President Trump on Wednesday questioned whether Democrats love the country in light of the ongoing impeachment inquiry in the House.
The president tore into Democrats during a meeting with the Italian prime minister at a NATO gathering in London. The House Judiciary Committee was simultaneously holding a hearing in Washington on impeachable offenses with constitutional law experts as Trump spoke.
“These people, you almost question whether or not they love our country and that’s a very, very serious thing: Do they, in fact, love our country?” Trump asked, criticizing the timing of the hearing.
The president and his allies have expressed frustration over Democrats holding the hearing on the same day he is meeting with world leaders, accusing them of doing so purposely. There is no evidence the overlap was intentional.
“To do it on a day like this where we’re in London with some of the most powerful countries in the world having a very important NATO meeting, and it just happened to be scheduled … on this day, it’s really, honestly it’s a disgrace,” Trump said.
Trump bashed Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) — three of the Democrats leading the impeachment proceedings — as “losers” and predicted that many Democrats would vote against impeachment because of political consequences.
He reiterated his belief that the impeachment proceedings will benefit Republicans in the 2020 election, particularly in swing districts. Polling has shown voters are split on whether they support impeaching Trump, though support has dipped slightly among independents.
The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday issued a report alleging Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rivals. Democrats accused the president of conditioning a White House visit for the Ukrainian president on a public announcement of those investigations.
The report alleges Trump “placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.”
The document serves as a roadmap for the House Judiciary Committee, which could draw up articles of impeachment against Trump in the coming weeks.
“I saw it and it’s a joke,” Trump told reporters when asked about the report, noting that Fox News personalities and “legal scholars” have dismissed the report.
Trump has defended his conduct with Ukraine, insisting his actions did not meet the threshold of high crimes and misdemeanors laid out in the Constitution.
“There was no crime whatsoever, not even a little tiny crime,” he said.
Goodwin: Impeachment trial is the ace up President Trump’s sleeve
By: Michael Goodwin
November 23, 2019
Here’s my slam-dunk choice for the Quote of the Year: “I want a trial.”
The President of the United States said that Friday morning, and his title alone would be reason enough to make it the most significant thing said in 2019. But there’s much more to it because Donald Trump’s demand highlights the historically unique set of circumstances he and the nation face in 2020.
As of now, the new year will feature an impeachment trial in the Senate followed by the presidential election. If Trump survives Democrats’ effort to remove him, he would be the first impeached president to face voters again.
Andrew Johnson, impeached in 1868, was later denied his party’s nomination for a second term. Bill Clinton won his second term before he was impeached.
While there’s some skepticism that Trump really wants to put everything on the line over allegations involving his dealings with Ukraine, I’m convinced he’s serious.
I’m also convinced he’s crazy like a fox. Given the flimsy allegations and the unfair, one-party nature of the House process, beating impeachment in the Senate seems close to a sure thing. And doing so would dramatically boost Trump’s chances of getting four more years.
Indeed, it’s probable that as impeachment goes, so goes the election.
Of course, there’s no question Trump would much prefer the House not brand him with the “I” word, but that’s a pipe dream.
If Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff can’t muster 218 votes on a set of articles after five long days of public testimony and hyperbolic assertions that the president is an existential threat to the world, Trump will claim he’s been exonerated. Who could blame him?
Pelosi can’t let that happen, having picked her poison by embracing the whistleblower complaint before she saw the transcript of Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine. Turning back now is not an option, so she’ll beg, bribe and twist the arms of any reluctant Dems to get to 218.
That vote will probably come in December, with a Senate trial starting in January.
There, the president will enjoy all the advantages Schiff denied him in the House’s kangaroo court. Most important, Trump starts with 53 GOP senators in the jury, and with a super-majority of 67 votes required for conviction, Dems need to flip 20 of them. That assumes they can hold all Democrats, which is not certain.
In addition to Trump having home-field advantage, a Senate trial, presided over by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, would be expected to follow federal rules on evidence and procedures.
One clear change from the House: no hearsay testimony. Thus, much of what passed for evidence there — and spurred the most sensational headlines — would not be permitted in the Senate.
For another, Trump’s lawyers would have wide latitude in a witness list and would use it to turn the tables on Democrats, the resistance and the Bidens. Trump likes nothing more than being on offense, and his aim would be to put his accusers on trial.
