Lord of War: A Senate Trial Could Be Exactly What Trump Needs

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the prospect of a Senate impeachment trial for President Donald Trump. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that she is “heartbroken” and “prayerful” over the prospect of impeaching Trump. Whether those are crocodile or heartfelt tears, Pelosi may have to worry more about another possibility: this could be the trial that Donald Trump has long wanted, including the prospect of calling Joe Biden as his first witness.

Here is the column:

In the movie “Lord of War,” arms dealer Simeon Weisz tells his competitor and the film’s central character, Yuri Orlov: “The problem with gun-runners going to war is that there is no shortage of ammunition.”

The problem with politicians going into impeachments is that there is no shortage of scandals. And that danger may soon be realized, as momentum builds to impeach President Donald Trump. 

The only way for Democrats to remove Trump from office would be to hold a trial that highlights the controversial business dealings of Hunter Biden, son of their potential presidential nominee, Joe Biden. The result could be a mutually assured destruction that only a lord of political war (and, possibly, Biden rival Elizabeth Warren) would love.

On one side of that trial is a deeply disturbing allegation involving Trump’s withholding of roughly $400 million in military aid — a national security concern. Using such powers to pressure another nation to investigate a political opponent can be a crime as well as an impeachable offense. Thus far, the evidence against Trump is damaging but not decisive on a quid pro quo. At the same time, the point of a defense is mitigating conduct that would be otherwise criminal.

The assumption by many Trump critics is that the greatest risk in an impeachment trial is that he is likely to be acquitted and the trial would galvanize Republican voters. Yet, that may be the least of the dangers if one thinks of the likely – indeed, the only – viable defense. 

Trump will argue that he asked for Ukraine’s investigation of a corrupt relationship that was used to secure U.S. aid during the previous administration. The strength of that defense will depend greatly on the merits of the underlying corruption allegation. 

If Hunter Biden’s business contracts were entirely appropriate, Trump’s actions would be difficult to justify. Seeking an investigation of, say, Pete Buttigieg by Malta clearly would be abusive, since there is no credible claim of a criminal act. But Trump will argue that Hunter Biden’s profiteering was ignored by the Obama administration and, largely, by the media.

In Washington, this pattern is all too familiar. I have written for years in criticism of Democratic and Republican politicians whose spouses or children received enormous salaries or contracts from companies with interests in legislation. Even newspapers like the New York Times have described Hunter Biden’s deals as conflicts of interest. 

Biden has insisted that he never, ever discussed his son’s foreign dealings. According to Biden, even on the long flight to China on Air Force II, Hunter never mentioned that he was going to be put on an advisory board for a Chinese investment management company or his ten percent minority interest. Yet, according to the New Yorker, Hunter Biden arranged for his father to shake hands with Jonathan Li, who one of the key partners with the company.  The problem is that Hunter Biden has said he did tell his father about the Ukrainian deal.  Strangely, the Washington Post has insisted that Biden did not lie when he categorically denied ever speaking  to his son about any foreign business, because, after being told about the Ukrainian deal, Biden curtly left it to his son and “that’s not much of a discussion.”

So here is a simple defense narrative: 

In April 2014, Hunter Biden is curiously put on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, despite a glaring lack of relevant experience. According to the New York Times , that was just weeks after Joe Biden was asked to oversee U.S.-Ukraine relations and aid. Burisma is owned by oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, accused of systemic corruption and a close associate of Ukraine’s prior pro-Russian president.

In 2016, Biden forced the firing of Ukraine’s chief prosecutor and later bragged how he made clear to the Ukrainians that he, not President Obama, would determine if the country received $1 billion in aid. Biden then claimed — falsely, according to his son — that he never spoke to his son about his dealings in Ukraine. 

The problem for Democrats? They cannot presume a criminal intent in Trump’s calls while rejecting any such presumption in Biden’s dealings. They point out that the Ukrainians found no violations under their laws — a curious spin for a country with notoriously lax anti-corruption enforcement. But the question is how these deals are viewed in the United States.  

