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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).

Impeachment charges

From:  House Democrats Unveil Articles of Impeachment Against Trump

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

From:  Trump to meet Russian FM, two years after controversial encounter

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

From:  Appeals court rejects Maryland online political ad law that sought information from digital publishers

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.

Ukraine ceasefire

From:  Ukraine, Russia agree on full ceasefire in east Ukraine before 2019-end -communique

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.

More news

UN resolution condemns Russia’s occupation of Crimea

Trump Officials Block U.N. Meeting on Human Rights Abuses in North Korea

In Britain’s ‘appalling’ election, voters in the middle don’t like either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn

France to forge partnership with Brazil states on Amazon, bypassing Bolsonaro

CBP denies access to doctors seeking flu vaccinations for migrant children

19 thoughts on “Impeachment charges, Trump welcomes Russian, court nullifies ad transparency law, Ukraine ceasefire

    • Good grief! I’m watching my country’s democracy and rule of law be systematically assaulted by an adversarial foreign autocrat and his insane domestic puppet! This may not be important to you, but it sure the hell is important to me!

      Liked by 3 people

      • We have a similar narrative running in the UK. It is meant to keep us fearful, and of itself is not about protecting democracy. The US is the most powerful nation on the planet and with the world’s most sophisticated surveillance systems. Why democracy is at risk with you and with us in the UK, I would suggest, has much more to do with internal than with external forces. You could read investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s article in The Saker, Sept 28 for another perspective, and especially in relation to Ukraine. I grew up during the Cold War and the anxieties that were visited on us (i.e. on both sides of the Atlantic). The nuclear arms race was not one of humanity’s better phases. We cannot afford a repeat.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I grew up during the Cold War too, and the current situation is fundamentally different from back then in terms of dynamics and scale. Western democratic societies are declining now due to internal strife and real external threats. Authoritarianism is on the rise virtually everywhere, and that is a demonstrable fact. It is a similar trend to what happened during the Interbellum between WWI and WWII.

          I am deeply disappointed that your perspective is so clouded. Many anarchists hold such views because they are antithetical towards liberal democracy and towards government in general. IMO, those who won’t defend democracy least deserve to have it.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I’m immensely concerned about democracy. Here in the UK it is being eroded before our very eyes and in the midst of our election campaign. But we need to look to our internal systems and structures to find out what has been going wrong. ‘The Big NHS Heist’ film produced by a UK NHS doctor and on YouTube now reveals precisely how corporate interests are intent on dismantling a public service which most Britons value above everything. The film is a revealing case study on the way financial interests of the few, most recently here under the guise of imposed austerity, are with a subtly orchestrated propaganda campaign exploiting and hoodwinking the public, and with much of this being funded by public money to boot. Here in the UK, one of the world’s richest countries, we presently have 14 million people living in poverty, and these are people with jobs. When our Labour Party leader produced 450 pages of government documents disclosing the extent of privatisation plans with US insurance companies et al, it was then put about that the Russians had leaked it to Corbyn. And so instead of the government being held accountable for its actions, we have yet another witch hunt. Which achieves nothing.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Yes, I’ve been following that story. Obviously, the alleged leak to Corbyn is a ruse. Vladimir Putin is aligned with conservative interests in the U.K., U.S., and elsewhere (which have been pushing austerity, privatization, and anti-immigration schemes) and not with the political Left. That’s why he has been aiding Brexit, Trump, etc. Also, it’s no coincidence that Boris Johnson refused to release a report on Russian meddling in the 2016 referendum – see: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/04/no-10-blocks-russia-eu-referendum-report-until-after-election

          Liked by 2 people

        • If Russia is influencing the way people think then surely the best way to deal with this is to regulate the platforms, make them responsible (and pay their taxes), but this won’t happen because every person with a piece of on-line kit is a profit-making opportunity for someone. Or why cannot we discover how and why this targeted material is influencing people and deal with their issues. As things are, democracy is subverted through social media by our own politicians and lobby groups – those with the biggest coffers getting the biggest ad campaigns; the media used by parties to immediately spread mis-information and downright lies. BUT this is something citizens can possibly do something about if they wake up and demand change. With the best will in the world, they cannot deal directly with Putin or his presumed machinations. We don’t want Trump any more than you do. But the man is not a politician – he is wheeler-dealer man in action. It is not, as they say, a good look. Or probably much good for anyone anywhere. But as for the influencing – it goes both ways. Both our nations interfere (even when our acts are pronounced illegal by the International Courts) in other sovereign nations. We even wipe them pretty much off the map with no aftermath strategy (e.g. Libya which was Africa’s most up and coming nation and even, good heavens, shared its oil revenue with its populace). As for Boris, while foreign secretary, he was very loudly anti-Putin. So who knows what his motives are – our man in the fridge.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I didn’t equate them. I’m not assuming that I actually live in a democracy. Only something that vaguely looks like one. Whatever it is, it’s increasingly right wing. Our electoral system is flawed, and yesterday we had a whole new example of it when the BBC political commentator revealed on air that she had knowledge relating to the postal votes, and that it looked ‘grim’ for Labour. According to the electoral commission this is actually illegal – both to see the votes before the election and reveal the details. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Similar things are happening here in the U.S. too, and it’s why I commented earlier that “authoritarianism is on the rise virtually everywhere.” This is a pivotal time in our history. We all must fight to defend democracy from those who seek to destroy it. Make no mistake. The same forces which drove fascism in the 1930s are at work today.

          Democracy isn’t perfect, but it’s all we have. It is up to us, as citizens, to protect it. Best wishes for today’s election in the U.K.

          Liked by 2 people

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