Friday, January 31, 2020
This is The Blogger Candidate Forum with a quick thought on today’s vote in the Senate trial of Mr. Donald Trump. Today, the senators voted on the question of whether to call witnesses to testify on the facts surrounding that infamous July 25th phone between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky. It was a close 51-49 vote to oppose calling witnesses, paving the way for an acquittal.
Based on the reactions in the digital stratosphere, there are a lot of angry people who believe the Republican Party failed to uphold the principles in The United States Constitution. They called the trial a sham. Whether you think that Mr. Trump is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress or not, one thing is apparent, the majority Senate Republicans proved that the are more concerned about staying in the president’s good graces than serving their country. Unfortunately, this is the state of the Republican Party today.
Once upon a time, the Republicans were like dad: stern, yet concerned. You did not always agree with them (Blogger Candidate Forum never did) but you still respected them. Today the once respected political party fully demonstrated that its elected lawmakers were craven onto a man who places himself and his interests above his duties in office and the national interest. The Candidate Forum understands that some of the senators, who are up for re-election this year, are stuck between a rock and hard place: do what is right, vote in favor of calling witness and risk losing to a more pro-Trump candidate or having your seat flipped. Or, towing the party line, increase the likelihood of your re-election, even if you firmly believe president’s actions were inappropriate. Regardless if you are one of those senators, you are there to serve you country, not a president who demands your personal loyalty above all else. So what comes next?
Monday we begin closing arguments, one last chance for both sides to make their appeals for conviction or acquittal. It is also a game day, the Iowa Caucus, the first time potential Democratic nominees will go before the voters. Tuesday is the State of The Union and Wednesday we will have a verdict. Blogger will be back on Monday with its regular scheduled programming and The Candidate Forum will bring you the highlights from closing arguments on Tuesday, as well as the results from Iowa. On Wednesday, The Candidate Forum will review the State of The Union and the bring the verdict when it comes in. We are adjourned until Monday. Have a great weekend.
Thursday, January 30, 2020
It is The Blogger Candidate Forum with today in the Senate Trial of Mr. Donald Trump. Mr. Trump was impeached on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He is currently standing trial in the Senate and if convicted, he would be forced to resign. Realistically, that is not going to happen but you never know. The 2020 Impeachment edition has had so many plot twists that The Candidate Forum does not think even the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, could keep up.
So what has been going on? Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney created a scandal by drinking chocolate milk from a bottle and Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul threw a tantrum and stormed out of the chamber because the presiding magistrate Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts would not read his question. The question: Who is the whistleblower? Seriously, did the Gentlemen from Kentucky really think that he was going to get answer?
Questions. The senators have questions. The rules for question time are: Each Senator must write his or her question down on a card, hand to a clerk who gives it to Chief Justice Roberts to read aloud. The question is directed to either the House managers or defense lawyers but each side is allowed to respond. The senators must remain silent during question time. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) allotted 16 hours for it. For the most part the questions have been fairly routine. Today Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Gary Peters (R-MI) asked a good question about the impact impeachment will have on the balance of power between the White House and Congress. Speculative question that hinges on the outcome. If The Candidate Forum were to hazard a guess it would be: if the president is convicted and removed from office, the conservative base would rally Trump-endorsed candidates and increase the Republican majority. Conversely, it could result in the Senate majority going to the Democrats. If the president is acquitted, then it could strengthen his hand in this year’s election enough to win a second term, possibly with a mandate. However, the question that had the chattering classes talking was a question is It personal political gain if a president, standing for re-election, uses information on a rival provided by a foreign entity.
Allow The Candidate Forum to explain. Hypothetically speaking, if President X is standing for re-election and asks President Y of a foreign country to investigate President X’s political rival in exchange for an earmark and approved aide package, is it quid pro quo for personal gain. Defense attorney Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowtiz provided a rather expansive answers. Mr. Dershowtiz told the senators that a hypothetical president trying to win re-election was acting in the national interest, therefore President X’s actions were not impeachable. This brought a very swift and incredulous reaction from the senators and the chattering classes. Prof. Dershowtiz faced criticism that he was arguing that the president could do whatever he wants because he was acting in the national interest. Honestly, it sounds like the argument the late President Richard Nixon made during the Watergate scandal: even if the president committed a crime it would not be illegal because he is acting in the national interest. Spoiler alert, that argument did not work out too well and President Nixon became the first chief executive to resign.
Professor Dershowtiz tried to back pedal his argument saying that he never implied that the president could do whatever he wanted to do. What he meant to say was a president could not be impeached if his quid pro quo was in the national interest. Since his re-election is in the national interest, the president’s motives was completely acceptable. Really? Does the esteemed Harvard law professor think that this president was acting in the national interest by trying to strong arm Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Burisma, former VPOTUS Joe Biden and his son Hunter was of national interest? Around the time of that infamous phone call, VPOTUS Biden was already favored to beat Mr. Trump, in a general election, by double digits. While Prof. Dershowtiz may like to think that every candidate thinks their re-election campaign is a matter of national interest, Mr. Trump has proven that his interest is only personal. What comes next?