Few people seriously believe Hunter Biden stood out in Ukraine, China or elsewhere for his transnational business acumen. Yet, while Democrats pursue every Trump deal in foreign countries (and even foreign guests in Trump hotels), there is a striking lack of interest in money that went to a member of the Biden family while Joe Biden handed out billions in U.S. trade and aid.

An impeachment trial also is likely to feature another investigation.  Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, a widely respected figure, is close to releasing his report on the origins of the Trump-Russian investigation. His report is expected to be comprehensive and damning in its findings, including documenting highly questionable representations and decisions by federal officials during the Obama administration. 

It is likely to rekindle objections that Hillary Clinton’s campaign sought evidence against Trump from Russian and other foreign sources. That information was then used by the Obama administration to target Trump campaign associates. Ultimately, not only were targets like Carter Page never charged but special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence the Trump campaign knowingly worked with the Russians. 

In other words, Horowitz’s report could blur any bright line separating the conduct of Trump and his critics.

Ironically, a Senate trial might give Trump what he has long demanded: A hearing of his allegations against Democrats, from the matters in the Horowitz report to the Biden controversy. Impeached presidents are, historically, allowed fairly wide leeway to call witnesses — so Trump could turn any Senate trial into a showcase of countervailing Democratic scandals. Trump could even call Joe and Hunter Biden.  It just might be the trial that Trump wants: leaving him in office, damaging the Democratic nominee, and (while not improving his own image) making others look just as bad.

The one positive aspect in such a trial would be to give Americans a true glimpse into the subterranean level of corruption and self-dealing that runs just beneath the surface in Washington. Yet, that is why public corruption cases are notoriously difficult to prove: All politicians engage in some degree of self-dealing or using their offices for political advantage. History is replete with allegations of presidents engineering foreign or domestic “October surprises” to win elections.

Of the three most famous public corruption cases in recent decades, two failed. Gov. Robert McDonnell (R-Va.) was found guilty but his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court, and the case against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) ended in a hung jury and mistrial — even though both men delivered on the favors alleged in their quid pro quo arrangements.

To complete the sordid optics, Menendez actually would vote as a juror in any Senate trial of Trump, who is accused of suggesting a quid pro quo as opposed to the completed acts in return for lavish gifts charged against Menendez.

Frankly, both sides deserve this ignoble moment.  

As the “Lord of War” character Yuri Orlov said, “There are only two tragedies in life. One is not getting what you want, the other is getting it.” Both Democrats and Republicans could soon get the trial they want and deserve.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.  He testified during the Clinton impeachment and served as the last lead defense counsel in an impeachment trial in the United States Senate.

153 thoughts on “Lord of War: A Senate Trial Could Be Exactly What Trump Needs”

  1. “this could be the trial that Donald Trump has long wanted, including the prospect of calling Joe Biden as his first witness.” No……his first witness should be the President of Ukraine who has said on the record that he was not pressured. Then I would call Menendez, Leahy and Durban about the letter they sent to Ukraine demanding that they reopen investigations into Trump and suggesting that not doing so would effect financial assistance to that country.

  2. “If Hunter Biden’s business contracts were entirely appropriate, Trump’s actions would be difficult to justify.” I disagree. We won’t know if Hunter’s actions were appropriate without an investigation. Trump’s actions are based on the belief that he should be investigated, which is no assurance of guilt. Frankly, I cannot think of a scenario where Hunter’s business climbing were appropriate or ethical, but this is the legal arena. Regardless of whether he is found to have engaged in criminal activity, clearly there is a reason to investigate the matter, justifying Trump’s request.

    “Yet, while Democrats pursue every Trump deal in foreign countries (and even foreign guests in Trump hotels), there is a striking lack of interest in money that went to a member of the Biden family while Joe Biden handed out billions in U.S. trade and aid.” This is because the constant scrutiny of Trump is political, not based on a sincere belief in law and order. Otherwise, there would have been equal scrutiny on Democrats.

    Perhaps Democrats will succeed in creating a trial where all of their own scandals will be trotted out, right before an election. There was no quid pro quo in the telephone call. However, if the impeachment is merely a way for Democrats to undo the results of the last election, then perhaps right and wrong doesn’t matter. Perhaps there will be enough Never Trump Republicans wiling to let bias get in the way of justice.

