Bearing Witness to Trump Month 35

Week of December 1 – 7, 2019

The House Intelligence Committee released its 350 page report after weeks of work and hearings. The charges alleged against the President include abuse of power, obstruction of justice, undermining national elections by inviting foreign interference, and compromising national security for personal political gains. The President responds by attacking the Democrats as being very unpatriotic and the whole thing a witch hunt and a charade that is a coup attempting to reverse the 2016 election. Of course we know by now that with every lie that comes out of the President’s mouth the opposite of what he says is often the truth.

The House Judiciary Committee then moved to draft articles of impeachment beginning with testimony from legal scholars on what constitutes an impeachable offense as well as what the framers of the constitution likely meant by high crimes and misdemeanors. Three of the four constitutional experts agreed the President’s actions were impeachable, going so far to say that if this is not impeachable behavior then nothing is. Republicans continue to object and deride the whole proceeding, especially objecting to the lack of more direct testimony from those closest to the President. These are the same administration officials that the Trump White House has refused to let testify despite subpoenas from Congress to do so which they ignored and are now headed to the Supreme Court. The committee had previously invited White House officials to participate in the Judiciary hearings, but they also declined.

President Trump’s presence at a gathering of NATO leaders in London created more conflict between the U.S. and our historic allies. Trump claimed that it was he who had saved NATO from collapse and then took his ire out on France’s Macron who he called two-faced and nasty. Trump left the meeting early in a huff, cancelling a news conference, after other European leaders were recorded mocking the President in unflattering terms. While traveling back home he once again attacked the American press as fake news for not saying his performance at the summit was successful.

At the NATO meeting Trump continued to lie, claiming that he had a 95% approval rating, the highest ever for the Republican Party. He does not. Overall, nearly half of Americans are reported by pollsters to disapprove of Trump’s performance, before even asking about his personal behavior in office.

Trump’s Attorney General William Barr issued a warning to communities that criticize policing, even when authorities abuse their power, that they may lose protection from law enforcement agencies if they don’t show more support and respect. Yes, I imagine this is also what other autocrats and dictators over history have used to threaten obedience to the state.

The President has asked the Supreme Court to intercede once again after a second case subpoenaing his financial records from the House was filed and upheld by an federal appeals court. The case at hand is about whether the president paid hush money to silence a pornographic film star, Stormy Daniels, during the 2016 election in violation of campaign finance laws.

Not to be content with a trade war with the northern hemisphere, Trump threatens Brazil with new tariffs on steel and aluminum from this South American country. Then the administration proposed billions more tariffs on French imports likely in retribution from the London meeting.

Back home the Trump administration tighten rules for the working poor to receive foot stamps. Hundreds of thousands will lose their benefits if they cannot demonstrate a history of steady employment.

Week of December 8 – 14, 2019

The House Judiciary Committee prepared two articles of impeachment against the President: abuse of powers and obstruction of Congress. The abuse of powers is primarily for withholding aid to Ukraine in exchange for a political investigation of his rival back home and encouraging the interference of a foreign government into corrupting U.S. elections. The obstruction of Congress is for his defiance and attempts to subvert the exercise of congressional oversight of the Executive Branch including but not limited to directing others to ignore subpoenas to appear before Congress. The articles state that Trump is a threat to our national security and the Constitution if he should remain in office.

As the committee met late into the night to debate the articles, tempers flared and insults were launched as more lies and myths were aired by the Republicans to discredit the process and Democrats. Since they were largely unable to defend what Trump actually did and said, they continued to attack the Democrats and process. In the end the committee voted 23 to 17 along party lines to send the impeachment charges to the full House of Representatives. Trump will be just the 4th president in America’s history to face impeachment.

