Nov 12 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. November 12, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for November 12: “Things To Do When Bored:
15 things to do at Wal-Mart while your spouse/significant other is taking
his/her sweet time
1. Get 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people’s carts when
they aren’t looking.
2. Set all the alarm clocks in housewares to go off at 5 minute intervals.
3. Make a trail of apple juice on the floor to the rest rooms.
4. Walk up to an employee and tell him/her in an official tone, ‘Code 3 in
housewares,’…and see what happens.
5. Go to the Service Desk and ask to put a bag of M&M’s on lay away.
6. Move a ‘CAUTION – WET FLOOR’ sign to a carpeted area.
7. Set up a tent in the camping department and tell other shoppers you’ll
only invite them in if they bring pillows from the bedding department.
8. When a clerk asks if they can help you, begin to cry and ask ‘Why can’t
you people just leave me alone?
9. Look right into the security camera and use it as a mirror while you
pick your nose.
10. While handling guns in the hunting department ask the clerk if he
knows where the antidepressants are.
11. Dart around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the theme from
‘Mission Impossible’.
12. In the auto department practice your Madonna look using different size
13. Hide in the clothing rack and when people browse through say ‘PICK ME!
PICK ME!!!!!!’
14. When an announcement comes over the loud speaker assume the fetal
position and scream ‘NO! NO! It’s those voices again’.
And last but not least,
15. Go into a fitting room and yell real loudly… ‘Hey! We’re out of toilet paper in here!’”

The Table of Contents
• Sham’ investigation of Bidens will not dominate impeachment hearings: House Democrat
• Explainer: What to expect from the televised Trump impeachment hearings this week
• Longtime GOP Rep. Pete King won’t seek reelection in New York
• The Impeachment Process Explained: What Happens to Trump Now
• The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
• Encyclopedia of American Loons

Sham’ investigation of Bidens will not dominate impeachment hearings: House Democrat
November 12, 2019
by Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump will not be allowed to become a venue for “sham investigations” into Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son, the head of a congressional committee leading the probe said on Tuesday.
Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, also said he would not allow a debunked conspiracy theory that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. election to derail the hearings.
The inquiry into whether Trump misused U.S. foreign policy by pressing Ukraine to target a domestic political foe of his will enter a critical phase on Wednesday when lawmakers hold their first public, televised hearings and begin to question witnesses.
The witnesses this week will be U.S. diplomats who voiced concern over Trump’s request of Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, on unspecified allegations of corruption.
Republicans are seeking to call as a witness the anonymous whistleblower who triggered the impeachment probe after a Trump phone call on July 25 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
They also want to question Hunter Biden in the hearings but Schiff’s comments suggested he would not allow the pair to appear. Schiff, as leader of the Democratic majority on the intelligence panel, controls which witnesses testify.
The inquiry and hearings “will not serve as venues for any Member to further the same sham investigations into the Bidens or into debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to undertake for his personal political benefit,” Schiff wrote in a memorandum to committee members.
The Democrat added that the panel would not “facilitate” any effort to threaten, intimidate or retaliate against the whistleblower, a U.S. intelligence official.
Trump’s request to Zelenskiy in the July phone call to investigate Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and his son is at the heart of the inquiry into whether the president abused his power for his own personal political gain.
The investigation, formally launched six weeks ago by Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, has shadowed Trump’s presidency with the threat that he could be removed from office even as he seeks re-election next year.
He is the fourth U.S. president to face impeachment. None were removed from office, although Richard Nixon resigned as he faced almost certain impeachment in 1974 over the Watergate scandal.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and branded the investigation a hoax. In a tweet on Tuesday, he said that the Bidens should be called to testify in the impeachment probe. Biden has denied any wrongdoing related to Ukraine by him or his son.
The president also suggested on Tuesday that he would likely release the transcript of an April 12 conversation with Zelenskiy “before week’s end” but gave no other details.
The transcript is from a call with Zelenskiy after the Ukrainian was elected president but before he took office. The White House did not release a summary of the call — known as a readout — when it took place seven months ago.
Congressional Republicans on the House panels conducting the impeachment inquiry, in a memo to party leaders reviewed by Reuters, said that weeks of closed-door testimony have not established that Trump committed an impeachable offense.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by Patricia Zengerle and Paul Simao; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Alistair Bell

