Author Topic: Trump Lawyer Argues President Can't Be Prosecuted for Murder While in Office  (Read 13964 times)

Fenring

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Can you unwind that a bit Fenring?  That sounds entirely contrary to the point DonaldD seemed to make with the quoted text.

I read it that way because he specified "especially to request them to work against one's political opponents." This means that any investigation in which a foreign government is participating in any way that involves political opponents must be nixed. How is that not a kind of immunity? It's actually broader than immunity from prosecution since it's immunity even from investigation. Now that still doesn't discount local investigation and prosecution, so it's not a blanket immunity, but it's still more immunity than they have now so it's a net increase, wouldn't you say?

That being said, do you think the reaction would have been any different had Trump requested the FBI to investigate Biden? Realistically I think it would have been the same, and that the outcry would have been "misusing the FBI for political purposes."

NobleHunter

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This might be a more Canadian view but the idea is that investigations of politicians should originate and be largely conducted below the ministerial level (I think the corresponding American level would be by people not appointed by the President?). So that it's undertaken by people without a direct political interest in the outcome because they don't need to worry about winning the next election. Fortunately for Trump supporters, any such investigations can be dismissed as Deep State plots.

So if there were concerns over Biden's corruption they should originate from the FBI or relevant law enforcement rather than from the White House. There are (or should be) processes in place to protect law enforcement decisions from political interference.

TheDrake

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Can you unwind that a bit Fenring?  That sounds entirely contrary to the point DonaldD seemed to make with the quoted text.

I read it that way because he specified "especially to request them to work against one's political opponents." This means that any investigation in which a foreign government is participating in any way that involves political opponents must be nixed. How is that not a kind of immunity? It's actually broader than immunity from prosecution since it's immunity even from investigation. Now that still doesn't discount local investigation and prosecution, so it's not a blanket immunity, but it's still more immunity than they have now so it's a net increase, wouldn't you say?

That being said, do you think the reaction would have been any different had Trump requested the FBI to investigate Biden? Realistically I think it would have been the same, and that the outcry would have been "misusing the FBI for political purposes."

It is not an immunity. Trump doesn't have to push for a legitimate investigation, it can be opened through a variety of mechanisms. Including the FBI deciding on their own to launch one. In fact, if a President directs anyone to be investigated, it strikes me as odd. The AG or FBI director are perfectly capable of figuring that out on their own. Any President should stay out of such things.

Fenring

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In fact, if a President directs anyone to be investigated, it strikes me as odd. The AG or FBI director are perfectly capable of figuring that out on their own. Any President should stay out of such things.

Maybe this is more the issue than the other things, then. I'm more asking then answering when I say the following: Isn't the President basically the head of federal law enforcement, just as he's basically the head of the armed forces? I'm not that knowledgeable about the structure of the DOJ, the FBI, and so forth, so my question is to what extent the President really is in charge of the operation of these parts of government, making him not only the head military guy but also the head policeman. If he is, then why shouldn't he be personally involved in policing? And if he's not, then in what way is he supposed to be in charge of agencies like the FBI? It seems to me like he either is in charge, in which case saying he should stay out of it is wrong-headed, or he isn't, in which case there is a direct conflict of interest in him having any involvement at all with law enforcement. Can anyone answer this?
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 01:43:06 PM by Fenring »

TheDeamon

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I think that from my perspective, what we can't allow to happen is a refusal to respond to subpoenas. Regardless of whether that can result in criminal prosecution, which I don't think it should. The people need to know who is leading the country, whether they cheat on their taxes, or lie about how much money they make. I want Congress to have the power to dig up dirt on the President. And it doesn't matter which President that is. I wouldn't want Reagan to avoid investigations into Iran-Contra. I wouldn't want Obama to avoid investigations into Benghazi. I wouldn't want Harding to avoid investigations into Teapot Dome.

It seems that some/most/(all?) of the people refusing to respond to the congressional subpoenas are challenging them in the judicial system at present. Further, the basis in many cases likely invokes either Executive Privilege(which is a long-standing recognized things), or "Unreasonable Search"(which we're supposed to be protected against in the Bill of Rights, as I recall) as the basis for contention.

The guys who just blew off Congress is another matter. But that said, I think the Congressional Subpoena power is being grossly abused in all of this, and the courts need to reign that in.

TheDeamon

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In fact, if a President directs anyone to be investigated, it strikes me as odd. The AG or FBI director are perfectly capable of figuring that out on their own. Any President should stay out of such things.

Maybe this is more the issue than the other things, then. I'm more asking then answering when I say the following: Isn't the President basically the head of federal law enforcement, just as he's basically the head of the armed forces? I'm not that knowledgeable about the structure of the DOJ, the FBI, and so forth, so my question is to what extent the President really is in charge of the operation of these parts of government, making him not only the head military guy but also the head policeman. If he is, then why shouldn't he be personally involved in policing? And if he's not, then in what way is he supposed to be in charge of agencies like the FBI? It seems to me like he either is in charge, in which case saying he should stay out of it is wrong-headed, or he isn't, in which case there is a direct conflict of interest in him having any involvement at all with law enforcement. Can anyone answer this?

I think the crux of the matter is that "Orange Man Bad" has made people aware of just how powerful the office of PotUS is, and they don't like it. except they're blaming Orange Man for being the problem rather than the office itself.

It seems that what they're seeking should ultimately culminate in a Constitutional Amendment which fragments the Executive Branch into smaller discrete roles with selection criteria to be determined, I guess.

Although I shudder at the idea of SecDef being an elective position, or the AG being directly elected. Or the screwy things you could get when the Sec of State and SecDef are on very different pages, and don't have to answer to a higher executive authority and need only worry about Congress and the voters.

Edit: I guess France might have something of a model to follow as I think about things, as I understand their Executive Functions are split, something along the lines of they have one arm that focuses on Domestic items, while another is focused abroad. It isn't quite that clean for them as well though, as I recall.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 02:08:22 PM by TheDeamon »

TheDrake

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In fact, if a President directs anyone to be investigated, it strikes me as odd. The AG or FBI director are perfectly capable of figuring that out on their own. Any President should stay out of such things.

