The 20 Surest Paths to Impeachment

Letting a ruler get away with power grabs and abuses guarantees that worse will come, from him or from his successors. This is the lesson of the failure to impeach recent U.S. presidents. For those who haven’t understood this yet, here’s a helpful FAQ.

Now, here are the 20 surest ways to impeach Trump:

1. Violation of Constitution on Domestic Emoluments
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has illegally received emoluments from the United States government and from individual state governments.

The Constitutional ban on domestic emoluments (Article II, Section 1) is absolute, not waivable by Congress, and not subject to proving any particular corrupting influence.

President Trump’s lease of the Old Post Office Building in Washington D.C. violates the General Services Administration lease contract which states: “No … elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.” The GSA’s failure to enforce that contract constitutes an emolument. A January 16, 2019, report by the Inspector General of the General Services Administration confirmed this.

Since 1980 Trump and his businesses have garnered, according to the New York Times, “$885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York.” Those subsidies from the state of New York have continued since President Trump took office and constitute emoluments. The Trump organization receives emoluments from other states as well.

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

2. Violation of Constitution on Foreign Emoluments
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has illegally received emoluments from foreign governments. Foreign emoluments are banned by the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 9).

Donald J. Trump’s business has licensing deals with two Trump Towers in Istanbul, Turkey. Donald J. Trump has stated: “I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul.”

China’s state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is the largest tenant in Trump Tower in New York City. It is also a major lender to the Trump organization. Its rent payments and its loans put President Trump in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Foreign diplomats, including the Embassy of Kuwait, have changed their Washington D.C. hotel and event reservations to Trump International Hotel following Donald J. Trump’s election to public office.

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

3. Incitement of Violence
In his conduct while President of the United States, and while campaigning for election to that office, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has illegally incited violence within the United States.

A partial sampling of public statements by candidate Donald J. Trump:
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”

“You know what I hate? There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days—you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

“See the first group, I was nice. Oh, take your time. The second group, I was pretty nice. The third group, I’ll be a little more violent. And the fourth group, I’ll say get the hell out of here!”

“I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya.”

“He was swinging, he was hitting people, and the audience hit back. That’s what we need more of.”

Numerous incidents of violence followed these and other similar comments. John Franklin McGraw punched a man in the face at a Trump event, and then told Inside Edition that “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.” Donald J. Trump said that he was considering paying McGraw’s legal bills.

Since Trump’s election and inauguration, his comments appearing to incite violence have continued, as have incidents of violence in which those participating in violence have pointed to Trump as justification.

On July 2, 2017, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a video of himself body slamming a man with an image of “CNN” superimposed on him.

In August 2017, participants in a racist rally in Charlottesville, Va., credited President Trump with boosting their cause. Their violence included actions that led to a murder charge. President Trump publicly minimized the offense and sought to blame “many sides.”

In April 2019, weeks after one of his supporters was arrested by the FBI for threatening to shoot Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in the head, President Trump tweeted a misleading and inflammatory video promoting just the sort of hatred toward Omar that the man arrested had expressed.

In these and similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

4. Interference With Voting Rights
In his conduct while President of the United States, and while campaigning for election to that office, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has engaged in acts of voter intimidation and suppression.

For months leading up to the November 2016 elections, Donald J. Trump publicly encouraged his supporters, the same ones he had encouraged to engage in violence, to patrol polling places in search of participants in the virtually nonexistent practice of voter fraud. In so doing, candidate Trump made would-be voters aware that they might face such patrols. His remarks included:
“I hope you people can sort of not just vote on the 8th, go around and look and watch other polling places, and make sure that it’s 100 percent fine.”

“We’re going to watch Pennsylvania. Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.”

Trump urged supporters to target Philadelphia, St. Louis, and other cities with large minority populations.

He created on his campaign website a way to sign up to “volunteer to be a Trump election observer.”

When early voting began, incidents were reported of Trump supporters photographing voters and otherwise intimidating them.

Trump ally and advisor Roger Stone formed an activist group called Stop the Steal that acted in line with Trump’s public statements. The group appeared to threaten violence against delegates if the Republican Party denied Trump its nomination. It then organized intimidation efforts in the general election around the unsupported claim that Trump’s opponents would somehow “flood the polls with illegals. Liberal enclaves already let illegals vote in their local and state elections and now they want them to vote in the Presidential election.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2006, in all federal elections from 2002 to 2005, a total of 26 people out of 197 million were convicted of trying to vote illegally.

Stone’s organization created official-looking ID badges for volunteers and asked them to videotape voters, and conduct phony exit polls in nine cities with large minority populations.

One such volunteer, Steve Webb of Ohio, told the Boston Globe, “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

Since becoming president, Donald J. Trump has continued with voter intimidation efforts. He has created a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which has sent letters to states requesting sensitive voter information. Most states have refused. But thousands of people have canceled their registrations rather than have their information turned over to Trump’s administration.

In these and similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

5. Discrimination Based On Religion
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has engaged in acts of discrimination in violation of the First Amendment and other laws by seeking to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Donald J. Trump had openly campaigned for office promising a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Once in office, he created an executive order that his advisor Rudy Giuliani, said on Fox News had been drafted after Trump had asked him for the best way to create a Muslim ban “legally.” The order targeted several majority-Muslim countries for restrictions on immigration to the United States, but made allowances for people of minority religions within those countries. Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christian refugees would be given priority. When a federal court stopped this order from taking effect, President Trump issued a new one containing, in the words of his advisor Stephen Miller “minor technical differences.”

In these actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

6. Illegal War
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has waged numerous wars in violation of the United Nations Charter and of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, both treaties part of the Supreme Law of the United States under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

President Trump and his subordinates attempted to mislead the U.S. public and Congress about justifications for wars, including by claiming to have knowledge that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, as well as by falsely stating the number of U.S. troops deployed to various wars.

President Trump has escalated bombing campaigns in Iraq and Syria, resulting in large numbers of civilian deaths. After campaigning for office in opposition to the war on Afghanistan, Trump has effectively made it a permanent operation. President Trump spoke at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency on January 23, 2017, and promoted an illegal policy of waging wars for the theft of resources. Trump has overseen the U.S. military’s collaboration in the illegal bombing of Yemen by Saudi Arabia, in violation of the Leahy Law and resulting in a severe humanitarian crisis.

By these actions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

7. Illegal Threat of Nuclear War
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has flagrantly threatened nuclear war (“fire and fury”) against North Korea, in violation of the United Nations Charter, a treaty that is part of the Supreme Law of the United States under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

By this action, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

8. Abuse of Pardon Power
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has issued a pardon for former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted of contempt for failure to comply with a court order in a case charging him with racial discrimination.

Arpaio was open about his commission of the underlying crime, for which he was found guilty in a civil suit. His contempt conviction was for continuing to engage in racial profiling, violating an order to cease doing so.

