impeachment

Wishing for Trump’s Impeachment? 5 Reasons the Next President Could Be Even More Dangerous

From the moment he was elected, liberals have clung to the possibility, however remote, that Donald Trump will be removed from office. They’ve fallen for the conspiracy theories of #Resistance hucksters like Louise Mensch, Claude Taylor and Eric Garland, and continue to hold out hope the Mueller investigation will bring his corrupt presidency crashing down. Just this week, law professor and short-lived presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig laid out a series of preposterous if/then scenarios explaining how Hillary Clinton could still become president, almost a year after her shocking defeat.

If Jane Mayer’s latest feature is any indication, the left should be very careful what it wishes for. In a detailed story for the New Yorker, the “Dark Money” author offers a sweeping profile of Vice President Mike Pence, from his days as a candidate for Congress to his disastrous tenure as governor of Indiana. And while much of her reporting is a matter of public record, her findings are no less revelatory. What emerges from her conversations with Pence’s family, associates and political rivals is a portrait of a ruthless authoritarian whose bigotry, homophobia and free-market radicalism supersede his Christian faith.

Ultimately, Mike Pence has more in common with his reality-show running mate than meets the eye; as his own brother is willing to admit, “he’s full of shit.” If his positions on key issues aren’t necessarily worse than Trump’s, they’re at least as reactionary—and far more rigid.

Here are five of the most distressing revelations from Mayer’s report.

1. He’s in the pocket of the Koch brothers.

The right-wing billionaires have donated hundreds of thousands to Pence’s gubernatorial campaigns, and their contributions are already paying enormous dividends. Thanks to the vice president, who effectively commandeered the transition team from Chris Christie, Trump has stocked his administration with Koch family favorites like Betsy DeVos (Secretary of Education), Don McGahn (White House counsel) and Scott Pruitt (administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency).

“If Pence were to become president for any reason, the government would be run by the Koch brothers—period,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said. “He’s been their tool for years.”

Even Steve Bannon would appear to agree, admitting, “I’m concerned he’d be a president that the Kochs would own.”

2. He’s openly disdainful of science.

Not only has Pence dismissed climate change as an invention of environmentalists and a “Chicken Little attempt to raise taxes,” he’s largely responsible for helping kill a cap-and-trade bill that would have taxed major corporations for carbon pollution. During his time in Congress, he railed against the legislation as the “largest tax increase in American history”—a claim that was patently untrue. “His language,” Mayer notes, “echoed that of the Koch groups.”

During his time at the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a right-wing think tank modeled after the American Enterprises Institute, Pence penned an essay parroting the talking points of the tobacco industry. “Smoking doesn’t kill,” he wrote. “In fact, two out of every three smokers doesn’t die from a smoking-related illness.” The country’s greatest hazard? “Big government disguised as do-gooder, health care rhetoric.”

Pence also believes that intelligent design is the only “remotely rational explanation for the known universe,” and that “educators around America must teach evolution not as fact but as theory.”

3. He’s a virulent homophobe.

Much has been written about Pence’s willingness to direct federal funds to anti-gay conversion therapy programs, but Mayer focuses on his support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which “essentially legalized discrimination against homosexuals by businesses in the state.”

When Pete Buttigieg, the gay mayor of South Bend, tried to confront Pence about the bigoted nature of the bill and its potential to harm Indiana’s economy, he was stonewalled. “He got this look in his eye,” Buttigieg told the New Yorker. “He just inhabits a different reality. It’s very difficult for him to lay aside the social agenda. He’s a zealot.”

Pence’s animus for the LGBT community has not been lost on the president. When the subject of gay rights was recently broached at the White House, Trump reportedly gestured to his VP, quipping, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”

4. He’s determined to roll back women’s rights.

Pence has made a name for himself as an anti-abortion crusader, backing “personhood” legislation that would ban abortions unless a woman’s life is at stake, even in cases of rape and incest. He sponsored an amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would have legally allowed hospitals to turn away dying women before terminating their pregnancies. And at the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, he advocated that married women be denied access to birth control.

Vi Simpson, the former Democratic minority leader of the Indiana State Senate, told the New Yorker she believes it is Pence’s “mission” to “reverse women’s economic and political advances.”

