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Impeachment, Day 1: mind-numbing Kabuki theater

Rep. Adam Schiff
U.S. Senate TV/Handout via Reuters
Rep. Adam Schiff summarized the charges against Trump and said the president had committed "constitutional misconduct justifying impeachment."

I’m sure to its connoisseurs Kabuki theater is a complex and lovely art form. As a metaphor in American usage it often refers to an activity that is highly stylized and predictable, but insincere and perhaps lacking in substance or honest emotion.

Day 1 of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump in the U.S. Senate veered toward the American usage of Kabuki. Not much of a plot, a lot of repetition, a lot of actors playing stock characters in a stiff style that was heavier on formality and repetition than on plot or substance. A story, if you can call it a story, that barely moved.

The end of the endless day was particularly Kabuki-like, as Democrats forced a series of roll-call votes on motions calling for witnesses to be added to the plan of the trial. After a voice vote, with all Democrats shouting “aye” and Republicans shouting “nay,” Democratic trial leader Adam Schiff would call for a roll call, the roll would be called (this takes a while; the Senate doesn’t vote by machine the way the House does), and the motion would be defeated. In fact, each and every such motion, and there were many, failed by 53-47, with every Democrat aye-ing and every Republican nay-ing.

The Schiff-led plan may have had some parliamentary purpose but was also, apparently, intended to demonstrate that Republicans had no interest in finding out the truth about President Trump’s by-now-obvious plan to extort a Biden investigation out of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.


It worked. 

Republicans held see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, say-no-evil ranks behind their president. Democrats succeeded in demonstrating that the search for truth was a sham on the Republican side. Even the few Republicans who are considered to be swing votes on other matters, who may even break see-no-evil ranks on the big final votes on impeachment, apparently accepted that party loyalty required them to vote the Mitch McConnell line on the witness list.

I trust Adam Schiff that this accomplished something, but I’m not sure what. To anyone watching without something to read it was mind-bogglingly boring. But it’s not the job of the impeachment show to be entertaining. And it wasn’t.

My favorite moment from earlier in the day dealt with a related pattern, namely the pattern that developed over earlier months when Trump ordered his minions to disregard/defy/deep-six all efforts by House Democrats to subpoena evidence that might have strengthened the case for his impeachment.

U.S. Rep. Val Demings, Democrat of Florida and one of the managers chosen for the impeachment team, took the floor to move that the Senate issue subpoenas for various documents that might shed light on certain matters not necessarily helpful to the Trumpian argument that he had done nothing wrong. The Democratically controlled House had already sought these documents, and Trump had ordered all of the agencies receiving them to defy these subpoenas.

Rep. Val Butler Demings questioning constitutional scholars during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Dec. 4.
Drew Angerer/Pool via REUTERS
Rep. Val Butler Demings questioning constitutional scholars during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Dec. 4.
The thing that made it my favorite moment was when Demings — a former police officer who, before running for Congress was Orlando, Florida’s, chief of police — described her best guess as to Trump’s reason for ordering all those agencies to defy all those subpoenas. It went like this:

“President Trump did not take these extreme steps to hide evidence of his innocence, or to protect the institution of the presidency.

“As a career law enforcement officer, I have never seen anyone take such steps to hide evidence proving his innocence. And I do not find that here today. The president is engaged in this cover-up because he is guilty, and he knows it.”

Comments (80)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 01/22/2020 - 09:55 am.

    “As a career law enforcement officer, I have never seen anyone take such steps to hide evidence proving his innocence.”

    As a police officer she should know by now that the accused doesn’t have to prove his innocence. They have to prove his guilt. Remind me not to get arrested in Orlando.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/22/2020 - 10:10 am.

      Here’s a little bit of free advice for you: if you are ever arrested anywhere in the United States, and your attorney says “We have loads of exculpatory evidence, but we’re not going to produce it because the prosecutor has the burden of proof,” get another attorney.

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 01/22/2020 - 10:15 am.

      And this is how the subject gets changed. Criticizing the choice of words, but ignoring the actual point. The Trump admin, at the President’s direction has obstructed all investigation into its behavior. Republicans don’t care.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/22/2020 - 10:42 am.

        Every president can withhold info from Congress. It is for the courts to decide, not Congress. That is called Constitutional balance of power.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 01/22/2020 - 11:09 am.

          And this is how the subject gets changed. Criticizing the choice of words, but ignoring the actual point. The Trump admin, at the President’s direction has obstructed all investigation into its behavior. Republicans don’t care.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/22/2020 - 11:20 am.

          That is called absurd. Going to the courts to enforce a demand for information is, or should be, a last resort.

          Presidents have to comply with the Constitution, just like anyone else.

          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/22/2020 - 05:04 pm.

            I’m remembering a two year investigation by Mueller that went nowhere. Dems have done nothing for three years but try to anull the last election. Congress didn’t go to the courts to even ask them to force the issue, they simply impeached him. That is a precedent that will see every president going forward harassed unto oblivion, just for the sake of harassment. That is petty and undemocratic, but apparently the ends justify the means no matter what.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/23/2020 - 08:44 am.

              It shouldn’t be necessary to go to court. The President should know what his constitutional obligations are.