Maybe this is more the issue than the other things, then. I'm more asking then answering when I say the following: Isn't the President basically the head of federal law enforcement, just as he's basically the head of the armed forces? I'm not that knowledgeable about the structure of the DOJ, the FBI, and so forth, so my question is to what extent the President really is in charge of the operation of these parts of government, making him not only the head military guy but also the head policeman. If he is, then why shouldn't he be personally involved in policing? And if he's not, then in what way is he supposed to be in charge of agencies like the FBI? It seems to me like he either is in charge, in which case saying he should stay out of it is wrong-headed, or he isn't, in which case there is a direct conflict of interest in him having any involvement at all with law enforcement. Can anyone answer this?

Involvement would be policy, appointment, priority. I would not expect weighing in on any particular case or suspect. It's micromanagement at best, abuse and interference at worst. There's a reason why these agencies have been largely apolitical, why FBI directors typically don't change when a new administration takes over. If he were going to be involved, it should go through people with less political stake in the game. Can you recall any other President publicly suggesting who should be investigated? And when most of the people named are politicians? Including Obama and his book deal...  ::)

Fenring

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Can you recall any other President publicly suggesting who should be investigated? And when most of the people named are politicians? Including Obama and his book deal...  ::)

Whether or not the power was excercised isn't the same as saying they don't have it. If they have it then criticizing its use seems silly, and if they don't then how can they really be 'in charge'? Also I don't see what's so different about naming people who should be investigated locally versus having a kill list for people abroad. Are not both under the rubric of law enforcement and/or keeping order? I mean these aren't the same thing, but isn't having a personal kill list getting directly involved in who is or isn't a problem? Or was Obama micromanaging that too?

ETA - anyhow how do we even know whether previous Presidents suggested objects for FBI investigations? They didn't tweet about it, is all.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 02:27:53 PM by Fenring »

D.W.

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I think the crux of the matter is that "Orange Man Bad" has made people aware of just how powerful the office of PotUS is, and they don't like it. except they're blaming Orange Man for being the problem rather than the office itself.
While Obama was in office we also had discussions of this nature.  It's not ALL O.M.B., but he does make it harder to ignore the cracks in the system. 

The other branches have sat on their hands while the Executive has consolidated power over the years.  For the most part the public is lulled because there are checks in place such that any one branch cannot get out of control.  Trumps demeanor (more than his actions) demand oversight and reassurance to many that those checks on power DO function.  But questioning executive overreach (or abuse of power) is not new to Trump by any means.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 02:38:14 PM by D.W. »

Fenring

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But questioning executive overreach (or abuse of power) is not new to Trump by any means.

I think the point some have been making is that executive overreach seemed to only matter to the conservatives on Ornery during Obama's admin. It seems hard to believe the objections are to the nature of the office, since it wasn't an issue when the other guy was in office. Or at the very least it's only come to their attention because of who's there now. That's actually legit, but I'd be interested to see some people retroactively say that Obama's Presidency was a problem for the same reasons, and that it should not have been that way.

TheDrake

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I would imagine that Presidents have mentioned people who should be investigated, and I'm sure Hoover obliged. I'm less sure that they would do so with a political opponent.

I'd settle for the appearance of impartiality at this point, there will never be a way to know with certainty. I remember some apoplectic responses to the appearance that Obama directed the IRS to investigate conservative groups? But if he had that power, why criticize him?

Obama's kill list didn't appear to include any Republican politicians. He also approved the list, he didn't generate it or nominate names as far as we know.

DonaldD

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This means that any investigation in which a foreign government is participating in any way that involves political opponents must be nixed
No, it doesn't.

What I actually wrote was "one thing that people here "can't allow to happen", or can't allow to continue happening, is using one's elected office to request foreign governments to interfere in domestic US elections; especially to request them to work against one's political opponents."

"using one's elected office" to "request [foreign countries] to work against one's political opponents" is NOT at all synonymous with (requesting, I assume) a foreign government to participate in an investigation that in any way involves political opponents.  Nor does it imply that any foreign investigation "be nixed". The challenge here is as much political as anything, especially since the issue is one of motive, and the impeachment process is not a court requiring the same levels of evidence: if the political opponent actually is found to have committed a crime that is corroborated by the results of the foreign intervention, the president having made the request might actually have a fig leaf of cover - whereas if the result of this investigation is ambiguous, the president would be left out to dry, having requested a foreign power to interfere with one's political opponent without any valid rationale.

It's for this reason that the president should avoid at all costs being seen to be using his position in government to attack political opponents.  Could a president do such a thing, and might it be defensible?  Sure - but until all the cards are on the table, there's no guarantee that the investigation will show what was 'suspected' - it's a huge risk.  As well, and as has been mentioned earlier, the president avoiding using his position as head of government in this way does not magically stop actual investigative arms of the government from doing their jobs, including making requests of foreign governments with which they may have intelligence sharing agreements.

NobleHunter

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Makes me think of our Conservative Party getting caught paying a PR firm to astro-turf against the People's Choice Party. While I wouldn't say such shady activity is expected, I'm not surprised by it. I definitely fault them for getting caught though.

Fenring

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"using one's elected office" to "request [foreign countries] to work against one's political opponents" is NOT at all synonymous with (requesting, I assume) a foreign government to participate in an investigation that in any way involves political opponents.  Nor does it imply that any foreign investigation "be nixed".

I have to be honest, I don't understand the distinction you're trying to draw here. An investigation involving someone is materially the same thing as investigating someone. If they're involved they're going to be investigaged. If their involvement means they're going to be investigated then it does seem you're saying that the President should never be requesting either, meaning no investigation involving a political candidate should be on the table for the President. But what about the President's party? If this is about reelection, could the DNC or RNC assign people to make requests or communications with foreign governments, or are they barred too? And if the President has the SecState do it, is that still barred? What does it matter if it literally comes from the President's lips or not?