The Justice Dept. released the results of its own probe of the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. For two years the Trump administration has been claiming that it was from the onset a political witch hunt set out to discredit him and that the actions of the FBI were treasonous in supposedly spying on his campaign. The Inspector General found that not to be the case; that there was indeed just cause for the investigation and that there was no political bias against the President. And the facts prove that with all the Trump associates found guilty and now in jail, there was much for the FBI to investigate. Nevertheless, Trump’s AG William Barr and loyalist attacked his own organization and that of a bogus narrative of cooperation with the Russians. Trump then attacked his own hand-picked new FBI director Christopher Wray saying he was incapable of fixing the FBI. Later in a political rally, Trump would call those who attempted to hurt him in the Justice Dept. as being “scum”. Yes, that is what aspiring autocrats and dictators do to prepare the way for persecuting their foes within the government and political enemies outside of it. And yet Trump’s apologists and co-conspirators in the Republican Party continue to stand by him and prostitute themselves as he wrecks all norms of political leadership and America’s standing around the world.

President Trump lowered the bar further on decency when he bullied and attacked the 16-year old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg the day after she, not Trump, was awarded Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” Trump tweeted that she must have an anger management problem and should go chill out by watching a movie. Ms. Thunberg is widely known to have a disorder on the autism spectrum, but that did not stop the President from demonstrating his lack of humanity. His tweet was only one of more than 100 he sent out on just one day. The First Lady, Melanie Trump, who has taken up the BeBest anti-bullying platform for children, did not come to the defense of Ms. Thunberg.

A NYT investigation of Trump’s tweeting analyzed over 11,000 tweets since he has taken office. Nearly 6,000 have involved attacks on others. The list of those he has degraded, demeaned, defamed, denigrated, mocked, humiliated, disgraced, slandered, lied about, bullied, insulted, badgered, intimidated, etc. is long. But he has praised himself nearly 2,000 times. By twitter he has threatened military action, fired officials, terminated agreements, increased tariffs, broken international relationships, attacked allies, withdrawn troops that left Russians to take over our bases, surrendered or reversed long standing policies, pardoned war-crimes, retweeted the inflammatory bigoted and phony claims of others. All this while the White House Press office refuses to hold official press briefings. Is this anyway to run a country? God help us.

Despite Trump’s “special friendship” with Kim Un Jong, the North Koreans performed more missile testing and threatened a Christmas surprise demonstration.

Week of December 15 – 21, 2019

President Donald J. Trump became only the fourth President in American history to be impeached at 8:32 pm on December 18, 2019. In largely along party lines the vote was 230 to 197 in favor of Article 1 on Abuse of Power and 229-198 in favor of Article 2 on Obstruction of Congress. During 11 hours of fierce arguments and debate, Senior House leaders such as Steny Hoyer had called on Republicans to take a sober look at the President’s behavior and put love of country above loyalty to their party. His calls for defending democracy and protecting the constitution were largely ignored by what more honestly has now become a personality-driven cult party in denial of the facts, truth, and morality. A Republican congressman from Georgia compared what is happening to Trump to that of Jesus being persecuted falsely for treason by Pontius Pilate.

On the eve of the House’s historic vote on impeaching the President, Trump lashes out at the Democrats in an irate bizarre rambling 6-page letter of grievances addressed to Speaker Pelosi. He asserted that the deranged Democrats have declared war on democracy and are staging a coup, when of course it has been the President undermining the foundations of American democracy for the last three years. He took time to attack his own justice department and the FBI as totally incompetent and corrupt. As usual, there was absolutely no acceptance of any responsibility for the predicament he finds himself in from his own actions, lying, obstruction, and abuse of power. However, polls show that half of Americans favor his impeachment and removal, an astonishing percentage given the gravity of the action.

During yet another campaign rally, this time the same evening that the House was voting to impeach him, Trump revs up his base. He says it does not feel like an impeachment while mocking past and current political rivals. He attacks a former veteran and deceased Democrat Congressman Dingell, who served longer in Congress than anyone else, by joking that he could be looking up (from hell). This comment joins those aimed at other deceased decorated soldiers including John McCain and Humayun Khan.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell declared that despite the role of Senate to act as unbiased jurors in an impeachment, that he will not be impartial at all, but will confer and coordinate with the White House to defend the President. He previously declared that Trump will receive a quick acquittal in a trial uncluttered by witnesses, testimony, documents….or the truth.