              Trump has a long history of engaging in pointless litigation to run out the clock on the other party. Why would anyone think he should have the opportunity to do that again?

            • Submitted by Paul Sortland on 01/24/2020 - 11:05 am.

              Did you even read the Mueller report? It shows a clear abuse of process and obstruction by the President and his staff.

            • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/24/2020 - 02:11 pm.

              “Dems have done nothing for three years but try to annul the last election.”

              Since environmental protection is important to you and to many of us, we all should be aware that the Ds in the House have 6 pieces of passed environmental bills that have languished in the Senate for over 1,000 collective days. On the other side, the Senate has one bill in front of the House and it has been 14 days since being passed by the Senate.

              To imply that the Ds have done nothing is simply Trump talking points put out by his followers.

        • Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/22/2020 - 12:37 pm.

          There is abundant existing precedent relating to executive privilege and it does not support any of Trump’s ridiculous positions. In fact, he has lost every single case involving his irresponsible privilege claims to date. But of course he keeps filing appeals in order to delay the process ever longer.

          And the ultimate destination (as Trump is well aware) would be a Supreme Court controlled by a (democratically-illegitimate) conservative majority, two of whom are lifelong conservative activists nominated by Trump himself. Do you really maintain that this is the only proper route to take in combating a lawbreaking executive?

      • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 01/22/2020 - 01:49 pm.

        Every President in US History has done this. The Executive Branch is a separate branch and has its own privilege. If Congress doesn’t like it, they can go to the 3rd branch and get the SCOTUS to decide.

        • Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/23/2020 - 09:06 am.

          Ah, so you really think it was legitimate (and routine) for Trump to withhold every single requested document from the House in an impeachment inquiry? And that the constitutional “answer” was to engage in a years long battle over an egregious claim of executive privilege, even though this is nowhere spelled out in the Impeachment clauses?

          Leave aside that recourse to a Supreme Court with a democratically-illegitimate conservative majority is not really any longer tenable. And the loss of the Supreme Court as a viable and neutral mediator between the branches is also a result of “conservative” machinations.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/22/2020 - 11:25 am.

      Your point would be valid if impeachment and an impeachment trial were criminal proceedings. Impeachment is a constitutional tool to remove highly placed public officers (not just Presidents but federal judges and other officials are subject to impeachment as well). Articles of impeachment are more analogous to an “order to show cause” why the official should not be removed than an indictment. The purpose of the trial is for the official to present evidence why they should not be removed. The President’s refusal to present evidence to rebut the charges should be its own evidence confirmed the reasons. By denouncing the merits and legitimacy of the impeachment and its proceedings, the President and his Senate supporters come across like crackpots.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/22/2020 - 06:54 pm.

      Once more, impeachment is not a criminal trial.
      There is no risk of incarceration or financial penalty.
      Impeachment does not require that a law be broken.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/22/2020 - 10:01 am.

    Amen to Ms. Demings.

    Also “Amen” to Eric’s characterization of Day One as Kabuki-like. I could stand only a couple hours of the ritual before daily life – even for a retiree – intruded and I had other things to do.

    This has very little to do with “liberal” vs. “conservative,” and much more to do with ordinary – well, extraordinary – power politics. Republicans, I’m ashamed to say, are demonstrating their loyalty to authoritarian rule at the very least, or more likely, monarchy, which is where thoughtful people will find the justification for the “If I do it, it can’t be wrong or illegal,” or its Trumpian companion, “I can do whatever I want.”

    Republican defenses of Donald Trump, at least in this impeachment context, should provoke a national day of mourning.

  3. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/22/2020 - 10:13 am.

    Well, Demings should know, you don’t get to say stuff like that in a real court of law, in a real trial. Only in made for TV fake trials.

    Kabuki indeed. That is what those in the alternative press have been calling American governance for a generation. This is like the Apex of fiction for the stage in the great entertainment venue called America.

    What I don’t get is, if Dems are so keen on witness testimony, why are they so adamant that the original accuser, the whistleblower, not testify? And everyone attached to him, including Shiff and Brennan? I for one would love to see Shiff on the witness stand explaining the logistics of the original accusation. That would be entertaining. In any real trial, the accused get to question the accuser(s). But not this show trial?

    • Submitted by Christian King on 01/22/2020 - 10:33 am.

      1. Whistleblowers are protected under the law for good reason.
      2. It doesn’t matter who the whistleblower is, or what that person might have to add. Imagine if you saw a crime being committed at a local bank and called from a pay phone to report. The robbers are caught by police after the fact. There are going to be plenty of witnesses to document the guilt of the perpetrators without you having to testify.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/22/2020 - 10:33 am.

      Whistleblowers are allowed to remain anonymous for a reason.

      Or do you really think Trump and Company would not try to retaliate against them?

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/22/2020 - 10:59 am.

        Dems were silent when Obama treated whistleblowers like spies, for calling out abuses by government. What has changed?

        There is plenty of evidence that the whistleblower fails the sniff test as a whistleblower. Besides, show me/us some statute that says this CIA agent is ok to accuse a president anonymously? Dems don’t want him on the stand for one reason only…he will make the whole process look highly coordinated behind the scenes in a way that would look very bad indeed.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/22/2020 - 11:19 am.

