Michael Hiltzik/LA Times:
Billionaires emerge as the defining campaign issue for 2020
With the 2020 presidential campaign in full swing, it is clear that the defining issue of the election will be economic inequality — and that puts America’s billionaires in the dock.
Proposals for a tax on extreme wealth have been put on the table by Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, eliciting responses of varying vehemence from the billionaires lobby.
These responses, as we’ve reported, have been mostly negative, although here and there a few billionaires have allowed that, yes, they may have too much money and it might be good public policy to redistribute some of it through taxation.
Paul Glastris/Washington Monthly:
Republican Senators Search for a “Safe Space” on Impeachment
Why none of them can take the most politically advantageous position.
There is a more credible fallback position for Republican senators looking for an argument not to convict. They could say: Yes, the president did what he is accused of, and yes, those actions are both morally wrong and arguably impeachable, but for the good of the country it would be better to wait eight months and let the voters decide Trump’s fate.
Even that argument is deeply flawed, for the simple reason that Trump was impeached for illegally and unconstitutionally using the power of his office to try to manipulate the 2020 elections. A vote to acquit him is a green light for him to do more of the same.
Nevertheless, adopting such an argument would put senators in the position of not denying the obvious facts and excusing, at least verbally, unforgivable behavior. It would also be healthy for the basic functioning of democracy to have at least some Republican officeholders on record validating the reality of what the press and the House impeachment inquiry have documented.
In any other era, this would also be the stance that the most endangered Republican senators in 2020 such as Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, Martha McSally, and Susan Collins—would likely take to eke out a win. It would allow them to deliver to Republican voters the acquittal they want while providing independent voters, whose support they’ll also need, with an acknowledgement of their concerns about Trump and an expression of faith in their ability to make the right call in November.
Yet these senators also know that Trump would not tolerate such nuanced deviation.
A Gangster in the White House
The president tweeted the name of the presumed whistle-blower in the Ukraine scandal—demonstrating that he is unrepentant and determined to break the law again.
Amid a two-day binge of post-Christmas rage-tweeting, President Donald Trump retweeted the name of the CIA employee widely presumed to be the whistle-blower in the Ukraine scandal. On Thursday night, December 26, Trump retweeted his campaign account, which had tweeted a link to a Washington Examiner article that printed the name in the headline. Then, in the early hours of Friday morning, December 27, Trump retweeted a supporter who named the presumed whistle-blower in the text of the tweet.
This is a step the president has been building toward for some time. The name of the presumed whistle-blower has been circulating among Trump supporters for months. Trump surrogates—including the president’s eldest son—have posted the name on social media and discussed it on television. Yet actually crossing the line to post the name on the president’s own account? Until this week, Trump hesitated. That red line has now been crossed.
Lawyers debate whether the naming of the federal whistle-blower is in itself illegal. Federal law forbids inspectors general to disclose the names of whistle-blowers, but the law isn’t explicit about disclosure by anybody else in government.
What the law does forbid is retaliation against a whistle-blower. And a coordinated campaign of vilification by the president’s allies—and the president himself—surely amounts to “retaliation” in any reasonable understanding of the term.
Edward Purcell/The Hill:
Nancy Pelosi is defending the Constitution with her actions
The Constitution undergirds the House right to withhold the articles of impeachment from the Senate. It is wholly silent on the issue of timing. It provides that the House has the “sole power of impeachment” and that the Senate has the “sole power to try all impeachments.” Other provisions, however, give no direction as to when or even whether the House must deliver its articles of impeachment to the Senate. Moreover, it specifically provides that each chamber “may determine the rules of its proceedings.” Thus, the Constitution expressly authorizes the House to move forward with the impeachment on its own timetable and at its own discretion…
First, the actions taken by Pelosi are designed to compel the Senate to meet its own constitutional duty to honestly try the president. McConnell and other Republicans have boasted that they will not be impartial and will not convict. Their declaration announces that they plan to betray their sworn duty. The Constitution requires senators to take a special oath that they to be fair and impartial in impeachment trials, and the Senate rules specify exactly that. Until all Republicans can affirm that they will honor that requirement, there is no guarantee that the Senate will conduct the kind of fair and impartial trial that the Constitution commands. Pelosi has every right to prevent the betrayal of the oath of the senators, and she must also ensure they do not make the House complicit in that betrayal.
Second, more articles of impeachment may well be forthcoming. Several House committees, United States attorneys, and public interest groups are continuing investigations that seem to produce on a daily basis more evidence of wrongdoing by the president. That means the House may find it necessary to consider and to adopt additional articles of impeachment. That means it would be wholly inadvisable at this particular time to hold a Senate trial on simply the two articles that the House has so far adopted.
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