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ILLEGAL ACTS

‘Felony Violation of Law’: Experts Respond to Trump Openly Calling on China to Dig Up Dirt on Biden

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Legal, ethics, and political experts are responding to President Donald Trump stunningly calling on China to investigate his top political opponent, Joe Biden, and Biden’s son Hunter. Thursday morning from the White House South Lawn Trump said “China should start an investigation into the Bidens.”

Trump also re-upped his call on Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

“If they were honest about it, they would start a major investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said, in a somewhat threatening manner.

Trump’s remarks were rambling and he repeatedly called on China to investigate the Bidens.

How damning was it?

“Speaking on trade with China moments before recommending that China investigate the Bidens, President Trump said that ‘I have a lot of options on China, but if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power,'” NBC News reports.

“This is like the Ukrainian phone call but he just did it in the driveway,” historian and MSNBC contributor Meacham just said.

Here’s what other experts are saying.

Former Director of U.S. Office of Government Ethics:

Former federal prosecutor:

Political scientist at University College London:

Washington Bureau Chief, HuffPost:

Attorney and blogger:

New Republic journalist:

Noted conservative:

 

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ILLEGAL ACTS

Schumer: Trump Firing LTC Vindman Was ‘Illegal’ – Calls for Investigation Into Retaliation Against All Whistleblowers

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is going after President Donald Trump and his attacks on Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and the anonymous whistleblower who exposed the president’s extortion of Ukraine.

The New York Democrat says retaliation against whistleblowers is “illegal,” and is calling on all 74 Inspectors General within the federal government to investigate any and all acts of retribution.

“Not only is retaliation against LTC Vindman, the anonymous whistleblower, and others like them shameful—it is also illegal. I’m calling on every single federal Inspector General to investigate any and all retaliation against whistleblowers who disclose presidential misconduct,” Schumer said on Twitter, attaching his letter to the Inspector General.

Related: Experts Says Trump Firing of 3 Officials Including Sondland and Vindman Is ‘Criminal’ Offense

“Our founders, having seen and studied societies governed by the iron fist of tyrants and the claimed divine right of kings, believed that truth was fundamental to the survival of our republic,” Schumer wrote. “Without the courage of whistleblowers and the role of inspectors general, the American people may never have known how the president abused his power in the Ukraine scandal.”

On Friday, just 48 hours after the Republican-majority Senate voted to acquit him, Trump fired both Vindman, who testified before Congress on Trump’s illegal activities, and Vindman’s brother, LTC Yevgeny Vindman, who did not. Both worked for the National Security Council. Both were escorted out of the White House Friday night like criminals, despite having done nothing wrong.

 

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ILLEGAL ACTS

Trump’s Whistleblower Rant Wasn’t Just Disgusting — It’s Also ‘Potentially Criminal’: Former Acting Solicitor General

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Speaking at a United Nations event in New York City on Thursday, President Donald Trump angrily railed against the whistleblower in the federal government who came forward with information about his July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump implied to the audience that in the past, that whistleblower and those who helped the whistleblower would have faced execution for treason. And some prominent Democrats, along with legal and national security experts, are asserting that Trump’s words amount to threatening a witness.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Trump told the UN audience, “I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Thanks to that whistleblower, Trump is now facing an impeachment inquiry for trying to pressure Zelensky into digging up dirt on a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, during former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, was adamantly opposed to impeachment — she was the most prominent anti-impeachment voice in the Democratic Party. But Pelosi found the whistleblower’s allegations so troubling that earlier this week, she came out in favor of an impeachment inquiry.

Attorney Neal Katyal, who served as acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama, told “Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC on Friday morning that he considers Trump’s whistleblower-related comments at the UN event “potentially criminal” because they could amount to “threatening” a government witness.

Katyal said, “I was so disgusted by that…. It is the last thing we should expect from the president of the United States.”

Katyal is hardly the only well-known Democrat who is speaking out. In a joint statement, three prominent House Democrats — Rep. Eliot Engel (chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee), Rep. Adam Schiff (who chairs the House Intelligence Committee) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings — asserted, “We condemn the president’s attacks, and we invite our Republican counterparts to do the same because Congress must do all it can to protect this whistleblower and all whistleblowers. Threats of violence from the leader of our country have a chilling effect on the entire whistleblower process, with grave consequences for our democracy and national security.”

On Thursday night, Sen. Kamala Harris (a former prosecutor) told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, “He sounds like a criminal — ‘who snitched? Who gave up the goods?…. It sounds like it’s straight out of some bad drama, but the fact is: this is the president of the United States.” And another presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, told MSNBC, “It’s not surprising that Donald Trump doesn’t know the difference between patriotism and treason. If there’s any treasonous actions here, it is coming from the White House.”

Ian Bassin, a former associate White House Counsel under Obama, tweeted, “The president just implied that numerous public servants and high ranking officials who he deems as disloyal to his personal interests perhaps should be executed.” And attorney Bradley P. Moss, a national security expert, said of Trump, “Someone explain the extortion and intimidating a witness laws to this guy.”

Trump is receiving some blowback from the right as well. Attorney George Conway, an outspoken anti-Trump conservative, tweeted, “Threatening actual and potential witnesses, of course, constitutes obstruction of justice.”

 

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ILLEGAL ACTS

Legal Experts: Trump’s Promise of Pardons to Aides for Breaking the Law to Build His Wall Is Impeachable

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Donald Trump at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona.

Overnight The Washington Post published a bombshell report: President Donald Trump, in an effort to ensure his re-election, has been directing aides to break the law to get his border wall built. Trump has ordered White House aides to “fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts,” and “aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules,” according to the Post, so he can fulfill a campaign promise.

To make matters worse Trump “also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly.”

Legal experts are weighing in n the news and they agree: Trump’s actions are illegal and impeachable.

The White House, in an effort to minimize the damage, has said the President was only joking when he told aides to break the law so he could cinch re-election.

Joking or not, Trump is “directing them to violate law,” as Georgetown Law Professor Marty Lederman notes:

Don Moynihan, a professor at Georgetown and visiting professor at Oxford notes that “Trump preemptively promising public employees a pardon makes clear that he knows what he asking them to do is illegal.”

Ryan Goodman, a Chaired Professor NYU Law and a former Special Counsel at the Dept.of Defense offers a one-word response: “Impeachable.”

Brendan Nyhan, a professor of government at Dartmouth College says this is “How the rule of law dies.”

Jonathan H. Adler, a law professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law looks back to America’s founding and adds:

Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe offers a two-word description: “impeachable bribery.”

Former Nixon Nixon White House Counsel John Dean gets very specific: “conspiracy to defraud the government and obstruct justice.”

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