Tomorrow, the senators will debate calling witnesses and Leader McConnell feels confident that there are enough votes to block witnesses. There may also be a motion to acquit. If the senators vote to call witnesses, that will happen next week. Speaking of next week, let the voting begin with the Iowa Caucuses on Monday and the State of the Union on Tuesday. As always The Blogger Candidate will keep you updated.
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
|White House Counsel Pat Cipollone|
It is a lovely Tuesday afternoon and The Blogger Candidate Forum is stepping with a summary of today in the Senate trial of Mr. Donald Trump. True to their word, the president's defense team took less than the allotted 24 hours to present their arguments in favor of acquittal, only to have their case hit an enormous boulder in the form of former National Security Council Adviser John Bolton's forthcoming book. The Candidate Forum found it rather amusing that all the Republicans that were thumping their chests, declaring that the House managers' case is over, no need for witnesses, let us acquit and move on with life are suddenly quiet.
Just this morning, Republican Iowa Senator Joni Ernst said the quiet part out loud. Speaking to reporters on Monday evening, Senator Ernst mused about whether voters in next Monday's Democratic Iowa Caucus would continue to support VPOTUS Joe Biden. Whoops. For months,the administration and their congressional sycophants have been arguing that the president's demand for an investigation into corruption in Ukraine had the purest intentions. In light of the fact that VPOTUS Biden is the president's chief rival, the argument that a corruption investigation was purely motivated just got undermined. The Candidate Forum guesses that sometimes politicians cannot help themselves in front of a microphone and camera. Oh yes, former President Barack Obama was figuratively dragged into the trial. Onward.
How would The Blogger Candidate Forum describe the defense team's arguments in favor of acquittal? Ironic. Specifically, lack of irony.
Breaking News: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that Republican senators do not have enough votes to block witnesses, paving the way for former-NSC Adviser Bolton to testify.
Back to the subject.
Why does The Candidate Forum use the word ironic to describe the defense team' arguments? Perhaps it was the Ghost of Impeachment past Kenneth Star arguing how the impeachment and removal process has been abused. This is coming from the former Clinton special prosecutor who was appointed to delve into allegedly corrupt business dealings by the Clintons and uncovered the former president's, um, extracurricular activities. Maybe it was famed constitutional law professor attorney Alan Dershowitz arguing that that the president should not be removed from office because he did not commit a crime. In 1998, Mr. Dershowitz said in an interview that there only needs to be an appearance of a crime in order for the president to be removed and President Clinton's actions were not criminal. Or perhaps it was defense attorney Michael Purpura arguing that there were no eye witnesses to that infamous July 25th phone call, neglecting to mention that key witnesses, like Mr. Bolton were blocked from testifying and requests for documents and other witnesses ignored. Ironic. No matter, the defense's case rests on six points.
|Former NSC Adviser John Bolton|
Mr. Trump's attorneys argues that the president never admitted to quid pro quo. Mr. Purpura argued on Saturday (washingtonpost.com; Jan. 25, 2020; date accessed Jan. 28, 2020),
Not a single witness testified that the president himself said that there was any connection between any any investigations and security assistance, or anything else (nbcnews.com; Jan. 28, 2020).
The careful wording in this statement, make it true because the president personally prevented Mr. Bolton (thehill.com; Jan. 28, 2020) and other witnesses from giving testimony. If Mr. Bolton were to provide a truthful account of events, he would verify the president's efforts. If this were a real trial, a lawyer would be sanctioned for deliberately misleading the finder of the facts. According to Mr. Bolton's book "...in August, Trump said that he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless it help with investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter..." (nbcnews.com; Jan. 28, 2020). This stunning revelation highlights the need to for first-hand witness testimony from Mr. Bolton and acting (like a) chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Mr. Bolton's testimony would support both articles of impeachment, suggesting that the president's motivations to fight the subpoenas was motivated by suppressing the truth from the American public (Ibid).
White House counsel Pat Cipollone argued that the so-called transcript from that infamous phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky demonstrated that the president did nothing wrong. Typical defense move: focus on one piece of evidence to draw attention away from the more damaging exhibits. The "transcripts" is more like a summary of the call, omitting the word "Burisma," the energy company whose board Hunter Biden served. Focusing on this one element ignores the months long wrangling between the United States and Ukraine, spearheaded by the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, over investigations of the Biden and the 2016 elections. Further, by focusing on just the transcripts, it detracts from the fact that when President Zelensky inquired about the approved aid, Mr. Trump asked for a "favor." The House managers believe that he could use said aid as leverage to illicit real or imagined "dirt" on his rivals to smear them politically
|Defense attorney Michael Purpura|
Second, Mr. Purpura argued that the Ukrainians were not pressured by the White House. This argument focuses on the impact of the president's word on the recipient. Irrelevant, better would be to focus on the intent. Even if Ukraine did not believe it was pressured by Mr. Trump, he is still not exonerated. There are moments when a a third party is quite happy to pay bribe if it means getting what they want. The Blogger Candidate Forum slip its hairstylist an extra generous tip and gets highlights with its hair. Both are happy to the detriment of those who actually pay for the highlights. In short, Ukraine was not willing to bite the hand that feeds.