5. His economic ideas are a proven disaster.

Trump has called Indiana a model for his forthcoming tax plan, “a tremendous example of the prosperity that is unleashed when we cut taxes.” But like Sam Brownback’s Kansas, the Hoosier State has offered yet another cautionary tale for the dangers of trickle-down economics. According to Mayer, the tax cuts Mike Pence imposed have saved his constituents a grand total of $3.50 per month.

“Pence claimed that the cut stimulated the economy,” Mayer writes, “but John Zody, the chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, told me, ‘Our per-capita income is thirty-eighth in the nation, and not climbing.'”

Read Jane Mayer’s entire piece at the New Yorker.

Jacob Sugarman is a managing editor at AlterNet.

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Democrat stops just short of forcing House vote on Trump’s impeachment

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/democrat-stops-just-short-of-forcing-house-vote-on-trumps-impeachment/2017/10/11/23b998ba-aea6-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_term=.d96a9fa170a0

 

A Democratic congressman stopped just short of forcing a House vote on President Trump’s impeachment Wednesday, pulling back under apparent pressure from his own party.

Rep. Al Green (Tex.) read his impeachment resolution on the House floor Wednesday afternoon, bringing it up under rules that would force a rapid vote. But less than an hour later when the House’s presiding officer called up the resolution for action, Green did not appear on the floor to offer it.

Green said to reporters afterward that he had wanted to allow more time for his colleagues to review the resolution before it was voted on, and he suggested that the House floor staff had misled him about the timing of that vote.

“Before I left the floor, there was an understanding with the parliamentarian and other persons who were there that it would not be voted on immediately,” he said.

According to multiple House Democratic aides, party leaders had prevailed upon Green not to offer the resolution and thus force his colleagues to cast a potentially troublesome vote.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other leaders have sought to tamp down calls for Trump’s impeachment, citing ongoing investigations into his campaign and administration being pursued by congressional committees and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Any move to impeach before those probes are complete, they have said, would be premature.

“I’m not an impeachment enthusiast,” said Rep. James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the assistant Democratic leader and highest-ranking African American in the House, noting that Republicans hold the majority. “Where are you going to get the majority of the votes? So it’s just an empty gesture.”

Republicans, on the other hand, were happy to schedule a vote. GOP aides said they planned to move to table Green’s resolution, killing it outright.

A vote to table Green’s resolution could have forced Democrats to explain to anti-Trump voters why they opposed removing the president from office, while a vote against tabling could have required them to explain to more-moderate voters why they took action against the president while investigations are underway.

“Many members are telling him that this is a fruitless effort and will end in a complicated vote that cannot be easily explained,” a senior Democratic aide had said. “Members don’t want this vote.”

Green, who first announced his intention to pursue impeachment last month, said he had not been asked to stand down before he came to the floor Wednesday. But he declined to say whether he had been approached after he gave his remarks.

“Any discussions I may have had are private, and I will not discuss them,” Green told reporters Wednesday, adding that he felt “not one scintilla” of pressure from party leaders.

Green did not rule out forcing a future vote on his resolution: “I will not indicate when, but I will indicate that it will be brought up.”

In nearly 20 minutes of floor remarks Wednesday, Green inveighed against Trump for having “produced a demonstrable record of inciting white supremacy, sexism, bigotry, hatred, xenophobia, race-baiting and racism by demeaning, defaming, disrespecting and disparaging women and certain minorities.”

“In so doing,” Green continued, Trump “has fueled and is fueling an alt-right hate machine and his worldwide covert sympathizers, engendering racial antipathy, LGTBQ enmity, religious anxiety, stealthy sexism and dreadful xenophobia, perfidiously causing immediate injury to American society.”

Green told The Washington Post in an interview last month that he was compelled to pursue articles of impeachment after seeing Trump denigrate pro football players who have engaged in silent protests during the playing of the national anthem before games. That, he said, was the final straw after what he saw as a string of impeachable offenses.

“There were many, many things that could have been the straw,” he said. “But these comments about free speech, which is something I cherish, they have caused me to conclude that now is the time to let the world know that there is at least one person in the Congress who believes that the president has gone too far.”