Explainer: What to expect from the televised Trump impeachment hearings this week
November 12, 2019
by Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Democrats launch the public phase of their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump this week, with open, televised hearings set for Wednesday and Friday in the House of Representatives.
Since launching their inquiry on Sept. 24 into allegations that Trump abused his office for personal political gain, lawmakers in the Democratic-run House of Representatives have been holding hearings with current and former officials behind closed doors. Now they are taking their case for impeachment to the American public.
Here is what to expect from the hearings:
Democrats want to build a strong public case that Trump abused his presidential powers by pressuring Ukraine to launch corruption investigations involving the son of Joe Biden, the former vice president who is vying to be the Democratic nominee to run against Trump in the 2020 presidential elections. Democrats want the broadest possible public support should they choose to formally impeach Trump, which could happen by December. Any trial would take place in the Senate, which is controlled by Trump’s Republican Party.
Televised hearings will “be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff has said.
Democrats want to present evidence that Trump’s officials delayed security aid to Kiev and, with the help of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, used the lure of a possible White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to try to get Ukrainian compliance with Trump’s demands.
Trump has denied doing anything wrong.
Democrats have invited three diplomats who have previously testified behind closed doors to recount what they knew or heard about Trump and Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine. These witnesses will be questioned by committee staff attorneys as well as lawmakers including Schiff and the senior Republican on the committee, Devin Nunes.
The Democrats will ask the diplomats to discuss their understanding of events before and after a July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy. According to a rough White House transcript of that call, the president pressed Zelenskiy to investigate an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory involving the 2016 election and a Democratic Party computer server, as well as a Ukrainian energy company in which Hunter Biden had been a board member.
Democrats are also expected to try to use the hearings to show Trump obstructed Congress – the basis of another possible article of impeachment – by detailing how he has blocked some witnesses from appearing and otherwise refused to cooperate with their probe. The White House has called the inquiry partisan and illegitimate as a basis for not cooperating.
Trump has complained bitterly on Twitter that the process does not allow him to be represented in the intelligence committee. “I get NO LAWYER & NO DUE PROCESS,” he wrote in one tweet.
However, Trump and/or his lawyer would be allowed to attend later hearings before the House Judiciary Committee, which will debate what, if any, articles of impeachment should be filed and sent to the floor for a vote.
The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, is considered a critical witness to the case against Trump. Taylor was upset to find out that security aid to Ukraine, as well as a White House meeting between Trump and Zelenskiy, had been delayed for political reasons.
“It’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor wrote earlier this year in a text message released by House investigators.
Another senior U.S. diplomat, George Kent, will appear with Taylor at Wednesday’s hearing. Kent said in closed-door testimony that he had been alarmed by efforts by Giuliani and others to pressure Ukraine to accede to Trump’s demands.
Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify on Friday. She has said she was ousted from her post after she came under attack by Giuliani, whose associates “may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”
The Democrats also could call additional witnesses.
Republicans have requested their own witnesses, including Biden’s son and the whistleblower whose complaint triggered the impeachment inquiry into Trump. Democrats can veto Republicans’ witnesses and Schiff suggested he may do so, saying he did not want the hearings to become an investigation of the Bidens or to facilitate retaliation against the whistleblower.
Republicans have painted the Democratic-led inquiry as a partisan exercise, with Nunes saying the Democrats were pursuing a “sham impeachment process” that has mistreated Trump. They will seek to provide a different narrative for the millions of Americans expected to watch the hearings, minimizing Trump’s role in events and attempting to cast doubt on witness testimony.
Republicans said on Friday Representative Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most aggressive and tenacious defenders, would move to the intelligence committee for the public hearings phase of the inquiry.
Republicans are already attacking the Democratic witnesses, saying that Yovanovitch’s recall as ambassador was a side issue, and that other witnesses’ knowledge of key events was largely third-hand.
“He (William Taylor) is admitting that he had no first-hand or second-hand knowledge of any of the developments,” one Republican party official told Reuters. “Yet Democrats are presenting him as their star witness for this whole endeavor to impeach the president.”
Republicans can also be expected to argue that Ukrainian officials did not feel pressured because they did not even know the $391 million in security aid had been held up at the time Trump asked them last July for a “favor.” They have also emphasized that the Ukrainians never announced the investigations Trump wanted, and that Zelenskiy said he did not feel “pushed” by Trump.
Some Republicans may also follow the lead of Republican Representative Michael Turner, a member of the intelligence committee who said in September that Trump’s telephone conversation with Zelenskiy was “not OK,” but impeachment would be an “assault” on the electorate.
Reporting by Susan Cornwell; additional reporting by Richard Cowan, David Morgan, and Mark Hosenball; editing by Ross Colvin, Bill Berkrot and Tom Brown