Third, Mr. Purpura argued that Ukraine was not aware of any hold on military aid until late August, thus aid could be used as leverage to induce investigations. This is inconsistent with testimony given by Defense Department official Laura Cooper (Ibid; Nov. 11, 2019) that the Ukrainians became aware of the hold on July 25, the same day as that call. Regardless of when Ukraine first learned of the hold, the hold continued after the president's request for investigation. Aid was finally released on September 11, 2019 (Ibid; Nov. 14, 2019), once the president became aware of the whistleblower's complaint.
|Defense attorney Jay Sekulow|
Next, attorney Jay Sekulow argued that eventually military aid did flow, thus no harm, no foul (Ibid; Jan. 28, 2020). Be that as it may, "bribery and extortion are what are known as 'inchoate' crimes. They are complete upon the demand, regardless of whether the threat is carried out" (Ibid). The harm took place when the president ordered the earmarked and approved military aid delayed, by months, to help fight a common enemy. At war with Russia, Ukrainians could have died (Ibid; Dec. 30, 2020) because of the delay. Prosecutors call Mr. Sekulow's argument a red herring, after the technique used by fox hunters to "enhance the challenge by drawing their dogs off the scent of their actual pursuit" (Ibid; Jan. 28, 2020).
Finally, the defense argued that Mr. Donald Trump as been a better friend to Ukraine than his predecessor. There is nothing to indicate that President Barack Obama attempted to strong arm Ukraine into providing any personal or political benefit. However, hypothetically speaking, even if Pres. Obama was not a "good friend" (Ibid) to Ukraine, this point is completely irrelevant to the question whether the current president abused his own power to extort an ally for personal political gain. Thus, part of presiding judge Chief Justice John Roberts' instructions to the senators is consider "whether others are potentially guilty of this or other crimes is irrelevant to their determination of guilt for the defendant who is on trial" (Ibid). So, what comes next?
The senators begin two days of questions. The senators will be able to ask questions about the arguments. This will be followed by what is sure to be a contentious debate over calling witnesses and requesting documents. These matters are scheduled to take up the remainder of the week and Saturday. Monday February 3 is the Iowa Caucus and the State of the Union address is the next day, which means we will not have a verdict until mid-February. The Blogger Candidate Forum will be with you.
Monday, January 27, 2020
A good and nice wintery Monday afternoon to you all. It is a fresh a week on the blog and we have an eventful week: Fresh subjects, like today, and more Senate trial updates for you, like right now. Right now in the Senate trial of Mr. Donald Trump, the defense team is continuing its presentation, expecting to finish up today. Thus far, we have had two major plot twists in the trial. First, this past Saturday, indicated Rudy Guiliani associate, Lev Parnas, released a video from 2018 in which the president is heard demanding the immediate removal of former American Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. This undermines the president's claim that he was not acquainted with Mr. Parnas. Second, The New York Times reported that an unpublished by former National Security Adviser contains an account of the president insisting on withholding military aide from Ukraine until they announce investigations into the Bidens and the Democrats. Both are major twists that have strengthened the call for witnesses. Debate on the question of witnesses will take place after the allotted time for senators' questions. One final point, The Blogger Candidate Forum is also annoyed with conservative pundits and lawmakers' chest beating following the opening defense presentations. No, the prosecution's case has not been totally undermined because attorneys have not presented anything that would definitively create shadow of a doubt. Shall we move on?
California, the place where a person can re-invent themselves. The home of the digital industrial revolution, the entertainment industry, surfing, and Disneyland. The nickname "Golden State" is not just a reference to the place where gold was discovered in 1849 but also the place where, at least according to state boosters, where life is golden. Lately that gold has been tarnished by population slow growth. According to new date from the state Department of Finance, California's population increased to 39.96 million (dof.ca.gov; Dec. 2019; date accessed Jan. 27, 2020). A definite downward trend.
The reasons for the downward trend are based in "fewer births, coupled with increased among aging populations" (latimes.com; Dec. 21, 2019; date accessed Jan. 27, 2020). However, the state has also experienced changes in international migration (Ibid; May 1, 2019), concurrent with more residents leaving California. Estimates suggest that the state's population increased by 141, 300 people between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019 (Ibid; Dec. 21, 2019), indicating a .35 percent growth rate, down from 0.57% for the prior 12 months--the lowest recorded growth since 1900, according to state DOF officials (Ibid).