Arpaio set up a prison that he called a concentration camp. It had a high death rate with deaths often unexplained. He enclosed Latino prisoners with electric fencing.

By this action, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

9. Obstruction of Justice
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has obstructed justice.

The day after President Trump was briefed by White House Counsel on dishonest statements by then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn who was being investigated by the FBI, Trump met with the director of the FBI James Comey and demanded his personal loyalty. Two weeks later Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation. Later still, Trump fired Comey. By Trump’s own words (http://nbcnews.to/2s0iLJq), his motivation was at least partly to obstruct the investigation.

By this action, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

10. Politicizing Prosecutions
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has directed or endeavored to direct law enforcement, including the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to investigate and prosecute political adversaries and others — and to not prosecute political allies — for improper purposes not justified by any lawful function of his office, thereby eroding the rule of law, undermining the independence of law enforcement from politics, and compromising the constitutional right to due process of law.

On the Friday before Election Day 2017, the president issued a remarkable series of public statements, including on Twitter, pressuring the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party, and other political adversaries.

Earlier, the president had called Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl a “dirty, rotten traitor” while court-martial charges were pending.

On September 3, 2018, President Donald J. Trump tweeted this: “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff…” This cannot be read but as potentially influencing the current or a future Attorney General or others in law enforcement to politicize prosecutions.

In 1940, Attorney General (later Supreme Court Justice) Robert Jackson warned that “the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power” was “picking the man and then . . . putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him.” A chief executive who uses law enforcement to persecute political enemies is characteristic of a banana republic, not a constitutional republic. That is why Republican and Democratic presidents alike have respected the independence of law enforcement. In the case of military courts-martial, such as Bergdahl’s, this limit is formalized in the prohibition of “command influence.”

Congress set a precedent with the second article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon, which cited, in its fifth specification, his use of federal investigative agencies against political opponents. Following this precedent, the president’s attempts to employ the criminal investigative powers of the federal government against political opponents “for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office” are grounds for impeachment, even if they did not succeed in influencing law enforcement.

By this action, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

11. Collusion Against the United States with a Foreign Government
In his conduct while President-Elect of the United States, Donald J. Trump and his transition team lobbied foreign governments, including those of Egypt and Russia on behalf of the government of Israel.

Trump advisor Michael Flynn has lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about talking, pre-inauguration, to Russia (and other countries) on behalf of the government of Israel, allegedly at the instruction of Jared Kushner, who reportedly took his direction from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Netayahu wanted Russia to block or delay a UN resolution against illegal Israeli settlements, because then-President of the United States Barack Obama had chosen not to veto it. News reports in December 2016 said that Russia, while it did not veto, did try to delay the vote. Also, in December 2016, the government of Egypt said it had delayed the vote because President-Elect Trump had phoned the president of Egypt on behalf of Israel.

In these actions and decisions, Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

12. Failure to Reasonably Prepare for or Respond to Hurricanes Harvey and Maria
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, which was established to “provide for the common defense,” and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has failed to reasonably prepare for events like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria or to adequately respond to those hurricanes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was without a new director until June 2017. The National Hurricane Center was without a head from May 2017 through the time of Hurricane Harvey in August. On August 15, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that rejected the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, which had been established by executive order in 2015, and which required that infrastructure be built to withstand flooding. He already had disbanded the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, and withdrawn the United States from the Paris climate agreement. When Hurricane Harvey hit, President Donald Trump did not engage in rescue and recovery operations on the scale required. His subordinates at FEMA proposed that private individuals fund and perform those tasks on their own.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, and for the months that followed, President Trump refused significant aid, despite widespread devastation, lack of electricity, and lack of medical care that, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2018, left over 4,600 people dead. For weeks Trump even blocked aid to Puerto Rico from other nations, refusing to waive the Jones Act as he had done following Hurricane Harvey, even as numerous experts predicted the sort of death and suffering that resulted.

By these actions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

13. Separating Children and Infants from Families
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has overseen the work of his subordinates who have forcibly separated thousands of refugee children and infants from their families, imprisoned them in inhumane conditions including on military bases and in the private facilities of military contractors, denied access to these sites sought by members of Congress, failed to meet or even to plausibly attempt to meet a court-imposed deadline to reunite children with their families, and defended these policies with hate-inspiring rhetoric almost certainly resulting in additional violence and cruelty by government employees and private individuals alike (see also Article of Impeachment on “Incitement of Violence”).

In these actions, Donald J. Trump has abused his high office and violated numerous legal requirements in an explicit effort to punish and deter people who in many cases stand accused of no legal violations themselves, and in other cases are accused of a misdemeanor. These actions by President Trump have violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the United States is party, the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which every other nation on earth is party, the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has maintained that “the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by [the] Court.” President Trump’s subsequent Executive Order stating that families would be imprisoned as groups, rather than being separated, would have failed to bring him into compliance with international law or the Constitution even if implemented.

On September 6, 2018, the Trump administration announced a new rule that would allow immigrant children with their parents to be imprisoned indefinitely, in violation of a 1997 court settlement agreement that limits the imprisonment of children to 20 days.

In these actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and people seeking asylum and refuge in the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

14. Illegally Attempting to Influence an Election
While campaigning for the office of President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, according to the sworn testimony and the guilty plea of his attorney Michael Cohen, engaged in a criminal conspiracy to buy the silence of individuals, and did so with the intent of influencing the election and in violation of campaign finance laws.

On August 21, 2018, Cohen admitted in federal court that he had paid Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to silence them before the 2016 election at Donald J. Trump’s “direction.” Cohen said he acted “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office” and “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.” This testimony implicates Donald J. Trump in the crime of conspiring to make an excessive and illegal campaign contribution. It also implicates him in the high crime and misdemeanor of attempting to fraudulently influence — and quite possibly successfully influence — the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. As President, he lied about and tried to cover-up his wrongdoing.

In this action, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

15. Tax Fraud and Public Misrepresentation
In his conduct prior to assuming the office of President of the United States, Donald J. Trump engaged in extensive tax fraud which served as the basis for his dramatic misrepresentation to the public of his accomplishments.

According to evidence and documentation made public by the New York Times and not countered by President Trump, he and his siblings committed numerous felonies in the course of obtaining wealth from their father while paying approximately 5% rather than the 55% in taxes that the law required.

They did this, in part, by undervaluing properties, a crime known as appraisal fraud. Donald Trump and his siblings claimed that properties given them by their father were worth $41.4 million, but sold those properties for over 16 times that amount during the next decade.

Another crime employed was transfer pricing. Trump and his siblings massively overcharged their father’s companies for largely nonexistent services in order to both obtain his wealth and reduce his profits. The reduction in profits allowed Trump’s father to increase the rent he charged people for publicly subsidized, rent-controlled properties.

