ForumTouchy Subjects ► Trump Impeachment Stuff
Do you think impeachment is warranted? What do you think will be the outcomes in the House and Senate (if it comes to that)? Assuming Trump is not removed from office, how do you think the impeachment proceedings will affect the 2020 US presidential election?
  
I think there are probably other impeachable things Trump has done that are a better case for removal from office than the two articles the House actually came up with. Sad.
  
I am surprised they didn't include (AFAIK) anything from the Mueller report.
  
I agree with both of you. It's my understanding that this impeachment is more of a symbolic move than a practical one (with near-zero possibility of actual removal), so why not officially record those 'impeachable' misconducts in the articles as well? At least the articles were super streamlined and therefore a quick read :P
  
It's probably because they want the charges brought against him to be airtight. Even if most of the articles they bring against him are impeachable, having even one that can be dismissed would look bad to the public and make a case to scrap the whole thing.
  
Coldfrost hit it on the head. This is viewed (wrongly) as a partisan issue, the closer to the word and spirit of the law they stick, the better the chances of impeachment and removal.

No one who denies the Ukraine stuff is willing to testify under penalty of perjury and several legal scholars insist, publicly in Congress and not on TV, that this behaviour as described is impeachable.

Impeachment will succeed but I doubt the Republican Senate will remove Trump. While this will help Republicans in 2020, I think the far reaching consequences of making a president above the law will likely end careers, or at least cast a very dark historical shadow over careers.

The only other alternative is that the Senate trial, being so formally and rigorously laid out to bar any partisan grandstanding will make the public and Republican senators realise that this isn't just democratic partisanship, it hurts Democrats politically, that this is a real example of a president committing crimes.

Edit: made some corrections to clear up ambiguity.
  
Coldfrost said:
It's probably because they want the charges brought against him to be airtight. Even if most of the articles they bring against him are impeachable, having even one that can be dismissed would look bad to the public and make a case to scrap the whole thing.


That's a good point. But on a related, pretty ironic note: sad



edit: 249 posts. I should save my 250 for something special! probably a New Year/Decade post.
  
Having lived through the last impeachment case and "immoral" president, I have lived to see every major Republican lawmaker of the last two three (I feel old) decades become an unequivocal hypocrite.
  
The optics are super bad if they use the Mueller report now. The talking points would immediately be, "If this is impeachable, why didn't they impeach after the Mueller charade? Proof that this is a partisan witch hunt."
  
Good points. Keeping the articles focused and recent in scope is probably a good idea.

I'm pro-impeachment but going to play devil's advocate here with some pro-Trump defenses I've heard.
  • Against article 1, the investigation has not proved definitively that Trump acted with corrupt intent, purely for personal benefit. It's plausible that Trump's conduct regarding Ukrainian aid was based on a sincere desire to fight corruption and only incidentally benefited him personally.
  • Against article 2, simply ordering subpoenaed subordinates not to testify is not obstruction of congress unless the order stands even after a court determines they must testify.
  • Against impeachment in general, why should we impeach the president now when there's an election in less than a year?
I can share my thoughts on each of these talking points, but I'm curious what others think first.
  
Against article 1, the investigation has not proved definitively that Trump acted with corrupt intent, purely for personal benefit. It's plausible that Trump's conduct regarding Ukrainian aid was based on a sincere desire to fight corruption and only incidentally benefited him personally.


Witholding aid to Ukraine is against the interest of the United States and was against the will of Congress, I don't think anybody needs to prove intent for Article 1 to stand. I think intent is very clear in the evidence, but it's a non-issue, impeachment isn't a legal trial and intent doesn't need to be proven. All that needs to be proven is that he has engaged in treason, bribery or other [abuses of power], which he has. He might be so stupid he didn't realize what he was doing. That doesn't matter, he's still failed to uphold his office in a way that risked real threats to the United States' interests and for self-benefit.