Green initially planned to file the resolution last week but delayed his plans after the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

There are no indications that Green’s resolution has anywhere near the majority support needed to pass, but even if it did, Trump would not be immediately ousted. The Senate would hold a trial based on the House impeachment article and ultimately decide whether the president should be removed from office.

The Case for Trump’s Impeachment Is Overwhelming: Report

While special counsel Robert Mueller is still investigating President Donald Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey, three legal experts think they already have enough evidence to charge the president with obstruction of justice, which was a key charge in the impeachment case against former President Richard Nixon.

In a new paper published by the Brookings Institute, authors Norm Eisen, Barry Berke and Noah Bookbinder make a detailed case that Trump did indeed fire Comey with the intention of thwarting the investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election.

Specifically, they note that Trump’s own public statements might give prosecutors all the ammunition they need to prove the president had a corrupt intention in his decision to fire Comey, whose bureau was taking a lead role in the Russia investigation.

“President Trump’s behavior is certainly suggestive of corrupt intent with respect to the Russia and Flynn investigations,” they write. “For example, President Trump has articulated multiple, shifting rationales for Comey’s firing. The first explanation for terminating Comey, as articulated by the president in a May 10 tweet and in the Rosenstein memo, was that Comey had mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email, and had lost the confidence of his subordinates. Soon thereafter, President Trump reversed course and said… that the Russia investigation was on his mind when he made the decision to fire Comey.”

The experts also cite Trump’s spurned demands of loyalty from Comey, as well as his request to drop the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as possible motivations for firing the former FBI director that would amount to obstruction of justice.

However, even if Trump’s precise motivation for firing Comey cannot be determined, the paper notes that having mixed motives for making a decision does not preclude someone from having a corrupt intention.

The entire paper can be found at this link.

 

Brad Reed is a writer living in Boston. His work has previously appeared in the American Prospect Online, and he blogs frequently at Sadly, No!.

TRUMP IMPEACHMENT COULD BE DEMANDED BY POWERFUL CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS AFTER MEETING NEXT WEEK

http://www.newsweek.com/trump-impeachment-congressional-black-caucus-661550?spMailingID=2251480&spUserID=MzQ4OTUyNDAxNTAS1&spJobID=870359441&spReportId=ODcwMzU5NDQxS0

 

The Congressional Black Caucus will hold a meeting next week to discuss whether to call for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Following Trump’s response to deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month, the CBC chairman, Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, said the 49-member caucus would have a discussion on Trump’s possible impeachment when Congress reconvened after the August recess.

Related: Impeach Trump or else: Top Democrat pays price for urging ‘patience’ with the president 

Those talks will take place next Wednesday, a CBC staffer confirmed to Newsweek on Thursday. While it was initially anticipated that the discussions would happen at this week’s meeting, relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey and in anticipation of Hurricane Irma took priority. Still, members were given background information on the impeachment process and the details on all the federal officials who have previously been subject to impeachment.

The CBC was among the first parties in Congress to call for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon, when it filed a resolution in the House of Representatives in 1973. The following year, Nixon resigned with his impeachment considered a virtual certainty.

Representative Al Green of Texas became the first Democrat to call for Trump’s removal from office, in May. He later supported California Representative Brad Sherman when he introduced articles of impeachment against the president the following month, alleging obstruction of justice over the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Representative Maxine Waters, one of Trump’s fiercest critics, has also called to impeach Trump, and Representative Gwen Moore became the most recent member to do so, following Trump’s blaming of “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville.

“For the sake of the soul of our country, we must come together to restore our national dignity that has been robbed by Donald Trump’s presence in the White House,” Moore, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said last month. “My Republican friends, I implore you to work with us within our capacity as elected officials to remove this man as our commander-in-chief and help us move forward from this dark period in our nation’s history.”

While Charlottesville may have been the tipping point, the CBC will look at a variety of issues that could be grounds for impeachment, including alleged violations of the emoluments cause and Trump’s fitness to serve. The case against Nixon will be studied closely as a guiding comparison.