    What I see is that when accused of misconduct, Democrats Acid Wash their servers, delete emails, smash their Blackberries and laptops with hammers, and claim they never read damning emails. Trump produced the transcript of his private call with a foreign leader, and is constantly under investigation with nothing to show for it after 3 years and millions of taxpayer money wasted.

    I think I’m seeing a trend here in transparency…

    What is absurd is that there are valid criticisms of the Trump presidency. He’s not Jesus Christ. But this constant, unrelenting, hysterical political warfare waged on him is so unreasonable, that there is no legitimate discussion of missteps and ways to improve. It’s just one false allegation after another, until most of us are so tired of it that we don’t want to hear it anymore. Cry Wolf. It’s Monday. What false accusation are you guys lodging against him now? Yawn.

    1. Karen, thanks for that demonstration of moral blindness and irrelevant “what aboutism”.

      There is no more evidence – actually much less – suggesting an investigation of Hunter than there is of the Trump Kids, and he’s not in anyway part of government or current events.

      As to false allegations, much of the WB complaint has been verified by the WH memo on the phone call. hat are you talking about?

      You don’t want to hear about it anymore and neither do I, so can you get your corrupt ignorant selfish pr..k of a president to go back to the Queens? Maybe he can swing a deal to not be prosecuted when he leaves the WH.

      Anything to get him the f out.

      1. “Anything to get him the f out.” Spoken like someone willing to break or ignore the law to get the result he wanted.

        “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.”
        Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin’s head of the secret police…another Leftist.

        1. I forgot you’re the queen of missing context. How else could you stomach that pig?

          I wrote:

          “…Maybe he can swing a deal to not be prosecuted when he leaves the WH.

          Anything to get him the f out.”

          1. Yes, “anything to get him out.” You don’t need to try and explain it. Let’s be honest, the left has been calling for impeachment since before he was inaugurated.

            They’re so caught up in trying to destroy the President that they can’t see straight. Hopefully, they follow through and good luck trying to convince the American people or get 2/3’s of the Senate.

            I noticed your post the other day saying that Rubio and Cruz may be ready to put the shiv in Trump’s back at the first opportunity- that’s delusional.

            1. Ivan, not that my opinion s important, but I opposed impeachment until the Mueller Report was made public.

              Judging from the Trumpsters here – like you – I think I’m seeing pretty straight. I don’t go to bed trying to find another conspiracy to justify whatever lying BS my cult leader has come up with that day.

              I may have overestimated the balls on the GOP Senators and given their weak surrender of anything they previously believed in to survive being primaried, that would be my bad, I agree.

              On the other hand, it is undeniable that something like half of them would run him through the 1st chance they got if they thought they could get away with it. They’re waiting it out at this point to see where it goes. They made it to the break tight lipped and saying nothing.

      2. Anything to get him the f out.

        Anything? Great. Then you will have no objections to a thorough investigation. If all the facts and evidence will prove Trump should be removed from office, then the sooner everyone cooperates with an investigation, the sooner they will get him the f out. Right?

  3. The notion that foreign countries are going to completely abstain from casting influence over US elections via favorable and adverse publicity is naively absurd.
    The world has become highly interconnected — business and political interests now span borders. The US throws its weight around as much as anyone else, if you include the efforts of private citizens.

    Looking back in history, in the fragile early days of the Republic, the political cold-war between the Republicans and Federalists was manipulated to advantage in London, Paris and Quebec City. And the accusations of treason flying back and forth between the American partisans were much less constrained than today.

    Dems are making fools of themselves to insist that adverse publicity obtained from a foreign power pertaining to the opposition is a form of “campaign contribution” banned by FEC law. The free flow of public information can never be criminalized in that manner, nor should Dems be looking to weaponize the legal system as a tactic of political competition.

  4. Something of interest Rep Collins resigning with charges of insider trading. Wonder what that was all about since when insider trading was banned by Congress with one house gutting it’s provisions and they all went back to business as usual. A good article on this one including background would be very much welcomed.

  5. Isn’t Durham investigating origins of the Russia-Trump investigation while Horowitz is investigating possible FISA abuse?