Julia Barajas and Sarah Parvini reported, "According to the agency, natural increase (with 452,000 births and 271, 400 deaths) accounted for an additional 180,800 people to the state. Still, these gains were offset by losses in net migration--that is, the total amount of people moving into the state minus the total amount of people moving out" (Ibid). Eddie Hunsinger, a demographer with DOF, told the Times that "even though the net international migration added to the state's population, there was substantial negative domestic net migration, which resulted in a loss of 39,500 resident" (Ibid). This indicates
...the first time since 2010 census that California has had more people leaving the state than moving in from abroad or other states (Ibid)
Brookings Institution senior fellow William Frey said that the difference between the disparity between the number of people moving to California from abroad or other states and the number of people leaving the states is inline with a pattern that demographers have followed over the past several years. Outmigration is not new to California, what is new is the rate has grown over the last ten years. Mr. Frey said,
For some years after the Great Recession housing crunch, California was losing domestic migrants--but not as much as it could have. Now that's starting to push up again....(Ibid)
|California, Nevada, Arizona map|
William Frey told the reporters that the most common destinations for out migrants are: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada (apnews.com; Nov. 24, 2019; date accessed Jan. 27, 2020), Oregon, and Washington (latimes.com; Dec. 21, 2019). The chief reason is as economy has picked up throughout the west and the rest of the United States. Further, the cost of living is lower and some Californians are drawn to areas with no state income tax. He also pointed to the drop in the immigration levels. Although California is still home the greatest share of the nation's immigrants, that number has dropped. He told the reporters,
In the past, California would be growing because immigration would counteract domestic out migration,... The outmigration is in places where housing prices are high and therefore immigration is not being able to counter that (Ibid)
Los Angeles County experienced overall outmigration even as it continued to gain immigrants. Other counties: Orange, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and San Diego, also saw negative net migration, even with immigration gains. Mr. Frey continues
California was the place, the big destination, for people around the country and around the world,... It's lost its luster a little bit. The question is whether it's short term or long term. I think the jury is still out. To me, it;s of a stunner to see that California is losing migrants. The land of dreams and the gold rush and all that, now turned the other direction (Ibid)
The decline in growth could have implications for the decennial census (Ibid, Apr. 1, 2019) and the future apportionment, based on population figures. Essentially, California could lose a seat in the House of Representatives as well as necessary funding for vital programs such as forest management if the state does not come up with a good count. Eddie Hunsinger told the Times in an email,
...the estimates are for current and historical information (rather than the future) (Ibid; Dec. 21, 2019).
Not all the news about California's population is bad. Intra-state migration saw either population declines or slight increases, with the obvious except of regions surrounding Butte County (Ibid; Dec. 21, 2018), the site of the 2018 Camp Fires, the deadliest in state history. The catastrophic fire destroyed the town of Paradise (Ibid; Nov, 11, 2018), killed 86 people, and displaced about 35,700 residents (Ibid; Dec. 21, 2019).
|California county map|
Julia Barajas and Sarah Parvini reported, "According to the Department of Finance, the bulk of those affected by the fire relocated to nearby cities in Butte or surrounding counties, including Colusa, Glenn, Plumas, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba" (Ibid). Four of these counties were listed among the top ten with the greatest population growth (Ibid). Outside of these exceptions, the statewide population is growth in decline. University of Southern California demographer Dowell Myers said "population growth in California has been slowing down for three years" (Ibid). Although the state has recovered from the recession but as prospects have gotten better in California, not everyone has benefited. Mr. Myers said,
...Jobs are getting better, but people's recovery has turned around and gone bad... I thing because of housing prices. The peak millennial is turning 30 in 2020. It's a pivotal moment and they can't find housing. So people aren't coming as much, and they're leaving here more (Ibid)
Dowell Myers also noted that a major factor in the lack of growth is the decline in birth rates--something he attributes to a young couple's inability to find affordable housing where they can raise a family. He said,
People need to feel secure in having housing before they can start a family,... Other people won't come because they have heard the news (Ibid).
...WE better get our act together pretty darn quick. This is as good as it's going to get. People should be flourishing. The fact that the number of babies is going down is really worrisome (Ibid)
Los Angeles saw a 17-percent decline in the number of children in the area over last ten years, according to Mr. Myers (Ibid). He added,
We are worse off and we have the best economy,... It's not sustainable,... It think we need enough housing workers to live in and for people start families. Older have the right to stay in their houses, but we need to make room for the young people or else we will turn into a retirement city by the sea (Ibid)
Saturday, January 25, 2020
The Blogger Candidate Forum is here with a Saturday Senate trial edition. Today Mr. Donald Trump’s defense team opened their presentation in a short mercifully abbreviated session. Their one job, create enough reasonable doubt to get their client acquitted of high crimes and misdemeanors. The featured member of the team was the Ghost of Impeachment Past (dramatic pause) Kenneth Star. Some of you may remember him from President Bill Clinton’s impeachment. What did the defense team open with? Shall we find out?
