deltaKshatriya

Trump and Russia (take 2)

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Ok, so let's try this once more.

 

So we've learned recently that the Trump team is being investigated for collusion with Russia:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/us/politics/intelligence-committee-russia-donald-trump.html?_r=0

 

Now there's been quite a few updates and twists and turns since then, but imo it does seem like something went down, especially given all the leaks, the resignations, and recusals. So what do people make of this particular controversy (out of the many we've seen so far)?

Edited by deltaKshatriya

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Evidence that Trump has been working with Russia has been public for quite a while in the form of Rex Tillerson.  Investigations aren't to see if he had any ties with Russia, they are to see exactly what the nature of the ties we already know he has are.

And since we can already make decent guesses, I'm not really interested in an investigation that tells us what we already know, I am interested in what will actually happen as a result.  Impeachment?  Would that even be enough?  Rex Tillerson would have to go too, at the very least.  Or will absolutely nothing be done?


L. Spiro

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I haven't been following up the news, because things are very confusing to follow.  Some news claim there are proofs of wiretaps, others say there are no proofs of wiretaps.

Right now I am wondering how much involvement needs to make it count as interference, and how much communication does Trump actually have with Russia.  And how come this did not surface early on during the election when Clinton was accused of all kinds of email leaks?  It really could've overturned the result.

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I am interested in what will actually happen as a result.  Impeachment?  Would that even be enough?  Rex Tillerson would have to go too, at the very least.  Or will absolutely nothing be done?

That's the first question I ask when people start discussing it.

IF investigators start researching it, and they discover whatever it is you suspect you would find, then WHAT SPECIFICALLY would you want to have the law do?

I don't think there's any doubt that Russia had some involvement in elections, nearly every nation does. Just like the US has some degree of involvement in other nation's elections.

A much harder question is what degree of involvement there was, and if that involvement could have modified results in a significant way. Note that polling and both of the polls and vote-by-mail ballots showed Trump winning the various districts (few were closely contested), and the state results were unlikely to be materially swayed. Even then, more than one state would have needed to be swayed to adjust the results of the electoral college. Some reports said that if three specific near-tie states had their results dramatically tied it would have been enough to sway the election, but you're looking at several hundred thousand votes spread across many polling districts, each would need to be subtle enough to escape suspicion.

But let's say that happened.  Somehow the election was subverted so much that the vote swung in those states, hundreds of thousands of votes across multiple states that survived recounts in many districts, and it would have been Hillary instead of Trump. And let's say it was Russia behind the hypothetical situation.

What then?

Would you have Trump impeached? The Constitution only allows for three reasons of impeachment; Treason (defined as giving material aid and comfort to enemies we are at war with), Bribery, and Maladministration (called "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" in that era, but understood to be the term of the era for maladministration).  Since he wasn't in office at the time, neither Bribery nor Maladministration could apply.

Would you have the nation declare war against Russia? That's a frightening prospect.

Would you have the nation take it to the UN or some other international body? Remember that for most bodies both the US and Russia have veto votes, so either nation could shut it down before it even starts.

Perhaps you'd look for trade sanctions? Those would be tough to justify without a diplomatic goal, especially since (in the hypothetical findings) it would be government administrators and covert actions that would need to be addressed.

Maybe the request is to have Trump voluntarily step down and Hillary take up the role? There's no constitutional provision for that.

 

The results of inquiries may be nice to look at, good things to know, and may reveal weaknesses that should be addressed. I'd go for that, finding ways to better secure the election like removing electronic machines and going to simple pen and paper votes, hand counted by multiple people and reported and certified by those same people.

But apart from that, what would you expect would happen?

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I haven't been following up the news, because things are very confusing to follow.  Some news claim there are proofs of wiretaps, others say there are no proofs of wiretaps.

Right now I am wondering how much involvement needs to make it count as interference, and how much communication does Trump actually have with Russia.  And how come this did not surface early on during the election when Clinton was accused of all kinds of email leaks?  It really could've overturned the result.

 

It could be people didn't let it surface precisely because it could overturn the result. I've heard that theory being thrown around. 

My theory on the wiretapping claims from Trump is that Trump himself is straight up lying (that's actually a fact I believe?). However, there probably were collections of Trump's team communicating with Russia as a result of surveillance of Russian operatives.

[b]@[member='frob'][/b], I believe that if Trump and team were communicating/collaborating with the Russians to attempt to sway the election, it's immaterial if they 'succeeded', no? It's an impeachable offense, although whether or not it'd qualify as treason would be interesting law debate. Ultimately I think it would. Probably Trump would be impeached and Pence would take over? If not him, just go down the line of succession. Ultimately I believe that if no one from there can be found (in the extreme case that literally everyone is a Russian stooge), it goes to the Senate and/or new elections are held. 