Longtime GOP Rep. Pete King won’t seek reelection in New York
November 11, 2019
by Kyle Balluck
The Hill
Longtime Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said Monday that he will not seek reelection, becoming the latest in a long line of GOP lawmakers to announce their retirement before the 2020 elections.
King said in a statement on Facebook that “after 28 years of spending 4 days a week in Washington, D.C., it is time to end the weekly commute and be home in Seaford.”
This was not an easy decision. But there is a season for everything and Rosemary and I decided that, especially since we are both in good health, it is time to have the flexibility to spend more time with our children and grandchildren,” King said.
“My daughter’s recent move to North Carolina certainly accelerated my thinking,” he added. His daughter, former Hempstead Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, resigned from office earlier this year and was replaced by another Republican in last week’s election.
King, 75, serves on the House Homeland Security and Financial Services committees. He was chairman of the Homeland Security Committee from 2005 to 2006 and again from 2011 to 2012
A wave of House GOP retirements is creating headaches for party leaders and suggesting Republicans see little chance of winning back the chamber in 2020 after losing it last year.
So far, almost two dozen Republicans have announced this cycle that they are retiring from the lower chamber, resigning or running for other offices.
A handful of those departing lawmakers would have faced tough reelections in competitive districts, but a vast majority occupy safely conservative seats.
King, currently in his 14th term, endorsed President Trump in 2016, the same year the congressman was reelected by a margin of more than 24 percentage points over his Democratic challenger.
But in 2018, when Democrats across the country flipped GOP seats, King faced a stronger challenge from his Democratic opponent Liuba Grechen Shirley. Shirley, who lost by approximately 6 percentage points to the longtime incumbent, said in a statement on Monday that she is “seriously considering” another run for Congress.
Before King’s retirement, the Cook Political Report had rated New York’s 2nd Congressional District as “lean Republican” in the 2020 election. Trump won King’s district by 9 points in 2016 while President Obama won it by more than four points in 2012.
In February, King was among the GOP lawmakers on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) “retirements to watch list” of potential targets ahead of the 2020 election cycle.
“Republicans know their toxic health care repeal agenda and wholesale embrace of President Trump’s recklessness will guarantee they remain in the minority for years to come. Congressman Peter King’s retirement, from a heavily suburban Long Island district, underlines just how serious Republicans’ problems are in swing districts across this country,” Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the chairwoman of the DCCC, said in a statement on Monday.
“New York’s 2nd Congressional District has been a pickup target of ours from day one of this cycle, and we will compete to win it in 2020,” she added.
Democrat Jackie Gordon, who was challenging King in New York’s second district, thanked the congressman in a tweet for his years of service, adding that she sees a “desperate need” for new leadership that will do more for constituents.
The House Republicans’ campaign arm, meanwhile, called King a “political institution” in a tweet. The National Republican Congressional Committee added that his seat will remain in the GOP’s hands “thanks in no small part to the insane socialist agenda of Democrats in both Washington and Albany.”