I'm just not sure yet from your comments what you think should or shouldn't be allowed here. I'm still reading it as "the President shouldn't be in any way involved," but if he's the head of the law enforcement agencies, the cabinet, and the ambassadors, then how is it possible at all for him not to be involved in these things? You'd be talking about separating the office of the President from all of that. Is that what you mean?

TheDrake

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Look at it this way. The CEO of a company theoretically has full control of everything. But if he directs somebody to award a contract to his brother-in-law, he's got a problem. Its not about authority, it is about ethics.

And no, it wouldn't have made it better if Trump had asked Ukraine to investigate Burisma without mentioning Biden.

How is it possible not to be involved? We see this all the time, like how Jeff Sessions was head of the Justice Department but decided not to be involved with the Mueller investigation. Trump should have recused himself informally from mucking about with Biden.

D.W.

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I don't have an answer to your earlier question, but even if the president is the head of the law enforcement agencies, then he should be using OUR agencies to investigate.  I cannot see any situation where it's appropriate to ask another foreign power, particularly one who wants to remain in a favorable status with said president, to investigate for you.  Asking them for documentations regarding X topic?  Sure, I can see that, but otherwise the whole concept is just all around toxic.

Fenring

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Look at it this way. The CEO of a company theoretically has full control of everything. But if he directs somebody to award a contract to his brother-in-law, he's got a problem. Its not about authority, it is about ethics.

From this example the idea would be that basically a CEO's brother-in-law simply cannot have any professional relationship to the company without it being a conflict of interest, right? So even a completely above-board contract that might legitimately go to the brother-in-law should actually be refused for this reason, correct? If so then the analogy here indeed would be that a political opponent cannot in any way be involved with an investigation begun by the President's "company", whether it not it comes from the President, in order to avoid any potential for a conflict of interest. In this context I'm calling the Executive the President's company in the sense of him being the CEO for the sake of the analogy. That would make my above interpretation correct, that any investigation involving Biden would have to be nixed, because as the head of the executive Trump is involved by definition and that represents a potential conflict of interest. No brother-in-law involved in the company, and no investigations into political opponents of a sitting President. If this description is inaccurate please tell me how.

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How is it possible not to be involved? We see this all the time, like how Jeff Sessions was head of the Justice Department but decided not to be involved with the Mueller investigation. Trump should have recused himself informally from mucking about with Biden.

There are no doubt formal manners of recusal in legal situations, with operating procedure spelled out about what can and can't happen. Do you think there is an equivalent formal process of recusal for a political person? Would that process involve the President being forbidden even having casual conversations with people in the executive of DOJ that are involved? And how can an offhand word from the President be considered as 'being recused' under any conditions? I don't see how this could work in practice although I'm not actually opposed to the idea in theory. But I'd still like to hear from someone about the President's actual role in the DOJ, FBI, etc, as I really don't know.

Fenring

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I cannot see any situation where it's appropriate to ask another foreign power, particularly one who wants to remain in a favorable status with said president, to investigate for you.  Asking them for documentations regarding X topic?  Sure, I can see that, but otherwise the whole concept is just all around toxic.

What about Cayman Islands type situations? You have a foreign country with different laws, even corruption, and local people taking advantage of that for various reasons. Like people accused Trump of digging for dirt with Russia; or accused Russian hackers of conspiring against the DNC. So enforcing local laws means bupkus if there are workarounds on foreign soil. The whole point (in theory) of Trump going to the Ukraine about this is because, allegedly, there were misdeeds done via Ukraine and their laws (or lack thereof). Cleaning up the corruption in the Ukraine would be the only way to patch that hole, which definitely does require working directly with the Ukraine to seal the problem.

NobleHunter

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Proper conflict of interest rules will allow for a contract to go to the brother-in-law. They would just make sure that the CEO was unable to unfairly prejudice the normal process in favor of his relative.

CoI rules can be broken in two ways: failure to disclose the conflict (which would allow the CEO to pretend his advocacy for the company was a disinterested opinion) or failure to ensure the company's interests remain paramount (the usual bidding process is scrapped or the CEO is allowed to lean on the scales).

D.W.

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Asking an ally, or potential ally to be more assertive in combating corruption seems like the exact type of thing we'd like to see our government, and indeed the president himself, get involved in. 

Asking them to look into a specific person or event, implying that this is what concerns us is a different matter.  Either they look into it and find nothing concerning, in which case, they may upset this ally or potential ally because the failure to condemn the focus of the investigation would be seen as more corruption, or finding concern could be seen by corruption in and of itself as this target was sacrificed for the good of relations between these two countries.  Both of these outcomes are likely enough, and concerning enough as to make the third, desired, outcome of promoting an anti-corruption agenda linked to a specific case, folly.

To even bring up a potential point of inquiry is something we do not want our president doing.  That is why you perform your own investigation when possible and request testimony/cooperation/documentation, through your own appropriate law enforcement apparatus.

Fenring

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So is the main issue, then, executive overreach regarding the President cross boundaries that should be left to other agencies? Or is it about him getting away with crimes? These are really different issues. The tenor of the thread was something like "this is not our country!" in regards to the President being immune from prosecution. Or maybe there are multiple problems to do with the office of the President, and Trump is just triggering them all at once?

D.W.

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Your mistaken in assuming there is just one concern, or even one primary concern.

There is an open question on IF what was done is a crime.  Then to what extent it is or should be permissible.  The extent of immunity factors into the question of criminal activity/intent.  But it all boils down to a discussion of what the President's "lane" entails, and how to nudge him back into it (if appropriate), or how to kick him from office for refusing to stay in said lane (again, if appropriate).

DonaldD

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It really isn't very complicated - does the president have the authority or the ability to do things, like strong arming foreign governments into investigating political opponents?  Yeah, sure.  What could be the harm, after all?  If the subject of an investigation is not guilty, no harm. Of course, in politics, perceptions matter - both the perception that the president might be using his position as the president of the whole population, a position which is actually above politics, for political purposes, as well as the perceptions of investigations themselves - hey look - Ukraine is investigating Joe Biden for criminal activity!  Now, I don't know if he committed the crime he's being investigated for, but lots of people are talking about how he broke the law, and well, look - Ukraine!