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It's an impeachable offense, although whether or not it'd qualify as treason would be interesting law debate.

Treason is not even up for debate.

Treason is SPECIFICALLY defined in the Constitution requiring the nation to be at war with the 'enemy' who is given aid. 

Unless we are at war with Russia -- and last time I checked we were not -- anything involving Russia cannot be treason.

Even though there is no formal declaration of war, it is possible that a short list of countries could be considered at war due to ongoing Congress-authorized military actions: Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya.  If he were caught giving aid to any of these countries then there is at least the possibility of treason.

Since we're not currently at war with Russia, any aid or comfort given to the country or Russian citizens can't be treason under the Constitution.

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My guess is, it will be just another spot on the not-very-white-anymore vest of Trumps administration.

If there will be an impeachment coming Trumps way in the future, it will be because of maladministration. Not because of his involvement with russia, which, as far as I gather it, would be tainting US/Russian relationship at worst (which, given Putin was happy about Trump BECAUSE he hoped he would be friendlier towards Putins russia, would still be a major blow for Putin, AND Trump (because Putin fanboyism)).

No matter if you are a fan of global warming and like Trumps new rulings to increase the amount of CO2 exhausted by the US, no matter if you want to see more fracking in the US, pipelines and walls built, even these guys would have to grudgingly agree (if they were honest) that Trumps administration has been a little bit chaotic at times, not helped by the controversy surrounding many of its members.

Time will tell if his plans at least work out for the people supporting his views, but even that seems questionable given how much of his work is rushed gung-ho style shooting from the hip. He seems to be completly out of touch with even his own party (not surprisingly given how he is not really a part of it), else he would have known that support for his obamacare reversal was not that strong even amongst the republicans and wouldn't have rushed it this much, used the time to actually listen to the republican naysayers, amended his plans accordingly and wouldn't have had to suffer such a defeat now, instead walk away with a victory in 6 months.

Also, the way he treats foreign politicians is sometimes very childish. Even Putin does it better.... I mean, not inviting Merkel to golf with him would have been enough of a sign that he likes Abe from Japan better than her. No need to act like a frowning child in front of the cameras, while Merkel only had a smile for his bad behaviour.

I get that he likes to disregard any kind of ettiquette, and hates the political circles. But he is now part of it, and he should feel bound to a certain ettiquette, especially when talking to foreign politicians.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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it will be just another spot on the not-very-white-anymore vest of Trumps administration

 

Wait,... as this implies his vest was once white, remind me - when was that? As far as I know its been the most turbulent start to a US presidency tenure in modern times

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It's an impeachable offense, although whether or not it'd qualify as treason would be interesting law debate.

Treason is not even up for debate.

Treason is SPECIFICALLY defined in the Constitution requiring the nation to be at war with the 'enemy' who is given aid. 

Unless we are at war with Russia -- and last time I checked we were not -- anything involving Russia cannot be treason.

Even though there is no formal declaration of war, it is possible that a short list of countries could be considered at war due to ongoing Congress-authorized military actions: Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya.  If he were caught giving aid to any of these countries then there is at least the possibility of treason.

Since we're not currently at war with Russia, any aid or comfort given to the country or Russian citizens can't be treason under the Constitution.

 

This is the interesting part. Because we're not at war with China, but just recently someone was found passing information along to them. Then there was the scientist before that (Los Alamos, IIRC). Most civilians would call that treason. But if passing gov't info to a foreign or hostile power isn't treason, then what is it?


Would you have Trump impeached? The Constitution only allows for three reasons of impeachment; Treason (defined as giving material aid and comfort to enemies we are at war with), Bribery, and Maladministration (called "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" in that era, but understood to be the term of the era for maladministration). Since he wasn't in office at the time, neither Bribery nor Maladministration could apply.

Ok, technically his collusions prior to getting the High Office isn't impeachable. But lying about it once he's in office is. That would fall under High Crimes and Misdemeanors, I would think.

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Most civilians would call that treason. But if passing gov't info to a foreign or hostile power isn't treason, then what is it?

Google suggests it is covered in the US under the Espionage Act, the current version is found here.

Note that the Constitution is a little weird when it comes to laws and the President some odd things happen. The person in the Office of President is basically unable to commit crimes within the US, except for the three impeachable offenses (treason, bribery, and maladministration) which can only be addressed by impeachment and removal of office. Before holding office and after holding office everything is normal, but while they hold the office of president special rules apply; they're legally doing the country's business.  If the President publicly reveals classified information, or gives classified information to another country we're not at war with then it isn't a crime, that's the president using the power of the executive branch. The president is also supposedly the only one who doesn't need to get security clearance to look at any classified information.

That's also why even if Obama ordered wiretapping on Trump, if anyone other than the President ordered it improperly it would be a problem, but if the President ordered it then legally it isn't a problem because that's the President's job.  If the orders came from the President then the worst that could happen is an impeachment charge, and since he's out of office the charge would only be symbolic.

