Senate intelligence committee will investigate Flynn’s discussions with the Russian ambassador, but does anyone really think a Republican-dominated inquiry, with strings pulled back stage by McConnell, will dig for the truth and let the facts fall where they will?

    “Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, says he won’t investigate the Flynn affair – ‘I think that situation has taken care of itself.’ How about that for respecting the public’s need to know? And Rep. Chris Collins of upstate New York, the man with the dubious distinction of being the first member of Congress to endorse Trump’s candidacy, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday morning, ‘I think it’s just time to move on.’ When asked why so many of his GOP colleagues were silent he suggested, ‘Well, [it’s] Valentine’s Day, and I guess they’re having breakfasts with their wives.’

    “Takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

    “There is nothing as dangerous to democracy – with its need for checks and balances of power to protect the integrity of our system – as one-party rule. Unless there are responsible Republicans who will break ranks and join the Democrats in calling for an independent and bipartisan joint commission to investigate these astonishing developments in a fair and impartial way – with televised hearings – one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest, assaults on democracy in our 240-year history will go unpunished except for a few culprits like Flynn.

    “Americans must know whether the candidate of one party worked with a foreign power to influence the election against his opponent. We repeat: This noxious scandal requires an open, independent, bipartisan investigation with public hearings. Now. No patriot can settle for anything less” (http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/02/15/we-must-know-truth).

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