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deltaKshatriya

Trump and Russia (take 2)

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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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