Against article 2, simply ordering subpoenaed subordinates not to testify is not obstruction of congress unless the order stands even after a court determines they must testify.

I'm not a constitutional lawyer, I can't really address this one legally. It seems like a flimsy case to me. I'm not sure how a person could argue all these points simultaneously and in good faith:

1) We haven't proven intent and wrongdoing, but the president has reasons to hide testimony from congress
2) We shouldn't impeach because we're close to an election, but if we are going to impeach, it is reasonable to draw it out as long as possible

Against impeachment in general, why should we impeach the president now when there's an election in less than a year?

There's always an election coming up. Impeachment is specifically the process by which a president is held accountable between elections.

Additionally, Johnson was impeached just months before the election of 1868, there's precedent for this timeline.
  
Agreed I think on all points. And I think Article II makes a good point that the House's "sole Power of Impeachment" gives Trump no standing to stop officials from testifying, but I'm not a lawyer either.

There will always be some portion of the electorate who think everything about Trump's interactions with Zelensky were totally legitimate, but I think this whole thing will hurt him a lot with undecided voters (if there are any, anymore).
  
Not to be too cynical, but Shields and Brooks seemed to indicate (haven't read the polls myself) that the hearings haven't shifted public opinion at all, especially not in swing states.
  
I think there's two different issues which need to remain separate:

1) Is this impeachable?
2) Whether or not it is, should it be?

When I found out what it was all about, I was pretty underwhelmed. My understanding is that there are corruption allegations surrounding Joe Biden in Ukraine, and Trump asked the Ukrainian President to investigate, implying that the US gives them money so he can do something in return. I don't think it should be an impeachable offense, but I assume the Democrats are far more up to speed on the letter of the law than I am, so maybe it is.

If he is impeached, does Pence become President?
  
Supposedly, Pence is somehow wrapped up in all of this, too, having given consent to the Ukraine aid withholding (I think, I'm not up to date w/ all this), meaning he could get impeached alongside Trump. Which would make Pelosi president (for about six months)
  
The corruption scandal in Ukraine centred around a prosecutor in Ukraine who was not investigating corruption. As far as I remember Hunter Biden was incidental in the Burisma scandal.

While this is more or less technical, the illegal activity was using the powers of office (by denying Ukraine aid until they announced a damaging investigation into a political opponents) for personal gain. Republicans have for a long time used erroneous investigations they know amount to nothing as a "where there's smoke there's fire" tactic (Benghazi et al.) So while pushing for the investigation itself may not be illegal, bribing or extorting foreign countries most certainly is.

Trump has been embroiled in a lot of scandals that would be impeachable if they could be proven, they have thusfar all skirted the burden of proof sufficiently that a senate trial would be unlikely to succeed; this has traction because it's undeniable with Trump's hand picked people under oath testifying to illegal behaviour.

The question isn't "should relatively minor illegal dealings be impeachable" but more "should a president be allowed to commit crimes?" And the answer is an emphatic no.
  
Witholding aid to Ukraine is against the interest of the United States and was against the will of Congress, I don't think anybody needs to prove intent for Article 1 to stand. I think intent is very clear in the evidence, but it's a non-issue, impeachment isn't a legal trial and intent doesn't need to be proven. All that needs to be proven is that he has engaged in treason, bribery or other [abuses of power], which he has. He might be so stupid he didn't realize what he was doing. That doesn't matter, he's still failed to uphold his office in a way that risked real threats to the United States' interests and for self-benefit.
How is withholding aid to Ukraine against the interest of the US? It would mean the US had more money for itself. What if someone in Congress voted to stop aid, would they also be a traitor? I don't think this is the angle impeachers should be taking, because foreign aid is a policy decision, it's an opinion. Some people support foreign aid, some people don't, they're both allowed.

I don't know the ins and outs of the US government system, can the President actually withhold aid by himself? That doesn't need a vote? If the President can do that then it sounds like the real issue is a dodgy system.
  
