Romney’s vote to convict, along with several vulnerable red-state Democratic senators, robbed Trump of bragging rights to a “bipartisan acquittal.” Only four senators — one Republican, three Democrats — were in the chamber to hear Romney’s 10-minute speech that explained his vote and rocked the White House. But it was the speech heard ‘round the world. It left a glimmer of hope for the American democratic system. The Republican lawmaker in attendance walked out of the chamber in silence; two of the Democratic legislators appeared with eyes moistened, all three feeling profound reverence for the senator from Utah. Mitt occasionally has been accused of waffling insincerity in the past, especially during his 2012 presidential run. But there can be no doubt about the depth of poignancy, good faith, and integrity that ran through Mr. Romney’s words yesterday. (scroll down for full article)

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— RECENT HEADLINES –
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Last Thursday night, after Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced she would not be the hoped-for third GOP vote to allow witnesses and documents in the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) came on cable news to explain the atomic bomb just dropped on American democracy.

Fix Is In

In 2010 the Supreme Court decided the case of Citizens United v. FEC in favor of the plaintiffs. This was the decision that uncapped previous limits on political spending. It also allowed money sources to remain unidentified. Sen. Whitehouse explained how this has resulted in approximately six to 10 super-rich anonymous Republican donors coming together to move hundreds of millions of dark, i.e., hidden, dollars.

Here’s the kicker: These donors have organized, funneling the bulk of their donations through the sole discretion of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). He controls which of his senators receive what share of these dark money funds. And the way the system is set up, senators are dependent upon these funds to run a successful campaign. Ergo, Leader McConnell is able to use this tremendous financial power to keep his caucus members in line, totally beholden to him.

So, what explains Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) “Yes” vote with the Democrats on witnesses (and ultimately to convict)? What explains Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-Maine) “Yes” vote? Romney is somewhat of a maverick who holds enough Utah-ian constituent support that he is functionally immune to McConnell’s threats. Susan Collins? According to Mr. Whitehouse, she was given a “hall pass” by McConnell. This means Mitch allowed her to vote “Yes” on witnesses and documents because she is in a tight 2020 Maine reelection race in which she must show a modicum of independence from Trump. But she only received the hall pass because McConnell knew he had every other GOP senator besides Romney prostrate, with his majority-leading foot up their posterior. Note that Collins voted to acquit in the end.

Also note that Romney held firm. We’ve seen Mitt Romney exhibit attributes during this impeachment trial that neither Susan Collins nor any other Republican senator have: integrity and character.

Why Are Ex-Trump Employees Still Afraid of Him?

Now you might ask, Why don’t retiring legislators like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) stand up to Trump, especially when we know most of them secretly loathe Donald? And what about former Cabinet members, senators, and top White House aides like Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly, Sen. Bob Corker, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, et al.? Why are they remaining mostly mute while the country and government are declining rapidly due to Trump’s shenanigans (i.e., crimes)?

My good friend, long-lost cousin, and history-teacher-lawyer-all-‘round-smart-guy, Larry R., explained something to me a while back. Since then, I’ve seen it reiterated by a few keen political pundits. Even if Republicans-no-longer-in-government don’t need Trump’s approval to get reelected or appointed anymore, the majority still depend on their Republican buds to make oodles of money after they leave office. If they defy Donald in any way, they lose their social standing. They’ll be shut out of investment opportunities. They will be denied the lucrative corporate board memberships and lobbyist positions they had counted on. They’ll never get GOP support again if they have any future hope of elected office. And they’ll be shunned at the (country) club.

In this way, the Republican Party of Trump has become ethically depleted, morally spent.




Lesson Learned

But don’t worry. President Trump will be a good boy from now on according to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in this CBS News interview:

[SEN. SUSAN COLLINS]: “I believe that the president has learned from this case.”

[NORA O’DONNELL]: “What do you believe the president has learned?”

[SEN. SUSAN COLLINS]: “The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson. I’m voting to acquit because I do not believe that the behavior alleged reaches the high bar in the Constitution for overturning an election and removing a duly elected president.”

[NORA O’DONNELL]: “But the president says he did nothing wrong. Why do you think he learned something?”

[SEN. SUSAN COLLINS]: “He was impeached. And there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”

(CBS Evening News; 2/4/2020.)

Remember that the pro-choice Sen. Collins explained she voted to confirm the rabidly pro-life Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh because of his assurance that he considered Roe v. Wade “settled law” and he would never vote to overturn that “precedent.”

Sen. Collins suffers from Brooklyn-Bridge-for-sale syndrome.

But wait. GOP Senators Joni Ernst and Lamar Alexander are also confidant Donald has learned his lesson:

“I think that he knows now that, if he is trying to do certain things — whether it’s ferreting out corruption there, in Afghanistan, whatever it is — he needs to go through the proper channels.”

(Ernst, Joni, R-Iowa, U.S. senator; CNN’s State of the Union; 2/2/2020.)