Already the president has named three people he wants grilled, starting with Hunter Biden and his lucrative gig on the board of Burisma, a corrupt Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president.
Some sample questions Hunter Biden can expect:
Is it true you were discharged from the Navy for cocaine use months before being named to Burisma in 2014?
Do you speak Ukrainian?
What do you know about energy exploration and markets?
How many board meetings did you attend?
Is it true you were paid more than $3 million over five years?
How much more?
Did you discuss the job with your father?
Did you ask your father to intercede in Ukrainian politics to help Burisma?
Joe Biden is already showing the strains, blasting Sen. Lindsey Graham for asking the State Department for documents relating to Joe Biden’s calls with Ukraine’s then-president and his own documented efforts to oust a prosecutor.
“Lindsey is about to go down in a way that I think he’s going to regret his whole life,” Joe Biden told reporters.
Actually, you would assume Biden might be filled with regret, given the shameful way his son profited from his father’s position.
Moreover, there are legitimate questions about the 2016 anti-Trump campaign waged by Ukrainian officials and oligarchs, which included millions of dollars in contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Were the payments to Hunter Biden and the foundation aimed at buying Democrats’ silence over Ukrainian corruption? What does Joe Biden know about that effort?
Trump also wants to call Schiff, and GOP lawyers believe there is ample precedent. They note that Bill Clinton’s lawyers grilled independent prosecutor Ken Starr during Clinton’s Senate trial.
Schiff acted as chief prosecutor against Trump and his dealings with the whistleblower would make him a key witness to the initial allegations.
Latka has a taxi problem.
……”Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with A light from above”……
Who allowed FISA surveillance abuse? New attorney general must find out
BY: FRANCEY HAKES, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR, The Hill
When I worked at the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the Department of Justice (DOJ), the procedure for obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant was an object lesson in checks and balances. Given the near-daily revelations about the underpinnings of the various investigations into President Trump and his inner circle, those checks and balances weren’t just ignored — they were thrown permanently out the window in the name of securing his election defeat or later removal from office.
We are privileged to live in a country where the rule of law and our tradition of professional law enforcement protect us from the kind of corruption rife in many other countries. But the conduct of the FBI and the Department of Justice in opening multiple investigations into President Trump and his inner circle calls that professionalism into question in a way that should concern us all, regardless of our political leanings.
In 1975, the Church Committee was formed by Congress to investigate whether the intelligence community was using its various surveillance technologies to target political enemies. Three major agencies — National Security Agency (NSA), CIA, and FBI — were all found to be illegally targeting Americans such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali without court supervision, permission or warrants as required by the Constitution. In response to this shocking finding, Congress in 1978 passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was designed to impose strict controls on the use of clandestine surveillance tools against Americans to ensure they were never again used for political purposes.
There were strict guidelines and procedures in place for obtaining a FISA surveillance warrant when I was on special detail to the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review inside the Department of Justice in 2004 and 2005. Before the FBI brought an application to me as the department attorney who would swear to it and present it to the FISA Court, the application went through a series of reviews inside the FBI. These reviews are designed to ensure that a neutral person agrees there is sufficient evidence that the target of the warrant is an agent of a foreign power engaging in espionage or terrorism.
Generally, these warrants are never intended for use in criminal courts. They largely are used to gather intelligence that will aid in protecting national security. They also mostly are used to target foreign nationals in this country. If the target is a U.S. person, the department attorney must establish in the application for a warrant that the person is acting as the agent of a foreign power and, additionally, that he or she likely engaged in conduct that violates U.S. criminal statutes. As with criminal warrants, the factual assertions made to support the allegation that the target is an agent of a foreign power engaged in possible criminal activity must be reliable. That is, a bare assertion is not enough; it must be supported by reliable information and evidence.
Once the review is complete at the FBI, the agent presents the application to a department attorney for review and submission to the FISA Court. At this stage, the attorney must verify every paragraph of the application. This is done in consultation with the agent. I was trained to ask the agent how he or she knew each “fact” asserted in every paragraph. Importantly, I would be swearing to the application’s accuracy before the court, so I had a critical incentive to ensure the facts were accurately portrayed. My license, my reputation were on the line.
But, I had to rely upon the representation of the agent, and the FBI, CIA or NSA, to give me accurate information. I certainly couldn’t go out and verify the assertions myself. Once I was confident that each paragraph was accurate, and that the requirements of the statute were met, that application then went through several more people above me, supervisors who also were professional DOJ career attorneys, before it reached the final level of approval by the deputy attorney general. Only then, after purportedly neutral review inside the FBI and DOJ, would a FISA application be submitted to the court for approval.
