in which I respond to billy’s questions

The fact that we’re in the early stages of a pandemic makes re-litigating Comrade Trump’s impeachment seem like a waste of time and energy. But I made a promise to respond to comments made in the preceding post.

It was a promise made to a guy who disagrees with almost everything I believe in, whose views are almost universally the opposite of my own, and who has over the years repeatedly challenged the stuff I write. But here’s the thing: this guy has absolutely no reason to read this blog — yet he does. Not consistently; there have been long stretches in which I haven’t heard from him. But I respect the fact that he occasionally reads stuff he dislikes and disagrees with, because getting out of the bubble of agreement is always important — for everybody, conservative and liberal alike.  Since he made the effort to read and disagree with me, I feel an obligation to make the effort to respond. So here we go.

1. Where is the law that says it is illegal to ask another nation to investigate someone you think it corrupt and possibly doing something illegal in said nation?

It’s not illegal. In fact, it’s fairly routine when done through official channels. If there’s information that a US citizen is or has been engaged in a crime in another nation, the Department of Justice contacts that nation’s law enforcement agency and they conduct a joint investigation. It’s treated as a matter of law and it’s handled by law professional prosecutors and policing agencies.

But that isn’t what happened. Trump personally called Zelensky and in the course of their conversation asked him to launch an investigation of the son of a political opponent as a favor. He also suggested Ukraine to coordinate that investigation with his own personal private attorney. That’s wildly inappropriate. Making that request in the same phone call that included Zelensky’s plea for promised military support from the US only emphasizes how inappropriate it was.

2. No again, not a single aide who “expressed concern” had first hand knowledge of the call, not a single one.Each and every one was at best 2nd hand knowledge or even 3rd. Plus the call transcript was released and there was nothing there even close to something that looked like a crime.

That’s just not accurate. We only know the names of seven officials who listened in on the call between Trump and Zelensky, although there are probably at least half a dozen other aides who were on the call. Of those seven, we know that three voiced concerns about Trump’s request: Col. Vindman, Jennifer Williams, and Charles Kupperman.  Vindman and Williams testified after being issued a subpoena — despite being told NOT to cooperate by the White House; Kupperman asked a federal court to determine which order (the subpoena or the president’s) he should follow.

Was there anything ‘even close to something that looked like a crime’? Yes. This is directly from the transcript:

Zelensky: “We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps, specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”
Trump: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.”

Trump responded to Zelensky’s comment about buying Javelin missiles with a request for a ‘favor’. That makes it sound like the sale of the missiles was dependent on the favor. Since those missiles were authorized by Congress (the legislative branch), it would be illegal for POTUS (the executive branch) to withhold them — for ANY reason, let alone in exchange for a personal favor.

3. This impeachment was most certainly a coup attempt and was done in secret. Do you know remember the secret meetings that republicans were not allowed to attend? Do you now remember how this imaginary whistleblower’s name was not allowed to be told to anyone and how Schiff lied that he never met the man? Now you are just bending yourself into a pretzel to defend this farce.

There were no ‘secret meetings’ that excluded Republicans. There were classified meetings held in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Only members of the House Intelligence Committee were allowed to attend because the material discussed was classified. But GOP members of the committee did, in fact, attend. Republicans (and Democrats) who were NOT on the committee were NOT allowed to attend.

The whistleblower remained anonymous because that’s the law — the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, a law which was passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate, and signed into law by President George Bush, a Republican. It’s designed to protect employees who become aware of possible improprieties in gov’t agencies, but fear for their jobs if they speak out.

Schiff wouldn’t have met the whistleblower, because that violates the Act. There’s a process that takes place: the whistleblower files a complaint with the appropriate Inspector General (in this case, the Intelligence Community IG), who determines if the complaint is credible. If it is, the IG notifies the chair of the appropriate Congressional committee. The chair (Schiff, in this case) assigns a staff member to communicate with the whistleblower in order to protect his/her identity. So somebody on Schiff’s staff knows the identity of the whistleblower, but that person would be prohibited by law from telling Schiff.

4.Bloodless coup not ring a bell to you at all? Not all coups need to be grounded in violence. A violent coup would almost never take place in this nation in this day and age, it would have to be a bloodless coup like the one attempted by the dems. I already told you that Pense most certainly would be next to be impeached if Trump was removed because of course Pense was privy to this call and also defended the president so he would not be fit to serve and would be removed in favor of teh Speak of the House, thus a full removal of the party in power.

You don’t get to change the definition of coup d’état because it’s inconvenient. By definition, a coup d’état is an illegal and violent attempt to overthrow an existing government. Impeachment, on the other hand, is a legal process outlined in the US Constitution. It doesn’t overthrow the government; it’s a process by which a high ranking official can, after a public trial, be removed from office IF CONVICTED by two-thirds of the Senate. A public multi-day trial that’s resolved by open voting isn’t anything like a coup.

Speculating that Vice President Pence would also be impeached in the event Trump was removed is just that — speculation. But even if Congress DID decide to impeach Pence as well, it would still involve a slow, public, legal, Constitutional process in which at least two-thirds of the Senate would have to vote to convict him.

Dude, that’s just not a coup.

5.Threats of violence only by supporters of the president… oh that is rich and lovely re-write of history.

During the impeachment process, credible threats of violence were made against the Democratic staff and against the witnesses who testified against the president. They had to be assigned protective services. To my knowledge, no such threats were made toward Republican staff or witnesses who testified for the president.

6. Why was biden’s quid pro quo not illegal?

I assume you’re talking about then-Vice President Biden warning Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that if he didn’t fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, the Obama administration would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees. That wasn’t illegal because it was official public US policy made with the support of Congress.