“[Sen. Lamar] Alexander was asked on NBC’s Meet the Press whether Trump might see his upcoming acquittal as an exoneration and a license to do it all again. ‘I don’t think so,’ Alexander said. ‘I hope not. I mean, enduring an impeachment is something that nobody should like. Even the president said he didn’t want that on his résumé. I don’t blame him. So if a call like that gets you an impeachment, I would think you would think twice before you did it again.’

“Then host Chuck Todd asked a fair question: ‘What example in the life of Donald Trump has [shown that he has] been chastened?’ Alexander conceded after a beat, ‘I haven’t studied his life that close.’”

(NBCs Meet the Press; 2/2/2020.)

Check the Google for other Republican senators who believe Donald has learned his lesson.

Remember that this is the president who — one day after his 2016 campaign’s Russian collusion and obstruction of justice was exposed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his congressional testimony — got on the phone to extort dirt on Joe Biden from the new Ukrainian President Zelensky in return for military aid and a coveted White House visit.

SOTU

President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union Address in the people’s house Wednesday night. He opened by refusing to shake Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) hand. Pelosi closed by ripping a paper copy of his speech in half as he was finishing.

It was essentially a campaign event. Republicans chanted “Four more years” and cheered his every Democratic slight. Democrats chanted House bill numbers that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring to a vote. They heckled Trump’s Trumpian lies.

And there were many.

The Jeff Bezos Amazon Washington Post compiled at least 31 whoppers that the president loves to repeat repeatedly. Redundantly. Over and over. I’ll mention just a few.

In his never-ending quest to gain approval while standing in Barack Obama’s long dark shadow, Donald perpetuated his lies about the economy: He has created more job growth. He’s lowered unemployment more. He has raised wages more. He’s made us energy independent. America was a sh**hole until he took over Obama’s failed reign.

But Steve Rattner, noted financier, manager of Michael Bloomberg’s personal and philanthropic assets, and national economics expert, had a different story to tell on Wednesday’s morning cable news. Citing Trump’s own U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Steve made these comparisons between Obama’s last three years in office and Trump’s last three years in office:

— Average monthly job growth: Obama, 227,000; Trump, 191,000

— Lowering of the unemployment rate: Obama, by 2.0%; Trump, by 1.2%

— Real wage growth adjusted for inflation: Obama, 1.1%; Trump, 0.6%

In other news, though Trump bragged that he has made America energy independent, U.S. oil and gas independence occurred well-before Donald took office, under Obama’s watch.

To be fair, under the comparable three-year periods, GDP average annual growth was 2.4% under Obama, 2.5% under Trump — a hair better but essentially a statistical tie. Weigh this against statements Trump has made at any given time that he has increased GDP to 3%, 4%, 5%, or whatever he feels at the moment.

These are the facts.

Never Forget

Essentially, most of Trump’s achievements have come upon the huge shoulders of Barack Obama, including all Donald’s bogus claims about the economy, criminal justice reform, and the energy revolution.

But it’s Trump’s failures we need to keep in mind: backtracking on climate change solutions, rolling back lifesaving safety regulations in industry and society, continuing to manipulate financial regulations and tax cuts in favor of his ultra-rich brethren, promoting his embarrassing and dangerous foreign policy, weakening alliances, endangering national security, buddying up to dictators, separating families and putting immigrant children in cages, and forcing parents to direct their children not to act like the president.

Even more important, we need to keep his crimes in mind: obstruction of justice, witness tampering, bribery of foreign governments, numerous ongoing emoluments clauses violations, campaign finance violations (“Individual 1”), fraud (Trump Foundation, Trump University, inaugural committee, etc.), voter suppression, and more.

And the incompetence — don’t forget the incompetence.

We have a corrupt, incompetent, amoral president. It’s that simple.

The Legendary Mitt Romney

Of course, the big takeaway from the Senate impeachment trial, now that it’s over, is Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) vote to convict the president on the abuse of power article (I).

Trump loves records and firsts. His impeachment represents the first time in American history that a senator of the president’s own party — a senator and former presidential candidate and party leader, no less — ever voted to remove the existing chief executive from office. And Donald’s impeachment trial was the first ever, out of 50-some Senate impeachment trials for presidents, judges, etc. since 1797, to close without hearing any witnesses or documentary evidence — because the president’s party controlled the Senate and the majority voted against evidence, effectively changing the definition of the word trial. In other words, it was an empty acquittal.

Romney’s vote to convict, along with several vulnerable red-state Democratic senators, robbed Trump of bragging rights to a “bipartisan acquittal.” Only four senators — one Republican, three Democrats — were in the chamber, the afternoon before the final vote, to hear Romney’s 10-minute speech that explained his vote and rocked the White House. But it was the speech heard ‘round the world. It left a glimmer of hope for the American democratic system. The Republican lawmaker in attendance walked out of the chamber in silence; two of the Democratic legislators appeared with eyes moistened, all three feeling profound reverence for the senator from Utah.