 

 

But lying about it once he's in office is. That would fall under High Crimes and Misdemeanors, I would think.

The phrase "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" was a colloquial phrase of the mid 1700's. Today it would be called "maladministration" or "gross maladministration".  The bar is actually REALLY high on this one.

It means administering the country so badly, lying so badly, or otherwise screwing up so badly that at least half the House votes to impeach (accused) and 2/3 of the Senate vote to convict.  With the toxic conditions in politics and cross-party control of the senate it isn't too difficult to cross the 1/2 barrier, but the 2/3 barrier hasn't ever been crossed.

Impeachment (a successful accusation) has only happened twice. Andrew Johnson (Lincoln's successor after he was killed) had been fighting with an opposite-party Congress over political appointments.  Ultimately Johnson fired several top-level officials that Congress really liked and made some speeches that made them mad. The opposing-party House passed the impeachment, but the Senate could not cross the 2/3 bar, giving an acquittal.  President Clinton was involved in a sex scandal where he lied about it many times (the famous broadcast "I did not have sexual relations with that woman"), and under investigation rather strangely spent an enormous amount of time discussing the definition of the word "is". Either way, the opposing-party House passed the impeachment for perjury and obstructing justice, but the Senate could not cross the 2/3 bar, giving an acquittal.

But either way, since Trump wasn't in office at the time, it cannot be maladministration.

Edited by frob
Add some stuff. Also, rather obviously I'm a game developer and not a lawyer, although I have had some law classes and love researching the stuff.

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So it sounds like the Congress, in theory, could impeach him based on the High Crimes and Misdemeanors clause. Then hit him and a great many people with charges under the Espionage Act.

Sounds like a plan.

Thanks, frob.

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So it sounds like the Congress, in theory, could impeach him based on the High Crimes and Misdemeanors clause. Then hit him and a great many people with charges under the Espionage Act.

Sounds like a plan.

Thanks, frob.

 

Sure they can, in theory.  In practice I cannot see how 50% of the House and 2/3 of the Senate would do it, although with the current toxic party system and strict party lines I can imagine 44.5% of the House and 44% of the Senate voting for it. The only times impeachment has ever happened is when the President's opposing parties hold both sides of Congress, and it has never resulted in a conviction.

I don't care much for the guy and quite a few of the things he has already done embarrass the nation as a whole, but except for something like an extreme illness, injury, or untimely death (which I am *NOT* recommending!) I expect he'll be in office until January 20, 2021. I imagine he will have more than his share of gaffes and errors, but I seriously doubt the people that surround him will let his actions reach the level to get him kicked out of office.

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Since he wasn't in office at the time, neither Bribery nor Maladministration could apply.

Several points to be made here.
#1: "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" is a fairly loose term. Johnson got impeached for firing Edwin M. Stanton without asking permission from the senate, and Clinton got impeached for misleading a jury. With mid-terms coming and Trump's historically low approval rating, it is likely that congress/the senate can find a way to make High Crimes and Misdemeanors apply.

#2: Depending on what they find, him being out of office at the time simply changes the charge to a violation of the Logan Act, which should see him in jail, but they will likely settle for just removing him from office. Tom Cotton and Michael Flynn also violated this act.

#3: Keep in mind that impeachment is not the only way to remove a president. He can be removed if he is deemed unable to fulfill his duties as president, and a strong case can be made in this direction, especially with his ties to Russia. If it is found that Russia could blackmail him or there is any other reason to believe that Russia will have an effect on him performing his duties, he can be removed.

In any case, he has already violated several laws as president, and it is very unlikely he will serve the full term.


L. Spiro

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It's going to depend a lot also just how far/how bad the connections go. If it's something like "Trump is literally sleeping with Putin, that's how close they are' (a joke, but I think y'all might get what I'm saying), it's fairly likely that he'll get impeached on some grounds or the other. As it stands, most Republicans have fallen right in line behind Trump.

 

I take it that most of us are in agreement that there is some connection of some kind just that we don't know how far the rabbit hole goes, so to speak. 

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In any case, he has already violated several laws as president, and it is very unlikely he will serve the full term.

Meh. It was very unlikely he'd be President of the United States. Look how that turned out. Mind you, you can come up with 1000 legitimate reasons why. But still. Look how that turned out.

Let's not make any assumptions about if or when Trump leaves office. Because frankly, you're banking a lot on the American people. And truthfully, as an American, I'm not seeing anything worth betting on.

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In any case, he has already violated several laws as president, and it is very unlikely he will serve the full term.

Meh. It was very unlikely he'd be President of the United States. Look how that turned out. Mind you, you can come up with 1000 legitimate reasons why. But still. Look how that turned out.