      1. RoyT – Horowitz has no plenary power.
        ********************
        True enough Paul but like the Oracle at Delphi, on the rare occasions when he talks people do listen. He’s seen as a neutral — a rarity these days — and wise. That gets you instant cred among the DC Gators. Not out of respect mind you but out of fear. The judges do read the papers an d hey are in continual quest of just who to believe.

        1. mespo – do you think the timing is just odd that the impeachment ratchets up just before two Horowitz reports are due?

            1. mespo – they faux start impeachment proceedings and then take a two week recess. How does that make sense? I would have thought Nadler and Schiff had tons of witnesses they wanted to talk to?

              1. Paul:

                It makes sense when you realize they will never hold a vote on impeachment. Biden doesn’t want a trial; the Dims remember the House elections of 1998/00 and the Squad will have to take a back seat when and if the proceedings begin. The Dims say they are going to sell the impeachment back home. In reality they are taking the temperature of their big corporate donors who don’t want anything to rock the economic boat. It’s all a charade by poor comedians that will blow up like a Roman candle since the basic premise for a “high crime” isn’t there, namely an aggrieved victim.

                1. The NYTImes breaking news is telling us what may be happening.

                  BREAKING NEWS
                  President Trump pushed Australia’s prime minister to help Attorney General William Barr in an investigation intended to rebut the Mueller inquiry.
                  Monday, September 30, 2019 4:22 PM EST
                  Mr. Trump pushed Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia during a recent telephone call to help a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation, according to two American officials with knowledge of the call.

                  The White House restricted access to the call’s transcript to a small group of the president’s aides, one of the officials said, an unusual decision that is similar to the handling of a July call with the Ukrainian president that is at the heart of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump.

                  Read More »

                2. a lot of litigants start lawsuits with little if any desire to take them to a jury. if not most.

                  a fact not well appreciated outside our thing

                  i think trump gets that full well. they say he’s been a party to over then thousand lawsuits. that gives him certain advantages based on experience.

                    1. mespo – it is my understanding that few suit or criminal cases actually make it to trial.

  6. possibilities

    It doesn’t get passed with enough

    It passes the grand jury phase and sent to the Senate for trial.
    (what? you didn’t know that’s all impeachment means?)

    In the trial phase two things are important

    Takes 2/3rds of both houses impeach and convict

    There is no time limit for conducting the trial phase.

    or as with Clinton there is the jackpot outcome which includes resignation (so again no trial) and then the fun part. The new President signs a federal pardon and appoints his own successor as VP. No. Pelosi isn’t a shoe in and doesn’t get to vote on yes or no for the nomination. If one is refused Pence appoints the same one again or another one. but most important there is NO time limit.

    The country runs with out a VP and Pelosi is still out until the next election.

    Meanwhile a holder of a federal pardon means ALL crimes committed or not at every level local, State and Federal are pardoned. So no after pardon investigations and no trials.

    The pardoned President cannot run again or hold office but can act as an unpaid adviser however.

    See why we call the DNC The Stupid Party? Now lets look at what Nancy is facing for illegally accepting unqualifed representatives into full membership. The Squat for example. They didn’t take the required oath of office the fourth requirement. Nancy gave them a free pass and in doing so violated her own oath of office.

    And no one to give her a pardon.

    See why we call them the Stupid Party?

    So why have them?

    Well even stupid citizens deserve representation. But not by those equally stupid.

    1. Pelosi full well knows all that and more. WHich is why she opposed this quixotic endeavor. But “the Squad” bullied and undermined her and she caved. Now she is going to have to either ride the tiger, or find a way to shut down the circus by some other means which doesn’t implicate that she pulled the plug on it.

      It’s better for Trump if she rides the tiger and goes full on hard at impeachment, but it’s better for the nation if she squashes the Squad and retakes control over the Dem and refocuses on some important bipartisan legislation that’s been waiting while the circus draws all attention to itself.

      If you want to pray for the nation, pray for Pelosi too, because she’s one of the few even keels who can put the brakes on this insanity that will just keep on escalating if the inmates like AOC are not locked back up in their rubber rooms.