          For the last time: Barack Obama is not President. Donald Trump is President. He is accountable for his actions. It doesn’t matter what anyone may or may not have said about his behavior: we judge him on the basis of what he does.

          “Besides, show me/us some statute that says this CIA agent is ok to accuse a president anonymously?”

          I can show you the statute that says it is a crime to reveal the identity of a covert CIA operative, but I know what the response would be.

          “Dems don’t want him on the stand for one reason only…he will make the whole process look highly coordinated behind the scenes in a way that would look very bad indeed.”

          Yes, it’s that deep state using duly enacted laws to subvert Our Beloved Leader’s efforts to make America irate again.

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/22/2020 - 11:30 am.

          We should hear from the CIA whistleblower because this impeachment thing smells a lot like the FBI Russia Collusion investigation/Russiagate.

          https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/the-fbi-scandal/

          “the FBI relied on lurid, sketchy, and sleazy opposition research generated by former British spy Christopher Steele—information so spurious that even liberal news organizations briefed on the so-called Steele dossier before the 2016 election wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. And it used that information in a specious, circular, and misleading manner to keep that investigation afloat and active into the first two years of Trump’s presidency. Even after the bureau had good reason to doubt its veracity, it didn’t share the exculpatory information it had uncovered—not with the public, not with the courts, and not even with the Justice Department lawyers who were supposed to check its work.

          “The result was a debacle. What had been teased as the greatest espionage scandal in American history—a U.S. president conspiring with Russia to steal an election—today should be seen as a cautionary tale about the fallibility of our lawmen and spies, the credulity of our press, and the hubris and hysteria of Trump’s resistance.”

          • Submitted by Pat Terry on 01/22/2020 - 06:22 pm.

            Your are trafficking in outright falsehoods now. That piece by Eli Lake is just straight-up nonsense.

            • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/23/2020 - 08:51 am.

              And I would point out, that kind of language is usually what Trump is accused of. Just calling it false and nonsense does not make it so.

          • Submitted by Robert Lilly on 01/23/2020 - 07:43 am.

            “today should be seen as a cautionary tale about the fallibility of our lawmen and spies, the credulity of our press, and the hubris and hysteria of Trump’s resistance.””
            I pray eventually, conservatives with a conscience will realize this is only a cautionary tail about blind loyalty to a reality tv host.

          • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/24/2020 - 09:20 am.

            I just finished reading:

            “Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump”

            By Fusion GPS founders Simpson and Fritsch.

            Now I realize they will be self serving to their needs; but a few points that seem to be consistently overlooked / ignored:

            1. Their work was initiated by a Ted Cruz / Never Trumper supporter.
            2. The DNC took over funding when it became clear Trump would be the GOP nominee.
            3. The report was NEVER intended for public release and was not presented as documented 100% fact to its’ sponsors. It was raw intelligence and that should be forefront in the mind of its’ sponsors when using it.
            4. When they learned of the possibility of Trump having possible financial ties to Russia the authors, through back channels, gave the FBI a look at this raw intelligence.
            5. From the FBI it made it to a few select Senate members.
            6. John McCain, with Lindsey Graham’s encouragement shared it with others, including a staffer who leaked it to BuzzFeed.
            7. BuzzFeed publishes and Simpson calls BuzzFeed and tells them to take it down immediately: “people get killed over leaks like this” referring to the ability to identify sources from the content. Simpson and Fritsch are horrified that this info got out: They are not in the publishing business: they are in the research business and their customers range across the full political spectrum. The release of this is bad/devastating for business.

            The publishing of the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS reporting was not an evil plot by Fusion GPS or the Ds: It was Republican Senators with a Trump ax to grind that facilitated the leak that led to the Dossier being published.

            Need to blame someone?

            McCain is dead.

            Lindsey Graham is next up.

            Read it for yourself…

            • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/24/2020 - 03:19 pm.

              They left out the most important part, well established, that the FBI relied heavily upon it for their FISA warrant on Carter Page, which dossier facilitated them to spy on Trump for years.

              As for knowing that a staffer for Graham or McCain was the source for BuzzFeed, that seems self-serving info insofar as the DNC and FBI were privy to it too, and elements in both quite happy to leak it.

            • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/24/2020 - 03:42 pm.

              I missed this interesting bit until now. From JKunstler: “The Department of Justice yesterday declared two of four FISA warrants against Carter Page invalid. The warrants were signed by James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Rod Rosenstein. The move has deep repercussions in everything connected to the RussiaGate investigation, including especially the prosecutions mounted by Robert Mueller’s lawyers. It implies what has already been demonstrated by other evidence: That the FBI and the DOJ knew by January of 2017 at the latest that all the information they used to start the case against the President was garbage, and yet they continued it anyway — including the appointment of Mr. Mueller and his commission. The DOJ’s statement about the two FISA warrants doesn’t negate the possibility that the other two will also be declared invalid. “

              • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/26/2020 - 10:55 am.

                I believe that the FISA finding was based on technical procedural grounds, not on the quality of the evidence.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/22/2020 - 12:09 pm.

          Again:

          “The anonymous whistleblower who made the complaint about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president did follow proper procedures, as acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire repeated in his testimony on Capitol Hill on Thursday.”

          Maguire is Trump’s guy. He said nothing was done inappropriately. The whistle-blower passes the sniff test with flying colors.

