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Old 01-30-2020, 06:40 PM
Max S. is offline
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Should Donald Trump be convicted & removed for sending Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine?


This is prompted by a line of posts in the thread, "The Trump Impeachment Trial". Should President Trump be convicted and removed for sending Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine?

I include as premises to this debate the assumptions that Mr. Trump sent Mr. Giuliani to Ukraine, and that Mr. Trump has been specifically impeached for doing so. Please don't nitpick over what the actual articles of impeachment say.

Also, please do not make this a debate over the current partisan makeup of the Senate. This is a should question, not a would question; besides, we are in Great Debates, not Politics & Elections. If you must approach this debate as a would question, assume that all of the Senators vote their conscience and all of them and their constituents share your ideology.

~Max
  #2  
Old 01-30-2020, 06:53 PM
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Max's Incomplete Opinion, if and only if Mr. Giuliani is NOT a special envoy


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Originally Posted by Ann Hedonia View Post
Have you see this letter than Guiliani presented to Zelensky?

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/tru...-show-n1115691

So is it your position that Guiliani was a super double secret envoy and that he misrepresented himself to Zelensky?
I have mixed feelings about that letter and Mr. Giuliani in general. I have already admitted and will continue to concede, sending the President's lawyer in a personal capacity to conduct what is effectively foreign policy, without letting the rest of the government know, is to invite confusion and inefficiency. Not to mention that the lawyer would effectively be sandbagging the foreign government (that is how I am used to seeing the verb "sandbag", as a synonym for misrepresentation).

But the question here is not whether it is effective or even the right thing to do, it is whether it is a high crime or misdemeanor for the President to send a personal lawyer instead of a properly ordained official like a special envoy.

My short argument is that both the President and Mr. Giuliani could possibly violate the Logan Act, which is a high misdemeanor and therefore an impeachable and removable offense. But to answer the topic question, I would need more information and evidence.

The Logan Act is an eighteenth-century law that came out of the XYZ affair, and it basically says private citizens can't go out and (directly or indirectly) influence foreign governments that the United States has a controversy with. So if Mr. Giuliani was a private lawyer representing a private citizen, communicating with a foreign government that the United States had a dispute with (the military aid, corruption, what have you), that could be illegal under the Logan Act, both for Mr. Giuliani and his client.

Even better, the Logan Act is a criminal law - the exact wordage in 1799 was "shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor". I will concede that a Logan Act violation, if you can make it stick, would be impeachable. The Logan Act is codified as 18 U.S.C. ß 953, and reproduced in the spoiler below:
SPOILER:
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.


The rationale of that act, as I understand it, stems from the President's exclusive power to negotiate treaties and the government's inherent power to regulate foreign intercourse. But would it really be a violation if the President himself, in personal and unofficial capacity, is the citizen charged with a Logan Act violation? Are we to draw a distinction between the President and Mr. Donald Trump? Is it possible for Mr. Donald Trump to perform some act without the President's authority? I could see that question going both ways, but I'm leaning heavily towards yes, because the President doesn't have the authority to do whatever he wants.

Reality check 1: did Mr. Donald Trump send a personal agent to Ukraine, with the intent of "meddling in an investigation" without the authority of President Trump?

Apparently Mr. Trump denies having directed Mr. Giuliani to do something, it says so right in your cite. We would need to overcome that denial first - which I have done here by writing the assumption into the original post.

Mr. Giuliani's public remarks strongly suggest that the letter was referencing the investigations into Biden/Burisma and the DNC/Crowdstrike, but it is not a fact and in my idea of a trial Mr. Trump would have the opportunity to dispute that.

Reality check 2: Was the intent to meddle an intent to defeat some measure of the United States? Otherwise, was the investigation being meddled in is a dispute or controversy with the United States?