Through these and other fraudulent activities, Donald Trump was made wealthy by the transfer of money from his father. In the analysis of one expert, if Trump had simply invested that money in a simple investment fund, he would now have the $10 billion he falsely claimed to have as a candidate for president. In reality, Trump lost a fortune through business failures. As a candidate, however, by lying about his wealth and the origins of his wealth, Donald Trump misled voters to believe that, while he had no political record he did have a very successful business record. Trump falsely claimed to have received only $1 million from his father which he had been required to pay back “with interest.”

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

16. Assaulting Freedom of the Press
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has repeatedly undermined the freedom of the press.

President Trump has threatened to use libel law to go after media outlets that have displeased him. On March 30, 2017, he tweeted: “The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?” On April 30, 2017, his then chief of staff Reince Priebus confirmed that changing libel laws is “something we’ve looked at,” adding that “newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news.” On July 2, 2017, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a video of himself body slamming a man with an image of “CNN” superimposed on him.

President Trump has threatened to remove broadcasting licenses from media outlets that have displeased him. On October 11, 2017, he tweeted: ‘‘With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!’’ and ‘‘Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!’’

President Trump’s White House, on February 24, 2017, barred certain news media — CNN, the New York Times, the L.A. Times, and Politico — from attending a White House press briefing. In June 2017, his administration prohibited video recordings of White House press briefings. In November 2018, his administration suspended the press credential of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, falsely accusing him of “placing his hands” on a white house intern.

President Trump has repeatedly referred to news media as “the enemy of the people,” while expressing his desire that journalistic activity be stifled.  For example: On February 17, 2017, Trump tweeted: ‘‘The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!’’. On July 22, 2017, Trump tweeted: “A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions.These illegal leaks, like Comey’s, must stop!”

President Trump’s rhetoric has encouraged authoritarian foreign governments to attack the very U.S. media that Trump criticizes, endangering not only press freedoms but the lives and safety of American journalists. On May 2, 2017, just ahead of World Press Freedom Day, the Committee to Protect Journalists noted that “President Trump’s oft-tweeted ‘fake news’ epithet, for example, had already been adopted by repressive governments such as China, Syria, and Russia. When Trump verbally attacked a correspondent during a February press conference, he was cheered by Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the world’s worst jailer of journalists.

When Saudi Arabia murdered U.S./Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump made extensive efforts to deny the evidence and to prevent or minimize the consequences to the Saudi government, even while continuing his usual verbal attacks on U.S. journalists.

President Trump’s subordinates locked up U.S./Iranian journalist Marzieh Hashemi with no charges or trial as a “material witness.”

President Trump’s Department of Justice has indicted Australian publisher Julian Assange for unknown charges, after spending months trying to figure out some way to prosecute him for the act of journalism.

President Trump has nominated for U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who stated at his confirmation hearings that he might jail journalists for doing their job if that job “hurt the country.”

Freedom of the press is enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As Justice Black observed in New York Times Co. v. United States, “In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

A president is certainly free to criticize particular news stories and outlets that he believes are inaccurate — and no above-cited tweet or statement, standing in isolation, would constitute an impeachable offense. However, President Trump’s consistent pattern of verbal attacks against journalists and his administration’s actions to retaliate against and exclude journalists, combined with threats to take governmental action against news outlets, crosses a line.

In the above and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

17. Supporting a Coup in Venezuela
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,”

And in his conduct while Vice President of the United States, Michael Richard Pence, in violation of his oath to faithfully execute the office of Vice President of the United States and to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,

have damaged the rule of law and endangered international security by supporting a coup attempt in Venezuela.

On the evening of January 22, 2019, following years of damaging U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, which followed an unsuccessful 2002 U.S.-supported coup attempt, Vice President Pence reportedly called Juan Guaidó and told him that the United States would support him if he were to seize power in Venezuela. The next day, January 23, Guaidó attempted to do so. That same day, President Trump issued a statement recognizing Guaidó as the President of Venezuela, despite the fact that Venezuela had an elected president and that Guaidó had no legitimate claim to the presidency. On January 24, 2019, the Trump-Pence administration attempted unsuccessfully to persuade the Organization of American States to recognize Guaidó as president.

In the above and related actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael Richard Pence have acted in a manner contrary to their trust as President and Vice President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump and Michael Richard Pence, by such conduct, are guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

18. Unconstitutional Declaration of Emergency
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has declared a national emergency, in the absence of any actual emergency, for the purpose of spending money on a border wall that had been appropriated for other purposes.

In so acting, President Trump has violated Article 1, Section 7 of the United States Constitution: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives . . . .” He has also, in so acting, violated Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law . . . .” The same action also violates the Federal Anti-Deficiency Statute. By using the United States military to enforce immigration law, President Trump’s announced plan would also violate the Posse Comitatus Act.

In addition, President Trump has abused his power by publicly promoting this action using a series of falsehoods encouraging fear, bigotry, and hatred. He has falsely suggested that immigrants commit crimes at a higher rate than non-immigrants, that illegal border crossings have been increasing in recent years, that terrorist groups have sent operatives to enter the United States through Mexico, and that applying for asylum is a threatening or criminal action.

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

19. Instructing Border Patrol to Violate the Law
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has directed U.S. Border Patrol agents to violate the law.

On April 5, 2019, President Trump, while visiting Calexico, California, reportedly told Border Patrol agents to defy U.S. law and refuse to allow migrants into the United States. The President went further, instructing Border Patrol agents to lie to a judge if charged with violating the law. “If judges give you trouble, say, ‘Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room,’” said the President. Upon the President’s departure, Border Patrol officials instructed their agents that, contrary to the President’s instructions, they were required to obey the law.

President Trump went further still, informing Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, according to “senior administration officials” who spoke with CNN, that he would “grant McAleenan a pardon if he were sent to jail for having border agents block asylum seekers from entering the U.S. in defiance of US law.”

Paralleling his lawless efforts to keep refugees and immigrants out of the United States, President Trump continued to promote his policy of separating infants and children from families (see separate Article of Impeachment), and proposed shipping and releasing imprisoned refugees to particular parts of the United States for reasons of electoral politics, not human welfare.

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

20. Resurrect Russiagate No Matter What It Takes and If It Distracts Us All from the 19 Clearcut Charges Above, Keeps Trump in Office, or Gets Us All Killed, Well That’s Just the Price We’ll Have to Pay Because, You Know, . . . PUTIN!

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The Next Financial Crisis Won’t Be Caused by Fraud: This Time Will Be Different

Financial crises come in two flavors: fraud and credit-valuation over-reach.Fraud-based financial crises may differ in particulars, but they share many traits: perverse incentives are institutionalized; the perverse incentives reward figuring out how to evade oversight via fraud, embezzlement, masking risk, etc. which are soon commoditized; regulations are gutted by insider-funded lobbying; regulators fail to do their job in hopes of getting lucrative positions in the industry they’re supposed to be regulating; reports of systemic, commoditized fraud are ignored because everyone’s getting rich, and so on.