Should there be some blanket rule against the president speaking to foreign leaders about political opponents?  No.  But if a president does do so, that person better be very careful because using the position of president for pure political hackery, inviting other countries into the US electoral cycle, could very well get you impeached.  It seems like a very reasonable rule of thumb.

Fenring

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Your mistaken in assuming there is just one concern, or even one primary concern.

There is an open question on IF what was done is a crime.  Then to what extent it is or should be permissible.  The extent of immunity factors into the question of criminal activity/intent.  But it all boils down to a discussion of what the President's "lane" entails, and how to nudge him back into it (if appropriate), or how to kick him from office for refusing to stay in said lane (again, if appropriate).

I can't help but wonder, if there are so many issues, if the problem is with the office or with the sitting President. If it's with the office and Trump has just alerted everyone to this then I'm game to get on board with that. But I can't get away from this feeling that it's all really just code for "Trump should not be President." Like, if the powers he has are not ok for him, but are ok for Obama, then the President - any President - should not have those powers. You have to define the powers and the latitude based on a lousy person using them rather than a saintly one. If the person is saintly then you don't even need rules in a sense; they are there to define and curb anyone from abuses.

Fenring

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It really isn't very complicated - does the president have the authority or the ability to do things,

It is very complicated, because even in your attempt to simply you're lumping a variety of problems all into one. For instance:

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like strong arming foreign governments into investigating political opponents?

The big issue raised here about this (until it was declared to not be an issue any more!) was quid pro quo. But then again we might suppose that anything a President tells anyone is going to be taken as as strongarming because when the person who has power over you says something there's automatically a sort of threat attached. That's why bosses should not 'suggest' their secretaries go to dinner with them. But in the case of the President there's basically no situation with anyone in the world where a comment from him isn't strongarming if we're being real about this. So avoiding that basically means avoiding any sort of conversation. Quid pro quo is a little more specific than general strongarming, but at least in that case the other side is theoretically getting something out of it. This whole topic is murky because asking how much a world leader should (or should be allowed to) throw his weight around by no means has an established etiquette, for lack of a better term. Most rulers put to use as much power as they can reasonably wield, is what I generally see.


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If the subject of an investigation is not guilty, no harm. Of course, in politics, perceptions matter - both the perception that the president might be using his position as the president of the whole population, a position which is actually above politics, for political purposes, as well as the perceptions of investigations themselves - hey look - Ukraine is investigating Joe Biden for criminal activity!  Now, I don't know if he committed the crime he's being investigated for, but lots of people are talking about how he broke the law, and well, look - Ukraine!

Now what you're talking about is using official powers for the purposes of political theatre and for playing the win/win optics game. This is a whole other topic, because if you want to do away with optics games and - basically - brainwashing, then you need to take a look at *all* U.S. politics under this light. Only referring to Trump in this light cannot amount to a serious discussion. And part of this discussion would have to include the media and how they work nowadays, after all the President doesn't just broadcast his thoughts directly into the public's minds. This is a massive topic, and nothing simple about it as it's at least partially a technological issue.

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Should there be some blanket rule against the president speaking to foreign leaders about political opponents?  No.  But if a president does do so, that person better be very careful because using the position of president for pure political hackery, inviting other countries into the US electoral cycle, could very well get you impeached.  It seems like a very reasonable rule of thumb.

It's good to have flexible rules and general rules of thumb rather than hard rules, except for one thing: if the flexibility is there to allow for variations of strategy then the flexibility is built-in to allow for increased variations of moves made. If instead the flexibility in these unofficial rules of thumb are there only to allow you to move the goalposts to restrict what's allowed for some people and broaden them for other people then the fact that they're flexible is a very bad thing and it would have been better to have hard and fast rules that brook no variation. It's politically expedient to have flexible rules, because (a) the corrupt politicians need them, and (b) it allows for the political theatre game where you accuse the other side when it conveniences you but say they're persecuting you when they do it to you. In my view it would be better to restrict allowable actions outright than to have to engage in these mind games eternally.

DonaldD

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The rule of thumb is for the president - basically, don't do stupid things that would invite impeachment.

Fenring

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The rule of thumb is for the president - basically, don't do stupid things that would invite impeachment.

That just sounds like political-talk for "don't cross the wrong people". I think both previous Presidents did things a President should never do, but obviously that has nothing to do with your fellow politicians trying to get you out. Are you sure this isn't just a political power struggle, like how many on their team can outvote how many on your team and undermine all governance? And that objection to politics way predates Trump.

TheDeamon

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Can you recall any other President publicly suggesting who should be investigated? And when most of the people named are politicians? Including Obama and his book deal...  ::)

Publicly? Probably not so much.

Privately? Kennedy comes to mind as my memory serves.

TheDeamon

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But questioning executive overreach (or abuse of power) is not new to Trump by any means.

I think the point some have been making is that executive overreach seemed to only matter to the conservatives on Ornery during Obama's admin. It seems hard to believe the objections are to the nature of the office, since it wasn't an issue when the other guy was in office. Or at the very least it's only come to their attention because of who's there now. That's actually legit, but I'd be interested to see some people retroactively say that Obama's Presidency was a problem for the same reasons, and that it should not have been that way.

My issue is more that while they're starting to acknowledge some of what Obama did as being at least problematic. They're seemingly not interested in fixing the actual problems. They just simply want to remove the person they view to be the current problem.

Once they start talking about taking measures to put in place lasting measures to prevent future abuses, rather than opting for the arbitrary "we don't like him, so we're getting rid of him" way out, we'll talk.

Until then, I'd love to fix the real problem, but the problem isn't Trump. It's the entire framework that has evolved around the Presidency. Anything that fails to address that is a failure from the onset, and not worth my time. I'm unconcerned about OMB concerns because of reasons that have already been covered previously. He may very well be highly corrupt, but the only meaningful "harm" I see being done to date is being perpetrated by the people trying to "Save us" from the dangers of Trump.

