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American national leaders gain their legitimacy by competing in compliance with not merely the outward forms but the clear values of our Constitution—equal dignity, religious freedom and tolerance, open deliberation, and the rule of law.

 

These values don’t bind Donald Trump; norms of decency do not apply; he shrugs off the very burden of fact itself.

 

Like dictators of the Old World, he uses his mass media power to lie, to insult, to strip individuals of their dignity, to commit the grossest libels of religious and national groups, and to encourage persecution, torture, and public violence.

 

He actively campaigns against any notions of racial, religious, and sexual equality. He threatens those who oppose him with the unchecked power of the state.

 

He is, in other words, a figure out of authoritarian politics, not the American tradition; and a democratic constitution that empowers such a leader has misfired badly.

 

The decay that has set in among American democratic norms represent a political system so hardened in hatred that it has become unable to provide in orderly fashion for the nation’s finances, that permits legislative bodies to hobble the courts, that evades the vital questions of war and peace the Constitution was created to address, that hides in plain sight the growth of mass surveillance and toxic secrecy in government.

 

Never before in American history has the nation fought a “war” that lasted 15 years, much less one against an unnamed enemy who can never be located entirely or fully defeated.

 

The Constitution might be broken can it be fixed?

 

But I know this as well: Trump was elected President on November 8.

 

But he is not my president and he never will be.

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IN THE FACE of an overwhelming pile of evidence suggesting that President Donald Trump pressured a foreign country to damage a political rival, most Republicans have chosen either to remain silent or to deny outright that anything out of the ordinary occurred. Others have taken a more sophisticated route: Concede his wrongdoing, but argue that it’s not impeachable.

 

“Donald Trump should not have been on the phone with a foreign head of state encouraging another country to investigate his political opponent, Joe Biden. Some Republicans are trying, but there’s no way to spin this as a good idea,” wrote Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel recently in The Daily Caller. 

 

They are, however, indictable. A variety of felony criminal statutes plainly implicate Trump’s behavior, and come with lengthy prison sentences — the types of sentences doled out for high crimes, to say nothing of misdemeanors. Indeed, many of them are straightforward. Altogether, if the impeachment inquiry is limited simply to Trump’s pressure on Ukraine, the charges could amount to more than 10 years in prison.

 

Take 18 U.S. Code § 872: “Extortion by officers or employees of the United States.” It’s not hard to grasp:

“Whoever, being an officer, or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or representing himself to be or assuming to act as such, under color or pretense of office or employment commits or attempts an act of extortion, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

 

The law describes extortion it as “the extraction of anything of value from another person by threatening or placing that person in fear of injury to any person or kidnapping of any person.” Was the Ukrainian president, or any other person, put in “fear of injury” by Trump’s move?

 

As Trump’s envoys made clear in their since-disclosed text messages, Ukraine’s cooperation in the investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden was driven by the promise of a White House visit for President Volodymyr Zelensky and the threat of withholding military aid. That’s not just wrong, as Carlson and Patel rightly acknowledge, it’s also a felony, as the president and other Ukrainians no doubt had “fear of injury.”

 

Attorney General William Barr’s Department of Justice has declined to press charges against Trump, though the House of Representatives is pushing forward with its impeachment inquiry. In the meantime, Trump has said that he will refuse to cooperate with lawful subpoenas — itself a prima facie violation of 2 U.S. Code § 192, “Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers,” punishable by a year in prison.

 

Coercing his deputies into joining in the conspiracy would also runs afoul of the law. “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, reiterated in a text message to Trump official Gordon Sondland, strongly suggesting he was pursuing the strategy against his own wishes.

 

If Taylor felt coerced into helping with “a political campaign,” that implicates 18 U.S. Code § 610, which covers that crime rather clearly under the title: “Coercion of political activity.”

 

The law reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to intimidate, threaten, command, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, command, or coerce, any employee of the Federal Government … to engage in … any political activity.” The sentence caps at three years.