The resolution has to 1) eliminate the perverse incentives that fueled the crisis; 2) institutionalize oversight that actually functions to limit dangerous excesses and 3) all the malinvestment / bad debt must be liquidated and the losses taken / distributed.

Correspondent David E. recently sent me this insightful outline of how the Texas Savings & Loan financial crisis arose and was slowly and painfully resolved in the 1980s:

“The S&L crisis provides an excellent example of both how to make a problem worse and how to resolve it in the end. (note: I watched this play out in Texas; some of your readers may have a different perspective).

1. Prior to the mid-1970s, S&Ls lived by the 3-6-3 rule – pay depositors 3%; make home loans at 6%; and be on the golf course at 3 o’clock. This cozy little world had been in place since the 1950s.

2. Inflation in the 70s wrecked this calculation. The loans (long term home mortgages) still paid 6%, but the S&L’s were having to pay the depositors more – often more than the 6% they were making on the loans. Bankruptcy loomed.

3. The S&L owners were some of the more prominent local business people, especially in smaller towns scattered across the US – and more importantly, in Congressional districts scattered across the US.

4. They went to Congress and said, “we’re in trouble, but if we could only invest in commercial real estate, we could grow our way out of this mess, and it won’t cost the taxpayer a dime.”

5. Congress, faced with a $50 billion problem as well as the prospect of alienating multitudes of prominent local citizens, agreed, and thus kicked the can down the road.

6. At least in Texas, this is when the “cowboys” moved in. The smarter S&L owners saw what was happening and realized the game was up. They sold their institutions to the cowboys (and the smart ones took the highest cash offer, ignoring any stock or profit-sharing).

7. The predictable and well documented abuses took off (“fiduciary pornography” in the words of one regulator afterward).

8. Things went on for a few years but were beginning to unravel even before the Saudis flooded the oil market in early 1986 and drove the price of crude down to $9.

9. Now for what was done right – if only by accident. Texas was the first to tumble, and people in other states remembered our oil boom bumper stickers. “Drive 90 and freeze a Yankee” among others. As a result, there was ZERO sympathy for Texas’ economic problems.

10. Federal regulators thus had a free hand to clean house. Even large banks were declared insolvent. Shareholders lost everything. Over 1000 bank executives went to prison. I personally know at least two who slithered free in the end, but many did not. A lawyer friend spent a couple of years in the late 1980s doing little other than foreclosing houses in Highland Park (old money Dallas).

11. It was a rough 3-4 years in Texas, but two decades of accumulated rot had been burned away, setting the stage for the economic boom that followed.

The other big factor was the tax reform of 1986. People today need to be more cognizant of what really happens when marginal rates go up to 70%. Do the rich pay more tax? NO. Instead the world becomes infested with tax shelters and other avoidance schemes, which produce tremendous waste.

In late 70s/early 80s Texas, a lot of this tax shelter money intersected with the S&L pirates in the form of commercial real estate, especially apartment complexes, in an orgy of malinvestment. I still remember the TV ads in Houston marketing yuppie-villes: gorgeous women in bikinis by the pool, and one unending party. After the bust, these complexes turned into Section 8 housing almost overnight and many remained blighted for a couple of decades before they were finally torn down.

If the next bust starts out affecting only one region, there may be a chance to do the right thing (basically, let her rip and things will settle out on their own). But that didn’t happen in 2008, and probably won’t happen next time.”

Thank you, David, for a very insightful summary of how financial crises arise and how the scale of the crisis affects the resolution: in 2008, banking had become so centralized and the fraud/leverage so extreme that the implosion of a relatively marginal slice of the mortgage market (subprime mortgages) triggered a loss of faith and liquidity that very nearly brought down the entire global financial system.

Rather than clean house, politicos bailed out the banks and regulators added new regulations that left the system essentially unchanged. As was easily predictable, the regulations increased the banks’ costs and created incentives to move mortgage origination into non-bank (and thus less regulated) entities.

Interestingly, modern financial crises seem to oscillate between fraud and over-reach: the S&L crisis resulted from the commoditization of mortgage fraud, the 2000 dot-com crash resulted from extremes of over-valuation and margin debt, the 2008 Global Financial Meltdown resulted from the globalized commoditization of securitization fraud, and now the pins are being set up for the next financial crisis triggered by extremes of credit and overvaluation.

The dot-com meltdown arose from unprecedented extremes of overvaluation for tech companies profitable and unprofitable alike. High levels of margin debt ensured that the sell-off would gather steam as punters were forced to liquidate portfolios to meet margin calls.

The dot-com meltdown was famously concentrated in the tech sector: while certainly a major part of the economy, tech and the Internet high-flyers were still a relatively modest share of total assets: all stocks, all bonds, all real estate, etc.

Sector rotation enabled capital to be preserved. As the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates, the value of bonds rose and real estate got a boost as assets flowed from stocks to housing. Simply put, not every asset crashed in unison.

The brewing financial crisis will be different: the twin sins of extreme levels of debt and extreme overvaluation of assets now characterize corporate bonds, many sovereign bonds, stocks and real estate. Pretty much the only traditional assets that aren’t at nosebleed levels are precious metals and bat guano. (Cryptocurrencies are as yet non-traditional assets, though this may change in the next financial crisis.)

Extreme levels of debt and overvaluation characterize the entire global economy, and are not limited to any one nation or sector. When this crisis gathers steam, there will be few avenues of escape. Adding regulations won’t stop it, adding liquidity won’t stop it, waving chicken entrails and dancing the humba-humba around the MMT/Keynesian campfire won’t stop it.

Attempting to force extremes to even more extended extremes won’t stop it.

THREE NOTES OF NOTE:

1. I just added a new benefit for all subscribers/patrons: a monthly Q&A where I respond to your questions/topics. You get other exclusive benefits with a $1, $5 or $10/month patronage via patreon.com.

2. Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change is on sale this month: $4.95 Kindle edition, $9.95 print edition, a 33% discount.

3. Did you know there are 3 new audiobooks available now?

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic

Money and Work Unchained

Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege 

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print, $13.08 audiobook): Read the first section for free in PDF format.

My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. New benefit for subscribers/patrons: a monthly Q&A where I respond to your questions/topics.

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Highlights from the Mueller Report

Eric Zuesse

Following are the passages that I consider to be the chief and most important allegations that are in the opening 11% (that’s up through page 49 of the of the 448-page document) of the “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election”. That’s Robert Mueller’s March 2019 report, which had been commissioned by the U.S. Congress to find grounds to charge U.S. President Donald Trump with being an agent of the Russian Government and to replace him with Vice President Mike Pence for that reason.

https://viewfromll2.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/mueller-report.pdf

Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election

The Internet Research Agency (IRA) carried out the earliest Russian interference operations identified by the investigation — a social media campaign designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States. The IRA was based in St. Petersburg, Russia, and received funding from Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin and companies he controlled. Prighozhin is widely reported to have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. …

The IRA later used social media accounts and interest groups to sow discord in the U.S. political system through what it termed “information warfare.” The campaign evolved from a generalized program designed in 2014 and 2015 to undermine the U.S. electoral system, to a targeted operation that by early 2016 favored candidate Trump and disparaged candidate Clinton.

