The most straightforward answer to why I’m not sleeping is the constant stream of Trumpian antics, of the foolish, outrageous, dangerous to the country’s health, but often amusing behavior. What keeps me awake is Trump’s being totally unfit for the office of president, yet fully occupying that office. This drives me to rage at him, at what he’s doing and saying, and even more at his enablers in the Senate.
Thoughts, too many thoughts with a heavy concentration on politics, much like these here keep me awake. Thoughts of Trump, his base, the Republican Senators, and the bevy of lawyers transformed into spineless sycophants surrounding him, so far have not stopped coming, without being asked, and seizing hold of my consciousness.
And there is no end in sight (maybe November of 2020?). As a small child my parents would tell me to count, (sheep was it?) to get back to sleep. It worked and I did get back to sleep. Now, try as hard as I can to grab hold of sleep, I’m not able to, and sleep doesn’t grab me and I remain awake.
Just a few days ago I read in the news thatTrump’s men and women trolls, flunkies all (a flunky’s job is to do whatever he or she is told to do, preferably without question in a servile, docile, dutiful way) had declared war on the House impeachment inquiry by announcing that they, Trump’s gaggle of flunkies, would not cooperate with what they now called an illegitimate effort on the part of Congress “to overturn the results of the 2016 election” and in the process setting the stage for a constitutional clash with far-reaching consequences.“
But who is it that is setting the “stage for a constitutional clash” but Trump himself. This is Trump’s method, you try to impeach me and I will impeach you. He lives by the idea, that the best defense is an offense. Never give in. What he had learned from his Trump Hotel and Tower lawyer, Roy Cohn. Make up the rules of the game as you go along. Don’t wait for Trump/Cohn to concede that his own words and actions are bringing about the “constitutional clash with far-reaching consequences.”
“To overturn the results of the 2016 election?” Is that what the Dems are doing? Not at all. Here’s what the Constitution says about Impeachment: that which they are really doing:The House of Representatives shall have the sole Power of Impeachment. (Article 1, section 2.) What’s happening now is simply that, the House is exercising its legitimate power. The 2016 election is over and done with. No one, and certainly not the House of Representatives, is trying to resurrect it. The House is merely doing its Constitutionally assigned task.
Donald Trump’s stonewalling of the United States Congress is not unlike what he describes earlier at a rally in Sioux City Iowa:
“You know what else the polls say about my people? They say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible.”
Well just yesterday Joe Biden suggested that this is what is happening, except that nowTrump is “shooting” our Constitution, making holes in our system of Constitutional checks and balances (in particular the checks on the president). Again Trump disregards the Constitutionally assigned oversight powers of the Congress in order to further his own personal interests.
There are myriad examples of unbridled kingship (or emperorship) in our history, many fewer examples of democratic government. History is full of the actions of kings, not full of the actions of democratically elected peoples. Why sometimes to even find a real democracy we have to go back to the Greeks, and then 5th century Athens while admirable in so many ways was anything but a real democracy. It does seem that history will always be more about kings and tyrants than about peoples. Hence Trump.
Our country’s own history is becoming the history of the actions and words of an individual, Trump. Trump is there and has been running roughshod over our democracy because he is totally without the rule of law and totally supported by the Republican Senators totally without backbones.
The greatest moments in history have often been real or imagined battles between individuals, Alexander and Cyrus, Hannibal and Caesar, Hitler and Eisenhower.
Now this is a momentous time in our own history, but there is only Trump on the one side. On the other side in opposition to Trump there is, for the moment, no one. So far whatever opposition there is doesn’t seem to have what it takes to stop Trump in his tracks.
Impeachment should be as described in the Constitution, but the Democrats are allowing Trump his own idea of impeachment , allowing him to devise his own battle plans for its undoing. The democrats do not yet seem to have a comparable impeachment strategy of their own.
In a letter to House Democratic leaders, (see Nicholas Fandos, Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman. Oct. 9, 2019) the White House said the impeachment inquiry had violated precedent and denied President Trump’s due process rights in such an egregious way that neither he nor the executive branch would willingly provide testimony or documents.
The phrase due process rights embodies society’s basic notions of legal fairness. A first reading of the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which prohibit government from taking a person’s “life, liberty or property without due process of law,” suggests a limitation that only relates to procedures. In fact many due process cases do involve the question of fair procedures or procedural due process. However, question of legal fairness may be related not only to procedures, but also to legislation that unfairly affects people. As a result, courts in the U.S. have interpreted the language of these Amendments as a limitation on substantive powers of legislatures to pass laws affecting various aspects of life. When applying what is called substantive due process, courts look at whether a law or government action unreasonably infringes on a fundamental liberty.
In a case from 1833, the Supreme Court of the U.S. decided that the Fifth Amendment was not directly binding on state governments. As a result of that case, neither the Supreme Court nor the federal court in general exercised much control over the substance of state laws or over the processes by which states administered their laws during America’s early years. This situation changed dramatically with the passage of the Civil War Amendments (13, 14, and 15), which were designed to prevent discrimination by states against blacks freed from slavery as a result of that war.
The Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause was almost identical to the Fifth Amendment’s clause. But the Fourteenth Amendment was specific in limiting the actions of the state governments. Courts have interpreted these two clauses identically: the Fifth Amendment now limits the power of the federal government and the Fourteenth Amendment limits the power of state (and local) governments.
What are the due process rights of someone undergoing impeachment by the Congress of the United States. In the present situation you have a president is clearly unfit for the office, and this by itself ought to be enough for impeachment. At least while it’s in the House of representatives it’s not a trial, with all the settled agreements as to how a trial should be conducted. The House is looking at the prepared “articles of impeachment” and if in their majority the members of the House agree that the president in this case (the AG perhaps in another case) is “guilty,” that what he has done is clearly a example of reason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The House inquiry couldn’t be more “constitutional” than it is. The origin of the impeachment push in this instance is to protect the constitution. The Republicans are disregarding the constitutional role of the House.
But in refusing to cooperate with what Mr. Trump on Tuesday called a “kangaroo court,” the president risked ensuring the very outcome he would rather avoid. House Democrats made clear that his failure to comply with their demands for information could form the basis for its own article of impeachment.
Now what is a Kangaroo Court? —— An unfair, biased, or hasty judicial proceeding that ends in a harsh punishment; an unauthorized trial conducted by individuals who have taken the law into their own hands, such as those put on by vigilantes or prison inmates; a proceeding and its leaders who are considered sham, corrupt, and without regard for the law.
The concept of kangaroo court dates to the early nineteenth century. Scholars trace its origin to the historical practice of itinerant judges on the U.S. frontier. These roving judges were paid on the basis of how many trials they conducted, and in some instances their salary depended on the fines from the defendants they convicted. The term kangaroo court comes from the image of these judges hopping from place to place, guided less by concern for justice than by the desire to wrap up as many trials as the day allowed
The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the president’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said in a statement. “Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.”
The White House letter came shortly after the White House blocked the interview of a key witness, Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, just hours before he was to appear on Capitol Hill. A senior administration official said no other witnesses or documents would be provided, putting a “full halt” to cooperation.
The president’s decision to resist across the board is itself a potentially precedent-setting move that could have far-reaching implications for the inquiry. Democrats believe that it bolsters their list of impeachable offenses, adding the stonewalling of Congress to the tally, but it could also deprive them of crucial witnesses and evidence they might need to lodge credible charges against the presiden.
Trump reversed himself after investigators were given text messages that called into question his assertion that there was no quid pro quo when he pressed Ukraine’s president to investigate Democrats while dangling a White House invitation and withholding American security assistance.
The White House letter to Ms. Pelosi and other Democrats was part constitutional argument, part political statement. Over eight pages, Mr. Cipollone listed various ways House Democrats have diverged from precedents set during impeachment inquiries against Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton.
Read the Constitution:
But the writers of the “White House letter” seem to be ignorant that The House of Representatives … shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.— Article I, Section 2, Clause 5
And that the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.
The President] … shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.—Article II, Section 2
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.—Article II, Section 4
Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff, you have the power here. Wield it!
The powers of Congress are enumerated in several places in the Constitution. … The last paragraph of Article I, Section 8 grants to Congress the power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and properfor carrying into execution the foregoing powers“–the “Necessary and Proper Clause.”
Oversight is an implied rather than an enumerated power under the U.S. Constitution. The government’s charter does not explicitly grant Congress the authority to conduct inquiries or investigations of the executive, to have access to records or materials held by the executive, or to issue subpoenas for documents or testimony from the executive.
Oversight also derives from the many and varied express powers of the Congress in the Constitution. It is implied in the legislature’s authority, among other powers and duties, to appropriate funds, enact laws, raise and support armies, provide for a Navy, declare war, and impeach and remove from office the President, Vice President, and other civil officers. Congress could not reasonably or responsibly exercise these powers without knowing what the executive was doing; how programs were being administered, by whom, and at what cost; and whether officials were obeying the law and complying with legislative intent.
The Supreme Court of the United States has confirmed the oversight powers of Congress, subject to constitutional safeguards for civil liberties, on several occasions. In 1927, for instance, the Court found that in investigating the administration of the Justice Department, Congress had the authority to consider a subject “on which legislation could be had or would be materially aided by the information which the investigation was calculated to elicit”.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
AMENDMENT XIV – Passed by Congress June 13, 1866.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Finally here is Paul Krugman on October 11. Hooray, for he tells that ultimately we are saved by the President’s own mental deficiency:
What still hangs in the balance is the outcome. And if democracy survives — which is by no means certain — it will largely be thanks to one unpredictable piece of good luck: Donald Trump’s mental deficiency.
I don’t mean that Trump is stupid; a stupid man couldn’t have managed to defraud so many people over so many years. Nor do I mean that he’s crazy, although his speeches and tweets (“my great and unmatched wisdom”; the Kurds weren’t there on D-Day) keep sounding loonier.
He is, however, lazy, utterly incurious and too insecure to listen to advice or ever admit to a mistake. And given that he is in fact what he accuses others of being — an enemy of the people — we should be thankful for his flaws.