          If the whistle-blower said “I hate Trump, he’s a menace and I went to the chair of the House Intelligence committee and told him so and he said send a complaint to the Intelligence IG” he still is passing the sniff test.

          No one has ever described the sinister, evil thing the whistle-blower did other than “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” as the oversight privileges Trump should get.

          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/22/2020 - 04:26 pm.

            The question is not did he follow proper procedures. The question is, was he recruited by Brennan, Schiff, Atkinson McCord, Carlin etc to file the complaint. If this were a real trial we would find out. But this is Kabuki Theater.

            • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/23/2020 - 12:50 pm.

              As I stated below:

              It is not the credibility of the whistle-blower, it is the credibility of the information brought forward. The whistle-blower has zero credibility and it makes no difference: Trump’s guy, the DNI gets his IGs report, they agree it has credibility or NOT and if it does we get to where we are today.

              Schiff could have been the whistle-blower and everything would have been OK: he did not need to recruit anybody.

              Again:

              It is not the credibility of the whistle-blower, it is the credibility of the information brought forward. If the DNI’s IG said this is baseless this never happens.

              If the worst jail house snitch known to man tells the Deputy that the courthouse is going to blow up at noon tomorrow should we just ignore it?

              One more time for emphasis:

              “It is not the credibility of the whistle-blower, it is the credibility of the information brought forward”

        • Submitted by Larry Moran on 01/22/2020 - 04:02 pm.

          What I don’t understand when Obama is accused of bad behavior, why didn’t someone do something about it? He withheld funding to Egypt? He tried to out whistleblowers? Then why not begin impeachment hearings? The Republicans controlled both houses, why not try to impeach him?

          The fact is whatever Obama did or did not do is irrelevant. The question is simply this: Did Donald Trump abuse his power for his own personal gain?

          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/23/2020 - 09:22 am.

            The point is, the case is weak, and made weaker by Dem hypocrisy. It looks more like electioneering than impeachment, moral grandstanding. I mean seriously, why are Dems so outraged by the temporary withholding of $400 million for Ukranians to kill Russians with? And this defense of Biden and his son is Dems blind to corruption in their own party, yet so seriously pointing a finger at the other side. It is untoward, unbecoming, undemocratic, worthy of a censure surely, but impeachment is a grotesque overreach.

            • Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/23/2020 - 10:06 am.

              “They” (i.e most Americans) are outraged because the withholding of the funds was done as extreme pressure to get Zelensky to announce (bogus) investigations into (1) a lead Dem prez front-runner and (2) the absurd conspiracy theory that Ukraine (not Russia) meddled in the 2016 election and on Clinton’s behalf, thus washing away Trump’s 2016 electoral sin.

              In other words, we are outraged because Trump was (again!) working to cheat in a prez election and elicit foreign interference to help him. In that light, I’d submit that you might rethink whose actions are “undemocratic”. But I doubt you will.

              • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/23/2020 - 02:36 pm.

                You know, I predicted upon the election of Trump, America after four years will be a meaner, more polluted, less stable place.

                But don’t fool yourself into thinking that is Trump’s doing alone. Dem’s, trafficking in gross elaborations about Russian influence and this Ukraine folly, while excusing Hunter Biden’s $83,000 a month do nothing salary while his Dad who is running for president didn’t seem to notice, is basically a mockery of the intelligence of the VAST majority of Americans who make $35,000 or less a year, grinding away at so many crap jobs.

                Did you hear Hillary has a new documentary where she makes it clear she thinks Bernie fans are basically deplorables? Yeah, that is what comes from the establishment Democrat response to Trump, all this Russia baiting, getting in bed with the FBI/CIA etc 17 Intelligence Agencies, eating your own to spite Trump.

                So many Dems seem to think removing this president would be good for the Republic. All that lofty talk from house leadership. It is a mass delusion, a country falling apart, like the republic jumping off a cliff because it thinks it can fly.

                A pox on both your houses.

            • Submitted by kurt nelson on 01/24/2020 - 04:43 pm.

              You do realize there are two counts before the Senate, and the second, which they are just now turning to is far more convincing than the first. Not that any of the unprincipled Republicans will be moved, this second article will hopefully be enough to get him removed.

              Since you think the pres is so smart, I’m going to challenge you to read the letter he wrote around Christmas – that 6 page trope. But read it out loud, in front of someone you like. If at the end, don’t be alarmed if that person is looking at you like you’ve suffered a stroke. then report back that the man is a stable genius, and is the most persecuted prez in history.

    • Submitted by cory johnson on 01/22/2020 - 11:01 am.

      It’s because the whistleblower, who everyone already knows, has zero credibility. He is buddies with Sean Misko. Misko happens to be on Schiffs impeachment committee. And the whistleblower law is designed to prevent retaliation,not to keep their identity secret.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/22/2020 - 04:35 pm.

        “And the whistleblower law is designed to prevent retaliation,not to keep their identity secret.”

        It’s kept secret to protect against retaliation. Or do you really think Trump and his goons will just shrug this off if/when their identity becomes public?

      • Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/22/2020 - 06:36 pm.

