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Impeachment: the new plan to stop Trump’s Presidency

Having failed to stop a Trump Presidency by getting electors in the Electoral College to switch, Trump’s opponents are already talking of using the Emoluments Clause in the US Constitution to impeach him.

Alexander Mercouris

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As predicted, the campaign against Donald Trump’s coming Presidency continues unabated, notwithstanding the failure of the attempt to persuade Republican electors in the Electoral College to switch their votes away from him.

The objective now is his impeachment, with the most cited reason being the so-called Emoluments Clause in Article 1 of the US Constitution.  This reads as follows

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

As is now becoming traditional, advocates of impeaching Trump under this clause also cite in their support The Federalist Papers, a series of articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting ratification of the US Constitution.  The article cited in this case is Federalist No.22, in which Alexander Hamilton wrote the following

One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption. An hereditary monarch, though often disposed to sacrifice his subjects to his ambition, has so great a personal interest in the government and in the external glory of the nation, that it is not easy for a foreign power to give him an equivalent for what he would sacrifice by treachery to the state. The world has accordingly been witness to few examples of this species of royal prostitution, though there have been abundant specimens of every other kind.

In republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community, by the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying their trust, which, to any but minds animated and guided by superior virtue, may appear to exceed the proportion of interest they have in the common stock, and to overbalance the obligations of duty.

This is supposed to the explain the reason for the Emoluments Clause, though it is nowhere referred to in Federalist No. 22, and though the Federalist Papers are anyway no more than journalistic essays, and are not part of the US Constitution.

That Donald Trump’s opponents are already talking about his impeachment even before he is inaugurated is completely unsurprising.  As a matter of fact I predicted it would happen before the election

If [the next President] is Donald Trump, then he will have to contend with the fact that he is the candidate Hillary Clinton, her campaign, most of the political establishment, nearly all the media, and the US intelligence community, have publicly claimed Russia is helping to win

How  in that case, if Trump does win, would he as President be able to command the respect and loyalty of the foreign policy bureaucracy, of the intelligence community, of the military, of the media, and of Congress, when they have all been told that he is the preferred candidate and quite possibly the agent of a foreign power?  Would they not see it as their duty to obstruct and disobey him at every turn, so as to stop him selling out the country to his foreign puppet-masters?

How does Trump contend with the insinuation, which will be hanging over his Presidency from the first day if he is elected, that it was only because of Russian help (right down to the hacking of voting machines) that he won, and that he is not therefore the true choice of the American people?  Would not Trump have to fear possible impeachment proceedings in the event that he made the smallest mistake, with many Americans feeling that any steps were justified to remove a President who they had been told was the agent of a hostile power?

(bold italics added)

Nor is it surprising that they have latched on to the Emoluments Clause.  Donald Trump is a very wealthy businessman with international connections.  Almost by definition that has involved him in commercial dealings in foreign states.  There continues to be a quiet drumbeat of allegations that his business was bailed out by Russian banks and that he has some mysterious business connection to Russia, which he is trying to conceal by withholding his tax returns.  The fact the FBI investigated this allegation before the election, and found it groundless, needless to say in no way prevents it being repeated.

For the record, though I am not a US constitutional lawyer, I don’t think the Emoluments Clause has any bearing on Donald Trump’s previous business activities or his connections, real or alleged, with foreign states or foreign businessmen or with Russia.

Its wording seems to me clearly intended to defeat bribery, in which a foreign state buys the services of a US official in return for a title or a fee.  This is incidentally the point made by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 22 in the following words, which directly follow his words which I have quoted above, but which advocates of using the Emolument Clause to impeach Donald Trump who cite Federalist No. 22 seem to overlook

Hence it is that history furnishes us with so many mortifying examples of the prevalency of foreign corruption in republican governments. How much this contributed to the ruin of the ancient commonwealths has been already delineated. It is well known that the deputies of the United Provinces have, in various instances, been purchased by the emissaries of the neighboring kingdoms. The Earl of Chesterfield (if my memory serves me right), in a letter to his court, intimates that his success in an important negotiation must depend on his obtaining a major’s commission for one of those deputies. And in Sweden the parties were alternately bought by France and England in so barefaced and notorious a manner that it excited universal disgust in the nation, and was a principal cause that the most limited monarch in Europe, in a single day, without tumult, violence, or opposition, became one of the most absolute and uncontrolled.

There is a fundamental difference between money transferred as a result of bona fide business transactions – which is all that Donald Trump seems to have been engaged in – and money paid as a bribe in return for a favour from a present or prospective office holder.  If anything the payments made to the Clinton Foundation by various foreign citizens and governments look far more like bribes than any of the payments Donald Trump is known to have received.

None of this of course is what the talk of impeachment in really about.  Wealthy men with international connections have been Presidents of the United States before without anyone suggesting that the Emoluments Clause applied to them.  The true reason there is already talk of impeaching Trump before he is even inaugurated is because a dangerously large proportion of the US political elite refuses to admit his legitimacy despite the fact he was lawfully and constitutionally elected, and the Emoluments Clause is simply the most convenient tool to hand.

