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Impeachment inquiry heats up as Pres. Trump lashes out

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Editor- | Last updated: Oct 15, 2019 - 8:56:04 PM

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WASHINGTON— With each passing day, the impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump intensifies. There is a broad consensus of opinion in political and media circles that this country is living in “perilous times;” in a nearing “Constitutional crisis.”

President Donald Trump meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 25, in New York.

These are “perilous times that demand whistleblowers,” Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher and editorial director of The Nation said in an interview. “Americans who reveal truths about government abuses and misdeeds are treated as traitors too often.”

Although Mr. Trump’s behavior going back to his interference with former FBI Director James Comey; the twoyear investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, which followed Mr. Comey’s dismissal; and numerous other complaints by his critics about unlawful actions have been around for months; it was not until a highly placed CIA operative, with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a “credible” complaint to the intelligence community’s Inspector General, that the calls for an impeachment inquiry began to gain traction.

President Trump’s defense strategy against the increasing calls for his impeachment and removal from office has been to label as “spies and traitors,” the government insiders who “blew the whistle” on his efforts to “us(e) the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,” by coercing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, in exchange for the release of already promised U.S. military aid to his country.

In addition, he’s told Democratic Congressional committee chairs seeking information, that he will not comply with subpoenas, and he will order all executive branch employees to not testify in the investigations.

On top of that Mr. Trump is slinging mud at his opponents, and name calling, using slurs and even profanities at his campaign rallies. “These are very bad people,” the President told evangelicals Oct. 12 at the Values Voters Summit here in Washington. “The ultra-left is waging war on the values shared by everyone in this room. They are trying to silence and punish the speech of Christians and religious believers of all faiths.”

Days before that, at an Oct. 10 rally in Minneapolis, he singled out former Vice President Biden as nothing but a supplicant for President Barack Obama. “He was only a good vice president because he knew how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass,” Mr. Trump said, a line that drew roars of approval from the crowd according to published reports.

Frequently raising unsubstantiated claims, Mr. Trump bypassed his standard stump speech, touting the economy and his get-tough stance on immigration, instead offering a series of insults that day against the former vice president and his son.

Outside of the arena, the comment drew widespread condemnation. Mr. Trump has become a “potty-mouth” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a conference call to Democratic lawmakers following the Minneapolis speech, a congressional aide said, according to published reports. “This is beyond disgraceful. But, for him to say the thing that he said about Joe Biden last night was so far beyond the pale.”

“Nothing about Trump ever shocks me,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told The Hill Oct. 10. “He is I think the most corrupt president in the modern history of America. I think he is a pathological liar who probably does not know the difference between truth and lies.”

Accordingly, Mr. Trump is not likely to yield, according to one former insider. “This President of the United States essentially will acknowledge no Constitutional restraint on his power,” Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired fourstar Army general said via Twitter.

As the minute details play out in the non-stop news cycle, recent developments have not gone well for the President. With little fanfare, a Republican-led Senate committee report confirmed the now ancient-seeming Mueller Report findings that the Russian government did indeed intervene to help get Mr. Trump elected in 2016.

In addition, a group of 17 former Justice Department special prosecutors who investigated the Watergate scandal said Oct. 10 that they believe the President has committed multiple impeachable offenses, drawing clear parallels between Mr. Trump’s behavior and that of the late President Richard Nixon.

In a Washington Post op-ed, the group wrote that there is already “compelling” evidence that Mr. Trump’s actions, including public statements by the president and the White House’s summary of his call with the leader of Ukraine justify the punishment.

And yet to come: the ambassador who said earlier in a phone conversation that “there was no quid pro quo” demanded by Mr. Trump of the Ukrainian president in the now infamous July telephone conversation, in exchange for blocked military aid; that diplomat is scheduled to testify before Congress despite the State Department’s attempts to block his appearance, that the words “no quid pro quo” were told to him by Mr. Trump himself. A federal court ruled Oct. 8 that Mr. Trump’s accounting firm is required to surrender his financial records to the House committee demanding them.

But, so far there has been no significant breech among elected officials in Mr. Trump’s defense line, only minor complaints from what remains of the “moderate” wing of the Republican Party—Governors John Kasich (Ohio), and Larry Hogan (Md.), and Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah).

“There is no apparent crumbling in the U.S. Senate, which will be tasked with the job of removing the president from office pursuant to a(n impeachment) trial,” Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history and African Studies at the University of Houston said in an interview. “It’s still unclear as to whether or not such a trial will take place, assuming that the House passes an impeachment resolution. So the bottom line is, is that there has not been that much movement,” he said.

The looming impeachment-caused Constitutional crisis, between the divided Congress and the Trump White House will eventually have to be officiated by the courts, an area where two years of court-packing and rapid confirmations in the Republican-controlled Senate have left Mr. Trump confident. When asked by White House reporters about the court decision concerning his finances, he said: “I’ve had a great track record. Within a couple of months, we’ll have (confirmed) 182 federal judges,” he said according to a White House press pool report.

Judicial appointees—like Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court—are reliably considered to be loyal components of Mr. Trump’s base, and among his base, Mr. Trump feels secure. He is delivering his “Make America Great Again” agenda.

“Well, I think that the Republican Party base feels that Trump is their best chance and best opportunity to roll back the gains made for civil rights and reform in recent decades. And therefore they’re standing by their man through thick and thin,” said Dr. Horne.