  7. Turley says: “The problem for Democrats? They cannot presume a criminal intent in Trump’s calls while rejecting any such presumption in Biden’s dealings.”

    WHAT ABOUT HIDING THE TRANSCRIPTS IN THE ULTRA-SECURE SERVER? That is proof of criminal intent–called consciousness of guilt. Democrats have all they need. Turley: a mere solicitation of assistance in a political campaign is enough. We have that already. So, now, Trump and the Republicans are going to drag this country through as much mud as they can find, hoping Americans will lose interest and focus on what he did by trying to accuse anyone and everyone else of criminal or questionable conduct.

    I think Americans are sick to death of the Kellyanne pivoting. Why is this Biden business from years ago suddenly newsworthy? Why is the State Department digging into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails from 10 or more years ago? To deflect attention away from Trump’s crimes. It worked before. Maybe it’ll work again, so they think.

    1. WHAT ABOUT HIDING THE TRANSCRIPTS IN THE ULTRA-SECURE SERVER? That is proof of criminal intent–called consciousness of guilt.

      No, hiding documents on a non-secure, non-government server and then deleting the contents of that server while under a subpoena to provide those documents is proof of criminal intent.

      Thanks for playing.

    2. That could have been done to protect diplomatic privacy. The Zelisnsky phone call was only publicized after getting consent from Ukraine – a very important “red line” was defended. If the convo had been leaked irrespective of the Ukrainian President’s wishes, it would have been a diplomatic disaster for the US. Getting the transcript into a secure location was the correct foreign policy action, and there is little argument that it was done as “consciousness of guilt”, since as soon as permission was obtained from Zelinsky, the transcript was released to the public. How is that 2nd part “consciousness of guilt”?

      1. The purpose of the most-secure server is for America’s most-sensitive information: for instance, the identities of spies, covert operations, top-secret military operations and the like–not to protect a crooked President. There are places to store information that is confidential, which this wasn’t. “Diplomatic disaster for the US”? How blind do you Trumpsters have to be not to see through this? Ukraine is desperate for military aid. Trump illegally held it up, and then asked for a favor. In addition to transcripts of this criminal offense, Trump’s staff also put into that ultra-secure database conversations with Putin and MBS, but not with other heads of countries. What does that tell you?

        This is just Kellyanne’s “alternative facts” explanation.

    3. leakers and saboteurs of the POTUS have been busy undermining his leadership, so he lawfully used the tools at his disposal to secure his communications

      that didn’t work. all whistleblowers are leakers, but not all leakers are whistleblowers. some are just leakers. it remains to be seen whether this was a good faith “leak” or not but it definitely was a leak

    4. “WHAT ABOUT HIDING THE TRANSCRIPTS IN THE ULTRA-SECURE SERVER? That is proof of criminal intent–called consciousness of guilt.”

      Actually, Natacha, Obama also stored transcripts on a secure server. In fact, it is the same server as used by Trump today. Why? Because presidential private communications are subject to the Presidential Records Act, may be classified, subject to Presidential Communications Privilege.

      Why in the world would private Presidential communications be kept on a non secure server, like, and I’m just spitballing here, an illegal server kept in his bathroom, maintained by a tech with zero clearance, dusted by maids with zero clearance, uploaded to the non secure Cloud, and backed up by tech guys with zero clearance? I mean, that would be so incompetent, at best, and would deliberately leave state secrets out to a world of spies, at worst.

      https://www.dailywire.com/news/obama-administration-saved-call-transcripts-on-same-secret-server-as-trump-administration

      “After the media spent days speculating that President Donald Trump demanded a “quid pro quo” agreement from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, only to learn no such agreement was made, the same outlets began pushing the notion that the Trump administration saved the conversation to a different, secret server.

      Former national security adviser for the Obama administration, Susan Rice, however, acknowledged during a speaking engagement Friday night that the previous administration also saved transcripts of phone calls with world leaders this way.”

      Ms Rice tried to claim that Obama only used this server for classified conversations, but, when pressed, did not clarify. It should be noted that President Trump started saving all conversations to this server when transcripts of his phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia were leaked.

