June 10, 2019 Hearings Were A Tepid Start Towards Holding A President Accountable For His Crimes

After today’s (6/10/2019) hearings held by the US House’s Judiciary Committee, chaired by the Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler, I’m more convinced than ever that the US House of Representatives must do its constitutionally mandated duty to commence an “impeachment inquiry” based on the 3/22/2019 FBI’s final report regarding its Trump-Russia probe led by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller III which details numerous felonious acts committed by the republican President Donald Trump.

It was a shame that none of the TV news channels carried the hearings, live. Many of the cable news channels quickly pivoted to a more dazzling story, the crash landing of a helicopter in downtown Manhattan. I was able to view the judiciary hearing on one channel, C-Span 3 which is not available in all TV markets.

Dear Dems in House leadership, Here’s the reality. Current hearings will not garner the media coverage that impeachment hearings will.

Here’s Laurence Tribe’s 6/11/2019 tweet:

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The hearings appeared to be intended to educate the public as to the content of Mr. Mueller’s report that had been mis-characterized by the President Trump’s lackey, the Attorney General William Barr by a 4 page summary published on 3/24/2019, and then a press conference he held 4 weeks later, when the redacted Mueller report was delivered to the US Congress.

According to a 4/30/ 2019 Politico report by Natasha Bertrand,  Josh Gerstein, Darren Samuelsohn and Kyle Cheney, “Special counsel Robert Mueller wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr (on 3/27/2019) complaining that the four-page memo Barr wrote characterizing Mueller’s findings “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the Russia investigation, 2 senior Justice Department officials confirmed to POLITICO.”

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BARBARA MCQUADE

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So, on 6/10.2019, the Democratic-controlled House judiciary committee’s panel of witnesses consisted of  John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel and star witness at the Watergate hearings; Barbara McQuade, a Michigan law professor and a former US attorney; Professor Joyce White Vance, a former federal prosecutor from Alabama. The House Judiciary Committee did make the effort to have a (token) genuine, lasting conservative on the panel of witnesses testifying about the Mueller report, the Heritage Foundation and  Federalist Society’s John Malcolm. During about 2 hours of the hearings, I think he was asked one questioned. He even admitted “feeling lonesome here.”

As per the 6/10/2019 Atlantic report by Russell Berman, “If today’s hearing was a first step toward impeachment, it was a most tentative tiptoe. It was less a prelude to a constitutional confrontation than a law-school seminar, and an opportunity for Democrats to get a panel of expert witnesses to say what Mueller would not: that Trump’s conduct as described in the special counsel’s 448-page opus constituted obstruction of justice, and amounted to a crime. ”

Link to entire report: Democrats Nod at Impeachment in Passing
In-DepthThe Atlantic

Here’s another argument in favor of the House commencing an impeachment inquiry…

On June 10, 2019, Harry Litman of the Washington Post penned the following analysis, “Can Democrats break the Republican hammerlock on impeachment?”

Excerpts:

“A principal reason for the House Democrats’ reluctance to pursue an impeachment of the president is that all roads seem to lead nowhere in the Senate.”

Put another way, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has so far adopted a nothing-here-case-closed stance that makes any House determination to impeach President Trump look fruitless and, therefore, politically perilous.

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“But Harvard law scholar Laurence H. Tribe has advanced a proposal that potentially provides a way around the brick wall.”

“Tribe’s fundamental insight is that the House could pursue a full-bodied investigation of the president, including an opportunity for Trump to mount a defense, without committing itself to a referral for trial in the Senate.”

“Rather, the House could culminate its investigation with independent “fact-findings” leading, if those facts bear out, to a “Sense of the House” resolution detailing Trump’s offenses against the Constitution.”

“There are a number of apparent virtues to Tribe’s proposal. Perhaps most importantly, it provides an outlet for House members to respond to the extraordinary gravity of the president’s assault on the rule of law.”

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“However politically expedient, the idea that the House could simply give a pass to the president’s conduct and await the electorate’s verdict in 2020 is intolerable. Doing nothing is an offense to their own oath of office, and would at worst sanction and at best trivialize Trump’s shameless ransacking of constitutional order.”