DonaldD

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That just sounds like political-talk for "don't cross the wrong people
You do often misinterpret pretty straightforward statements, yes.

Seriously, it's very very simple - don't abuse your authority in such transparent ways, and you will be far more likely to avoid stepping in it. Anybody who still thinks it wasn't a really bad idea to try to convince the Ukrainian President to investigate Biden must be willfully blind.

D.W.

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TheDeamon, fixing "the real problems" is indeed important, but, from where I'm sitting, Trump IS a serious problem because his behavior/actions keep highlighting all those "real problems".  :P

This is like knowing that you have food allergies.  It's a serious condition but manageable if you DON'T EAT THOSE THINGS! 

Should you go and try to get treatment to lessen those allergies?  Sure, but it doesn't seem all that urgent until someone is slipping those things into your meals on a regular basis.   >:(

Tax returns?  That's just a tradition, not a rule.
Emolument Clause?  Suggestion only.
You wana subpoena my staff or me?  Executive privilege
Impeachment inquiry?  Why aren't my lawyers allowed to participate? 

There is A LOT of gray area that tradition, habit, public perception, party pressure and other things have been making work until someone looks at that line in the sand and steps across it daring everyone to do something about it.  I get that a lot of people feel that challenge is necessary, but this guy is not so much rewriting the rules, but he's illustrating to everyone that the "guidelines" weren't ever "rules" anyway, so you can all stuff it! 

So yes, I'm keen to see him constrained or removed (in the next election), but I'd like Congress to get off it's ass and... fix the glitches.

Fenring

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That just sounds like political-talk for "don't cross the wrong people
You do often misinterpret pretty straightforward statements, yes.

Well what I try to do is extract from them more than is offered, because few if any of the underlying premises are typically stated. So I bring those out to examine the whole argument, not just the conclusion. In a sense I need to 'see the math' before I understand why someone came to an answer.

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Seriously, it's very very simple - don't abuse your authority in such transparent ways, and you will be far more likely to avoid stepping in it.

Yes, that's easy to say when a priori you're already sure that Trump is abusing his authority. The anti-Trump posters here were sure he was wrong prior to even seeing the memorandum. Then after seeing it they were still sure, but then after dismissing it as 'not a real transcript' they were sure he was wrong because of a rumor leaked that had as of yet no official release or evidence shown. When he's already wrong at every turn in advance sure, it's easy to say "just don't do bad things".
 
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Anybody who still thinks it wasn't a really bad idea to try to convince the Ukrainian President to investigate Biden must be willfully blind.

I have been trying to get a definite answer about exactly why this was wrong of Trump. I very much get the 'it sort of stinks' vibe people get from it, and I easily agree that it *might* be problematic. But I have yet to hear a firm and unconfusing statement about what blanket rule should be in place (or assumed to be in place) that would prohibit this type of action by a President. The best answer I've gotten so far is that there should be a sort of Presidential recusal equivalent to when the AG for example recuses himself from a case. I did not receive an answer about whether there actually is such a thing or how that would work, not does anyone seem clear on exactly in what way the President can be *sure* to not be involved in a process involving one or more agencies of which he's in charge, especially when he's in regular contact with people all over Washington who are going to be aware of his desires and policy.

But I really don't get the "it's obvious what's wrong, and any other debate is willful blindness." It's not obvious, and the matter is not simple. That doesn't mean I'm sure you're wrong, but I am sure that the case that's been presented so far is at best incomplete.

TheDrake

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But I have yet to hear a firm and unconfusing statement about what blanket rule should be in place (or assumed to be in place) that would prohibit this type of action by a President.

That's in response to the proposition that it was a really bad idea? Does something have to be prohibited to be a really bad idea? Hunter Biden taking the job with Burisma isn't prohibited either, but that was a really bad idea. It isn't obvious that it is illegal, impeachable, or otherwise prohibited.

Even if the miscalculation was failing to understand how it could expose you to political shenanigans, it was a bad idea on that level.

TheDeamon

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Anybody who still thinks it wasn't a really bad idea to try to convince the Ukrainian President to investigate Biden must be willfully blind.

I have been trying to get a definite answer about exactly why this was wrong of Trump. I very much get the 'it sort of stinks' vibe people get from it, and I easily agree that it *might* be problematic. But I have yet to hear a firm and unconfusing statement about what blanket rule should be in place (or assumed to be in place) that would prohibit this type of action by a President. The best answer I've gotten so far is that there should be a sort of Presidential recusal equivalent to when the AG for example recuses himself from a case. I did not receive an answer about whether there actually is such a thing or how that would work, not does anyone seem clear on exactly in what way the President can be *sure* to not be involved in a process involving one or more agencies of which he's in charge, especially when he's in regular contact with people all over Washington who are going to be aware of his desires and policy.

But I really don't get the "it's obvious what's wrong, and any other debate is willful blindness." It's not obvious, and the matter is not simple. That doesn't mean I'm sure you're wrong, but I am sure that the case that's been presented so far is at best incomplete.

The funny thing for me is I have issue with the request to investigate Biden, given Biden's own comments.

Where I would take "issue" with Trump's request is if they found evidence suggesting he went beyond asking for an investigation, and instead specifically asked they produce incriminating evidence against the Bidens.

As it is, the request for an investigation is straight forward enough. They can come back in 3 months, or 5 years, and report "we found nothing criminal." But at least they looked into it(in theory at least).

Fenring

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That's in response to the proposition that it was a really bad idea? Does something have to be prohibited to be a really bad idea? Hunter Biden taking the job with Burisma isn't prohibited either, but that was a really bad idea. It isn't obvious that it is illegal, impeachable, or otherwise prohibited.