I have read that the phrase "to defeat the measures of the United States" may be vague enough to be unconstitutional. I actually have no idea what it means if not some publicly announced plans by U.S. officials that represent the United States as a nation. So if the President had publicly announced that the United States was opening an investigation into some airline crash in Ukraine, then Mr. Trump privately sent Mr. Giuliani to pressure Ukraine not to investigate the crash, that would meet my idea of intent to defeat the measures of the United States, despite Mr. Trump and the President being the same person. I doubt something similar holds with either Biden/Burisma or the DNC/Crowdstrike. If anything, the President in his official capacity went on television to push for the investigation of the Bidens.

In the alternative we have the question of whether either investigation is "a dispute or controversy with the United States". Here I think there might be some room for an affirmative answer, at least on the DNC/Crowdstrike investigation, because the intelligence community has taken the position that Ukraine was not involved with the hacking of the DNC. But on the other hand, the intelligence community is wholly subservient to the President when it comes to foreign affairs, because they are properly his advisors in that field. So if there were some controversy between an ex-prosecutor and the U.S. government, or between Ukrainians and the U.S. government, then the answer to reality check #2 might be yes.

Reality check #3: were Mr. Giuliani's actions in Ukraine intended to obtain redress for an injury done to his client, Mr. Donald Trump?

The Logan Act has an exception that would come in to play if Mr. Giuliani claims he was meddling in Ukraine for redress of an injury done to his client, Mr. Donald Trump. Any such affirmative defense would need to be overcome.

So where I have left room for Mr. Trump to defend himself, I would need more evidence or information before deciding whether the President should be convicted and removed for sending Mr. Giuliani to Ukraine.

~Max
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Old 01-30-2020, 07:33 PM
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I think a better question would be, Should congress be allowed to investigate the actions of a president who sends his personal lawyer to Ukraine?
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Old 01-30-2020, 07:42 PM
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And before we get any deeper into the weeds, does "envoy" have a specific definition. Is it a very flexible condition, whereby the same envoy may act as an official representative, then change his tie and act as a personal representative?

Last edited by elucidator; 01-30-2020 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 01-30-2020, 07:55 PM
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There is historic president of non-nefarious type for the President to appoint secret diplomats.

I have no complaint against it, as a default.

But like all Presidential powers, her powers have few limits so long as they serve the purpose of the American people and the Constitution. But no powers under corrupt purpose are given by the Constitution. For her own sake, the President can do very little beyond campaign.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 01-30-2020 at 07:57 PM.
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Old 01-30-2020, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elucidator View Post
And before we get any deeper into the weeds, does "envoy" have a specific definition. Is it a very flexible condition, whereby the same envoy may act as an official representative, then change his tie and act as a personal representative?
Like Harry Hopkins, he was a special envoy. If I have to provide a definition, a special envoy is someone without an official post established by law, who is officially representing the United States abroad as appointed by the President and/or Secretary of State. They do not necessarily have to be confirmed by the Senate, they do not necessarily have to get paid, and their position does not necessarily have to last for any definite period of time - but I will say mere minutes or hours is too short.

~Max
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Old 01-30-2020, 08:29 PM
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He should be convicted and removed for using the power of his office to ask a foreign govt. to investigate an American. Trump doesn't realize it, but his oath is to Americans.
Good to see another Trump impeachment thread.
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Old 01-30-2020, 08:34 PM
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Thatís a good way of saying it.

It is entirely possible to have a private citizen perform some type of limited duty to assist a President. It is possible that those duties exceed the limited powers that should be authorized for that person. Like, delivering a message and serving as a conduit for backchannel communications? Sure. Acting as a shadow ambassador? Thatís too far.

Setting aside the content of the issues Rudy worked on, the situation is puzzling. He claimed to be working only for Trump the individual, not the President. But his portfolio certainly crossed over into official matters.

Lacking any clarification of what the fucking fuck was going on, Iím inclined to conclude that Trump acted improperly WRT having Rudy so deeply involved in government-to-government matters. But that by itself, I wouldnít say is impeachable.

But adding in the content of those matters - starting an ersatz investigation for clearly political purposes - then we are deep into impeachment territory. It is just not acceptable for the President to set up shadow government efforts at odds with official channels (which seem to have a veneer of trying to hide them behind attorney client privilege).
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Old 01-31-2020, 11:19 AM
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Sending this off to the Politics and Elections forum.