The Impeachment Process Explained: What Happens to Trump Now?
by Ed Kilgore
November 11, 2019
New York Magazine
After President Trump’s Ukraine scandal drove a new wave of Democrats toward impeachment, on September 24 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally announced that the House would launch a formal impeachment inquiry. It was obviously a huge step, but there’s still much confusion about what exactly presidential impeachment means, how the process works, and what consequences Trump is likely to face. Since it’s only happened twice in U.S. history (to Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, with Richard Nixon avoiding a near-certain impeachment by resigning), it’s not the sort of thing you get a lot of detail on in high-school American history classes. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Impeachment?
Impeachment is to official misconduct what an indictment is to crime: a statement of charges leading to a trial. The procedure for congressional impeachment of Executive branch officials (including but not limited to the president) was spelled out in some detail in the U.S. Constitution, as the official House of Representatives history observes:
Impeachment comes from British constitutional history. The process evolved from the 14th century as a way for parliament to hold the king’s ministers accountable for their public actions. Impeachment, as Alexander Hamilton of New York explained in Federalist 65, varies from civil or criminal courts in that it strictly involves the “misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” Individual state constitutions had provided for impeachment for “maladministration” or “corruption” before the U.S. Constitution was written. And the founders, fearing the potential for abuse of executive power, considered impeachment so important that they made it part of the Constitution even before they defined the contours of the presidency.
Impeachment is not, to be clear, the removal of corrupt presidents or other officials, but simply the adoption of charges by the House, triggering a trial in the Senate. So Johnson and Clinton were impeached, as the House passed articles of impeachment against them; though they were subsequently acquitted by the Senate, the term still applies. The Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate to consummate an impeachment with removal from office, but the document is otherwise silent about procedures.
What Are Grounds for Impeaching a President?
Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution specifically mentions “treason” and “bribery” as grounds for impeachment, but it also stipulates that “other High Crimes and Misdemeanors” are sufficient. It’s important to understand that when the Constitution was adopted, the term “misdemeanors” had not assumed its later meaning as a type of criminal offense. According to the most common interpretation of this language, impeachment does not require the allegation of a crime, but simply some grave act or pattern of misconduct deemed by Congress as necessitating this radical remedy.
Under House rules and long-standing practice, the House lays out the grounds for impeachment, then holds a simple majority vote. If the articles of impeachment are approved, they’re then presented to the Senate for further action.
In 1868, the House approved 11 articles of impeachment against President Johnson, mostly revolving around his defiance of the (quite possibly unconstitutional) Tenure of Office Act, which restricted the president’s power to dismiss Cabinet members (the underlying “offense” was clearly Johnson’s efforts to obstruct congressional Reconstruction of the former Confederate States).
In 1998, the House approved just two articles of impeachment against Clinton: one alleged that he committed perjury in grand jury testimony when questioned about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky, and the second alleged obstruction of justice to hide evidence in that case. It was a highly legalistic argument, which helped buttress the false public impression that without “crimes” there can be no impeachment.
How Does Impeachment Begin?
This has been perhaps the most confusing aspect of the current debate over impeaching Trump. In past presidential impeachments, the House has formally voted to authorize the Judiciary Committee to initiate impeachment proceedings. But this step has been skipped on occasion in the impeachment of judges, and it’s entirely the product of custom and internal House rules (themselves interpreted and controlled by the House majority at a given time).
After the Mueller Report was released and the special counsel himself had finally testified before Congress, House Democrats were deeply divided on whether to “initiate” impeachment proceedings, with Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler voicing reluctance to go in that direction. Then, in what was either a clever or devious maneuver, depending on your point of view, Nadler let it be known in early August that his committee was already engaged in an impeachment “inquiry,” as CNN explained at the time:
The House Judiciary Committee is now engaged in a full-blown investigation and legal fight with the goal of deciding whether to recommend articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump by the end of the year, according to Democratic officials involved in the effort …
As additional House Democrats continue to call for the House Judiciary Committee to launch an impeachment inquiry — which more than half the caucus now supports — Democratic sources say the issue is essentially moot since what the panel is doing is basically that: investigating whether Trump should be impeached.
As I noted at the time, “According to this interpretation of the situation, there’s no need to ‘launch’ anything, or to put House Democrats on the spot with some vote to begin ‘proceedings’ that are already underway.” House Republicans might (and did) complain that a vital step had been left out, but there wasn’t much they could do about it.
But what had looked like a successful effort to postpone any House vote until actual articles of impeachment were considered unraveled under the pressure of Trump’s scofflaw behavior – specifically, the Ukraine scandal and rising House Democratic sentiment favoring a more aggressive posture. While Pelosi’s announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry implicitly endorsed Nadler’s claim that ongoing House investigations are an impeachment probe, she subsequently made it clear the House could return to its old procedures and formally authorize such proceedings. And that’s what they ultimately decided to do during the week of October 28, in part to rebut Republican claims that the inquiry was “illegal,” and partly to lay out procedures for the six House committees currently investigating the president’s conduct.