White House council Pat Cipollone had today’s viral moment. He told assembled senators that the House managers want them to overturn the will of the people. Mr. Cipollone repeated accusations of partisan witch hunt, hoax, and cherry picking the facts. The one thing Mr. Cipollone said, that The Candidate Forum agrees with is, the House managers do have the burden of proof. Whether or not they met it is really up to the senators. The defense argued that their were no eye witnesses to the infamous July 25, 2019 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), told the press following the two hour session that the defense arguments actually bolstered the demand for witnesses. The president’s lawyers continue their presentations on Monday and Tuesday.
Never one to miss an opportunity to tweet, the President was quite chatty today, tweeting his usual churlish comments. Let us take a moment to remember an important point. Throughout the House of Representatives impeachment hearings, the president complained about not receiving his due process rights. Even when he was invited to send counsel, he refused. Further, what the president failed to fully comprehend was the fact that the House impeachment hearings is similar to a grand jury hearing: the point is to determine whether there is enough evidence to return an indictment and move forward to trial.
The majority Republican seemed relieved to finally hear from the president’s lawyers. One senator told reporters that he believed that the defense team totally undermined the prosecution while another repeated the cherry picking the facts accusation. Pat Cipollone belittled, suggesting that the framers of The Constitution had something else in mind when they formulated the impeachment and removal process. He argued that really what the whole matter came down to is an effort to cancel the election over a phone call to the Ukrainian president. He even argued that it was part of his job to protect presidential prerogatives by refusing to allow aides to testify. He actually said with a straight face. Deputy White House counsel Michael Purpura added that Mr. Trump did not explicitly link already earmarked and approved military aide to investigations into VPOTUS Biden and his son Hunter, adding that President Zelensky publicity said he did not feel pressured by Mr. Trump. Mr. Purpura went on to dismiss the House’s case as hearsay, playing video clips of European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland saying that he assumed there was no quid pro quo before going after lead House manager Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA).
At a news conference, following today’s session both Representatives Schiff and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) offered a sharp point-by-point rebuttal to the defense arguments. Another troubling related news item has been circulating the digital universe. Indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas apparently released a recording that features Mr. Trump demanding the immediate removal of then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. The recording was secretly made at a dinner during which the president insisted that Ambassador Yovanovitch be taken out https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/lev-parnas-recording-trump-is-heard-saying-take-her-out-about-ukrainian-ambassador-marie-yovanovitch-2020-01-25/. What is troubling is, if true, then it would suggest that, the president was fully aware of and signed off on Rudy Giuliani’s shadow foreign diplomacy activities. Of course without witnesses testifying in the senate trial, there is no way for anyone to discern what took place.
Alright, here is what is next. The Senate trial picks up Monday with two marathon sessions. After that, the senators will have an opportunity to ask questions, debate calling witnesses and possibly an acquittal motion. Meanwhile, the president is on schedule to deliver the State of the Union and the Iowa Caucuses are the day after that. Yes, everything all at once and The Candidate Forum will be here.
Friday, January 24, 2020
It is The Blogger Candidate Forum with today in the Senate trial of Mr. Donald Trump.
The managers from the House of Representatives wrapped up their case with summations that could only be described as fiery. California Democratic Representative Adam Schiff earned rock star status with a closing argument that pointedly laid bare the president’s alleged high crimes and misdemeanors. In case some of are wondering why The Candidate Forum uses the word alleged to describe the high crimes and misdemeanors it is because the president has not been convicted, yet. Representative Schiff argued that the president’s misdeed were not simply a pattern of bad behavior, rather an imminent threat to America’s democracy. If you want to see a clip of it, here is the link https://youtu.be/yBtcDQpENZw It is one of best speeches given on the floor of the Senate. There was more.
The bulk of the remaining time allotted to the House managers was given over to making their case of obstruction of Congress. The managers argued that Mr. Trump wielded his broad executive privileges to assert immunity from congressional oversight with any rationale. Unlike the Senate trial of President Bill Clinton, Mr. Trump ordered potential witnesses from testifying before Congress. Fellow California Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Congressional staff member during President Richard Nixon’s tenure, cited a letter from President Nixon, directed White House staff members to voluntarily appear before Congress, as directed. She added that no president has ever used executive privilege in such a blanket and indiscriminate manner. Representative Schiff added that executive privilege was used as a last refuge to conceal evidence and silence witnesses. This point was underscored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) as described the president’s lack of respect for Congress.
The Candidate Forum noticed a related troubling news on its news feed. There is an advertisement circulating around the digital sphere that threatens to place the head of any senator on a pike if they fail to acquit the president. The Candidate Forum is unsure if this is a real thing or just someone’s (extremely bad) idea of humor. Regardless, if it is real, it could be interpreted as threatening the jurors—i.e. jury tampering—a genuine criminal offense.
Tomorrow, the president’s legal team begins its arguments. They are expected to make the case that president’s actions do not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, and this a politically motivated process to overturn the will of the people.
See you tomorrow
Thursday, January 23, 2020
This is The Blogger Candidate Forum with today in the Senate trial of Mr. Donald Trump. Picture the scene: 100 politicians are forced to sit quietly in their seats for 12-hours at time, listening to other politicians and lawyers talk for however long. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what opening arguments in the Senate trial is like. The senators have to sit there with just a notepad and pen. No phones or any devices (not even an Apple Watch), no outside reading material, no coffee. The Candidate Forum wants to know if a ban on coffee a workplace violation? This left senators feeling restless and bored. Some stepped out of the chamber, presumably to check their phones and mainline coffee. Others found ways to pass the time—fidget spinners anyone? What did the House managers and the president’s lawyers say?
Lead House manager Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) followed the president’s suggestion to read the transcript of that “perfect” July 25th phone call. He read it, especially the part about the president getting in touch with Attorney General William Barr and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani about announcing investigations into the Democratic National Committee server hack, Burisma energy company, and Hunter Biden. Speaking of VPOTIS Joe Biden’s son, the House managers repeatedly mentioned him today and his position on the Burisma board of directors. They also mentioned the senior Biden’s efforts to remove the former Ukrainian prosecutor for ignoring corruption. Once again, the Democratic managers argued for witnesses and the mention of Hunter Biden left the door open for the defense team to call him. One idea that has been floated is a Biden-for-Bolton trade: The Democrats will agree to Hunter Biden’s testimony in exchange for former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s testimony. Talking for five hours about Hunter Biden left the door for defense attorneys to talk about him when they begin presentations on Saturday.
The House managers used the president’s allies against him. During the House Impeachment inquiries, witnesses kept mentioning one name in connection to Ukraine, Rudy Giuliani. It seems that Mr. Giuliani deputized himself as the president’s personal envoy and was running a shadow foreign diplomatic mission to Ukraine. At one point, Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Val Demings (D-FLA) displayed emails demonstrating Mr. Giuliani’s role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. Then they turned on Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz, playing 20-year-old videos of them making statements about Impeachment. The House managers brought up new allegations that former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was recalled as part of an exchange of payments from Burisma to Hunter Biden.
The subject of calling witness is still on the table. The Republicans are finding new reasons to oppose the idea, despite the president alternating between welcoming public testimony and using executive privilege to block witnesses. The Candidate Forum firmly believes that senators should be able to recall witnesses from the House inquiry as well as new witnesses to flesh out the presentations. It is important for them to hear the first hand accounts and lawyers should be able to cross examine witnesses.
Has any of House mangers’ presentations changed Senate Republicans’ minds? Not really. Perhaps if they were allowed to hear public testimony and review documents, it might make a dent.
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
It is a lovely Wednesday afternoon and Your Truly has today's summary of the Senate trial of Mr. Donald Trump. The big news is rule changes. After a marathon 12-hour opening day, the Senate adopted the ground rules (npr.org; Jan. 21, 2020; date accessed Jan. 22, 2020), along party lines, with two major changes. The first change was an additional day for opening statements. Second change was the admission of the House evidence into the official record, if there were no objections. The admission of the House evidence was a big concession to moderate Republicans and Senate Democrats, some of whom participated in the Clinton Senate trial, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that his draft of the rules closely hewed to the Clinton trial rules in 1999. Senator McConnell is a savvy enough politician to realize that his moderate colleagues and Democrats was a response to accusations that his rules skewed too favorably toward the White House and demands for a fair trial. What comes next? Stay tuned. Onward
|You think you know?|
Who really are America's undocumented immigrants. Do you think you know who they are and where they live? Whatever your assumptions are, think again. We tend to think of undocumented immigrants come over the southern United States border from somewhere in Central America with no skills, no money, little or no English. They are criminals, drug dealers, non-contributing drain on already limited resources. Sound familiar? The reality is completely different from what the president, his media and Congressional supporters would have you believe. To illustrate Blogger's point, let us take a look at Eddie Oh and his family.
Eddie Oh was industrial engineer in South Korea. In 1998, he lost his job during the financial crisis that gripped the Far East Asian nation. With no prospects in sight, he used his savings to pay for his family's airfare to California. On his visa application, he told the U.S. embassy that he and his wife and their children Eli and Sue were going on vacation. They were granted a six month visa.
The Ohs ended up in the upscale Silicon Valley community of Sunnyvale, near San Jose, California. They moved into a tiny apartment, rented by a relative, nine people crammed together. Mr. Oh got a job as house painter, his wife found employment as a server, and the children went to a local school. Eli Oh, now a critical car response nurse at Stanford University told The New York Times,
We were constantly in debt. We struggled to pay the rent,... Nobody ever thought we were illegally here because we didn't fit the stereotype. (nytimes.com; Dec. 1, 2019; date accessed Jan 22, 2020)
The Ohs are not an isolated case.
|Sample U.S. tourist visa|
Although the president has staked much of his tenure on ending the flow of undocumented immigrants across the southern border, the Ohs perfectly legal, roundabout path to the United States is one of the many unknown and least documented (no pun intended) immigration stories.
