The impeachment and trial of Donald J. Trump

An exercise in bad faith politics

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) announced Wednesday that he doesn’t believe new witnesses are needed to testify in the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Republicans, who hold a majority control in the Senate, have by-and-large opposed the notion of bringing witnesses into their proceedings. Democrats needed at least four Republicans to join in their approval of more testimony in order to make it happen.

Should Gardner vote to allow more witnesses, the American people would hear from Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton under oath. Senators would be able to ask clarifying questions and Americans would be able to form their own judgements based on the information given.

Too bad Gardner does not believe the American people should receive more information.

Bolton asserts that he has additional evidence that Trump explicitly used military aid to extort the Ukrainian government into launching investigations into Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. All with the goal of benefitting Trump personally and politically in the 2020 General Election.

The former national security adviser’s claim undercuts a major argument presented by the president’s defense, which denies that Trump tied roughly $400 million in military aid to political investigations into Biden.

By Wednesday three Senate Republicans appeared ready to allow Bolton’s testimony. Gardner, true to form, indicated that he might vote in favor of more witnesses, only to pivot when it came time to act.

Depression sets in when one realizes that plenty of evidence to Trump’s wrongdoing has already been released. If it weren’t for bad faith posturing from Republicans, that would be more present in people’s minds.

People seem to forget that Trump was only impeached in the House following hours and hours of testimony from persons working in and with the Trump administration directly.

And people forget that because House and Senate Republicans, like Gardner, are trying their damnedest not to acknowledge what has already come to light.

Gardner and Senate Republicans won’t remind you that a memorandum released by the White House to the House Judiciary Committee quotes Trump saying Ukraine would need to do him a “favor,” investigate the Bidens, if they wanted military aid.

Gardner also doesn’t want to give you the context behind that conversation: By that point Trump had already ordered the halt of the aid delivery (without consent of Congress, which is a crime); Ukraine was and still is engaged in a literal ground war with Russia; and later, Trump only released the aid after he learned an anonymous whistleblower reported these circumstances to Congress in August.

We already know all of this because it has been revealed through House impeachment inquiry proceedings.

And that is where this lesson in bad faith politics begins. Sit down and pay attention, Gardner. You are about to get schooled.

Congressional Republican defense of the president has been a display of shameless inconsistency and obtuse denial.

I call them Schrodinger’s Politicians. They say the president never withheld military aid and simultaneously hold the position that he did it and who cares, that is very legal and very cool.

They want the American people to know the truth and they want justice, but they absolutely cannot question witnesses who could clarify the truth in public under oath.

Trump does not have to release the transcripts and recordings of his meetings on Ukraine that definitely do not exist at all in the first place.

“There are no tapes!”

Bolton was willing to testify to the House, but the Trump administration told him to stand down, and ordered others to ignore official subpoenas from the House. And now in the Senate defenders of the president are asking, if there is more information, why didn’t the House present it during their inquiry?

What’s next? War is peace? Freedom is slavery? Ignorance is strength?

When George Orwell wrote 1984, he was communicating the dangers of totalitarianism, not drafting a handbook on it.

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Guiliani has frequently admitted on national television that he was involved in discussions in Ukraine to ensure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski buckled under Trump’s demands.

And there lies another paradox: Why is a personal attorney working overseas on official matters of state business and national security? And if none of this is official state business, as indicated at first glance by the involvement of the president’s personal attorney, then what power does Trump have to dictate funds assigned by Congress?

Not even the president’s official attorneys in his Senate impeachment trial are free from contradiction.

The president’s defense team includes Kenneth Starr, infamous for his unrelenting pursuit of Bill Clinton’s own impeachment and attempted removal in the 90s (which Trump himself publicly denounced at the time), and Alan Dershowitz, the former lawyer of now dead convicted pedophile and international sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein.

Dershowitz argued on Wednesday that a president can engage in “quid pro quo” to get themself reelected as long as they believed their reelection would be “best for the country.”

We sure have come a long way from, “the president did not withhold congressionally approved military aid.”