We now know that the unverified allegations in the so-called Steele dossier were asserted as reliable facts in the original FISA warrant and three renewals against former Trump campaign volunteer adviser Carter Page. Former FBI director James Comey admitted as much in testimony long after the FISA warrant was issued. How could this happen? That is what the new attorney general must find out.
How could all the controls in place to protect Americans from clandestine surveillance fail so miserably? It is important to note that many more Americans beyond Carter Page likely were surveilled by the FBI. Every person with whom Page communicated had their emails or text messages captured and reviewed, potentially going back years.
The Obama administration was unveiling the names of Americans captured in FISA surveillance at record rates. This spider web of captures and potential invasion of privacy is exactly why it is so serious to utilize clandestine surveillance tools against Americans. And, it is why there are so many steps required to surveil Americans using those tools. Regular criminal warrants against criminal suspects have disclosure requirements so targets eventually know they have been surveilled. In contrast, clandestine surveillance may go undisclosed forever. So, many Americans may never know — and likely don’t to this day in the case of those with whom Page communicated — that they have been surveilled by government agents.
Why do we care that Page and many other Americans had their emails or other messages intercepted and reviewed based upon unverified allegations? If you think President Trump and his associates are dangerous, evil, stupid, or unqualified, then you might not care. The ends justify the means to you. But what if this supposedly dangerous, evil, stupid, unqualified president uses those same failures to his advantage and against his own enemies?
The new attorney general must investigate how this happened by tracing each person in the chain of the Page FISA warrants. Each must be asked about the factual assertions made under oath. Someone is accountable. Someone inside the Justice Department must answer for the abuse of our surveillance assets and sworn misrepresentations to the FISA Court. If they don’t, it will happen again. And again.
Francey Hakes was a prosecutor for 16 years and now consults on national security and the protection of children. As a former assistant U.S. attorney, she appeared before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, presenting applications for counterterrorism and counterespionage warrants on a special detail to the Department of Justice Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. She served as the first National Coordinator for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction from January 2010 to March 2012. Follow her on Twitter @FranceyHakes.
Editor’s note – Victor Davis Hanson deftly compares the hypocrisy on the left and does a remarkable job comparing the actions and words of current candidates against Donald Trump and provides and his insights to give us a clear look at the interesting campaign Mr. Trump is running.
This in no way denotes an endorsement of any candidate but rather shows the bones of the body politic now in full view. Now that Iowa is over and New Hampshire becomes the showcase, expect many more examples of double standards, mean words, dirty tricks, and outright mis-characterizations to abound at Mr. Trump and emanating from him.
Memo to RNC: Stop ridiculing Trump and look at what voters see in him.
A disclaimer: Trump is not my preferred candidate. I hope he does not win the Republican nomination. But I understand why millions seem to be mesmerized by his rhetoric.
I certainly wish that Trump would not insult rivals and newspeople in callous and uncouth fashion. I would prefer that he come prepared to interviews, with detailed positions rather than his banal “Make America great again” refrain, so akin to the “Hope and Change” nothingness.
I notice that he often pauses in midsentence, that he interjects “awesome” and “tremendous” ad nauseam, that he completely abandons his original thought and detours to an extraneous topic.
He is a tough brawler, but oddly hypersensitive when his own brand of invective is turned against him. Trump may be an audacious captain of industry, but he certainly pouts a lot.
Trump’s use of I, me, my, and mine rivals Obama’s. By now it is thematic that Trump is likely to erupt into anger if he perceives observers as hostile — the anger often in contrast to his earlier praise of these same targets.
An ignoramus who adores Trump will be dubbed “brilliant”; accomplished people who criticize Trump are caricatured as ignoramuses.
Yet the question is not whether Trump comes across as a scatter-shot speaker, a bully, an adolescent, and a narcissist — he does — but whether, by the standards of our postmodern, 21st-century culture, he is, as is usually alleged, an aberrant political figure, so beyond the pale that he cannot be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.
In relativist terms, I’m afraid that is just not true.
So far, Trump’s slash-and-burn style is working because, despite a few notable exceptions, he for the most part has slandered and smeared political and media elites of both parties, whom millions apparently neither respect nor worry much about.
