Author: jonathanturley

The House Has A Duty To Impeach If They Find High Crimes and Misdemeanors By Trump

Below is my column in USA Today on the recent statements by various Democratic leaders that they are unlikely to pursue impeachment because they do not have the votes in the Senate to convict. While many members pushed the impeachment angle during the campaign, there was a shift on the issue after the Democrats took office. Almost immediately after the election, senior Democrats changed course and began to dismiss calls for impeachment as “fruitless” and a distraction. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton declared impeachment to be “a useless waste of energy” and asked “Why would we go down the impeachment road when we cannot get it through the Senate?” 

I have repeatedly said that I do not see the strong foundation for an impeachment against Trump. However, these comments raise a more fundamental question about how members should approach their duties under Article I irrespective of the President. Members often pull a bait-and-switch with gullible voters, but they should not manufacture a new constitutional standard. If they truly believe that any president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, they have a sworn duty to vote for impeachment.

Here is the column:

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Five Myths About Bill Barr

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on a growing mythology building around the nomination of Bill Barr for Attorney General of the United States. One of the most prominent is that Barr was intentionally evasive about releasing any report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Members of both parties have overwhelmingly called for the release of the report. However, Democratic members pushed Barr to promise to release the entire report before he actually reads it.

Barr said repeatedly that he believed that not only the completion of the Special Counsel investigation but the release of the information was in the public interest.  Barr was repeating the standard from the regulation, which is precisely what he should do.  That standard says that the Attorney General has discretion to conclude that “these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.” What the Democratic senators were demanding would have been an unethical pledge to release a report without knowing its contents.  Federal law prevents the disclosure of a myriad of different types of material from Grand jury (or Rule 6(e)) material to classified material to material covered in privacy or confidentiality laws as well as possible privileged material.  After pushing him on whether he would act ethically, it was a curious request for a facially unethical and unprofessional pledge.
Here is what Barr said:

“I also believe it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the special counsel’s work . . .For that reason, my goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law. I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and will let no personal, political or other improper interests influence my decision.”

Here is the column:

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Report: Trump Told Cohen To Lie To Congress

There is a new report out today that President Donald Trump directed his attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The sources are described as two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter. It is not clear if that means two officials currently involved or previously involved (which would include some of the fired or removed officials like Andrew McCabe or James Comey). Nevertheless, if true, such an allegation could easily be translated into a criminal allegation or article of impeachment. It comes down to the proof. What is clear is that, if the proof is Cohen alone, they have work to do on this one. Cohen is a serial liar and felon. I have written that I agree with the Democrats in calling him to testify and that his testimony could prove useful in giving needed details. However, Cohen is about as credible as a mob torpedo without being thoroughly and completely verified by more credible sources. There are also some gaps in the story as well as obvious defenses.

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MSNBC Host Suggests Lindsey Graham Is Being Blackmailed By Trump

While the media often (and often correctly) criticizes President Donald Trump for attacking critics personally or making claims without sufficient support, there seems less scrutiny when he or his allies is the target of such attacks. The recent attacks on Sen. Lindsey Graham after MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle suggested on national television that his support for Trump is due to being blackmailed with “something pretty extreme.” Various Republicans denounced the allegation (which was picked up by a Democratic member) as a clear reference to long-standing rumors that Graham is gay (which Graham as denied). They have described the statements are inherently homophobic. The reprehensible statement was soon echoed by others — not only implying that President Trump engages in blackmail but that Graham has sold out to conceal some “extreme” conduct.

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Giuliani: “I Never Said There Was No Collusion Between The Campaign, Or People In The Campaign”

Another interview, another controversy. Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani has found himself in another firestorm after telling CNN host Chris Cuomo: “I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign.” The problem is that his client has . . . repeatedly.

Update: In what has become a pattern, Giuliani spent the next today walking back his statements.

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No SOTU For You: Pelosi Moves To Postpone State Of The Union Due To Shutdown

Claiming security concerns, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked President Donald Trump to postpone his Jan. 29 State of the Union speech due to the shutdown of the government. There is no question that security can be guaranteed, as reaffirmed by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen who said that federal law enforcement is “fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union.” The general view however is that the security risk is a thin, if not transparent, cover for a political muscle play. In reality, Congress controls the invitation and a joint meeting of Congress requires an invitation from both houses.