There’s been further confusion about the scope of the impeachment inquiry. During her September 26 press conference (the first she held after announcing the inquiry), Pelosi suggested a phased operation, as I explained:
… Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clearer than before that the impeachment inquiry she announced yesterday would — for now, at least — focus exclusively on the president’s dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Indeed, she indicated that the House Intelligence Committee would have the primary responsibility for uncovering the facts that might or might not justify actual articles of impeachment (she was adamant that no decision had been made on the ultimate outcome of the “inquiry”).
So for the time being, Jerrold Nadler’s Judiciary Committee (normally the focal point of impeachment proceedings) will be on hold, except for its ongoing investigations of the president and his administration.
That could change later, if, as appears very likely, House Democrats do decide to pursue articles of impeachment.
Pelosi did hold open the possibility that previous examples of the president’s “lawlessness” could be the subject of impeachment articles if the House went in that direction, as many of those who supported impeachment before the Ukraine scandal broke into public view are insisting upon. But she seemed determined to convey a belief that the public would see Trump’s behavior in the Ukraine incident as reflecting a “different level of lawlessness,” just as she did in “crossing the Rubicon” from opposition to impeachment proceedings to support for them.
There are indications that Pelosi has asked other committees that have been investigating Trump or his administration to put together materials supporting articles of impeachment that could be considered by the Judiciary Committee once the Ukraine investigation is complete.
How Long Do Impeachment Hearings Last?
Some Democrats resisting impeachment fear that it’s too late, or too deeply into the 2020 presidential election cycle, to begin impeachment hearings. Some point to the terrible performance of House Republicans in the 1998 midterms, which were overshadowed by impeachment talk (Clinton’s impeachment was opposed by a majority of Americans, much as polls suggest the public opposes the impeachment of Trump today).
Another consequence of the hazy rules governing the steps leading up to impeachment is that there’s no clear expectation about the duration or depth of impeachment hearings. As Vox’s Andrew Prokop has pointed out, the two most recent precedents point in very different directions:
The Nixon inquiry was an intensive, lengthy investigative effort that proceeded alongside the special prosecutor’s continuing grand jury investigation into the Watergate break-in and cover-up and a Senate select committee inquiry into the matter. The House Judiciary Committee opened it in October 1973 (after the Saturday Night Massacre), the House voted to back it in February 1974, and it lasted until July 1974. Major new revelations about the scandal kept breaking throughout that period, and eventually, the committee got to review secret information from the grand jury probe.
The Clinton inquiry, meanwhile, was essentially just a decision about whether to impeach the president based on the findings of independent counsel Ken Starr’s report (which alleged Clinton committed perjury and obstruction of justice to try to cover up his affair with Monica Lewinsky). That impeachment inquiry was officially opened in the Judiciary Committee after votes by the committee and then the whole House in October 1998. The committee held a few weeks of hearings and heard witness testimony (including from Starr), but it wasn’t really a new investigation, and it was over by mid-December.
It appears House Democrats are trying to balance the need for relatively simple and expeditious proceedings with concerns that they might appear to be “rushing to judgment.
On the other hand, you could see the pace dictated by public opinion, with Pelosi in particular looking for evidence that the hearings were softening independent and even Republican opposition to impeachment. Certainly public opinion has been moving slowly but steadily in the pro-impeachment direction.
How Does the House Vote on Impeachment Itself?
Under all precedents, the Judiciary Committee will debate and vote upon each proposed article of impeachment, and if any are approved (and of course there would be no committee vote unless success was assured), they are reported to the full House for debate and a conclusive vote for impeachment.
Typically, the party pushing impeachment will favor a tight set of resolutions that revolve around a clear pattern of malfeasance, and that might even attract members of the president’s party (or at least some of his supporters).
In July of 1974, the House Judiciary Committee approved three of five proposed articles impeaching Nixon. The first to draw a vote, alleging presidential obstruction of justice, attracted six of the committee’s 17 Republicans. Though two other articles were subsequently reported, one was sufficient for impeachment and a Senate trial, so the committee vote led directly to Nixon’s resignation before the House could formally impeach him.
In Clinton’s case, the Judiciary Committee approved four articles of impeachment, with committee Democrats voting en bloc against all of them. Enough Republicans defected on the House floor to defeat two of these articles, and only five Democrats voted for the crucial article impeaching Clinton for lying under oath to a federal grand jury about his relationship to Lewinsky.
If a President Is Impeached, Does the Senate Have to Hold a Trial?
Most experts believe the provisions made for an impeachment trial in both the Constitution and in Senate rules mean some sort of proceedings are obligatory. But then we are talking about Mitch McConnell being in charge, and even if you think he is required to hold a trial, who is going to enforce that requirement? The courts are likely to stay away from a conflict as a “political question.”
But McConnell has publicly talked about holding impeachment trials as though it’s not a real question, most recently describing it as obligatory.