Despite three members going on record urging Trump’s removal, a CBC staffer said “we have not made a decision yet” over whether the group would take the step of formally calling for the president’s impeachment. No preliminary discussions have yet taken place.

If there is a sense that the members are moving in the direction of impeachment, a vote could be called for. General policy is that a majority vote is required for a motion to pass, although because of the seriousness of this issue more than a simple majority may be deemed necessary.

For the Congressional Black Caucus, which encompasses 47 members in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate, calling for the removal of the president would undeniably be a powerful statement. However, there is little chance that it would bring about Trump’s exit any time soon. A majority vote in the House is required to impeach a president, followed by a two-thirds majority in the Senate in order to convict.

Republicans currently control both chambers and there have only been limited signs thus far of the party publicly abandoning their president. Also, Trump in recent days has reached out to leading Democrats over increasing the debt ceiling, a move that could win him some support.

Rep. Joaquin Castro Believes Trump May Have Already Crossed a ‘Red Line’ for Impeachment

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/rep-joaquin-castro-believes-trump-may-have-already-crossed-red-line-impeachment?akid=16051.275016.zTm9ho&rd=1&src=newsletter1082094&t=4

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) couldn’t have been clearer in an interview with Ari Melber on MSNBC.

The Democratic House Intelligence Committee member explained that a reported draft letter written by President Donald Trump regarding the firing of former FBI director James Comey could be “grounds to start impeachment proceedings.”

The letter is alleged to highlight the Russia investigation as a reason for relieving Comey of his post, an action that would amount to an obvious conflict of interest and likely obstruction of justice.

Castro agreed with Melber that Trump crossed a “red line” if the reports are true.

Chances of Trump Impeachment at High Point

While Houston drowns and North Korea provokes, the case for the impeachment of President Trump is growing stronger. The news of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction and Kim Jong Un’s latest missile test has obscured a series of unrebutted revelations that strengthen the already sturdy case that the president has obstructed the FBI investigation into the ties between his campaign and the Russian government.

The revelations shed new light on both the chummy ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and on Trump’s recent efforts to hinder the investigation of special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Not only did Trump’s business associates appeal to Russian officials in late 2015and early 2016 for help in building a Trump Tower in Moscow, but Trump also personally called Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) in early August to denounce his legislation to protect Mueller from being fired.

In a July 20 interview with the New York Times, Trump said any investigation of his family business in connection with the Russia investigation would be a “violation” of Mueller’s responsibilities and grounds for his dismissal. Mueller, it is now clear, has called Trump’s bluff. He is delving deeply into Trump’s real estate dealings and how they relate to Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election.

So are congressional investigators. The Times reported Monday that the Trump Organization turned over emails related to the proposed Trump Tower deal to the House Intelligence Committee, which is also investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election.

‘Someone who knows how to deal’

The Post reported that Michael Cohen, one of Trump’s closest business advisers, asked longtime Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov for help in “the development of a Trump Tower-Moscow project in Moscow City.”

“As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance,” Cohen wrote. “I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals.“

Cohen’s email, the Post noted, “marks the most direct outreach documented by a top Trump aide to a similarly senior member of Putin’s government.” The deal never came to fruition.

Cohen said in a statement to Congress that he wrote the email at the recommendation of Felix Sater, a Russian American businessman who was serving as a broker on the deal. The Times reported that Sater had boasted the deal could help elect Trump, which may have been the sort of hype that routinely lubricates real estate deals.

But Sater’s email to Cohen, published by the Times, voiced hope for a relationship that would go beyond real estate.

“Michael we can own this story,” Sater wrote. “Donald doesn’t stare down, he negotiates and understands the economic issues and Putin only want to deal with a pragmatic leader, and a successful businessman is a good candidate for someone who knows how to negotiate. ‘Business, politics, whatever it all is the same for someone who knows how to deal’…”

Mueller’s strategy

The question of how Trump sought to deal with Russia is at the heart of Mueller’s investigation.

The proposal for a Trump Tower in Moscow was just another manifestation of Trump’s long-standing desire to build in Russia. In 2013, he signed a preliminary agreement to build a hotel in Russia in partnership with Aras Agalarov, a billionaire who had financed the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013.