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Old 01-31-2020, 12:35 PM
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Mr. Prosecutor, could you please hold your left hand up when talking about "Donald J. Trump, the President" and hold your right hand up when talking about "Donald J. Trump, private citizen."

Didn't Clinton sent Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson on overseas missions? How is that different? If you say that the difference is that these were not for corrupt purposes then we are right back where we are now.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:10 PM
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Didn't Clinton sent Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson on overseas missions? How is that different?
This makes sense.... in the way that shooting a deer with a rifle is basically the same thing as shooting a person with a rifle.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:21 PM
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This makes sense.... in the way that shooting a deer with a rifle is basically the same thing as shooting a person with a rifle.
Why? Because corrupt motive? If so, we are back at the beginning.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:33 PM
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The Logan Act forbids unauthorized citizens from acting diplomatically in other countries. I don't know see you could convict a President, who is essentially the one-stop-authorization-shop for the diplomacy of the US, for violating it.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:43 PM
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Why? Because corrupt motive? If so, we are back at the beginning.
I mean, what is the difference between taking $20 from your wife's purse because you forgot to go to the ATM to get lunch money; and pickpocketing $20 from a guy on the subway because you need heroin? Corrupt motive? I guess we are back at the beginning.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:54 PM
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I mean, what is the difference between taking $20 from your wife's purse because you forgot to go to the ATM to get lunch money; and pickpocketing $20 from a guy on the subway because you need heroin? Corrupt motive? I guess we are back at the beginning.
Would you kindly state what you are getting at instead of speaking in code?

The OP is about whether it is a violation of the Logan Act for Trump to send Rudy to the Ukraine. I think clearly not. But you say this is different than Clinton sending Jesse Jackson overseas. Why is that?
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Old 01-31-2020, 02:01 PM
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My short argument is that both the President and Mr. Giuliani could possibly violate the Logan Act, which is a high misdemeanor and therefore an impeachable and removable offense. But to answer the topic question, I would need more information and evidence.

I have read that the phrase "to defeat the measures of the United States" may be vague enough to be unconstitutional. I actually have no idea what it means if not some publicly announced plans by U.S. officials that represent the United States as a nation. So if the President had publicly announced that the United States was opening an investigation into some airline crash in Ukraine, then Mr. Trump privately sent Mr. Giuliani to pressure Ukraine not to investigate the crash, that would meet my idea of intent to defeat the measures of the United States, despite Mr. Trump and the President being the same person. I doubt something similar holds with either Biden/Burisma or the DNC/Crowdstrike. If anything, the President in his official capacity went on television to push for the investigation of the Bidens.
I'm not seeing it that way. If Trump publicly announces an investigation into an airline crash, but is secretly trying to stop the investigation on the DL, then that overall is the policy of the United States. Maybe you could argue that it is unseemly to openly mislead the American or Ukrainian people or that it is a bad policy, but Trump cannot possibly be guilty of attempting to frustrate his own efforts.

And I'm not understanding this "Trump the President" v. "Trump the Citizen" distinction. He is always Trump the President. Does he have to wear a special sash with "The Prez" on it or something to be President?
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Old 01-31-2020, 02:06 PM
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The OP is about whether it is a violation of the Logan Act for Trump to send Rudy to the Ukraine. I think clearly not. But you say this is different than Clinton sending Jesse Jackson overseas. Why is that?
If you scroll up just a few posts, I gave my reasons.

But also, let's remember that Rudy wrote to Zelensky stating that he was acting as the private attorney for the personal affairs of Trump, not in his capacity as President. Right there you have several key differences with Carter and Jackson.

Quote:
And I'm not understanding this "Trump the President" v. "Trump the Citizen" distinction.
I understand it, and it seems clear that Rudy understands it. I think anyone in public service understands that there is a different relationship between a person's private actions and public actions. Just for one example, if a government employee gives a campaign contribution to their favored candidate, that is a private matter and it cannot be mixed with one's obligations at work. Does that help?