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Donald Trump’s lifetime of borderline criminality, as evidenced by being sued more than 4,500 times for his business practices, his extensive bilking of small businesses, his deliberate tax evasions, and his on-camera boasts of sexual assaults.

 
“Trump launched his campaign with fraud, as the Trump Tower crowd that interrupted him 43 times with applause on June 16, 2015, consisted of actors paid fifty bucks apiece,” David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter who has covered Trump since the 1980s and is the author of The Making of Donald Trump, wrote earlier this week. “For his whole life, Trump has cheated workers, shortchanges small business owners and ripped off investors, as courts have determined in some of the 4,500 Trump lawsuits.”
 

 

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Here are 10 examples of Trump’s borderline or admitted criminality, all taken from The Making of Donald Trump, a book with 44 pages of source notes, and subsequent articles and interviews with Johnston. 

1. Boasts of sexually assaulting women. As almost everyone in America knows, Trump was caught boasting on videotape about imposing himself sexually on women, including the felony of grabbing their genitals. While he tried to dismiss his remarks as mere locker room bragging, a dozen women came forward to accuse him of improper behavior or sexual assault. Trump predictably accused all of them of lying and working for Clinton, and threatened to sue them all after the election. However, what Trump bragged about, and what the women said he did, is against the law.

2. Used illegal immigrants and mob to build Trump Tower. Trump’s borderline relationship with the law goes back decades. Before his signature building in New York City, Trump Tower, could be built, he had to demolish a department store. Trump used 200 undocumented Polish migrants who did not follow construction safety codes and were paid “off the books,” a federal court later held. He then built an all-concrete building, which cut some costs associated with a steel-based tower, using “ready-mix from a company called S&A Concrete. Mafia chieftains Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno and Paul Castellano secretly owned the firm,” Johnston wrote.

3. Caught Illegally not paying sales taxes. Some of Trump’s other brushes with the law are just dumb, unless he’s not as rich as he says he is or just likes to flirt with borderline behavior. In the mid-'80s, New York State’s attorney general listed Trump among 200 other wealthy people who bought pricey gems at a Manhattan jeweler and had the store put an out-of-state address on the receipt to avoid paying sales tax. Ed Koch, the mayor of New York at the time, said Trump should have spent 15 days in jail. Had Trump been convicted of tax fraud, Johnston wrote, he likely would have lost his New Jersey casino licenses.

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4. More evidence of federal income tax fraud. In what can only be described as a bizarre series of events, Trump’s lawyer and accountant Jack Mitnick testified under oath that while he signed Trump’s 1984 federal tax return, neither he nor his firm had prepared it. “That same return showed $0 business consulting income and more than $600,000 of expenses for which no receipts were produced, also strong evidence of fraud,” Johnston wrote. During the presidential campaign, Trump has refused to release his taxes, saying he is being audited by the IRS, “but [he] will not even release the form letter proving an audit.”

5. Claiming $916 million in tax losses, but not paying bills. When the New York Times broke the story that Trump claimed $916 million in real estate losses in 1995, most of the focus was on how it allowed him to avoid federal taxes for years on income adding up to that figure. But there is another dimension to that move, which Johnston described in a Daily Beast piece: Those losses enabled Trump to tell bankruptcy courts he didn’t have the money to fully pay an army of contractors and small businesses. “Trump claimed to be worth billions in the 1990s, just as he now does, yet he could not pay his bills,” Johnston wrote. “He stiffed hundreds of small-business suppliers, including those for the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, which will go out of business [in mid-October].”

6. Trump University was another massive con job. To start, Trump broke the laws of several states that only allowed an authorized institution to be called a university. Then Trump lied when he said he would personally pick the faculty, but when deposed under oath after being sued, admitted he had no idea who the faculty were. Johnston wrote, “His ‘faculty’ stood over students helping them take on all the credit card debt banks would give them to pay tuition and other fees to Trump U., leaving them with no capacity to invest in real estate.”

