By Robert A. Vella

There’s a rich source of topics to cover today, so let’s get right to it.

Laurence Tribe is a renowned constitutional law professor who has taught such notables as Barack Obama, John Roberts, and Elena Kagan.  This week, he not only made a convincing case against Department of Justice policy which precludes the DOJ from criminally indicting a sitting U.S. president but also asserted that the U.S. Constitution requires such federal prosecution when warranted.  From:  WATCH: Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe explains why the Constitution requires ability to indict sitting president

“The president and vice president run as a ticket. No president selects a vice president who wouldn’t strongly consider doing for him exactly what Vice President Gerald Ford did for President Richard Nixon: namely, give the president a full pardon shortly after he becomes the former president — whether that sudden reversal of fortune occurs upon the president’s being turned out by the voters, or upon his being impeached and removed, or upon his resigning under the threat of such ignominious removal,” Tribe wrote.

“It’s crazy to assume that the framers of the impeachment power would have created a system in which even the most criminally corrupt president could permanently escape full accountability,” he added.

O’Donnell explained reality to Trump in the opening of the segment.

“So what would happen if Donald Trump went out on Fifth Avenue and shot someone?” O’Donnell asked.

“During the presidential campaign he said he could do that and his supporters would still vote for him and that might be true of his supporters, but what’s also true is that the NYPD would immediately either shoot and kill Donald Trump on the spot or arrest him and charge him with murder,” O’Donnell predicted.

“The ordinary sequence might well be to impeach and remove first, but if a president has committed a crime in order to get to office and has combined the office and his business interests in a way that might be inimical to the United States in order to enrich himself and his family, then the only way to carry out the Constitution’s design without making the pardon power and the guaranteed liability to criminal punishment clash with one another is to remain open to the possibility of indicting and trying the president while he is in office,” Tribe explained.

“And it seems to me that that’s the only coherent way to read the Constitution and to understand its history, because the framers said they were concerned about the corrupt acquisition of presidential power,” he continued. “The incentives would be all the wrong way if a president could bribe electors or hide things from the voters in order to become president and then be guaranteed that he would never serve a day in jail.”

A week before the 2018 midterm elections, I revisited the worrisome issue of rising extremism in western democracies (see:  Why this is happening (the rise of political populism and extremism)).  In it, I addressed the psychological, sociological, and political reasons why fervent populism and nationalism are challenging the post-WWII centrist establishment and which threaten to destabilize our global community of nations.  Yesterday, I stumbled upon an interview with Andrew Sullivan – the provocative British writer whose non-ideological and non-partisan positions routinely anger the prevailing neoconservative and neoliberal social order.  Sullivan exquisitely encapsulates the troubling tensions in the U.K. over Brexit, the violent protests in France against President Macron, and the unfolding disaster of Donald Trump’s presidency in America, all within the larger context of social angst and unrest.  It’s the most informative and illuminating 7-minute video you’ll ever watch, and I’m rating it as MUST-SEE:

Full video:  What does Brexit say about the state of Western democracy? – New York Magazine’s Andrew Sullivan joins MTP Daily to discuss what Brexit can say about the state of Western democracy and American politics.

Shorter segment:  Sullivan: Brexit a reminder political elites ‘misjudged the mood’ of majority – New York Magazine’s Andrew Sullivan discusses whether Brexit serves as a warning for the United States and nationalism on a larger scale.

Here’s the Facebook story, from:  ‘They don’t care’: Facebook fact-checking in disarray as journalists push to cut ties

Journalists working as fact-checkers for Facebook have pushed to end a controversial media partnership with the social network, saying the company has ignored their concerns and failed to use their expertise to combat misinformation.

Current and former Facebook fact-checkers told the Guardian that the tech platform’s collaboration with outside reporters has produced minimal results and that they’ve lost trust in Facebook, which has repeatedly refused to release meaningful data about the impacts of their work. Some said Facebook’s hiring of a PR firm that used an antisemitic narrative to discredit critics – fueling the same kind of propaganda fact-checkers regularly debunk – should be a deal-breaker.

“They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR,” said Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of Snopes, a fact-checking site that has partnered with Facebook for two years. “They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck … They clearly don’t care.”