        Yep, “zero credibility”. That’s why the analyst’s account was corroborated by half a dozen witnesses, as well as by Trump’s release of the (woefully incomplete) log of the July 25 the call.

        And the fact the analyst knows [whomever] alters the accuracy of their account how, exactly? And again, you are struck with the fact that the whistle-blower’s account has been (repeatedly) corroborated.

        Sometimes, Cory, a talking point just doesn’t actually go anywhere!

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/22/2020 - 09:44 pm.

        What difference does the credibility of the whistle-blower have to do with anything?

        The whistle-blower could be the wife whose husband’s cousin had a friend who had a one night stand with a White House janitor who overheard all this bad stuff while cleaning an office next to some folks talking about this.

        And the whistle-blowing woman, outraged by this fifth hand news, writes her congressman, Adam Schiff, and says:

        “You are not going to believe this story…”

        And Schiff says:

        “Hmm, very interesting. There’s this guy, the IG for intelligence, send him a note”

        It is not the credibility of the whistle-blower, it is the credibility of the information brought forward. The whistle-blower has zero credibility and it makes no difference: Trump’s guy, the DNI gets his IGs report, they agree it has credibility or NOT and if it does we get to where we are today.

        Can you give an example where the identity of the whistle-blower can add anything or make any difference?

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/23/2020 - 04:05 pm.

          If the whistleblower is indeed CIA, and worked for Biden and Brennan, and then remained in Trump’s Whitehouse, as has been widely reported, and there are connections between him, McCord, Atkinson and Carlin, then yes, democracy would be served by hearing from him and the others.

          As for the evidence, well worth a censure, but hardly worth removing him from office and tearing the country apart.

          • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/24/2020 - 03:35 pm.

            For the sixth time:

            “It is not the credibility of the whistle-blower, it is the credibility of the information brought forward.”

            The identity and motivations of the whistle-blower have ZERO impact on anything. There is not a scenario where knowing the identity would cause one to say:

            “Well, that makes a difference! Good to know”

            I sit here dumbfounded of the still active idea that the identity of the whistle blower means anything.

            If the whistle-blower was Charlie Manson, you look into it and based on the facts, move or not.

            If the whistle-blower was Pope Frances, you look into it and based on the facts, move or not.

            If the whistle-blower was Melania Trump, you look into it and based on the facts, move or not.

            If the whistle-blower was Lindsey Graham, you look into it and based on the facts, move or not.

            Please, please tell me how if the whistle blower went on CNN the same day as the complaint and announced his presence to the world how anything would be different other than if he disclosed confidential info, WHICH HE DID NOT.

            There are lots of things to disagree about, this is the biggest nothing burger of all.

  4. Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/22/2020 - 11:23 am.

    Well, was Atticus Finch’s argument to the (white Southern) jury Kabulki?

    The process was mind-numbing because the Gravedigger of Democracy is attempting to rush the entire sham “trial” through as quickly as possible and steamroll the 47 Dem senators. The problem for him is that they weren’t having it, and offered amendment after amendment 9and argument after argument) to demonstrate that McConnell’s Repubs haven’t the slightest intention of getting to the bottom of things by calling for the documents the criminal (Repub) executive is hiding from Congress. So it was a long day, made especially tiring for corrupt Repubs because Trump’s legal team is (predictably) atrociously bad.

    But Kabuki means “meaningless” to me, and you acknowledge that the Dem mangers demonstrated that “a search for truth was a sham on the Repub side”. Well, that’s not meaningless, and arguably it’s very important “theater” for all these (supposed) independents and “Both Sides are Equally Bad” believers to see—assuming they still have eyes to see.

    If the Repubs want to maintain that Trump’s conditioning (duly-appropriated) aid on a foreign power aiding his election was “perfect” even if proven, then that’s important both for posterity and perhaps even in the upcoming election. After all, it is McConnell’s Repub party that is actually on trial here. This day was about THEM.

  5. Submitted by Connor OKeefe on 01/22/2020 - 11:47 am.

    I think the Democrats will get their wish granted and there will be a couple witnesses admitted. They will be sorry too, in my opinion.

    Any lawyer will tell you never to ask a question you don’t know the answer to. The Democrats have no idea what Bolton or anyone else will say.

    Conversely, the Republicans will call Hunter Biden, and if he doesn’t commit perjury, we do know what he will say.

    Juxtaposed with the recording of Joe Biden’s insane bragging of strong arming the Ukrainian government with US aid to quash the investigation that implicated his son, there will be no doubt Trump had legitimate reasons to want the Ukraine investigation re-opened.

    Trump was going to be re-elected anyway, but this pathetic display of petty vindictiveness is likely going to cost the DNC it’s control of the House as well.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/22/2020 - 04:50 pm.

      The actual dictum is “never ask a question you don’t know the answer to or you don’t care what the answer is.” Anyway, it’s pretty clear what John Bolton is likely to say under oath because Trump has attempted to prevent hm from testifying-a clear instance of further obstruction of justice except for the fact Trump is President, which requires a court decision to determine whether Trump’s phony claim of “executive privilege” is valid. Trump wouldn’t be trying to gag Bolton if he didn’t think his testimony would be damning.

