By Robert A. Vella
Donald Trump’s push to turn the U.S. presidency into his own private dictatorship has escalated to the point of ignoring Congress’ constitutional authority to authorize war and arms sales to foreign powers and also to the point of threatening the confidentiality of the U.S. intelligence community. This is what totalitarians do. In contrast, federal courts have ruled against his national emergency declaration to divert funding appropriated for other purposes to build his border wall (also in defiance of Congress) and have ruled against one of the fanatical anti-abortion laws recently enacted in deep-red states. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party leadership in the House of Representatives is increasingly at odds with itself over the issue of impeachment. Reluctant Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is not disputing her dissenters’ assertion that Trump has committed and is still committing impeachable offenses, but she is putting the brakes on impeachment ostensibly for pragmatic concerns regarding the 2020 election. Those concerns, if that really is what’s guiding her, are putting the fate of America at terrible risk. When Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, and uncounted other totalitarians began to seize and consolidate power, the political opposition did essentially what Pelosi is doing now: 1) underestimate the severity of the threat, and 2) cautiously delay and restrict their responses in the hope that other forces (e.g. the judicial system, public opinion, etc.) intervene on their behalf. In Russia, Italy, and Germany during the Interbellum, such hopes never materialized and the consequences were horrendous.
Trump’s dictatorship escalates
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump, declaring a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, swept aside objections from Congress on Friday to complete the sale of over $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
The Trump administration informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 military sales to the Saudis, United Arab Emirates and Jordan, infuriating lawmakers by circumventing a long-standing precedent for congressional review of major weapons sales.
Members of Congress had been blocking sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for months, angry about the huge civilian toll from their air campaign in Yemen, as well as human rights abuses such as the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s order allowing Attorney General William P. Barr to declassify any intelligence that led to the Russia investigation sets up a potential confrontation with the C.I.A. It effectively strips the agency of its most critical power: choosing which secrets it shares and which ones remain hidden.
Mr. Trump said on Friday that he wanted Mr. Barr to “get to the bottom” of what the intelligence agencies knew about the investigation into his campaign. He promised, “We’re exposing everything.”
The president raised questions about C.I.A. involvement in the origins of the Russia investigation, and other officials said Mr. Barr wanted to learn more about sources in Russia, including a key informant who helped the C.I.A. conclude that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered the intrusion on the 2016 election. Mr. Trump also invoked two close allies, Australia and Britain, telling reporters he wanted the attorney general to examine their roles in sharing intelligence about Russia’s interference.
Courts reject border wall and anti-abortion law
A federal judge has partially blocked President Donald Trump’s plan to fund construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The preliminary injunction issued Friday immediately halts a $1 billion transfer of Pentagon counterdrug funding to cover expansions and enhancement of border barriers.
The court order also appears to jeopardize another $1.5 billion of the $8.1 billion the administration planned to use for border construction.
A federal judge has blocked a Mississippi law that would have imposed one of the nation’s strictest bans on abortion by outlawing the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy — before some women know they’re pregnant.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled on Friday that the ban, set to become law on July 1, won’t take effect while the lawsuit against it proceeds. Reeves’s decision is similar to his 2018 ruling that declared a 15-week ban unconstitutional.
Impeachment divides Dems
There is growing daylight between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) over the best strategy for combating a Trump administration that is flouting a flurry of congressional subpoenas at nearly every turn.
The pair of powerful Democrats clashed in recent days over whether to launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump and how soon to hold a contempt vote against Attorney General William Barr.
Nadler, spurred by frustrated Judiciary Committee members, has been privately pushing leadership for both an impeachment inquiry, and a contempt vote immediately after lawmakers return from their weeklong Memorial Day recess.
A former longtime Republican congressman called Friday for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, who he said is an “illegitimate president.”
“I’m calling for impeachment now because the Mueller report is out, and in it (special counsel Robert Mueller) describes 10 obstruction of justice charges that he could not bring because of a Department of Justice rule and regulation that says you can’t indict a sitting president — that’s (reason) number one,” former Rep. Tom Coleman, who represented Missouri for nearly two decades, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront.”
“Number two, I believe this is an illegitimate President because he welcomed help and influence from the Russians in his campaign,” he said. “For example, his (campaign) chairman Paul Manafort met with a Russian intelligence asset in New York and shared with him their polling information and a strategy on how to win the Midwestern states.”
The federal government moved on Friday to formally take possession of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s apartment in Trump Tower, according to court documents obtained by USA Today.
Manafort pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice by witness tampering as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
As part of his plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Manafort forfeited $22 million in New York real estate — including three Manhattan apartments, a Brooklyn townhouse and a home in the Hamptons, The New York Times reported at the time.