Last edited by Ravenman; 01-31-2020 at 02:09 PM.
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Old 01-31-2020, 03:41 PM
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The difference between Trump the President and Trump the private citizen is also probably important to Trump in terms of expanding his ability to clamp down on people testifying against him. Any of his closest advisors , like his Chief of Staff or Press Secretary or the Cabinet can be barred from testifying under Executive Privilege. His private attorney can't testify against him because of attorney-client privilege. but Trump couldn't just, say, appoint Giuliani as White House Counsel, because neither of the two apply to that position.
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Old 01-31-2020, 03:54 PM
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I think the more important question is, what will Bill Barr and Trump do to those who tried to upend them.

If you're the whistle blower, you'd be understandably concerned for wondering whether Bill Barr might not try to use federal prosecutors to cook up charges on you.

If you're Lev Parnas, you'd be justified in being scared about spending time in a federal prison.

If you're Michael Cohen, you could be forgiven for wondering whether you'll make it out of prison alive.
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Old 01-31-2020, 04:44 PM
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Please note for all participants that Donald Trump is not being impeached and removed for "Sending Rudy to Ukraine."

Since the question is not about the current articles of impeachment, but refers to an alternative reality, is "politics and elections" the proper forum for this discussion? Isn't it more "Great Debates"?

Last edited by JohnT; 01-31-2020 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 01-31-2020, 04:57 PM
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I think I get it. Is it like: Russia only a tiny bit interfered when they created Facebook memes?
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Old 01-31-2020, 05:13 PM
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I'm not seeing it that way. If Trump publicly announces an investigation into an airline crash, but is secretly trying to stop the investigation on the DL, then that overall is the policy of the United States. Maybe you could argue that it is unseemly to openly mislead the American or Ukrainian people or that it is a bad policy, but Trump cannot possibly be guilty of attempting to frustrate his own efforts.

And I'm not understanding this "Trump the President" v. "Trump the Citizen" distinction. He is always Trump the President. Does he have to wear a special sash with "The Prez" on it or something to be President?
Really?

This is a summary of the stated US foreign policy towards Ukraine.

https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-ukraine/

Are you saying that if tomorrow morning Donald Trump decides he wants to support Russia in the war against Ukraine and permanently cancel all duly authorized aid to Ukraine and give it to Russia - thatís automatically the new foreign policy, no matter what informed Trumps decision? That if he made that decision because Putin promised the Trump Organization a big contract in exchange for this new policy ó thatís hunky-dory because heís President?


I donít think so.
  #23  
Old 01-31-2020, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Boozahol Squid, P.I. View Post
The Logan Act forbids unauthorized citizens from acting diplomatically in other countries. I don't know see you could convict a President, who is essentially the one-stop-authorization-shop for the diplomacy of the US, for violating it.
Yeah, I imagine most people reading my argument would stop me right there.

What I am saying is that the President does have limits to his authority, specifically he is limited by the Constitution. So if the President directs a person to violate the constitution, that person does not properly have the President's authorization, because with reference to this particular class of actions, the President has no authority to bestow.

~Max
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Old 01-31-2020, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I'm not seeing it that way. If Trump publicly announces an investigation into an airline crash, but is secretly trying to stop the investigation on the DL, then that overall is the policy of the United States. Maybe you could argue that it is unseemly to openly mislead the American or Ukrainian people or that it is a bad policy, but Trump cannot possibly be guilty of attempting to frustrate his own efforts.

And I'm not understanding this "Trump the President" v. "Trump the Citizen" distinction. He is always Trump the President. Does he have to wear a special sash with "The Prez" on it or something to be President?
In addition to what I have said in post #23, I would say the distinction I am making is somewhat similar to that of Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic. "The President" is properly an office, and as a matter of principle the President's authority can never contradict the Constitution which established that office; any appearance of Presidential authority that contradicts the Constitution is in fact null and void in the eyes of the law. Likewise the person exercising that office, Mr. Donald Trump, only enjoys the privileges and immunities of the office of the President so long as he is exercising the duties of that office.

I believe a very similar theory underpins Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents.