“Second, an investigation culminating in a full factual account and a Sense of the House resolution would be a counterweight to the official narrative from the Justice Department in the form of Attorney General William P. Barr’s ludicrous reading of the Mueller report, which, as it stands, is the sole official judgment on the facts of Trump’s conduct. As with the reports of the 9/11 Commission and the Warren Commission, the country needs a credible official narrative that fairly lays out the facts and reaches fair and broadly accepted conclusions.”

“Third, a Sense of the House resolution would provide some sort of reckoning for Trump’s outrages. It’d stand as a scarlet letter, branding Trump in history as a sort of constitutional outlaw.”

“But in part because of its very novelty, Tribe’s proposal could fall prey to either of 2 nontrivial constitutional challenges.”

“First, Trump could argue that a Sense of the House resolution amounts to a “bill of attainder” under the Constitution. That obscure provision forbids the legislature from singling out persons for punishment without a trial.”

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“The issue will come down to whether the stigma that a Sense of the House resolution purposefully imposes on Trump amounts to a “punishment” within the meaning of the bill of attainder prohibition. The House will emphasize that a resolution deprives Trump of neither money nor liberty, and argue instead that its principal motivation was not to punish but to get at the truth. Trump will counter that the resolution imposes, and was intended to impose, a real punishment in practical terms.”

“The House should have the better of the argument. The Supreme Court has made clear that not all legislative actions that inflict harm punish. And the desire to provide an authoritative factual account is a valid non-punitive objective. Still, the House should be careful not to present an investigation and possible resolution as a means of punishing Trump short of a removal by the Senate.”

Related image“Second, the White House is likely to argue that the Tribe path lacks any valid legislative purpose. The Supreme Court has made clear that the House’s investigative powers are adjunct to its core legislative function: Investigations are proper to the extent they are potentially driving at a valid legislative enactment (which must include impeachment since it is constitutionally designated). A free-floating, Sense of the Congress resolution doesn’t fit nicely within any of Congress’s Article I powers.”

“Tribe sees this. It is one reason that he is careful to insist that the possibility of a referral to the Senate for trial not be taken off the table. The House would provide for a possible off-ramp to bypass the Senate altogether but still hold open the possibility that a sufficiently damning set of factual determinations could lead to a trial in the upper chamber.”

“Here again the House should be able to fend off the legal challenge so long as it has not entered into the project by foreclosing the possibility of a referral to the Senate.”

6 comments

  1. He still hasn’t worked out that his legacy to History will be one of stain, ridicule and enough material to keep serious historians writing away for years, and the results will not be pretty for him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Roger,

      He’ll be portrayed in US history books like your mad King George III has been. He’ll won’t be someone anyone would want their children to emulate. But he’ll keep a lot of historians employed.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 1 person

      • At least with George III medical historians have diagnosed it as physical…..Trump is simply a vulgar petulent oaf out of his depth

        Like

  2. Gronda, the GOP sycophants are beating up Dean along with Trump, who watched him live. Here is the deal that is lost on many. Dean was involved, but he testified against Nixon and told the truth. The papers were saying “who do you believe, Nixon or Dean?” Well, it took courage to take on Nixon who is a vindictive person just like the current president. And, that is what should be remembered about Dean.

    As for the similarities – over 20 Nixon comrades went to jail. The tally is still underway on Trump’s comrades. Nixon said “I am not a crook.” He was wrong. Trump says the same thing. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Keith,

      At the recent House hearing, John Dean handled the GOP barbs reasonably well. It’s no wonder that the FBI’s Special Counsel would rather avoid this circus of a hearing that GOP committee members manage to contrive. But I would love to watch Mr. Mueller handle them.

      All the witnesses came out looking credible. Mr. Malcolm didn’t have to answer many questions. But it didn’t get the media coverage that it needed to have an educational benefit for the public.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Like

      • Gronda, when credible people or people who were involved in Trump affairs like Cohen present themselves in a rational manner, it helps move toward the truth. Questioners of these people need to have a fact based query rather than staging because it looks poor. That goes for any party representative. I thought some of the GOP Congresspeople at Cohen’s testimony degraded the office they hold. I have seen Dems do the same. It is OK to ask tough questions, but make it an informed one and not one to paint a poor picture like the president does when he attacks people who dare criticize an action. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

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