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.

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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.

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?

Outrage Fatigue and Distractions in the Media

Trump the “Master” Manipulator and Distractor Extraordinaire

Since well before the 2016 presidential election, numerous parties have floated claims that Donald Trump is a master of manipulation and an expert at distraction. That his tweets are intentionally brazen; that he intends to turn heads away from Mueller and Russia probe, or Mar-a-Lago activities, or what-have-you; that there is any minute amount of method to his madness. These suggestions, most commonly mouthed by understandably frustrated left-minded folks, are off-kilter in my view.

Continue reading Outrage Fatigue and Distractions in the Media