Facebook began building its partnerships with news outlets after the 2016 presidential election, during which fake stories and political propaganda reached hundreds of millions of users on the platform. The goal was to rely on journalists to flag false news and limit its spread, but research and anecdotal evidence have repeatedly suggested that the debunking work has struggled to make a difference.

Here’s the Maria Butina story, from:  Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina pleads guilty to conspiring to influence US politics through NRA

Russian citizen Maria Butina pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to conspiring to influence U.S. politics through her connections to the National Rifle Association, according to Dow Jones.

Multiple outlets have reported that Butina’s plea deal includes an agreement to cooperate with investigators. CNN reported Wednesday, citing a person familiar with the case, that Butina has already offered information to investigators about an American she allegedly conspired with, as well as a Russian official alleged to have directed her U.S. activities.

In Washington, D.C. federal court Thursday morning, Butina said she acted “under direction of” that Russian official, according to CNN.


She has been in northern Virginia jail since July, when prosecutors argued that she posed an “extreme risk of flight” because the charges against her also implicated “the activities of a senior Russian Federation official” who is believed to be Alexander Torshin, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The case is not directly linked to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as possible obstruction of justice and potential collusion between Trump campaign-related figures and the Kremlin.

Court documents show Butina lived with a U.S. man in his 50s who has been identified as Paul Erickson, a Republican activist and NRA member. The Daily Beast reported last week that a lawyer for Erickson was sent a “target letter” informing him that prosecutors were considering charging Erickson with secretly acting as an agent for a foreign government. The letter also reportedly said prosecutors were weighing whether to charge him with conspiracy.

Related stories:

Ukraine Court Rules Manafort Disclosure Caused ‘Meddling’ in U.S. Election

Brazil’s Bolsonaro under scrutiny over suspect payments to family

14 thoughts on “A Case for Indictment, a must-see video on the Rise of Extremism, Facebook’s fake news, Butina pleads guilty

  1. I’ve seen this law professor on various news shows over the past few days and his argument is extremely sound and sensible. Trump SHOULD be indicted. Will it happen? Well, let’s just see how overwhelming the evidence of his crimes is. I’ve a feeling, based on his own arrogance and stupidity, that there is A LOT of evidence against him. He truly belongs in jail.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely. If the evidence is as overwhelming as I suspect, then the DOJ will face a quandary. Does it follow its internal policy about not indicting a sitting president and therefore allow Trump to evade justice, or does it fully execute its constitutional duty to uphold the rule of law?

      Liked by 2 people

        • I disagree. He knows what he’s done. He’s just never going to admit it … and for sure he can never say anything that would give his supporters even get a hint of his guilt.

          Liked by 3 people

        • While Trump is aware of the specific acts he has done, and he’s aware of their negative perception, his gigantic yet fragile ego won’t allow him to see the unethical, immoral, and illegal nature of his acts. This is typical of megalomania. In his mind, he must be the best at everything else he’d be a failure. I wonder if this psychology resulted from his childhood.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Probably. Most of who we are comes from how we were raised. Of course, as we mature, some of our thinking does tend to change, but core traits usually stay a part of us throughout our life.

          From what we know of his childhood, it would seem he was taught to do whatever he wants so long as nobody calls him on it. And if they do? Deny — Deny — Deny!

          Liked by 2 people

        • Time to read “Political Ponerology” by Andrew M. Lobaczewski. What happens when a born psychopath becomes a powerful figure, particularly a political figure. There’s been lots of them through history, remembering Nero, Stalin, Pol Pot, Pinochet, Hitler, and the USA now have a certifiable one: Trump.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that if he does something, no matter WHAT it is, in his mind, it’s not wrong and to say it is is to treat him unfairly. “But, if I did it, it simply CAN’T be wrong. Cause..well..I’m ME, and I can do WHATEVER I want. That’s what daddy always told me.” Lordy, but do I despise him!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Something I saw on FB — most likely NOT true, but interesting, nevertheless.

    “Maria Butina just confessed to Mueller that Russia funneled $30 million to Trump through the NRA.”

    From your post, it appears her case is not even linked to Mueller so this is probably just wishful thinking. But oh what fun if it were true!

    Liked by 1 person

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