Viktor Shokin was universally seen as a corrupt official. As Prosecutor General, Shokin blocked investigations into other corrupt officials and corrupt organizations. He also blocked prosecutions against police officers accused of shooting civilian protesters. The European Union, a number of international financial institutions, and the citizenry of Ukraine (there were street protests against Shokin) all agreed that Shokin should be removed from office.

Again, Trump was impeached because there was convincing evidence that he used the Office of the President of the United States to illegally and unethically pressure the president of Ukraine to initiate an investigation of a political opponent by suggesting monies and aid appropriated by Congress — and necessary in Ukraine’s war against Russia — might be dependent on Ukraine doing that investigation as a ‘favor’.

It’s true a LOT of us actively dislike Trump. It’s true a LOT of us would like to see him (and Pence) removed from office. Just as it was true that a LOT of conservatives would like to have seen President Obama (and Biden) removed from office. Just as it was true that a LOT of us would have liked to see George W. Bush (and yes yes yes Cheney) removed from office. The only difference is that Trump engaged in behavior that was egregious enough legally to warrant impeachment proceedings.

3 thoughts on “in which I respond to billy’s questions

  1. I do appreciate you taking an entire post to dedicate to my response of yours. As you mentioned I do listen to and read from all sides and angles to stay informed and to also better understand.

    As for Vindman, Vindman admitted that his testimony relied heavily on his interpretation of Trump’s intentions. There was no explicit intention to do anything. 100% of the case is based on what people assume was an intention to words that were never spoken. In the end no military was held up, no investigation took place. So there was nothing directly said that was even remotely illegal. There was no holding up of equipment. There was nothing there at all.

    What I find incredibly naive of people complaining about this is the fact that they think this type of thing is somehow new. Every side, every president, will use their influence to gain favor. Remember when Comrade Obama, when he thought his mic was off, whispered to Medvedev, “after my election I have more flexibility.” Medvedev replied, “…transmit this information to Vladimir (Putin).” What were Obama’s intentions with that statement? Was he going to delay or deny arms to the Ukraine as a favor to Russia? Why would he leave the Ukraine out to dry like that?

    I hope you understand my point in bringing that up. It is not a tit for tat comment but rather an example of this kind of crap happening all the time by all presidents but unfortunately Trump was naive when he kept too many Obama people around him and they have been actively trying to damage his administration since day one.

    Obama did not speak directly in his comment as to what he was going to do but the Ukraine certainly did not get the military aide they needed under Obama now did they? So how far do we take this? Can anyone’s interpretation of someone’s inner thoughts be used to impeach the next president? Do we not need any evidence anymore, just thoughts and feelings are enough to impeach the next president? Is that truly the foundation you want impeachment to be based?

    Still nobody has first hand knowledge of the call. yes some listened in the situation room but 100% of the “concern” was interpretation and speculation of teh meaning or motive of anything Trump had to say, they did not have first hand knowledge of what he intended at all. Not even close.

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    • “There was no explicit intention to do anything.” — You’re right, nothing was explicitly stated. But the law has long recognized that there are lots of different ways to threaten and intimidate. “Nice little business you have here; be a shame if something happened to it.” That’s a threat, even if it’s not explicit.

      “In the end no military was held up, no investigation took place.” — So what? If I say to you, “Nice little business you have here; be a shame if something happened to it” suggesting nothing would happen if you coughed up a little coin, it would still be a criminal threat even if you didn’t cough up the coin and I didn’t torch your flower shop. A crime doesn’t have to be successful in order to be a crime.

      “Remember when Comrade Obama, when he thought his mic was off, whispered to Medvedev, “after my election I have more flexibility.” — I do remember that.

      “What were Obama’s intentions with that statement? Was he going to delay or deny arms to the Ukraine as a favor to Russia? Why would he leave the Ukraine out to dry like that?”

      That off-mic exchange had nothing to do with Ukraine. It took place during a summit on nuclear security; they were talking about US-NATO plans for setting up a ‘missile shield’ in Europe. The US insisted the plans were a response to threats by Iran; Russia was concerned the ‘shield’ would actually target Russian nuclear defense sites. The Obama administration had refused Russia’s request to provide written assurances that their sites wouldn’t be targeted.

      “Ukraine certainly did not get the military aide they needed under Obama now did they?” — No, they didn’t. The Obama administration was rather timid when it came to providing Ukrainian offensive weaponry in their defense against Russia.

      Like

    • “There was no explicit intention to do anything.” — You’re right, nothing was explicitly stated. But the law has long recognized that there are lots of different ways to threaten and intimidate. “Nice little business you have here; be a shame if something happened to it.” That’s a threat, even if it’s not explicit.

      “In the end no military was held up, no investigation took place.” — So what? If I say to you, “Nice little business you have here; be a shame if something happened to it” suggesting nothing would happen if you coughed up a little coin, it would still be a criminal threat even if you didn’t cough up the coin and I didn’t torch your flower shop. A crime doesn’t have to be successful in order to be a crime.

      “Remember when Comrade Obama, when he thought his mic was off, whispered to Medvedev, “after my election I have more flexibility.” — I do remember that.

      “What were Obama’s intentions with that statement? Was he going to delay or deny arms to the Ukraine as a favor to Russia? Why would he leave the Ukraine out to dry like that?”

      That off-mic exchange had nothing to do with Ukraine. It took place during a summit on nuclear security; they were talking about US-NATO plans for setting up a ‘missile shield’ in Europe. The US insisted the plans were a response to threats by Iran; Russia was concerned the ‘shield’ would actually target Russian nuclear defense sites. The Obama administration had refused Russia’s request to provide written assurances that their sites wouldn’t be targeted.

      “Ukraine certainly did not get the military aide they needed under Obama now did they?” — No, they didn’t. The Obama administration was rather timid when it came to providing Ukrainian offensive weaponry in their defense against Russia.

      Like

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