One reason I decline to *be sure* it's a bad idea is I have no idea what the political and 'subterranian' situation is in this whole affair. I could image several different sorts of scenarios, and in each I would evaluate Trump's move very differently. Here are some examples:

1) Trump has been having private negotiations with Zelenskyy in order to leverage U.S. policy against things Trump personally wants (for his campaign or otherwise), and no one understands why he's doing this other than for personal gain. Evaluation: this is not good.
2) One faction has previously been trying to destabilize Ukraine and pull it away from Russia, and Trump is operating at odds with that contingent and is taking personal steps to establish a rapport with Zelenskyy and to pull Ukraine out of the control of this group (which I associate with sabre rattlers and unrest fomenters). If *this* was the case I would be much more likely to applaud Trump's move, which would basically be him taking on the previous establishment.
3) There really is corruption that needs cleaning up in Ukraine, and it really did involve U.S. interests elbowing their way into Ukrainian industry (just like it's always been done in South America), and these steps really are the only way to begin to stop that corruption; i.e. there is no political element to Trump's move and it's just sound strategy that happens to involve Biden.
4) It's all just a scheme to throw dust in the eyes of Trump's political opponents and to create political theatre that makes the DNC in general look bad, perhaps with the backing of the RNC. This would be bad, although to be fair also par for the course for both parties.

These are all really different scenarios and I would evaluate how "obviously bad" saying these things to Zelenskyy would be based on what the actual reality on the ground is (which I have no idea). But no one seems interested in trying to go futher than "he's attacking a political opponent!" That fact would seem on the surface to be true, but in general my assumption about international politics is that we are exposed to a small fraction of what's actually going on there. Watch House of Cards; I think the manner of negotiating with the Putin of that show is more on point than the things we're told through the press.

TheDrake

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He wasn't asking for them to clear Biden's good name, its obvious what he wanted out of the investigation.

Biden's comment? Yeah, he gloated that he got the prosecutor fired. What there is zero evidence of is that it had anything to do with an investigation into the company his son worked for. There is this evidence:

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Activists say the case had been sabotaged by Shokin himself. As an example, they say two months before Hunter Biden joined Burisma's board, British authorities had requested information from Shokin's office as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering by Zlochevskiy. Shokin ignored them.

Kaleniuk and AntAC published a detailed timeline of events surrounding the Burisma case, an outline of evidence suggesting that three consecutive chief prosecutors of Ukraine -- first Shokin’s predecessor, then Shokin, and then his successor -- worked to bury it.

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But there is a long list of Western organizations, governments, and diplomats, as well as Ukrainian anti-corruption groups, that wanted to see Shokin fired.

They include the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the U.S. government, foreign investors, and Ukrainian advocates of reform.

In a column published days after Shokin was fired in March 2016, Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, wrote that his dismissal came as no surprise.

"The amazing thing is not that he was sacked but that it has taken so long," Aslund said. "Petro Poroshenko appointed Shokin to the role in February 2015. From the outset, he stood out by causing great damage even to Ukraine's substandard legal system."

Trump may have known all of this and not cared, or thought it was fake news, but it sure looks instead like he was just trying to harass a political foe.

Why Was Ukraine's Top Prosecutor Fired?

TheDrake

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There really is corruption that needs cleaning up in Ukraine, and it really did involve U.S. interests elbowing their way into Ukrainian industry (just like it's always been done in South America), and these steps really are the only way to begin to stop that corruption; i.e. there is no political element to Trump's move and it's just sound strategy that happens to involve Biden.

Except that Trump is fixated on the Bidens in this call. He doesn't talk about corruption in general, or any Ukrainian industry, or even having them re-open the Burisma money laundering probe.

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Good because I heard you had a prosecutor
who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair.
A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your
very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people
involved.

Yeah, a lot of people on 4chan.

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There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the
prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so
whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.
Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if
you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me.

Biden Biden Biden.

Fenring

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Except that Trump is fixated on the Bidens in this call. He doesn't talk about corruption in general, or any Ukrainian industry, or even having them re-open the Burisma money laundering probe.

I assume you're remembering the fake, edited version of the memorandum, where Trump moves directly from "do me a favor" to "investigate Biden". But in between, and the first things he named, were Crowdstrike and the Mueller investigation. Granted, these are all things related either to Trump or to the Democrats/Republicans generally, but I don't know why people keep repeating that all Trump was obsessing about was Hunter Biden. He is mentioned in one paragraph out of multi-page document, so at best 1/10th of it. It is clear he *was* mentioned, but the overemphasis on this seems to be relevant to showing the "obvious" conclusions we are meant to draw from it.

And yes, referring to a few incidents where Ukraine might have been used as a clearinghouse for internal U.S. politics is indeed about corruption there in general.

TheDrake

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Whitehouse version is what I'm using.

Yes, CrowdStrike is in there. More conspiracy theories about his political opponents. I don't dwell on it because he didn't name any person as a target, although it also looks designed to dig up dirt on the DNC at large - as opposed to being a general discussion about corruption.

Fenring

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Yes, CrowdStrike is in there. More conspiracy theories about his political opponents. I don't dwell on it because he didn't name any person as a target, although it also looks designed to dig up dirt on the DNC at large - as opposed to being a general discussion about corruption.

You're moving from "obvious wrongdoing" (which is plausible but not obvious) to taking a partisan position on evaluating the facts. For instance, the fact pattern of "DNC committed corrupt acts, using Ukraine as a political tool" would certainly merit a different evaluation in Trump wanting to look into it, compared with "Republicans/Trump are making stuff up to throw shade on the DNC", and even that is different from "We'll never know what really happened but I don't like how this looks". You (plural you, I suppose) seem to presuppose only one scenario and won't even admit as a possibility that there's another. Do you really think the DNC is above utterly corrupt tactics? Problem with that is we have documented evidence that they're not above it in other areas (like lying about subverting their own primary process). I think it's out of the question to disqualify either party as being capable of ridiculous corruption. The only question is what actually happened, and how.