In the words of Robert Mueller, the congressionally appointed special counsel whose report confirmed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in an effort to get Trump elected: “Lordy.”

At this point, none of this should be surprising, but all of it should be deeply concerning.

Trump told America what he is about almost exactly four years ago, on Jan. 23, when he said to an Iowa crowd, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

That quote captures this impeachment and trial perfectly. It exemplifies Trump’s presidency. And it seems that Gardner is doing his best to prove the president right.

Well, I have news for Donald Trump and Cory Gardner. America is a constitutional republic; a federal republic; a representative democracy.

Whatever one wants to call it, Americans do not live under kings. Our public officials are expected to serve the public, not themselves.

Theoretically, at least.

On the night the constitutional convention convened in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was reportedly descending the steps of Independence Hall when the political sociolite Elizabeth Willing Powel asked him, “So, what do we have? A republic or a monarchy?”

Franklin famously replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

How does Gardner intend to keep democracy safe when he contributes to the obfuscation and suppression of facts in light of credible accusations of extraordinary abuse of abuse of power and obstruction of justice?

Perhaps it is in the best interest of Coloradans, Democrat and Republican, Independent and Unaffiliated and all the rest, to contact him and find out.

You can contact Sen. Cory Gardner at the following numbers:

Pueblo office: (719) 543-1324
Colorado Springs office: (719) 632-6706
Denver office: (303) 391-5777
Grand Junction office: (970) 245-9553
Greeley office: (970) 352-5546
Fort Collins office: (970) 484-3502
Yuma: (970) 848-3095
Durango office: (970) 259-1231
Washington, D.C. office: (202) 224-5941

Like what you read? Check out my analysis of how Attorney General William Barr handled Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Release the Special Counsel Report; Forget the Headlines

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report has not been released to the press.

All of this weekend’s news stories about the special counsel investigation’s completion, every single one of them, are jumping to conclusions and speculation based off of a four-page summary released by President Donald Trump’s attorney general.

This is the same attorney general that stated the president cannot be indicted, the special counsel investigation was unconstitutional and the president should not be investigated for obstructing justice — all claims that are wholly untrue.

Remember that US Attorney General William Barr asserted all of those claims before he was nominated by the president to serve as the attorney general.

Think of it this way: does the special counsel report say whether collusion occurred between the Trump campaign and Russia? Or does it sift through the details of the Trump Tower meeting, Trump’s firing of then FBI Director James Comey or other pertinant issues, and defer judgement of said details to Congress or the attorney general without subjective commentary?

Exactly: we don’t know.

We don’t know what the report says because we haven’t read it, and neither have the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, WaPo or NPR.

The American people deserve to see the full results of this special counsel investigation. If it truly exonerates Trump as the president claims — in contradiction to Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — then the report should be released in as full and pure a form as possible so that we can go forward in an informed and responsible manner.

Or, Senator Mitch McConnell can just block the full report that supposedly vindicates and exonerates the most controversial American president in living memory after a resolution to release it passes unaninously in the House of Representatives (420-0).

For as much controversy as this investigation has stirred, you would think everyone regardless of party would want to see its contents and get to the bottom of what exactly Russia did to our election process … and how to stop them in 2020. Or at least mitigate the damage.

By the way, Russia’s interference into US elections is real. It was confirmed by the special counsel, it was confirmed by Comey and it was confirmed by Barr in his very summary that claims Trump did not collude, collaborate or conspire with the Russian government.

That special counsel investigation, the one at the center of this heated and surreal spectacle, brought indictments against 34 people and three entities.

Five associates of the president were convicted and a sixth, longtime Trump confidante and America’s original political bully pulpit incarnate, Roger Stone, is on his way to trial.

Let’s see the actual report before celebrating that the president wasn’t determined to have committed conspiracy, treason or obstruction of justice after two full years of intense investigation that he fought against the entire way.

And So Continues the Shameful Legacy of “Both Sides”

Senator Larry Crowder published an op-ed in the La Junta Tribune-Democrat calling for “both sides” to tone down political rhetoric. The message comes after revelations that apparent pipe bombs had been anonymously sent to prominent members of the Democratic Party, CNN’s New York headquarters, and former Director of the CIA John Brennan. Every package was intercepted.

