By Robert A. Vella
The House Judiciary Committee has approved two articles of impeachment (i.e. formal charges) against President Trump: 1) abuse of power for pressuring (i.e. bribery, coercion, extortion) a foreign government (i.e. Ukraine) into interfering in the 2020 U.S. election to help him win reelection, and 2) obstruction of Congress (a.k.a. contempt of Congress) for refusing to obey and otherwise obstructing congressional subpoenas which requested documentary evidence and witness testimony regarding his bribery scheme. A third charge, obstruction of justice for illegally impeding the Mueller investigation into Russian collusion during the 2016 U.S. election (a charge which President Nixon also faced in 1974), was excluded by the committee for political reasons. The two articles will now move towards the floor of the House of Representatives where a simple majority vote will determine whether or not Trump will be officially impeached.
Meanwhile, Trump is welcoming the Russian foreign minister in Washington, D.C. today despite 3 ½ years of intense controversy surrounding his candidacy and presidency which at least circumstantially are aligned against U.S. national security interests and aligned with Vladimir Putin’s persistent efforts to undermine American democracy and constitutionally-based rule of law. Adding insult to injury, a federal appeals court has invalidated a political advertising transparency law in Maryland designed to counter the kind of media disinformation campaigns Russia perpetrated in 2016. Diplomatic efforts by France and Germany have aided the announcement of a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia in the five-year long military fight Putin has waged to reassert his control over the fledgling democracy and former Soviet state. Few details of the ceasefire have been released so far.
More news stories today include an intriguing preview of Thursday’s parliamentary elections in the U.K. where Brexit, Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are divisive issues tearing the nation apart. Even though the populace is fairly evenly split between leaving or remaining in the European Union, the Conservative Party is expected to hold onto power because the opposition Left is divided into three competing factions (the progressive Labour Party, the centrist Liberal Democrats, and the regional Scottish National Party).
WASHINGTON — House Democrats announced on Tuesday that they would move ahead this week with two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, as they accused him of violating the Constitution by pressuring Ukraine for help in the 2020 election.
Speaking from a wood-paneled reception room just off the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders of six key committees said that Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, and his efforts to block Congress’s attempt to investigate, had left them no choice but to pursue one of the Constitution’s gravest remedies. The move will bring a sitting president to the brink of impeachment for only the fourth time in American history.
The Democrats indicated that they would forgo another possible article under discussion in recent weeks that would have charged Mr. Trump with obstruction of justice based on his attempts to thwart Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russian election interference in 2016. That decision reflected a calculated move by Democrats to push forward with a narrow case against Mr. Trump based on his dealings with Ukraine, after some of their moderate lawmakers in conservative-leaning districts signaled they would not support a broader set of charges.
Trump welcomes Russian
President Donald Trump will Tuesday welcome Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Washington, the White House announced, two years after the US leader was accused of leaking classified information to him.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday met for the first time with Ukraine’s young new leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, in a summit in Paris that also involved France and Germany.
But Lavrov’s visit comes as a cloud still hangs over Trump over his relationship with Russia, which US intelligence concluded interfered in the 2016 election.
Court nullifies ad transparency law
BALTIMORE — A Maryland law aimed at extending the state’s campaign finance oversight into online political ads goes too far, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The Online Electioneering Transparency and Accountability Act, passed in 2018, would require newspapers and other media platforms to publish information on their websites about the political ads they display. The state law followed revelations about a Russian disinformation campaign in the 2016 presidential election, including thousands of ads a Russian internet agency created or promoted on Facebook.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., lauded the intent of the Maryland law, but said in an opinion Friday that some of its terms encroach on the First Amendment.
PARIS, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Monday agreed to commit to a full and comprehensive implementation of a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine before the end of 2019, according to a joint communique.