Miriam Jordan reports, "Some 350,000 travelers arrive by air in the United States each day. From Asia, South America and Africa, they come mostly with visas allow them to tour, study, do business or attend a conference for an authorized period of time" (Ibid). However, when they stay beyond their visa's expiration, some fall into the same illegal status associated with migrants passing over the southern border.
Ms. Jordan writes, "Nearly half of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country did not trek through the desert or wade across the Rio Grande to enter the country; they flew in with a visa, passed inspection at the airport--and stayed" (Ibid).
The non-partisan think tank Center for Migration Studies estimated that "Of the roughly 3.5 million undocumented immigrants who entered the country between 2010 and 2017, 65 percent arrived with full permission stamped into their passports,..." (Ibid). During the study period, arrivals from India counted for the majority of the overstays. Robert Warren, the demographer who tallied the overstays using the Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey, told The Times.
A big overlooked immigration story is that twice as many people came in with a visa than came across the border illegally in recent years (Ibid)
This something to consider as the White House continues to call for hiring more border patrol agents and tries to find money to build that wall. The Department of Homeland Security (dhs.gov; Apr. 23, 2019; date accessed Jan. 22, 2020) said it has some success in reducing the number of overstays in the past two years but enforcement is hard because federal authorities are only just gaining access to better information on who has not left the country. Jessica Vaughan, a former federal visa officer now a policy director with Center for Immigration Studies, said,
Once they are in the country, they home free because there is so little interior enforcement (Ibid)
The majority of undocumented Asians--mostly from India--have taken up residence in Silicon Valley, about 50 miles southeast of San Francisco, according to Center for Migration Studies analysis (Ibid). Tech companies like Apple and Google, with headquarters in the area, have sponsored their South Asian employees for legal work visas or permanent residency. Some stay on as independent contractors after their visas expire or after leaving the company.
However, skilled workers are part of the story. The majority of undocumented South Asians in the Silicon Valley work in low-skilled service jobs, such as supermarkets, clothing stores, and restaurants that cater to their more affluent fellow South Asians.
People like S. Singh, who works in a diner, said he arrived in the U.S. in 2017 or the Indian grocery store workers who arrange the shelf with tasty treats from home. They hesitated to answer The New York Times' questions, only saying they arrived with tourist and student visas, then stayed after they expired. Ankit, an Indian engineer with a work visa, summarized the situation,
There are no legal pathways for people working in restaurants and grocery stores,.... These workers are coming for a better life (Ibid).
|Facial recognition tracker|
Typically travelers are photographed and fingerprinted at American consulates when they receive their visas and again when they enter the United States. However, Customs and Border Protection still, by-and-large, depends on information from airlines manifest to count who did not leave on time or at all. In 2016, federal agents began collaborating with airlines and airports to install bio-metric facial comparison systems at departure gates. A digital picture is taken of the passenger as they board the plane and compared with the one taken upon arrival. Ugh, had Yours Truly known this, she would have used lipstick and combed her hair, at the least.
To date, the program covers about 4 to 5 percent of those departing by air each, according to John F. Wagner, deputy assistant executive commissioner for CBP (Ibid). Mr. Wagner hopes that within three years to cover 90 percent of the airports. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's priority is identifying those individuals who pose a national security or public-safety threat. In fiscal 2018, its Homeland Security unit arrested 1,808 individuals in connection with visa overstays (Ibid).
|Asian undocumented immigrants|
Many who overstay their visa, do not purposely do so. They enter with a specific purpose--e.g. work or school--then fall out of status for a variety of reason and there is no simple way to correct the violation. Sometimes the violation is missing a deadline or committing an error on an immigration form that makes them eligible for deportation. Sometimes their employer transfers their employee to a new work site and forget to update their forms, as required, which cancels legal status.
Some stay because they have established ties to their community. Among Asians, being undocumented is a source of shame for the family. However, in place like Sunnyvale. California, it is not that difficult for people to hide their immigration status, especially if they are not from Mexico, Central or South America. They tell their families to keep their heads down and not speak up. They get low-wage service jobs and avoid any attention. If everyone who shouted "send all those illegals back" only knew.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
|Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Elizabeth Warrent (D-MA)|
It is Tuesday, Blogger and The Candidate Forum are back from the long weekend. Before we get started on today's subject, the impeachment and trial of President Bill Clinton, Blogger and The Forum want to acknowledge The New York Times' (nytimes.com; Jan. 19, 2020; date accessed Jan. 21, 2020) endorsement of Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. For the first time in its history of endorsing candidates for the presidential nomination, the editorial board has selected two candidates, two female candidates. This is significant because the Ladies from Massachusetts and Minnesota represent the competing halves of the Democratic party: the progressive (Ms. Warren) and moderate (Ms. Klobuchar) Their selection is a good one because they ideologically balance each other out and could offer a way to unite the fractious party. Could they be the ticket in fall campaign? Stay tuned. Onward.