The system is that the president is nominally in charge of money even though Congress votes on spending. The president can withhold (though not legally) money Congress authorises. It's all a part of the "checks and balances."
  
It's in the interest of the US to give aid to Ukraine against Russia because they are opposing a common adversary. If Trump simply believed that withholding aid was in the general interest of the country (e.g. to fight corruption in Ukraine), then that would be a poor policy decision but not blatantly unethical. But that's not how it looks. By all appearances, Trump's decision to withhold aid was motivated by personal concerns, namely hurting his likely electoral rival.
  
I don't understand why Russia is necessarily the US' adversary, adversary in what. Withholding aid to Ukraine might be against the interests of politicians hell-bent on reviving the Cold War, but I don't think withholding aid from Ukraine is against the interests of ordinary Americans.

The exact quote is harder to find online than I would have thought. Did Trump withhold aid?
  
Yes, temporarily.
  
Millpond said:
I don't understand why Russia is necessarily the US' adversary, adversary in what.

Russia has been violating national sovereignty around Europe, interfering (or attempting to interfere) in elections, performing assassinations, engaging in illegal annexation of Ukraine and engaging in other intelligence and military operations.

In the US, Congress, the intelligence community, the military complex and career state department experts all agree Ukrainian aid is in the US's interest. This is also the conclusion of all (to my knowledge) of the US's most important NATO trading partners and allies. The whole of Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have ongoing sanctions against Russia for ongoing violations of international law.

There's lots of testimony on this from experts in the field as part of the impeachment hearings, although I don't have time in this exact moment to pull a bunch of quotes for you, I might later.
Millpond said:
I think there's two different issues which need to remain separate:
1) Is this impeachable?

Yes.
Millpond said:
2) Whether or not it is, should it be?

Yes, using power from public office to try to silence political opponents is how fascists take power of democracies. Using public office for personal enrichment or gain is how kleptocracy takes hold in a democracy. Both have happened here and both should be impeachable.
Millpond said:
My understanding is that there are corruption allegations surrounding Joe Biden in Ukraine

There aren't. Everything has already been debunked. The world unilaterally agree that Hunter Biden taking a job at Burisma was bad judgment, but Joe Biden is not responsible for his adult children. There's no evidence that this was more than poor judgment or that Joe Biden was directly involved.

More importantly, if there were a legitimate concern about corruption regarding Joe Biden, there are channels and processes in place for diplomatic relations which exist specifically to prevent abuse of power, these are channels Trump and his team have intentionally avoided (presumably because they understood that this was an inappropriate inquiry).
Millpond said:
Trump asked the Ukrainian President to investigate, implying that the US gives them money so he can do something in return.

No, Trump withheld aid at the expense of US national interest in order to pressure the Ukrainian president to make public attacks on his political opponent. This was more than implied, this was expressed outright via Trump's hand-selected team during testimony and corroborated by career military and state department officials who have served under administrations of both parties.
Millpond said:
When I found out what it was all about, I was pretty underwhelmed.

With respect, you haven't demonstrated a strong understanding of the facts of the case, so it's not surprising to hear you were underwhelmed.
Millpond said:
If he is impeached, does Pence become President?

Impeachment isn't removal from office. If Trump were both impeached and removed from office, Pence would become president.

If they were somehow both removed from office, Nancy Pelosi would become president. She's the only Democrat in the line of succession, so likely she would need to abstain and pass to Chuck Grassley for there to be any chance of Republicans considering such a removal.

Realistically, it's unlikely either will be removed from office.
  
Yes, temporarily.

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the aid withheld until after the scandal broke?
  
That is correct. It is also technically correct to say it was a temporary hold. Trump did eventually release the aid, although rational people can agree that the scandal breaking prior to aid release reflects poorly on the likely motivations for such release.
  
Wow, I misremembered how late the aid was released relative to other events. It was withheld July 18 and only released Sept. 11, two days after the House began their investigation.
  
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