You’d also have to figure Republicans will want some deliberations, however superficial, so they can claim Trump has been exonerated.
The Constitution itself doesn’t say much about Senate impeachment trials of a president, other than requiring a two-thirds vote for removal from office, and stipulating that the Chief Justice of the United States will preside over the trial (presumably to remove the conflict of interest presented if the default presiding officer of the Senate, the vice president, oversaw a trial that could result in elevation to the presidency).
There are not, however, constitutional or Senate provisions requiring a trial of any particular length or depth. Here is my explanation of the relevant provisions governing impeachment trials for presidents:
Regardless of how it begins or ends, the trial itself is governed by standing Senate rules, last modified in 1986. They are largely based on precedents set in the Andrew Johnson trial. The basic idea is that articles of impeachment are presented to the Senate by House impeachment managers, and are then disputed by counsel for the president, with senators observing but not becoming directly involved (other than by written questions submitted to one or both of the parties). Witnesses are called and cross-examined according to protocols and timelines adopted by the Senate just before the trial begins on a majority vote.
According to precedent, senators act like jurors, making no public statements on the proceeding until after their votes are cast (in the Clinton case, senators spoke before the vote in a closed-door session, with their remarks published in the Congressional Record after the vote). But there is no actual “gag order” on Senators prior to the trial itself, so when you hear some of them refusing to comment on the House impeachment inquiry or the underlying issues “because I may be a juror,” that’s not really true, though it does serve as a convenient excuse to dodge tricky questions.
The length of an impeachment trial is another highly variable issue. The Johnson impeachment trial in 1868 lasted from March 5 until May 16, when the Senate’s first crucial “test vote” on a catch-all article of impeachment failed by one vote. Ten days later the Senate voted predictably to acquit on two other articles, and subsequently voted for general acquittal and adjournment.
Clinton’s impeachment trial was more hurried: It began on January 7, 1999, when presiding officer Chief Justice William Rehnquist was sworn in, and ended on February 12, with Clinton’s easy acquittal on both articles (45 senators, all Republicans, voted for his guilt on the perjury article, with ten Republicans defecting; and 50 senators vote for the obstruction article, with five Republicans defecting).
Regardless of what senators initially contemplate, there is a way under the Senate rules to expedite the trial via a “motion to dismiss” the charges against the president, which can be passed by a simple majority. Senate Democrats tried this two weeks into the Clinton impeachment trial, but it failed on a party-line vote (Republicans were in the majority). It’s possible McConnell could revive this tactic in order to curtail the trial and express partisan contempt for the whole show.
What Are the Odds the Senate Would Vote to Convict Trump and Remove Him From Office?
As indicated above, the odds of Trump being removed via impeachment current range from “slim” to “none.” It would take only 34 of 54 Senate Republicans to acquit Trump, and the idea that 20 senators from a party dominated by this president like a Bronze Age warlord would defy the MAGA base and try to defenestrate him on the brink of an epochal presidential election is not terribly credible. And that’s true no matter what the House inquiry uncovers, or what journalists dig up, or what the president himself admits in one of his moments when his belief in his own invincibility overcomes all good judgment (“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters,” he famously boasted). Perhaps there is a theoretical set of events that could rapidly erode Trump’s partisan invincibility the way Watergate gradually eroded Nixon’s, and comments from the occasional Senate renegade like Mitt Romney will keep that hope alive. But it’s still a very long shot.
50 of 53 Republican senators have signed onto Lindsey Graham’s resolution condemning the House impeachment inquiry, with perpetual swing senators Collins (who is also in a tough reelection cycle) and Murkowski joining Romney as a hold-out. That’s probably the best indication of how far we are from 20 Republican senators agreeing to toss Trump over the side.
So How Is This All Likely to End?
Assuming Trump is impeached and then acquitted, this saga will conclude with the 2020 presidential election, and with Trump’s ejection from office or his triumphal reelection. It’s possible, of course, that whether or not the current impeachment drive goes anywhere, a second-term Trump could get himself impeached (indeed, some Democratic opponents of impeaching Trump now think this option should be saved for later, when his conduct would undoubtedly become far worse). But most likely his impeachment, or even impeachment hearings, will reinforce the sense that the 2020 election is a high-stakes referendum on the sprawling corruption, norm-breaking, and racist and sexist attitudes of the 45th president.
It’s the possible impact of impeachment on Trump’s reelection that has caused so many arguments among Democrats (mostly in Washington, since rank-and-file Democrats have been trending pro-impeachment for some time). Best we can tell from polls, the public is not making any sort of fine distinctions between “initiating impeachment proceedings” or impeaching Trump or removing him from office. Once Democrats head decisively down that road they may as well follow it until its logical end. Some sincerely believe impeachment will hurt Trump in 2020 by focusing public attention on his misconduct and conveying a clear sense of Democratic purpose in holding him and his corrupt hirelings accountable (or conversely, that failing to impeach Trump will depress Democratic “base” enthusiasm). Others (most clearly presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren) argue that it’s a constitutional or moral duty even if it helps produce the horror of a second Trump term.
Any way you look at it, the implications of what House Democrats now decide to do could be momentous yet hard to adjudge until the ultimate deal goes down.