The House under the leadership of Pelosi has decided to slow walk the impeachment charges over to the Senate until there are guarantees of an earnest fair trial including testimony from those who have refused to do so to date. Trump responded by saying the Pelosi should be the one being impeached.

The day after his impeachment a leading Christian magazine “Christianity Today” founded by Billy Graham published an editorial calling for the removal of President Trump due largely to his immoral behavior. Trump does what Trump does and immediately attacks them for being part of the leftist elite. Perhaps this will finally encourage the rest of the pro-Trump evangelical block to find the courage to undertake a closer read of the teaching and behavior of their savior, Jesus Christ.

The President’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, largely admits that he participated in the campaign – more like conspiracy – to oust the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Giuliani claimed that she was impeding progress on matters that would be helpful to Trump’s political objectives. Others testified that this was to incite the Ukrainians to launch investigations that would collect dirt on his likely 2020 rival Joe Biden and his family.

Another former Trump campaign aide was sentenced to prison, Rick Gates. He was one of six Trump associates and campaign aides indicted as part of Special Prosecutor Mueller’s investigations into Russian meddling of the 2016 election.

Finally, a group of conservatives have launched the Lincoln Project political action committee aimed at stopping the reelection of President Trump. They cited that the survival of our nation is at risk due to the crimes, corruption, and corrosive nature of Donald Trump. The group includes the husband George Conway of White House counselor and attack dog Kellyanne Conway.

During the first full year of the President’s 2017 tax changes, the largest 400 American corporations paid an average effective tax rate of around 11% on their profits in 2018, which lowered the base rate from 35% to 21%. Prior to the tax giveaway the effective rate was closer to 21%. Almost 100 of the remaining top 500 corporations paid no federal taxes last year.

The United Nations Climate Summit in Madrid ends with no progress, largely due to the lack of participation and leadership from the United States. The goal of the conference was to improve upon and fix more details of the Paris Accords, which Trump has announced he will withdraw the U.S. from within the year. The planet weeps.

The year ends with two new terms entering the lexicon of mental health professionals to describe the anxiety and sadness that many of their patients are experiencing, “climate grief” and “democracy grief.”

Week of December 22 – 28, 2019

A standoff is building between the House Democrats and Senate Republicans over the details of the impeachment trial of President Trump. Before sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate, House Democrats are demanding evidence, witnesses and documents be allowed in the trial. Majority leader Mitch McConnell had previously said he will “not be an impartial juror” and will coordinate defense of the President with the White House to assure an easy acquittal of the president. Yet, the Constitution states that Senators must act as impartial jurors.

Now two weeks after the impeachment additional emails emerge as evidence showing that just two hours after the President’s “perfect” phone call asking for a political favor from Ukrainian President Zelensky, a White House official instructed the Pentagon to hold sending military aid to Ukraine.

On Christmas Eve President Trump calls the troops from his Mar-a-Lago resort then launches into a tirade about the Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who he accuses of doing a great disservice to the country. And Merry Christmas to all!

Trump retweets a message that included the alleged name of the intelligence community whistleblower who first accused the White House of withholding foreign aid in exchange for a political favor and then attempting to cover it up. Revealing the name of a Federal whistleblower violates norms if not laws that have been historically supported by both parties over decades.

While speaking to a Republican youth group in Florida, Trump repeats his attacks on the environment by calling windmills (wind turbines) ugly, dangerous to birds, and pollutes tremendous amounts of fumes. He claimed that he has studied wind energy better than anybody. How ironic that he goes off on renewable energy sources that help fight climate change in a state so vulnerable to extreme weather events and a changing climate.

The above news has been taken from a number of international, national, regional, and local news media sources, both print and digital. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.

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