For a Trump supporter, fretting whether a zillionaire media celebrity was justifiably offended by Trump is analogous to losing sleep because multimillionaire celebrity Will Smith is unhappy that he did not win an Oscar and alleges that he was robbed of his laurels by the ultra-liberal but apparently racist Hollywood community.
Sure, there is principle involved, but it rates below worry over the nation’s $20 trillion in debt, the Iran deal, and sanctuary cities.
Yes, Trump despicably caricatured a handicapped person. One would hope that he regrets those frequent off-the-cuff smears and will never stoop so low again.
But his supporters believe that his crudity is hardly worse than the calm and composed president of the United States caricaturing the Special Olympics in a softball interview, or Joe Biden unthinkingly asking a man in a wheelchair to “stand up.” Did the media ostracize either?
Trump used insensitive and inexact language in outlining his opposition to illegal aliens — though in a manner far less illiberal than what is written about immigration in the Mexican constitution. But did he ever appeal directly to his largely white audiences and tell them he was going to “punish our enemies,” in the way Obama did with a Latino group? Was Obama thereby declared a demagogue?
Is Trump’s crude use of “bimbo” — as in the Clintons’ use of “bimbo eruption” — a bookend to Obama’s habitual “sweetie”? Has Trump, in Eric Holder fashion, referred to whites as “my people,” or has he ridiculed a “typical black person,” or weighed in on a hot-button criminal case, siding, racially, with the deceased by stating, “If I had had a second daughter, she would have looked like this girl”?
Trump has not said that Obama is “clean” and does not speak in “a Negro dialect,” as Harry Reid and Joe Biden once did. He has not talked of women as trailer-park trash, as Clinton advisers have in their efforts to destroy victims of Bill Clinton’s wantonness. He did not chortle about successfully defending a rapist or gloat about Qaddafi being torn apart by a mob.
These comparisons to major Democratic figures could be easily expanded, but the issue is not tu quoque. The point is only that Trump is well within today’s political norms — at least the debased norms established by our corrupt media and by public perceptions of what is said and done by supposedly caring and empathetic progressives such as Obama, Clinton, Biden, and Reid. The battle to create a polite and courteous society in 21st-century America was lost some years ago — often by hypocrites who now both engage in and deplore political smear and slander.
Trump is certainly vague on the issues, both deliberately so and because of his lack of preparation. But does anyone think he is any more unpredictable on, say, illegal immigration than what a President Jeb Bush might actually do in office?
Does Trump, like Obama, really believe that FDR as president addressed the nation on television in 1929? If Trump were to say that, wouldn’t he be written off as a buffoon? If Trump, who apparently slips up when referring to the Bible, tomorrow praised some soldiers as “Corpse-Men,” wouldn’t the Washington Post dismiss him as half-educated? Would he lie to the families of the men killed in Benghazi about the cause of their loved ones’ deaths?
“Who knows what a President Trump might do or say?” is a legitimate concern, given the daily Trump flip-flops and his liberal past and core. But did Obama in 2008 voice his support for gay marriage or confess that he would double the national debt, would serially lie about his health-care bill in order to pass it, and would dismantle the post-war role of the United States abroad?
On the debt, illegal immigration, the Iran deal, and tax reform, is a vague Trump worrisome while an explicit Hillary Clinton is reassuring?
Trump is a wheeler-dealer and seems to relish the idea that he predicates his behavior on the law of the jungle in “business.” Would he then preside over a corrupt IRS in Lois Lerner fashion, turn the EPA into an arm of his green donors, reduce the Secret Service, DHS, ICE, and GSA to caricatures of themselves, define NASA’s “foremost” mission as outreach to Muslims, run guns to Mexico, politicize the Justice Department, or turn a blind eye to abject corruption and criminal (and lethal) incompetence at the VA?
Would he set up a private e-mail server in Trump Tower, and cut and paste classified documents so he could send them without scrutiny to his political hatchet men? At some point, cannot Republicans run against what has happened rather than what they fear might happen? We are worrying about aftershocks in the midst of an earthquake hitting 8.9 on the Richter scale.
Yes, we should aspire to absolutes and not define morality down, but before we lose our collective heads over Trump, it is valuable to take a deep breath and look hard at the alternative reality that we now assume is normal in the age of the Obama administration and its enablers in the media.