A representative of Agalarov’s company attended a June 2016 meeting with top Trump aides and a Russian lawyer organized by Donald Trump Jr. The lawyer offered to provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton collected by the Russian government. The meeting was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” according to an email made public by Don Jr.

Six days later, a person identifying himself as “Guccifer 2.0” released a Democratic National Committee file on Trump, stolen from the DNC computers. It was the first in a flood of leaks harmful to Clinton that would continue for the rest of the campaign.

According to an NBC News report Monday, Mueller’s team of prosecutors are focusing on Trump’s role in drafting a public statement claiming the subject of the meeting was the adoption of Russian orphans by Americans.

A source “familiar with Mueller’s strategy” told NBC that whether or not Trump made a “knowingly false statement” is now of interest to prosecutors.

“Even if Trump is not charged with a crime as a result of the statement, it could be useful to Mueller’s team to show Trump’s conduct to a jury that may be considering other charges.”

The revelations show the president and the independent counsel are on a collision course that can only end in a constitutional crisis and impeachment proceedings.

The threat to bring Trump’s conduct to a jury is a threat to Trump’s family and his presidency. Trump’s pardon of Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of contempt of court for disobeying a court order to cease the profiling of Latinos, shows he believes his political whims take precedence over the workings of the law.

Trump has spoken privately about firing Mueller, only to be talked out of it by aides. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said Mueller’s dismissal would be a “tipping point” for Senate Republicans. Sen. Lindsey Graham has said firing Mueller would be “the beginning of the end” of the Trump presidency.

The tipping point is drawing closer.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of the forthcoming biography The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press, October 2017) and the 2016 Kindle ebook CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files.

Leading Progressive Dem. Congressman: War With North Korea Is Grounds for Impeachment

http://www.alternet.org/world/war-north-korea-grounds-impeachment?akid=15973.275016.8oQxgm&rd=1&src=newsletter1080962&t=4

 

Ted Lieu is a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing California’s 33rd congressional district since 2015. Rep. Lieu served in the JAG corps from 1995-1999 and as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 2000-2016. Lieu has been an outspoken critic of the war on Yemen, and more recently, of President Trump’s authority to unilaterally authorize a nuclear first strike. AlterNet contacted Lieu to discuss the legislation he’s introduced that would require congressional authorization for such nuclear strikes as well as his thoughts on President Trump’s treatment of North Korea.

Ken Klippenstein: What was your personal reaction when you first heard Trump’s threat to bring ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’ to North Korea?

Ted Lieu: My first reaction was, that’s an idiotic statement. It’s unnecessarily provocative. We know so little about the North Korean regime, we don’t know how they’re going to take that kind of incendiary language. It increases their chances for miscalculation.

KK: When Trump uses that kind of rhetoric, is it just bluster?

TL: I’ve learned to stop predicting this president. I have no idea what he’s thinking. What he’s thinking can change depending on the day of the week. The one thing that he has done in his first six months is massive inconsistency, as well as a series of false and misleading statements.

KK: You’ve said, ‘There are zero good military options against North Korea.’ What would military intervention look like?

TL: There are three reasons why there are no good military options. One is, we don’t know where all their nuclear weapons are; we don’t even know how many they have. So we have very little intelligence and data about this closed regime. So that makes any military conflict difficult because a lot of it is flying blind. If the actual goal is to get a de-nuclearized Korean peninsula, the only real way to do it is a ground invasion where you go find every possible nuclear weapon and you destroy it. That is not a good military option: a lot of people would die in that kind of invasion.

The second reason there’s no good military option is because North Korea has in addition to nuclear weapons, chemical weapons as well. They could lob chemical weapons into South Korea where 150,000 Americans live as well as multiple U.S. bases and over 2 million South Koreans in Seoul alone.

Third reason there’s no good military option is, in additional to nuclear and chemical weapons, North Korea also has a massive conventional military with all sorts of missiles and artillery that can hit South Korea, Japan (where over 50,000 Americans live as well as multiple military bases) and Guam as well. So if we, for example, launch cruise missiles on North Korea, they can decide to rain fire down on South Korea and kill hundreds of thousands of people. That would not be a good military option for us.