|The United States Senate|
|A draft of the rules for the Senate trial of Mr. Trump|
Senate trials are guided by minimal constitutional rules. The basic requirements are the standing Senate rules (govinfo.gov; date accessed Jan. 21, 2020), most of which were adopted in the wake of President Andrew Johnson's trial in 1868 "with ad hoc details worked out at the beginning of each trial" (nymag.com; Jan. 8, 2020; date accessed Jan. 21, 2020). Certain constitutional requirements are set in stone such as the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court acts as the presiding judge and it requires two-thirds majority to convict--67 votes. It also requires the same number of votes to change the standing rules, "which stipulate a quick beginning for the trials after articles of impeachment are received and which require a six-days-a-week trial schedule until the final vote; they structure the trial around arguments presented by House impeachment managers and the president's counsel, with senators mostly silent (though they can send written questions up to the presenters)" (Ibid).
|Former Senate Leaders Tom Deschale (D-SD) and Trent Lott (R-MS)|
Resolved, that summons be issued in the usual form provided, that the President may have until 12 noon on Monday, Jan. 11, to file his answer with the secretary of the Senate and the House have until 12 noon on Jan. 13 to file its replication with the secretary of the Senate, together with the record, which will consist of those publicly available materials that have been submitted to or produced by the House Judiciary Committee, including transcripts of public hearing or markups, and any materials printed by the House of Representatives or House Judiciary Committee, pursuant to House Resolutions 525 and 581. Such record will be admitted into evidence, printed and made available to senators... (nymag.com; Jan. 8, 2020).
The overarching desire at the time was the upcoming 2000 election cycle. The polls showed that the majority of Americans did not want the president removed from office and some of the senators were facing re-election. The senate failed to come to the required two-thirds majority to convict the president on all counts. What does current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) want to do?
|Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)|
Senate Majority Leader McConnell has not exactly been coy about skewing the trial in the direction of the president. Yet, in an effort to deflect (blatantly obvious) charges of bias, Senator McConnell announced,
What was good enough for President Clinton in an impeachment trial should have been good enough for President Trump,... And all we are doing here is saying we are going to get started in exactly the same way that 100 senators agreed to 20 years ago... (nytimes.com; Jan. 20, 2020; date accessed Jan. 21, 2020).
Well, not exactly.
Although Senator McConnell proposes that the trial spool out in a similar manner as the 1999 trial: "...opening statements, then questions from senators, then an up-or-down vote on whether to consider calling witnesses or new evidence--his plan would speed up the proceedings" (Ibid). This means the House managers and the president's legal team would have up to 24 hours to present their cases for or against the convictions on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. However, in 1999 the Senate imposed no additional restrictions on how the time was use. Senator McConnell's proposals states, "that each side must complete its work within two days, beginning as early as Wednesday" (Ibid). This means that opening arguments could be completed by tomorrow--at the earliest--allowing senators 16 hours for questioning and subsequent debate beginning next week (Ibid), leading to a verdict by the end of the month.
|Senate Minority Leader Charles Chuck Schumer (D-NY)|
The House's evidence from the its impeachment inquiry would still be printed and shared with senators, it would only be formally entered into the official record after a majority of the senator vote in the affirmative. This vote could only take place after the Senate decided whether to call witnesses and request additional documents, as the trial moves toward its conclusion.
Second, the McConnell proposal does not include Democratic requests for guarantee witness testimony or requests for documents. This was also true in the Clinton trial but this time, there is a change. "It says that after senators conclude their questioning, they will not immediately entertain motions to call individual witnesses or documents.... they will decide first whether to consider new evidence at all.... if a majority of senators agree to do so will the managers and prosecutors be allowed to propose and argue for specific witnesses or documents, each of which would then be subject to an additional vote" (Ibid). Thus, if the majority of the Senate voted to hear witness testimony, said witness would first be be interviewed behind closed doors, then the Senate shall decide after deposition which witnesses shall testify, pursuant to the impeachment rules,...(Ibid) Essentially like the Clinton trial, even if witnesses are called, they might never testify publicly. Senator McConnell's intentions, according to the Democrats, are quite clear.
In a statement to the press, Senator Schumer said,
Under this resolution, Senator McConnell is saying he doesn't want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn't want to hear any new evidence,... It's a cover-up (Ibid)
As of right, now Senator McConnell has the votes to get his modified version of the Clinton trial rules approved, mainly along party lines.
Could there still be a motion to dismiss the case? No guarantees that the Senate will vote on a motion to dismiss the case. The president's defense team could make a motion but Republican Senate leaders believe that it would not be the most prudent move. Moderate Republicans are committed to seeing the trial through to a conclusion, risking party division on a key vote. They argue that an acquittal would benefit the president in the long run. Maybe.
Tomorrow, we will have an update on the day's proceedings and a fresh post.