~Max
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Old 01-31-2020, 05:33 PM
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Mr. Prosecutor, could you please hold your left hand up when talking about "Donald J. Trump, the President" and hold your right hand up when talking about "Donald J. Trump, private citizen."

Didn't Clinton sent Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson on overseas missions? How is that different? If you say that the difference is that these were not for corrupt purposes then we are right back where we are now.

On defense cross-examination Mr. Trump could choose to represent himself when cross-examining President Trump. Correct?
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Old 01-31-2020, 05:41 PM
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Since the question is not about the current articles of impeachment, but refers to an alternative reality, is "politics and elections" the proper forum for this discussion? Isn't it more "Great Debates"?
I'm glad you and I can agree about something.

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Old 01-31-2020, 05:43 PM
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In addition to what I have said in post #23, I would say the distinction I am making is somewhat similar to that of Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic. "The President" is properly an office, and as a matter of principle the President's authority can never contradict the Constitution which established that office; any appearance of Presidential authority that contradicts the Constitution is in fact null and void in the eyes of the law. Likewise the person exercising that office, Mr. Donald Trump, only enjoys the privileges and immunities of the office of the President so long as he is exercising the duties of that office.

I believe a very similar theory underpins Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents.

~Max
I think if you have a president who acts unconstitutionally you still have a president acting not sme private citizen.
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Old 01-31-2020, 05:47 PM
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I think if you have a president who acts unconstitutionally you still have a president acting not sme private citizen.
I'm willing to equivocate there. But I would not say that the President has authority of the United States to act unconstitutionally, and that's ultimately what you need with the Logan Act.

~Max

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Old 01-31-2020, 11:01 PM
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Yeah, I imagine most people reading my argument would stop me right there.

What I am saying is that the President does have limits to his authority, specifically he is limited by the Constitution. So if the President directs a person to violate the constitution, that person does not properly have the President's authorization, because with reference to this particular class of actions, the President has no authority to bestow.

~Max
That kind of seems like you're going around your tukhus to get to your elbow. If the President is directing people to violate the Constitution, you should direct your impeachment efforts there directly instead of the much looser argument that sending someone overseas to negotiate improperly is somehow an illicit negotiation.
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Old 02-03-2020, 07:30 PM
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Does this POTUS deserve impeachment, trial, conviction, and removal? Yes. Is sending Giuliani as a personal envoy a guilty offense? In itself, no; but extorting / blackmailing Ukraine to act against DJT's political rival does justify conviction. That's a High Crime.
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Old 02-03-2020, 08:56 PM
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Impeachment


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Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
This is prompted by a line of posts in the thread, "The Trump Impeachment Trial". Should President Trump be convicted and removed for sending Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine?

I include as premises to this debate the assumptions that Mr. Trump sent Mr. Giuliani to Ukraine, and that Mr. Trump has been specifically impeached for doing so. Please don't nitpick over what the actual articles of impeachment say.

Also, please do not make this a debate over the current partisan makeup of the Senate. This is a should question, not a would question; besides, we are in Great Debates, not Politics & Elections. If you must approach this debate as a would question, assume that all of the Senators vote their conscience and all of them and their constituents share your ideology.

~Max
I believe Donald Trump should be impeached for lying to Congress because Bill Clinton was impeached for telling just one lie. Trump has never stopped lying and has definitely lied to Congress.
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Old 02-03-2020, 09:04 PM
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I hear what you're saying, but Bill Clinton was under oath when he lied. Trump supporters, and Trump himself know that Trump will never speak a single word under oath, because he is a legendary lying bastard. No worries, The US Senate under Republican rule is here to enable him.

Last edited by bobot; 02-03-2020 at 09:04 PM.
  #33  
Old 02-04-2020, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Boozahol Squid, P.I. View Post
That kind of seems like you're going around your tukhus to get to your elbow. If the President is directing people to violate the Constitution, you should direct your impeachment efforts there directly instead of the much looser argument that sending someone overseas to negotiate improperly is somehow an illicit negotiation.
If such a straightforward accusation were lobbed, the President could merely respond by claiming, as Mr. Giuliani currently claims, that Mr. Giuliani was acting as a personal representative of Mr. Donald Trump and therefore did not violate the Constitution. So we are past that point in this line of posts.