KK: You’ve introduced legislation that would require Congress to authorize nuclear weapons use. How would that function? And what would you say to people tentative about it because they think it would diminish our deterrence capability?

TL: When the framers designed the Constitution, they put in all sorts of checks and balances on the president. They put in an entire judiciary to stop the president. They put in an entire legislative branch to stop the president. And then they gave the greatest power they knew at that time, the power to declare war, to Congress. [Massachusetts] Senator [Ed] Markey and I believe there is no way that the framers would have allowed one person, the president, to launch thousands of nuclear missiles and kill hundreds of millions of people in less than hour, without congressional approval. That actually would be war. If you don’t call it war, you basically red out the constitution.

Our bill is very simple: it says basically only Congress can declare war; you, Mr. President, cannot launch a first strike of nuclear weapons without congressional authorization. It does not affect their current status quo of mutually assured destruction in any way. Mutually assured destruction does not rely on a first strike; it relies on the ability of the United States to annihilate anyone who strikes us. This bill does not address the ability of the president to respond in self-defense or with a second strike; it just says we should not be the aggressor and use nuclear weapons first.

KK: You’ve said Congress will start the impeachment process if Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller. Would Congress start the impeachment process if Trump pursues a military option in North Korea? Do you think that’s grounds for it?

TL: If he does it without congressional authorization and it’s not in self-defense, yes, I think that would provide grounds for impeachment. I do believe that. If he starts a war with North Korea without congressional approval, that would be grounds for impeachment.

KK: Have your Republican colleagues in Congress expressed any concerns to you about Trump’s rhetoric with respect to North Korea? Do they seem open to your proposal?

TL: Yes. It is a bipartisan bill. Republican congressman Walter Jones [of North Carolina] signed on earlier this year and we’re reaching out to other Republicans as well. There are a number of Republicans who are libertarian and have a very strict reading of the Constitution and they would agree with me that the current launch approval process is unconstitutional. We’re reaching out to a number of Republicans to see if they would co-author. I think they would likely vote for the bill, the only issue is do they sign as a co-author.

KK: Describe what you think is the solution to the North Korea issue.

TL: Having served in the military, it’s very clear to me that military force should always be the last resort and you’ve got to exhaust all other options. The Trump administration has definitely not exhausted the option of diplomacy. You have a total of zero talks with the North Koreans. They need to at least try diplomacy before they even consider going down the dark and bloody path of a catastrophic war.

A few days ago they signaled that the U.S. would be open to talks with North Korea—I thought that was a good sign—until Trump yesterday made his incendiary remarks. That’s another problem with the administration: you don’t really know what their strategy is. They have not articulated it to the American people. They go back and forth; they send conflicting signals. So it’s a very bad place for America to be in when our executive branch doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing.

KK: Do you think Trump’s threats degrade our credibility?

TL: If they’re not executed, yes. So now you have the problem where you’ve got Trump potentially backing himself into a corner with all these threats. At some point, either Trump is going to have to reverse himself and damage credibility, or he’s going to feel compelled to execute on those threats, which could cost the lives of a lot of people.

Ken Klippenstein is an American journalist who can be reached on Twitter @kenklippenstein or via email: kenneth.klippenstein@gmail.com

Dem leaders: Cool it on impeachment

Democratic leaders are ramping up the pressure on Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers to abandon efforts to force an impeachment vote on President Trump.

The leaders are worried that an aggressive push for impeachment could both undercut the ongoing investigations into the Trump campaign’s Russian ties and politicize those probes in ways that might damage Democrats in their districts.

Still, Sherman’s push is forcing Democrats to toe a delicate line, with the party’s liberal base demanding that they oppose Trump at every turn.

Tensions spilled over in a House Democratic Caucus meeting on Tuesday, when Rep. Michael Capuano (Mass.), a leadership ally, warned that forcing lawmakers to go on the record about impeachment could hurt Democrats’ chances at the polls.

There must be “a discussion within the caucus — in a public forum — before we do something that would position our colleagues or our future colleagues,” Capuano said, according to a source in the closed-door meeting.

“Emotions are high. These issues have political implications and government ones.”

