Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Opening an Impeachment Inquiry is a Constitutional Responsibility

Let’s face it, Donald Trump will not be removed from office before November 2020. Even if the House makes a big U-turn and finally decided to begin impeachment proceedings and successfully sends an impeachment case to the Senate for trial, Mitch McConnell will fail to convict. And Trump would still be sitting in the White House tweeting lies of exoneration and innocence.

But in no way does this political reality mean that the president is not deserving of impeachment; and certainly it doesn’t mean that the House shouldn’t try.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi truly knows politics beyond policy-making. Her pragmatic side says Democrats cannot lose an impeachment trial if brought up so close to 2020. It looks bad. So she is not pursuing it.

Her alternative: slow roasting the big “I” with careful calibration. She says House committees must do their due diligence and investigate the facts before an impeachment case is opened. But really, her reluctance is a message on its own, saying – “if Americans truly want impeachment, you all must show me much more than what you’re giving.”

In other words, it’s not enough that a majority – 67 percent – of Democrats want impeachment, as the latest polls show.

Independents must be jumping on the “I” bandwagon; and at least a strong minority among Republicans must be calling for it. Independents might come around eventually; but GOP turncoats, not a chance.

Big question to weigh

The big question on impeachment is this – will it help to oust Trump on election day?

Pelosi doesn’t think so. But truth to power -- the bigger fail would be to do nothing. The evidence outlined in the Mueller report is too compelling to pass; and Democrats sitting on their hands shows weakness and negligence in performing their Constitutional duty. Political Science 101: most Americans want strong leaders; most Americans have great value for our Constitution.

Democratic senators are wiser than their House counterparts on this “I” issue as many senators have already called for impeachment proceedings to begin as a matter of principle.

It matters that attempts to preserve our Constitution, separation of powers, checks and balances be pursued when demanded. The Constitution was written precisely for moments like this; it was written primarily to protect the country from tyranny – which is what has historically made the U.S. a special place in the world. You could even say the Constitution was written for the coming of a Trump-like leader.

Doing nothing is saying to the world that Trump is above the law; and, we as lawmakers accept that. Doing nothing is hollow respect for the Constitution, something lawmakers swore to protect.

It’s clear that politics is being weighed heavily on whether or not to seek impeachment. And getting reelected is a concern for politicians on both sides, Republicans and Democrats.

But if an impeachment trial is commenced and millions of Americans will be able to see the evidence brought forth in the Mueller report, and the facts televised and news-cycled 24-7, it will show in hindsight that at least opening up an impeachment inquiry was necessary and the right thing to do

Trump’s wrongdoings will be a stain going into November 2020 as evidence become better known. As it stands now, no one is reading the Mueller report.

Even if Trump remains in office, Mitch McConnell and company would be the perceived corrupt establishment that made this happen. Doubt it? Just look at Attorney General William Barr’s now tanked credibility after misrepresenting the findings of the Mueller report.

Mueller report

The Mueller report found 10 points of obstruction.

It established that Russia attacked the 2016 elections to help Trump. It showed that Trump the candidate welcomed that help. And lastly, when Trump was investigated, he tried to obstruct the investigations.

A group of 636 former Justice Department prosecutors (Democrats and Republicans) say there were “multiple felony charges for obstruction” and that the President would have been indicted if he were anyone else but the president.

It’s important to refer to this Justice Department prosecutors’ interpretation because they are legal experts, federal prosecutors, and have nothing to gain because they no longer are working in the DOJ.

For future’s sake

Currently House committees are pursuing fact-finding but are being stonewalled and blocked. Their issued subpoenas -- ignored by the White House. This is unprecedented to the extent that Trump has taken it, complete disregard of orders from a co-equal branch of government.

There are still a few inches on the rope left as the courts will decide on a few matters the House is requesting, namely an unredacted version of the Mueller report

But time is running out. Political risk or not, it’s a moral obligation that impeachment inquiries begin.

With impeachment, at least the evidence would have been presented to Americans. At least a democratic process as laid out by our Constitution would have been fulfilled – which sends a message to future presidents that breaking the law will have consequence; and that there are courageous politicians who will meet their sworn obligation to uphold the Constitution.