I mean, there are plenty of actions the President can take in his personal capacity that would exceed his official authority. Tithing comes to mind (personal funds versus official funds). So does discrimination against protected classes (with regards to friends versus employees). So too when it comes to communications with foreign officials. If the President directed an agent to communicate with foreign officials, it is relevant whether or not that agent represents Mr. President or Mr. Donald Trump, because the agent's status determines what is or is not allowed.

The posts that prompted this thread implied, and I am paraphrasing to the best of my understanding here, that the President broke a mandatory chain of command by sending a personal lawyer to Ukraine on official business. That implication was prompted in turn by the question of whether I should even entertain the President's defense arguments: because the President's defense theory didn't absolve him from breaking the chain of command, I should be in favor of conviction. So I made a thread where we can pretend the President was actually impeached for sending Mr. Giuliani to Ukraine. I wish the people from that thread would follow me into this one, because I cannot hope to do their arguments justice, but alas! they have not.

~Max
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:04 PM
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Does this POTUS deserve impeachment, trial, conviction, and removal? Yes. Is sending Giuliani as a personal envoy a guilty offense? In itself, no; but extorting / blackmailing Ukraine to act against DJT's political rival does justify conviction. That's a High Crime.
RioRico and Maddodge, thank you for your opinion(s), although I would prefer if we could stick to the specific act of sending Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine.

~Max
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:13 PM
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It is just not acceptable for the President to set up shadow government efforts at odds with official channels (which seem to have a veneer of trying to hide them behind attorney client privilege).
I just reread this, and I'm curious. Can you make an argument that it is not only unacceptable for the President to set up "shadow government efforts at odds with official channels", but worthy of impeachment and removal from office under our current standard of "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors"?

~Max
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:19 PM
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I just reread this, and I'm curious. Can you make an argument that it is not only unacceptable for the President to set up "shadow government efforts at odds with official channels", but worthy of impeachment and removal from office under our current standard of "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors"?

~Max
Rereading Ravenman's post for the third time. I think the answer will be no, at least not without the premise that the shadow government efforts are motivated by personal political gain - an abuse of power. And I agree with that.

~Max
  #37  
Old 02-04-2020, 04:27 PM
Ravenman is online now
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So letís say President Jones gets elected next year. Congress provides money to his Administration and confirms top officials to carry out an agenda that is explained in policy papers, speeches, testimony, press conferences, and so on. If Congress disagrees with that agenda, since they are witting of what it entails, they can stop finding, reject nominees, pass new laws, etc.

But while all that is going on, President Jones turns to his friends and has them do favors of setting up entirely different policies, and having these pals go around to others to promote and effectuate these alternative policies.

For example, maybe the Secretary of State is charged with negotiating a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia; but Jonesí pals pursue an agenda also approved by Jones to convince Russia to develop new nuclear weapons with technologies from a company Jones is invested in. (We can all imagine other scenarios, but just using this as one example.)

I think President Jones has taken measures to undermine the checks and balances in the Constitution by end-running the enumerated powers of each branch in order to make his real policies happen (the ones in the unofficial channels). A clear way to describe this sort of offense is to call it an abuse of power.
  #38  
Old 02-04-2020, 04:47 PM
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RioRico and Maddodge, thank you for your opinion(s), although I would prefer if we could stick to the specific act of sending Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine.

~Max
DJT did not send Giuliani to Ukraine for trade talks. Had that been his purpose then no problem; Giuliani could do all the envoying he's capable of. So no, merely sending Giuliani east was not a guilty act. But sending him to deliver threats of coersion, extortion, blackmail, to damage DJT's domestic political rival, was indeed a High Crime justifying the impeachment process.