A pair of Democratic leaders — Reps. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Joseph Crowley (N.Y.) — backed Capuano during the meeting, saying the party should focus its energy on issues like defending ObamaCare and creating jobs.

“There is a need for a family discussion before any issue of this magnitude is brought forward,” Crowley said, according to the source. “It’s of a courtesy to our colleagues.”

The message was directed at Sherman, who on Monday unveiled a draft article of impeachment against Trump, saying the president obstructed justice by allegedly pressuring former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump later fired Comey, who was leading the bureau’s investigation into Russian election inference.

Sherman, the source said, was in the room for the entirety of the criticism. He declined to speak.

Sherman told The Hill after the meeting that he has assured Democratic leaders that he won’t try to force a floor vote without their input first.

He made that clear to Capuano in a conversation afterward. “I said, ‘I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not doing anything until I consult with colleagues and leadership.’ ”

Sherman plans to formally introduce the article of impeachment later this week or next, and then will give GOP leaders at least a few weeks to decide how the House Judiciary Committee should respond.

He predicted that any floor vote, if it happens, likely wouldn’t be until after the August recess.

Under House rules, any member can offer a “privileged” resolution that must get floor consideration within two legislative days. If the majority party rejects it, the lawmaker offering the resolution can still force a procedural vote to serve as a referendum.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee, which would handle articles of impeachment, say the investigations into Russia need to be completed before they consider any form of action.

“Let honest investigations run their course, and then we will be able to determine who, if anyone, should be held accountable,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of both the Judiciary and the Intelligence committees, the latter of which is also investigating Russia’s role in the presidential election.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a Judiciary Committee member, said lawmakers need to make sure they have enough of a factual case to convince the public before moving articles of impeachment.

“To me, impeachment is the gravest thing we can do other than declare war. It should never be our first option,” said Lieu, who is one of the most aggressive Democratic critics of Trump.

But when pressed, Lieu acknowledged that he thinks Trump has committed an impeachable offense with obstruction of justice.

“I would like for the investigation to be completed. But it is pretty clear to me that he committed obstruction of justice. And so if I was going to be forced to take a vote on it, I would vote for the article of impeachment,” Lieu said.

And Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), a third Judiciary Committee member, didn’t rule out panel Democrats pursuing impeachment down the road.

“I believe the consensus of Democrats on Judiciary is that it may be too early to introduce articles of impeachment. But that could change,” Johnson said.

Sherman, a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee who’s been known to buck leadership, is not alone in amplifying the impeachment calls.

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who has also accused Trump of obstructing justice in firing Comey, is weighing whether to introduce his own article of impeachment. He told The Hill on Tuesday that he will force a vote on impeachment if Trump fires Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to oversee the FBI’s Russia probe in the wake of Comey’s firing.

And Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who floated the possibility of impeaching Trump even before the president was sworn in, said she might endorse Sherman’s resolution.

“We determine what is ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ ” she said.

So far, the impeachment push has been limited to a tiny number of House Democrats. But some lawmakers said they would jump quickly on board if Trump were to fire Mueller.

“You want a speed-rail car to impeachment? Fire Mueller,” said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.). “I dare you to do it.”

Gutiérrez, a member of the Judiciary Committee, is urging GOP leaders on the panel to start investigating the Russia saga — something they’ve resisted.

“With all due respect to the Intelligence and the Oversight [committees] … they cannot impeach the president of the United States,” he said. “When is the Judiciary Committee going to call the hearings?”

If Sherman or any other lawmaker forces a floor vote on articles of impeachment, it wouldn’t just put Republicans on the record defending the president. When asked if it was fair to impose the vote on fellow Democrats who don’t want to rush to impeachment at this point, Sherman insisted that it was ultimately about the “national interest.”

“I think being fair to my colleagues is important. I think acting in the national interest is important,” he said.

John Oliver Has Some Devastating News for Those Eagerly Awaiting Trump’s Impeachment

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/john-oliver-has-some-devastating-news-those-eagerly-awaiting-trumps-impeachment?akid=15619.275016.WkUWir&rd=1&src=newsletter1077270&t=4

 

John Oliver, who (regrettably) urged Trump’s presidential run in 2013, now insists we’re stuck with him for years.