I guess I just find it hard to imagine being completely unable to see these alternate scenarios and to give them any credence. I mean, I'm very open to admitting the possibility that Trump has simply being acting like a corrupt ass. I am very resistant to faulty logic to get us there but it still may well be the case. It's disturbing to me when the two sides of these arguments litreally cannot even see the other side's argument clearly. Not speaking about you specifically, TheDrake, when I say this, but it's a general point.

TheDrake

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I'm completely unable to take the deep-stater point of view. That the DNC is colluding with the FBI and the intelligence agencies to frame Russia and tarnish Trump's win.

Could the DNC do something corrupt? Yes, I suppose so. Could they get CrowdStrike to cobble together evidence on their behalf and then give it to the FBI? Or is it that the FBI falsified everything, and they never got anything from CrowdStrike?

I don't know for a fact that a chain of events like that could not have happened, in the same way that I can't be certain that there isn't a monkey in my sock drawer right now. Somebody could have broken into my house with an exotic animal and stuffed it in there.

TheDeamon

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You're moving from "obvious wrongdoing" (which is plausible but not obvious) to taking a partisan position on evaluating the facts. For instance, the fact pattern of "DNC committed corrupt acts, using Ukraine as a political tool" would certainly merit a different evaluation in Trump wanting to look into it, compared with "Republicans/Trump are making stuff up to throw shade on the DNC", and even that is different from "We'll never know what really happened but I don't like how this looks". You (plural you, I suppose) seem to presuppose only one scenario and won't even admit as a possibility that there's another. Do you really think the DNC is above utterly corrupt tactics? Problem with that is we have documented evidence that they're not above it in other areas (like lying about subverting their own primary process). I think it's out of the question to disqualify either party as being capable of ridiculous corruption. The only question is what actually happened, and how.

I guess I just find it hard to imagine being completely unable to see these alternate scenarios and to give them any credence. I mean, I'm very open to admitting the possibility that Trump has simply being acting like a corrupt ass. I am very resistant to faulty logic to get us there but it still may well be the case. It's disturbing to me when the two sides of these arguments litreally cannot even see the other side's argument clearly. Not speaking about you specifically, TheDrake, when I say this, but it's a general point.

Pretty much my take on things. I'm even laughing at some of the complaints leveled in here which basically boil down to "I don't object to what was done, I object to how. I wish he'd been more subtle about it."

WTF? Seriously?

Either its not okay because it is not okay to do those things. Or it okay to do them, but simply impolite to do them in a more open way.

Incidentally it's highly ironic that from the Republican side, they're (allegedly) looking into the Obama Admin having potentially done exactly that--in a very subtle way. But hey, criminal acts are evidently okay if you're good at slight of hand? That gets you a pass.

Acting like a bull in a china shop however, that's grounds for removal without regard to deliberate wrong-doing.

TheDeamon

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Could the DNC do something corrupt? Yes, I suppose so. Could they get CrowdStrike to cobble together evidence on their behalf and then give it to the FBI? Or is it that the FBI falsified everything, and they never got anything from CrowdStrike?

I don't know for a fact that a chain of events like that could not have happened, in the same way that I can't be certain that there isn't a monkey in my sock drawer right now. Somebody could have broken into my house with an exotic animal and stuffed it in there.

I'm going to be highly interesting in the IG's report once it is released as to what went down. There is very strong circumstantial information already in the public domain that makes it look like we're likely looking at a group of possibly as few as 3 (completely) bad actors within the government, paired with a large group of others willing to "look the other way" may have caused one of the most significant political scandals in living memory. I think this does have potential to make the Watergate break-in look like child's play by comparison.

Luckily for Obama, none of it is likely to point back to him(very Iran Contra of him), but it's likely to suck in a bunch of his lower-level officials.

Fenring

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I'm completely unable to take the deep-stater point of view. That the DNC is colluding with the FBI and the intelligence agencies to frame Russia and tarnish Trump's win.

No, that's not the deep state argument. The deep state argument would be that people you've never heard of secretly control things (probably shareholders and board members who are not in the public view) and that groups like the DNC are merely clearinghouses or levers for them fighting amongst each other for control. That the DNC should work with intelligence agencies is a bit of a side issue because there are no direct ties between those organizations, officially. Unoffically any person in Washington can have ties to any group, by virtue of they can have private conversations about mutual advantage. That is not really a conspiracy theory, though, but rather just called "business".

However the notion that the DNC (or RNC) would pull any trick in the book to win isn't a conspiracy theory, nor does it have anything to do with the deep state. It's an actual given, as in, to be expected and in fact it would be bizarre to the extreme if they did not do this, things being as they are. I view the notion that the parties do not use corrupt tactics as more fanciful than the idea of it being aliens behind it all. Prior to the 80's (and maybe 70's) I don't think there was any notion of "just trust the government". This is a sort of new phenomenon, and probably bred of cultural PTSD from Vietnam. But it goes against the basic understanding that the American public has *always* had about government and the parties, which is that they're not your buddy.

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Could the DNC do something corrupt? Yes, I suppose so.

You suppose so? Imagine someone saying that same thing about Trump, in that tone, and you'll experience my reaction to reading this.

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I don't know for a fact that a chain of events like that could not have happened, in the same way that I can't be certain that there isn't a monkey in my sock drawer right now. Somebody could have broken into my house with an exotic animal and stuffed it in there.

Not sure how to express this without it sounding like an insult - and I really don't intend it to be - but I think you are grossly mistaken about human nature and what people can normalize for themselves without thinking anything of it. I mean, you can have mass-murder brushed off as nothing by people who are not psychopathic, only because it's been normalized. If you can have that, then it should be viewed as probably automatic that people in a corrupt political landscape are going to have a serious normalization of "do anything it takes to win" as being not only laudable but in fact the only course that even computes. They don't think of it as doing bad things; in fact there is probably a large proportion of "it's for the best outcome for America".

TheDeamon

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Not sure how to express this without it sounding like an insult - and I really don't intend it to be - but I think you are grossly mistaken about human nature and what people can normalize for themselves without thinking anything of it. I mean, you can have mass-murder brushed off as nothing by people who are not psychopathic, only because it's been normalized. If you can have that, then it should be viewed as probably automatic that people in a corrupt political landscape are going to have a serious normalization of "do anything it takes to win" as being not only laudable but in fact the only course that even computes. They don't think of it as doing bad things; in fact there is probably a large proportion of "it's for the best outcome for America".

