Tag: impeachment

Disbarment and Judicial Estoppel

As the impeachment not-quite-a-trial wraps up, I am left wondering if normal processes are applied to Senate impeachment hearings. Can, for instance, a lawyer get disbarred for standing before the Senate and making false claims? Does judicial estoppel apply when a defendant is simultaneously asserting X and NOT X in the impeachment and another legal proceeding?

Parade of Horribles

A parade of horribles is not always a fallacy . Yes, the rhetorical device is often used in inappropriate manners; but the fact it can be misused does not invalidate the technique in toto. The parade of horribles which stems from accepting the parade of horribles as a valid reasoning tool do not render the rhetorical device a logical fallacy. When someone marches out this particular class of argument, the validity of the argument needs to be determined in its specific instance. Horrors which will occur either way do not make a persuasive argument. Horrors which are very likely to occur and are actually horrible compared to any benefit from the argument? The parade is a legitimate argument.

I find myself thinking a lot about these parades while watching the Senate Impeachment trial. There are horrifying consequences to accepting some of the Defense’s positions. Dershowitz proclaims that “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest; and, if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” How is that a reasonable position? Not holding the next election is “in the public interest” … but quite clearly an offense against the core tenants of this country.

Their argument fell apart a bit because it essentially exonerates Nixon — he wanted to get re-elected “in the public interest”, had people break into the Watergate to increase his re-election chances … and saying that Nixon is different because he destroyed evidence is a laughable contortion. Didn’t he destroy evidence in the nation’s best interest too?

Timeline – Biden, Burisma, and the Prosecutors General

I’m trying to follow the logic of Biden corruptly using his influence to squash an investigation into a company that employed his son on its board.

Zlochevsky, former Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, is the majority shareholder in Burisma and may have gotten gas extraction licenses because of Zlochevsky’s former position. In 2012, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka began investigating Zlochevsky for possible corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion from 2010–2012. The British Serious Fraud Office investigates Zlochevsky for a possible money laundering scheme too. On 16 April 2014, the British blocked accounts held by Burisma’s majority shareholder for holding 23 million in possibly ill-gotten assets. They sent a letter to the Ukraine requesting documents for their investigation.

21 April 2014, Biden visits the Ukraine and promises aid to help the country avoid relying on Russia for petrol – aid which might have been used to increase domestic fuel extraction and benefited companies holding extraction licenses (i.e. Biden is committing funds that might farther enrich Zlochevsky). Burisma announced Hunter Biden joining the board on 12 May 2014.

07 June 2014, Poroshenko took office as the President of Ukraine; Prosecutor General Vitaly Yarema was confirmed on 19 June 2014. Yarema opens an investigation into Burisma on 05 Aug 2014 for ‘unlawful enrichment’. 14 October 2014, anti-corruption laws are enacted in the Ukraine. In February, George Kent says he met with a deputy prosecutor from Yarema’s office and, in an action coordinated with the US Justice Department, spoke against having the case shut down. In December 2014, the American government is pushing Ukraine to help the British with their investigation. The British unblock Zlochevsky’s accounts on 21 January 2015 because of insufficient evidence to substantiate the claim. They weren’t getting help from the Ukrainians.

10 Feb 2015, Viktor Shokin replaces Yarema a Prosecutor General. But I’ve not seen any reports of Shokin picking up the Burisma investigation. Everything I’ve read says he had essentially left the case mothballed. In late 2015, Biden and the US government are still speaking out about possible corruption and specifically call out officials who failed to assist with the British investigation into Zlochevsky. Biden made a speech in the Ukrainian Parliament about rooting out corruption in the country and threatens to withhold a billion dollars in loan guarantees unless Poroshenko fires Shokin.

03 April 2016, Shokin is fired by Parliament for the slow pace of investigations and corruption allegations. 12 May 2016, Yuriy Lutsenko was appointed as Prosecutor General. And 13 May 2016 the US agrees to a billion dollar loan guarantee. Lutsenko is the one who investigated Burisma. A Burisma statement says the case was dropped in Sept of 2016. Burisma pays a couple million in taxes and fines in Sept of 2016.

The claim isn’t that Biden got Shokin, a guy who was investigating Burisma, fired. OK, yeah, that is the claim … but was there an investigation?! Kasko, Shokin’s deputy, says the office did nothing to pursue the investigation throughout 2015.

If not, the crux of this claim is that Joe Biden had some knowledge that the investigation was going to resume? Maybe the idea is Biden knew the popular sentiment in the Ukraine was to get a tougher prosecutor and used American money to ensure “you need to fire the Prosecutor General and appoint someone who will really root out corruption” was “you need a guy who roots out corruption and knows that company where my son sits on the board is totally on the up-and-up, so there’s no need to get back into investigating them”. Or “get this mothballed case opened and do as little harm to the company where my son sits on the board”. But that’s a lot different than saying he pressured the Ukrainians to fire a prosecutor who was about to bust his son (or the company paying his son).

Hopefully this will get cleared up in the Senate Impeachment proceedings. Because a much as I know the Democrats don’t want Biden testifying … I expect Trump’s defense to spend a lot of time promoting what exactly they claim Biden did wrong.

Trump & The NFL

An interesting observation:

The section in question is U.S. Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 11, Section 227. If any player is damaged (in the legal sense — loses money because they are benched or terminated for protesting), they should have standing for a complaint. It’s not civil, so the president is not sheltered whilst in office.

Trump is a covered person. (b)(3) specifically lists the president. So there’s no quibbling on this count.

(a)(2) is a point where linguistics can be argued. “influences, or offers or threatens to influence, the official act of another,” — he has threatened to eliminate tax exemptions which is threatening to influence the official act of another to eliminate {not withhold, the term used in (a)(1)}

And the big argument – (a) “with the intent to influence, solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation, an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity” (emphasis is mine). Is his threat solely on the basis of political affiliation?

News organisations targeted by Trump may have a case under the same law. It’s a reach, but they may have a better case for Trump’s threats to be based “solely” on political affiliation (although Trump isn’t doing anything from political affiliation. He’s doing it from Trump affiliation). I don’t think any network has been sufficiently harmed (yet) so as to show damages, so that argument is moot. He pulls a Nixon and starts challenging licenses, though … there’s precedent that legal fees and such don’t constitute damages. Loss of advertising revenue?

 

Read Your Constitution

I hear a few people hopefully speaking of impeachment as the FBI investigates Trump and his campaign for possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. Does anyone seriously think impeachment would nullify the election?! So Trump gets impeached. Now we have Pence. Trump minus the populist bits (infrastructure funding, trade protectionism) but with a heaping side of religious zealotry. I don’t care if the dude would personally never be alone in the same room with a woman other than his wife. People have all sorts of out-there principals that they uphold; so long as they don’t expect *me* to follow their dictate … who cares. But legislation banning sex ed, restricting access to birth control, bring back the sodomy laws – homosexual marriage isn’t illegal (so saith the Supreme Court) but so doing will meet the evidentiary requirements for a surveillance warrant at your local PD. Hell, even if you lived in a local and state jurisdiction where they just fail to investigate (and, don’t worry, the feds will threaten to withhold money from these ‘sanctuary cities’ too) … watch out where you vacation. Scrutinize your connecting flights. Hope there isn’t an emergency landing. Point being, Pence isn’t actually better. He has discipline and knowledge of government. He has a shot of getting pet legislation through Congress.

Maybe they’re hoping that Pence goes down with the ship too – great, now we’ve got Ryan. May be a win on the legislating fundamentalist Christian morality front, but we’ve seen his health care plan seven years in the making. Anyone seriously think his tax plan, regulatory plan … are going to be any better.

Then we’ve got Hatch – might be an improvement. Tillerson: government run by what’s best for oil companies! Of course next in line is Mnuchin: government run by what is best for mega-banks. Eventually one of these people will stick around – several were not involved in Trump’s campaign.