Mitt occasionally has been accused of waffling insincerity in the past, especially during his 2012 presidential run. But there can be no doubt about the depth of poignancy, good faith, and integrity that ran through Mr. Romney’s words yesterday.

“Is there one among you who will say: ‘Enough’?”

(Schiff, Adam, D-Calif., U.S. representative, House Intelligence Committee chair, lead House impeachment manager; closing arguments; impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump; 2/3/2020.)

Yes there is.

Full Text of Sen. Mitt Romney’s Speech Explaining His Vote to Convict (Senate floor; 2/5/2020)

The Constitution is at the foundation of our republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it. The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of Congress for these many days. We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it. We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.

The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise “impartial justice.” I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. [(12-second pause to regain composure)] I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

The House managers presented evidence supporting their case; the White House counsel disputed that case. In addition, the president’s team presented three defenses: first, that there can be no impeachment without a statutory crime; second, that the Bidens’ conduct justified the president’s actions; and third, that the judgment of the president’s actions should be left to the voters. Let me first address each of those defenses.

The historic meaning of the words “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the writings of the Founders and my own reasoned judgment convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they are not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office. To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove a president defies reason.

The president’s counsel noted that Vice President Biden appeared to have a conflict of interest when he undertook an effort to remove the Ukrainian prosecutor general. If he knew of the exorbitant compensation his son was receiving from a company actually under investigation, the vice president should have recused himself. While ignoring a conflict of interest is not a crime, it is surely very wrong.

With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavory but also not a crime. Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the president’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the president’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit. There is no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the president would never have done what he did.

The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president. Hamilton explained that the Founders’ decision to invest senators with this obligation rather than leave it to voters was intended to minimize — to the extent possible — the partisan sentiments of the public.

This verdict is ours to render. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty. The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

Yes, he did.

The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.

The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.

The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.

The president’s purpose was personal and political.

Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.

What he did was not “perfect.” No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

In the last several weeks, I have received numerous calls and texts. Many demand that, in their words, I “stand with the team.” I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind. I support a great deal of what the president has done. I have voted with him 80% of the time. But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.

I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?

I sought to hear testimony from John Bolton not only because I believed he could add context to the charges, but also because I hoped that what he said might raise reasonable doubt and thus remove from me the awful obligation to vote for impeachment.

Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by providence. I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character. As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We have come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.

I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the president from office. The results of this Senate court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgment of the American people. Voters will make the final decision, just as the president’s lawyers have implored. My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate. But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more, no less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong.

We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that distinction is enough for any citizen.

(Romney, Mitt, R-Utah, U.S. senator; Senate floor speech; 2/5/2020.)

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Impeachment Timeline — This Week

[RECAP]: 1/26/2020 — Fmr. National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book excerpts are leaked to NYT: Trump told Bolton personally that Trump wanted to continue holding up military aid to Ukraine until Ukraine agreed to announce investigations into Joe Biden, CrowdStrike (2016 election); this revelation threatens to increase pressure on GOP senators to vote in favor of impeachment trial witnesses

[RECAP]: 1/29/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 8: 1st day of 16 hours of Senate questions to defense, prosecution:  Defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz argues the president can abuse power to get reelected if “he believes it’s in public’s best interest”; Patrick Philbin argues the president can use foreign dirt to get reelected “as long as it doesn’t violate campaign finance law”

 [IMPEACHMENT: DAY 122 — 1/30/20]

1/30/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 9: 2nd 8-hour day of Senate questions to defense, prosecution

1/31/2020 — New John Bolton revelations: Trump told Bolton to call Ukrainian President Zelensky to have him meet with Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, 2 months before infamous Ukraine extortion call; White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Energy Secretary Rick Perry were in the room; Bolton never made the call

1/31/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 10: Senate votes 51-49 to block all witnesses, documents; Mitt Romney, Susan Collins only Republicans to vote to hear witnesses, see evidence

1/31/2020 — Retiring GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander speaks for many Republican senators: House proved its case, Trump did the crime, but crime doesn’t rise to level of impeachability; therefore he voted “No” on witnesses, documents to get the trial over with

2/3/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 11: Both sides offer closing arguments, 2 hours each

2/4/2020 — IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 12: Senators make statements explaining their final vote

2/5/2020 — Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) speaks on Senate floor explaining his decision to vote guilty on Article I, Abuse of Power; shocks White House

2/5/2020 — IMPEACHMENT: (LAST) DAY 128;

IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, DAY 13: Senate votes to acquit Trump: Article I, Abuse of Power, 52-48; Article II, Obstruction of Congress, 53-47; Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is only senator to break ranks, voting to convict on abuse of power; Romney’s vote to convict, along with several vulnerable red-state Democratic senators, robs Trump of bragging rights to a “bipartisan acquittal”; marks 1st time in American history a senator of president’s own party voted to convict that president; Senate vote to hear no witnesses, see no documents, assures an empty, meaningless acquittal

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Trump Corruption Chronicles — We Must Never Forget