In his latest “Stupid Watergate” segment, the “Last Week Tonight” host weighed in on the whirlwind of news from the past week involving James Comey’s investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, which Trump privately requested Comey end. He also touched on Trump’s meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office, the day after Comey’s firing.

“I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off,” Trump had told Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during their meeting the week before last.

“It’s almost difficult to believe your ears when you hear something so audaciously corrupt,” remarked Oliver. “It’s like if Hillary Clinton had sent an email with the subject line: ‘Sup—I did Benghazi.’”

Yet despite the rapid escalation of the Trump-Russia scandal, Oliver remains skeptical impeachment is in the offing any time soon.

“Impeachment is a long shot for many reasons,” he noted. “Not the least of which is it would require a majority of the House to vote to impeach, and that is currently controlled by Republicans. It would then need two-thirds of the Senate to vote to convict the president, and it is also controlled by Republicans right now.”

“Why would this be the end of the line for him?” he asked before offering a chilling reminder: “Trump has seemed to reach the end of the line on multiple occasions only for nothing to happen.”

Watch:

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

White House legal team said to be researching impeachment

Lawyers at the White House have begun to study the impeachment process in preparation for any potential efforts to remove US President Donald Trump from office, CNN reported Friday.

Although White House officials still consider an attempt to impeach Trump unlikely, the White House Counsel’s Office is said to be seeking the advice of legal experts on how a potential impeachment bid would move forward, according to the CNN report.

A White House official told CNN in response that the report was “not true,” while an unnamed attorney cited in the report said he did not believe White House Counsel Don McGahn would have allowed members of his legal team to research impeachment.

Despite calls for Trump’s impeachment from some corners, Republicans are believed to still back the president, while the majority of Democrats have not yet joined calls for the US president’s ouster.

This file photo taken on November 15, 2016 shows Don McGahn, then general counsel for US President-elect Donald Trump's transition team,in the lobby at Trump Tower in New York City. (AFP Photo/Getty Images North America/Drew Angerer)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday said that she was not encouraging — or discouraging — such talk.

“I’m not feeding the flame of any impeachment talk,” said Pelosi, who’s spent three decades in Congress. “But members are going to do what they’re going to do, and their constituents think that the behavior of the president is appalling.”

Pelosi also said that Trump has made himself “very vulnerable personally” amid investigations of his campaign ties with Russia, pointing to his reported request to now-fired FBI Director James Comey to lay off an investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser.

“I think the Flynn thing is where the president is very vulnerable personally,” Pelosi told The Associated Press in an interview in her office. “If the president in fact asked Comey to let up on … Flynn — you don’t do that.”

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, May 19, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The California Democrat also questioned Trump’s fitness for office and said if anyone does it, “the person who’s going to impeach Donald Trump is Donald Trump.”

Pelosi also reacted to news being reported by The New York Times that Trump told Russian diplomats in his office a day after firing Comey that the FBI director was “a nut job” and the pressure he faced because of Russia was now “taken off.”

“I think every day the president gives us more reason to believe that he does not respect the office that he holds. This is a ridiculous statement for him to make,” Pelosi said. “Again it’s elevating the Russians as his confidante at the expense of our justice system in our country.”

Trump told Russian diplomats last week his firing of “nut job” James Comey had eased the pressure on him, even as the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation had moved into the White House, according to reports Friday that pursued the president as he began his maiden foreign trip.

White House hopes that Trump could leave scandalous allegations at home were crushed in a one-two punch of revelations that landed shortly after his departure. A Washington Post report, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, said a senior Trump adviser is now considered a “person of interest” in the law enforcement investigation into whether Trump’s campaign associates coordinated with Russia in an effort to sway the 2016 election.

And The New York Times reported that the president had told Russian officials he felt the dismissal of his FBI director had relieved “great pressure” on him. The White House has said the firing was unrelated to the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Late Friday, the Senate intelligence committee announced that Comey had agreed to testify at an open hearing at an undetermined date after Memorial Day.

Comey will certainly be asked about encounters that precipitated his firing, including a January dinner in which, Comey has told associates, Trump asked for his loyalty, and his alleged request to stop the Flynn probe.