      So…transcripts were not secure. So he secured them, while subject to records keeping acts. He also released the transcript to the public. Obviously this isn’t proof of guilt. It’s proof that he improved security using the same infrastructure as his predecessor, as would any corporation suffering from hacks and espionage.

      So…impeach!

      I refuse to get sucked into this hysteria, and cannot understand all the dutiful bleating of this nonsense. Use common sense.

      “To deflect attention away from Trump’s crimes.” What crimes? According to Professor Turley above, and the Mueller report, there was no evidence that Trump’s administration knowingly worked with the Russians. So…what crimes? More debunked conspiracy theories?

      1. This was not some private Presidential conversation–there is no such thing. Whenever heads of state converse, there are people on both sides listening, recording what is said–except, of course, when Trump is meeting privately with Russians and he kicks out interpreters and record keepers. There is no privilege involved here, either–Trump’s minions are smart enough to know that what he did is a crime–leveraging a Congressional military aid appropriation to benefit his campaign. They hid evidence of this to protect him against himself. And, there need be no “quid pro quo”–solicitation of assistance for his political campaign is enough. And, his minions also have hidden conversations with MBS and Putin on this server, but not discussions with other heads of state. What does that tell you? Is it a mere coincidence that Trump, Jr has bragged that the Trump companies borrow money from Russia and Saudi Arabia? Kushner also borrows from the Saudis. These pathetic explanations and attempts to pivot blame to the Obama administration have Kellyanne’s fingerprints on them.

        Susan Rice has nothing to do with this. Trump only released the transcript because of the whistleblower complaint and because there would have been yet another obstruction of justice charge if he hadn’t, and Congress would have gotten it eventually. And….you’ve never read the Mueller Report. How and why were all of those indictments handed down and guilty pleas obtained? You don’t know anything about the Mueller Report. You listen to the pundits at Fox News and then parrot whatever spin they provide, all the while criticizing people who disagree with you, under the guise of “common sense”. You have very little sense, as most of your posts prove.

        1. Problematic every single sentence there, until i quite reading it half way thru. Suffused with factual errors, overbroad assertions, unsupported generalizations, and false premises, So much that I got a headache from it in record setting time. Sorry, if this reply was directed at me, I just dont have the gas in the tank to digest it. you must be too smart for me.

        2. It must not have been for me since i dont watch fox news., as i have told you guys a hundred times. i barely watch any tv at all. I even missed my one hour of zombies this weekend. it’s been a terrible diet only of the screechers on NPR and the paper wall street journal but I didn’t bother with the US political coverage anyways. Been too busy. Sorry y’all can’t direct me to anything more informative than the general party line on NPR. Which is still along the lines of “ORANGE MAN BAD”

          1. Mr Kurtz – I started watching reaction videos to Bill Burr on YouTube. It is interesting how different people at different ages react to the same routine. However, it has uplifted my day.

            1. Poor biden Jr. Scurrilous lawsuits may now multiply agin him like shrooms. of course a dna test could clear it all up.

              https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7524947/Hunter-Biden-privately-ADMITTED-hes-father-one-year-old-baby-Arkansas-woman.html

              for the record a dna test from bill clinton disproved that he was Danney Williams’ dad
              that was a guy running around making the claim for a long time. evidently, incorreclty

              hunter can dispense with this small annoyance likewise.

              1. You have women banging multiple men inside a couple of weeks, women lying their tuchus off, men lying their tuchus off, and people who have no morals who nevertheless maintain a scruple against the use of contraceptives (or just bang someone when the spirit moves them).

                Hunter Biden was born in 1970 and can’t keep it in his pants.

                Let the dead bury the dead.

        3. Natacha, you said:

          “Whenever heads of state converse, there are people on both sides listening, recording what is said.” No kidding. That is why there is a transcript for such phone calls.

          “There is no privilege involved here, either.” See “Presidential Communications Privilege.” https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/courts/news/2010/06/01/7909/executive-privilege-101/ Why don’t you even GOOGLE before you make assertions? “The stronger form is known as the “presidential communications privilege.” This relatively robust privilege applies to communications made directly to the president so long as those communications occur “in performance of [a president’s] responsibilities” and “in the process of shaping policies and making decisions.” The presidential communications privilege may also apply to communications “authored or solicited and received by those members of an immediate White House adviser’s staff who have broad and significant responsibility for investigating and formulating the advice to be given the President on the particular matter to which the communications relate.””