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Special Counsel: Manafort Lied About Contacts With White House After Plea Agreement

I have previously written about the reported contacts of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and White House or Trump team members. If true, it was a remarkably reckless act on both sides and could further jeopardize confidentiality protections. Now, in a response to Manafort, Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a redacted account of Manafort’s alleged false statements and non-cooperation to prosecutors. The most interesting item from my perspective was confirmation that the Special Counsel is supplying what it says is direct proof that Manafort misrepresented or lied about the contacts with the Trump team.

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Witch Hunt or Mole Hunt? The Times Bombshell Could Blow Up Both Sides

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the recent disclosure that the FBI opened an investigation into whether President Donald Trump was working for Russia after his firing of former FBI Director James Comey. In reading the story, it struck me that the emerging picture from early 2017 looks increasingly like a study in cognitive bias. Indeed, it raises a rather intriguing possibility that both sides may feed each other in reaching the wrong conclusions.

Here is the column:

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Trust But Verify: Cohen To Return To Congress In Role Of Reformed Sinner

Below is my earlier column on the scheduling of testimony for President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. The new Democratic majority is right to call Cohen who, while he will not discuss matters under investigation with the Special Counsel, can supply needed details on his allegations on other alleged crimes. While he may bring new details, he will bring little credibility as a proven serial liar. Nonetheless, he joins a long line of disreputable characters called before Congress. They are a necessary cost of oversight in some scandals, but Cohen’s record demands more than the usual degree of corroboration. Any oath that Cohen takes at this point will be viewed as a moment worthy of its own laugh track.

Here is the column:

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Alaskan Guide Fined After Herding Grizzly Bears With Snowmobiles So Clients Could Shoot Them More Easily

USFWS

As many on this blog know, I am no fan of trophy hunting.  I fail to see why it is impressive or thrilling to shoot a giraffe or elephant with a high-powered rifle.    I just do not understand the thrill kill. I feel the same way about shooting grizzly bears, which I have traveled to Alaska to watch in the wild. However, there are many responsible hunters and, while I would not allow hunting grizzly bears, it is lawful in some states. What is not lawful is herding with snowmobiles so some fat cat on a high priced hunting thrill could shoot one. That is what Brian Simpson of Fairbanks, did for Wittrock Outfitters. He is now stripped of his master guide’s license and fined $2,600 in restitution for the killing of two grizzly bears.

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Saudi Teenager Continues Standoff In Thailand In Seeking Asylum

There remains confusion in Thailand over the fate of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, who is seeking asylum after renouncing Islam and refusing to be treated as chattel under the medieval laws of Saudi Arabia. We have previously discussed the sexist and repressive laws imposed on women in the Kingdom, making adult women effective wards of male family members, including younger siblings or family members. Since the Saudis kill people for apostasy, the fear of this young woman is real and immediate. She is deserving of asylum and the United States should show that it truly believes in women’s rights and step forward to give her protection against our Saudi allies.

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New York Times Issues Retraction In Bombshell Collusion Story

The New York Times caused a firestorm over its reporting that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort attempted to pass internal Trump campaign data to a Russia oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin during the 2016 presidential race. Various sites declared the story by reporters Sharon LaFraniere, Kenneth P. Vogel and Maggie Haberman as the final corroboration of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. However, the New York Times later retracted the key connection to a Russian oligarch.

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Police Search For Rapist After Woman in Vegetative State For Ten Years Gives Birth In Arizona Facility

Regulars on this blog are familiar with the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur (or “the thing speaks for itself”). One twisted case near Phoenix, Arizona would certainly seem to fit that definition after a patient in a vegetative state gave birth. AZ Family reported that he victim is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe who nearly drowned 10 years ago. Police or the company may seek DNA samples from all male employees at Hacienda HealthCare. In this case, a positive match would by definition confirm rape given the non-consensual context.

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