“Now is the time to tone the rhetoric down,” wrote Crowder. “When pipe bombs show up in anyone’s mailbox, the wake up call has been sent. Politics is a rough game when vying for votes from the public, but should be done in a very civil manner. Both left and right have taken this rhetoric to a new level of incitement and it’s showing in communiques I receive.”

Crowder is so on point to say that mail bombs are frankly insane. He’s right to say that violence and hate have no place in America and its politics. He is unquestionably correct when he denounces mail bombs, white supremacist hate rallies, and the indefinite internment of the children of immigrants and refugees.

Except, he didn’t say any of that. He said that this most recent near-atrocity in a long line of real atrocities is a “wake-up call.”

It appears that Senator Crowder was asleep at the wheel when Donald Trump famously (or infamously, depending on which “side” you’re on) said on his campaign, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

President Trump more recently said at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, “You don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob.” Senator Crowder must have snoozed through coverage of that one. Although to be fair, the president’s held 45 rallies now, and that’s just since the 2016 election. I don’t blame anyone for being tired of them.

But let’s not forget when the president tweeted, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

I guess that the state senator had his twitter feed on mute then. Presumably so those loud “ding” notifications wouldn’t wake him from his nap.

Now is the time to wake up? We are wide awake, senator. We haven’t been able to sleep. This should not be a partisan issue — except the president keeps making it one.

Just last night President Trump attended yet another rally in Wisconsin. “Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective.”

Crowder and the president are trying to assign equal blame to “both sides,” the political left and the political right. Like some sort of freaky, abstract ethics socialists, they’ve each taken a single very tangible source of ugliness and hatred and assigned vague notions of equal blame to everyone that is effected by it.

A Republican Colorado state senator essentially chided “the left’s” rhetoric after prominent democratic figures and critics of Donald Trump were threatened by ten separate acts of terrorism in the span of approximately four days, as of Thursday, October 25.

Crowder has divied up blame between these nondescript, unspecific notions of “the left,” and “the right,” when he should be directing it squarely where it belongs: with “the president.”

Now, Crowder did say that the president should tone down his rhetoric in addition to “both sides” of the political aisle. But it was more of a slap on the wrist than a firm defense of his constituency’s freedom to not be mail bombed by anonymous senders or ran over by one of the president’s “fine” white supremacists.

It’s insulting how Republicans the nation over shift the weight of responsibility for the president’s own divisive, inciteful language onto those who suffer the consequences of it. It is similar to a common tactic an abusive spouse uses to pressure their partner into staying in line after they are tossed down a flight of stairs.

“You made me do it. You know I love you, but you made me hurt you.”

“Both left and right have taken this rhetoric to a new level of incitement.”

No, senator. “The left” is not responsible for mail bombs sent to Democratic President Barack Obama. “The left” is not responsible for racist hate rallies endorsed by the president over a year ago. The Republican President Donald Trump, who so recently demonized democrats across the country as an “angry left-wing mob,” is responsible. The Republican Party, that has for so long now ignored, diminished and normalized the president’s dangerous and violent rhetoric, is responsible for that rhetoric’s outcome.

If Senator Crowder truly cared about the division and hatred amplified by this president, then he would use his stature as a state representative to demand that the federal Congress censor the president to neutralize his power to propagate hate while a more permanent solution (impeachment, cough, cough) is worked out.

Let it be said that there is merit in calling for “both sides” to not escalate from here. There is nothing wrong with reminding everyone that pipe bombs are a bigly no-no. But it is insultingly wrong to claim that left-minded Americans, who all but for an underwhelmingly minute minority have peacefully resisted this dark coming of Trumpism, are just as responsible for extreme right-wing dog whistles, bullhorns and hate-mongering rhetoric as the president that spews it from his own mouth.

The Republican Party that has majority control over every branch of the federal government could at any time end this pitiful charade once and for all, if it weren’t for the hateful minority of citizens that said party pandered shamelessly to in order to usurp that majority control in the very first place.