      Hunter Biden’s activities are irrelevant to Trump, just as any alleged corruption against Obama is. It’s a red herring. Anyway, when will Republicans wake up to the fact that if Hunter Biden’s directorship on the Ukrainian gas firm was corrupt, Joe Biden’s use of US aid leverage to prompt an investigation of corruption would only have resulted at best in disgracing his son and his family. It only proves that Biden’s actions were honorable and not promoted by the venality that drives Trump and his henchmen.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 01/22/2020 - 06:26 pm.

      “insane bragging…”

      I assume the various European governments at the time were calling for the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor solely to aid Hunter Biden’s board tenure as well….

      “pathetic display of petty vindictiveness…”

      Yep, that’s why recent polls indicate strong majorities want the senate to demand all relevant documents and hear witnesses. And why there are now polls showing that majorities (already) think Trump should be removed from office for his manifest abuses.

      But keep doubling down on your predictions of Doom for Dems!

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/22/2020 - 09:57 pm.

      “Conversely, the Republicans will call Hunter Biden, and if he doesn’t commit perjury, we do know what he will say.”

      We do?

      I guess he will say:

      “Yeah, I got this sweet deal offered to me only because my Dad was the VP of the US. I hardly ever did anything other than cash the checks”

      If there is anything more devious, Bill Barr and Lindsey Graham should/would have at it and make political hay by using US law to gut Hunter. It sure worked on Paul Manafort.

      And if there is/was the opportunity to do this, they already would have started the process. It could have saved Barr a lot of time not having to wander around Eastern Europe looking for the Crowdstrike server.

      Unfortunately for Trump nation, Hunter Biden is just another member of the Brotherhood of Lucky Incompetent Offspring, Donald Trump Jr. President. Repulsive? yes, criminal? No.

  6. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/22/2020 - 11:52 am.

    Please provide the whistleblowers you claim Obama treated like spies for aleged government abuse. The reason the identity of the whistleblower is anonymous is because he or she literally is a “spy” being a CIA officer. It’s illegal to blow a person’s identify as a CIA agent. In this case, blowing that person’s identity would be equivalent to invoking some third party to assassinate or attack them. That’s the reason the whistleblower’s identity remains a secret.

    Besides, their testimony would only be cumulative to what others have proved and what Trump and his defenders have admitted took place on, before and after July 25, 2019. Your complaint about some nefarious “behind the scenes coordination” is irrelevant to that point that the acts of the President which the whistleblower disclosed are all admitted, except of course, that such acts constitute an “abuse of power” or any “high crime or misdemeanor.”

    • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/22/2020 - 04:41 pm.

      https://prospect.org/justice/all-the-presidents-whistleblowers/

      “Under the Obama administration was a complete misuse of the Espionage Act to target whistleblowers and to create an example of these individuals who came forward to blow the whistle on really serious intelligence community abuses of power,” says Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy at the Project on Government Oversight. Only 13 people have been charged under the Espionage Act, but eight of these cases occurred during President Barack Obama’s two terms. None of those cases involved double agents or wartime security concerns, but instead leaking secure documents. Examples of these document leaks ranged from highly classified military intelligence to embarrassing candid diplomatic cables.”

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/23/2020 - 10:29 am.

        As a careful reader here I continue to be perplexed why some one who has consistently indicated that their highest priority for our political class is to respect the environment and insure an improved future for our kids (it’s always the kids, isn’t it?) and also relentlessly finds faulty with democrats of all stripes but the Bernie stripe and defends Trump more frequently than any other response topic.

        Obama moved on climate change, Trump backed up. Obama moved on nuclear deterrence, Trump backed up.

        Here is a link to 95 instances where Trump has rolled back Obama environmental protections:

        https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks.html

        I guess it is the appeal of contrarianism vs advocacy….

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/23/2020 - 04:20 pm.

          Most of Obama’s signature environmental rules were executive orders in the last year of his presidency, to pad his legacy, but without the staying power of actual legislation, easily undone. He was so sure Hillary would win, it seemed like a sure thing. Obviously it was not.

          Now look to his actions on pipelines and fracking, or the fact that the monarch migration nearly went extinct during his tenure, or the fact that there was no actual movement on Climate, and tell me again he cared so much?

          Trump indeed is of the old school that says pollution is fine as long as you have economic growth, and you aren’t killing people outright.

          So careful reading would show that I am not defending this president, never have and never would, I am defending democracy.

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/26/2020 - 10:59 am.

            And of course Mitch McConnell had noting to do with his resorting to executive action.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/27/2020 - 11:59 am.

            So your critique of Obama is that he didn’t do enough, and that wasn’t until late in his tenure? Okay, but why is that worse than Trump actively trying to dismantle the “better late than never?”

            Oh, here’s the answer: “Trump indeed is of the old school that says pollution is fine as long as you have economic growth, and you aren’t killing people outright.” That’s comforting, except that people are dying, and will continue to die.

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/23/2020 - 10:44 am.

        Your original comment was:
        “Dems were silent when Obama treated whistleblowers like spies, for calling out abuses by government. What has changed?”