Which isn't to mention that in 2016, you're talking about Donald Trump running for a high office. Forget "do anything to win." It moves into "do anything to keep him out of office."

rightleft22

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Not sure how to express this without it sounding like an insult - and I really don't intend it to be - but I think you are grossly mistaken about human nature and what people can normalize for themselves without thinking anything of it. I mean, you can have mass-murder brushed off as nothing by people who are not psychopathic, only because it's been normalized. If you can have that, then it should be viewed as probably automatic that people in a corrupt political landscape are going to have a serious normalization of "do anything it takes to win" as being not only laudable but in fact the only course that even computes. They don't think of it as doing bad things; in fact there is probably a large proportion of "it's for the best outcome for America".

Which isn't to mention that in 2016, you're talking about Donald Trump running for a high office. Forget "do anything to win." It moves into "do anything to keep him out of office."

And of course Forget "do anything to win." It moves into "do anything to keep him him in office."

its polarized all our nothing win at all costs. Normalization - you get to tired to care or to engaged to notice

TheDeamon

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Which isn't to mention that in 2016, you're talking about Donald Trump running for a high office. Forget "do anything to win." It moves into "do anything to keep him out of office."

And of course Forget "do anything to win." It moves into "do anything to keep him him in office."

its polarized all our nothing win at all costs. Normalization - you get to tired to care or to engaged to notice

Uh, I'm not doing "anything" to keep him in office.

I do think the Democrat alternatives being offered at present are worse however, so I have no incentive to promote them over Trump.

I'm also expressing the view that what the Democrats are doing is harming their chances of removing him rather than helping. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

Edit: That said, in 2016 I could see "civic minded persons" thinking defeating Trump "by any means necessary" was a service to the country. And when you're reasonably certain he isn't going to win, and Clinton is unlikely to pursue investigating what you did, and most should never even hear about it... It makes it easy to play fast and loose with the rules. The only fly in the ointment was that Trump did win the election.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2019, 04:52:53 PM by TheDeamon »

TheDrake

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If you can have that, then it should be viewed as probably automatic that people in a corrupt political landscape are going to have a serious normalization of "do anything it takes to win" as being not only laudable but in fact the only course that even computes. They don't think of it as doing bad things; in fact there is probably a large proportion of "it's for the best outcome for America".

I think I'm not making my point. I'm not saying they can't be evil, its that coordinating your shenanigans with five or more other people makes it likely someone will screw up. We're talking about a group that can't keep their servers secure, had a candidate who did a really lousy job trying to hide a personal email server, fall for phishing attacks, and numerous other technical gaffes.

They somehow convince not only CrowdStrike, but Fidelis, FireEye, Mandiant, SecureWorks, Symantec and ThreatConnect to go along with the gag, or even more incredibly fool them with faked evidence?

Then they somehow get several other intelligence agencies, including the Dutch and British to join in on the fun and corroborate their story?

Do you really think they are competent enough to pull that one off?

Compare and contrast to the idea that the Russians just actually did hack the server in order to mess with our political process.

D.W.

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I'm also expressing the view that what the Democrats are doing is harming their chances of removing him rather than helping. But hey, whatever floats your boat.
I tend to agree with this.  The decision to impeach is being treated more as theater, a political cudgel, a PR campaign and so on.  Had they simply moved forward where they believed they had the grounds to do so, then at least it could be seen as members of the house believing they were doing their duty.

Right now, I expect they are generating more opposition than support.

Wayward Son

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Let's get back to what this tread is all about.

Donald Trump, Private Citizen, is implicated in breaking tax laws in the State of New York when he was Donald Trump, Private Citizen.

The State of New York wants to investigate this.  In order to investigate it, they need to look at his tax records.  He is refusing to cooperate with the investigate.

As justification for not cooperating with this investigation, his lawyers are arguing that the President has complete immunity from any criminal indictment or investigation during his time in office.

IOW, since he is now Donald Trump, President, he is not subject to investigation or indictment by the police like every single other person in the United States of America.  :o

In fact, his lawyers admit that, under this theory, the President could murder someone on 5th Avenue and not be indicted until he leaves office.

This is based on theory about the Constitution (not explicitly written in the Constitution itself, but an interpretation) that the Presidency is a unique office in the government, entirely unlike any other office, elected or otherwise, in our entire government.  And because it is so unique, laws that apply to every other person do not apply to him, unless Congress decides to remove him.

If Congress is in his pocket, or so divided that it can't come to a decision about him, he is free and clear to do anything he wants while in office.

This, on the face of it, seems like a ludicrous assertion.  That felonies that would get any other person in the country executed cannot even be investigated if the accused is the President.  Just to make sure he isn't distracted from his job.  ::)

So Al Capone, if he had been elected President, would have been immune from killing two people with a baseball bat at a dinner party (not just one, as depicted in the movie :) ), because it might distract him from running the country.  Unless, of course, you could convince a majority of Congress that he did it.  Which would be difficult, since the Chicago police would have been prevented from even investigating his operation while he was President.  :o

The legal principle stinks.  Just because you are President doesn't mean you are no longer a citizen of the United States, subject to the same laws that every other citizen (and non-citizen) is.

It has become an issue now because we elected a President that really doesn't respect the law.  He didn't respect it when he was a Private Citizen; he doesn't respect it now.

So rather than defending himself based on facts in this case about his state taxes, he prefers to hide behind the immunity principle.

Whether he uses his immunity to murder someone or just to hide his crimes while he was a private citizen, the principle stinks.  Yes, the President should not be subject to so many indictments that he cannot do his job.  But at the same time, the Presidency of the United States should not be a way for criminals to escape prosecution--or even INVESTIGATION--of their crimes while they are in office.  That is a stupid proposition.  One I would think we should all agree on.