The IRA’ s operation also included the purchase of political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities, as well as the staging of political rallies inside the United States. To organize those rallies, IRA employees posed as U.S. grassroots entities and persons and made contact with Trump supporters and Trump Campaign officials in the United States. The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons conspired or coordinated with the IRA. …

At the same time that the IRA operation began to focus on supporting candidate Trump in early 2016, the Russian government employed a second form of interference: cyber intrusions (hacking) and releases of hacked materials damaging to the Clinton Campaign. The Russian intelligence service known as the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Army (GRU) carried out these operations.

In March 2016, the GRU began hacking the email accounts of Clinton Campaign volunteers and employees, including campaign chairman John Podesta. In April 2016, the GRU hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The GRU stole hundreds of thousands of documents from the compromised email accounts and networks. Around the time that the DNC announced in mid-June 2016 the Russian government’s role in hacking its network, the GRU began disseminating stolen materials through the fictitious online personas “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0.” The GRU later released additional materials through the organization WikiLeaks. …

While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges. Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal. And our evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting and WikiLeaks’s releases of hacked materials was not sufficient to charge a criminal campaign-finance violation. Further, the evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.

The Office investigated several other events that have been publicly reported to involve potential Russia-related contacts. For example, the investigation established that interactions between Russian Ambassador Kislyak and Trump Campaign officials both at the candidate’s April 2016 foreign policy speech in Washington, D.C., and during the week of the Republican National Convention were brief, public, and non-substantive. And the investigation did not establish that one Campaign official’s efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican Party platform on providing assistance to Ukraine were undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia. The investigation also did not establish that a meeting between Kislyak and Sessions in September 2016 at Sessions’s Senate office included any more than a passing mention of the presidential campaign.

Throughout 2016, IRA accounts published an increasing number of materials supporting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. For example, on May 31, 2016, the operational account “Matt Skiber” began to privately message dozens of pro-Trump Facebook groups asking them to help plan a “pro-Trump rally near Trump Tower.”55

To reach larger U.S. audiences, the IRA purchased advertisements from Facebook that promoted the IRA groups on the newsfeeds of U.S. audience members. According to Facebook, the IRA purchased over 3,500 advertisements, and the expenditures totaled approximately $100,000.56

During the U.S. presidential campaign, many IRA-purchased advertisements explicitly supported or opposed a presidential candidate or promoted U.S. rallies organized by the IRA (discussed below). As early as March 2016, the IRA purchased advertisements that overtly opposed the Clinton Campaign. For example, on March 18, 2016, the IRA purchased an advertisement depicting candidate Clinton and a caption that read in part, “If one day God lets this liar enter the White House as a president – that day would be a real national tragedy.”57

Similarly, on April 6, 2016, the IRA purchased advertisements for its account “Black Matters” calling for a “flashmob” of U.S. persons to “take a photo with #HillaryClintonForPrison2016 or #nohillary2016.”58 IRA-purchased advertisements featuring Clinton were, with very few exceptions, negative.59

IRA-purchased advertisements referencing candidate Trump largely supported his campaign. The first known IRA advertisement explicitly endorsing the Trump Campaign was purchased on April 19, 2016. The IRA bought an advertisement for its Instagram account “Tea Party News” asking U.S. persons to help them “make a patriotic team of young Trump supporters” by uploading photos with the hashtag “#KIDS4TRUMP.”60 In subsequent months, the IRA purchased dozens of advertisements supporting the Trump Campaign, predominantly through the Facebook groups “Being Patriotic,” “Stop All Invaders,” and “Secured Borders.” …

The IRA operated individualized Twitter accounts similar to the operation of its Facebook accounts, by continuously posting original content to the accounts while also communicating with U.S. Twitter users directly (through public tweeting or Twitter’s private messaging).

The IRA used many of these accounts to attempt to influence U.S. audiences on the election. Individualized accounts used to influence the U.S. presidential election included @TEN_ GOP ( described above); @jenn _ abrams ( claiming to be a Virginian Trump supporter with 70,000 followers); @Pamela_Moore13 (claiming to be a Texan Trump supporter with 70,000 followers); and @America:__Ist_ (an anti-immigration persona with 24,000 followers).67 In May 2016, the IRA created the Twitter account @march_for_trump, which promoted IRA-organized rallies in support of the Trump Campaign (described below).68 …

The IRA organized and promoted political rallies inside the United States while posing as U.S. grassroots activists. First, the IRA used one of its preexisting social media personas (Facebook groups and Twitter accounts, for example) to announce and promote the event. The IRA then sent a large number of direct messages to followers of its social media account asking them to attend the event. From those who responded with interest in attending, the IRA then sought a U.S. person to serve as the event’s coordinator. In most cases, the IRA account operator would tell the U.S. person that they personally could not attend the event due to some preexisting conflict or because they were somewhere else in the United States.82 The IRA then further promoted the event by contacting U.S. media about the event and directing them to speak with the coordinator.83

After the event, the IRA posted videos and photographs of the event to the IRA’s social media accounts. 84

The Office identified dozens of U.S. rallies organized by the IRA. The earliest evidence of a rally was a “confederate rally” in November 2015. 85 The IRA continued to organize rallies even after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The attendance at rallies varied. Some rallies appear to have drawn few (if any) participants while others drew hundreds. …

From June 2016 until the end of the presidential campaign, almost all of the U.S. rallies organized by the IRA focused on the U.S. election, often promoting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. Pro-Trump rallies included three in New York; a series of pro-Trump rallies in Florida in August 2016; and a series of pro-Trump rallies in October 2016 in Pennsylvania. The Florida rallies drew the attention of the Trump Campaign, which posted about the Miami rally on candidate Trump’s Facebook account (as discussed below).86 …

Starting in June 2016, the IRA contacted different U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump Campaign in an effort to coordinate pro-Trump IRA-organized rallies inside the United States. In all cases, the IRA contacted the Campaign while claiming to be U.S. political activists working on behalf of a conservative grassroots organization. The IRA’s contacts included requests for signs and other materials to use at rallies, 107 as well as requests to promote the rallies and help coordinate Iogistics.108 While certain campaign volunteers agreed to provide the requested support (for example, agreeing to set aside a number of signs), the investigation has not identified evidence that any Trump Campaign official understood the requests were coming from foreign nationals.