SCOTUS Got It Right By Not Adding Citizenship Question to Census

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) just decided late last week that the Trump administration cannot add a question about citizenship in the next 2020 Census. It was a surprising outcome and most news pundits predicted a decision to go conservatives’ way. But Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s four liberals in a 5-4 decision which have immigrant rights organizations celebrating the ruling.

Why would this one question have impacted huge swaths of the country?

Opponents to the question say it would have disadvantaged states and communities with large immigrant and minority populations, and large urban centers. It would have also tilted the political balance to favor Republicans over Democrats in Congress.

Everyone already knows that the Census (taken every 10 years) is a survey which data is used to gage the demographics of the nation’s population.

But it’s far more important than people realize. Perhaps second only to elections, the Census is the most influential factor that determines how money and political power are distributed across the country.

Data from the Census determines how many congressional seats and electoral seats are given to each state; it determines how the hundreds of billions of federal dollars are allocated (an estimate of $880 billion a year) for schools, for highways, for roads, for public health, for just about any federal service out there including Medicare, Medicaid, and so on.

Experts are in agreement that adding this one citizenship question most likely would have resulted in millions of people being undercounted in the U.S. Census because undocumented immigrants and immigrants waiting for their citizenship would be dissuaded from participating in the Census out of fear of deportation.

So if this question had been added, it would not only have affected immigrants, but all the communities and states immigrants mostly reside in with these communities not getting their fair share of federal dollars and political representation in the next 10 years. Whether if you’re an immigrant or not, citizen or not, you could have been affected in some way if the city you live in happen to be multi-cultural with a large immigrant population.

Adding this one question to the Census would have made it less accurate; and not serve its purpose. A Democrat state like California, as an example, would have lost seats in Congress and multi-millions in federal dollars because of undercounting.

Democrats would have come out as losers and Republicans winners with this new Census – which is precisely why the Trump administration pursued adding the question.

Historically a citizenship question was asked off and on and only to parts of the country. The last time it was asked was in 1950, and again, for only parts of the country. Statistical analysis, or what experts call statistical modeling, has since been used to project information like citizenship based on a short form given only to select population where the citizenship question was on it in 1950.

If SCOTUS had ruled in favor of the president, the 2020 Census would have been the first time a citizenship status question be asked of every person living in the country.

Normal Procedure Skipped

The partisan motivation behind adding this question was clear from the beginning because it usually takes 5 years for the process of adding changes to the Census. Changes need to be properly vetted, data examined, advice taken from career officials, and Congress must be informed about the reason for such a change.

The partisan motivation behind adding this question was clear from the beginning because it usually takes 5 years for the process of adding changes to the Census. Changes need to be properly vetted, data examined, advice taken from career officials, and Congress must be informed about the reason for such a change.

Critics say even if SCOTUS had found this question constitutional, the process of introducing it unvetted and avoiding normal procedure should have been enough to disqualify this addition to the 2020 Census.

The rush to add the citizenship question even had Congress involved. The House Oversight Committee subpoenaed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Bar to investigate into how and why the question was added. They ignored the subpoena and House Oversight voted to hold both in contempt of Congress.

House Oversight asked the president for documents to be submitted concerning how the process of this question came about. Trump claimed executive privilege and refused House Oversight’s request.

Information on a hard drive from Republican operative Thomas Hofeller surfaced regarding the Census data on citizenship. Hofellor wrote, conservative states with large immigrant populations could vote to exclude non-citizens from the count they use to draw state legislation districts, consolidating Republican statehouse control.

Opinions such as Hofellor’s had been circulating and have been well-known among Republican strategists over the advantage that could be gained by Republicans by changing the Census.

But Trump’s administration claimed the question is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act, to get more information about who is in the U.S.

Proposing to add the citizenship question is really about political power and an extension of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. The current process is far more accurate than what it would have been with the proposed change.

SCOTUS – which includes two justices appointed by Trump – made the right decision. It’s the first loss for the Trump administration at the Supreme Court (his administration was successful in the travel ban and his policy barring transgenders from the U.S. military). Immigrants and the communities they live in for now are spared from what this one citizenship question would have done.