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Mar 02 2019

Aaron Burr

In the notorious election of 1800 Aaron Burr rose to the highest position of trust he would ever hold in the United States Government, Vice President, thwarted only by Thomas Jefferson in his aspirations.

Publicly, Burr remained quiet, and refused to surrender the presidency to Jefferson, the great enemy of the Federalists. Rumors circulated that Burr and a faction of Federalists were encouraging Republican representatives to vote for him, blocking Jefferson’s election in the House. However, solid evidence of such a conspiracy was lacking and historians generally gave Burr the benefit of the doubt. In 2011, however, historian Thomas Baker discovered a previously unknown letter from William P. Van Ness to Edward Livingston, two leading Democratic-Republicans in New York. Van Ness was very close to Burr—serving as his second in the later duel with Hamilton. As a leading Democratic-Republican, Van Ness secretly supported the Federalist plan to elect Burr as president and tried to get Livingston to join. Livingston apparently agreed at first, then reversed himself. Baker argues that Burr probably supported the Van Ness plan: “There is a compelling pattern of circumstantial evidence, much of it newly discovered, that strongly suggests Aaron Burr did exactly that as part of a stealth campaign to compass the presidency for himself.” The attempt did not work, due partly to Livingston’s reversal, but more to Hamilton’s energetic opposition to Burr. Jefferson was elected president, and Burr vice president.

Nice guy. Makes Dick Cheney seem a piker. Later, he went on to do this-

After Burr left the Vice-Presidency at the end of his term in 1805, he journeyed to the Western frontier, areas west of the Allegheny Mountains and down the Ohio River Valley eventually reaching the lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Burr had leased 40,000 acres (16,000 ha) of land—known as the Bastrop Tract—along the Ouachita River, in Louisiana, from the Spanish government. Starting in Pittsburgh and then proceeding to Beaver, Pennsylvania, and Wheeling, Virginia, and onward he drummed up support for his plans.

His most important contact was General James Wilkinson, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army at New Orleans and Governor of the Louisiana Territory. Others included Harman Blennerhassett, who offered the use of his private island for training and outfitting Burr’s expedition. Wilkinson would later prove to be a bad choice.

Burr saw war with Spain as a distinct possibility. In case of a war declaration, Andrew Jackson stood ready to help Burr, who would be in position to immediately join in. Burr’s expedition of about eighty men carried modest arms for hunting, and no materiel was ever revealed, even when Blennerhassett Island was seized by Ohio militia. His “conspiracy”, he always avowed, was that if he settled there with a large group of (armed) “farmers” and war broke out, he would have an army with which to fight and claim land for himself, thus recouping his fortunes. However, the 1819 Adams–Onís Treaty secured Florida for the United States without a fight, and war in Texas did not occur until 1836, the year Burr died.

After a near-incident with Spanish forces at Natchitoches, Wilkinson decided he could best serve his conflicting interests by betraying Burr’s plans to President Jefferson and to his Spanish paymasters. Jefferson issued an order for Burr’s arrest, declaring him a traitor before any indictment. Burr read this in a newspaper in the Territory of Orleans on January 10, 1807. Jefferson’s warrant put Federal agents on his trail. Burr twice turned himself in to the Federal authorities. Two judges found his actions legal and released him.

Jefferson’s warrant, however, followed Burr, who fled toward Spanish Florida. He was intercepted at Wakefield, in Mississippi Territory (now in the state of Alabama), on February 19, 1807. He was confined to Fort Stoddert after being arrested on charges of treason.

Burr’s secret correspondence with Anthony Merry and the Marquis of Casa Yrujo, the British and Spanish ministers at Washington, was eventually revealed. He had tried to secure money and to conceal his true designs, which was to help Mexico overthrow Spanish power in the Southwest. Burr intended to found a dynasty in what would have become former Mexican territory. This was a misdemeanor, based on the Neutrality Act of 1794, which Congress passed to block filibuster expeditions against US neighbors, such as those of George Rogers Clark and William Blount. Jefferson, however, sought the highest charges against Burr.

In 1807, Burr was brought to trial on a charge of treason before the United States Circuit court at Richmond, Virginia. His defense lawyers included Edmund Randolph, John Wickham, Luther Martin, and Benjamin Gaines Botts. Burr had been arraigned four times for treason before a grand jury indicted him. The only physical evidence presented to the Grand Jury was Wilkinson’s so-called letter from Burr, which proposed the idea of stealing land in the Louisiana Purchase. During the Jury’s examination, the court discovered that the letter was written in Wilkinson’s own handwriting. He said he had made a copy because he had lost the original. The Grand Jury threw the letter out as evidence, and the news made a laughingstock of the general for the rest of the proceedings.

Umm… yeah. Pretty clearly treason though we were not technically in a State of War. I’ll tell you it takes a lot of slime to make Alexander Hamilton look sympathetic.

Anyway, Impeachment. Off the table according to Nancy but that position is harder and harder to hold. Tom Steyer on January 28th, 2019-

Dems feel growing pressure on impeachment
By Mike Lillis, The Hill
03/02/19

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has confronted the question since the earliest days of Trump’s White House tenure, hoping to discourage any talk of ousting the president so long as the effort remains strictly partisan.

But a group of liberals in her ranks have pressed on, introducing articles of impeachment while threatening additional floor votes on the legislation. And this week’s explosive testimony by Trump’s former personal attorney, who lodged a string of allegations that the president broke numerous laws before and since he took office, has only fueled the impeachment push — and complicated efforts by Democratic leaders to prevent debate over the volatile “I” word from cascading into an intraparty free-for-all.

Appearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Michael Cohen told lawmakers that Trump had a direct hand in distributing hush money payments to a porn star during the 2016 campaign — payments that would violate campaign finance laws — and also steered an unsuccessful effort to expand his business empire in Russia even as he was seeking the White House.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who introduced articles of impeachment in the last Congress, told The New York Times after the hearing that impeachment “is almost going to be impossible not to deal with.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), another impeachment supporter, told MSNBC that Congress has a constitutional responsibility to check Trump’s business dealings because “this is not going to be our last CEO” in the White House. And impeachment advocates off of Capitol Hill are pointing to Michael Cohen’s testimony as just the latest — and perhaps most damning — evidence that Trump is unfit for office.

“Do I think the hearing made a difference? One-hundred percent,” said Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmentalist who is spending millions of dollars on a grass-roots impeachment campaign. “Because we now have public evidence confirming what we’ve been saying about the president’s crimes, corruption and cover-ups. And now we’ve got it on the record in front of the American people.

“The question now is, what do you want to do about it?”

Pelosi, joined by other top Democrats, sought to put the brakes on the impeachment talk following the hearing, noting the “divisive” nature of the issue and arguing the need to see more evidence of presidential wrongdoing before taking a step as momentous as ousting the president.

“Let us see what the facts are, what the law is, and what the behavior is of the president,” she told reporters Thursday.

Umm… yeah. Let’s not wait for 212 years to make up our minds though.