January 27, 2020

Senator Pat Toomey, When Will He See The Need To Subpoena Bolton?

A few days ago, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey discussed the criteria needed to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of Donald J Trump:
But his bar for allowing any outside testimony remains as high as his bar for removing a president from office. He doesn’t see an “automatic presumption” that there must be witnesses in the impeachment trial, arguing that hearing from those individuals should be used to resolve any key disputed facts.

“The criteria is not, does the witness have something interesting to say,” Toomey told Pennsylvania reporters during an interview Friday morning in his Capitol Hill office. “The criteria is, are they likely to be able to shed definitive light on a disputed issue that is so central to this case that the resolution of it could change my final conclusion?”
He also complained that the House managers, while praising their organization and discipline, were "highly repetitive."

This weekend, the New York Times published this:
President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.
The Washington Post also reported this weekend that:
Charles Cooper, a lawyer for Bolton, said he submitted the manuscript to the National Security Council’s records management division on Dec. 30 for a standard review process to examine potentially classified information. Cooper said they believed that the book manuscript did not include any classified material and that its contents would not be shared with officials outside that review process.
December 30 is twelve days after the House vote to impeach Trump. The night of that vote, Senator Mitch McConnell said this on Fox "News":
Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House Counsel. There will be no difference between the President’s position and our position as to how to handle this[.]
Senator Toomey, is this enough for you?  Here's a witness (former National Security Advisor John Bolton, a first-hand, eye-witness) who can shed light on a key element of Trump's defense: that the decision to uphold the aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into the Bidens.

Don't you think he should be heard by the full Senate?

Since Majority Leader McConnell has stated that there's no difference between his position and the White House's position on dealing with the impeachment trial, does this mean that Trump's defense team has had access to the contents of Bolton's book, especially since Trump has already gloated that they "have all the material"? 

How can this possibly be the "impartial justice" you took an oath to uphold?

I'm asking as a constituent.

January 24, 2020

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, Right-Wing Impeachment Distractor

This morning, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler tweeted this:
Wow. There's a lot to unpack.

Let's start in the middle and work our way out, shall we? Fox "News" talking head Trish Regan is appalled that some:
...liberal ex-CIA attorney is now accusing President Trump of HOMICIDE for killing Iranian terrorist general Solemani!
This part of the story is, in fact, true.

In her article at the Daily Beast, ex-CIA attorney Vicki Divoll writes as such:
In bragging that he ordered a successful hit on Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, President Trump has admitted to killing a senior government official of a sovereign state, Iran, while he was traveling in another sovereign state, Iraq. On its face, his conduct and intent satisfy the elements of premeditated murder under Section 1116 of Title 18 of the United States Criminal Code, "Murder or manslaughter of foreign officials, official guests, or internationally protected persons."
If you were curious, you can find Section 1116 of Title 18  here. Opens with this:
Whoever kills or attempts to kill a foreign official, official guest, or internationally protected person shall be punished as provided under sections 1111, 1112, and 1113 of this title.
In this case, Solemani was a "internationally protected person" and the law defines that term as:
...any other representative, officer, employee, or agent of the United States Government, a foreign government, or international organization who at the time and place concerned is entitled pursuant to international law to special protection against attack upon his person...
I'm not a lawyer, but if I am reading the law correctly and despite the obvious blood on his hands, Solemani certainly fit that definition of a protected person entitled to protection against attack.

It's the law. And I am sorry, Rep. Reschenthaler, it's not ridiculous.

On the other hand, you and your party defend a man for whom the term "rule of law" has utterly no meaning.

Now let's back out of that to Guy's opening:
Solemani was taking the pallets of cash that Obama had sent him as part of that bunk nuclear deal...
There it is. Those mythological Obama "pallets of cash" that the GOP likes to reference (but not explain) whenever it's cornered.

I'll let Reuters explain this, again:
The United States and Iran on Sunday settled a longstanding claim at the Hague, releasing to Tehran $400 million in funds frozen since 1981 plus $1.3 billion in interest, the State Department said.

The funds were part of a trust fund once used by Iran to purchase military equipment from the United States but which was tied up for decades in litigation at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal.
Yes, Solemani was a beast among men, no question. But assassination is against the law.

The ends do not justify the means.

Nor should they justify lying to the American People (as you did with those "pallets of cash"), Rep. Reschenthaler.

January 23, 2020

From Stephen Colbert, Last Night

Last night, speaking of Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) Stephen Colbert said:
It was gratifying to see someone taking the constitutional responsibility of their office seriously.

He laid out the case against the president clearly, passionately, cogently, and I believe, courageously.

Because whether or not President Trump is removed from office, history will not forgive those who looked the other way at his abuses or forget those who stepped in the breach at this moment of crisis.
History will not forgive those who looked the other way.

January 22, 2020

Message To Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Senator, CNN reported today:
The Senate early Wednesday morning approved rules for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on a party-line vote that delays the question of whether the Senate should subpoena witnesses and documents until later in the trial.

The rules resolution from Senate Majority Mitch McConnell was approved 53-47 after Republicans defeated a series of amendments from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on the opening day of the bitterly fought impeachment trial. Schumer proposed 11 amendments seeking to subpoena a trove of documents from the Trump administration and witnesses like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, but the amendments were thwarted almost entirely by the same party-line vote, 53-47.
You voted with your party (the 53) each time.