Parallel: Walking across the Arizona-Sonora border through a gate at Nogales is not a crime... unless police are after you. IANAL but that's international flight to escape prosecution, right? It's the purpose that makes it a crime.
  #39  
Old 02-04-2020, 07:18 PM
Max S. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
So letís say President Jones gets elected next year. Congress provides money to his Administration and confirms top officials to carry out an agenda that is explained in policy papers, speeches, testimony, press conferences, and so on. If Congress disagrees with that agenda, since they are witting of what it entails, they can stop finding, reject nominees, pass new laws, etc.

But while all that is going on, President Jones turns to his friends and has them do favors of setting up entirely different policies, and having these pals go around to others to promote and effectuate these alternative policies.

[...]

I think President Jones has taken measures to undermine the checks and balances in the Constitution by end-running the enumerated powers of each branch in order to make his real policies happen (the ones in the unofficial channels). A clear way to describe this sort of offense is to call it an abuse of power.
Certainly Congress has the right to threaten the President with various checks on funding, nominations, and domestic legislative goals for concessions in foreign policy. But I do not think Congress is deprived of these rights if the President is opaque about his foreign policies, or chooses to conduct them in secret. They do not have the right to know exactly what and how the President communicates with foreign entities, and there are situations where secrecy or even duplicity could be effective diplomatic tools.

Now, if he willingly deceives Congress to avoid their wrath, especially the Senate, that could be an abuse of power. This seems to be what you are saying President Jones did, but I note that the corrupt intent is an essential element to the crime. If it was a total accident or just plain incompetence that caused the administration to have a secret backchannel - someone forgot to do the press conference - I wouldn't say that rises to an impeachable offense.

~Max
  #40  
Old 02-04-2020, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
DJT did not send Giuliani to Ukraine for trade talks. Had that been his purpose then no problem; Giuliani could do all the envoying he's capable of. So no, merely sending Giuliani east was not a guilty act. But sending him to deliver threats of coersion, extortion, blackmail, to damage DJT's domestic political rival, was indeed a High Crime justifying the impeachment process.

Parallel: Walking across the Arizona-Sonora border through a gate at Nogales is not a crime... unless police are after you. IANAL but that's international flight to escape prosecution, right? It's the purpose that makes it a crime.
I get what you are saying, and I think it's just like what Ravenman is saying. Sending Mr. Giuliani to Ukraine on official business, with corrupt intent, is an abuse of power just like any other actus officialis + mens rea combo.

This line of thought, of course, assumes that sending Mr. Giuliani to Ukraine is in fact an official act and not a personal thing. Which is a reasonable assumption, I might add.

~Max
  #41  
Old 02-04-2020, 08:37 PM
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But I do not think Congress is deprived of these rights if the President is opaque about his foreign policies, or chooses to conduct them in secret. They do not have the right to know exactly what and how the President communicates with foreign entities, and there are situations where secrecy or even duplicity could be effective diplomatic tools.
I disagree. There are no checks and balances if one branch is allowed to conceal policies to the extent we are talking about here.
  #42  
Old 02-05-2020, 04:56 PM
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I disagree. There are no checks and balances if one branch is allowed to conceal policies to the extent we are talking about here.
To be clear, what is the extent we are talking about here? Is this still about President Jones or are we back on President Trump, and if the latter what concealed policy (policies) are you referring to?

I have a good guess, but I can't read minds.

I'm trying to make a conscious effort to avoid "just asking questions" since I have been told it is a dishonest form of debate, especially when I think I know the answer but still ask the questions. So I think you would say, "The President's decision to condition Ukrainian aid on [corruption concerns/foreign aid-sharing/specific investigations] was a foreign policy the President concealed from Congress. [...] Therefore, if Congress cannot impeach the President for concealing that policy, we have no checks and balances."

The ellipses represent a leap in logic that I do not follow. I also feel like your argument isn't so much that there are "no checks and balances", but rather that the checks and balances aren't adequate for... something else the Constitution requires. Are you saying the system of checks and balances - our system of government - would be broken if it cannot address X? My question is, what is X (is it the President concealing part of his foreign policy from Congress?), and why would our system of government be broken if it cannot address X?

ETA: Or you know, maybe you are making a totally different argument and all of the above is a strawman...

~Max

Last edited by Max S.; 02-05-2020 at 04:59 PM.
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