        That’s not true. The quote is taken out of context from an article which actually establishes the contrary. OK, so there were a number of prosecutions during Obama’s administration against individuals under the Espionage Act who claimed to have been “whistleblowers.” The article also discusses the Obama administration’s efforts to enhance protections for “whistleblowers” and refine the shifting boundary that separate whistleblowers from “spies” and “leakers” of sensitive information. Maybe Obama should have pardoned or let up on prosecutions of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and John Kiriyakou (but I’m not so sure about Julian Assange. I don’t know enough about the other cases to comment). Obama never revealed or threatened to reveal the identities of any covert agents in retaliation for anything.

        My point here is that your charge of hypocrisy against the Democrats in this instance is baseless. It’s not true that “Obama treated whistleblowers like spies” and your comment ignores the Obama administration’s actual record on whistleblowers and espionage. In any event, there’s simply no comparison to Trump’s threat to expose the whistleblower’s identity, which would itself be a violation of the 50 United States Code section 3121, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and any conduct by Obama or his administration. Exposing the identities of covert intelligence agents in retaliation for revealing unclassified but embarrassing inside information about their misconduct seems to be exclusively a “Republican thing.” (Cf. Former VP Dick Cheney and his aide Scooter Libby outing CIA Agent Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband’s embarrassing disclosure of the Bush Administration’s false pretexts for the Iraq War)..

        • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/23/2020 - 04:28 pm.

          The espionage act is for prosecuting spies. Obama retaliated against people (whistleblowers) who released information embarrassing to the Obama Administration, by prosecution under the espionage act, thus treating them like spies. He did it eight different times, though the act had not been used that many times in the history of it. Truly extraordinary, quite simple, and your long response mostly reinforces my original point.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/24/2020 - 01:11 pm.

            Funny thing, but if you read the Espionage Act (18 USC §§ 792 – 799), it refers to “whoever” does certain proscribed acts. The term “spy” is not used.

            • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 01/24/2020 - 03:23 pm.

              The word espionage is in the title. That is what spies do, not whistleblowers releasing info on gov abuses.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/24/2020 - 03:33 pm.

                I must say, you have a unique take on statutory interpretation.

                According to 18 U.S.C. § 798 (a), “Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information . . .”

                Nowhere does it say “Whoever is a spy and . . .”

  7. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 01/22/2020 - 12:28 pm.

    Trump defenders here should get real about this so-called trial i the biased GOP Senate. The House Democratis and those in the Senate know that McConnell will not permit Trump to be punished for his abuses of power and obstruction of Cohgres. So they are using the outlandish rules McConnell has set to get on the record the evidence the House hearings generated, For history.

    And they are not paying attention to defections from the issue that Republicans are trying.

    One is ignoring the GOP insistence that the whistleblower appear as a witness, Really? the whistleblower is not a “fact witness” at all and never claimed to be. Rather, and carefully following the law, he/she submitted an elegant and now-corroborated complaint bout Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The “fact witnesses” are those who apoeared in front of the House panels despite Trump’s prohibiting them from doing so, to tell all the detail of what they know.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 01/23/2020 - 08:38 am.

      And we’re also hearing that the only way Trump can be defeated is to remove him from office and that he needs to prove his innocence. This is all from those in the Dem party. We’re being told this is for all Americans. But statements like those is about as un-American as you can get because one of the basic tenets to our Great American Experiment is that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. You can’t make this stuff up.

  8. Submitted by cory johnson on 01/22/2020 - 01:03 pm.

    Schiff has already been caught selectively redacting transcripts of calls between Parnas and Giuliani. Very fitting that he’s the face of this farce.

  9. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 01/22/2020 - 01:13 pm.

    What I have watched of it makes the “Law and Order” cast look competent.

  10. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/22/2020 - 02:07 pm.

    Interesting to note the Trump will use Alan Dershowitz of Harvard as the “expert” on the unconstitutionality of the process.

    And Lawrence Tribe, Harvard’s #1 guy on constitutional law has said Dershowitz is flat out wrong on this.

    Dershowitz gave appealing performances for OJ Simpson, Claus Von Bulow and Jeffery Epstein, facts aside.

    Tribe would be the ideal witness to address constitutionality. Whoops, we won’t have witnesses…

  11. Submitted by Nathan Bowe on 01/22/2020 - 04:19 pm.

    America in decline is a sad thing to watch.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/23/2020 - 01:02 pm.

      These are the good old days.

      The economy is doing fine.

      We’re at war at a lower level than the norm.

      Journalism is as active and determined as anytime since Watergate.

      A fine range of candidates is being winnowed down for the next election.

      We just have a spoiled brat, indulged President that is incapable of showing any amount of empathy and humility with his opposites and his only core belief is:

      “If you hit me, I hit you back twice as hard”

      Which would be fine if we were just one big mafia family. We can only dig so many holes in the desert…

  12. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 01/22/2020 - 07:14 pm.

    This entire impeachment process from the beginning months ago to the present has been kabuki theater with both political parties eagerly participating.

  13. Submitted by Joe Musich on 01/22/2020 - 07:48 pm.

    All the Amendments offered by the House Dem are now on the record … …each and everyone can appear in campaign ads with names and faces attached. Old Gop trick type ads will be appearing in grey toned at 10:30 around the country shortly. After all there is an election coming. Poll numbers are not giving what Moscow “midnight” Mitch is doing much support even from 48% of gop voters. Even ranking member Howard Baker finally saw the writing on the wall in the Watergate calamity. That will happen shortly here also.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/23/2020 - 08:51 am.