          I see that you just ignored the other reasons for storing communications on the server, including the repeated leaks.

          “And, there need be no “quid pro quo”–solicitation of assistance for his political campaign is enough.” See Professor Turley’s article, https://jonathanturley.org/2019/09/27/you-want-impeachment-find-a-quip-to-go-with-the-pro-quo/

          “And, his minions also have hidden conversations with MBS and Putin on this server, but not discussions with other heads of state.” Trump has been using this server since 2017, due to leaks. Obama used the same server when he felt necessary. Quite obviously, recorded conversations should be secure. Since he released the transcript when asked, what’s the problem?

          Trump no longer runs his companies. The United States has protected its interests in Saudi Arabia because of the military advantage that it conveys, as well as the fact that the Kingdom opposes Iran, which in turn is protected by Russia.

          Quite obviously, the Saudis have stayed in Trump properties. It would be discriminatory if an international hotel refused service to foreign nationals. “Evidence” of financial ties to Saudi Arabia included a 2001 sale of luxury apartments. A real estate mogul would have sold properties to the Saudis, Chinese, and many other foreign nationals. If he had refused to sell to Arabs, that would have been used as evidence he was racist. Other “evidence” was the 1991 sale of one of his yachts to the Arabs. Back in 1995, a Saudi Prince was one of the investors in his Plaza Hotel in NYC.

          Currently, foreign nationals book rooms in Trump hotels, which do not refuse service. They book conference rooms, as they would at any other hotel. I have not heard that any of these hotels stand empty, so don’t see what the gain is. Trump does not manage his properties, and has satisfied the law on this matter.

          This is frankly irrational to claim that if a hotel rents a room to any foreigners, then it is currying favor. The rooms are booked every night, and would be booked. These are not dilapidated, falling down properties without any tenants, receiving money they would not otherwise get. It’s a hotel. Hotels rent rooms to travelers.

          By contrast, Bill Clinton got massive speaking fees from governments with business before the State Department, when his wife was SOS. His speaking fees plummeted when Hillary lost, as did the donations to the foundation. Curious. Bill Clinton still has the same ability to give speeches. What changed, besides his wife’s position of influence? Why did he get more than the going rate of his speaking engagement fee from such countries? This is an example of an allegation of quid pro quo that should be investigated, along with the email investigation already under way.

          Unless the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia paid Trump’s hotel $1 million for one room for one night, and instead paid the going rate by any other traveler, then this is merely further persecution by people who cannot accept the result of the election. You cannot tell Trump that if you do X, you will satisfy the law regarding your hotel empire, and then say, no, wait a minute, you did not do Y, so guilty!

          You just keep making spurious allegations and gossip.

          1. The reason there’s no privilege involved here is because the reason for the call was to obtain support for Trump’s campaign, not for “shaping policies” or “making decisions”. Why were the transcript, and even the reference to the date, time, etc. moved from the index of the usual computer where such items are stored to the most-secure computer, on the order of WH counsel, and why are calls between Trump and MBS and Putin also stored and cataloged there? Hopefully, you’ve seen the transcript. Clearly, this was a bid for help in Trump’s campaign, not for presidential decision-making. Not privileged. Clearly, moving references to the transcript from the WH server to the secure server was done to cover up Trump’s request for a favor. I want to see the 7 calls that preceded this one. Also, is it just some happy coincidence that Trump illegally withheld military aid appropriated by Congress and then when the Ukrainian President stated he needed to purchase more Javelins, Trump asked for a “favor” (his word)–to reopen a closed investigation of the leading opposing candidate? Why is Barr in Italy, trying to get them to help in attacking the Mueller Report? Why did Pompeo pretend he didn’t know anything about the Ukrainian call when he listened in? What authority does Giuliani have to conduct business as a de facto Secretary of State?