If Trump were to call his opponents fascists likely to replicate Nazi Germany if they came to power, then he would be in good company with FDR in 1944.
If he were caught on an open mike joking about bombing nuclear Russia, then would he be Reaganesque? If he really flipped out and claimed that he had to battle an amphibious rabbit with his paddle, then he would be resonating Jimmy Carter. Does he, in adolescent fashion, boast to his adoring crowds that he is taking his gun to a knife fight, tell his people to get in the faces of his enemies, or belittle the inner city as a bunch of scared people who cling to their superstitions and phobias? If so, then he would be in full Obama mode.
Trump monotonously talks of “deals,” suggesting that the presidency could be reduced to a Manhattan land swap. I suppose, then, he would dismiss his congressional opponents shortly after he entered office with a curt “I won.” Would his advisers then compare Democratic legislators to terrorists “with bombs in their vests” or caricature them as bookends to hard-core Iranian theocrats?
The presidency is not a priesthood. And Trump is about as sinful or saintly as many who have run for it — and held it — in the present and past.
Rather than demonize Trump as an aberrant figure in the long history of American politics — which includes the populist demagogue Huey Long, the ego-driven outsider Ross Perot, and the street brawler Jesse Jackson — we should wonder why he is so popular and listen to those who support him.
The answer is fairly simple and hinges on two considerations. One, in stylistic terms, Trump is blunt, energetic, a member of the elite openly contemptuous of the elite and the politically correct — at a rare moment when half the country despises not just all that but also those who know better but are too timid to voice their own similar contempt.
He plays by no campaign or media rules in an age when one out of two voters thinks such rules are constructs set up by careerists. Trump took the idea of a hypocritical limousine liberal and turned it on its head: He claims to be everyman’s elite champion, who has the tools and who knows best how to smash elites.
In this age, half the country wants someone — apparently anyone, even a Manhattanized former Democrat, real-estate barker, and former reality-TV host — to express their contempt for a corrupt and hypocritical government culture.
Too many people are tired not just of illegal immigration, but of the enablers of illegal immigration, who smear as racists and xenophobes those who just want existing laws enforced, while the enablers predicate their own agendas on racist assumptions and ethnic chauvinism.
Does anyone believe that news anchor Jorge Ramos would be an advocate for a mass influx of Russians flooding illegally into East Los Angeles? Do his children go to schools where half the students do not speak English?
Forget Trump and consider instead Trump’s constituencies. They are weary of being lectured that they deserve presidential rebuke for their supposed Islamophobia because they are angry about the terrorist killings of Americans.
The middle classes are exhausted from being sermonized that they do not “pay their fair share,” when their state and federal tax bite is nearly 50 percent — especially when half the population pays no income tax, and massive federal entitlements have done little to address the pathologies of the underclasses.
The contractor and the insurance salesman are furious at being scolded that “they didn’t build” their businesses, when those doing the scolding are pampered elites like Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama, who never built anything other than grievance careers.
Every demagogue, real or fictional, from Cleon to Catiline to Lonesome Rhodes to Ross Perot, owes his career to a fossilized, arrogant ruling class and its impotent opposition that fails to address the anxieties of the middle classes.
Second, is there an antidote offered by any other candidate to Trump’s vague and shifting agenda? Could any Republican promise to end racial quotas and base affirmative action on class rather than skin color, and thus suggest that Eric Holder’s kids should not have a leg up on the offspring of an unemployed Appalachian miner?
Could Republicans reform the tax code without conflating the upper middle class with the multimillionaire class, as if a couple earning $2 million a year needs the same sort of tax relief as those earning $200,000?
Instead of serially ridiculing Trump’s admittedly strange suggestion that Mexico must pay for the completion of the fence (ca. $3 to $5 billion), could they instead agree to a 10 percent federal surtax levied on all remittances sent abroad by undocumented U.S. residents — which would raise just about $3 to $5 billion?
Trump has done the Republican party lots of damage, but he has also done it some good by reminding its leaders that victory lies in swinging a ball and chain through the flimsy glass mirror of political correctness and the current liberal spectacle of very wealthy people projecting race and class injustice onto others as a way of excusing their own privilege.
Far better than ridiculing Trump as a showboat would be to show more constructive passion than does Trump and to discover what makes sane citizens see him as their last resort. Rather than dismissing his empty populism, it would be wiser to fill it in.
Respect and listen to and learn from Trump voters — and they will not vote for Trump.