III. RUSSIAN HACKING AND DUMPING OPERATIONS

Beginning in March 2016, units of the Russian Federation’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) hacked the computers and email accounts of organizations, employees, and volunteers supporting the Clinton Campaign, including the email account of campaign chairman John Podesta. Starting in April 2016, the GRU hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The GRU targeted hundreds of email accounts used by Clinton Campaign employees, advisors, and volunteers. In total, the GRU stole hundreds of thousands of documents from the compromised email accounts and networks. 109 The GRU later released stolen Clinton Campaign and DNC documents through online personas, “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0,” and later through the organization WikiLeaks. The release of the documents was designed and timed to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election and undermine the Clinton Campaign. …

By no later than April 12, 2016, the GRU had gained access to the DCCC computer network using the credentials stolen from a DCCC employee who had been successfully spearphished the week before. Over the ensuing weeks, the GRU traversed the network, identifying different computers connected to the DCCC network. By stealing network access credentials along the way (including those of IT administrators with unrestricted access to the system), the GRU compromised approximately 29 different computers on the DCCC network. 119

Approximately six days after first hacking into the DCCC network, on April 18, 2016, GRU officers gained access to the DNC network via a virtual private network (VPN) connection120 between the DCCC and DNC networks.121 Between April 18, 2016 and June 8, 2016, Unit 26165 compromised more than 30 computers on the DNC network, including the DNC mail server and shared file server.122

b. Implantation of Ma/ware on DCCC and DNC Networks

Unit 26165 implanted on the DCCC and DNC networks two types of customized malware, 123 known as “X-Agent” and “X-Tunnel”; Mimikatz, a credential-harvesting tool; and rar.exe, a tool used in these intrusions to compile and compress materials for exfiltration. X-Agent was a multi-function hacking tool that allowed Unit 26165 to log keystrokes, take screenshots, and gather other data about the infected computers (e.g., file directories, operating systems).124 XTunnel was a hacking tool that created an encrypted connection between the victim DCCC/DNC computers and GRU-controlled computers outside the DCCC and DNC networks that was capable of large-scale data transfers. 125 GRU officers then used X-Tunnel to exfiltrate stolen data from the victim computers. …

c. Theft of Documents from DNC and DCCC Networks

Officers from Unit 26165 stole thousands of documents from the DCCC and DNCnetworks, including significant amounts of data pertaining to the 2016 U.S. federal elections.

Stolen documents included internal strategy documents, fundraising data, opposition research, and emails from the work inboxes of DNC employees.

The GRU began stealing DCCC data shortly after it gained access to the network. On April 14, 2016 (approximately three days after the initial intrusion) GRU officers downloaded rar.exe onto the DCCC’s document server. The following day, the GRU searched one compromised DCCC computer for files containing search terms that included “Hillary,” “DNC,” “Cruz,” and “Trump.”131 On April 25, 2016, the GRU collected and compressed PDF and Microsoft documents from folders on the DCCC’s shared file server that pertained to the 2016 election.132 The GRU appears to have compressed and exfiltrated over 70 gigabytes of data from this file server.133

The GRU also stole documents from the DNC network shortly after gaining access. On April 22, 2016, the GRU copied files from the DNC network to GRU-controlled computers. Stolen documents included the DNC’ s opposition research into candidate Trump.134 Between approximately May 25, 2016 and June 1, 2016, GRU officers accessed the DNC’s mail server from a GRU-controlled computer leased inside the United States.135 During these connections, Unit 26165 officers appear to have stolen thousands of emails and attachments, which were later released by WikiLeaks in July 2016.136

B. Dissemination of the Hacked Materials

The GRU began planning the releases at least as early as April 19, 2016, when Unit 26165 registered the domain dcleaks.com through a service that anonymized the registrant.137 Unit 26165 paid for the registration using a pool of bitcoin that it had mined. 138 The dcleaks.com landing page pointed to different tranches of stolen documents, arranged by victim or subject matter. Other dcleaks.com pages contained indexes of the stolen emails that were being released (bearing the sender, recipient, and date of the email). To control access and the timing of releases, pages were sometimes password-protected for a period of time and later made unrestricted to the public.

Starting in June 2016, the GRU posted stolen documents onto the website dcleaks.com, including documents stolen from a number of individuals associated with the Clinton Campaign.

These documents appeared to have originated from personal email accounts (in particular, Google and Microsoft accounts), rather than the DNC and DCCC computer networks. DCLeaks victims included an advisor to the Clinton Campaign, a former DNC employee and Clinton Campaign employee, and four other campaign volunteers. 139 The GRU released through dcleaks.com thousands of documents, including personal identifying and financial information, internal correspondence related to the Clinton Campaign and prior political jobs, and fundraising files and information.140 …

2. Guccifer 2.0

On June 14, 2016, the DNC and its cyber-response team announced the breach of the DNC network and suspected theft of DNC documents. In the statements, the cyber-response team alleged that Russian state-sponsored actors (which they referred to as “Fancy Bear”) were responsible for the breach. 145 Apparently in response to that announcement, on June 15, 2016, GRU officers using the persona Guccifer 2.0 created a WordPress blog. In the hours leading up to the launch of that WordPress blog, GRU officers logged into a Moscow-based server used and managed by Unit 74455 and searched for a number of specific words and phrases in English, including “some hundred sheets,” “illuminati,” and “worldwide known.” Approximately two hours after the last of those searches, Guccifer 2.0 published its first post, attributing the DNC server hack to a lone Romanian hacker and using several of the unique English words and phrases that the GRU officers had searched for that day. 146 …

3. Use of WikiLeaks

In order to expand its interference in the 20 I 6 U.S. presidential election, the GRU units transferred many of the documents they stole from the DNC and the chairman of the Clinton Campaign to WikiLeaks. GRU officers used both the DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 personas to

communicate with WikiLeaks through Twitter private messaging and through encrypted channels, including possibly through WikiLeaks’s private communication system. …

c. The GRU’s Transfer of Stolen Materials to WikiLeaks

Both the GRU and WikiLeaks sought to hide their communications, which has limited the Office’s ability to collect all of the communications between them. Thus, although it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks, [REDACTED] …

An analysis of the metadata collected from the WikiLeaks site revealed that the stolen Podesta emails show a creation date of September 19, 2016.171 Based on information about Assange’s computer and its possible operating system, this date may be when the GRU staged the stolen Podesta emails for transfer to WikiLeaks (as the GRU had previously done in July 2016 for the DNC emails). 172 The WikiLeaks site also released PDFs and other documents taken from Podesta that were attachments to emails in his account; these documents had a creation date of October 2, 2016, which appears to be the date the attachments were separately staged by WikiLeaks on its site. 173

Beginning on September 20, 2016, WikiLeaks and DCLeaks resumed communications in a brief exchange. On September 22, 2016, a DCLeaks email account dcleaksproject@gmail.com sent an email to a WikiLeaks account with the subject “Submission” and the message “Hi from DCLeaks.” The email contained a PGP-encrypted with the filename “wiki_mail.txt.gpg.” 174 …

d. WikiLeaks Statements Dissembling About the Source of Stolen Materials

As reports attributing the DNC and DCCC hacks to the Russian government emerged, WikiLeaks and Assange made several public statements apparently designed to obscure the source of the materials that WikiLeaks was releasing. The file-transfer evidence described above and other information uncovered during the investigation discredit WikiLeaks’s claims about the source of material that it posted.