So, rather than ineffectively asking for everyone, particularly the president, to “tone down political rhetoric,” I ask you, Senator Crowder, to step up and condemn President Donald J. Trump for his stochastic terrorism that your party has ignored and played down since before the man had been elected.

There is a divide in this county, there is a divide in this state, and there is a divide in this country. What there is not — what is utterly lacking — is a unifying leader capable of putting party interests aside for the best interests of the nation at large. The president is a wedge between the cracks and fissures that compose that divide, that the Republican Party and foreign entities have used to further fracture the American people.

I want everyone to come together as much as you do, senator. But we both know that won’t happen as long as your party continues to drive that wedge through the heart of this nation.

Changing Climate Impacts our Environment and Economy

Oliver Manufacturing sits on the outskirts of La Junta, Colorado, in what’s known as the Arkansas Valley. From our offices, one can watch the wind carry tumbleweeds across the dry plains or spot summer storms developing on the horizon. We always hope for those storms to drift our way, bearing with them refreshing rains, but they rarely do. It’s something that I long ago came to accept about the region I grew up in. And yet, every year seems to swelter more than the last. Continue reading Changing Climate Impacts our Environment and Economy

Trade Wars End Game

As published on SeedWorld.com.

2018 promised a lot for soybean producers. In February, the USDA predicted that annual US soybean exports would break 2.5 billion bushels by 2020. Brazil expected to surpass production of approximately 70 million to 110 million bushels this year.

These predictions boded well for soybean producers and sellers, as well as processing and conditioning equipment manufacturers. However, on March 8, President Donald Trump imposed steel and aluminum import tariffs of 25 and 10 percent, respectively, with temporary exemptions for Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

American steel suppliers took advantage of the situation, and increased steel prices passed from manufacturers to their end-users — some of whom were soybean producers. Following China’s subsequent decision to block all imports of US soybeans in retaliation to American tariffs, a more promising outcome for the American soybean market billowed away. Five months of quaky trade talks later, and what has formed in the absence of a positive year is a toxic cloud of uncertainty and insecurity.

China and the US briefly appeared to resolve the trade dispute after the president stated that he planned to bail out Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE. China and the US rescinded their tariffs, only for President Trump to impose them again and for China to threaten the same. Since then, the two powers have been interlocked in an ambiguous state of contention.

Much like Schrodinger with his cat, it seems that the very act of observing Trump’s foreign trade policy is enough to change it. The trade war is dead. In a blink, it looms on the horizon, very much alive. I dread what effect that the very act of writing this article may have on the space-time continuum.

Trump initiates a trade war against China, states that NAFTA must be renegotiated on a basis of national security, and, in utter tone-deafness, saves ZTE, the Chinese company that pleaded guilty in 2017 to violating US trade sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

It is important to note that ZTE illegally sold American technology to Iran and North Korea; sanctions aside, the theft of American intellectual property is exactly what the president used in addition to a deficit as justification for tariffs against China in the first place. (And there goes the space-time continuum.)

On the other side of the world, China threatens tariffs one day and then actually offers to increase the import of American sorghum the next. Meanwhile, American soybean producers have no choice but to brace themselves and cross their fingers as the pendulum swings.

What lies next for the United States and China is uncertain. And things were further complicated from America’s perspective on May 29, when Mexican President Peña Nieto declared a 25% tariff on imported US goods such as pork, cranberries, bourbon and American steel. Mexico, Canada and the European Union were originally exempted from US tariffs, but that privilege piddled out days before its May 31 deadline when Trump declared that he would prefer to renegotiate NAFTA with each member nation separately.

Canada, France and Japan have also recently drawn their own lines against the Trump administration’s aggressive metals duties.

American steel has thus far benefited from these tumultuous negotiations. But how will such an unpredictable and volatile environment affect manufacturing and agriculture in the near and distant future? Why is the President of the United States helping an adversarial foreign company at the expense of the industries that support the country he leads? And where exactly do steel, manufacturing and agriculture fit into this administration’s end game?