In the short term attempts to impeach Donald Trump face a probably insurmountable obstacle in the form of House of Representatives, in which the Republicans have a majority.  It beggars belief that an impeachment bill will pass the House of Representatives against a Republican President who has just been elected.

However not all Republicans support or are sympathetic to Trump.  On the contrary, there is a solid block of Republicans who dislike him intensely.  Though Trump seems to have more support amongst Republicans in the House of Representatives than he does in the Senate, should things turn difficult there is no certain guarantee that all the Republicans in the House of Representatives will stand by him.

There is to my knowledge no precedent for talk of impeaching a newly elected President before he is inaugurated.  Many Democrats point rightly to the implacable hostility shown to Democratic Presidents like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama by the Republican Party.  However in neither case did the Republicans dispute the legitimacy of their election, attempt to lobby Democratic electors in the Electoral College to get them to change their votes, or talk of bringing impeachment proceedings before Bill Clinton or Barack Obama had even been inaugurated.

Donald Trump is going to require exceptional political skill if the four years are not going to be crisis ridden and extremely rocky.

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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Five Saudis Face Death Penalty Over Khashoggi Killing; Crown Prince Cleared

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime.”

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Via Zerohedge


Saudi Arabia public prosecutor Sheikh Shaalan al-Shaalan said on Thursday that the kingdom will seek the death penalty for five suspects among the 11 charged in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, confirming suspicions that members of the murder squad purportedly sent to “interrogate” Khashoggi will now themselves face beheadings as the Saudi Royal Family closes ranks around the Crown Prince, per the FT.

As for Mohammed bin Salman who runs the day to day affairs of the world’s top oil exporter and is the de facto head of OPEC, the prosecutor said had “no knowledge” of the mission, effectively absolving him of any domestic suspicion, if not international.

The charges were handed down after the kingdom dismissed five senior intelligence officers and arrested 18 Saudi nationals in connection with Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Saudi insider-turned-dissident journalist disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents that would have allowed him to marry his fiance. Khashoggi was a legal resident of Virginia.

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime,” according to CNN.

The prosecutor said that the former Saudi deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri, ordered a mission to force Khashoggi to go back to Saudi Arabia and formed a team of 15 people.

They were divided into three groups, the Saudi Public Prosecutor said: a negotiation team, an intelligence team and a logistical team.

It was the head of the negotiating team who ordered the killing of Khashoggi, the prosecutor said.

The Saudis stuck by latest (ever changing) narrative that the Washington Post columnist was killed after a mission to abduct him went awry. The deputy chief of intelligence ordered that Khashoggi be brought back to the kingdom, Shaalan said. The team killed him after the talks failed and his body was handed to a “collaborator” in Turkey, he said.

Asked whether Saud al-Qahtanti, an aide to Prince Mohammed, had any role in the case, Shaalan said that a royal adviser had a coordinating role and had provided information. The former adviser was now under investigation, the prosecutor said, declining to reveal the names of any of those facing charges.

Al-Shaalan did reveal that a total of 21 suspects are now being held in connection with the case. Notably, the decision to charge the 5 comes after National Security Advisor John Bolton repudiated reports that a recording of Khashoggi’s murder made by Turkish authorities suggested that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was behind the murder plot.

But as long as OPEC+ is planning to do “whatever it takes” to boost oil prices, the US’s willingness to give the Saudis a pass could always be tested if crude prices again turn sharply higher.

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U.S. May Impose Sanctions Against Turkey Over S-400 “Threat” To F-35

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

The Duran

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Authored by Al Masdar News:


Turkish officials have repeatedly insisted that Ankara’s purchase of the advanced Russian air defense system poses no threat whatsoever to the NATO alliance. Last month, the Turkish defense ministry announced that delivery of S-400s to Turkey would begin in October 2019.

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform, and may impose sanctions against Ankara, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency has reported, citing a high-ranking source in Washington.

“I can’t say for certain whether sanctions will be imposed on Ankara over the S-400 contract, but the possibility is there. The US administration is not optimistic about this issue,” the source said.

While admitting that Turkey was a sovereign state and therefore had the right to make decisions on whom it buys its weapons from, the source stressed that from the perspective of these weapons’ integration with NATO systems, the S-400 was “problematic.”

The source also characterized the deployment of S-400s in areas where US F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters are set to fly as “a threat,” without elaborating.

Emphasizing that negotiations between Washington and Ankara on the issue were “continuing,” the source said that there were also “positive tendencies” in negotiations between the two countries on the procurement of the Patriot system, Washington’s closest analogue to the S-400 in terms of capabilities.

Designed to stop enemy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 400 km and altitudes of up to 30 km, the S-400 is currently the most advanced mobile air defense system in Russia’s arsenal. Russia and India signed a ruble-denominated contract on the delivery of five regiments of S-400s worth $5 billion late last month.

Last week, the Saudi Ambassador to Russia said that talks on the sale of the system to his country were ongoing. In addition to Russia, S-400s are presently operated by Belarus and China, with Beijing expecting another delivery of S-400s by 2020.

Washington has already slapped China with sanctions over its purchase of S-400s and Su-35 combat aircraft in September. India, however, has voiced confidence that it would not be hit with similar restrictions, which the US Treasury has pursued under the 2017 Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

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