Democrats presented a forceful case for impeaching and removing President Donald Trump from office Tuesday in a report detailing “overwhelming evidence” of misconduct in office and obstruction by the US leader.
Immediately dismissed by the White House as the product of a “one-sided sham process,” the House Intelligence Committee report accused Trump of subverting national security as he pressured Ukraine for dirt on a Democratic election rival.
The 300-page report, meant to serve as the basis for articles of impeachment, also mapped out in detail what it called an unparalleled effort of obstruction, including witness intimidation, to stifle the investigation into Trump’s Ukraine scheme.
“The president placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the US presidential election process, and endangered US national security,” said the final report on the Intelligence Committee’s investigation.
“President Trump and his senior officials may see nothing wrong with using the power of the office of the president to pressure a foreign country to help the president’s reelection campaign,” it said.
“However, the Founding Fathers prescribed a remedy for a chief executive who places his personal interests above those of the country: impeachment.”
– ‘The president’s dirty work’ –
The report, the product of a rapid-fire probe sparked by a whistleblower’s complaint in August, mapped out a months-long scheme by Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and senior diplomats to pressure Ukraine’s president into investigating Joe Biden, the current favorite to win the Democratic White House nomination in 2020.
Trump also pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a “conspiracy theory” that it was Ukraine, and not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 US election, to benefit the Democrats.
In both cases, the report said, Trump conditioned nearly $400 million in US military aid and a high-profile summit with Zelensky on Kiev opening the investigations.
Democrat Adam Schiff, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, said the White House demands left Ukraine, under constant threat from Russia-backed rebels, deeply vulnerable as Trump sought help for his 2020 reelection.
“This report chronicles a scheme by the president of the United States to coerce an ally, Ukraine, that is at war with an adversary, Russia, into doing the president’s dirty work,” he told reporters.
– ‘Ramblings of a basement blogger’ –
Secondly, the report said, Trump actively sought to obstruct the congressional probe, refusing to provide documents to investigators, preventing witnesses from appearing, and threatening some of those who did appear.
“Donald Trump is the first president in the history of the United States to seek to completely obstruct an impeachment inquiry undertaken by the House of Representatives,” it said.
“If left unanswered, President Trump’s ongoing effort to thwart Congress’ impeachment power risks doing grave harm to the institution of Congress, the balance of power between our branches of government, and the Constitutional order that the President and every Member of Congress have sworn to protect and defend.”
In London for a NATO summit, Trump again accused the Democrats of playing a political game.
“The impeachment is a hoax. It’s turned out to be a hoax. It’s done for purely political gain.”
His spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham doubled down in dismissing both the report and Schiff’s investigation.
“At the end of a one-sided sham process, Chairman Schiff and the Democrats utterly failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump,” she said in a statement.
The report “reads like the ramblings of a basement blogger straining to prove something when there is evidence of nothing.”
– Impeachment before Christmas? –
The report is expected to form the basis for the House Judiciary Committee to draw up formal charges, or articles of impeachment, in coming weeks.
If, as expected, the articles are passed by the Democratic-led House, the case will go to the Republican-controlled Senate for trial in January.
The Judiciary panel, which begins meeting on Wednesday, has set no formal timeframe.
But Democrats have aimed to hold a full House vote on articles of impeachment before the body goes on break for Christmas, December 25.
Schiff said that while the Judiciary Committee meets, his panel could continue investigating other angles of the Ukraine scheme, including whether Trump actually began much earlier, pressuring Zelensky’s predecessor Petro Poroshenko for the investigations, and whether some members of Congress were involved.
But he stressed the need to move quickly, accusing Trump of seeking election help not only from Ukraine but Russia and China.
“There is I think grave risk to the country with waiting until we have every last fact when we already know enough about the president’s misconduct to make a responsible judgement,” Schiff said.
Trump fears his base will turn on him if he flips and calls for nationwide mask guidelines: CNN
On CNN Saturday, analyst Ron Brownstein outlined the key reason President Donald Trump is struggling to adapt his message to proper public health guidance on the coronavirus pandemic.
"Ron, there is a retail trade group that has asked President Trump to institute federal, nationwide mask guidelines at stores across the country as the country continues to re-open," said anchor Alex Marquardt. "Experts are saying that masks could save thousands of lives in the coming months. Do you see a scenario in which — any chance in which he would issue that?"
"I think the short answer is no, and for a revealing reason," said Brownstein. "He is in a trap of his own construction. On coronavirus, we talk all the time about how President Trump's base is bonded to him, immovably. He's also bonded to the base in the other direction, that he is very reluctant to get out crosswise with a base that includes the kind of people that showed up at the Michigan capital to protest lockdown without wearing masks and waving Confederate flags and carrying automatic weapons."
Trump and the GOP have become the party of the dead
There are few morbid topics subject to greater speculation than the religious loyalty of President Donald Trump's "base." Why an alarmingly large amount of Americans refuse even to entertain any criticism of Trump deserves scrutiny from political scientists, psychologists and perhaps horror novelists working in the school of Edgar Allan Poe.
This article first appeared in Salon.
What is abundantly clear is that no matter who votes for Trump, he and the Republican Party on the national level have no interest in governing on the behalf of living human beings — with the exception of ensuring that a tiny minority of billionaires and multimillionaires enlarge their investment portfolios. Trump evinces no concern for Americans dying of the coronavirus, racist violence or any other malady or injustice. He demonstrates no regard for health care professionals courageously trying to save their patients from dying, and appears cruelly indifferent to the struggles of millions of workers whose livelihoods have been destroyed by COVID-19. Needless to say, Trump also shows contempt for Black Lives Matter, immigrants and anyone who opposes his re-election, which at this moment (and throughout his presidency) is more than half of the American public.
As coronavirus seizes the state, Florida hospitals are in panic mode
This article first appeared in Salon.
There are 47,663 hospital beds in the state right now with 11,782 available (meaning a remaining capacity of 19.82 percent) and a total staffed bed capacity of 59,445, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration's Hospital Bed Capacity Dashboard. The state Department of Health also reported on Friday that, out of 95,300 individuals who received coronavirus test results over the course of the previous day, 11,433 tested positive for COVID-19 (all but 90 of whom were Florida residents), meaning that more than 12 percent of the new cases had positive test results. The state also reported 93 new deaths due to COVID-19. (Salon reached out to the Florida Department of Health for comment on this story.)