Beginning in the summer of 2016, Assange and WikiLeaks made a number of statements about Seth Rich, a former DNC staff member who was killed in July 2016. The statements about Rich implied falsely that he had been the source of the stolen DNC emails. On August 9, 2016, the @WikiLeaks Twitter account posted: “ANNOUNCE: WikiLeaks has decided to issue a US$20k reward for information leading to conviction for the murder ofDNC staffer Seth Rich.” 180

Likewise, on August 25, 2016, Assange was asked in an interview, “Why are you so interested in Seth Rich’s killer?” and responded, “We’re very interested in anything that might be a threat to alleged Wikileaks sources.” The interviewer responded to Assange’s statement by commenting, “I know you don’t want to reveal your source, but it certainly sounds like you’re suggesting a man who leaked information to WikiLeaks was then murdered.” Assange replied, “If there’s someone who’s potentially connected to our publication, and that person has been murdered in suspicious circumstances, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the two are connected. But it is a very serious matter … that type of allegation is very serious, as it’s taken very seriously by us.”181

After the U.S. intelligence community publicly announced its assessment that Russia was behind the hacking operation, Assange continued to deny that the Clinton materials released by WikiLeaks had come from Russian hacking. According to media reports, Assange told a U.S. congressman that the DNC hack was an “inside job,” and purported to have “physical proof” that Russians did not give materials to Assange. 182

Those are highlights from the opening 11% of the report, which is up through page 49 in the 448-page document. These are a prosecutor’s allegations; they are not necessarily true. Robert Mueller has a lengthy history of publicly alleging things that subsequently have come to be widely recognized to have been false. Furthermore, there are very serious reasons to doubt some of the most basic aspects of the Mueller report’s accounts of how information came to Wikileaks from Hillary Clinton’s and her campaign’s computers. Mueller even has been condemned by the FISA court for having violated the law and deceived that court. But these are his main allegations in Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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The World’s Hypocritical Silence as China Imprisons its Ethnic Muslims En Masse

Imagine the reaction in the global Muslim community if a western nation imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Muslims solely for being Muslim and subjected them to torture, “re-education” that amounts to treating their religious faith as a pathological mental illness, forcefully separating parents and children, incarcerating the children in state-run orphanages, and on and on in a ruthlessly efficient Nazi-like systemic oppression.

The Muslim “street” would erupt in mass protests, burning flags and calling for the downfall of The Great Satan, and the Muslim nations would cancel energy and trade contracts and lodge diplomatic protests.

But the global Muslim community, and indeed, the entire global community, is strangely silent as China pursues a high-tech suppression of its ethnic Muslims. This silence might be the one thing Tehran, Moscow and Washington have in common: a complete and utter disregard for China’s Muslim-only gulags.

While America’s ruling elite greedily rubs its hands over the wealth that will flow from a “trade deal” with China, where is America’s vaunted concern with human rights? Nowhere to be found. Where are the canceled energy and trade contracts between China and Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf States and other Muslim-majority nations?

The entire world’s ruling elites are silent because they’re terrified that even mild murmurings might limit the blood-soaked billions they want to reap from trade with China. That is the source of the world’s hypocritical silence about China’s Muslim-only gulags: the endless, insatiable, boundless greed of the ruling elites.

There’s a funny little thing called karma, or blowback if you prefer a secular label, and both China and its vast host of global ruling-elite enablers will eventually reap what they are sowing.

China employs vast armies of propagandists in the West whose favorite word is “debunked.” You can easily identify a Beijing-propaganda proxy by their use of “debunk” to counter any criticism of China’s Muslim-only gulags.

Meanwhile, the alarming reality has been covered in depth by what little remains of the global free press. If you look at only one article, start with this photo-essay: How China Turned a City into a Prison (New York Times)

Satellite Shows Sprawling ‘Re-education Camps’ For Chinese Muslims In Xinjiang Region(Zero Hedge)

China’s Uighur Camps Swell as Beijing Widens the Dragnet (WSJ.com)

Satellite images show expansion of ‘re-education’ centers in China’s Xinjiang region China has sharply expanded an internment program that initially targeted ethnic Uighur extremists but is now confining vast numbers of the largely Muslim minority group, including the secular, old and infirm, in camps across the country’s northwest.

Up to one million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in China’s Xinjiang region, have now been incarcerated in an expanding network of ‘political re-education’ camps, according to U.S. officials and United Nations experts.

Tracking China’s Muslim Gulag (Reuters)

China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor (NYT.com)

Internet Sleuths Are Hunting for China’s Secret Internment Camps for Muslims(TheAtlantic.com)

China Is Treating Islam Like a Mental Illness The country is putting Muslims in internment camps—and causing real psychological damage in the process.(TheAtlantic.com)

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How U.S. Presidential Candidates Answer 20 Basic Questions