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
November 12, 2019
by Dr. Peter Janney
On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.
Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.
Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.
After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.
The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.
When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..
A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.
The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.
Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”
Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.
Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.

Conversation No. 46
Date: Saturday, November 16, 1996
Commenced: 9:48 AM CST
Concluded: 10:25 AM CST

RTC: Hello, Gregory. Are you getting ready to assault the turkey?
GD: Oh, no doubt. One of the few childhood practices remaining. I gave up Christmas some time ago. I haven’t sent a card out in years and last year, I got two. Times change, don’t they?
RTC: They do indeed. Christmas used to be a sort of magic time for children but now all it’s become is a chance to sell junk to frantic people.
GD: I’ve been working up the ZIPPER material and I must say, what surprises me is the extent of the plot. Half of Washington was in on it.
RTC: Actually, they weren’t. A handful of our top people, Hoover and one or two of his very close aides, a military representative here and there.
GD: The Russian report…do you have this? I can’t read Russian but I have friends who do.
RTC: No, I do not.
GD: This Driscoll fellow. Do you know him?
RTC: I did. He’s dead now. Was a specialist on the Warsaw Pact people and since I am a specialist on Russia and Russian intelligence, we met on several occasions. That’s why I got a copy of the report. Driscoll knew nothing about ZIPPER or at least my part in it.
GD: This might be a hard sell. I have tremendous competition from the nut fringe. They will rise up and smite me hip and thigh because I haven’t included their pet theories.
RTC: But that’s to be expected. We have a good in with them. At this point, there is little danger of embarrassing facts getting out but we kept our hand in. The Farrell woman is one of ours and she is a strong influence over the nutties.
GD: To accept this might be a problem.
RTC: Gregory, if you knew a half of what was actually planned, you would see that the ZIPPER business was nothing, just nothing. All right, for example, there are some interesting matters for you. I just happen to be in an expansive mood today so I can run a few of the more wild ones past you. There was the Army plan to start bubonic plague in Soviet military units in the east zone of Germany to prevent an invasion of the west. We had a German military specialist working for us on that, plus, of course, many USAF people down in San Antonio. Never went anywhere. Then…by the way, do you know why Truman really sacked MacArthur?
GD: He was defying Truman as I recall.
RTC: Yes but it was his intention to infect the Chinese and North Korean armies with the plague as well. I told you MacArthur had set the Kempeitai Doctor Ishi up in Tokyo in a chemical and medical lab, didn’t I?
GD: Yes, you did.
RTC: Well, when the war in Korea broke out and we were in serious retreat, MacArthur wanted to nuke them. We didn’t have a hell of a lot of such weapons but he was serious. Truman said no, so Mac decided to, as he said, ‘radically reduce their effective troop levels.’ For this, read the plague. I don’t know how this got back to Truman but a project like that is really hard to conceal and Mac took too long messing over the logistics of it. When Harry found out about this, he blew his top and sacked MacArthur on the spot. Mac was crazy, of course, but was such an idol here that Truman got reamed on this but it really had to be done. We hanged German and Japanese leaders after the war for far less, believe me. And then there was the Army plan to fake attacks on American soil, blame Castro and then attack him. On that project, which included blowing up a commercial aircraft with Americans on board and setting off bombs in major cities, Eisenhower was in full support. Kennedy found out about it by accident and pulled the plug. That wasn’t one of ours, by the way, and neither were the plague attacks. We were working on plans to destroy the Asian rice crop but that one was quietly put into the closet when too many people found out about it and our rice industry howled that it could easily spread over here and ruin their business. Not that they cared about the Chinese and others, just their own profits. This AIDS business was a legitimate project that got out of control but it was not planned at all. Of course, there were plans to instigate a war between the Soviet Union and China, but it proved to be too complicated and was dropped. One of our people read Malthus and went to Dulles with a plan to thin out the world’s population, after inoculating our citizens, or most of the non-colored ones. That is still in the active file somewhere. If you read of a national immunization day coming up, that will be a token sign.
GD: If the victims ever get wind of this, they might preempt you and start their own plagues and loose their own virus attackers. Müller told me that such actions were not only criminal and insane but would be bound for a certainty to come back on those who started it.
RTC: That’s the main reason why they never got started. Pragmatic, not moral.
GD: That sums it all up, doesn’t it?
RTC: In theory, Gregory, getting rid of the tired and huddled masses would not be impractical in the long view.
GD: In theory not, but I wouldn’t be happy with the practice.
RTC: We would lay the blame on some other enemy and let them worry about defending themselves.
GD: It’s one thing for your people to off the head of the UN or blow up an inconvenient head of state or two but starting plagues is nothing less than psychotic mass murder and I, for one, can’t think of any kind of an excuse for it, pragmatic or not.
RTC: You can always make such an argument, Gregory, and it is not unbecoming for you to do this but when you have been where I have been, these objections fade away very quickly. Well, enough science fiction for today. I am indeed looking forward to your visit and so is Bill.
GD: Question? Why is Kimmel sitting in?
RTC: He has his own agenda. In spite of all the assistance you have given him and his family, he still despises you. You see, Tom saw that Bill and I were doing well in the writing business and we had, and have, a certain reputation in the professions. He will probably retire and wants to find a safe berth when he does. He sees you as a potential threat and you do not treat him with the unalloyed respect that people like Tom demand as their birthright.
GD: I don’t consider myself to be any kind of a threat to him.
RTC: You exist, Gregory, and he views you as a loose cannon, his very words to Bill, and for people like Tom, a loose cannon can’t be controlled. I don’t care what positive things you’ve done for him and his family. In the final cut, you are a potential intellectual threat to him so he dislikes you. And be careful at lunch not to let fly with one of your terrible remarks. I understand them and most often agree with them, but Tom considers himself to be an establishment type and people like that don’t like people like you.
GD: My grandfather used to say that the reason some people could stand up without a spine is because their skin is so thick.
RTC:(Laughter) Ah, there you go again, Gregory. I would wager you’d say that right to Tom’s face, wouldn’t you?
GD: If I felt it was necessary.
RTC: He’d do the same thing, Gregory, but to your back, so at the table, watch yourself. Bill is neutral, but Tom is not a friend and keep that in mind all the time.
GD: Speaking of back-stabbing, have you seen my good friend Wolfe lately?
RTC: No, I haven’t been over to the Archives lately so I have been spared his most unwelcome attentions. Now we can add Critchfield to your collection of loyal friends. Jim wants back that letter he sent you. The one you read to me. He thinks it might be misunderstood and wants me to try to get it out of you just to look at and then give it back to him. I told him I would try but of course that’s not my plan. If you would follow my advice, hide it in a safe place. It would bother me if you went out of town, say to come back here in December, and remember Kimmel knows the dates of your trip, and some burglar broke in and ran off with it and any other inconvenient and accusatory paperwork you might have lying around. Just a cautionary piece of advice from a friend.
GD: I appreciate it. I could leave a little surprise in a box marked ‘secret CIA documents,’ couldn’t I?
RTC: Now, now, Gregory, not on the phone.
GD: I’ll bet someone would make quite a report.
RTC: Probably hear it five miles away. Do let’s change the subject. How is the Müller book selling?
GD: Actually, I understand quite well. After it’s been out for about two years, I expect the usual run of paid rodents to start in squealing their objections to it. It will take that long for the rays of brilliant light to penetrate the Stygian gloom that packs their collective brain cases. I do hope they get nice checks for their pains. It beats public assistance or begging in railroad stations. Which, I suspect, is how most of these twits make their living.
RTC: I think most of them work in obscure community colleges in the wilds of Massachusetts or Ohio.
GD: Yes, and I’m told they eat once a day. A piece of salt pork on a long string which can be used over and over. I’ve heard about the dog returning to his own vomit but Robert, what happens when they are the vomit?
RTC: Now, now, and so close to Sunday and Thanksgiving. And what are you going to give thanks for, Gregory?
GD: The fact that almost all of my nasty relatives have passed away, Robert. It will be a matter of some satisfaction to me to have survived them all. When I feel my time is coming, I can travel around the country and urinate on their graves. At any rate, tenderly, tenderly Jesus is calling and my dog is making it very clear that she wants to go out and relieve herself on the neighbor’s flower beds, so let me beg off. And give my best to Emily, won’t you? You know, if I ever meet her face to face, I would be the soul of civility to her.
RTC: I would certainly hope so.

(Concluded at 10:25 AM CST)