7. Paying off prosecutors via political donations to avoid charges. When former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott investigated Trump University, he found its teaching “worthless” and encouraging “illegal” actions, Johnston wrote. “The Texas attorney general’s lawyers concluded that if sued by the state, Trump would have no legal defenses to civil fraud charges.” Abbott did not sue, but later got a $35,000 campaign contribution from Trump. Much the same storyline unfolded in Florida, where Attorney General Pam Bondi declined to take action after receiving many complaints and Trump’s foundation illegally donated $25,000 to her re-election campaign. Tax-exempt charities aren’t allowed to contribute to political campaigns.

8. Using his foundation for other illegal expenses. Johnston writes, “At least nine times, Trump made illegal use of Trump Foundation money including paying personal debts, legal obligations and buying two paintings of himself; he also illegally solicited money (he recently stopped) and did not provide audited financial statements as required by state law.”

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27 minutes ago, merrill said:

American national leaders gain their legitimacy by competing in compliance with not merely the outward forms but the clear values of our Constitution—equal dignity, religious freedom and tolerance, open deliberation, and the rule of law.

 

These values don’t bind Donald Trump; norms of decency do not apply; he shrugs off the very burden of fact itself.

 

Like dictators of the Old World, he uses his mass media power to lie, to insult, to strip individuals of their dignity, to commit the grossest libels of religious and national groups, and to encourage persecution, torture, and public violence.

 

He actively campaigns against any notions of racial, religious, and sexual equality. He threatens those who oppose him with the unchecked power of the state.

 

He is, in other words, a figure out of authoritarian politics, not the American tradition; and a democratic constitution that empowers such a leader has misfired badly.

 

The decay that has set in among American democratic norms represent a political system so hardened in hatred that it has become unable to provide in orderly fashion for the nation’s finances, that permits legislative bodies to hobble the courts, that evades the vital questions of war and peace the Constitution was created to address, that hides in plain sight the growth of mass surveillance and toxic secrecy in government.

 

Never before in American history has the nation fought a “war” that lasted 15 years, much less one against an unnamed enemy who can never be located entirely or fully defeated.

 

The Constitution might be broken can it be fixed?

 

But I know this as well: Trump was elected President on November 8.

 

But he is not my president and he never will be.

Trump IS yer president...and yer daddy.

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9. A lifetime of hiding behind secret settlements when sued. Trump has been sued 4,500 times and has a history of dragging out cases until the other side quits, or reaching a settlement in which those suing are sworn to secrecy before getting paid. As Johnston told AlterNet after his book came out, “His skill at shutting down law enforcement investigations—I cite those four grand juries, etc.—is extraordinary. He knows when to run to the cops and rat out people, or tell them information that will help them. He knows how to use the court system to cover up what he’s done by making a settlement on the condition that the record be sealed. And he’s masterful at this.”

10. Doing business with other known criminals. Over his career, Trump has done business with people with serious criminal records. Some were involved in deals, like “a violent convicted felon and swindler, named Felix Sater, who was helping Trump make two major development deals in Denver” a decade ago, Johnston wrote. “Trump wildly overpaid two mob hitmen known as ‘The Young Executioners’ for a tiny plot of New Jersey land,” he said in another example.

 

Then there's convicted drug smuggler Joseph Weichselbaum, whose helicopter service flew gamblers to Trump’s New Jersey casino, a business relationship that put his casino license at risk. When Weichselbaum, who also lived at Trump Towers, faced additional charges, Trump wrote to the judge seeking leniency. After New Jersey regulators discovered the letter, which Trump initially denied writing, they investigated but did not “raise deeper issues about Trump’s fitness to hold a license,” Johnston wrote. More recently, he has also worked with “a convicted art thief…as well as the son of a Russian mob boss, a man with a violent history—and there’s a video to prove it.”

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26 minutes ago, NeoConvict said:

Investigation of Bidens unholy relationship with a corrupt Ukraine business would obviously be in the national interest. 

 

I have stated that this should be cleared up many times. Concerns of this matter were raised while he was Vice President. 

 

Of course tRump is no shining example as is noted above  .......

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