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May 21 2019

Profiles In Courage

I mean it both sardonically and sarcastically. The main difference between the two is sardonic is more strictly contemptuous and sarcasm has an admixture of irony.

I’ve told you I like The Magicians, right?

We have to work together and we have to do it now. This is going to sound weird, but just go with me. You’re going to hear music and we’re going to make sure that everybody knows the words but every single one of us is going to have to sing.

God I hate you.

Pressure: pushing down on me,
Pressing down on you, no man ask for.
Under pressure that burns a building down,
Splits a family in two,
Puts people on streets.

That’s OK.

That’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about.
Watching some good friends screaming,
“Let me out!”

Tomorrow gets me higher.
Pressure on people, people on streets.

OK.

Chippin’ around, kick my brains ’round the floor.
These are the days: it never rains but it pours.

People on streets.
People on streets.

It’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about.
Watching some good friends screaming,
“Let me out!”

Tomorrow gets me higher, higher, high!
Pressure on people, people on streets.

Turned away from it all like a blind man.
Sat on a fence, but it don’t work.
Keep coming up with love, but it’s so slashed and torn.

Why, why, why!?

Love, love, love, love, love.

Insanity laughs under pressure.
We’re breaking.

Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?

‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word,
And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night,
And love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.
This is our last dance.
This is our last dance.
This is ourselves.

Under pressure.
Under pressure.
Pressure.

Some in Pelosi’s leadership team rebel on impeachment, press her to begin an inquiry
By Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, Washington Post
May 20, 2019

Several members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team pressed her to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump in a series of Monday night meetings, according to multiple officials in the rooms — an effort the speaker rebuffed each time.

At least five members of Pelosi’s leadership team — four of whom also sit on the House Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over impeachment — pressed Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a closed-door leadership meeting to allow the panel to start an inquiry, which they argued would help investigators attain documents and testimony that Trump has blocked.

Several hours later, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler met with Pelosi as well and made the case to start the inquiry, he later told his panel member on a call.

Pelosi declined to endorse the idea both times, according to the officials either in or familiar with what happened in both meetings. She and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) argued that such an inquiry would undercut other House investigations — or that the idea was not supported by other members in the caucus.

Pelosi has long been an impeachment skeptic and tried to tamp down impeachment talk in her ranks as recently as last week by encouraging members to focus on their legislative agenda. But members of the House Judiciary panel appear to have had enough after the White House on Monday again blocked a key witness in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report from cooperating with their investigations.

“It’s a fact-finding process,” said Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) of the push to start an impeachment inquiry. Cicilline was one of the lawmakers who make the case to Pelosi in the meeting. “There’s no doubt that opening an inquiry strengthens the hand of Congress in forcing compliance with subpoenas, whether it’s for documents or individuals.”

The meeting marks the first time a chairman and top rank-and-file lawmakers — including members of Pelosi’s leadership team — have lobbied her to change her long-held position on impeachment. Judiciary Committee members for days have discussed how to move the speaker toward their thinking, but few have been willing to break with her publicly.

However, a core group of Judiciary Democrats plans to begin calling Tuesday for an impeachment inquiry if former White House counsel Donald McGahn does not show for subpoenaed testimony at 10 a.m., according to multiple sources familiar with the plan. The White House on Monday moved to block McGahn from showing up, arguing that he is exempt from testimony.

“We should be having the conversation about . . . how this will help us break through the stonewalling of the administration,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), a Judiciary Committee member, referring to an inquiry.

Deutch was not in the meeting but agreed with those who made the case to Pelosi on Monday night: “If the answer is, ‘No, you can’t talk to anyone, you can’t have anything, we’re simply not going to cooperate,’ then at that point the only avenue that we have left is the constitutional means to enforce the separation of powers, which is a serious discussion of impeachment.”

During the Monday night leadership meeting, Pelosi spoke about how Democrats’ messaging isn’t breaking through because everyone is talking about corruption, Mueller’s report and impeachment. She bemoaned the fact that last week the investigations were making page one news while the House’s passage of the Equality Act — a bill aimed at ensuring that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are not discriminated against — was on “Page 26.”

That’s when Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), chairman of a Judiciary subcommittee, jumped in to tell Pelosi that it amounted to a good case for launching an impeachment inquiry, according to people in the room who recounted the exchange. Raskin argued that such an inquiry would allow leadership to streamline and centralize all of the investigations into one — and let everyone else focus on the Democratic agenda items that won them the majority in 2018.

Pelosi and Hoyer retorted that the panel shouldn’t cut off other committee investigations, which they said are bearing fruit. Judiciary, after all, is not the only panel investigating Trump. Five others are as well, and an impeachment inquiry might undercut those probes, some think.

“You want to tell Elijah Cummings to go home?” Pelosi said, referring to the House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman.

Later, in a third leadership meeting where members again confronted Pelosi, she argued that the courts are coming to help Democrats.