            Why, after all of these years, are Biden’s alleged “crimes” from years ago suddenly important enough for Trump to call the Ukrainian President and to request a “favor”? Why has Trump ordered the DOJ to investigate the e-mails of everyone who worked for HRC when she was Secretary of State, going back 10 or so years ago? Why is this suddenly some crisis? Even you should be able to figure out the motivation. Is it because the leading 5 Democratic candidates, in poll after poll, would beat Trump? One other smoking gun: it took Kellyanne nearly a full week to come up with some “plausible” explanation for this, which also included a pivot to throw dirt on Susan Rice and Barak Obama.

            You speak of “leaks”. Trump is disliked and distrusted everywhere he goes. Career government employees are patriots. They take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not Trump.

        4. Natacha:

          There are many issues with your statement.

          “Whenever heads of state converse, there are people on both sides listening, recording what is said.” No kidding. This is why there is a transcript.”

          “There is no privilege involved here” https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/courts/news/2010/06/01/7909/executive-privilege-101/ “The stronger form is known as the “presidential communications privilege.” This relatively robust privilege applies to communications made directly to the president so long as those communications occur “in performance of [a president’s] responsibilities” and “in the process of shaping policies and making decisions.” The presidential communications privilege may also apply to communications “authored or solicited and received by those members of an immediate White House adviser’s staff who have broad and significant responsibility for investigating and formulating the advice to be given the President on the particular matter to which the communications relate.””

        5. “Susan Rice has nothing to do with this.” She had to admit that Obama used the same server to store transcripts of his own phone calls when he deemed it necessary.

          “Trump only released the transcript because of the whistleblower complaint and because there would have been yet another obstruction of justice charge if he hadn’t”. So he kept transcripts on a secure server and produced them when asked. The horror. Obviously he should have acid washed that server, which he should have kept in his bathroom.

          “And….you’ve never read the Mueller Report.” Look, I know this will come as a shock to you, but we don’t live together. We have never met. You don’t, actually, know what I’ve read, or what the various news sites I utilized today, yesterday, or any other day, aside from the varied links that I have provided over the years. Here is the redacted version of the Mueller report. I have read it, as well as analysis of its contents from various angles. Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly, the best effort of political activists in the intelligence community. https://www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf. We shall have to wait a bit longer for the results of the investigation into the origin of the Russian probe and spying upon Donald Trump. Hopefully we will find out what Obama knew, and when he knew it. Watergate was so tame compared to what passes for normal today.

          “How and why were all of those indictments handed down and guilty pleas obtained?” Do you not know and require me to explain it to you?

          “You don’t know anything about the Mueller Report. You listen to the pundits at Fox News and then parrot whatever spin they provide”. And, off you go into hysterical rubbish again. You are really a strange bird.

          1. Karen, it is transparent to me that you are a full-on Fox News disciple. The statements you make are nearly verbatim from what Hannity and Ingraham spout every evening. A prime example: that absurd comment about Obama “spying” on Trump, and how the DOJ is going to get to the bottom of this. That’s a typical Fox News pivot: yeah, ignore the 400 lb gorilla of Trump misconduct and pivot to accuse Barak Obama or the Bidens of something evil that either is baseless or already proven to be untrue.

            You cannot even respond with facts, logic or reason regarding the Mueller Report. It’s a lot of pages, but it documents serious wrongdoing, including obstruction of justice. Russia did interfere in the 2016 election, and the Trump campaign helped them do it. Trump has sent Giuliani, Barr and Pompeo on missions to try to discredit this inconvenient truth. Trump’s campaign personnel lied. A lot. Just like he lies. A lot. The arrogance of your stupidity is alarming: you think that a Fox disciple like you could explain to me why Manafort, Flynn, et al were convicted? You think you “know” why? You “know” what Hannity tells you: “no collusion…no obstruction”. “You” don’t know anything much except that Fox News sings the hymns you love.

            1. It’s a lot of pages, but it documents serious wrongdoing, including obstruction of justice.

              Yes, he was obstructing Andrew Weissmann’s obstruction investigation by providing reams of documentation and mean tweets.

      2. One other point: this conversation and the transcript were removed from the index of such items in the normal WH server used for such information and moved to the secure server–on the orders of WH counsel.

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