A defiant Donald Trump, emboldened by his support within the Republican-led Senate, admits to obstruction of Congress at Davos

It’s over two hours long, but, if you haven’t made your way though it yet, I’d encourage you to watch or listen to all of Congressman Adam Schiff’s opening argument, delivered this afternoon at the outset of Donald J. Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. It was an incredible performance, and it really got to the heart not only of Trump’s criminality, but what’s at stake for our country if we allow this administration to continue in the same manner without congressional oversight… For those of you who already did your civic duty today, and listened to what Schiff and others had to say about the rampant criminality of the Trump administration, here’s something else you might want to spend a few minutes considering. It’s video of Donald Trump, in Davos this morning, confessing to his obstruction of justice.

Explaining to members of the press why he’s not concerned about his impeachment trial in the Senate, Donald Trump says, “Honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.” This, of course, is a reference to the fact that, yesterday, the Republican-led Senate voted along strict party lines to ensure that relevant documentation further corroborating the administration’s plan to force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing a corruption investigation into Joe Biden, be kept from the American people. This, as others, like Representative Val Demings, have pointed out, is a confession on the part of the President that, yes, he is unquestionable guilty of the second article of impeachment — “Obstruction of Congress.” He’s essentially bragging that he’s not worried, because he’s withholding evidence of his crime.

OK, I wasn’t going to just post clips of Schiff’s presentation, as I really wanted people to just follow that link and watch the whole thing for themselves, but here’s just a taste. I think it’s a nice counterpoint to what you just saw in the last clip from our defiant Criminal-In-Chief.

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Senate Republicans give Donald Trump the rigged show trial that he wanted

In a huge break with precedent, the Republican led Senate today voted down 11 attempts on the part of Senate Democrats to ensure that pertinent documents and witnesses would be introduced during the trial of Donald J. Trump.

In the history of the United States of America, there have been 15 impeachment trials in the U.S. Senate, and every single one of them had witnesses provide testimony. Senators historically, it would seem, felt as though, in order to honor their sworn oath to provide “impartial justice,” they had to actually hear from witnesses, as well as examine all of the relevant evidence. That, however, isn’t going to happen here. [McConnell says that they may decided to hear from witnesses and examine evidence after the both sides make their cases, but I think we all know that’s bullshit.]

Here, for those of you who might have missed it, is Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, one of the House Impeachment Managers, laying it all out in front of the Senate earlier today, showing how many witnesses had been heard from in each of these 15 impeachment trials that have been held in the history of the U.S. Senate.

And it’s not just the case that members of the Senate considered evidence and heard from witnesses in the past. Here’s a breakdown showing how the Senate trial of Donald J. Trump, under the rules passed in a 53-47 vote along strict party lines tonight, will be considerably different than that of William Jefferson Clinton, our last U.S. president to be impeached.

Adam Schiff had the following to say on this subject earlier today. “All of documents in the Clinton trial were turned over prior to the trial,” he said. “All 90,00 pages of them so that they could be used in the House’s case. None of the documents have been turned over by the president in this case.”

So why is it that the rules, as passed by the Republican controlled Senate tonight, are so drastically different this time? Why is it that this trial is going to look so different than every other impeachment trial in the history of the Senate. Here, again, is Congressman Adam Schiff, addressing the full Senate earlier today as one of the appointed House Impeachment Managers.

You would think that an administration with nothing to hide would welcome an opportunity to present evidence. It seems, however, that’s not the case. And, for what it’s worth, they aren’t just blocking evidence and witnesses from seeing the light of day. The Republicans making the President’s case in front of the Senate today, also lied repeatedly about the House impeachment investigation. Here, for example, is Trump attorney Pat Cipollone saying that House Republicans had been kept from participating in House depositions. This, of course, is a baldfaced lie.

It’s a small ray of sunshine in on an otherwise shitty day for American democracy, but it’s worth pointing out, when talking about these repeated lies and pattern of obstruction, that Senator Elizabeth “A trial without all of the evidence isn’t a trial – it’s a cover-up” Warren just said that, when she’s elected to replace Donald Trump in the White House, one of her first official acts will be to “investigate the corruption during the Trump administration and hold officials accountable for illegal activity.” And one would hope that perhaps individuals like Cipollone, who continue to lie for Donald Trump, in spite of the overwhelming that he withheld vital military aid from an ally at war in hopes for forcing said ally to announce a sham investigation into his primary domestic rival, might actually be held to account.