“Today, we won our first case,” she said, referring to a federal judge’s move to uphold the Oversight Committee subpoena despite Trump’s objections. “We’ve been in this thing for almost five months, and now we’re getting some results . . . We still have unexhausted avenues here.”

During the leadership meeting, three other Judiciary Committee members — Cicilline, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and freshman Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) — backed Raskin. Neguse argued that the panel’s role in investigating Trump is being severely impeded by all the stonewalling.

At one point Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.), a fierce Pelosi defender and ally, grew angry and scolded the lawmakers that an impeachment inquiry would further distract from legislating. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (Ill.) — who has argued before that legislators should move on from impeachment talk — pushed back as well, noting that when the DCCC asked voters in focus groups what topics they cared about, Mueller’s inquiry ranked near the bottom.

It wasn’t just Judiciary Committee members making the push, however. When the top leaders said that voters don’t care about this issue, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) defended the group of Judiciary members. While she agreed that her constituents are more interested in matters like prescription drug prices, she argued that they elected representatives to come to Washington and take care of big problems. She said voters put trust in leaders that they will tell hard truths — including hard truths about Trump.

Pelosi’s office declined to comment.

Judiciary Committee members argue that there is a distinction between an impeachment inquiry and impeachment proceedings that require a vote. Lieu, in an interview, declined to comment on the meeting but said that an inquiry “could lead to nothing” — or it could lead to impeachment.

“That inquiry is also what happened during Watergate,” he said. “It’s not like the House Judiciary Committee just dropped articles of impeachment. There was an investigation that preceded it. This inquiry could lead to impeachment, or it could lead to nothing. But I think if McGahn doesn’t show, we have to at least start it.”

Pressure.

Justin Amash dismantles Barr’s and the GOP’s defenses of Trump
By Aaron Blake, Washington Post
May 20, 2019

Rep. Justin Amash’s statement that President Trump has met the threshold for impeachment was obviously a setback for Trump, given that there is now a congressional Republican saying Trump’s actions went too far. But it was also a stated rebuke of Attorney General William P. Barr and his actions in pre- and post-spinning the results of the Mueller report.

And after getting blowback from fellow Republicans — and a pro-Trump primary challenger in his Michigan district — Amash isn’t backing down. On Monday, he expanded on his case against Barr and those echoing Barr’s defense of Trump. In doing so, he raises some important points.

“In making this determination” that Trump would not be accused of obstructing justice, Barr wrote in his initial letter summarizing the principal conclusions of the Mueller report, “we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that ‘the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,’ and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction.”

Barr would also refer to the lack of an underlying crime in his news conference before the Mueller report was released and in his later congressional testimony. While perhaps not “determinative,” it’s clear he’s arguing that this is important.

But while Mueller decided there was not enough evidence to support an accusation of conspiring or coordinating with Russia, there are in fact underlying crimes that Trump clearly had an interest in obscuring, as evidenced by his campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s convictions and his personal lawyer/fixer’s convictions.

What’s more, as Barr conceded, the lack of an underlying crimes does not mean there can’t be obstruction. There can be other reasons you would obstruct an investigation, including that you are worried how the mere appearance of potential wrongdoing could hurt you politically — which Trump clearly had to be concerned about.

Another very important point. While Barr has emphasized that the White House cooperated extensively with the Mueller investigation, there were some areas in which the cooperation was less than complete. Trump didn’t submit to questioning, for instance, nor did his personal lawyers or Donald Trump Jr.

What’s more, when leaning on people to not testify truthfully (which Cohen has alluded to) or retaliating against people who run afoul of you (as Trump has done repeatedly), the point is to conceal potentially unhelpful evidence. The most successful obstruction means there will not be a provable underlying crime, because you were able to obscure it.

Barr has been careful to note that the lack of an underlying crime doesn’t mean there could be no obstruction, but his and others’ focus on this point has been curious, to say the least.

Amash lays waste to another argument against impeaching Trump. But unlike the others, this one actually isn’t so much about Barr. Instead, it’s about those who say Trump needs to be charged with a crime to be impeached. And it’s as much a rebuke to Trump’s defenders as some Democrats who have slow-walked the possibility of impeachment.

The first problem with this argument is that Mueller expressly didn’t rule out that Trump had committed a crime; instead he said it wasn’t his place to make that determination. And in fact, if you look closely at his report, there are five episodes that he seems to have found evidence to satisfy the three criteria for obstruction.

The second problem is that, as Amash notes, you don’t need an actual “crime” to impeach. Impeachment is an inherently political process that asks lawmakers to determine whether a president has violated a very undefined standard of misconduct in office. Bill Clinton was accused of several crimes by Kenneth Starr, and he was impeached but not convicted. Trump’s actions were problematic enough that Mueller determined he couldn’t clear him of obstruction, but even if none of that were criminal, it’s really up to Congress to decide.

So now you Profiles In Courage have your Edmund G. Ross.

Process stuff. Meta.