Encyclopedia of American Loons
David E. Smith

The Illinois Family Institute, a state affiliate of the American Family Association, is, not surprisingly, an anti-marriage-equality organization and its executive director, David E. Smith, a fundamentalist bigot (Smith succeeded Peter LaBarbera in the position; Laurie Higgins is their director of school advocacy). The IFI is also a vociferous opponent of abortion, the separation of church and state, “activist judges”, gambling and drugs, and was correctly designated a hate group by the SPLC.
In spring 2013, when a law legalizing same-sex marriage was postponed by the Illinois legislature, Smith was ready to explain why: “The Body of Christ here in Illinois has risen up and has really made a noise and made a really concerted effort to make sure that our state lawmakers know without a doubt that we object to the idea of them redefining marriage,” Smith said: “They do not have the moral authority to redefine marriage as God created it.” This was not the reason for postponement. Moreover, neither Smith nor his fellows at the Illionis Family Institute have the power to raise zombie Jesus, even though they probably wouldn’t be prevented from doing so by alignment restrictions.
Later Smith sent out a fundraising appeal where he warned that if activists failed to stop marriage equality legislation in Illinois, “America will collapse” like Sodom and Gomorrah, and compared his fight against the “evil agenda” of gay rights to that of American soldiers in WW2: “We should be inspired to defend marriage with the same courage, conviction, tenacity, and sacrifice that the greatest generation fought to defend American principles and to honor their fallen. If we don’t stop the enemy from achieving his goal of destroying the family, there won’t be any monuments to visit.” Yes, it’s always the end of everything; only apostates would ask for evidence or reasons.
In 2012, IFI called for parents to remove their children from classrooms led by teachers who support LGBT-related instruction; in particular, in their document “Challenge Teachers, Not Books” they encouraged parents to “object to teachers rather than texts”, and offered suggestions for parents who are “fed up with the subtle and not so subtle messages that activist teachers of a liberal bent work into their classroom teaching through their classroom comments, curricular materials … and even their desks and classroom displays.” The IFI has also for a long time advocated teaching creationism in public schools, ostensibly as a way to present “both sides of an argument” (they aren’t really interested in both sides, even if there were two sides, which there aren’t), and have made recommendations to Illinois educators to keep explicit references to evolution out of public school classrooms in Illinois.
Diagnosis: Fundie loons, and though they have probably lost the war people like Smith are still trying their best to cause as much harm as possible. A real, if relatively minor, threat to civilization.

Jeffrey Schone

Martin Luther College (MLC) is a religious institution (the college of ministry for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) in New Ulm, Minnesota, that pretends to offer something resembling “education”. It does not, of course – not even remotely. Instead, they profess creationism, teaches the Genesis story as a factual, historical account, and do their best to prevent their students from being exposed to pollution from reality, truth, science, evidence or similar tricks of Satan. In 2013, for instance, when a local group planned to put on the play “Inherit the Wind” MLC refused to allow them to use any of their facilities for practice, and also pressured the actors to drop out, because evolution is contrary to their teachings. Jeff Schone, vice president of student life at the MLC, made it absolutely clear to its students, WELS members and the public that creationism is the only option. He did admit that he recognized the subtext of the play (or something), but nevertheless said it was unfairly critical of creationism and that most people would only see the criticism. “We felt it was not compatible with what [the school] teaches the Bible says about the universe and the world,” said Schone. “People employing our students need confidence about their views.” In other words, that they prevent their students from being exposed to science, truth and accountability in research, is a selling point for the MLC.
Diagnosis: Deranged Taliban fundie. It may, however, scare us even more that there is a market for the people “educated” at this camp.

Jeff Schoep

The National Socialist Movement (NSM) is a Detroit-based neo-Nazi organization, and a part of the Nationalist Front. NSM refers to itself as a “white civil rights organization” but objects to being referred to as “racist” and “Neo-Nazi” in part because such descriptions of their goals are unflattering. The descriptionsare not what is wrong here – the group did for instance use the swastika as logo until 2016, and has stated that “When you put on your NSM uniform, you are not just representing the NSM but all National Socialists that fought and died for our Race and our Cause! You are showing the Jews and the rest of the world that our Führer is not forgotten and that his life’s struggle was not in vain!”. The aforementioned goals include a US inhabited only by those of “pure White blood” (Jewish people and homosexuals need not apply), and they demand that “all non-Whites currently residing in America be required to leave the nation forthwith and return to their land of origin: peacefully or by force” – according to their website “The Constitution was written by white men alone. Therefore, it was intended for whites alone.” Supporters include Randy Gray and Christian Identity pastor James Wickstrom.
Jeff Schoep was chairman of the group from 1994 to 2019. It was hence under Schoep’s tenure that the NSM for instance led the demonstration that sparked the 2005 Toledo riot and the rally that turned into the 2016 Sacramento riot – ostensibly “non-violent” NSM has a history of seeking out violence that distinguishes them from other expressedly non-violent groups. In November 2016, following the election of Donald Trump, the organization changed its logo from the swastika to an Odal rune, apparently eyeing an opportunity to enter mainstream politics. Apparently Schoep worked hard to unite “pro-white organizations”, though he also sought to distance his group from the KKK: “We’re both pro-white, but our politics are very different,” said Schoep, apparently because whereas the NSM is political, the Klan promotes religion. Anti-semitism is of course at the core of NSM’s conspiracy theories, and according to Schoep “illegal immigration from Latin America is driven by an international Jewish conspiracy whose leaders are plotting “the destruction of all races through the evils of race mixing.”
In 2019, Schoep was replaced as director and president of the NSM by James Hart Stern, a black activist vowing to eradicate the group. Apparently Schoep was responsible for the takeover because he wanted to leave the group due to the legal issues he was embroiled in (nothing suggests that Schoep has become noticeably less lunatic about the issues that constitute the core of NSM’s mission). Matthew Heimbach used to be the group’s community outreach director.
Diagnosis: Yeah, well …

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