One more quote before I call it quits for the night. Here’s House Impeachment Manager Val Demings on this coordinated attempt by Mitch McConnell and the Republicans to keep these witnesses and evidence from the American people.

Now do me a favor and call your Senators, OK?

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Alan Dershowitz, Donald Trump’s defense attorney, conceded in 1998 that there “certainly doesn’t have to be a crime” for impeachment to be pursued. “If you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president, and who abuses trust, and who poses great danger to our liberty,” he said, that’s all the justification you need.

Now that the articles of impeachment have been relayed from the House to the Senate, and all of our Senators have sworn under oath to provide “impartial justice,” we’re ready for the trial of Donald J. Trump to commence. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to come forward with the rules that will dictate the course of the trial, things are apparently set to begin tomorrow morning. And this afternoon, right at the deadline, the Trump administration issued their 110-page brief, laying out the defense strategy they intend to pursue. And, not surprisingly, they didn’t even really attempt to answer any of the changes enumerated by the House Impeachment Managers. They pretty much just said that Donald Trump, in withholding military aid in order to pressure a foreign government into announcing an investigation into his primary political rival, did “absolutely nothing wrong,” which is pretty much with the President’s lawyer, Alan “I kept my underwear on during the massage” Dershowitz told the nation yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Here, if you haven’t seen it yet, is the video.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “Is it your position that President Trump should not be impeached even if all the evidence and arguments laid out by the House are accepted as fact?”

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: “That’s right.”

This argument, of course, has no legal merit whatsoever. And Dershowitz knows it. Today he’s arguing on Donald Trump’s behalf that, “Abuse of power is not a criteria for impeachment,” and that, “You need ‘criminal type behavior’ akin to treason and bribery,” in order to impeach a U.S. president, but he wasn’t always of that opinion. No, back when he was a professor at Harvard, well before he fell in with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump, Dershowitz had a different view. Here he is in 1998, saying that a president doesn’t have to commit a crime for impeachment to be pursued.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: “It certainly doesn’t have to be a crime if you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president, and who abuses trust, and who poses great danger to our liberty.”

As for the legal brief submitted by Dershowitz and the rest of the Trump defense brain trust this afternoon, here’s some of the response from the House Impeachment Managers, who, it would seem, disagree on the seriousness of the President’s abuse of power… Please read it.

The American people entrusted President Trump with the extraordinary powers vested in his Office by the Constitution, powers which he swore a sacred Oath to use for the Nation’s benefit. President Trump broke that promise. He used Presidential powers to pressure a vulnerable foreign partner to interfere in our elections for his own benefit. In doing so, he jeopardized our national security and our democratic self-governance. He then used his Presidential powers to orchestrate a cover-up unprecedented in the history of our Republic: a complete and relentless blockade of the House’s constitutional power to investigate high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the Articles of impeachment. That is a chilling assertion. It is also dead wrong. The Framers deliberately drafted a Constitution that allows the Senate to remove Presidents who, like President Trump, abuse their power to cheat in elections, betray our national security, and ignore checks and balances. That President Trump believes otherwise, and insists he is free to engage in such conduct again, only highlights the continuing threat he poses to the Nation if allowed to remain in office.

Despite President Trump’s stonewalling of the impeachment inquiry, the House amassed overwhelming evidence of his guilt. It did so through fair procedures rooted firmly in the Constitution and precedent. It extended President Trump protections equal to, or greater than, those afforded to Presidents in prior impeachment inquiries. To prevent President Trump’s obstruction from delaying justice until after the very election he seeks to corrupt, the House moved decisively to adopt the two Articles of impeachment. Still, new evidence continues to emerge, all of which confirms these charges.

Now it is the Senate’s duty to conduct a fair trial—fair for President Trump, and fair for the American people. Only if the Senate sees and hears all relevant evidence—only if it insists upon the whole truth—can it render impartial justice. That means the Senate should require the President to turn over the documents he is hiding. It should hear from witnesses, as it has done in every impeachment trial in American history; it especially should hear from witnesses the President blocked from testifying in the House. President Trump cannot have it both ways. His Answer directly disputes key facts. He must either surrender all evidence relevant to the facts he has disputed or concede the facts as charged. Otherwise, this impeachment trial will fall far short of the American system of justice.