    Two things: First, the Kabuki theater Eric describes has been business as usual for well over a decade as practice by Republican in our State. Tune into the TPT and watch the MN House or Senate and you’ll see Republicans demanding roll call for almost any measure no matter how mundane. They do it when their in power so they can “record” their vote for campaign purposes, and they do it when their not in power to record the vote AND delay the process as long as possible. I know Ms. Khan haunts these comments on occasion and I’m sure she can confirm this observation.

    Sure Democrats do as well once and while, but I’d say Republican request roll calls 2 or 3 times more frequently.

    Another tactic is for one Republican after another to take the floor and say exactly the same thing the previous Republican said on the floor, or to “yield” to the same question over and over again.

    Elsewhere we’ve been discussing the problem of “balanced” reporting models, it’s always kind of amazed me that the local media have NEVER reported or commented on the disproportionate numbers Republican rolls calls. I’d don’t think I’ve ever seen ANY of our local “political” reporters “report” these facile parliamentary gambits. They’ll tell us that debates took all day, and that gridlock is rule not the exception, but they won’t report what’s actually happening. And it’s weird because elsewhere they’ll revert to mind numbing procedural reporting about some objection or another without telling WHY someone is objecting.

    I suspect that this deliberate blind spot is yet another expression of “balanced” reporting. Whenever the behavior of one party becomes excessive in some way that excess gets pushed off the board because balanced journalism can’t find a way to report it on equal terms. They don’t report the Republican excessive use of roll calls etc. because they can’t figure out how to “balance” that reporting or criticism with some kind of equivalent observation regarding Democrats… they “balance” it by ignoring it. This is how the “balanced” model of journalism self censors and can end up ignoring the most excessive, critical, and important information.

    It’s nice to see Eric breaking our of that model here and opening up the floor to more comprehensive reporting.

  15. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/23/2020 - 10:01 am.

    Whew, lots of posts! I’m still looking for all those Trump supporters to say, yes/no I am OK, with president’s seeking foreign interference/assistance in our elections? Because that is the only thing this is about, all the other comments are Kabuki to distract from the real question. .

    • Submitted by joe smith on 01/23/2020 - 11:39 am.

      Dennis, you may have missed the Mueller report, no one in the Trump Administration colluded with Russia.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 01/23/2020 - 01:13 pm.

        Of course the Mueller Report never said Trump did not collude with Russia: Collusion is not a term in the law. The term in the law is conspire.

        As soon as the Russians started trading messages with the Trump campaign they were colluding with them. The Trump tower meeting was collusion. If at the end of the meeting Mueller could have proven that, brace yourself, there was a “quid pro quo” something for something: ie, them sliding over a USB stick with all the DNC emails and and hard evidence that Trump promised he would roll back sanctions if elected we would have CONSPIRACY.

        And not to forget, now that you are fond of quoting the Mueller Report:

        “If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so”

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/24/2020 - 10:27 am.

        We have the documented fact that Mueller repeatedly stated that his main rationale for not filing (what was it, up to 15 charges of obstruction?) was his opinion that a sitting president cannot face criminal charges. When Trump leaves office he’ll be open to prosecution. Anyone who tries to claim that Mueller in any way exonerated Trump is simply obtuse… and will be crushed by Trump’s prosecution and conviction.

        I can’t remember which Republican it was but the look of surprise on his face when Mueller confirmed that Trump could be prosecuted when he left office was rather priceless. Of course the plan is to tear up the Constitution and keep Trump in office indefinitely, but that’s a fight for another day.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 01/24/2020 - 03:08 pm.

      Dennis, the “real question” is a lot more fundamental: does one favor a democratic society (or at least one that works toward democracy) or an autocracy? For 50 years, the Republican party has worked to undermine the movement toward democracy in favor of authoritarianism. With Trump in office, no one who pays the slightest attention can claim anymore to be unaware that the party stands for power in the hands of the few who stand above the laws, take the social wealth for themselves, and punish whom they choose.

      Trump defenders engage in debating games to try to “own the libs,” leaving wholly unanswered why they are invested, at any cost, to defend a figure so degraded and destructive of civil society as Trump. Are these commenters in fact partisans of authoritarianism? And if so, are they wholly in? Authoritarianism heads toward genocide. Will they get off the train before then? If so, why not now?

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 01/26/2020 - 09:58 am.

        Of course not, ridding the world of the “liberal scourge” (who conveniently never seems to have the face of a friend or family member, only that of some imagined “other”) is the overriding fever dream of the average conservative “patriot”. Whether one is able to perform the necessary “dirty work”, when the rubber meets the road, is the only open question. In my mind, the answer is yes for enough that the reticence of others becomes meaningless.

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/27/2020 - 10:33 am.

          Middle English: via Old French from Latin liberalis, from liber ‘free (man)’. The original sense was ‘suitable for a free man’, hence ‘suitable for a gentleman’ (one not tied to a trade), surviving in liberal arts . Another early sense ‘generous’ (compare with liberal (sense 4 of the adjective)) gave rise to an obsolete meaning ‘free from restraint’, leading to liberal (sense 1 of the adjective) (late 18th century).

          Well Matt appears looks like conservatives don’t want to be a “Free man”

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