You're participating in a cover-up, Senator. You know that, right?

You took an oath to "do impartial justice" and yet you're voting for rules designed to shield the president from Constitutional oversight.

You're participating in a cover-up.


Senator, have you seen the video of Trump bragging about withholding material from the impeachment trial?

Here it is:

You're participating in a cover-up, Senator.

January 21, 2020

Senator Pat Toomey On McConnell's NEW Impeachment Rules

Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey released the following statement regarding the upcoming Senate trial on the impeachment of Donald Trump:
The impeachment of any president is an extraordinary event and I take my role in the Senate process very seriously," said Senator Toomey. "The Senate should conduct a fair trial consistent with past precedent. We will allow House managers to make their case, the President's lawyers to make their defense, and senators to pose questions. At the conclusion of these presentations, the Senate can then decide what, if any, further steps are necessary." [Emphasis added.]
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has released legislation outlining the rules for that impeachment trial that the Senate will debate.

Senator Toomey, these rules are not consistent with past precedent. In fact, they openly stack the deck in favor of the impeached Donald Trump. McConnell's rules are, however, consistent with his promise of "total coordination" with the White House during the trial

An aside, Senator Toomey: how is this in any way the "impartial justice" that you took an oath to uphold?

The NYTimes is reporting how these new rules differ from the Clinton rules your majority leader promised:
Like in the Clinton trial, the Democratic House impeachment managers and Mr. Trump’s defense lawyers will have up to 24 hours to argue their respective cases for and against conviction on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But in 1999, the Senate imposed no additional limit on how the time was used. Mr. McConnell’s proposal states that each side much complete its work within two days, beginning as early as Wednesday.
When the Clinton trial opened, the Senate “admitted into evidence,” printed and shared with senators all records generated by the House impeachment inquiry into Mr. Clinton. Not so this time.

Though the House’s evidence from the Trump impeachment inquiry would still be printed and shared with senators, it would only be formally considered by the Senate as part of its official record if a majority of senators voted to do so. That vote could only take place after the Senate decided whether to call witnesses and seek additional documents — that is, as the trial moves toward conclusion.
As expected, the draft resolution does not incorporate Democratic demands that the trial guarantee witness testimony or requests for new documents. This was also the case in the Clinton trial, but Mr. McConnell’s proposal still differs slightly.

It says that after senators conclude their questioning, they will not immediately entertain motions to call individual witnesses or documents. Instead, they will decide first whether they want to consider new evidence at all. Only 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.
The Times opened its piece on McConnell's rule changes with this:
For weeks, Senator Mitch McConnell sought to deflect charges that he was trying to stack the deck in favor of President Trump in his impeachment trial by repeating that he was merely replicating the Senate’s only modern precedent: the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton.

“What was good enough for President Clinton in an impeachment trial should have been good enough for President Trump,” he told reporters this month, as Democrats pressed him to include a new guarantee for witnesses and documents. “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.”
Senator, Mitch McConnell promised what you're calling for, "a fair trial consistent with past precedent" but what he delivered was not.

I'll state it outright, Senator Toomey, if you go along with McConnell's cover-up, you'll be forever tainted by Trump's impeachment.

January 19, 2020

Meanwhile, Outside...

From the scientists at NOAA:
The year 2019 was the second warmest year in the 140-year record, with a global land and ocean surface temperature departure from average of +0.95°C (+1.71°F). This value is only 0.04°C (0.07°F) less than the record high value of +0.99°C (+1.78°F) set in 2016 and 0.02°C (0.04°F) higher than the now third highest value set in 2015 (+0.93°C / +1.67°F). The five warmest years in the 1880–2019 record have all occurred since 2015, while nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005. The year 1998 currently ranks as the 10 warmest year on record. The year 2019 marks the 43rd consecutive year (since 1977) with global land and ocean temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th century average.
The global annual temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880 and over twice that rate (+0.18°C / +0.32°F) since 1981.
But here in Pennsylvania, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is chaired by a prominent climate science denier, Daryl Metcalfe.

Longtime fans of this blog will know of darling Daryl by his many appearances here.

As recently as last month, Metcalfe described climate science as, "the same unsettled Chicken Little fear-mongering regarding ‘man-made’ climate change."

Did you know that there's a petition to Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai calling on Metcalfe's removal as chair of that committee?

Well, there is.

No matter what Daryl Metcalfe says, it's still getting warmer out there.

January 16, 2020

This Is The Oath Senator Pat Toomey Took

This happened a few minutes ago:
In a ceremony that has happened only twice before in the nation’s history, Chief Justice Roberts took an oath that dates to 1798.

The oath was administered by Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa: “Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”

Chief Justice Roberts said: “I do.”

He then delivered it to the senators themselves, asking them to stand while they made their vow.

The senators were then called in groups of four to sign the oath book.
And here is Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey signing the book after taking the oath:

We already know, by their previous assertions, that Senators McConnell and Graham have already broken the oath.

We'll see if Toomey keeps his oath to do "impartial justice" or not.