President Trump asserts that his impeachment is a partisan “hoax.” He is wrong. The House duly approved Articles of impeachment because its Members swore Oaths to support and defend the Constitution against all threats, foreign and domestic. The House has fulfilled its constitutional duty. Now, Senators must honor their own Oaths by holding a fair trial with all relevant evidence. The Senate should place truth above faction. And it should convict the President on both Articles…

Just to reiterate… Donald J. Trump, as Congressman Adam Schiff said today, “invited foreign interference, endangered our national security, and sought to cheat in the next election.” And, for that, he should be removed from office. And to argue that abuse of power is not impeachable is not only absurd, but it brings into sharp focus the fact that the administration doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on. They know that the evidence of the President’s constitutional misconduct is overwhelming, and that leaves them in a position where they have to fight to keep witnesses from testifying, push to hold Senate debate under cover of night, and put shameless has-beens like Alan Dershowitz on the stand to completely debase themselves, arguing that the executive branch is all-powerful, and above legislative oversight. This is not only wrong, constitutionally speaking, but it is incredibly dangerous. And we need to light up the Senate switchboards today, letting our elected officials know that we are watching, and that we expect them to honor their oaths to provide “impartial justice.”

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Hugh Hewitt to vote for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary

If Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic primary, I’ll contribute to his campaign, knock on doors for him, and do whatever I can to help him win the presidential election. And I will do so enthusiastically. With that said, it does give me pause when I see a Trump supporter like Republican radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt saying that he intends to vote for Sanders in Virginia’s Democratic primary. I know it shouldn’t bother me, especially given that Sanders is coming out on top in almost every head-to-head poll pitting him against Trump, but the fact that I know Donald Trump, and his sycophants like Hewitt, would like nothing more than to have us run an older, Jewish, Democratic Socialist in the general election, makes me incredibly nervous. But, then again, everything makes me incredibly nervous. No matter who Trump runs against, it’s going to a dystopian nightmare that puts all of us Americans an one another’s throats. But, when I play all of the scenarios out in my head, I always find this one to be the most terrifying. Maybe it’s because I think that I can see this future the most clearly.

I can see the potential of Donald Trump turning a campaign against Sanders into something like a Nazi-themed installment of Wrestlemania, with him, the virile, deeply tanned, Aryan billionaire, with his golden locks majestically blowing in the wind, going up against the boogeyman of Socialism as embodied by Bernie. Maybe I’ve just spent too much time a the Holocaust Museum, looking at early Nazi propaganda posters, but I can see it all coming back… the demonization of the international Jewish communist to advance the cause of corporate fascism. This isn’t to say that I think that we should vote against Sanders in the primary, and choose another candidate. I just can’t help but think that I know exactly how this will go down, and how the right will depict Bernie, supported by ‘hoards of non-Aryan immigrants,’ and the ‘easily-manipulated intellectuals who can’t see their evil, anti-American plan for what it really is.’ But, like I said, it’s going to be bad no matter who we put forward. Hopefully, though, this just makes us stronger in our resolve. And hopefully, in the end, the American people do the right thing, even if our leaders in D.C. refuse to.

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To all those who said, “But no crime has been committed,” I give you… the crime

I’m sure it won’t make any difference to those Trump supporters who have been saying that the President’s impeachment is somehow invalid because an actual law wasn’t broken in the administration’s dealings with Ukraine, but I feel compelled to share the following news item from today’s New York Times:

Hours before the Senate embarked on President Trump’s impeachment trial, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency unexpectedly weighed in on an issue at the heart of the case: the president’s decision to withhold military assistance to Ukraine.

The agency, the Government Accountability Office, said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the law when it withheld nearly $400 million this past summer for “a policy reason,” even though the funds had been allocated by Congress.

The decision to freeze the aid was directed by the president himself, and during the House impeachment inquiry, administration officials testified that they had raised concerns about its legality to no avail.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the accountability office wrote in an opinion released Thursday. “The withholding was not a programmatic delay”…

Yes, it would appear as though the administration, in addition to obstructing justice, violated the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. I’d encourage you to read it all, but here’s how the report from the Government Accountability Office begins.

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