1. What would you like the U.S. discretionary budget to look like? With 60% now going to militarism, what percentage would you like that to be?
Mike Gravel: Cut military spending by 50%.
Howie Hawkins: Cut military spending by 50%.
Bernie Sanders: Cut military spending by an unknown amount.
Marianne Williamson: Convert to a peaceful economy over 10 to 20 years.
Andrew Yang: Cut military spending by an unknown amount; move 10% to military-like infrastructure force.
Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.
Tulsi Gabbard: One website provides no positions on anything, another doesn’t say. We can look to her voting record. She has voted against cutting the military budget.
Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say. She has voted for enormous military budgets.
Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.
Beto O’Rourke: Website doesn’t say.
Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything. She has voted for enormous military budgets.
Joe Biden: Isn’t running.
Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything. She has voted for enormous military budgets.
Donald Trump: Proposes to move yet more funding from almost everything else into military spending, boosting the latter to roughly 65% of federal discretionary spending across departments, not counting another 7% for Veterans Affairs.
Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything. He has voted for enormous military budgets.
Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.
Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.
John Delaney: Website provides an array of positions as if 96 percent of humanity and 65 percent of discretionary spending doesn’t exist: no foreign policy, except that he wants mandatory “service” with the military being one option.
Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate, which position avoids mentioning the military either as a destroyer of climate or a source of funding that could be moved to climate.
Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say, but promotes hostility toward Russia and China.
John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.
Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say.
Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.
2. What program of economic conversion to peaceful enterprises would you support?
Marianne Williamson hints at this topic.
Howie Hawkins hints at this topic.
Mike Gravel hints at this topic.
Trump: none.
Everybody else is silent.
3. Would you end, continue, or escalate U.S. war making in: Afghanistan? Iraq? Syria? Yemen? Pakistan? Libya? Somalia?
Tulsi Gabbard: One website provides no positions on anything, but she has voted to end the war on Yemen and said she would end the wars on Syria and Afghanistan. Another website says she would end the wars on Yemen and Syria. But she has voted to keep the AUMF in place.
Bernie Sanders: He would end the war on Yemen, and he sort-of seems to suggest that he would end the wars on Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. He has voted to end the war on Yemen and against keeping the war on Afghanistan going.
Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say. She has voted to end the war on Yemen and against keeping the war on Afghanistan going, and suggested she would end the wars on Afghanistan and Syria.
Mike Gravel: Website seems to effectively communicate the intention to end each of these wars, because he would close all bases, and pursue friendly relations with all countries. However, he would also “make war Constitutional,” as if the Congress can Constitutionally violate the UN Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact.
Howie Hawkins: Website seems to effectively communicate the intention to end each of these wars, but — like Gravel’s — doesn’t explicitly say so.
Marianne Williamson: Website seems to suggest she would end all wars, but does not say.
Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say, but she’s voted to end the war on Yemen and supported ending the war on Afghanistan.
Andrew Yang: Website doesn’t say.
Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.
Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.
Beto O’Rourke: Website doesn’t say.
Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything.
Joe Biden: Isn’t running.
Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything.
Donald Trump: He has escalated wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen,  and vetoed a bill to end the war on Yemen, and continued wars on Libya, Somalia, and Pakistan.
Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything. He’s voted to end war on Yemen.
Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.
Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.
John Delaney: Website provides an array of positions as if 96 percent of humanity and 65 percent of discretionary spending doesn’t exist: no foreign policy, except that he wants mandatory “service” with the military being one option.
Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate, which position avoids mentioning the military either as a destroyer of climate or a source of funding that could be moved to climate.
Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say, but promotes hostility toward Russia and China.
John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.
Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.
4. Would you end the exemption for militarism in Kyoto, Paris, and other climate agreements?
– – – crickets – – –
5. Would you sign / ratify any of these treaties: Paris Climate Agreement? Convention on the Rights of the Child? International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights? International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights optional protocols? Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women? Convention Against Torure optional protocol? International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families? International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance? The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities? International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries? Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court? Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity? Principles of International Cooperation in the Detection, Arrest, Extradition, and Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity? Convention on Cluster Munitions? Land Mines Convention? Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons? Proposed treaties banning the weaponization of space and banning cyber crimes?
Mike Gravel: He lists a few of these he would support and suggests that there would be others.
Howie Hawkins: Website only says: “a recommitment to the recently abandoned arms treaties and to vigorous new negotiations for further reductions toward complete nuclear disarmament.”
Beto O’Rourke: Supports Paris agreement.
Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate. Has supported the Paris agreement.
Bernie Sanders: Website doesn’t say. Has supported the Paris agreement.
Tulsi Gabbard: Website provides no positions on anything, or doesn’t say. Has supported the Paris agreement.
Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say. Has supported the Paris agreement.
Marianne Williamson: Website doesn’t say.
Andrew Yang: Website doesn’t say.
Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.
Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.
Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything.
Joe Biden: Isn’t running.
Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything.
Donald Trump: No.
Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything.
Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.
Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.
John Delaney: Website provides an array of positions as if 96 percent of humanity and 65 percent of discretionary spending doesn’t exist: no foreign policy, except that he wants mandatory “service” with the military being one option.
Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say.
John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.
Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say.
Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.
6. Would you halt or continue expenditures on the production and so-called modernization of nuclear weapons?
Mike Gravel: He would get rid of all nukes.
Howie Hawkins: He would get rid of all nukes.
Beto O’Rourke: Website mentions “nuclear disarmament.”
Bernie Sanders: Website doesn’t say.
Tulsi Gabbard: Website provides no positions on anything, or doesn’t say. But she has voted to fund new nukes.
Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say.
Marianne Williamson: Website doesn’t say.
Andrew Yang: Website doesn’t say.
Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.
Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate.
Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything.
Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything.
Joe Biden: Isn’t running.
Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything.
Donald Trump: Continue.
Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything.
Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education.
Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website.
John Delaney: Website provides an array of positions as if 96 percent of humanity and 65 percent of discretionary spending doesn’t exist: no foreign policy, except that he wants mandatory “service” with the military being one option.
Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say.
John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything.
Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say.
Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee.
7. Would you end weapons sales and the provision of military training to any governments? Which?
Mike Gravel would end weapons sales and bring all troops home.
Howie Hawkins would convert weapons dealers into “nonprofit public enterprises.”
Trump: none.
Everybody else is silent.
8. Would you close any foreign bases? Which?
Mike Gravel would close them all.
Howie Hawkins seems to suggest he would close at least some of them.
Trump: no.
Everybody else is silent.
9. Would you halt or continue the practice of murder by missiles from drones?
Every website is silent. Candidates who have said in the past that they would use drones to murder include: Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Donald Trump.
10. Do you recognize the ban on war, with exceptions, contained in the United Nations Charter? And the ban on threatening war?
– – – crickets – – –
11. Do you recognize the ban on war, without exceptions, contained in the Kellogg-Briand Pact?
– – – crickets – – –
12. Will you end discriminatory bans on immigrants?
Mike Gravel: Yes.
Howie Hawkins: Yes.
Julian Castro: Yes.
Kirsten Gillibrand: Yes.
Bernie Sanders: Yes.
Marianne Williamson: Yes.
Tulsi Gabbard: Yes.
Donald Trump: No.
Andrew Yang: Not clear.
Beto O’Rourke: Not clear.
John Delaney: Not clear.
Wayne Messam: Not clear.
Everybody else is silent.
13. Should actual, non-military, no-strings-attached foreign aid be eliminated, reduced, maintained, or increased? How much?
– – – crickets – – –
14. 84% of South Koreans want the war ended immediately. Should the United States block that?
Mike Gravel: No.
Tulsi Gabbard: No.
Everybody else is silent.
15. Should NATO be maintained or abolished?
– – – crickets – – –
The House voted on a bill to “support NATO” in January 2019, but Rep. Gabbard did not vote.
16. Should the CIA be maintained or abolished?
– – – crickets – – –
17. Should the ROTC be maintained or abolished?
– – – crickets – – –
18. Should domestic police forces be trained by, collaborate with, and be armed by militaries?
– – – crickets – – –
19. Should the U.S. military pay sports leagues, secretly or openly, to celebrate militarism?
– – – crickets – – –
20. How large should the U.S. military’s advertising budget be, and how much should the U.S. government spend promoting the concepts of nonviolent dispute resolution and the abolition of war?
– – – crickets – – –
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