Let's not make any assumptions about if or when Trump leaves office. Because frankly, you're banking a lot on the American people. And truthfully, as an American, I'm not seeing anything worth betting on.

 

 

I could not agree more with your sentiment. There's still a sizable segment of the population (although, to be fair, this is getting smaller), that, for whatever reason, will never agree with Trump having violated any law.

 

I, personally, do not want to make any predictions. It's impossible to predict anything at all at this point. Theoretically, the grounds for impeachment are forming.

 

All bets are off though if and when Trump and Friends colluding with Russia evidence is found. We simply don't know wha the reaction would be because it's never happened before. 

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Because frankly, you're banking a lot on the American people. And truthfully, as an American, I'm not seeing anything worth betting on.

Yet republicans are taking the healthcare issue much more seriously now that the people have begun to fight at their town halls etc.

And it isn't actually a bet just on the people. It's a bet on all the members of congress who are up for re-election during the midterms to act in their own interests (which is a very good bet).
Trump's cabinet is already falling apart and many are already extremely tired of working with him, so it is a bet on the people around him to work in their own interests and get him out of office.

It's also a bet that plays on Trump's biggest insecurity: Fear of failure. The American people decide whether he fails or not, which is why they had to retract their healthcare plan. Because this pokes at Trump's deepest level of internal insecurities, he has already amped up his lashing out. This on top of his 2 failed Muslim bans, and as this trend continues he won't be able to help but to act so childish and irrational that he will lose the last of his support at the White House, especially considering that some in the senate and congress (McCain for example) are already outspoken against him and his plans and are absolutely going to take advantage of any collapses within his close network to galvanize people against him.


He isn't just making enemies with the American people, he is making enemies all over the White House etc. He just threw Paul Ryan under the bus, as one example. That comes with a cost.


L. Spiro

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If you guys didn't see, Trump pretty much officially declared war on the conservative portion of the republican party.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/us/politics/freedom-caucus-donald-trump.html?_r=0

 

As for the Russia investigations, I haven't really heard anything damning but I've been way too busy to follow them closely. Definitely not anything impeachable though, there's definitely precedent of leaders supporting political parties/people in other countries as a friendly gesture, which is what it would probably be defended as if proven.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/04/obamas-brexit-plea/479469/

 

It's a pretty interesting situation right now, because Trump's getting no support from Democrats, or the more conservative members of his own party. His solution? Attack his own party. If it works he'll pretty much completely transform the Republican party's political landscape, and if it doesn't he'll be out in 2020.

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So why cover it up? Why resign? Why do anything at all if there's nothing to be concerned about? For people who are guilty of nothing at all, they certainly act extremely guilty.

These clearly aren't some innocuous connections. Just look st Flynn, who's now willing to testify if he's got immunity.

Edited by deltaKshatriya

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I'm not pointing anything at Clinton, I'm just showing there's precedent for "friendly communication" by officials without issue. I could pull up up information on every president since the 18th century that's done this.

 

The big thing Flynn did was lie about his communications with a Russian ambassador, even if those communications were fairly benign. No idea how deep that goes, though, but eventually he'll probably get immunity to testify about it.

Edited by conquestorbugged

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At this stage, I don't give a fuck about Russia. Trump could be giving Putin your launch codes for all I care.

Meanwhile, he's busy ensuring that we won't have a planet to live on in the next 40 years.

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At this stage, I don't give a fuck about Russia. Trump could be giving Putin your launch codes for all I care.

Meanwhile, he's busy ensuring that we won't have a planet to live on in the next 40 years.

 

I mean fair enough, he's causing enough damage without the Russia angle. He was enough of a nutcase without that angle. Thing is that if he is indeed basically Russia/Putin's man, well then we know why half of the damage is being done, and it is a deliberate attempt then to destabilize the US. It casts all of the deliberate stupidities he's been doing since he got into office in a very different light.

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At this stage, I don't give a fuck about Russia. Trump could be giving Putin your launch codes for all I care.
Meanwhile, he's busy ensuring that we won't have a planet to live on in the next 40 years.

 
It's interesting because a lot of people who voted GOP or support Trump have that same sentiment. Accept for them it's -

At this stage, I don't give a fuck about Russia. Trump could be giving Putin your launch codes for all I care.
Meanwhile, he's busy ensuring that we will all have jobs in the next 40 years.

 
I think it's very important to keep that in mind. I'm not saying pretend that the wild shit that comes from Trump or his associates be treated the same as actual facts. But, people who voted or supported him were desperate and still are desperate. They're not going to be worried about future or clandestine threats while they're wondering how they're going to eat tomorrow. Or if they're gonna have a job next month.

Call Trump and his associates on his bullshit. But make sure you are actually solving a real problem that these people have. The problem being lack of jobs (well-paying or otherwise). It's what got him into the White House.

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