— Nolan D. McCaskill (@NolanDMcCaskill) January 31, 2017
Category Archives: Politics
Lest anyone have illusions that the GOP Senate will serve as a check on Trump, the Finance Committees upended its rules to rush forward two ethically challenged nominees.
Senate Republicans pushed through a pair of President Trump’s Cabinet nominees Wednesday, upending standard committee rules to circumvent a Democratic boycott.
The Senate Finance Committee advanced a pair of Trump’s nominees with only Republican members present — Steven Mnuchin to head the Treasury Department, and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) as secretary of Health and Human Services.
By unanimous consent, the Republicans gathered in the hearing room agreed to change the committee’s standing rules, which normally require at least one member of each party to be in attendance for committee work to proceed.
Price has a lot of questions to answer about what seems like insider trading. Mnuchin seems to have flat-out lied about his bank’s robo-signing of foreclosures.
Yet, this is the altar on which the GOP Senators chose to sacrifice the long-standing norm that parties don’t take unilateral actions in the utter absence of the other party. Don’t look to them to be a check or balance short of Trump groping live on national TV, or a signed and notarized depotition from Putin detailing bribes or blackmail.
Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates this evening–as the President has the right to do–and issued a statement:
The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.
Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.
It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.
Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons.
“I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected,” said Dana Boente, Acting Attorney General.
In appointing Dana Boente, Trump exercised authority under the Federal Vacancies Act Reform Act of 1998, 5 U.S.C. 3345. In so doing, he (quite legally) bypassed the default line of succession otherwise provided for in Executive Order 13762 (Jan. 13, 2017) signed by President Obama, which had the next three people eligible to be acting AG as (a) United States Attorney for the District of Columbia; (b) United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and (c) United States Attorney for the Central District of California.
Yates had angered Trump by instructing Justice Department lawyers not to defend his executive order banning travel for people from seven Muslim-majority countries. Various parts of the order have already been enjoined by district courts around the country. Presumably the Trump people shopped for someone willing to overturn Sally Yates’s order, and found one: New acting attorney general says he will enforce order.
Dana Boene was sworn in this evening in order to ensure that there would be someone with legal authority to sign foreign surveillance warrants.
[edited shortly after publication for clarity]
Update1: Spencer Ackerman says it is unclear if the new acting attorney general can sign national security surveillance requests.
Update2: Josh Blackman makes two interesting points. First, one might theoretically question whether firing is a qualifying reason under the Vacancies Act that the incumbent is “otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office” and, more significantly, (2) this action might have precedential value if and when Trump fires and replaces Richard Cordray.
In How Many Impeachable Offenses Can A President Commit In Nine Days?, UM law grad Howard Brilliant lists (and documents) what he calls 18 impeachable offenses committed in nine days:
- Removing DNI & CJCS from NSC and replacing them with a white supremacist;
- Unconstitutional discrimination against legal immigrants- including visa holders, lawful permanent residents, and reportedly even some U.S. Citizens- based on religion and national origin;
- Undermining confidence in our democracy by perpetuating meritless allegations of voter fraud;
- Constant and repeated demonstrations of hostility to first amendment rights;
- Intentionally and repeatedly lying to the American public;
- Using the Office of President to enrich himself and members of his family;
- Operating with extensive conflicts of business and personal interests;
- Receiving emoluments from foreign governments;
- Refusal to release his tax returns;
- Violating his lease with GSA for the Old Post Office;
- Potential subjection to blackmail by a foreign intelligence service allegedly in possession of compromising material;
- Continued associations with individuals he knew or should have known possessed ties to hostile foreign governments;
- Blatant disregard for established governmental norms and protocols;
- Issuing executive orders against the advice of and/or without consulting the Office of Legal Counsel or other participants in the review process;
- Apparent defiance of court orders;
- Failure to rule out the use of torture;
- Suffering from mental instability and/or psychological impairment; and
- Being generally incompetent and unfit for office;
While I grasp that at the end of the day, grounds for impeachment may just be what two houses say it is, it seems to me that under a fair reading of the Constitution, most of these are not in fact impeachable offenses but just actions that are evil, stupid, or both.
Have a look and mark down which you think qualify, then take a look at my cull from the list: