At least 16 House Democrats are demanding to begin some form of action on impeachment.
President Donald Trump’s total refusal to honor any congressional document subpoenas, his total blockade on allowing current and former administration officials to testify – even when facing a congressional subpoena – and his ongoing campaign of retaliatory threats of intimidation are leading more and more House Democratic lawmakers to reach the same conclusion.
They are calling for action, demanding an impeachment inquiry to begin.
The Washington Post notes Trump’s White House “is blocking more than 20 Democratic investigations into Trump, his finances or his policies.”
During Monday night’s closed-door House Democratic leadership meeting, Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly remained firm in her opposition to impeaching the President.
“Reps. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Joe Neguse of Colorado — all members of Democratic leadership — pushed to begin impeachment proceedings,” Politico reports.
“I think if this pattern by the president continues, where he’s going to impede and prevent and undermine our ability to gather evidence to do our job, we’re going to be left with no choice,” Rep. Cicilline said. “It’s a means where we can collect that information … We need to have the ability to gather the evidence.”
Politico adds that “in a Democratic Steering and Policy Committee meeting, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee stood up and demanded Trump’s impeachment.”
And Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) also added to the calls for action.
“The president’s continuing lawless conduct is making it harder and harder to rule out impeachment or any other enforcement mechanism,” Nadler said. Reports say he is advocating fr an impeachment inquiry behind the scenes.
Also calling for action are House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted Deutch (D-FL), and Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO).
Reports are flooding in to Twitter, from lawmakers and reporters. #ImpeachmentInquiryNow is also trending on Twitter.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington:
We are now at the point where we must begin an impeachment inquiry. I don’t say that lightly. We’ve taken every step we can w/subpoenas and witnesses. Trump obstructs everything. A president who thinks he’s king, accountable to nobody & ,above the law is absolutely unacceptable. https://t.co/rrPua23lsF
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) May 21, 2019
Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas:
I personally feel like we cannot tolerate this level of obstruction, that if we do, then we have lowered the bar to the point where any criminal can be president of the United States and that should be unacceptable to all of us.
I believe we need to begin an impeachment inquiry.
— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) May 21, 2019
Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin:
Stonewalling Congress on witnesses and the unredacted Mueller report only enhances the President’s appearance of guilt, and as a result, he has pushed Congress to a point where we must start an impeachment inquiry.
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) May 21, 2019
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York:
It is just as politicized a maneuver to not impeach in the face of overwhelming evidence as it is to impeach w/o cause.
Congress swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. That includes impeachment.
We have a duty to preserve our institutions + uphold the rule of law. https://t.co/oqguoDLUVC
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 21, 2019
CNN’s Manu Raju adds more names to the list:
Schiff has been skeptical of impeachment. I just asked him if he’s changing his tune. “The case gets stronger the more they stonewall.” https://t.co/pSY6BGMmdj
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 21, 2019
MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin on Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA):
House Intel’s Rep. Jackie Speier on CNN: “I believe that an inquiry into impeachment is required at this point in time.”
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 21, 2019
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee: “The time has come to start an impeachment inquiry.” pic.twitter.com/d6C3Oq3u9K
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 21, 2019
Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) wants to go further:
JACKSON LEE says her resolution would allow the House to bless the Judiciary Committee investigation and note it would lead to impeachment if the facts warrant it. She says it’s not the same as an impeachment inquiry.
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) May 21, 2019
An impeachment investigation is not impeachment, nor a vote for impeachment. But many believe televised hearings, similar to those that captivated the nation during Watergate, would help inform and ultimately convince the American public. A recent Reuters poll found 45% of Americans support impeachment, up five points in the last month. 42% are opposed.
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‘Confessing to the Crime’: Reporter’s Claim About Trump Being ‘Reluctant’ to Return Records Ignites Legal Experts
Legal experts including Neal Katyal, Andrew Weissmann, and others are responding to a claim made by a right wing reporter that they say indicts rather than vindicates Donald Trump.
The claim was made by Paul Sperry, a former D.C. bureau chief for Investor’s Business Daily, who has worked for the far right wing website WorldNetDaily. He is described as having a “long record of promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories” by Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative Team.
If his reporting is true, legal experts say it is a confession to unlawful actions regarding the 35 cartons of White House records that belong not to the former president, as he reportedly stated, but to the National Archives.
“BREAKING,” Sperry’s post on the right wing social media site Gettr begins. “Sources close to Trump say the former president was reluctant to furnish presidential records to the National Archives after he found out partisan Democrat political appointees there were releasing thousands of his White House documents to the January 6 Committee in spite of his lawyers’ claims of executive privilege. They say the former president simply ‘does not trust’ the Obama and Biden political appointees running the National Archives to act in good faith and in bipartisan spirit.”
That post was included as a screenshot and tweeted by attorney Ron Filipkowski.
Former FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann responds by saying: “Legally, this is a confession, not a defense, even if Trump thinks this plays to his base. The more Trump keeps talking, the more he keeps digging his legal grave.”
Weissmann also served as an Assistant United States Attorney, chief of the criminal fraud section of the U.S. Department of Justice, and worked under Robert Mueller during the Trump investigation.
This “is Trump confessing to the crime,” says former U.S. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal. “If this report is accurate, Trump is saying he took these doc[uments] for his personal gain. It’s no defense to say ‘the govt was going to be unfair.’ These are the govt’s docs, not his. He doesn’t get to hide them& benefit.”
The nonpartisan watchdog Citizens for Ethics (CREW) writes: “So Trump was intentionally breaking the law. That’s really not the winner they think it is.”
Attorney Owen Barcala offers up this sarcastic response: “‘How dare you say he negligently retained classified documents! He did so intentionally and with the specific purpose to interfere with a Congressional investigation!'”
National security lawyer Mark S. Zaid: “These ‘sources’ close to Trump are undermining any possible factual or legal defenses he might assert. Please keep talking!”
Journalists are also weighing in.
Civil liberties and national security journalist Marcy Wheeler: “These ‘sources close to Trump’ LITERALLY just confessed to concealing official records to thwart an investigation, which is one of the crimes under investigation, 18 USC 1519.”
Columbia Journalism School Professor Bill Grueskin: “Each story is more confession-y than the previous one.”
New York Times opinion columnist Farhad Manjoo: “he’s admitting to taking classified documents from the White House in order to keep them away from government officials? convenient, because that is … specifically one of the crimes he’s being investigated for.”
‘It’s Not Theirs, It’s Mine’ Trump Told Aides About White House Records Including Classified Documents: NYT
Donald Trump last week claimed all the Dept. of Justice had to do was “ask” for the classified documents, and other items the FBI confiscated a week ago Monday, and he would have returned them, while multiple aides reportedly have quoted him saying those items belonged to him.
“Pat A. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, the White House counsel and his deputy under President Donald J. Trump, were interviewed by the F.B.I. in connection with boxes of sensitive documents that were stored at Mr. Trump’s residence in Florida after he left office, three people familiar with the matter said,” The New York Times Tuesday afternoon reports.
Both were named as Trump’s representatives to the National Archives, so when the Archives discovered it was missing items, including the highly classified documents, NARA reached out to Philbin.
“Mr. Philbin tried to help the National Archives retrieve the material, two of the people familiar with the discussions said. But the former president repeatedly resisted entreaties from his advisers,” the Times’ Maggie Haberman reports.
“’It’s not theirs, it’s mine,’ several advisers say Mr. Trump told them,” according to the Times.
That’s a different response to the one Trump posted to his Truth Social account last week.
“Number one, it was all declassified,” Trump wrote, a claim experts question.
“Number two,” Trump added, “they didn’t need to ‘seize’ anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request.”
“They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago,” he continued in a separate post on Truth Social. “ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK.”
Despite NARA retrieving the 15 cartons in January, there were more items they wanted returned. In May Trump was sent a subpoena, and yet those items were not returned.
In June, a Trump lawyer signed a statement saying there were no classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
Two months later, on August 8, the FBI executed the search warrant that reportedly secured 11 sets of classified documents.
The Times adds that in June, “officials then used a subpoena to obtain surveillance footage of the hallway outside a storage room at Mar-a-Lago and saw something that alarmed them.”
The Times on Tuesday does not state what “alarmed” them, but Maggie Haberman at the Times on Saturday reported the surveillance footage revealed items being taken out of that locked storage room.
“The Justice Department also subpoenaed surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago recorded over a 60-day period, including views from outside the storage room,” Haberman reported. “According to a person briefed on the matter, the footage showed that, after one instance in which Justice Department officials were in contact with Mr. Trump’s team, boxes were moved in and out of the room.”
“They also received information from at least one witness who indicated that more material might remain at the residence, people familiar with the investigation said,” she added.
Trump Tweeted ‘Highly Classified Image Taken by a Secret Spy Satellite’ in 2019: Report
In late August of 2019, more than two and a half years into his first and only term, Donald Trump tweeted a photo that many at the time thought might be a classified spy image, setting the internet on fire.
As it turns out, it was.
Calling it “an infamous moment in the Trump presidency — one that former intelligence officials say perfectly illustrated his approach to dealing with state secrets,” NBC News on Tuesday reported that on August 30, 2019, a “former senior intelligence official with firsthand knowledge told NBC News that Trump did indeed tweet a highly classified image taken by a secret spy satellite, as many experts suspected at the time. And in doing so, the official and others said, Trump gave U.S. adversaries keen insights into the U.S. capabilities to spy from above.”
Trump’s Twitter account is gone, permanently suspended after the Jan. 6 insurrection, and with it all the tweets he posted over many years.
But this is a screenshot of that tweet captured by the Internet Archive (with what appears to be Finnish):
“The president tweeted a picture of an Iranian missile launch site that showed a failed ICBM test launch that everybody acknowledged was a highly classified picture taken from space,” former national security adviser John Bolton told NBC News. “He tweeted it out, and that of course declassified it by definition, but also showed what could happen when such a picture, even on a Twitter attachment, was then able to be analyzed by foreign intelligence services.”
“We had this image of the Iranian missile blown up, and it was exquisite intelligence, and he didn’t even wait,” a former senior intelligence official said. “As soon as we showed him, he said, ‘Hey, I’m tweeting this.’”
Trump “spent no time understanding what made something a secret and what we protected,” that former official also told NBC News.
“CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire tried to talk Trump out of doing it,” NBC News adds, “noting that the U.S. spent billions of dollars developing capabilities to capture images from space, and told Trump, ‘You can’t do this. If you put this out, they’re going understand what our capability is.'”
Falsely, he responded: “Look, I’m the president, I can declassify anything.”
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